By James: Merry Christmas from the Big Bang

D060-433
Kwai lake, Strathcona Park, Sep 2019

James, proprietor of the insightful Megacancer blog, is a rare individual who understands the energy flows that drive the issues that matter:

  • why we exist
  • why we behave as we do
  • why we are in deep trouble
  • why nothing will stop our demise

His year-end essay is brilliant and I have pasted it in full below.

I agree with everything James said but I thought I would add a few Christmas bobbles that help me to be less angry about our predicament.

When our leaders, scientists, friends, and family do not support the only actions that might reduce future suffering, namely rapid population reduction and a planned contraction of the economy, I know the reason as James explains, is that we, like yeast and all other life, evolved to maximize energy flows.

While true this is not, at least for me, a sufficient explanation because unlike yeast, we are highly intelligent and capable of impressive intellectual feats. How can such an intelligent creature not use its brain to at least try to do the right thing?

The answer, of course, was provided by Dr. Ajit Varki and his Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory.

The smart ethical people we see doing the wrong thing each and every day, despite obvious science and evidence they are capable of understanding, do so because their brains evolved to deny unpleasant realities.

When I look with despair, for example, at COP25 where our best and brightest not only accomplished nothing (except burning a bunch of carbon to get there), they didn’t even honestly discuss the problem, we know that thermodynamics, as James explains, is driving the insanity, but we also know that it is evolved denial of reality that blocks their intelligence.

Denial makes our intelligence ineffective on every issue that matters, and thermodynamics, expressed through genetics, does not permit intelligence to exist without denial, so it is what it is, and there is no way out.

Humans are not evil, nor are they stupid, they just can’t see reality.

This holiday season I am grateful to be alive to witness and understand a rare event in the universe, and I’m thankful for good health, good food, a warm dry home, and caring friends and family.

Merry Christmas!

http://megacancer.com/2019/12/16/merry-christmas-from-the-big-bang/

“So this is Christmas, and what have you done? Another year over and a new one just begun…….. John Lennon

Undoubtedly you have struggled to consume some gradient and produce some entropy. Or maybe I should say “you all – plural” since its all of your cells that have created the shape-shifting and often grandiose “you “ within your brain to help your skin-enclosed system get around and get what it needs.

Hope your system is consuming much gradient this holiday season, your homeostasis is hunky-dory and your condition is one of great comfort and peace. I’m sure the new year will bring many surprises as you maneuver through the competitive landscape in search of new wealth-enhancing and energy-consuming opportunities. Provided below is a little commentary on our current predicament (also known as a rant).

The Universe as a single dense point of energy can be seen as the initial gradient. The Big Bang and inflation reduce the initial gradient as time and space expand according to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Time and space are impossible without gradient dissipation. Gradient dissipation produces time and space and change. You can see this in a wrist watch which must dissipate gradient (battery/spring) to move and create a progression along a circular time line. The events of time can only occur because gradient can be dissipated and the heat can escape into the inflation of the Universe. Time is not possible without change (movement) or change in position which is inherent to the gradient dissipation process. Humans create time by burning energy gradient and dissipating it as heat. Like magnets aligning with the magnetic poles, all of life has evolved to align with the initial massive dissipation (Big Bang) as residual dissipating phenomena. There is no other way for life to behave than the way it does, consuming gradient. If species deviated from their role as reducers of gradients, they would simply disappear. They are constantly being realigned as gradient reducers in order to remain as dissipative structures and stand-out from the less active background. An individual’s “success” in life, in acquiring and consuming resources or having many offspring is the thermodynamic success of the Universe which uses and shapes humans and other life for its dissipative bidding. You think you are successful, but you have been used to further the apparent goals of an expanding Universe. It’s no accident that successful dissipation bolsters your self-image and gives you a good feeling as your homeostasis is maintained. More money, more food, more investments, more children, more dopamine, more………. it all feels good and that’s no accident. The Universe leads you through life in an endless quest for more free energy gradients and after each acquisition the happiness seems to fade until another is found.

Big Bang – NASA

All behavior and structure of life comes from and aligns with the Big Bang and expansion of the Universe which humans have logically described with the laws of thermodynamics and entropy. Humans and all other life are captives of these laws and struggle daily to acquire energy to create motion, structure and time with the hydrosphere, atmosphere and open space acting as willing heat sinks. Any organism that attempts to practice “freewill”, that somehow deviates from the program, will find itself realigned with reality or eliminated from existence. Freewill is bounded overall by the requirement of reducing gradients and humans have evolved to eliminate gradient as quickly and efficiently as possible (deriving profit) for reproduction or growth. These requirements can be summed-up in the Maximum Power Principle and/or Maximum Entropy Production principles. Faster, more powerful vehicles, faster computers, faster jets, more economies of scale, burn more faster, more profit, more growth, more gradient reduced and electromagnetic radiation sent into space. Humans have evolved to be such intense competitors for energy that they can’t seem to “just say no” to save themselves. It was never meant that they would be able to “just say no”. Extinction takes care of dissipative structures that run their course through extinction. It is only natural that capitalism should be the dominant economic system when the collapse occurs since it slavishly maximizes growth even making spurious promises of future gradient availability in exchange for burning gradient today and creating population overshoot conditions. Some people wonder what -ism comes next. I believe it will be a pervasive state of natural “terrorism”, the type observed in nature where all life forms are one mistake away from becoming someone else’ s meal.

