The Great Reset: An Alternate Theory

In my last post I speculated that covid was a plan orchestrated by the heads of the important central banks to provide cover for printing a gazillion dollars to head off an imminent economic collapse, and to implement tools like digital currencies and lockdown mechanisms that will be useful for maintaining social order when money printing eventually fails and the economy collapses.

In that post I asked the key question:

What force is powerful enough to synchronize senior leaders in most countries to do the wrong thing on almost every covid action without assuming every leader is evil and/or stupid?

I stated that those of us paying attention and not listening to the official narrative know that nothing about covid makes sense.

Here is a brief summary of the covid facts and actions that do not make sense and that together suggest there is an objective other than public health in play:

  • no investigation or consequences for China and it’s Wuhan lab that engineered the virus
  • no investigation or consequences for the funders of the Wuhan lab work
  • Fauci kept in the most powerful healthcare position in the world, despite his involvement in engineering the virus and the subsequent coverup
  • no gain of function research policy changes to prevent a recurrence
  • no consequences for WHO policies that encouraged global spread of the virus in the early days
  • suspiciously short and record time to develop a novel vaccine technology
  • all 4 vaccine manufacturers use the same (probably bad idea) mRNA code
  • suspicious vaccine patent history
  • probable fraudulent vaccine approval process and attempt to hide it for 75 years
  • insufficient testing to determine mRNA longevity and locations of activity in the body
  • willingness to rapidly deploy a novel insufficiently tested vaccine technology to billions at low risk from the disease including pregnant women
  • confident claims that vaccines are safe and effective despite being unwillingly to unconditionally approve the vaccines
  • indemnification of vaccine manufacturers
  • aggressive censorship of covid policy debate
  • aggressive character assassination and career destruction of dissenting experts
  • no updates to mRNA vaccines despite being ineffective against current variants
  • boosters recommended despite risks of infection, hospitalization, and adverse reactions increasing with each subsequent shot
  • elimination of non-mRNA vaccines from the market
  • ignoring 50 years of knowledge and discounting the risk of promoting vaccine resistant and/or more virulent strains by vaccinating in the middle of a pandemic with a non-sterilizing vaccine
  • zero public cost benefit analysis on any covid policy
  • testing methods that grossly overstated the prevalence of disease
  • reporting methods that grossly overstated the severity and risk of disease
  • data manipulation that grossly overstated the effectiveness of vaccines
  • passports required for vaccines that are ineffective at preventing transmission
  • no passports given to people with naturally acquired immunity
  • zero promotion of effective disease prevention methods like vitamin D and weight loss
  • aggressive promotion of ineffective disease prevention methods like mask policies that did not prevent and probably encouraged disease spread
  • blocking of all effective early treatments including those profitable for pharma
  • strong arming countries like India & Japan that developed successful prophylaxis and early treatment protocols from disclosing what they did
  • preventing doctors from treating patients by blocking fulfillment of prescriptions
  • ignoring record numbers of adverse reactions confirmed by different systems in different countries
  • avoiding autopsies to determine causes of suspicious deaths
  • gaslighting and not supporting those suffering from adverse reactions
  • no adjustment to policies or admission or error regardless of evidence

I argued that if we assume that most of our leaders are not evil and/or stupid then the only plausible explanation for their behavior is that they are working as a team to prevent harms worse than those being caused by their covid policies.

Those of us that study human overshoot know that 8 billion people depend for survival on rapidly depleting non-renewable, non-substitutable resources, and that the only reason our global growth dependent system functions today is that we deny limits to growth by accelerating the use of unrepayable debt, and we know that emerging inflation will soon force a day of reckoning via an economic reset.

This day of reckoning will harm many people. Most citizens will be surprised and unprepared. If citizens respond with violent social unrest then the harms will be magnified. Hence the urgent need for tools to manage a collapse such as:

  • lockdown tools to prevent rioting
  • lockdown tools to reduce consumption of energy and other scarce resources
  • digital currencies to enable a negative interest rate so debt can continue to grow
  • digital currencies to enable fair and effective rationing of scarce resources like food and energy
  • digital currencies to prevent panics from destroying the financial system

I argued that the real purpose of our otherwise irrational and obsessive focus on vaccines as a response to covid was to prepare the behaviors and infrastructure necessary for lockdown policies and digital currencies.

While I still think this hypothesis is plausible and probable there is a fact that bothers me because it is inconsistent with the assumption that our leaders are not evil or stupid.

That is the recent push to vaccinate children. This policy makes no sense in the context of the above hypothesis because:

  • vaccinating children for covid is 100% risk and 0% benefit
  • any sane, non-evil person knows that protecting children from harm should be a top priority
  • young children do not need to participate in the economy with digital currencies
  • children can be vaccinated at a later and safer age when they need to participate in the economy

I do not understand what’s going here. I suppose you could argue that our leaders really are evil and/or stupid, although that seems improbable given the large number of cooperating leaders.

Another possible explanation is that my hypothesis that covid is cover for collapse preparation is incorrect.

What other purpose might there be for our insane covid policies?

Just for fun, let’s go all dark and crazy and speculate the mRNA has some function that has not yet been deployed, and our leaders want it to be injected in everyone before pushing the on button.

Perhaps our leaders have employed, or stolen the ideas from, Jack Alpert to mastermind a humane population reduction plan.

I say humane, by which I mean no suffering or violence, because we’re still assuming here that our leaders are not evil.

Alpert has developed the only feasible plan in existence for retaining a modern technologically advanced civilization after we have depleted most of the economically recoverable fossil energy. His idea is to rapidly reduce our population to about fifty million people concentrated in 3 regions of world with adequate hydro electricity and other necessary natural resources. By keeping the population low and constant, but still large enough to sustain advanced technology and manufacturing, and by aggressively recycling materials and forgoing impossibly wasteful luxuries like air travel and personal vehicles, it might be possible to sustain our science and technologies long enough to make fusion work, before the hydro dams inevitably silt in.

Because of the rapid rate that fossil energy is depleting, and the total dependence of our food supply on that energy, there is insufficient time for a one-child policy and/or family planning education to get the population down to a sustainable level without massive suffering.

A very aggressive plan for reducing the population is required to avoid unimaginable suffering and probable civilization ending nuclear resource wars.

Jack’s idea is to vaccinate everyone on the planet with a genetically engineered substance that causes sterility and that can be reversed with an antidote.

Any couple desiring a child must apply for a birth permit. Once a year a carefully calculated number of permits will be randomly awarded to applicants and those lucky people will be relocated to one of the 3 regions established for humanity’s permanent civilizations and issued the sterility antidote.

If our leaders are indeed implementing Alpert’s plan with a time delayed sterility inducing vaccine, this would explain why children are being targeted for vaccination. It would be imperative that as many child bearing, and soon to be child bearing, people be vaccinated as quickly as possible because once word of the plan gets out, either via a leak or via impossible to ignore evidence, then no further vaccinations will be possible.

If true, this thankfully means our leaders are brilliant heroes rather than evil idiots.

And it gives “The Great Reset” a whole new meaning!

Go Jack go!!!

P.S. I would like to make the above list of covid things that don’t make sense as complete as possible. If I missed anything, please let me know and I will add it.

