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Something we don’t want to talk about

By Sean Hurley

I advocate for fundamental social change.

I advocate for fundamental social change because I want our species to have a future. Even in the face of insurmountable evidence to the contrary, I tell myself that as humans we can change and create better outcomes for our children.

I had the idea for this post over a week ago, and it was going to be a very different article. I had intended to write about all the reasons I have for wanting to see our species change direction. To briefly summarize what I have looked into and explain how they relate to each other. For me climate change has been a part of that picture, but it was not alone, it was not the only reason to change. It still isn’t.

That was over a week ago now.

Since then I have taken in some material produced by Guy R. McPherson, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology and evolutionary biology. Some of you may be aware of his work, others may not. He has what some people, well, probably most people, would call an extremely pessimistic view of the future for our species. I created a short video in 2013 out of an interview he did, in six minutes it gives you an overview of his position.

Basically, Guy expresses that we are doomed to extinction in the relatively near-term. I came across an interview he did in New Zealand the other day in which he has revised his expectations. Guy is now saying that there will not be humans on the planet in ten years. A decade!

How do you react to that when you hear it or read it? Of course the initial response by many, probably the vast majority, will be to reject it or dismiss it. A very good friend of mine after seeing the interview, a friend who I most deeply respect, expressed that it was one man’s opinion. To be sure it is, and of course hearing what Guy has to say is difficult at best.

I struggled with it. I am still struggling with it. I have been writing with Social Rebirth for a few years now. Long enough that we have had an initial release of the site, then changed tack and produced material on three different sites and finally came back and relaunched Social Rebirth again. That of course has made our content look like it has only been written in the past 2 years, when actually much of it was written previously and went through a re-edit to be posted after the relaunch.

Back in 2012 when Stuart Dobson pitched the idea of starting a website to Jules Elbeshausen and myself I decided that I would try to do my best to always address causality in my content. I have never felt like I was a great writer by any stretch of the imagination but, thanks to Stuart and Jules I think I have improved and come to really enjoy putting articles together. From the outset I have had a plan with my writing to try and produce articles that would work in conjunction with each other. I wanted them to not only be stand alone pieces but to also support each other, which recently culminated in Stuart and I selecting a range of our articles and putting them together into our first book From the Ashes of Capitalism.

I have, since starting the blog, been interested in showing the connection between our economic system, climate change, social disparity and ecological decline. I think that is an important picture for us all to be able to see, which is why I am struggling with the most recent Guy R. McPherson interview.

I have been researching what he is talking about for a few years now, and writing about aspects of it, so how did I not see the timeline? Maybe it is because I have been writing and reading about things in isolation from each other, which is exactly what I did not want to do. Even after collating the articles into the book, knowing things were not great, I did not allow myself to appreciate just how bad they were. Maybe subconsciously I did not want to. Who really wants to see the big picture when it is a picture of almost certain death? I just had to stop and laugh to myself. You see I am still doing it, where Guy points out species extinction is unavoidable in the near-term I want to add the word ‘almost’.

Perhaps I am optimistic to a fault; I want to hold onto the idea that as a species we still have hope, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The most troubling thing about what Guy is saying is that the evidence to support those claims is not hidden away. It is all around us, multiple agencies have been publishing the information for a long time. The thing is they have been published in isolation. We read articles about co2, species extinction, melting ice, ocean acidification, global dimming etc, but we don’t see them all wrapped up together at the same time.

This is what Guy has spent his time doing, he put the pieces together. It is extremely emotional to see, and it is difficult if not impossible to not have an emotional response to being told we are all going to die inside ten years. There are bound to be a range of responses to what he presents, people laughing at him, dismissing him, getting angry, depressed, we are humans after all and will have that range of responses. Which is why I find myself struggling with it, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. I am finding myself constantly needing to remind myself to not be dismissive of what he is saying, to not look for people to blame out of anger, to not get upset about it because maybe it is not correct, to not just give up.

I know climate change is happening, I think the clear majority of people have come to accept that reality. I also accept that although our climate has changed in the past, and will continue to change into the future, the current change we are experiencing is human induced, or ‘anthropogenic’. So in the end I come to the conclusion that I need to try and be objective. I need to look at the information available and see where it leads. Do we still have time to change and avert disaster for our species and the many others we share this planet with? I hope so.

The one thing I think I can be certain of is that if we don’t do something serious now then the outcome will not be one we will want to talk about: our own deaths. If you want to take in the talk by Guy about climate change and our future it is in the video below. I don’t know if I want to recommend it. I will say this, if you are going to watch it try and remain objective. Try to catch yourself if/when you start to have an emotional response. I am going to try and prepare a series of work that will look at the current state of our planetary environment and explain what I find. I am also going to remain optimistic, because I feel we are a species with great potential. We will act or we will die.

You can review the work of Guy at his website, I encourage you to check his source.

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155 comments

  1. Adrianne Haddow

    Wow. Thank you Sean.

    I watched the youtube video in its entirety. Not easy watching.
    But the advice is accepted. Funny how the hippy mantra of my youth has come back ” Be here now”. Listened to it then, but then work, wealth creation for my future, raising children got in the way, and I forgot.

    I’m going to live by that mantra again…… going to sit in the backyard with my beautiful dog, and enjoy my garden, the sun and the sky. And be mindful and appreciative of it all for however long we have left.

  2. Davidbruce

    Thank you Sean. The video is compelling. When Dr Stephen Hawking and many other scientists try to warn our societies about the need for immediate action on climate change, backing off from artificial intelligence research and potential catastrophic collisions with space rocks, most of the population do the “deer in the headlights” stare. The conventional media are remarkably silent on the issues like Fukushima Daiichi radiation leakage, the burning of forestation on Borneo, the pollution of the Great Barrier Reef from human activities and the land clearing in the Amazon. When you add the messages on the Georgia Guide Stones, and the recent articles about limiting population growth, I get the impression that some people are more prepared than others for these events. I am not suggesting that Gary McKinnon’s evidence about a US Space Fleet, and colonies already in existence can be truly credible. But I know enough about Black Projects to realize how information is compartmentalized, and very few see the big picture. Then I hear the Defense Department in USA can’t account for $6.5 trillion (up from $3 trillion the day before 9/11). You can buy a lot research and innovation with that kind of investment. Most of the Black Projects remains secret for 10-12 years, so I would expect if life on planet Earth is in doubt within 10 years, then there is already part of the population planning to survive.

  3. Kay Schieren

    I’ve been putting this out for 20 years. No one in power is ever interested. No one can bite the bullet or envision anything but the structure they grew up with. Have a look at http://www.lifesupportinternational.org and download / read the ideas and thought illustrated in the PDFs – it’s not long and there are even nice pictures.

  4. roma guerin

    This is very disturbing, yet I am not surprised by it. Unlike most of the people I know, I have read and read and read, and joined the dots. But I am 76, and thought I would not be here in 10 years anyway. My quandary is – do I tell my children and grandchildren?

  5. Miriam English

    I watched the video too. There is a glitch about 48 minutes in that lasts for about a minute, so I started looking on the net for another one which doesn’t have the glitch. In attempting to do so I found a very interesting article by scientist Scott K. Johnson:

    How Guy McPherson gets it wrong
    https://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/

    It carefully covers a lot of what Guy McPherson says and points out how much of it is misrepresented or just plain wrong. McPherson is doing the same thing the anti-climate-change twits do, but he’s doing it in the opposite direction.

    We are definitely in a dangerous time, but it seems to me that by exaggerating it he brings about two very bad results:
    1. Well-meaning people give up (I certainly felt sapped of enthusiasm by watching it).
    2. When the several years he talks about pass and things are still just getting worse, but humans are nowhere near extermination people risk dismissing all the dangers.

    We need to be acting quickly to avoid really dangerous changes, we need to be energising people to work on the many solutions available and finding more, and we need to be committing to the long haul. We won’t solve this quickly. We have spent far too long sitting on our hands. It is going to take the rest of our lives, and sadly, our children’s lives to head off the worst. We can’t afford people to give up because they think they’re already doomed, and we can’t afford them not bothering when the scare tactics expire.

  6. Harquebus

    I am aware of McPherson and his claims and hope that he is too pessimistic. With any luck, the economic collapse will come first and force us to change our ways.

    Either way, I ain’t goin’ down without a fight and will continue to sound the alarm and prepare as best I can. If you are not trying to solve the problem of eating without external inputs, of any kind then, I really do suggest that you start now. The problems that you will face will not be so easy to solve when the credit cards no longer work and your local shop is boarded up.