To name itself “Homo sapiens” is only indicative of the hubris of humans as they slowly commit suicide by gradient reduction. “Smart” or “sapient” is defined by most humans as the ability to create tools to break open new gradients for dissipation while depriving other living organisms the same opportunity. Humans seem unable to imagine any other parameters of success besides consumption, growth and reproduction. No surprises there, it’s what complex dissipatives do. So, as the chimps fight in Washington, D.C. (mostly about power and money – dissipative matters) and the average family wonders how much money (gradient) they’ll have to spend to travel (motion) to Disney World and have a good (time), the biosphere degrades into a lifeless necrosphere similar to the slime found at the bottom of a yeast petri dish that has eaten itself into oblivion. Eventually only dust devils and their larger brethren, the hurricanes and typhoons will raise the formerly vital dust beyond its gravitational resting place as the Universe continues to expand without even tallying the insignificant contributions from the Earth’s extinct dissipative spinbots.

Humans should never think of themselves as smart or intelligent, they’re simply a thermodynamic event maintaining homeostasis through gradient reduction. Their entire mentality serves energy/wealth acquisition, consumption and reproduction. Being a social mammal (obtaining energy as a group) they are hierarchically organized and are constantly striving to improve their social standing by whatever means possible (if they haven’t yet seen the futility in such efforts). Those able to control the most money/energy are admired and envied by their sycophants while those with less success are regularly scorned and often deemed unworthy of reproduction or even living. Just as the human civilization will enslave, consume and/or deprive other species of their ability to live and reproduce, so too wealthy humans will enslave less avaricious humans and use them for self-enrichment.

Have you been transported to the nucleolus (school) for the last twelve-years to have your brain refined for information and tool use? You are an RNA destined for one of the the technological cells. Don’t be late. Did you get your college degree? Are you ready to function as an RNA “job” within a civilizational cancer for the rest of your life before you can retire to await the personal cancer your toxic “sapient” system has given you? I assure you that your local medical establishment and undertaker are ready to provide in your time of need and desperation if you can provide a life’s worth of savings in exchange (usually extracted in the form of monthly health insurance premiums the paying of which has put you into an early grave.) Are you satisfied that an oligarchy of bankers, government and corporations have initial claim upon society’s nutrients and thin the blood currency for the remainder of society which struggle to feed themselves, their cells and their vehicles? Is that the cost of survival vis-a-vis other equally exploitative nations? Perhaps if the thinning of the blood by inflation was not enough, the taxes and interest, fees and penalties are acceptable costs for enduring life as an expendable, productive molecule attached to an hedonically enhancing smart (not sapient) phone. And now that there’s not enough to share with the worker dissipatives, the electronic prison takes shape with various surveillance, monitoring, compliance, social credit, FICO scores, 5G and facial recognition.

Pleasant Valley State Prison in California where bad people are kept while the good people destroy the biosphere and themselves.

Since the energy horizon is shrinking, those endowed with rights from which the rest have been alienated, will try to compensate for the loss of energy by introducing new “savings” to the system, a few low-cost behavioral and structural changes to hold society together for a while like a rationing of essentials and sharing. As the existing system is already strapped for metabolic energy and any major disruptions threaten collapse, a full conversion to “renewable energy” is not seen as workable, especially when we will likely need even more energy to heal wounds inflicted by an increasingly chaotic climate. We will eventually be overwhelmed by the inflicted damages and inherent contradictions of our “Black Friday” hyper-dissipative existence. Our slowly disintegrating arrangement will go extinct one way or another without a source of clean energy that meets current metabolic needs and provides enough net energy to re-stabilize the climate. The resource bill (if the technologies even existed) to accomplish this self-saving task will grow faster than the interest on the Federal debt and in any case the climate destabilization has likely already achieved positive-feedback, escape-velocity, well beyond any feasible means of addressing it. In the meantime those at the universities are earning their six-figure salaries arguing over political correctness as if being nice to each other and erasing or rewriting sordid chapters in human history is the challenge of the day.