What are our leaders doing?

What force is powerful enough to synchronize every leader in almost every country to do the wrong thing on almost every covid action without assuming every leader is evil and/or stupid?

Why has no one figured out what’s going on, including normally intelligent alt-media?

Let’s assume that most of our leaders are normal people, of average intelligence, with good intentions, and they care about the future of their children.

By normal I mean they are decent people with flaws, just like you and I.

By average intelligence I mean they probably have some high school level science, have read a few popular books, and maybe watched a few documentaries, but are not well grounded in the laws of physics, and their mathematics skills are modest at best. Like most people, they do not have a good understanding of energy and its relationship with everything, nor do they have a good grasp of what is technically feasible.

By good intentions I mean they want to do a good job for the people that elected them, while of course making a living, and perhaps providing some extras for their family if a benign opportunity arises, just as you or I would.

By caring about their children I mean they are genuinely worried about:

  • The threat of an economic crash caused by unsustainable debt and its associated everything bubble that is now flashing red and impossible to ignore.
  • The reality and threat of climate change that is now obvious to anyone that has been alive for more than a few decades.
  • Limits to growth. Our leader’s understanding of energy depletion is probably a mixed bag, as it is with our next door neighbors. Most leaders probably understand that fossil energy growth is no longer desirable, some may understand that fossil energy growth is no longer possible, most probably still hope the green energy story is true but are getting worried it may be false, and a tiny minority may understand the reality of peak oil and its implications.

Overlaying all of the above, our leaders, like most humans, have a genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities, which manifests as an optimism bias, and an inability to grasp the reality and implications of human overshoot. We can be fairly certain that none of our leaders have defective denial genes, which would permit them to see overshoot, because that would have prevented them from winning their election.

Given these assumptions about our leaders, which are probably true, what would we expect them to do?

Let’s start with what they’ve done to date:

  • Increased the debt and lowered the interest rate to buy time for someone to think of something.
  • Signed free trade agreements to squeeze more efficiency out of the global economy.
  • Subsidized surplus corn to stretch gasoline with ethanol.
  • Subsidized green energy and electric cars in the hope it would reduce fossil energy use. They don’t understand why, but they can see this strategy is not helping.
  • Invested a lot of money into nuclear fusion returning zero prospects of success.
  • Agreed with good intentions to many climate change protocols and subsequently learned it is impossible to fulfill those agreements without damaging the economy.
  • Continued heavy military spending, just in case.

I expect our leaders now understand that:

  • We are between a rock and a hard place. They don’t fully understand why we have reached limits to growth, nor can they due to their normal denial genes, but they do understand something must change soon.
  • Debt is a bomb waiting to explode. They can see the end of the runway with rising inflation.
  • Climate change is a really nasty problem. Consumption must go down, but that will crash the economy. Even with CO2 reductions, it’s too late to avoid refugees and starvation.
  • Avoiding damaging social unrest, and mitigating/reducing the coming suffering will require sacrifice and sharing between countries, which will require some form of global cooperation with tight control over citizens.

Those of us that have paid attention and not listened to the official narrative know that nothing about covid makes sense. To be blunt, almost every action and policy has been wrong, in almost every country, and all of our leaders are synchronized, including their political opposition, almost without exception. How can this be? It’s simply not possible that all of our leaders are evil and/or stupid.

What force is powerful enough to have caused a diverse group of big ego leaders from many countries to cooperate on a secret plan that no one discusses? What force is powerful enough to have caused them to do things that under normal circumstances would have been blocked by their good ethics and character?

We know the various central banks have been working as a team since at least the 2008 GFC to keep the global wheels on. Recall that in the 2008 aftermath it was disclosed that we were hours away from a collapse of the banking system had the US congress not approved the bailout. The stresses and pressures in the system today are MUCH higher than they were in 2008 because we fixed a too much debt problem by adding a lot more debt.

In 2019 something in the global plumbing was beginning to break and it came to a head in September with a crisis in the repo market. The central banks together decided what needed to be done and the head of each central bank sat down with the leader of their country and spelled out the reality that an imminent “recession”, if not averted, would likely take out modern civilization due to the global debt bubble and lack of growth.

I imagine they said something like, “we need an excuse to print a gazillion dollars, and we’re going to need a digital currency soon that restricts many freedoms, and we might fail so you should think about a plan B for controlling social unrest. We think a not so serious global pandemic exaggerated into a panic is the perfect cover to accomplish all of this.”

No other force is powerful enough to explain the behavior we observe. It explains everything, including why no one talks about it, because if they did it would cause panic in the markets, which would harm themselves and their children. This also thankfully means we can continue to assume that most (not all) of our leaders are decent people like you and I.

The covid pandemic provided:

  • A reason for everyone from all political persuasions to support printing and handing out trillions of dollars to avoid a “recession”.
  • A means via lockdowns of reducing energy and materials consumption, and restricting freedom of movement and assembly, that can be invoked as needed without causing the panic that disclosing the end of growth would cause.
  • A reason for creating the infrastructure and social behaviors necessary for a digital currency via vaccine passports. A digital currency will be very helpful for implementing negative interest rates needed to avoid a Minsky Moment, and for rationing food and energy, and for preventing bank runs. The path they chose was to require all citizens to be injected with a substance and to carry proof via a vaccine passport. I expect they hoped the injected substance would be harmless with some tangible benefit but it appears their hopes have been dashed by Murphy’s Law and inadequate time for testing.
  • Most powerful countries agreed to this plan. The US, EU, Japan, Canada, and Australia are all on board. As is China who engineered the virus with funding from the US, and which influenced the WHO to ensure global spread of the virus in the early days.
  • Russia refused to join the plan, perhaps after calculating that with its healthy ratio of natural resources to population, modest debt, food self-sufficiency, and citizens capable of enduring some hardship, they will be better off charting an independent path.
  • The collaborating leaders viscerally hate Putin for not being a team player and are attempting to cause a regime change in Russia by provoking Russia into an expensive war and by applying economic sanctions. As with covid, it seems this plan is failing so we should expect a Plan B soon.
  • A new repo crisis began in 2022 and so Monkeypox was introduced just in case another pandemic is required to get the financial system under control.

Finally, we can now answer another burning question:

  • Why has no one figured out what’s going on, including normally intelligent alt-media?
  • Because to understand requires acceptance of the end of growth and overshoot, and that’s not possible for most people due to our species’ tendency to deny unpleasant realities as explained by Varki’s MORT theory.
  • For those that don’t believe the official covid narrative, it’s ok to blame corrupt pharma, or a scheming WEF, but it’s not ok to blame overshoot.

Let’s hope Plan B does not involve nuclear weapons but does have something to do with humane population reduction.

By Gaia Gardener: On Suffering

Buried in the comments of the last post we discussed human overshoot and what should be done about it. I proposed our goal should be to minimize suffering and that the best path to achieving this goal is awareness of Ajit Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory.

My view, in summary, is that when fully aware of the reality and implications of human overshoot, our best personal and collective responses become self-evident and require no coercion to implement. Conversely, when overshoot is denied, all of our best personal and collective responses are vehemently rejected as assaults on our rights and entitlements.