    It has come down to this; Either we stop this economic and population growth madness or we face the nightmarish consequences of accelerating environmental destruction and climate disruption. That’s it. The politicians and journalists who advocate growth are dangerous idiots as has been proved over and over already.

    “We can ignore reality, but we cannot ignore the consequences of ignoring reality.” — Ayn Rand

    “Hundreds of millions will die. Horrific meteorological events will bring nations to their knees and catalyze the displacement of nearly a billion lives. Rising temperatures will implode global food security, exacerbating the coming water shortage and leading to substantial violence and unrest.”
    “The capitalist world order perpetuates a competitive system wherein there is little incentive to slow the rate of growth or ever impede resource markets.”
    “The CEOs, CFOs and big decision makers of less than a hundred companies have collectively put an expiration date on human civilization.”
    “We have been rushed into the next mass extinction by a handful of people who wanted more than they ever needed.”
    http://psuvanguard.com/an-autopsy-of-planet-earth/

    Maybe not all of us will die. Can you do shit like this?

    “The Inuit didn’t fear the cold; they took advantage of it.
    During the 1950s the Canadian government forced the Inuit into settlements. A family from Arctic Bay told me this fantastic story of their grandfather who refused to go. The family, fearful for his life, took away all of his tools and all of his implements, thinking that would force him into the settlement. But instead, he just slipped out of an igloo on a cold Arctic night, pulled down his caribou and sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand.
    As the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of an implement. And when the blade started to take shape, he put a spray of saliva along the leading edge to sharpen it. That’s when what they call the “shit knife” took form.
    He used it to butcher a dog. Skinned the dog with it. Improvised a sled with the dog’s rib cage, and then, using the skin, he harnessed up an adjacent living dog. He put the shit knife in his belt and disappeared into the night.”
    http://www.tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php/291702-The-Inuit-Shit-Knife

    Search criteria: shit knife

    Miriam English
    Thanks for that link.

  7. Harquebus

    Minor correction.
    Maybe not all of us will die prematurely.

  8. Exoplanet

    McPherson’s rhetoric feeds nicely into the skeptic’s ‘doomsayer’ model, which has the effect of, as Miriam has pointed out, causing either paralysis or reflexive dismissal, neither of which seems especially helpful. If, in fact, he’s right, it doesn’t matter anyway, does it?

  9. Dice

    Miriam, I consider most of the blog you linked to be already addressed by much of McPherson’s work (radio, website and more recent talks than 2014). I don’t claim to support or deny the validity of his work aggregating the various specialised peer reviewed papers. He seems to add the various specialised “disaster is coming very soon” papers, and look at the ways in which they interact, rather than treating each independently. As he claims, astrophysicists and physicists don’t do this, but with a biology background, he feels he is able to. Habitat is his focus, as well as the multiplicity of climate feedback loops (not additional, but multiplicative effects).

    As someone else indicated earlier: be good, be kind. That’s about it.

    Meteorites, abrupt climate change, nuclear war, epidemics/pandemics, resource exhaustion, etc etc… We have plenty to worry about, and half of the ways human life may end entirely are made by humans. We get quite conservative climate modelling in media generally, and it is opposed by McPhersons work at the other end of the scale. We need to know that there is that end of the scale.

    *Shrug* If he’s right, your objections don’t really matter. If he’s not right but close… same deal… If he is not at all even close to being right… well, a bunch of people examine their own mortality in a way which causes a real assessment of the way our “civilisation” operates, and lessons will be understood about the severe damage our way of life causes.

    Even if we last the century, it will not exactly be fun. We are indeed in a doom spiral of civilisation collapse, and we have known about it for a half a century. Since then, we have only worsened the problems. Free markets can’t solve this, and governments have given away their power to such self interested economic players like the fossil fuel industry. Even if civilisation “switched off” right now, and stopped setting fire to anything… well… take a look into “global dimming” from pollution, which disguises the true rate of warming. We would get a catastrophic temperature spike.

    Have a lovely day, be the person you want to be, and keep the best of people nearby. 🙂

    Edit: paralysis doesn’t matter if he’s right, and if he’s wrong, well, we are essentially paralysed anyway, in that the disgusting lack of action seems to be ongoing. I don’t think the incentives of profit and capital will be outweighed by something as (now) trivial as democracy.

  10. Sean Hurley

    What I find concerning is the pace of change, all the expectations of the IPCC are being outstripped by observable impacts on the planet. I suspect that with immediate action we could stave of extinction, however people are simply not ready to take the type of action which is needed. We want to solve the symptom of climate change while continuing with our current economic system which is what is driving it. The idea that changing our modes of energy production will be enough is laughable. Our shopping counts, the garbage we buy (and it is garbage) is shipped from all over the world to places all over the world. The carbon footprint is insane. We want to fly all over the planet and pretend it is okay. We are so ignorant when it comes to climate change. There is so much more I could go into, the melting of ice which is already happening and how that will impact on water scarcity, nothing we can do about that now. The melting of the arctic and how it impacts on albedo, which will cause increased warming. The acidification of the oceans and how it is harming sea life, which will kill at least a billion people. That is locked in as well. The deforestation which continues unabated and how it also impacts on albedo and soil loss. Should I continue?

    If we want to act we need to act decisively and I am not sure enough people are willing to understand how drastic the action needs to be. We are far more willing to laugh off the deep changes we need to make, we would be far more wiling to accept a price on carbon or change out light bulbs. That is why time may be up. We simply do not have the will to do what is needed.

  11. Michael Taylor

    H’, thanks for promoting those articles. I truly appreciate it.

  12. Johny

    Well done Sean for putting Guy up. I probably saw Guys stuff about 2 years ago and it totally freaked me. Then over time I seemed to draw on all the spiritual stuff I have read over the years and the most powerful feeling is to be in the now or present. Every moment is precious, and to be grateful for every moment. I now feel at peace with myself and what could happen. This does not mean giving up, I will keep planting trees (my job) and protesting against injustice.
    What bugs me is if humans do go down they will take most of nature with them. They are doing this now anyway with extinctions an everyday occurrence.
    I will check out ‘Guy gets it wrong’ tonight.
    Harquebus, the shit knife story was impressive. cheers

  13. Kaye Lee

    I have to agree with Miriam. Whilst recognising the urgency of taking action, you have to have achievable goals to make progress. We shouldn’t be dismissive of any improvements, no matter how small and inadequate they may seem. We cannot know the technological advances of the future. All we can do is our best to improve the present and to inform people so that governments have the courage to take the steps that are necessary to regulate corporate greed and encourage better practice. The risk is real but you also risk losing credibility if you exaggerate it.

    I know things look grim but giving up is not an option so, instead of doomsaying, look for those achievable goals to move us in the right direction.

  14. Harquebus

    Michael Taylor
    You are welcome. It suits my purposes also as you can see.
    Cheers.

  15. Sean Hurley

    Kaye Lee we regularly write about the achievable goals, but people are too busy voting for TV personalities to care. The sad reality, based on the NOAA, NASA, Yale University data and more that I have read paints a grim picture. We can still come out of this if we act decisively. However the majority are not willing to question the fundamentals of our failed economic and political institutions. If you think any change of consequence, however small, is going to be made through these institutions then I would suggest you do not appreciate the scope of the problem or either the inadequacy of these mechanisms.

    If we don’t act together as people against the economy and government then we will suffer.

  16. Annie B

    In the 2nd video, the speaker opens with a quote from Adyashanti – .. to enlightenment.

    ‘Enlightment’ can contain the possibility of a great shock to the system – a downer, a misery to contemplate, …. But it can also be a source of progressive thinking, awe and wonder at possibilities.

    He spoke of the ‘enlightenment’ which had cost him within personal relationships – being a great shock. That was very revealing.

    Just because Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, has this ultra-respectable label, earned no doubt through excellent contributions in his biology theses to his branch of science – does NOT mean he is anything but human. He is not a robot – not a walking encyclopaedia, not the be all or end all of theory about humanity in its’ myriads of form, and he certainly cannot possibly have all of the answers. This is one mans’ opinion – out of the many hundreds / thousands of theories that abound – on this subject alone ( climate change and its’ effect on humanity ). …

    I do not doubt the science alongside many theories, especially that of climate change as we know it now to be. Climate has been changing for millennia, but we focus on todays’ problems of carbon foot prints, acidisation of the oceans, decline of ice in both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, what we are doing to our planet; the deforestation of huge sectors for profit – I need not go any further with that – it is obvious. AND it is ultra-important to consider it all, very seriously – and then do all we possibly can, to stop this progression.

