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.

Retreat to Sanity

I’m new to the work of Dr. Malcolm Kendrick but a skim of his blog suggests he has many wise things to say and has written several books that I intend to read.

I was unable to find many videos with Dr. Kendrick, and some that were on YouTube have been deleted by censors, but I did very much enjoy this must watch November 2020 discussion on Covid19.

Today’s essay by Dr. Kendrick may be the best I’ve read on Covid19 and nicely articulates how I’ve been feeling of late.

https://drmalcolmkendrick.org/2021/09/03/i-have-not-been-silenced/

Despite Dr. Kendrick’s expertise, intelligence, curiosity, and determination, he has been unable to determine what is true about Covid19, and has decided to retreat to sanity.

My self-appointed role within the COVID19 mayhem, was to search for the truth – as far as it could be found – and to attempt to provide useful information for those who wish to read my blog.

The main reason for prolonged silence, and introspection, is that I am not sure I can find the truth. I do not know if it can be found anymore. Today I am unsure what represents a fact, and what has simply been made up. A sad and scary state of affairs.

… So, I have given up on COVID19. It is a complete mess, and I feel that, without being certain of the ground under my feet, I have nothing to contribute. I too am in danger of starting to make statements that are not true.

… faced with a situation where there are almost no facts that can be relied upon, from anywhere, I have officially removed myself from all discussions on the matter of COVID19.

Instead, I shall return to other areas where, whilst the truth is constantly battered and bruised, and lying in a bruised heap the corner, it is still breathing … just about alive. Sometimes it is capable of weakly raising its head and whispering quietly into my ear. I shall let you know what it says.

Before departing the arena Dr. Kendrick summarized what he believes is true about Covid19:

  • SARS-CoV2 probably resulted from gain of function research in the Wuhan lab, but we’ll probably never know for certain.
  • The current versions of SARS-CoV2 are a bit more deadly than our modern influenzas with an infection fatality rate (IFR) of about 0.15%.
  • None of the test data can be trusted.
  • It is impossible to compare the effectiveness of various strategies using available data.
  • Misinformation exists on all sides of the debate.
  • Everyone has an agenda including the fact-checkers.

I’m going to try to follow Kendrick’s lead and return my focus to the many much more important overshoot issues that are grounded in reliable science that we collectively deny.

Descending Into Madness

I think our society is going mad because there are so many overshoot related problems converging at once that our inherited denial mechanism is overloaded, with no leaders who understand what’s going on, few experts willing to speak publicly, and no honest discussion about what’s happening, nor what we should do.

I expect something will snap soon in a bad way.

Symptoms I see include:

  • We talk about everything except what matters. For example, our climate has shifted a gear, and peak oil is behind us, yet there is zero discussion about food security or the need for population reduction.
  • We’ve polarized into tribes that are unable to contemplate or respect or discuss the beliefs of another tribe. We attack or ignore opponents rather than engage in respectful debate. We’ve always tended to do this, but it’s getting worse.
  • Facts are irrelevant to beliefs. When facts are unsure or complex we are unable to admit uncertainty. While common throughout history, this phenomenon is getting worse, and is now pervasive in our intellectual leaders.
  • We’re totally dependent for everything we need to survive from other countries that we now view as enemies, yet we never discuss the need for more resilience.
  • We embrace solutions that have zero probability of improving a problem. Think green new deal.
  • Our response to problems often worsens the outcome. For example, printing trillions to further inflate a bubble that when it pops will do additional damage to that which we’re trying to protect.
  • We embrace leaders who created a problem to fix a problem, and there are no longer consequences for illegal or unethical behavior. Think Fauci.

This excellent new video has many useful insights despite the producers not being aware of Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory.

MASS PSYCHOSIS – How an Entire Population Becomes MENTALLY ILL

A mass psychosis is an epidemic of madness and it occurs when a large portion of the society loses touch with reality and descends into delusions.

Totalitarianism is the greatest threat.

Dr. David Martin – (Covid is) A Manufactured Illusion

Dr. David Martin has done a detailed review of the 73+ patents relevant to Covid and the facts are shocking and speak for themselves.

I’m allergic to conspiracies but this one smells real to me.

Everything we are being told by our “leaders” about Covid is apparently wrong.

I watched this July 9 video presentation three times before posting it because it’s so evil that it’s hard to digest and accept.

Click this link to watch the video from it’s Odysee source:

https://odysee.com/@FwapUK:1/A-manufactured-illusion.-Dr-David-Martin-with-Reiner-Fuellmich-9_7_21_-720p:5

Here is a copy on YouTube which may disappear soon:

Here is a document with references for fact checking Martin’s claims:

Not mentioned by Martin but additive to the case against our “leaders” is:

  • aggressive undermining and censorship of Ivermectin, an inexpensive and safe drug for prevention and treatment;
  • no promotion of inexpensive and safe methods for strengthening immune systems;
  • irrational policies such as vaccinating people who have recovered from Covid;
  • no debate of Dr. Bossche’s theory that a mass vaccination campaign during a pandemic with a non-sterilizing vaccine may create more dangerous variants that are immune to the vaccine and a vaccine degraded natural immune system;
  • no investigation of the virus source nor measures to prevent a recurrence.

I feel like I’m having a seriously deranged dream.

If anyone is able to re-spin the data Martin presents into a pro-social or benign scenario, I would be grateful to hear your ideas.

Reality Blind by Nate Hagens and DJ White

Nate Hagens has published a new book on the predicament that fossil energy consumption and depletion, and our denial of this reality, have created for life on this planet.

A skim suggests the book will be excellent and I hope to write a review after reading it.

I observe there is no mention of Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory which is sad because MORT provides an evolutionary foundation for the denial that Nate discusses, and explains why only one species has emerged with the intelligence to exploit fossil energy.

Denial of our genetic tendency to deny reality is apparently the strongest form of denial, even among the few of us that are aware of the human predicament.

You can read Nate’s book for free and purchase a copy here:

https://read.realityblind.world/view/975731937/i/

In case you missed it, this year’s annual Earth Day talk by Nate is on the same topic and is a masterpiece.

By Neil Halloran: A Skeptical Look at Climate Science

I haven’t had time to write a new essay, and I wanted a new post so newcomers don’t assume un-Denial.com has shifted its focus to Covid, which is a confusing space populated by crazy people assigning complex global conspiracies to a bunch of incompetent and sometimes corrupt leaders.

Thank you to reader Frank White for providing a good reason for a quick post with a new video by Neil Halloran on climate change.

It’s my first exposure to Halloran and I’m really impressed. He targets people that are skeptical of climate change and does an amazing job of leading them to conclude we are in serious trouble and must act.

I left this comment on his YouTube channel:

Brilliant content and production! This is best video I’ve seen for persuading climate change skeptics that we are in serious trouble. Thank you.

Your next step should be to address the human genetic tendency to deny unpleasant realities.

https://un-denial.com/denial-2/theory-video/