Unfortunately, our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities, as explained by MORT, blocks overshoot awareness. Therefore any progress in a good direction requires an understanding of MORT.

Put more bluntly, all environmental activists, climate changers, peak oilers, Gaia lovers, population reducers, etc. should be focused with Zen-like precision on MORT, and any other activity is a complete waste of time, as demonstrated by our zero progress on any substantive issue over the last 50 years since Limits to Growth was published.

Reader Gaia Gardener responded with some beautiful prose that I thought was a good reason to clear the decks and create this new post.

For useful background, the comment thread that motivated the following essay by Gaia Gardener begins here.

Upon gazing up at the starry night sky thoughts like these come to my mind–there must be some sentient life form and civilization somewhere in this vast universe that broke through this barrier of denial that causes suffering to self, other life forms, and their ultimate destruction of their planetary home. Just being able to internalize this gives me much peace and acceptance of my infinitesimally small but still conscious being. If I keep gazing, sometimes I can lose sense of self completely and just melt into a time/space/no and every mind. Fermi’s paradox may be the most probable explanation for our seemingly unique manifestation but in a near infinite cosmos, there is still a chance that we may not understand everything!

If we are not here, or even if we were never here, the vastness of the universe continues to be, the ultimate laws of physical construct still stand as foundational building blocks to all matter and life, and life forms will continue to evolve even if given the most minute opportunity. In light of these critical truths, our knowledge of it is an ego awareness and recognition of what always was and will be and which has been already recognized by eons of cultures in their own way of expression. From creation myths to quantum equations, it is all a finger pointing at the moon, a way of reaching the untouchable but the real mystery and awe lies in the experience of just being. I suppose what is most tragic to our species is that we may lose our own consciousness to reflect back on our understandings of our world, in a word, annihilation. But can we take solace in the knowledge that we are elemental stardust to begin with and will return to that state, and since our guiding laws tell us matter and energy are constantly changing form, that is what we must be also, moment by moment, if even there is something called time. Then it is not a far reach for me to accept death, but suffering is another matter. Our ability to experience suffering ourselves is the prerequisite of consciousness and to be aware of suffering in others and make a choice for relief is the core of our humanity.

I have of late, at this crossroad of our civilization, find myself asking “Has it all been worth the suffering?” The knowledge gained, the art expressed, the structures erected, the technology exploded, has it been worth what we have also wrought with the same force and energy, the destruction and injustice to our planet and other life forms, starting with our own species, closer kin than any other stardust in this vastness of space. For example, for JS Bach to be born and for us to experience the incomparable beauty of his music, was it worth whatever else had to pass for our civilization to bring forth such genius? Can another member of our Homo sapiens family, in destitution and hunger for generations oppressed, can they say our enjoyment of our highest pinnacle achievements was worth their suffering and their ancestors suffering and their children’s suffering at the hands of our dominant culture? What of their choice to relieve suffering if only we had used our energy in a different way that may have allowed them to reach their own developmental potential? I cannot lie to a deepest truth that it is only my judgment that deems one being more worthy than another, the universe has none. If we are uberconscious, then we will also know that the universe has no judgment on our beingness or existence, it is only us looking at and contemplating ourselves in the mirror for this briefest of constructs called space and time. But since we have developed this mind and we have created our microuniverse within the macro, it is our responsibility to finish what we began, on every level. Overshoot and its repercussions is the stage set for our generations, we cannot shirk from finishing the show we have written, directed, and acted in. But there is also more to our human existence, and from the earliest times our inner desire has been to find our meaning and place in this cosmos. The present is the only time we ever have to continually seek and refine for ourselves what resonates, only now it seems of greatest urgency, at least to me. Maybe being born in the age of overshoot collapse has refocussed this for all of us here. And I do agree that reduction of suffering is a noblest goal and can manifest in myriad ways; kindness is always our choice.

Sidestepping Genetic Reality Denial by Manipulating Behavior for Overshoot Harm Reduction

It’s rare to encounter a new and constructive idea for addressing human overshoot that is not fatally flawed by a lack of understanding of either thermodynamic and geophysical constraints, or the strong genetic behavior to deny unpleasant realities that enabled the human species to emerge and dominate the planet.

For anyone still looking for technically feasible solutions that have a non-zero probability of success for reducing harms from human overshoot I recommend the most recent Planet: Critical podcast in which Rachel Donald interviews Joseph Merz.

https://www.planetcritical.com/p/urgency-action-and-ethics-joseph?s=r

There are no easy solutions to the climate crisis—most governments admit their hope lies in technology which doesn’t even exist yet. Science and “visionaries” propose increasingly mad ideas, like refreezing the Arctic, or sending humans to live in Space. But given the urgency of the situation, would we be mad not to consider these mad ideas?

Joseph Merz thinks we’ve run out of time to ask questions. He founded the Merz Institute to combat the climate crisis, gathering some of the world’s best scientists to establish what is going wrong and how to fix it. He says the answer is behavioural change—and they’re developing a programme that would manipulate mass behaviour on a subconscious level.

How? Well, using the same techniques as the advertising industry.

Key points made include:

  • It is too late to avoid suffering caused by human overshoot.
  • There may still be time to make the future less bad.
  • All actions we might take to reduce future suffering require changes in human behavior to consume less and have fewer children.
  • Information and education to date have proven completely ineffective at changing human behavior in a positive direction, and we are out of time to try new methods of education.
  • The advertising industry has developed technologies that are very effective at manipulating people to desire and acquire things they do not need to be happy, and in many cases cannot afford.
  • Merz proposes to redeploy these proven marketing technologies to manipulate people to desire happiness associated with lower consumption and fewer children.

Neither Rachel Donald or Joseph Merz appear aware of Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory but I’m thinking that Merz’s proposal might sidestep the fatal flaw in most other overshoot harm reduction proposals that require humans to first acknowledge the reality of their predicament, which appears to be impossible because of MORT.

The beauty of Merz’s plan is that it does not require reality awareness because it will manipulate humans at a subconscious level.

It will be interesting to see if the marketing technologies are powerful enough to override the Maximum Power Principle (MPP) which is another powerful genetic behavior that pushes us in an overshoot direction. I’m thinking (without any evidence or data) that it might be possible to override the MPP because we are such a strong social species.

Godspeed to Merz and screw the ethics.

P.S. I doubt it is true, but I observe that if you assume the WEF Great Reset has good intentions grounded in overshoot awareness, it is possible they are thinking along the same lines as Merz with their “you will own nothing and be happy” campaign. The WEF campaign does seem rather clumsy compared to say associating happiness with a Corona beer on a high-carbon long distance vacation. I think it is more likely the WEF is trying to prepare citizens for a Minsky moment in which much asset ownership will transfer to the state.

P.P.S. It’s fascinating that so many overshoot aware people are active in the small country of New Zealand.

By Bill Rees: On the Virtues of Self-Delusion—or maybe not!

Dr. Bill Rees, Professor Emeritus from the University of British Columbia, gave a presentation on our overshoot predicament earlier this month to a zoom meeting of the Canadian Association for the Club of Rome (CACOR).

I’m a longtime fan of Dr. Rees and consider him to be one of the most aware and knowledgeable people on the planet.