    When anyone ‘does a presentation’ such as in the 2nd video – the presentation is most always worded to have the greatest impact – the presentation is in fact a selling tool. .. In the first 4.5 minutes of this presentation, we see the words “Hothouse Earth” at the top of a chart – and then “Triggering Human Extinction” ( which remains for much of the lecture ) …to introduce his next lines of thinking. Both are designed to a) grab attention and b) to react on an emotional level to the audience / viewers. … Any writer ( and he has published much ) relies on continuing publicity to promote his theories / ideologies, and to put food on his table. … Simple.

    Regarding his NTE views, Andrew Revkin in The New York Times said McPherson was an “apocalyptic ecologist .. who has built something of an ‘End of Days’ following”. This is more than interesting – is he an “End of Times” adherent ? It is possible that he is, then again – maybe not. We will not know, as there seems to be zero information about him on a personal level ( most likely by design ). He is cited as a Professor of Biology from the Arizona University.

    Michael Tobis, a climate scientist from the University of Wisconsin, said McPherson was out of his depth and “is not the opposite of a denialist. He is a denialist, albeit of a different stripe.”

    I believe we must all be very prudent in following any one mans mantra, on any subject or theory. All scientific advancement begins with a ‘theory’ … it cannot be anything but, and while ‘a theory’ is being investigated by every means possible, many other theories pop up during that journey of discovery.

    There is a distinct thread of existential nihilism .. making its’ way through McPhersons’ speeches, writings and presentations.

    I am not a ‘climate change’ denier by any means – it IS a reality, in the way it is relevant to todays’ world, but I cannot take one mans’ word for the extinction of humanity within 10 years ??? … without thinking ‘End Times’ theories exist therein.

    “End Times” proposals ( and total beliefs ) are from mainly religious sources – and I seriously doubt their veracity. A bit like the many ‘end of days’ proposals put forward sooo many times over the decades, ( to do with planetary alignments, Nostradamus projections, the advent of the Millenium in 2000/01, and countless other sources of belief ) … so far they haven’t come to fruition.

    If there is anything humanity has – across the board, it is the instinct of survival. That is paramount to all species. Admittedly, while we put into extinction, by our own willful greed, many species that existed yesterday ( and today – and they did not / do not have much of a hope against human intervention ) … humans will find a way to survive – as they have in the past. A past that McPherson refers to in the 2nd video.

    I prefer to believe we will survive, and be much better at survival – for the sake of our children and grand-children. … An emotional reflection admittedly, but – one, in the twilight of my own years, I do believe in.

    A hefty subject – if ever there was one !!

  17. silkworm

    Harquebus has quoted Ayn Rand. Now we know where he’s coming from.

  18. Keith

    When in New Zealand very recently McPherson stated that we would be extinct in a decade. McPherson is an outlier; very few scientists belief the views he promotes. But, Earth is not in good shape at present; while deniers promoted the hiatus view, Oceans were picking up warmth which is now having an impact on weather patterns; and the cryosphere has continued to melt or thaw.
    In February 2013, Andrew Guzman spoke about how a community of 2,000 were struggling in Bolivia as the glacier which fed a river they relied on for water had ceased to exist. Currently, there is drought in Bolivia causing lack of water resources in the major cities of La Paz and El Alto through diminishing water supplies from glaciers. Guzman indicated that dwindling water resources through the break down of glaciers and snowfields will ultimately impact on millions of people.

    Taking the view of Guzman, human populations are at grave risk in some areas of Earth through lack of water and a deterioration of a viable agricultural system. Backing what Guzman posits is a clear break down of glacial areas around the planet. Glaciers have virtually been water reservoirs for many communities. Loss of water supplies provides a climate for civil unrest and war being likely outcomes.
    Other extreme weather events also will have an impact on the safety of communities.

    Rather than a wholesale extinction event; a loss of population on Earth is a more likely outcome.
    A gruesome enough occurrence.

    http://youtu.be/O7xoM7v0QUk

  19. SGB

    Well put Annie B,
    I share 98% of your thoughts, (the other 2% don’t matter)

    I am 69 too old to worry about myself but not so old to worry about my son his lovely wife and my beautiful grandchildren.

    Yes – I fear that humans have gone over the edge and are on their way down, however I hope for the world to change sometime soon.

    Change is essential, it is happening, people are fearful of the mix of extreme message’s and are starting to object to the neoliberal world that we have alowed to be created.

    Lets hope the change excelerates and humans come to their senses!

  20. jimhaz

    Lots of good stuff in the link provided by keerti, showing that McPherson is a non-scientific twit. I suppose if we are going to have deniers, we might as well balance them out with alarmists.

    The thing in favour of alarmists is that they will be correct at some point if one excludes their alarmist timeframes.

    I’m not suggesting anyone under 40 shouldn’t be concerned about the high likelihood of current estimates being too conservative. We are not very good at predicting human futures.

    My concern has never been about extinction, but about a loss of variety and beauty. The masses could end up in jail cell like conditions with a diet of jellyish paste. It depends how much we fight, rather than cooperate….and what sort of politician we allow to hold office.

  21. Dice

    The comments here follow pretty much the same patterns they do everywhere on this topic. Early this year, I was much the same, intuitively rejecting the doom scenario, actively looking for debunking rationales, and this is entirely understandable. It took me a while to acclimatise to the possibility that human survival and industrial civilisation are simply not compatible on this planet. After examining the quite large and ever increasing body of material available, I found to my discomfort, that there was a lot more to this than I had first thought.

    I doubt Guy’s time frame, but it is certainly more plausible than most would think at first. The bias I experienced, thinking immediately that this was all crazy-talk, gradually reduced the more I understood the myriad problems humanity faces. The test for me, was not ignoring this view, but examining it. It was a bit of a hobby at first, much like looking into Graham Hancock’s more bizarre ramblings, but the end result for me, was arrival at the position that despite the details I am unsure of, the problems we face are far greater than we generally realise.

    We can’t get the majority of people to moderate alcohol and junk-food consumption, let alone banning car racing, let alone something like a global binding agreement to ration fossil fuel consumption to essential services only. Immersion into industrialised society often prevents a rational assessment of it. Our civilisation is precarious, and that’s being generous. Wars are being waged to secure the remaining resources required for industrial civilisation to continue (Carter Doctrine), by those factions with the military might to do so. I mean, that’s happening now, and will escalate.

    There is a joke going around at the moment on social media: “If people riot over a cheap TV on black Friday, just wait until we run out of food.” The implication being, that during the collapse of agriculture from climactic disruptions, there is no plausible way to “manage” some sort of orderly transition. We have the ability to make cockroach burgers (a real thing btw) for protein, but we would have to industrialise that production on a massive scale in a very short time. That sort of thing makes me think nuclear war would be the preferred option for those in positions of power and privilege, in order to annex the resources of other nations (assuming survival of global nuclear catastrophe).

    But hey, this sort of speculation may be entirely unwarranted. I will continue to keep tabs on the topic though, because the longer I do, the more mainstream publicised peer reviewed science tends to agree. The trend in new studies over the last couple of decades, is that of an increasingly worse outlook and more alarming environmental circumstances (as well as increasing sociological tensions and political authoritarianism).

    It is useful to the cultural conversation to have the scale between denial and disaster include Guy’s assessment, because the other supposedly “alarmist” assessments are now quite conservative, and in the middle of the spectrum. That should shift the public perception of what is presently considered “alarmist”, towards the main/centre, and that is good even if Guy is way off. He may serve to push accurate but unpopular scientific views into public awareness.

    I’m getting used to the idea that skill in growing veg will be more valuable than a degree in constitutional law in the near future.
    There is no harm in that. My garden is looking much better. 🙂

  22. Miriam English

    Dice, while I agree with you on a few things, I must point out that when USA entered the Second World War it ceased car manufacturing literally overnight and turned those resources to making war machines. Here in Australia women ran pretty-much the entire workforce — a radical social change that happened in an insanely short period.

    The adoption of solar power to generate electricity has accelerated faster than the adoption of mobile phones. In less than a decade it has gone from an insignificant 5,000 megaWatts in 2006 to around 300,000 megaWatts this year. That is truly astonishingly rapid and exponential growth. Solar is expected to be the largest source of electrical power by 2050. (I believe it will happen much sooner, inside a decade, as coal is in the process of collapsing, oil is on the verge of imploding, and gas will follow soon. This will give a significant boost to renewable sources, which are currently retarded by the massive subsidies fossil fuels receive.)

    We can and do change very quickly when we have sufficient impetus.

  23. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Electricity isn’t going to run farm machinery.