And where will we find our CEOs, government officials and military when push comes to shove in the international competition for food and energy? With all the courage they can muster they will scurry into their fortified bunkers to wait-out the “winnable” nuclear war only to re-emerge when the stinkadelic cheese of next years’ appropriations comes wafting through their gold-standard air purification systems.

The rest of us will need to use our imaginations.

Let’s hope for a happy new year with smart algorithms, lightning fast trading computers, a massive pump-and-dump and lots of resources stripped away from those that can least afford it. I recommend working harder in the new year so we can eliminate the gradients and get to where we’re going faster.

I may have posted this before but it’s worth another watch.
Older but still good – David Korowicz

84 thoughts on “By James: Merry Christmas from the Big Bang”

  1. The math behind why nothing other than rapidly reducing our population and consumption will help.

    41 Inconvenient Truths on the “New Energy Economy” by Mark P. Mills.

    https://fee.org/articles/41-inconvenient-truths-on-the-new-energy-economy

    h/t Sam Mitchell

    3. When the world’s four billion poor people increase energy use to just one-third of Europe’s per capita level, global demand rises by an amount equal to twice America’s total consumption.

    4. A 100x growth in the number of electric vehicles to 400 million on the roads by 2040 would displace five percent of global oil demand.

    5. Renewable energy would have to expand 90-fold to replace global hydrocarbons in two decades. It took a half-century for global petroleum production to expand “only” ten-fold.

    6. Replacing U.S. hydrocarbon-based electric generation over the next 30 years would require a construction program building out the grid at a rate 14-fold greater than any time in history.

    15. Every $1 billion in aircraft produced leads to some $5 billion in aviation fuel consumed over two decades to operate them. Global spending on new jets is more than $50 billion a year—and rising.

    17. Over a 30-year period, $1 million worth of utility-scale solar or wind produces 40 million and 55 million kWh respectively: $1 million worth of shale well produces enough natural gas to generate 300 million kWh over 30 years.

    18. It costs about the same to build one shale well or two wind turbines: the latter, combined, produces 0.7 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) per hour, the shale rig averages 10 barrels of oil per hour.

    19. It costs less than $0.50 to store a barrel of oil, or its equivalent in natural gas, but it costs $200 to store the equivalent energy of a barrel of oil in batteries.

    26. Politicians and pundits like to invoke “moonshot” language. But transforming the energy economy is not like putting a few people on the moon a few times. It is like putting all of humanity on the moon—permanently.

    27. The common cliché: an energy tech disruption will echo the digital tech disruption. But information-producing machines and energy-producing machines involve profoundly different physics; the cliché is sillier than comparing apples to bowling balls.

    35. At least 100 pounds of materials are mined, moved and processed for every pound of battery fabricated.

    36. Storing the energy equivalent of one barrel of oil, which weighs 300 pounds, requires 20,000 pounds of Tesla batteries ($200,000 worth).

    41. One would no more use helicopters for regular trans-Atlantic travel—doable with elaborately expensive logistics—than employ a nuclear reactor to power a train or photovoltaic systems to power a nation.

    Like

  2. My favorite author, Nick Lane, calls Bill Martin the greatest living biologist. As far as I can tell Lane’s probably correct, excepting maybe Varki. I’ve been looking for lectures by Martin and so far have found only this one. Its a fascinating discussion on the origin of life and the search for LUCA, our last universal common ancestor, and provides background to Lane’s most recent book, The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life. Martin concludes his talk with “There are no facts, only observations and their interpretations”, which I think also applies to the most important theory relevant to the human condition: Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT).

    I’m currently re-reading The Vital Question for the sixthish time, because it really is that good.

    https://un-denial.com/2016/03/29/book-review-the-vital-question-energy-evolution-and-the-origins-of-complex-life-by-nick-lane/

    Like

  3. New essay today by xraymike79, this time focusing on the environmental destruction of Australia. He is critical of big industry but fails to mention that Australian citizens recently elected a climate denier.

    With Earth Overshoot Day arriving ever earlier each year, we have arrived at the last stage of global civilization’s doubling time. The next twenty years will be the final tick of the clock in which our mass resource extraction, consumption, and waste irreparably damage the planet’s regenerative abilities and life support systems. Decades of greenwashing, empty rhetoric, and regulatory capture by the fossil fuel industry have brought us to this precipice:

    As you can see, any mitigation efforts at this late date rely heavily on the fantasy of carbon capture with nonexistent technologies that, truthfully, will never scale up to the enormous problem. To some degree or another, we are all in denial of what is unfolding in our final century as we go about our daily lives within a set of living arrangements completely incompatible to the survival of our descendants. Everyone is riding the peak of industrial civilization as we watch the world fall apart on our smart phones and LED TVs. In the meantime, the nightly news drones on about hyperpartisan politics and economic growth. That barely a vague mention is made in the news cycle of the most important story in mankind’s history tells you all you need to know about who controls mass media and why the story of our imminent demise will remain buried.

    https://collapseofindustrialcivilization.com/2020/01/28/the-apocalypse-will-not-be-televised/

    Like

    1. Yes, who is going to vote for diminishing their own power?

      I bought “The Vital Question” but have not read it yet. The title seems ambiguous: a “vital” question has to do with life (in Latin/Italian, “vita”). Yet is [whatever] question itself (or its answer, if valid), truly vital (essential) to our course? Of all of our perceptions, which (if any) is “vital”? I’m not sure if that’s clear. I’ll be interested to read what Lane has to say.