This is, I believe, the best talk I’ve seen by Dr. Rees and he covers all of the important issues, including topics like overpopulation that most of his peers avoid.

Presentations like this will probably not change our trajectory but nevertheless I find some comfort knowing there are a few other people thinking about the same issues. This can be a very lonely space.

The Q&A is also very good. I found it interesting to hear how much effort Dr. Rees has made to educate our leaders about what we should be doing to reduce future suffering. He was frank that no one to date, including the Green party, is open to his message. Not surprising, but sad. Also inspiring that someone of his stature is at least trying.

Summary

Climate-change and other environmental organizations urge governments to act decisively/rapidly to decarbonize the economy and halt further development of fossil fuel reserves. These demands arguably betray:

– ignorance of the role of energy in the modern economy;

– ill-justified confidence in society’s ability to transition to 100% green renewable energy;

– no appreciation of the ecological consequences of attempting to do so and;

– little understanding of the social implications.

Without questioning the need to abandon fossil fuels, I will argue that the dream of a smooth energy transition is little more than a comforting shared illusion. Moreover, even if it were possible it would not solve climate change and would exacerbate the real existential threat facing society, namely overshoot.

I then explore some of the consequences and implications of (the necessary) abandonment of fossil fuels in the absence of adequate substitutes, and how governments and MTI society should be responding to these unspoken biophysical realities.

Biography

Dr. William Rees is a population ecologist, ecological economist, Professor Emeritus, and former Director of the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning.

His academic research focuses on the biophysical prerequisites for sustainability. This focus led to co-development (with his graduate students) of ecological footprint analysis, a quantitative tool that shows definitively that the human enterprise is in dysfunctional overshoot. (We would need five Earth-like planets to support just the present world population sustainably with existing technologies at North American material standards.)

Frustrated by political unresponsiveness to worsening indicators, Dr. Rees also studies the biological and psycho-cognitive barriers to environmentally rational behavior and policies. He has authored hundreds of peer reviewed and popular articles on these topics. Dr. Rees is a Fellow of Royal Society of Canada and also a Fellow of the Post-Carbon Institute; a founding member and former President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics; a founding Director of the OneEarth Initiative; and a Director of The Real Green New Deal. He was a full member of the Club of Rome from 2013 until 2018. His international awards include the Boulding Memorial Award in Ecological Economics, the Herman Daly Award in Ecological Economics and a Blue Planet Prize (jointly with his former student, Dr. Mathis Wackernagel).

I left the following comment on YouTube:

I’m a fellow British Columbian and longtime admirer of Dr. Rees. Thank you for the excellent presentation.

I agree with Dr. Rees’ prescription for what needs to be done but I think there’s a step that must precede his first step of acknowledging our overshoot predicament.

Given the magnitude and many dimensions of our predicament an obvious question is why do so few people see it?

I found a theory by Dr. Ajit Varki that provides a plausible explanation, and answers other important questions about our unique species.

The Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory posits that the human species with its uniquely powerful intelligence exists because it evolved to deny unpleasant realities.

If true, this implies that the first step to any positive meaningful change must be to acknowledge our tendency to deny unpleasant realities.

Varki explains his theory here:

https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007%2F978-3-030-25466-7_6

A nice video summary by Varki is here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dqgYqW2Kgkg

My interpretations of the theory are here:
https://un-denial.com/denial-2/theory-short/

https://un-denial.com/2015/11/12/undenial-manifesto-energy-and-denial/

By Andrew Nikiforuk: Energy Dead-Ends: Green Lies, Climate Change and Chaotic Transitions

Canadian author and journalist Andrew Nikiforuk addressed our overshoot reality on November 17, 2021 at the University of Victoria.

It’s a brilliant must watch talk that touches on every important issue, except unfortunately Ajit Varki’s MORT theory and our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities. Nikiforuk does acknowledge that denial is an important force in our predicament.

It’s refreshing to find a journalist that understands what’s going on and that speaks plainly about what we must do.

Nikiforuk introduced a new idea (for me), the “technological imperium”:

…our biggest problem is a self-augmenting, ever-expanding technosphere, which has but one rule: to grow at any cost and build technological artifacts that efficiently dominate human affairs and the biosphere. The technological imperium consumes energy and materials in order to replace all natural systems with artificial ones dependent on high energy inputs and unmanageable complexity.

Nikiforuk seems to be implying that technology is the core problem and is driving the bus. Maybe. I think more likely advanced technology emerges as a consequence of unique intelligence (explained by MORT) coupled with fortuitous buried fossil energy, driven by a desire for infinite economic growth that arises from evolved behaviors expressing the Maximum Power Principle (MPP), all enabled by our genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities, which causes us to ignore the costs of growth and technology. Regardless of which is the chicken and which is the egg, Nikiforuk is correct that technology has made our society very fragile, and is harming our social fabric.

An example Nikiforuk provided of the technological imperium is British Columbia’s trend of replacing sustainable natural salmon runs in rivers with fish farms that are totally dependent on non-renewable fossil energy and advanced technology. I’ve witnessed this first hand on the coast of Vancouver Island and it makes me sick to my stomach. I also witnessed how hard it is to oppose the technological imperium when a political party here was elected on a promise to close fish farms and then reneged after being elected.

As an aside, the technological imperium idea gave me a new insight into the covid mass psychosis of most rich countries and their obsession with a single high tech “solution” to covid while aggressively opposing all other less energy intensive, less risky, and lower tech responses.  

Nikiforuk began his talk with a quote I like from C.S. Lewis:

If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth, only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair.

I observe sadly that this must watch video has only 160 views, 3 of which are mine. 😦

Here are a few other ideas and quotes I captured while watching the talk:

  • “We have all but destroyed this once salubrious planet as a life support system in fewer than 200 years mainly by making thermodynamic whoopee with fossil fuels.” – Kurt Vonnegut
  • “Our political class is in a complete state of denial and will not act until things get much worse. You can expect more blah blah blah.”
  • “Energy spending determines greenhouse gas emissions. We only want to talk about emissions, we need to talk about energy spending.”
  • “We must contract the global economy by at least 40%.”
  • “We can choose a managed energy decent, something few civilizations have ever achieved, or we can face collapse.”
  • “People who do not face the truth turn themselves into monsters”. – James Baldwin
  • “In sum, expect extreme volatility and political unrest in the years ahead along with atmospheric rivers, heat domes, and burning forests.”
  • “We are now at revolutionary levels of inequality everywhere.”
  • “We are being fed 5 green lies because we do not want to discuss economic growth and population:
    • dematerialize the economy;
    • direct air capture;
    • carbon capture and storage;
    • hydrogen;
    • electric cars.”
  • “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” – Frank Herbert
  • Conversations we avoid or deny:
    • Population
      • “There is no problem on earth that does not become easier to manage with fewer people. We don’t want to admit this, we don’t want to talk about this.”
      • We are currently using up the renewable resources of 1.7 earths and unless things change we’ll need 3 earths by 2050.
    • Energy Blindness
      • Our energy is so cheap and convenient it has blinded us to its true ecological, political, and social costs.
      • “Energy has always been the basis of cultural complexity and it always will be.” – Joseph Tainter
      • A single tomato today requires 10 tablespoons of diesel to grow it.
    • The Technosphere
      • An energy dissipating superorganism that destroys natural systems and replaces them with artificial systems dependent on high energy technologies.
        • Wild salmon running in rivers are replaced with fish farms.
        • Wetlands are replaced with water filtration projects.
        • Old growth forests are replaced with tree plantations.
      • Technology is to this civilization what the catholic church was to 14th century France, the dominant institution that controls every aspect of your life.
      • “A major fact of our present civilization is that more and more sin becomes collective, and the individual is forced to participate in collective sin.” – Jacques Ellul
      • “A low energy policy allows for a wide choice of lifestyles and cultures. If on the other hand a society opts for high energy spending its social relations must be dictated by technocracy and will be equally degrading whether labelled capitalist or socialist.” – Ivan Illich
    • Civilizations Do Collapse
      • Life is a cycle, it is not a linear path.
      • We have peaked and are now entering a phase of incredible volatility.
      • Every citizen needs to know the consequences of bad policy. Percent death on the Titanic by class was:
        • 39% first class
        • 58% second class
        • 76% steerage
  • What should you do with this awareness?
    • Withdraw from the fray of the Technosphere.
    • Do something to help preserve the natural world.
    • Get your hands dirty doing real work in nature.
    • Insist that creation has a value beyond utility.
      • “Think, less” – Wendell Berry
    • Build refuges and prepare for the storms ahead.
    • Wake each morning and ask yourself what you can give to this world rather than what you can take.
  • Comments and answers from the Q&A:
    • “The worst thing about the pandemic was that so many people and so many children were forced to spend so much time with colonizing machines.”
    • “We have to get a political conversation going about contracting the economy.” This won’t happen at the central government level but might happen within individual communities.
    • “Chance favors the prepared mind.”
    • “The only way we can get out of this mess without sacrificing millions and millions of people is to power down.”

Two weeks later, Nikiforuk reflected on his talk and responded to questions:

https://thetyee.ca/Analysis/2021/12/06/Andrew-Nikiforuk-Getting-Real-About-Our-Crises/

Two weeks ago, I gave a talk at the University of Victoria arguing that our morally bankrupt civilization is chasing dead ends when it comes to climate change and energy spending.

I argued that by focusing on emissions, we have failed to acknowledge economic and population growth as the primary driver of those emissions along with the unrestrained consumption of natural systems that support all life.

I added that people plus affluence plus technology make a deadly algorithm that is now paving our road to collective ruin.

As Ronald Wright noted in his book A Short History of Progress, civilization is a pyramid scheme that depends on cancerous rates of growth.

I also explained that many so-called green technologies including renewables, hydrogen and carbon capture and storage are not big solutions. Because they require rare earth minerals and fossil fuels for their production and maintenance, these technologies shift problems around.

In addition these green technologies cannot be scaled up in time to cut emissions or require too much energy to make any difference at all.

I also emphasized that our biggest problem is a self-augmenting, ever-expanding technosphere, which has but one rule: to grow at any cost and build technological artifacts that efficiently dominate human affairs and the biosphere. The technological imperium consumes energy and materials in order to replace all natural systems with artificial ones dependent on high energy inputs and unmanageable complexity.

This technological assault on the biosphere and our consciousness has greatly weakened our capacity to pay attention to what matters, let alone how to think. The result is a highly polarized and anxious society that can’t imagine its own collapse let alone the hazards of its own destructive thinking.

The best response to this constellation of emergencies is to actively shrink the technosphere and radically reduce economic growth and energy spending. Our political class can’t imagine such a conversation.

At the same time, communities and families must re-localize their lives, disconnect from the global machine and actively work to restore degraded ecosystems such as old-growth forests. Anyone who expects an “easy fix” or convenient set of solutions has spent too much time being conditioned by digital machines.

My cheerful talk generated scores of questions. There wasn’t time to answer them, so I selected five representative queries submitted via Zoom in the interest of keeping this heretical conversation going.

Growth in population tied to consumption is a big problem

Many listeners expressed disquiet about population growth being an essential part of the problem. “I am disappointed that once again Malthus has entered the room when the difference between per capita emissions for GHGs between the Global North and Global South are significant. Isn’t it how we live not how many of us there are?” asked one.

The real answer is uncomfortable. How we live and consume matters just as much as the growing density of our numbers combined with the proliferation of our machines that devour energy on our behalf. (Roads and cell phones all consume energy and materials too.) All three demographic issues are increasing at unsustainable rates and feed each other to propel more economic growth, more emissions and more fragility.

The world’s current population is 7.9 billion and grows by 80 million a year. It has slowed down in recent years because the affluent don’t need the energy of children as much as the poor. Even so civilization will add another billion to the planet every dozen years. Redistributing energy wealth (and emissions) from the rich to the poor will not avert disaster if human populations don’t overall decline.

Our numbers also reflect a demographic anomaly that began with fossil fuels, a cheap energy source that served as Viagra for the species. Prior to our discovery of fossil fuels, the population of the planet never exceeded one billion. Our excessive numbers are purely a temporary artifact of cheap energy spending and all that it entails — everything from fertilizer to modern medicine.

Isn’t capitalism the real threat?

Many questions revolved around the nature of capitalism. “Wouldn’t it be more accurate to denounce the capitalist organization of technology rather than technology as such for problems like polarization and fragmentation?”

No, it would not. Technology emphasizes growth and concentrates power regardless of the ideology.

Capitalism, like socialism and communism, is simply a way to use energy to create technologies that structure society in homogeneous ways. Removing capitalism from the equation would not change the totalitarian nature of technology itself. Or the ability of technologies to colonize local cultures anywhere.

Every ideology on Earth, to date, has used technologies to strengthen their grip on power by enmeshing their citizens in complexity and reducing humanity to a series of efficiencies. All have supported digital infrastructure to monitor and survey their citizens. As the sociologist Jacques Ellul noted long ago ideologies don’t count in the face of technological imperative.

What comes next?

Many listeners asked if “there is a sequel to the energy-rich market economy?” I have no crystal ball but here is my response.

There will always be some kind of sequel and it is not written. But there is no replacement for cheap fossil fuels and their density and portability. They made our complex civilization what it is. As fossil fuel resources become ever more expensive and difficult to extract (a reality the media ignores), the “rich market economy” will experience more volatility, inequality, disruptions, corruption and inflation. It is rare for any civilization to manage an energy descent without violence let alone grace.

“Can you say more about the connection between the technosphere and totalitarian societies?” asked one listener. “How do you see connections between dictatorships and the technosphere?”

This is a subject for a much longer essay. The technosphere, by definition, offers only one system of thinking and operating (triumph of technique over all endeavors) and has been eroding human freedoms for decades. It simply creates dependents or inmates. Social influencers now tell its residents what to buy and how to behave. As such the technosphere has become an all-encompassing environment for citizens whether they be so-called democracies or totalitarian societies.

The major difference between the two is simply the degree to which techniques have been applied to give the state more total control over its citizens. In both democratic societies and totalitarian ones, technical elites actively mine citizens for data so that information can be used to engineer, monitor and survey the behavior of their anxious and unhappy citizens in a technological society. (You can’t live in a technological society without becoming an abstraction.) The Chinese state does not hide its intentions; the West still clings to its illusions of freedom.