    “Heavy-duty diesel-engine trucks (agricultural, cargo, mining, logging, construction, garbage, cement, 18-wheelers) are the main engines of civilization. Without them, no goods would be delivered, no food planted or harvested, no garbage picked up, no minerals mined, no concrete made, or oil and gas drilled to keep them all rolling. If trucks stopped running, gas stations, grocery stores, factories, pharmacies, and manufacturers would shut down within a week.”
    http://energyskeptic.com/2016/diesel-finite-where-are-electric-trucks/

    Cheers.

  24. Miriam English

    H, we’ve already had this converstation. You are wrong. It already does.

    Tractors, trucks, and so on are already advantageously converting to electric power where the superior torque of electric motors wins easily over internal combustion engines. Electric motors have full torque from standstill right up to maximum speed, unlike internal combustion engines that have only a very narrow useful power range. This is why internal combustion engines need expensive, heavy, complex gearboxes and clutches. Electric motors, on the other hand, can even be mounted directly on the wheels. (They also don’t need expensive, complex, cooling systems, ignition systems, air-mixing systems, pistons, valves, oil baths, and so on.)

    The main limiting factor for trucks has historically been the weight of lead-acid batteries. That extra weight isn’t a drawback for tractors as it gives extra stability and traction, but lithium ion batteries have boosted interest in electric power and we’ve seen increasing numbers of trucks, buses, and so on take advantage of it.

    Just wait til the battery revolution really gets into full-swing, with lightweight, high-capacity, non-toxic, carbon electric storage devices that charge in a fraction of the time of existing batteries.

    I’ve shown you this before. Despite you saying (and I’m sure intending) to look at things people post, it seems you never saw this:

    Robert Murray Smith testing his homemade electric storage device which has many times the energy density of a lead-acid battery, yet is extremely light, non-toxic, uses cheap, readily accessible materials, and isn’t harmed by completely discharging it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P266pdT71tI

    What is probably slowing this change more than anything else is people saying that it isn’t happening.

  25. Annie B

    Dice – ( at 10:13 am )

    Enjoyed reading your comments and summaries of much to do with this ailing planet, and agree with much said there. Thing is most every prediction put forward – in the forward looking sense, is indeed speculation. There is nothing wrong with that in terms of free speech, and many good fruitful even remarkable ideas have sprung from speculation and ‘theories’.

    I agree with many of your statements. I still however, doubt 99.9% the intentions and agenda, behind McPhersons’ projections.

    Tried then to imagine being an alien visitor from outer space, to suddenly ‘happen upon’ this earth, and sit back in my space vehicle to observe, and I would see the ‘cons’ far outweighing the ‘pros’, at this point in time. Wherever one could look – at the incredible beauty that abounds, one would also see human interference, greed, and destruction – but fortunately, not yet to a 100% situation. The alien would however, also see people thinking ‘outside the box’ to improve their lives, their needs ( not their wants ) … and inventing much to improve. They are the positive thinking people. Far better education, everywhere – over many generations, is needed to promote the ability to devise more helpful positive ideas / inventions – for our ‘home – planet Earth’. A slow process, but one that must be done … This however, is where Samson will meet Goliath.

    Samson ( according to legend ) ultimately defeated the great Goliath, with a single stone, accurately placed, despite the inordinate, ‘expensive’ and brutal trappings of the giant. … The Goliath of todays’ world is corporatocracy, plus politicians with initially hidden agendas of greed and power. … They present themselves to begin with, in smiling masks with grand promises of improving the lot for ‘their’ people. And the more savvy they are at their own rhetoric ( be it pleasant or aggressively Trump like ), the more people will be lulled into a false sense of security.. Add to that the advent of religion – all religion – as it is ruled and promoted by humans, also with a sense of power, greed and superiority – and add further, the insatiable desire of ‘money’ , making more money. … NOT a pretty picture.

    The alien might well be pleased though, to see the way people come together – all pretenses and posturings thrown aside, when natural disasters occur – to help their fellow man. … no such thing happens however, when money making, and power come together in the form of raining bombs, and resulting destruction occurs anywhere in the world – but particularly, and so often, from the greatest of collective oligarchs on the planet – the U.S. of A. …. How we can continue to trust them is beyond me.

    ” For evil to prevail, all that is necessary is for good men to do nothing.”

    I would however, still like to place my bet on Samson.

  26. Miriam English

    Annie, you mean David and Goliath. 🙂
    Those darned old legends. I get lots of them mixed up too. I recently was trying to find the story of the guy (couldn’t remember his name, thought it might be David) who pulled the thorn from the foot of the lion and ended up resorting to Google. Imagine my surprise when I found out Androcles and the Lion is a fable that has nothing to do with the Bible.

  27. Annie B

    Miriam … ( at 3:04 pm )

    A fascinating post …. with much information about alternative electric driven machinery of all kinds. It is however, in its’ infancy, but will surely gain momentum as time passes – – – – provided the powers that rule our country and others – permit it to be ??? The big question, that !! .. Add to that, your comment :

    “What is probably slowing this change more than anything else is people saying that it isn’t happening.” .. First cabs off the rank of that kind of denial, are the ruling politicians on our planet, got monetary reasons mainly. .. And closely following are the general public, who, comfortable with what they know, do not want to contemplate ‘change’ … ” too much trouble in our already busy lives.”

    Inclusive Education … in new subjects, in lateral thinking exercises, the re-introduction of ‘clear thinking’ exercises ( called something else now, but way off the original mark ), and very importantly, on relaxation / meditation to help people change the management of their ‘busy’ ( and often overwhelming ) lives. … A huge, but not impossible, proposal.

    ……

    p.s. …. of course I meant David and Goliath — what a total klutz I am. It was Samson and Delilah … and we all know what happened there !! 🙂 …. I just wish I could go back and edit that now, but have run out of time. Klutz incorporated here. !!

    And indeed, much of ancient writings are fables and legends, no matter which ‘book’ they come from. The Greeks didn’t pretend their stories to be anything but mythology – at least I don’t believe they did. 😉

  28. Annie B

    Matters Not ….

    What a superb sculpture. Thank you for posting the link.

    These fables and legends do make for some fascinating, albeit – way out there, research and reading.

    I will now retreat ( again ) behind the old adage ” we all make mistakes” … which we do.

    Cannot believe I put together the wrong couplings. 🙂 … That’s what ‘aging’ does for ya !!

  29. Matters Not

    We sure do make mistakes. The sculpture is in Frankfurt – right in the heart of the CBD – Not Hamburg.

    It’s not far from the ‘bear’ and the ‘bull’ sculptures which are outside the Stock Exchange.

    https://www.google.com.au/search?q=bronze+of+bear+and+bull+in+frankfurt&biw=1280&bih=518&tbm=isch&imgil=pjFfHBg22Zc5jM%253A%253BXqywJk5_U87yOM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.dreamstime.com%25252Feditorial-stock-photo-bronze-bear-bull-statue-frankfurt-germany-jan-boerse-stock-exchange-main-germany-image49396933&source=iu&pf=m&fir=pjFfHBg22Zc5jM%253A%252CXqywJk5_U87yOM%252C_&usg=__GV2sLxAQHH9bSHO60bscsMHkWpM%3D&ved=0ahUKEwil0vmm5M_QAhUMjpQKHfEZAhcQyjcIKA&ei=bGg-WKXsEYyc0gTxs4i4AQ#imgrc=pjFfHBg22Zc5jM%3A

  30. Annie B

    MN …. I don’t feel quite so alone now !! 😉 🙂

    The bull and bear sculpture is also a wonderful piece of work. Brilliant stuff.

  31. Anthony Nolan

    Guy R. McPherson is a well known weirdo, depressive and isolated ‘prepper’ who has been around for years and whose work has been soundly debunked by numerous credible scientists. He has done, and apparently continues to do, significant psychological harm to vulnerable people who are, mostly, without adequate scientific, sociological or anthropological knowledge.

    The last time I had any contact with this nutter (McPherson) was during a long residence at a forest protectors camp when one of his dupes turned up for a stay. Every conversation with him left me feeling like I’d been buried under wet concrete such was the aura of pessimism and panic that he exuded. In his late fifties, apparently utterly alienated fro his adult children and his ex-wives, he was utterly convinced that his greatest problem was how to spend the last years of the planet, and his miserable existence, in some meaningful way.

    On inquiry it turned out that he had assimilated many of McPherson’s half baked ideas to his own mid-life crisis. This is not an uncommon event among men of a certain age; the silly deluded bastard had globalized his own pointless existence and despair to incorporate the entire planet.

    As conditions worsen there will be much more of this.

