You know you are in trouble when…

Examples of denial are both profound and unacknowledged.

The short-term solution to our problems is the long-term cause of our problems: economic growth

The long-term solution to our problems is the short-term cause of our problems: reduced consumption

All political parties in all countries and almost all citizens, including the few citizens that understand our predicament, reject our best course of action: austerity

Most citizens have no idea how fortunate they are to be alive at this point in history: A Guide to Being Human in the 21st Century

Citizens have wildly different beliefs about our predicament: there is no problem; there is a problem but it’s not caused by humans; I don’t want to think about it; technology will save us; it’s in the hands of God; I’ve already done enough; someone else needs to do something first; my actions won’t make a difference; someone else will consume whatever I give up; it’s too late to do anything

Despite wildly different beliefs about our predicament, there is one thing that almost everyone agrees on: I don’t want to change my behavior

The only problems society does not acknowledge, or discuss, or act on, are the only problems that matter: species extinction, limits to growth, debt, peak oil, overshoot, resource depletion, climate change, sea level rise, fisheries collapse & ocean acidification, nitrogen imbalance & tree decline 

Every country has similar economic problems and not one leader anywhere in the world connects the dots and publicly acknowledges the root cause, even after they leave office: declining energy surplus a.k.a. energy extraction cost + debt

Citizens believe the exact opposite of reality: technology creates wealth and energy rather than energy creates wealth and technology

Citizens misunderstand the root cause of social unrest and wars because the media presents these conflicts as political or economic problems and ignores their underlying forces: biophysical constraints

There is evidence that feedback loops are taking over and causing some problems to go exponential: climate change, CO2 emissions, ice loss, sea level rise, debt

The previous year’s worst case predictions are tending to become this year’s most likely prediction: sea level rise

Actions that improve the long-term worsen the short-term: air pollution masks 0.5C of warming, austerity and debt reduction, renewable energy, population reduction 

The only possible permanent solution is rejected by the belief systems of 90+% of citizens: population reduction

The only possible permanent solution is too slow to avoid the worst problems: population reduction laws

Countries fortunate to have a low birth rate often cancel their good fortune with immigration: Canada

The few people who understand the severity of our problems do not set good examples in their personal lives: leaders, climate scientists, environmentalists

History suggests that the consequence of not voluntarily contracting our economies as non-renewable resources deplete is an unthinkable war, so we don’t think about it: nuclear weapons

The quality of our leaders is declining because those people with high intelligence, wisdom, and integrity do not want to be in charge of our predicament, and because citizens are feeling the impact of overshoot, do not understand what is going on, and are angry: Trump

The leader of the free world denies science and issues daily, jaw-dropping, cringe-inducing tweets: Trump

The one world leader that did understand the problem and spoke out was rejected by the citizens and no longer speaks out: Jimmy Carter

We do not acknowledge that the world’s economic problems began with the peaking of a key non-renewable resource: conventional oil

Low energy prices have led citizens to believe we have a glut of fossil energy when in fact: all types of energy have peaked

We do not discuss or act on economic history research that shows countries always get into serious trouble when they permit an important ratio to exceed a threshold we long passed: debt to GDP

Bankers, the creators of money, do not understand the one thing that creators of money should understand: thermodynamics of wealth

The professionals with the most influence on public policy use models that violate the most trusted laws of physics: economists

The scientific theory that explains the relationship between the economy, energy, and climate is ignored by everyone that should understand it: Tim Garrett

The people who deserve the most respect and admiration get the least: scientists

The people who deserve the least respect and admiration get the most: celebrities

All types of non-fossil energy do not provide a substitute for the only energy we can’t live without: diesel for trucks, trains, ships, tractors, and combines, and mining machines; plus natural gas for fertilizer

People who think the shale revolution will make America prosperous and energy independent ignore one thing: facts and more facts

Intelligent people who understand the climate change threat, like James Hansen and Bill Gates, and who want business as usual to continue, know that nuclear energy is the only option, but they ignore a problem: peak uranium

If climate deniers continue to win elections and try to maintain the existing electric grid they’ll find that strategy may not work for long: peak coal

A key component of our infrastructure appears durable but is not: reinforced concrete

Citizens most vulnerable to a fragile global supply chain with only a few days of inventory experience the strongest illusion of abundance and security: inhabitants of large cities

The “green” revolution, which increased food production to enable 7+ billion humans, was and is entirely dependent on fossil energy, and has long-term consequences that will make a return to traditional agriculture very difficult.