The technosphere corrupts language

One listener wanted to know “more about the empty language” employed by the technosphere as I mentioned in my talk.

Just as the technosphere has replaced bird song with digital beeps, the technological imperium has increasingly replaced meaningful language with techno-speak.

A world dominated by reductionist and mechanistic thinking has produced its own Lego-like language completely divorced from natural reality. Decades ago the German linguist Uwe Poerksen called this new evolving language “plastic words.”

They include words like environment, process, organization, structure, development, identity and care. All can be effortlessly combined to convey bullshit: “the development of the environment with care is a process.” This modular language creates its own tyranny of meaningless expression.

Experts, technicians, politicians and futurists employ this plastic language to baffle, confuse and obfuscate. Poerksen notes these words are pregnant with money, lack historical dimension and refer to no local or special place. This language, divorced from all context, does to thinking what a bulldozer does to a forest. It flattens it.

Hope is not a pill you take in the morning or a crumb left at the table

Last but not least many listeners asked how do we maintain hope in the face of so many emergencies, abuses and appalling political leadership?

“How do you get up in the morning?” typically asked one.

This frequent question confounds and puzzles me. My humble job as a journalist is not to peddle soft soap or cheerlead for ideologies and futurists. My job is not to manufacture hope let alone consent. I have achieved something small if I can help readers differentiate between what matters and what doesn’t and highlight the power implications in between.

Yet in a technological society most everyone seeks an easy, canned message pointing to a bright future. I cannot in good conscience tell anyone, let alone my own children, that the days ahead will be happy or bright ones. To everything there is a season and our civilization has now, step by step, entered a season of discord and chaos. History moves like life itself in a cycle of birth, life, death and renewal.

Jacques Ellul, who wrote prophetically about the inherent dangers of technological society, also addressed the need for authentic hope because it does not reside in the technosphere. The technosphere, a sterile prison, may promise to design your future with plastic words, but what it really offers is the antithesis of hope.

Ellul, a radical Christian, wrote deeply much about hope and freedom. He noted that hope never abandons people who care about a place and are rooted outside the technosphere for they will always know what to do by their real connection to real things. He adds that hope cannot be divorced from the virtues of faith and love. Like all virtues they must be quietly lived, not daily signalled.

For Ellul, hope was a combination of vigilant expectation, prayer and realism. “Freedom is the ethical expression of the person who hopes,” he once wrote.

Hope is living fully in a place you care about and acting against the abuse of power every day. Hope, in other words, is using every initiative “to restore the possibility of people making their own decisions.”

P.S. This talk inspired me to make my first donation to a news source, The Tyee, for which in 2010 Nikiforuk became its first writer in residence.

Water is flowing uphill. Why?

El gato malo does more intelligent analysis in a week than the idiots in our governments do in a year.

Today’s analysis suggests Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche was correct in predicting that applying a leaky vaccine effective at preventing sickness in the middle of a pandemic was a very bad idea.

https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/are-leaky-vaccines-driving-delta

all a virus wants is to replicate. “make a copy of me and pass it on.” that’s the biological imperative of the selfish gene. excel at it, you win. fail, you disappear. simple as that.

killing or harming the host is maladaptive to viral spread. it’s like burning down your own house with your car in the garage. now you have nowhere to live and no way to get around. that’s not a recipe for reproductive fitness.

so viruses evolve to become less, not more virulent. they do not want to kill you. ideally, they’d like to help you. figure out how to be a useful symbiote, and you get a huge boost in propagation. (mitochondria were probably bacteria that were so useful, all our cells incorporated them.)

so seeing case fatality rate (CFR) rise in a variant of a virus is like watching water flow uphill. it’s not supposed to do that and when it does, you need to suspect some external force acting on it.

and we’re seeing water flow uphill here.

Key points:

  • Case Fatality Rate (CFR) is rising for Delta and is probably not caused by Antibody Dependent Enhancement (ADE) or Original Antigenic Sin (OAS) because CFR is rising in both vaccinated and unvaccinated, and is not rising in previously infected, and Vaccine Efficacy (VE) for deaths remains good.
  • The most probable explanation is Vaccine Mediated Evolution (VME) in which a leaky vaccine that keeps the host healthy causes the virus to evolve to a more deadly variant.
  • Vaccine Efficacy (VE) on spread is negative (bad) because infected people don’t know they’re infected which accelerates spread.
  • Everyone is harmed but unvaccinated are worse off creating the illusion that the vaccines are a good idea.

it’s just simple math. if we do something to one group that makes their death rate rise from 1 to 2 per 100 but that also makes the death rate in another group rise from 1 to 4 per 100, that looks like a VE of 50%. in reality, it’s killing 100% more vaxxed people and 300% more of the unvaxxed.

mistaking that gas pedal for the brake and pushing ever harder when you fail to slow would represent an accelerating disaster curve.

I like that el gato malo seeks to prove himself wrong. That’s a strong signal for someone with integrity and intelligence that we should trust.

it’s still, or course, possible that i’m wrong, but this is looking more and more like it has to be the answer. i can find nothing else fits the facts and the facts themselves are weird enough that “it’s just normal” does not look like a satisfying explanation either and we have enough features here that we can really start testing our puzzle pieces. this one aligns in an AWFUL lot of places.

for something this odd to happen, it takes a truly uncommon exogenous stressor.

i’m just not seeing what else it could be than vaccine mediated selection for hotter variants driving pernicious delta evolution.

so, i’m putting this out to you all to see if you can find some other explanation for what’s going on that fits these facts.

looking forward to the peer review as, honestly, i hope i’m wrong here. this is not an outcome that anyone wants. it’s the nightmare scenario both as a pandemic and as a political horror in the making as if this was an “own-goal”, what would the experts and politicians that pushed this plan not be willing to do to avoid accepting the blame?

because this is career or pharma franchise polonium, and that’s if you’re lucky.

I also very much like that el gato malo does not subscribe to crazy conspiracies that lack evidence. I would of course augment el gato malo’s explanation by including an element of genetic reality denial in our leaders.

“But what is the end game if purposefully designed this way?”

i don’t think it was. i think these fools really thought mRNA and adenovirus carrier vaccines would be sterilizing.

they pushed them as herd immunity.

having it all fall apart cornered them but by the time they knew it, they were “pot committed” and had already vaxxed 100’s of millions of people.

this has been this shiny tech they have been trying to make work (and recoup money on) for decades and failing over and over.

i doubt this was deliberate. it was just stunningly arrogant and reckless.

So now the million dollar question:

Assuming a better explanation does not emerge, what should an unvaccinated person do?

Prioritizing self-preservation this analysis suggests one should either:

  • get vaccinated, or
  • acquire natural immunity by deliberately getting infected before the variants become more deadly, and apply early treatment protocols to maximize the probability of a successful recovery.

Choosing to get vaccinated makes the most sense if:

  • you are in a high risk group (old or obese)
  • you do not care about worsening the overall outcome for both vaccinated and unvaccinated.