    The following link is to an article titled ‘McPherson’s Evidence That Doom Doom Doom’ from 2014.

    http://planet3.org/2014/03/13/mcphersons-evidence-that-doom-doom-doom/

    So do get a stiff drink and a grip.

  32. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    You have pointed me to that video before. Powering a little moped around the block a few times is nothing like transporting tonnes of cargo thousands of kilometers.

    I have read these articles although not recently and will again very soon.
    http://energyskeptic.com/2016/all-of-california-electricity-per-year-to-power-16000-catenary-trucks-on-2400-to-8275-miles-of-highway/
    http://energyskeptic.com/2016/not-enough-lithium-for-electric-car-batteries/

    We don’t really have time to “just wait” for a magic bullet and must bite the real one immediately or face consequences.

    Cheers.

  33. Annie B

    To Anthony Nolan :

    Your comments underscore what I instinctively thought about this ‘scientist’ McPherson.

    The link you provided, I read a lot of – but it was a massive read, and I could not get through all of it, especially the myriad of comments at the end.

    Rather think McPherson has a lot of personal issues to resolve. …

    All due respects to Sean Hurley … it is a well written article.

  34. Miriam English

    Ignoring your minimising dismissal of it, powering an actual electric vehicle with his homemade battery really does prove its practical effectiveness. It is far lighter than a lead-acid battery and considerably smaller, yet holds more energy and doesn’t get damaged by depleting it (running a lead-acid battery down past two-thirds full damages it).

    The shift to using this for transporting tonnes of cargo thousands of kilometers is basically one of scale.

    There is a big trend recently to make trucks more efficient so that they take much less energy to move cargo. The Rocky Mountain Institute has been working with a lot of big corporations who are interested in saving big bucks that way. The first article you point to basically concentrates on batteries being too heavy. Well, guess what? New, light batteries are here now. The second article talks about lithium batteries. There are actually enormous reserves of lithium, so I wouldn’t worry about running out of it. I’d be more concerned about the expense of processing it, and I’d be more worried about its toxicity. I’m not in favor of lithium batteries. We already have cheap, light, non-toxic alternatives.

    Who said anything about waiting around?

    Harquebus, you really do love doom. You’ll do anything to avoid the possibility of a bright future. [sigh]

  35. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I think that supply chain disruptions will soon shatter your delusions.
    Time will tell and that time is short.
    Cheers.

  36. Dice

    The incentives are quite different to the mobilisation of WWII, in that the ruling class actually oppose mobilisation against climate crisis. The most powerful economic players gain that status on the back of fossil fuel riches, and they seem to be calling all the shots, not governments or democracy. Multi-national fossil fuel corporations have GDP larger than most countries, and so, are actually more powerful than most countries. They get occasionally set back, but usually they get their way in the end.

    Solar panels are made using oil, throughout the supply chain, like nearly everything else in our civilisation. It is not just energy generation or fuel for vehicles, it is everything. US currency depends on oil, and therefore so does the world’s reserve currency. We are not weaning ourselves off it, we are still selling ever increasing quantities of petroleum for the consumer to set fire to, so they can drive to the shops and get products from all over the world, which were delivered via this fuel, and even packaged in it. Every major industry relies on oil, and it is nearly gone. I do not think an orderly transition is plausible in the time frame required. Any government which tells its people that they are going to have to take a huge lifestyle hit will be ousted so fast there would be a sonic boom. That lifestyle hit is necessary though.

    David and Goliath is an example of using violence to defeat an aggressor. As a parallel to present circumstances, the analogy advocates relatively powerless people “cutting the head off the snake” so to speak. The problem with the notion is, Goliath is not just the heads of powerful and self interested corporations, he is our every day life, culture, and global economy.

    I don’t think many people understand the dramatic lifestyle changes which need to occur for us to even have a chance at maintaining a liveable habitat on which humanity relies. Does anyone think the largest polluting countries will agree (or vote) to ration electricity, meat, and fuel until alternate infrastructure is produced? I don’t. I see them choosing war, to continue doing exactly what we are doing.

    So, the objections seem mostly about time. How much do we have in which to act? I suspect that if it wasn’t for Guy’s stated time frame for near term human extinction, the contentions presented would be more palatable to you all. There are feedback loops individually studied and demonstrated. We are well aware that over consumption on a finite planet cannot last. The peer reviewed papers predicting individual elements of doom are unpopular in the first place. Very few people are examining how these separate specialised studies interact. If we get told humanity “may” not last 100 years, we tend to be doubtful of the claim. Even that, does not mean smooth sailing for 99 years. It means civilisation collapse in a few decades, and a desperate survival life for our remnants after.

    Climate disaster is politicised, because the economic structures we have are invariably opposed to the scientific conclusions. “Coal is good for humanity” means “Cash is good for me and mine”, when the science says “Holy **** coal is killing us all, here is the data”. That’s where we are at collectively, and that will be where we stay (besides the odd green-washing campaign to keep people hopeful and consuming)… unless some sort of dramatic economic collapse occurs in the most perfectly lucky way where there is a chance to craft a sensible existence from the aftermath. I doubt imported goods and round the clock power would be involved in such a scenario.

    I seem to find Guy far more plausible than most of you, and I still try to maintain a tiny carbon footprint, continue to read and research, debate ethics and politics, and generally be conscientious in my own way… not because I think any of that will save us, but because it is still right.

    I hope I’m adding something worthwhile here, I mostly just felt like writing. Thanks.

  37. Rapideffect

    Miriam English December 1, 2016 at 12:36 am
    Harquebus, you really do love doom. You’ll do anything to avoid the possibility of a bright future. [sigh]

    Harquebus is trying to get people to see and discuss the real issues, which may lead to a bright future. Your discussing pseudoscience which will lead to a disastrous future. Your ideas are not backed by anything but wishful thinking. There are no enormous reserves of lithium, you cannot retrofit all the vehicles in the world to run on electricity. Oil and gas are needed in agriculture to produce fertilizers and pesticides, and run massive machinery which cannot be run economically on electricity. Running Global Civilization on renewable energy is not possible as renewable energy is an extension of the fossil fuel energy, not an alternative to it.

    Referring to Harquebus as a doomer shows you have no argument, and that you are trying to discredit what Harquebus said by name calling, not facts.

  38. roma guerin

    Thank you Dice, you speak for me. I am too scared to read all the offerings.

  39. Johno

    The devastation humans are doing to the natural systems on the planet is so massive and even with our knowledge of AGW, Paris agreement etc it does seem business as usual. We better get back to the horse and cart and the bicycle asap. We will have to defund the military as well. Can’t have the military burning precious O2 for their boring war games.

  40. Adrianne Haddow

    I’m also one of the scared crowd.
    If the science regarding climate change and its acceleration is ‘iffy’, why is there a global rush to get the coal, oil and gas safely in the hands of the big corporations?

    I live in the Hunter Valley and the rush to remove and export coal, and to force coal seam gas explorations onto privately owned farm land, is unceasing.

    The brutality of police and security officers against the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota speaks volumes about the desperation of the oil corporations to get that oil stored and sold. Dare I say, this marks the beginning of the Climate Wars because the need to preserve water is resonating with a growing number of people.

    Our government’s obstinate push to permit the Adani project (and all the other mine expansions and new mining permits) to proceed should be warning enough that these corporations have bought the power to enforce changes to legislation and denial of basic rights to local landowners and concerned citizens.
    All this in spite of signing the Paris Accord and the supposed decreasing of emissions globally by 2020.

    I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist, but what is history, if not one big conspiracy ?

  41. Annie B

    Johno

    Although absolutely not a doomsday advocate myself, I have had a nagging little thought over the past few years, that indeed we will actually be going back to horse and cart, and bicycles – plus un-pesticided vegetables, partly grown in our own back gardens and a whole lot of other old-fashioned ideas, in the near future. ,.. And that it might not be a bad thing if we did…. e.g. Already, older medications are being carefully looked at again, as the source of newer medications to combat chronic disease, super-bugs etc. .. Much work is being done on that alone.

    The false sense of security we have had in past decades, of getting anything we want no matter how we get it, has turned around and bitten us all on the bum – and now we find panic in our midst as to what will happen in the near future. Promoting these fears is the extraordinary amount of information and more often disinformation on the Internet. Googling anything will give an answer – at least of some description – and leads to further blogs and blogging from people who are mortally afraid of everything. … this translates to a promotion of more fear, and it has an unhealthy domino effect.

    Healthy, positive forethought and inventiveness has always helped people survive many dire circumstances in the past, and it will do so again. .. At the moment, we seem to have run down the wrong fork in the road – from our own stupidity, and in particular by the ‘powers’ of world control. A long and arduous cross-country hike back to the right road has to be taken – and it will be, metaphorically speaking.

