By Chris Martenson: As We Enter 2017, Keep the Big Picture in Mind

An excellent year-end piece by Chris Martenson.

https://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/105291/we-enter-2017-keep-big-picture-mind

 

Truthfully, there’s a lot about which we should all be concerned, and I think that people’s sense of unease heading into 2017 is well-deserved, if sometimes misplaced.

What do I mean by that?  Well, it is misplaced to be worried about symptoms instead of causes.  The fever is worrying but it is not the cause of the illness.

 

Perhaps the most vexing challenge remains how to more effectively communicate the various predicaments and problems we face.

It’s not having more numbers, or more data, that’s for sure.  If numbers and data ‘worked then we’d have taken a very different path sometime back in the 1950’s.

 

As Admiral Hyman Rickover said in a speech to a group of doctors in 1957:

“I think no further elaboration is needed to demonstrate the significance of energy resources for our own future. Our civilization rests upon a technological base which requires enormous quantities of fossil fuels. What assurance do we then have that our energy needs will continue to be supplied by fossil fuels: The answer is – in the long run – none.

The earth is finite. Fossil fuels are not renewable. In this respect our energy base differs from that of all earlier civilizations. They could have maintained their energy supply by careful cultivation. We cannot.

Fuel that has been burned is gone forever. Fuel is even more evanescent than metals. Metals, too, are non-renewable resources threatened with ultimate extinction, but something can be salvaged from scrap. Fuel leaves no scrap and there is nothing man can do to rebuild exhausted fossil fuel reserves. They were created by solar energy 500 million years ago and took eons to grow to their present volume.

In the face of the basic fact that fossil fuel reserves are finite, the exact length of time these reserves will last is important in only one respect: the longer they last, the more time do we have, to invent ways of living off renewable or substitute energy sources and to adjust our economy to the vast changes which we can expect from such a shift. Fossil fuels resemble capital in the bank.

A prudent and responsible parent will use his capital sparingly in order to pass on to his children as much as possible of his inheritance. A selfish and irresponsible parent will squander it in riotous living and care not one whit how his offspring will fare.”

(Source)

His logic was as irrefutably sound then as it is today.  Such information was known at the highest levels throughout government and academia.  But there was no, and continues to be no, sustained and well-funded efforts to grapple with the basic dilemma posed by increasing population as dramatically as we have all the while living on, literally eating, fossil fuels to encourage that rapid population growth.

“Can you think of any problem in any area of human endeavor on any scale, from microscopic to global, whose long-term solution is in any demonstrable way aided, assisted, or advanced by further increases in population, locally, nationally, or globally?”  ~ Al Bartlett

 

The predicament we face is really quite profound.  I submit to you that people know this in their guts and the fact that they do goes a long way towards describing the feeling dread many people report they are carrying here at the start of 2017 and cannot seem to shake.

And of course they are.  Not having a plan for how to even feed 7.4 billion people, heading to 9 or 10 billion people, without massive fossil fuel calorie subsidies is a troubling thought.  If it’s not troubling, then more thinking needs to be applied.

By Nick Breeze: On Climate Psychology

This is a thoughtful interview by Nick Breeze of Adrian Tait on the psychology of acknowledging the reality and implications of climate change.

What’s particularly interesting about this interview is that they are mostly talking about evolved denial of reality, yet because of their own inherited denial, they are not aware that denial is their main topic.

If you are not interested in or disagree with Varki’s denial theory, the interviews are still worth watching.

By Adam Taggart: Flight to Safety

Sobering data on our bubbles…

http://www.peakprosperity.com/blog/98985/fortunes-will-made-lost-when-capital-flees-safety

Little did I realize when creating the short video below how prescient it would quickly become in the wake of last night’s Brexit vote…

Its message is simple: there’s a preponderance of data that shows the world’s major asset markets are dangerously overvalued. And when these asset bubbles start to burst, the ‘safe haven’ markets that investment capital will try to flee to are ridiculously small. Investors who do not start moving their capital in advance of crisis will be forced to pay much higher prices for safety — or may find they can’t get into these haven assets at any price.

 

By USFS: Forest Service survey finds record 66 million dead trees in southern Sierra Nevada

http://www.desdemonadespair.net/2016/06/video-forest-service-survey-finds.html

VALLEJO, California, 22 June 2016 (USFS) – The U.S. Forest Service today announced that it has identified an additional 26 million trees dead in California since October 2015. These trees are located in six counties across 760,000 acres in the southern Sierra Nevada region of the state, and are in addition to the 40 million trees that died statewide from 2010 to October 2015, bringing the total to at least 66 million dead trees. Four consecutive years of severe drought in California, a dramatic rise in bark beetle infestation and warmer temperatures are leading to historic levels of tree die-off.

“Tree dies-offs of this magnitude are unprecedented and increase the risk of catastrophic wildfires that puts property and lives at risk,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “While the fire risk is currently the most extreme in California because of the tree mortality, forests across the country are at risk of wildfire and urgently need restoration requiring a massive effort to remove this tinder and improve their health.