Choosing natural immunity makes the most sense if:

  • you are in a low risk group
  • you are concerned about the yet to be established long term health effects of the novel vaccines
  • you want to be a good citizen and do what is best for everyone.

I’m old but not obese which makes the choice difficult.

I’m going to watch the data and hope for a better explanation to emerge for a while longer before making a decision.

You can’t make this shit up: observe that our “leaders” are pushing hard in exactly the opposite direction of what wise leaders would do if this VME hypothesis is correct:

  • stop further vaccination of low risk people
  • start collecting the data necessary to prove or disprove this hypothesis
  • promote healthy immune systems (vitamin D, weight loss, etc.)
  • aggressively evaluate and deploy promising early treatment protocols (Ivermectin etc.)
  • aggressively investigate root causes and modify policies to prevent a recurrence.

One more observation to make you admire our “leaders” even less:

the same NIH that was funding the GoF research in wuhan miraculously had the viral code to drop into the moderna mRNA vaccine in under 2 weeks.

that always smelled like a sushi bar dumpster.

https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/were-some-folks-a-little-too-prepared

17-Oct-2021 Addition

In a paper today, Dr. Geert Vanden Bossche argues that boosters will probably boost the virulence of Delta rather than long term protection from severe disease.

Israel is misreading their booster results by only tracking booster effectiveness for 12 days.

https://www.geertvandenbossche.org/post/what-happens-if-israel-fails-the-stress-test

17-Oct-2021 Addition

El gato malo reviewed new UK data today which supports his Vaccine Mediated Evolution (VME) hypothesis.

Rate of cases down 30% from a year ago. CFR up 3x since June.

getting 50% protection from a tripling in virulence caused by the vaccines is still a net loser for the vaccinated. and it’s savage for the unvaccinated. everyone loses. and this evolution is ongoing.

establishing what is going on here should be the all hands on deck mission of global public health right now.

none of us want to be living in the world where we leaky-vaxxed ourselves into a second pandemic by reversing the evolution of one that was about to go endemic and harmless.

that’s a terrible place to be.

but if that IS where we are, we need to know, and we need to know right now.

https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/is-this-the-smoking-gun-for-leaky

I keep searching for a rational reason for the obsession with 100% vaccination, other than assuming every health official in every country of the world is corrupt, because that seems improbable.

What if they’re aware of the Vaccine Mediated Evolution (VME) trend and know that their mistake of vaccinating more than the high risk with a leaky vaccine will kill many more unvaccinated than vaccinated?

They can’t disclose the real reason for the push for 100% because they would lose their credibility and jobs.

This would also explain why they’re so willing to accept possible long term vaccine side effects in low risk children.

It’s analogous to continuing to print money long after it no longer provides a net benefit, because you know if you stop many will be harmed on your watch, and if you continue, many more may be harmed in the future, but it will be on someone else’s watch, and maybe someone will think of something by then.

21-Oct-2021 Addition

A fresh, intelligent, clean sheet, big picture review of vaccine efficacy vs. risk. I remain impressed with el gato malo’s productivity and clarity of thought.

https://boriquagato.substack.com/p/properly-measuring-vaccine-efficacy

– measuring vaccine efficacy as % reduction in likelihood of severe outcomes can be misleading

– we must also measure absolute risk reduction. 50% drop from 20% risk is very different from 50% drop on 0.2% risk

– vaccines seem to show % efficacy in reducing hospitalization and death

– but for the young, healthy, and recovered, risk was already so low that the absolute drop does not look like good risk/reward vs side effect profile of the vaccines

– vaccines do not provide sterilizing protection against spread and seem to make it worse. there is no case to be made for societal obligation to vaccinate to protect others.

– mandating vaccination rather than allowing personal choice based on individual circumstance will inflict net harm on a great many people

– that’s immoral and represents medical malpractice

book review by AJ: Our One and Only Spaceship: Denial, Delusion and the Population Crisis by Eric Pianka & Laurie Vitt (2019)

Thanks to AJ for contributing this book review.

https://oneandonlyspaceship.com/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/our-one-and-only-spaceship-eric-pianka/1133496721?ean=9781733030533

Publisher’s Summary

Ecologists Eric R. Pianka (University of Texas) and Laurie J. Vitt (University of Oklahoma) provide a scientific summary of the overpopulation crisis facing humanity and itemize its many consequences, including climate change (global warming), conservation biology, economic systems, energy and resource shortages, human instincts, immigration conflicts, politics, pollution, poverty, technological problems, and solutions needed. Their underlying thesis is that denial and delusion work synergistically to undermine our ability to confront these serious issues, and unless we undertake proactive measures now, overpopulation and its impact on resource competition and climate change will ultimately lead to the collapse of civilization.

Authors’ Overview

In Road to Survival 70 years ago, William Vogt tried to call attention to the human overpopulation crisis, but failed. Paul Ehrlich raised this issue again 20 years later but was also widely ignored. We wish to re-open this long overdue and much needed discussion about population, a toxic topic that politicians globally avoid. We have written a book “Our One and Only Spaceship:Denial, Delusion and the Population Crisis.” We are two well-known ecologists Eric R. Pianka (University of Texas) and Laurie J. Vitt (University of Oklahoma).

Our book is based on a great deal of research that we have conducted into the topic and on a course that Pianka taught. http://www.zo.utexas.edu/courses/THOC/

We have edited and written books together, both scientific and semi-popular. Using fact-based analyses, we make the case that human population size and growth is the greatest threat to human survival, and that most if not every major global problem (including spread of AIDS and other communicable diseases, wars and other conflicts, climate change and in particular global warming, food water and energy shortages, poverty, political unrest, pollution, extinctions, etc.) are all direct results of overpopulation. Our birth rate far exceeds our death rate and the current global population of 7.7 billion in itself is unsustainable even without additional growth. This has put us on a collision course with disaster. It is perilous to remain in denial about all of the threats emanating from overpopulation.

As we become ever more and more desperate in trying to provide resources necessary to meet critical demands, our environmental problems will only worsen as we continue to deregulate thus allowing increased exploitation of dwindling natural resources. The thin skin of life on our planet is seriously threatened by the actions of a single species, Homo sapiens. Remarkably, even with our putative high intelligence, we don’t seem to be able to even admit that the problem is population such that discussions can begin on how to stop population growth. One thing is certain, it must and will stop—either we can do it through a series of logical steps (educating the public, coming up with a global plan, implementing the plan), or it will occur as the result of a combination of wars over resources, spread of infectious disease, or even famine. Such a discussion will have a greater impact on human survival than any of the many news stories currently dominating our media.

Overpopulation has only one outcome, and we have all seen it when mold takes over an orange—unlike mold growing on an orange, we do not have another “orange” to which we can send our offspring (There is no planet B). We are fully aware that discussions on population are “politically incorrect” and will be extremely sensitive to many people (especially religious groups) who take up arms in response to any discussion to limit reproduction. The ultimate biological reason for this response is simply that our genes control much of what we do, and reproduction is the currency of future generations. A more proximate reason is simply that our hormonal systems kick in when we reach puberty and all reason is washed away in the maelstrom of hormonal activity pushing us to reproduce. We must do something — ignoring our pressing problem and expecting it to go away is like hoping in vain to win the mega-lottery.