Most citizens are not even vaguely aware of the invention that enabled their existence and created about 50% of the nitrogen in their bodies: Haber-Bosch conversion of natural gas to fertilizer

Well meaning environmentalists demand that we stop subsidizing fossil energy companies without understanding the source of all that they cherish in modern civilization: fossil energy

Well meaning environmentalists demand that we stop subsidizing fossil energy companies without realizing that many fossil energy companies are going bankrupt: ExxonMobil

A solution frequently advocated makes things worse by accelerating growth and decreasing system resilience: efficiency

The best solution for removing CO2 from the atmosphere is being harmed by the same activity that creates CO2: planting more trees which are then injured or killed by ground level ozone

All climate science models that do not predict disaster now depend on an unproven technology that we probably can’t afford and other species definitely can’t afford: BECCS (bio-energy with carbon capture and storage)

We have not acted to prevent a predictable and very dangerous side effect of trying to maintain business-as-usual with low interest rates: increasing wealth gap

We still enjoy historically vast surplus wealth that could be deployed to improve our future lives but we are squandering it: military, airports, highways, new cars, high rises, etc.

Earth with its diverse complex life and a highly intelligent species is extraordinarily rare, precious, and worth fighting to protect, yet we dream of other barren homes: colonizing Mars

The tool that could be used to unite citizens in common purpose and useful action is instead being used to create tribes that reinforce preexisting beliefs: internet

Many people are hurting and lashing out in anger because they do not understand the cause of their pain: Brexit, Trump, Syria, Venezuela, etc.

The few sources of information that understand and communicate the truth are under threat: fake news

Few people study or heed the best predictor of the future: history

None of our schools teach skills useful and relevant to our future: growing food and other forms of lower complexity life skills

The thing that enabled the evolution of our high intelligence and its ability to understand and act on problems is the same thing that causes our problems and prevents us from acting on them: denial of reality

The theory that best explains our existence and our self-destructive behavior is ignored by everyone, including those people seeking to understand our problems: Varki and Brower’s denial of reality theory

Readers are encouraged to submit additions to the list.

By Chris Martenson: Dave Murphy Interview – Glyphosate: Unsafe On Any Plate

This interview by Chris Martenson of Dave Murphy on the health dangers and wide-spread use of glyphosate is the most persuasive case I’ve heard for eating organic food.

I have for a long time been puzzled by gluten intolerance. Our civilization was founded on wheat. It seems to me something important has changed.

A friend speculated that the problem is not gluten in wheat, but rather the glyphosate used to desiccate wheat, a relatively new farming practice, that is damaging vital flora in our gut.

That makes a lot of sense to me, and could explain why some people feel better when they stop eating wheat.

I don’t eat much wheat but I’m cutting out Cheerios and switching to organic oatmeal for breakfast.

https://peakprosperity.com/podcast/105335/dave-murphy-glyphosate-unsafe-any-plate

See also…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carey-gillam/tests-show-monsanto-weed_b_12950444.html

By Gail Zawacki: The Waste Land

My new favorite piece by Gail Zawacki.

A few ideas that stood out for me:

  • Much of what we view as nature is not natural.
  • Humans are an invasive species and we deny this reality.
  • Ozone pollution continues to be a huge problem that we deny.
  • Drought is not killing trees. Human air pollution is killing trees, and dead trees are contributing to drought.
Most often, writing on a blog feels to have no more effect than idly dropping a pebble in the ocean, and watching the tiny ripples disappear; lately it seems that climate heating has gone exponential, and in my imagination I anticipate the moment I will hear an official NASA announcement on the radio – that it’s too late to do anything about climate change because irreversible amplifying feedbacks have taken over and there’s nothing left but to listen to the orchestra play on the deck.