    Dice ….

    Re : your comment about oil being ‘nearly gone’. … This is not so. .. From http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/oil/9867659/Why-the-world-isnt-running-out-of-oil.html

    “Far from running out, oil and natural gas reserves were, if not inexhaustible, then unfathomably vast. Nobody knew that then, but they do now.

    Moreover, as well as bountiful oilfields in North America, Russia, Saudi Arabia and other producers in the Middle East, there are massive, barely tapped reserves in South America, Africa and the Arctic: not billions of barrels’ worth, but trillions. So the planet is not about to run out of oil. On the contrary, according to a Harvard University report published last year, we are heading for a glut.” … and the report goes on in detail – it is a lengthy read. The report is 3 years old, but still holds as correct, and does not embelish only the good side of it.

    America sits on huge amounts of oil reserve, off the Alaskan coast just to begin with – which is barely touched and they appear to want to keep it that way – presumably, for the wealth, health and safety of their own nation. .. But as ever, the U.S. who want everything for themselves, including world dominance – will fight to keep control of oil in other countries, the Middle East in particular, in any way it can. And we all know how they do that !!

    Oil is not an infinite supply admittedly, but will be around for many many decades to come.

    I could go on, but won’t – this post is long enough as it is.

  42. Johno

    Annie B..I just wonder how and when this juggernaught will be stopped. This mad dash to dig more coal and extract more oil reminds me of when the native vegetation clearance act came into force in South Australia. There was a mad dash to clear as much land as possible before the act was passed.
    Only recently there was campaign to stop BP from drilling oil in the Great Australian Bight. They left for reasons I will probably never know. Now Chevron are looking into drilling in the bight and this is right next to a marine sanctuary.
    These companies are relentless yet the masses want the products that oil makes, so for the sake of more of whatever we get more emmisions. A vicious circle.

  43. Annie B

    Johno ….

    Yes, so much in the world today can morph into a vicious circle / cycle.

    Demand and supply – we demand, they ( whoever ) supply.

    There are always petitions, manned protests etc. for the preserving of reefs, marine and land sanctuaries, wildlife, etc, and while they do have some impact – they do not have the 100% impact required on the big corporations to seek compromises, other ways of doing things that does not ruin the environment. … Big money couldn’t give a tuppenny stuff, as long as the money keeps rolling in. … In that regard, we are (sadly) in their pockets.

    Having said that, it is high time WE… we the people, began finding ways to circumvent these potentially erosive situations … but, through being spoilt rotten, being raised to demand what we want ( speaking of more recent generations ) … the ‘people’ are not going to BE too inventive…. That is until they find that the next 2 weeks / 2 months / 2 years even, of depletion in needs to survive, hits them ( us ) in the face.

    Voices crying in the wilderness, do not wash with big money hungry corporations or governments. And these large profiteering concerns, KNOW that ” the masses want the products that oil makes”. – they $$$ smile all the while we demand their products – in order to ‘live’.

    The main thrust of my previous comment was to do with the availabilty of oil – for many, many decades. I wonder however, what might happen ( a hypothesis against my previous comment !! ) if it was heavily ‘leaked’ from all world governments, that oil was in fact, about to run out altogether ? ( not the Guy McPherson type hyperbole, btw ). … there would be a more than interesting reaction.

    Meanwhile – we return to square 1 and the endless vicious cycle.

  44. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, no, Harquebus is trying to promote fear and dread. He genuinely thinks he’s helping, but you can see that he really wants to deny any hope by the way that he refuses to accept anything that conflicts with his doom scenario. I actually like him as a person, but I don’t like the way his posts make people feel like they might as well give up.

    I’m a natural optimist. I realise the situation is dangerous and getting more so, but at the same time I keep abreast of scientific and technological developments that are truly game-changing. There are some really encouraging things happening and I post about them.

    One of the main sources of lithium is so large it can be seen from space — the Atacama Salt Flats in Chile. The economically accessible (now) reserves of lithium are estimated at 9,900,000,000 kg, and there is much more that will become economical when climate change bites. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) have developed a gel electrolyte that lets lithium batteries last 200,000 recharges instead of the more usual 7,000 recharges, making them even more practical. But I’m not actually in favor of lithium batteries. I see them as merely a good bridging technology that can help wean us off oil.

    It seems you don’t read scientific literature otherwise you wouldn’t be labelling what I talk about as peudoscience.

    Currently fossil fuels are used in agriculture, but they are not strictly needed for it. The main technology used to produce fertilisers is the Haber-Bosch process. Presently it uses methane mined as gas as its source of hydrogen, but it doesn’t need to use that as its source of hydrogen. It is merely convenient. The most important part of the process comes from the air — nitrogen. The energy to drive the process can come from anything. If you think the sun can’t supply it then think again. Watch this video where a TV-sized fresnel lens focusses the sun to about 1650 degrees C to burn a hole through inch-thick plaster in less than a minute:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drE54ctrHBY

    Massive machinery works fine on electricity. Look in any factory. The only difficulty for electric vehicles has been batteries, but lithium batteries make that easier. And new, cheaper, non-toxic batteries are about to hit the market, demolishing the last objection to electrically powering anything. As I said to Harquebus before, electric engines are actually much better suited to moving heavy machines than internal combustion engines. A heavy truck can require 12 or 18 gears in order to make use of the narrow band of useful torque internal combustion engines have. Electric engines have full torque from standstill right up to maximum speed.

    At the moment, it is true that we use fossil fuels to make the equipment for renewable energy, but there is absolutely no reason why we can’t use other sources of energy. Get your mind out of that straightjacket.

  45. Rapideffect

    Miriam EnglishDecember 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    “It seems you don’t read scientific literature otherwise you wouldn’t be labelling what I talk about as peudoscience. ”

    Replace this every year with renewable energy – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cubic_mile_of_oil
    Look at the facts not opinion.

    “As I said to Harquebus before, electric engines are actually much better suited to moving heavy machines than internal combustion engines”

    If this was true it would already be happening, truth is oil is the most energy dense, portable, versatile resource and electricity cannot replace it. How much of the worlds power is renewable?? Global Civilization cannot be retrofitted to run on renewable energy, this has already been proven. Renewable energy is not able to power Global Civilization.

  46. Anthony Nolan

    Annie B: we are certainly going to have to be brave and tough beset as we are on multiple fronts from the rise of Drumpf’s variant of fascism to global warming and the generalized final assault on first nature by hyper-exploitative neoliberalism.

    How do we face this down? Well, I keep in mind that the post war immigrant parents of old mates of mine met each other as they walked from Belgrade to Paris at the end of the war before making their way to London and thence Australia; I rejoice in the deep humanity of Australian Aboriginal people, all genocide survivors; I reread Primo Levi and others who learned how to survive and then go on to thrive in the face of overwhelming trauma and dislocation. Above all, I am determined to live with love and compassion for all except the enemies of life itself as a guiding principle.

    Anyone not planning for a life of maximum opposition is missing the point and the opportunity. There’s no reason for despair, which is immobilizing, and resignation is beneath dignity.

  47. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, yep, I’m already aware of how much oil we use. This is exactly a case of what I pointed to before about the paralysing effect of seeing the problem as too hard. Do you realise how much of that oil is wasted? In the case of driving a 4WD car, more than 99%. We only need to replace a tiny fraction of the oil in order to run civilisation efficiently — considerably less than 1%.

    A well designed, efficient, lightweight, electric car can use sunlight to charge its batteries. You don’t have to mine it, and it has zero weight. The batteries have, as I said, been a stumbling block, but lithium batteries are much lighter and more effective and can buy us time until the new, very light, non-toxic, low-cost batteries make it to market. And if you think they are a fantasy see the video I mentioned above by English inventor Robert Murray-Smith:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P266pdT71tI

    “If this was true it would already be happening”.
    It already is. Wind has already replaced coal as the least expensive energy source. Solar has been dropping in cost and increasing in efficiency for many years now and is on course to be less expensive than coal also. Solar is being adopted faster than mobile phones. There was more investment in renewable energy than fossil fuels last year (and I believe in the previous year too). As coal is already cheaper than oil the only blocker for electric vehicles is battery technology, and as I said, lithium batteries are bridging that gap. Elon Musk’s Tesla electric cars prove that.

    There is a revolution happening and you just don’t notice it.

  48. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    If I wanted what I see is coming, I wouldn’t be in fora like this trying to wake a few up and would have instead settled back with the popcorn to enjoy the show.
    The reduction in the cost of solar panels has come at the expense of the Chinese environment.
    Cheers.