AJ’s Review

This is my brief review of the book, “Our One and Only Spaceship” subtitled “Denial, Delusion and the Population Crisis” written by Drs. Eric Pianka and Laurie Vitt. Copyright 2019.

I came across this book through one of the comments on your website. Since it was one of the few books that concerned population (in the title) I decided to buy it and read it.

The authors are ecologists. Dr. Eric Pianka is a Professor at UT Austin and Dr. Laurie Vitt is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Oklahoma, Norman. The forward was by Paul & Anne Ehrlich.

I overall liked the book. My feeling is that it is somewhat like Tom Murphy’s book and was intended for an intro college course in ecology/sustainability (without the math). That said I never had the impression that the authors were talking down to the reader.

There is some hope in this book. “This generation will be the last with decision-making powers to save our spaceship for all future earth-lings, including human beings.” But as the authors state in the Prologue, “The problem can be easily framed in three words, population, population, and population.” Human civilization is in overshoot and that we in the west are living far beyond the carrying capacity of the planet is covered in detail. So, the problem is both overshoot and population.  

There is an acknowledgement that denial and optimism bias are part of our problem. But, I think that the authors are also in a little denial, “If humans are to survive into the next century, we need to reduce population growth, convert to renewable energy sources, use much less energy overall, and develop a plan for the future this is based on fact and not on fiction.” Their opinion is that we can maintain much of our technology (through “green” tech transition) and slowly reduce population with education and enlightenment. I don’t know if they really believe this or like Tom Murphy need to give students something positive to live for in the face of a depressing predicament.

Don’t get me wrong. This book touched all the right notes and I only disagreed with a tiny bit of it. I thought that the preface/into to the last chapter was perhaps the best quote I have seen on our place in the universe (other than Rob’s quote):

“Man did not have forever to harness the forces of the sun and stars. The Sun was an elderly light, long past the turbulent heat of youth, and would some day join the senile class of once-luminiferous bodies. In some incredibly remote time a chance collision might blow it up again into incandescent gas and start a new local cosmic cycle, but of man there would be no trace. In Balfours’s terms, he “will go down into the pit, and all his thoughts will perish. The uneasy consciousness, which in this obscure corner has for a brief space broken the contented silence of the universe, will be at rest. Matter will know itself no longer. ‘Imperishable monuments’ and ‘immortal deeds,’ death itself, and love stronger than death, will be as though they had never been. Nor will anything that IS be better or worse for all that labour, genius, devotion and suffering of man have striven through countless generation to effect.” –Homer Smith (1952) “Man and His Gods” and Earl Balfour (1895) “Foundations of Belief”

Eric Pianka on Kurt Vonnegut‘s Requiem:

From a presentation by Eric Pianka:

Take us to DEFCON 1

The US military defines its Defense Readiness Condition (DEFCON) levels as follows:

  • DEFCON 5 is normal readiness.
  • DEFCON 4 is above normal readiness.
  • DEFCON 3 is the air force ready to mobilize in 15 minutes.
  • DEFCON 2 is all forces ready to fight in 6 hours.
  • DEFCON 1 is the maximum state of readiness and means nuclear war is imminent or has already started.

I have my own definitions that I use for my personal life.

I spent the first 50 years of my life at DEFCON level 5. That would be as a normal, fully in denial, culturally conforming, dopamine & status seeking, energy maximizing, member of a superorganism.

Then I had a stress related meltdown and while recovering stumbled on peak oil. After seeking and failing to find a good path forward other than population reduction, I wondered what else I was in denial about, and widened my field of view to include climate change, pollution, species extinction, unsustainable debt, etc., all of which I eventually came to understand are related and fall under the umbrella of human overshoot.

Now at DEFCON level 4, a realty based state of awareness, I began to think about making changes to my life, took a 6 month course on small scale farming, and did some volunteer work on a small organic farm.

Then the 2008 global financial crisis (GFC) occurred and I went to DEFCON level 3.

Confident that a collapse would occur within 10 years, I changed everything in my life. A new location where I’d be happy finishing my life, a simpler slower lifestyle, satisfying physical work, improved health, and thank goodness, Varki’s MORT theory to keep me sane with an explanation for the insanity all around me.

I also began to methodically plan and implement some preparations for a different world that I expected would arrive soon. The basic idea was to convert some retirement savings into things needed to survive and/or that might provide some joy in a harsher simpler world, and that won’t go bad, will never be cheaper, or better quality, or more available than today.

In hindsight I didn’t have a powerful enough imagination to predict that our leaders would loan into existence many trillions of dollars that can never possibly be repaid, to avoid having to acknowledge overshoot, and to extend and pretend business as usual a few extra years, at the expense of making our destination worse, but they did.

Then early in 2020 I saw the Chinese panicking over a virus before anyone here was discussing it, and I went to DEFCON level 2.

Now I got serious about completing most of my preps, which was an easy low stress exercise, because I already had a plan and simply had to execute it.

By the time the majority was scrambling, I was done, and completely calm and confident.

Today, two years into the pandemic, I’m seeing threats that have caused me to go to DEFCON level 1:

  • Many supply chains are broken and are getting worse, not better. This is a strong signal that our complex civilization is simplifying in unpredictable ways, as predicted by David Korowicz.
  • Energy shortages have emerged simultaneously in multiple strategically important regions. This is a big deal because fossil energy underpins everything our species depends on to survive. Net energy peaked a few years ago and we have been on a plateau made wider by unprecedented money printing, but once we fall over the edge I believe the decline will be much faster than the few percent per year that an unstressed geology and monetary system would deliver. I do not know if we’ve already fallen off the plateau, but I do know it will happen soon, and when it does, the changes will be profound, rapid, and painful. Regardless if the current energy problems prove to be temporary, they are a serious threat to an already fragile economy, civil society, and war-free world.
  • The Chinese economy is showing signs of stress from excess debt similar to the west’s 2008 GFC. Our vulnerability to a sick China is much greater than most assume because everything we depend on is dependent on Asian manufacturing, and a functioning global shipping system, and a functioning global banking system. This time I doubt more debt will fix an excess debt problem.
  • There are worrying signals that our vaccination policy is failing with health risks for both vaccinated and unvaccinated increasing, and that the boosters everyone is counting on may not work.
  • The leaders of the majority of countries seem incapable of absorbing and integrating evidence to improve their Covid strategy. If they are incapable of effectively managing Covid, we can be confident they will not be capable of managing the much more complex and profound implications of declining energy and the economic contraction it will cause.
  • All paths lead to food and we are 3 missed meals away from civil disorder. The climate seems to have shifted a gear this year and I expect this will negatively impact agricultural yields soon. Energy shortages will also negatively impact food production and distribution. As will supply chain problems. As will more Covid problems. As will a global economic depression.

DEFCON level 1 does not mean I’m expecting the end of the world, but it does mean I intend to complete everything I can think of to prepare for what I think is coming, on the assumption that we are near the end zone, and that by the time our arrival is confirmed, it will probably be too late to do anything.

There’s nothing wrong with being prepared a little early. Especially when being late means it may be impossible to prepare.

Chris Martenson is thinking along the same lines and recently produced an excellent video explaining what’s happening around the world with energy.