Between 2010 and late 2015, Forest Service aerial detection surveys found that 40 million trees died across California – with nearly three quarters of that total succumbing to drought and insect mortality from September 2014 to October 2015 alone. The survey identified approximately 26 million additional dead trees since the last inventory in October, 2015.

Forest Service scientists expect to see continued elevated levels of tree mortality during 2016 in dense forest stands, stands impacted by root diseases or other stress agents and in areas with higher levels of bark beetle activity. Additional surveys across the state will be conducted throughout the summer and fall.

With the increasing size and costs of suppressing wildfires due to climate change and other factors, the very efforts that would protect watersheds and restore forests to make them more resilient to fire in the future are being squeezed out of the budget. Last year fire management alone consumed 56 percent of the Forest Service’s budget.

David J.C. MacKay: Thank You and Goodbye

I was very sad to learn that David J.C. MacKay passed away on April 14, 2016.

When I first learned of peak oil 8 years ago I went deep into renewable energy technologies looking for a solution. One of the people that influenced me the most was David J.C. MacKay with his book “Sustainable Energy – without the hot air”. David was a breath of fresh air with his unbiased scientific analysis of data rather than the fact-free blather that is commonly used to support some favored position.

His book is available to download for free here.

David convinced me that it is impossible to maintain our current lifestyles with renewable energy. We must dramatically reduce our total consumption and we would be wise to do it proactively before nature forces us.

Here are a couple excellent talks by David….

Here is the last interview with David a few days before he died. I find it interesting that on his death bed the thing that fascinated him most was our denial of reality. It’s sad he did not read Varki before he died.

And lastly a nice obituary by Mark Lynas.

Thank you David. You had a great mind and worked hard to make the future better.

book review: A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety by Jimmy Carter

http://www.amazon.com/Full-Life-Reflections-Ninety/dp/1501115634

Jimmy Carter has long been one of the few world leaders that I respect.

I just finished his latest book which provides a summary of his life and core beliefs.

Jimmy Carter really did have a full life. The breadth of his experience and accomplishments are remarkable and inspirational. He was a farmer, business man, nuclear submariner, wise president, peace envoy, humanitarian, and community leader.

Carter grew up in the depression where he learned the importance of hard work, self-sufficiency, frugality, honesty, and community. These values guided the remainder of his life, including his one term as US president.

I’ve listened many times to Carter’s 1979 speech in which he explains the reality of finite fossil energy and what citizens and government should do in response. It’s by far the best wisdom and policy I’ve ever heard from a leader.

The citizens rejected Carter’s tonic for Reagan’s morning in America. For me this is the saddest point in democratic history.

Carter advocated conservation, austerity, and living within the constraints of non-renewable resources. Instead we chose to use debt to mask reality and to climb a cliff that will be very difficult to safely climb down from.

I read the book primarily because I was hoping to hear his latest insights on energy, environment, and the economy now that 40 years have passed since his presidency. I was disappointed that he said nothing on the topic, nor did he elaborate on his energy position of the 70’s. Most other topics were covered in quite a bit of detail so I found this omission odd. He didn’t hesitate from saying “I told you so” on many other topics. It makes me wonder.

Perhaps Carter’s understanding of thermodynamics and the relationship between energy, environment, and wealth is less than I had hoped. Perhaps his understanding is limited to lessons learned from having to live within meager means during the depression. Perhaps he is afraid to speak about our current situation. I don’t know.

Setting my energy disappointment aside, and turning a blind eye to his religious beliefs, I very much enjoyed the book and recommend it.

Jimmy Carter was and is a great man who lived an inspirational life.

José Mujica

A reader brought to my attention José Mujica as an example of a rare and wise leader.

José Mujica, nicknamed Pepe Mujica, was President of Uruguay from 2010 to 2015. A former Tupamaros freedom fighter in the 60s and the 70s, he was detained, like a hostage by the dictatorship between 1973 and 1985. He advocates a philosophy of life focused on sobriety: learn to live with what is necessary and fairest.

Here is an excellent interview with Mujica:

A few quotes from the interview stood out for me:

Either you’re happy with very little, free of all that extra luggage, because you have happiness inside, or you don’t get anywhere! I am not advocating poverty. I am advocating sobriety.

But since we have invented a consumer society, the economy must constantly grow. If it fails to increase, it’s a tragedy. We have invented a mountain of superfluous needs. Shopping for new, discarding the old… That’s a waste of our lives!

When I buy something, when you buy something, you’re not paying money for it. You’re paying with the hours of life you had to spend earning that money. The difference is that life is one thing money can’t buy. Life only gets shorter. And it is pitiful to waste one’s life and freedom that way.

It is shameful that for 25 years, since the Kyoto Accords, we are still dragging our feet to take basic measures. It is shameful. Man may very well be the only animal capable of self-destruction. The is the dilemma facing us. I only hope that I am wrong.