“There ought to be a word that expresses in a few syllables the totality of ecocide – not just the horror in recognizing the physical manifestations of looming extinction, but the ensuing pain upon realizing the futility and meaninglessness that has been wrought by human folly, hubris, stupidity and blindness.  But I don’t know what it is.”

https://witsendnj.blogspot.ca/2016/09/the-waste-land.html

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.

A Deadly Recipe: One Part Ignorance, One Part Denial

I’ve been paying a little more attention these days to what the main stream media thinks is going on.

They report on government data that says the economy has recovered from the 2008 crisis. They also report on the rise of Trump that indicates many citizens are struggling and angry.

They know that incomes have stagnated while life’s expenses continue to rise but they have no clue what is causing this.

They don’t even have an intelligent theory.

On other important matters obvious to anyone that cares to look such as the climate spiraling out of control, the 6th great extinction of species, and human overshoot starting to bite in some of the weaker countries, they say nothing.

It’s quite amazing.

It seems likely we will collapse with most people having no idea what is causing their pain.

One part ignorance and one part genetic denial is a deadly recipe for war and civil unrest.

By Mark Williams et al.: The Anthropocene (Human Impact by the Numbers)

Produced energy and the pattern of human population growth from 1750. Utilization of these energy sources, together with the energy used by humans from net primary production, is now approaching the entire energy available to the global ecosystem before human intervention [Barnosky, [1]]. Key to colours: dark blue = coal; dark brown = oil; green = natural gas; purple = nuclear; light blue = hydro; orange brown = biomass (e.g. plants, trees). Data source from http://www.theoildrum.com/node/8936

Humans now consume between 25 and 38% of net primary production of the planet. Human modification and appropriation of NPP, and the production of energy over and above NPP, has been developing over thousands of years, but accelerated markedly from the mid-20th century onward (Figure 1).

Professor Zalasiewicz at the University of Lecister said the last times such huge effects were seen happened 2.5 billion years ago when photosynthesis appeared, and again half a billion years ago when the food web grew more complex.  Although the 5 major extinction events were also huge, “ even measured against these events, human-driven changes to production and consumption are distinctly new.”

Co-author Dr Carys Bennett added: “It is without precedent to have a single species appropriating something like one quarter of the net primary biological production of the planet and to become effectively the top predator both on land and at sea.”

Some of the massive effects humans are having on the planet include mining phosphorus and fixing nitrogen to make fertilizer, burning hundreds of millions of years of fossil fuels, and directing this increased productivity that is well beyond natural levels towards animals re-engineered for our consumption.

Commentary by Alice Friedemann…

http://energyskeptic.com/2016/a-strong-case-for-the-anthropocene-no-other-species-has-ever-consumed-as-much-of-earths-resources-so-quickly/

Original paper…

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2015EF000339/full

By Dahr Jamail: Global Fisheries Are Collapsing — What Happens When There Are No Fish Left?

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/35574-global-fisheries-are-collapsing-what-happens-when-there-are-no-fish-left

Overfishing and the imminent collapse of global fisheries is an excellent example of how we have used non-renewable energy to over exploit and destroy a renewable resource that will be needed when non-renewable energy is gone.

It’s a similar story for soil, and trees, and wildlife, and fresh water.

There are no villains in this story. Just hard working people trying to provide for their families.

The problem is too many people.

I don’t see any solution that will help except population reduction.

Commercial overexploitation of the world’s fish stocks is severe,” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said back in 2012. “Many species have been hunted to fractions of their original populations. More than half of global fisheries are exhausted, and a further third are depleted.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, 85 percent of global fish stocks are “overexploited, depleted, or recovering from depletion.”

Fisheries for the most sought-after species of fish have already collapsed.

The populations of all large predator fish in the oceans have declined by 90 percent in the 50 years since modern industrial fishing became widespread around the world, according to a shocking paper by scientists with Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, published in Nature in 2003.

Three years after the paper’s publication, the same scientists, along with colleagues from across the world, published an even more startling paper that predicted a total collapse of all fish that are currently caught commercially by 2048.

Many scientists, like Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia, have estimated that the total fish catch for the planet peaked back in the mid-1980s, and has been declining ever since.

“The big problem is that we are overfishing,” Boxall told Truthout. “The [fisheries] management isn’t working, and is in fact causing just as much destruction [as] if there was no management in the first place.”