By Geoffrey Chia: What you should not say in public…

Although there are no solutions to our predicament, I wrote a list of things a wise society would do here. I concluded the essay by acknowledging that our inherited denial of reality would probably prevent us from doing any of them.

Today Dr. Geoffrey Chia wrote a list of things a wise society would do and ended with a similar conclusion.

http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2017/03/01/what-you-should-not-say-in-public/

I am due to speak at the Griffith Ecocentre on 9 March and will run through the usual gamut of why things are fiendishly rotten in the state of Denmark and what to expect in the near future. “Denmark” is of course the metaphor for our besieged planetary ecosphere. It is a commentary familiar to Diners: why global warming will have consequences far worse than the mainstream population have been led to believe (but will NOT cause NTHE by 2026) and why the depletion of “easy” oil guarantees that the collapse of industrial civilisation will be complete within 20 years (a conservative estimate, based on falling EROEI and the ELM). However the fraud pervading our banks and sharemarkets will cause financial and economic collapse and the demise of our global industrial system much sooner. Not to mention all the other fun stuff ahead like mass human die-off, mass extinctions of other species, the rise of fascist extremists around the world, increasing conflicts between nations, increasing risk of global nuclear war, the possibility of pandemics etc. This is all old hat to Diners, but not to the general public. My purpose will not be misery mongering and nihilism however, but to encourage members of the audience to set up their own remote, climate resilient, off-grid homesteads to weather the coming storms. They must not look for salvation from without, but from within. Not everyone will succeed but some will.

I expect the majority will find my commentary repugnant and reject it. I expect the Q&A session will throw up the usual predictable questions such as “how can we fix these problems?” or “surely technofix A can solve problem B?” The standard answer, which Diners are familiar with, is that the issues we face are not problems for which there are solutions, but are predicaments (or conundrums) for which there are no solutions. The correct question at this late stage is not “how can we fix these problems?“, but “what can we do in anticipation of these events?“. Given the more than century long build up to these events, the sapients realise that global industrial collapse is unavoidable, as has been amply demonstrated by even the most optimistic scenarios modelled by the updated Limits to Growth analyses. We have fallen off the cliff and even though we may feel “fine” now, we will not feel so good when we inevitably and excruciatingly smash into the ground. Gravity is a bitch and there is no prospect we can invent an anti-gravity device before impact, or indeed ever.

Not satisfied with such an answer, there is usually the odd tenacious audience member who attempts to pose the same question in a different manner, such as “if you were King of the world and had unlimited policy power, what would you do to tackle these predicaments?” The unstated expectation behind such a question is that a benevolent “philosopher king / ecosystems guru” can find ways to keep 7.5 billion people alive, solve climate change, find a replacement for petroleum etc, etc. Well I ain’t no King and I ain’t no Guru, but for the sake of argument, let us play along with such fantasy based wishful thinking and imagine we can enforce the following:

  1. Abolish all nation states. Demobilise all military forces everywhere and re-employ all ex-military personnel for the refurbishment and maintenance of essential domestic infrastructure, for civil defence and for disaster relief. All nuclear weapons to be dismantled, all weapons manufacturers to be eliminated.
  2. Equitable redistribution of resources, which will require that people in the rich parts of the world give up their luxuries to allow poorer people to survive. This will also require that refugees from climate ravaged and war torn parts of the world be allowed to emigrate to more climate favoured areas.
  3. Impose a moratorium on all human reproduction for the next 30 years, following which we allow only one child per couple until the global population falls to perhaps 100 million and thereafter allow only for replacement reproduction rates. Draconian? Yes, but far preferable to chaotic die-off which could trigger nuclear war.
  4. Transform the existing predatory rapacious capitalist system to a steady state ecology based economic system which penalises polluters and “closes the loop” – to treat and use all waste as a resource.
  5. Stop all unnecessary “economic” activity which will include the cessation of all fossil fuel based tourism and the entire process of globalisation. Limit activities to essential ones such as the production and distribution of food and clean fresh water and the construction and maintenance of dwellings. Localise all economic activities, although international trade in non perishable goods can still occur by use of sailing vessels.
  6. Educate everyone that the main “solution” to our looming energy shortfall must be energy efficiency and conservation, not new whizbang technowizardry such as fusion energy. Cease all fossil fuel electricity generation and change electricity provision to decentralised renewable energy systems such as solar PV for individual dwellings or microgrids. Let the central grid rot or better still, cannibalise it for materials. Pursue research to determine whether we can manufacture and maintain renewable energy generators and batteries using only renewable energy sources.
  7. Phase out all industrial scale monocrop agriculture (which is doomed anyway as fossil fuel based fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and the petroleum to run mass agriculture will eventually become unavailable). Reduce meat and seafood consumption by more than 90%. Food security to be achieved by the establishment of hundreds of millions of local permaculture smallholdings providing a plant based diet with abundant protein from peas, beans and nuts and supplementary protein from eggs, dairy products, aquaponics and even farmed insects.