      Like

      1. The Vital Question is a brilliant book. I’m currently re-reading the chapter that discusses the respiration machinery inside each of our 30+ trillion cells. It’s breathtakingly complex and Lane describes it with enthusiasm and just the right amount of detail to keep the reader engaged.

        I think Lane’s “vital question” refers to why did the eukaryotic cell evolve only once, despite offering huge fitness advantages?

        It’s similar to Varki’s vital question which asks why did an extended theory of mind with high intelligence evolve only once, despite offering huge fitness advantages?

        Please stop by when you’re finished and let me know what you thought of it.

        Like

    2. “….As you can see, any mitigation efforts at this late date rely heavily on the fantasy of carbon capture with nonexistent technologies that, truthfully, will never scale up to the enormous problem….”

      And there’s also the sprawling destruction of scenery, birds, bats & insects by greenwashed, futile wind power, a phenomenon trivialized by people who once protected those parts of nature. They now try to tune out every issue but carbon, while typically rejecting nuclear, our best sprawl-reduction hope. When backed into a corner, people will destroy nature one way or another.

      Like

      1. You’re right, although I’d place rapid population reduction at a much higher priority than trying to produce more energy with nuclear, or any other technology.

        Xraymike79 talks about other problems besides climate change in this and his many other excellent essays.

        Like

  4. Here is a very nice example of how the wealth of a nation declines as low cost oil is depleted and we are forced to rely on higher cost oil.

    It also demonstrates how dangerous our current policy of denying our dependence on a rapidly depleting non-renewable resource is. As tax revenues decline we will, at some point, have no options available to reduce suffering, even if we somehow wake up and decide to build a softer landing zone.

    Currently, Russia produces around 11.2 million barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil and condensate.

    The energy ministry sees risks in Russia’s goal to keep its oil production levels due to higher production costs and dwindling reserves, Russian media quoted Novak as saying at a meeting to discuss the country’s economic policy on Wednesday.

    Russia is currently overhauling its taxation system to move from a tax based on production to a profit-based taxation and to gradually phase out the crude oil export duty by 2024, which is expected to increase export netbacks for oil producers.

    As early as in September 2018, Novak was quoted as saying that Russia’s oil production could peak as early as in 2021 due to high taxes and costs, provided there are no benefits for exploration or tax incentives introduced.

    https://peakoil.com/production/russia-warns-market-that-its-oil-production-could-drop

    Like

  5. Gail Tverberg explains why Chris Martenson (and other doomers) should stop raising awareness of the coronavirus and just let it quietly kill the useless eaters.

    Since the 1940s, modern medicine has been able to develop antibiotics and vaccines to counteract the impact of many pathogens. This, of course, makes citizens happy, but it has the disadvantage of changing the population in a way that leaves the economy with a much higher percentage of elderly people and others in poor health. This higher level of elderly and medically needy people makes it easy for viruses and other pathogens to make their rounds, just as leaving deadwood on the forest floor makes it easier for fires to spread.

    With this rising population of people who cannot support themselves, tax rates for the remaining citizens tend to become very high. Young workers may become discouraged because they do not have enough income remaining after paying taxes to raise their own families. In effect, they cannot support both their young families and the many old people.

    Viewed from this unusual perspective, the operation of the Chinese coronavirus might even be considered a benefit to society as a whole. The world has overcome the impact of measles, typhoid, polio, and many other diseases. In some sense, it “needs” a new disease added to its portfolio, to replace the ones that have been mostly taken care of by modern medicine. In this way, pensions and other payments targeting the old and weak don’t become too great a burden on the young.

    https://ourfiniteworld.com/2020/01/29/it-is-easy-to-overreact-to-the-chinese-coronavirus/

    Like

    1. I remember the following quote:

      I take guidance from what Sir William Osler wrote in his classic turn-of-the-century medical textbook, The Principles and Practice of Medicine: “Pneumonia may well be called the friend of the aged. Taken off by it in an acute, short, not often painful illness, the old man escapes those ‘cold gradations of decay’ so distressing to himself and to his friends.”
      from
      Why I Hope to Die at 75
      by
      Dr E.J. Emanuel

      Like

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