  49. Dice

    Annie B…

    We are running out of oil, because we would not be fracking if oil was as plentiful as we hope. (I really doubt the Tele’s neutrality, btw)
    The more technology progresses to find and extract oil, the faster we use it. None of the environmental impacts are discussed in that 2013 article.

    Fracking is a bit like sucking spilled beer out of the carpet for an alcoholic. Tar sands and fracking require an energy expenditure approaching the energy output. For every barrel extracted from tar sands, two barrels come out. We have to use 2:1 ratio of energy to extract energy, which is far different to finding oil just laying around and easily accessible. Besides all that, it is still a finite resource, and its use is growing rapidly. Supply will never outpace demand, if we continue as we are. More oil, means more car sales. More efficient cars, means more car sales, not more public transportation. It is a trap to think we have decades of oil left.

    The Saudis flooded the market with oil reserves to drive down the price, to compete with gas and fracked gas and to try to cripple Russia’s export revenue. They did not have to do that. They could have saved it. The end result, is that once the present low price of oil ends, the price rise will never reduce again. Oil is artificially cheap right now, and that is besides the cost of negative externalities, like the environmental impacts the public end up being billed for.

    The US alone uses at least 7 billion barrels of oil per year (I assume the military are not counted, they never are).
    If we discover another Ghawar Field (83 billion barrels, near exhaustion, operating since 1950-ish), which is pathetically unlikely to occur, or it already would be tapped, that would grant the US alone, what 11 years? That’s the best we ever had. It will be less than that, because we use more every year, not less. Now, we are on to smaller and more expensive, more energy intensive and more dangerous sources. We have passed “peak oil”, but consumption continues to rise.

    Besides that, the leases on existing oil reserves far exceed the supposedly “safe” level of burning it. Those already leased and declared sources are already included in the share prices of the fossil fuel companies. The value of these companies is based on the fact they have declared supplies. Science says we can’t burn it, but economics has already considered them to be expended before they even leave the ground. That’s market capitalism at work. To not expend them, is to make a liar out of the entire global economy. Ergo: all that oil will be burned, despite the tipping point of 3.5-4 degrees temp increase which puts humans on the edge of bare survival.

    So, I stand by my oil rant, because if we use it, we’re F***ed, and if we don’t, we’re F***ed.

  50. Dice

    But that’s just oil.
    Every other natural resource we have is limited. If you take a look at the “Empire Files” episode on Congo, you may note that cobalt is extracted by slaves, and absolutely required in most technology we use every day. We might have some lithium available, but oil is the fuel to turn it into something of use. Mining, extraction, refining, transport, manufacturing, maintenance and disposal are all seriously damaging processes. It is the same with wind turbines and solar. The “transition” (completely mythical so far, more of a hobby for PR purposes) will cause damage.

    Global dimming from pollution… does not help at all:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xudm8n_bbc-global-dimming-documentary-about-geoengineering-global-warming_people

    What’s the plan? Dim the suns rays via spreading toxic coal pollution to buy a bit more time without changing anything else really? This is actually a thing.
    I’m not a ‘chemtrail’ person, but the video here indicates that more pollution is the preferred option of some of the powers that be. No, really. I skipped the article and went to the video of the official speaking. No mention of toxic rain or dimming itself causing crop failures.
    http://www.mintpressnews.com/no-longer-conspiracy-cia-admits-plans-aerosol-spraying-geoengineering/218179/

    We don’t have the means, or the political will to transform our energy generation or consumer economy, and even if we did, we’re still not even close to ending up in a net negative carbon/methane circumstance in a reasonable enough time frame to prevent the destruction already locked in by our actions from 10 years ago.

    Some of you keep thinking that the lifestyle we are all used to, is necessary to preserve, via different means. This is the problem. It can’t be done.

    Electrified farming machinery, batteries, etc. That’s not even close to adequate. Not even close to addressing the effects of what we have already locked in to our climate. If a wheat, or rice, or corn crops fails for one year, on more than one continent, millions will die. If that happens two years in a row… that’s the end of civilisation right there.

    The preservation of our species is the goal. It is our lifestyle and resource consumption which steals from the future to pay for today.
    Stopping that means stopping industry, this consumption economy, and trying to live without… well… shops… until we are sure of a more secure way forward. We are actually speaking of our species continuing, not just finding ways to charge a phone on something called “green”.

    This does not mean a consumer has to choose to change their habits. It means the products and wasteful practices should not even be provided as an option for anyone, anywhere, systemically.

    Good rant here: http://dgrnewsservice.org/civilization/ecocide/sustainability-is-destroying-the-earth/

  51. Dice

    Typo: “For every barrel extracted from tar sands, two barrels come out.”, should read…
    “For every barrel expended into tar sands, two barrels come out.”

    Please let me know if there are any queries, whether I have misspoken or need to clarify or correct. I’m not used to this comment format thing. Resource links provided on request. Thanks.

  52. Miriam English

    Dice, you are sadly correct about the plan by some fools to add more particulate pollution to the atmosphere to offset the effects of global warming from carbon dioxide and methane, and HFCs (the refrigerant we replaced CFCs with to protect the ozone layer, but found they have a potent greenhouse effect). It would be much, much better and cheaper to simply drop fossil fuels.

    Despite the best efforts by corrupt politicians to keep the fossil fuel ball rolling, it is stopping… slowly. Surprisingly, the market is working in our favor there as people have been pulling their investments out of fossil fuels at an accelerating rate. Soon only politicians will be investing in fossil fuels. This is the same pattern as played out with nuclear power. It has been a long time since any private money was risked on nuclear power — only half-witted politicians fund nuclear now.

    It will be crunch time soon. We will find out if we can stop the crooked politicians and the fossil fuel industry. I think chances are good that we can. It will be a difficult transition, but we have more than enough energy coming in from the sun for furnaces, for photovoltaic panels, and for solar water heaters. Wind power, too, is really another form of solar energy (the sun heats air masses that expand and less dense, rise, so cooler, heavier air rushes in to replace it).

    I also agree that most of what is for sale should not be. Consumerism is deeply, deeply flawed. The fashion industry (and I don’t mean just clothes and such, but Apple computers, motor cars, etc) is very much the source of enormous waste, powered by the advertising industry. Those are both industries that need to die if we are to survive.

    I think we can make it. People are incredibly slack and greedy, but don’t underestimate their ability to move suddenly under certain circumstances.

  53. Annie B

    Dice : …. from here : http://www.eia.gov/energyexplained/index.cfm?page=oil_use

    “How much petroleum does the world consume?
    Total world consumption of petroleum in 2014 was about 93 million b/d. The five largest petroleum-consuming countries in 2014, and their share of total world petroleum consumption:

    United States (21%) – China (12%) – Japan (5%) – India (4%) – Russia (4%). Just 5 of the largest users of oil in the world … there are other countries as well, of course.

    …………. What is the outlook for U.S. petroleum consumption?
    The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that petroleum and other liquids will continue to contribute the largest share of total U.S. energy consumption through 2040, although the share will decline slightly.

    The Annual Energy Outlook 2016 Reference case projects that U.S. consumption of petroleum and other liquids will average around 20 million b/d through 2040. Petroleum and other liquids continue as the main fuels for the transportation sector. Consumption of petroleum and other liquids are projected to increase in the commercial and industrial sectors and decrease in the residential and transportation sectors.”

    ,,,,,,,,,,,,

    The above is solely pointed towards U.S. consumption only. and it is an article from 2 years ago. This consumption, could not have done anything more than increase since then – possibly only marginally but ….

    The reason that the U.S. ‘ marches in with their bloodied flags flying ‘into oil producing countries’, and attempts to overthrow them in whatever means available ( usually political and evangelistical muscle flexing, and a whole heap of damnable military ) … is because of their dependence and greed regarding oil. … Yet they sit on heaps of their own resources – it makes little sense – except to them. .. Please research that yourself.

    Oil converts to many things – including petroleum ( a mix thereof ) .. : “Petroleum products include transportation fuels, fuel oils for heating and electricity generation, asphalt and road oil, and feedstocks for making the chemicals, plastics, and synthetic materials that are in nearly everything we use today.”

    Indeed oil is not infinite. But I doubt very seriously, that it is ‘nearing the end’ … as many countries, depending on oil for use or export, or as a ‘bargaining chip’ ( yes ) … will sit on what they know about how many resources are still available under their watch. That’s not conspiracy – it’s a calculated forming of opinion, based on what I ( and many others ) know about how secretive, contrary and obscure, countries can be about their wealth and resources.

    ………. continued ~~~

  54. Annie B

    … continued ….