What is the likelihood of achieving even one of the above? We are, on the whole, moving in directions away from each and every one of the measures indicated above. So get real. Even if they could all be done, the following issues will remain:

  1. Additional global warming from existing GHGs in the atmosphere is already locked in place but is yet to fully manifest and will render most of the planet uninhabitable. All existing coastal cities will eventually (perhaps in 200 years) be submerged under at least 23 metres of seawater.
  2. We have no liquid transport fuel to replace “easy” oil at scale, which means that industrial civilisation as we know it is still doomed.
  3. Enforcement of the policies outlined above can only be carried out through edict and coercion. External imposition of policies on an ignorant and resistant populace will fail to address the primary underlying reason for all our planetary travails: the possession of advanced, destructive technology in the hands of a “trumped up” (pun intended) species of ape governed by their reptile brain. Cleverness without wisdom. This means that even if all the predicaments above could magically be made to vanish and we could magically reset human society and our planetary ecosphere back to, say 1950 before overshoot began in earnest, we will merely repeat the same patterns over and over again, in the absence of restraint and wisdom. Groundhog day with no hope of redemption, no matter how many times the scenario is replayed.

Semi-sapient people must abandon childish fantasy notions of what we would like happen, grow up and accept the reality of what is going to happen.

The bottom line is this, and I have said it before: the only hope for the continuation of our benighted species is that the survivors who emerge at the other end of this genetic bottleneck are truly sapient and adopt the principles of restraint (in resource consumption and reproduction) and vigorously protect any viable ecohabitats remaining (and cultivate new ones as icebound areas of the planet melt). It is possible, although by no means certain, that the impending cull of the global population may result in just such an outcome, especially if the sapient 0.01% of the population can be encouraged to save themselves NOW. The sapients should be advised not to grieve as future events unfold and they observe, from a safe distance, the morbid spectacle of billions of clueless sheeple killing each other, egged on by the 0.1% psychopathic sheeple herders who had promised to make them great again. Such is the nature of a cull.

13-Mar-2017 addition: Here is Geoffrey Chia’s talk…

 

 

By Nick Lane: Why is life the way it is?

Nick Lane, my favorite science writer, recently gave an updated version of his talk on the origin of life and why life is the way it is. This talk summarizes his most recent book “The Vital Question” which I reviewed here.

The big ideas are:

  • The emergence of life is probable and simple single-cell life, like bacteria, is probably common throughout the universe.
  • Complex life, like plants and animals, resulted from a one-time “accident” 2 billion years ago, and will be rare in the universe.
  • Increased energy played a key role in the emergence of complex life, as it does for human domination of the planet.

When you layer on top of this Varki’s theory, which explains the improbable singular emergence of the powerful human brain, our existence and its ability to understand this paragraph, becomes something to revere and protect.

The tragic irony is that we are not fighting to protect our special place in the universe because of the same mutation that enabled the emergence of our brain: denial of reality.

By Jim White: Weather & Climate Summit 2017

Jim White gives some of the easiest to understand and most enlightening talks on climate change. Here is an excellent recent talk with a big picture view of what’s going on and what to expect in the future.

A few points he made stuck with me:

  • Are humans significant enough to affect the climate? Yes!
    • We move 10 times more dirt than all natural erosion processes.
    • We make more nitrogen fertilizer than all bacteria on land.
    • We make more sulfate than all ocean phytoplankton.
  • A nasty dilemma
    • the planet cannot support everyone at 1st world lifestyles
    • low income = middle income/3.5 = high income/7
  • We have no room left to grow:
    • we cultivate all good farm land
    • we use all available surface water and augment with pumped groundwater
  • Despite deforestation there is more biomass today than in the 1800’s due to human CO2 and fertilizer.
  • We cannot grow away climate change because there is much more carbon in remaining fossil energy than all biomass.
  • Why worry about 1C warming?
    • max temperature swing over last 40 million years was 10C
    • +2C = 5m sea level rise
    • +4C = 80m sea level rise
  • Keep an eye on the Arctic. When the ice is gone we will see dramatic changes in weather.
  • Climate change is an inter-generational problem. Our grandchildren will have to deal with the consequences of our behavior today.
  • We say we love our children but we do not show it.
  • Population must be controlled (he’s right but his fatally flawed solution is to increase the wealth of women which will increase CO2 emissions)

Here’s another very good talk by Jim White that I previously posted:

https://un-denial.com/2014/12/19/by-jim-white-abrupt-climate-change-past-present-and-future/

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.