    Your comment : “If a wheat, or rice, or corn crops fails for one year, on more than one continent, millions will die. If that happens two years in a row… that’s the end of civilisation right there.”

    Sorry, but this is rubbish. … It smacks of an ‘end times’ philosophy, and doomsday rhetoric. How many continents would have to succumb to the total annihilation of their crops to see ‘the end of civilisation’. You quote ‘more than one continent’ … and cite 3 crops. Sure, they are probably among THE most important crops the world grows, but it is a huge stretch to make their demise, the ‘end of civilisation’ from ‘more than one continent’. We are if nothing else, a resourceful mob, when it comes to survival. Our Australian crops have failed totally from time to time, yet we survive – we get up and do it again.

    I sort of get what you are driving at. i.e. Crops of all forms, the production of any forms of food, across all nations, being wiped out. … There, however, we get into the ‘end times ‘ theories again. … Is this what you are saying ?

    __________________________

    I notice not one person has mentioned hydro-powered electricity production. The nay-sayers will rejoin with “oh but we are all becoming besieged by drought ( because of climate change )” … ” where’s the water to come from ??? – to generate this electricity”. Admittedly, oil comes into the equation to drive the massive powering to produce water driven electricity …. but leave that aside for just one moment –

    It is interesting. Many scientific articles ( legitimate and otherwise ) miserate about the increase in sea levels, because of melting ice in polar regions. …some give resounding evidence to this. … and how ghastly this would be [ of course ] for all of civilisation. ( please bear with me ).

    If one were to pose to a 7 year old, 2nd grader – the following :

    ……. Here is a glass of water full to overflowing ( representing sea levels rising ) ….
    ……. And here is a glass of water only 1/2 full ( representing the potential lack of water in many countries)

    The answer of the child most likely would be – “take some of the water from the overflowing glass and put it into the 1/2 full glass” … that way you keep the sea from rising, and everyone can have a drink of water “.

    Simplistic I know – almost TOO simple. !!

    Proposal : Every country should ( where possible ) instal as urgent structure, de-salination plants. And what would that take initially ? ……. Oil and all it’s off-shoots of production. But once installed and running, ( again perhaps on reduced use of oil derivatives or otherwise ) …. the thirsty nations would not have a problem. Land-locked countries would be in a bit of trouble – not suggesting otherwise – but it would be a start, and agreements could be reached across the globe, as to the sharing of this precious ‘gold’ – water.

    Without water – we are essentially (as you, Dice put it ) … F***ked.

    Not at all sure how far this ‘water’ would be able to be harnessed, to provide electricity, but there is much forward thinking, technologically, out there – to make me think anything might be possible.

    And let’s face it – in the overall scheme of things – anything IS possible.

  55. Annie B

    Miriam ….

    Your comment is very interesting. Especially about the declining market interest in fossil fuels. .. For a short while, share prices went up, and I scratched my head about that, but it was profit takers / makers, getting in and out while the going was good …. which saw that initial rise, and then decline.

    Now it is falling steadily – and rightly so.

    Also agree with your comments about consumerism and the fashionable products we inulge in – which should be slowed if not stopped. They do cause an enormous amount of waste, along with many other items in use today. … Renewables, even though in its’ infancy, will make a difference .. I believe that.

    Will probably not be around to see it happen, and forever will wonder while I have breath, if it will ?

  56. Miriam English

    Annie, I think we’ll see it. I’m 63 and I’m pretty sure I’ll see very big changes quite soon.

    You make a very good point about desalination. I believe the Saudis are doing big work on that, though I haven’t kept up with it. I have read some encouraging research on low energy ways to desalinate sea water. Brute force is expensive and so far doesn’t work well, but we know it is possible to do it with low energy because life does exactly that. And I think there will be more work on solar-powered desalination — after all, that’s exactly what rain is.

    Probably there won’t be much change in existing hydroelectric projects. The increased temperatures mean the air carries more water. Some places will be winners and other places losers. Hydroelectricity in California will probably be one of the losers. I expect Tasmania will be a winner. Rivers are being dammed for hydroelectricity in South-east Asia, causing massive problems. I don’t know what the end result there will be.

    The Rocky Mountain Institute has published Winning the Oil Endgame in which they lay out a roadmap to get USA completely off oil within a few decades using business making profit. The US military are in favor of this too. I think the US Pentagon was one of the sponsors of the research, because they’re sick of sacrificing their soldiers for greedy oil companies in wars that just make USA more insecure.

    I think we’ll get off oil much faster than that. As soon as the stampede of investors pulling money out of failing fossil fuel industries grows they will collapse. Politicians will be reluctant to switch support to renewables, but they’ll eventually have to, or face rebellion from the voters, and anyway with fossil fuels crashing they won’t have the bribery money anymore. Then, with all the billions previously invested every year into fossil fuels renewables will take off like a rocket.

    The big question is timing. Will this happen soon enough to avoid really major problems?

  57. John Brame

    AB & ME…What you say re batteries, human ingenuity etc is all great and heres hoping humans can turn this around. One concern of mine is our fellow creatures (whats left of them) that we share this planet with. All talk is about the humanoid. Will we have seals, dolphins, eagles, tigers etc in this new renewable world?
    Other must dos I would like to see is the end of the present meat & dairy consumption industry. We all know how much land and water is given to producing meat and milk, and the methane produced.
    This land could be used for either other food sources or revegetation.

  58. corvus boreus

    Irrigated grain,
    carried on fossil fuel streams.
    Force-fed bovines fart.

  59. Miriam English

    There are two opposing forces at work there. We are still damaging the wilds at a horrifying pace, but at the same time we are waking up to what we’re losing. As with many of the problems besetting us at the moment, it is difficult to see which force will win.

    We all know the tragedies of forest clearing, destruction of fisheries, pollution of waterways, and so on. And I don’t minimise the horrors of those nor the urgency in stopping them, but we rarely hear the good stories.

    We have had great successes recently stopping big corporations funding the clearing of forests by spreading the word to boycott their products if they don’t stop.

    Nowadays a lot of locals have been enlisted to save the land and waters they are custodians of and standing up to government and corporations.

    Many people, particularly in the developed nations, have come to love local wildlife and plant trees and shrubs to attract them back.

    When I first came to Queensland many decades ago I was struck by how bare of vegetation the towns were, and how ferociously hot in summer. Now towns encourage trees and the planting of native vegetation, and they are more attractive, cooler, more luxurious for it.

    My parents are extremely knowledgeable, self-taught botanists and bought an ex-pineapple farm — the ground depleted by years of fertiliser. Only grass grew there. They set about repairing the damage, and in just 25 years had turned it into forest, and home to an astonishing range of animals, especially birds. Increasing numbers of people are doing this kind of thing.

    I’ve met many young people who have expressed the desire to buy a large piece of land to protect it against destruction.

    There are even cooperatives now that do exactly this: buying up large tracts of important bushland in order to protect it from government and “developers”.

    Yes, there are great threats to the biodiversity of this world. But it isn’t merely a single-minded race to destruction. There is also an increasingly powerful race to preserve it. Which will win? Nobody really knows yet, but I’ll put my bets on the preservers, and not just because I’m an optimist. We are growing stronger whereas the destroyers are weakening. Trump and other conservative forces will have a momentary time in the sun, but they will simply serve to re-invigorate the movement against them as people see our beautiful world withering before us.

  60. John Brame

    Miriam.. A few years ago I heard on RN a talk on soil carbon release. This person was saying that when the ground/landscape is bare the soil will release carbon into the atmosphere. Our agricultural and farming methods have been allowing this to happen for a long time. Overgrazing and ploughing/tilling would be releasing carbon. Only yesterday there was another talk on RN that the soil carbon will release with increasing speed as the atmosphere warms.
    So this will keep happening even when human emissions come down to zero. Maybe it is time to do a major rethink on what we eat and how much we eat.

  61. Rapideffect

    People tend to see the problems of Global Civilization as separate issues which can be solved in isolation, but Global Civilization is an interconnected network and treating the symptoms still leaves the root cause, growth (of Global Civilization). Growth of Global Civilization requires an ever increasing amount of energy and resources and as a result destroys the ecosystem in the process.

    The Global economy needs to grow otherwise recession then depression, and finally collapse will happen. The Global economy is built and maintained by fossil fuels, to somehow think that the use of oil/coal/gas is going to stop without the collapse of the Global economy is not realistic. Renewable energy is not renewable at all, it’s an oxymoron.

    Global Civilization is near/at/beyond the limits of growth for planet earth.

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/energy/renewables/what-it-would-really-take-to-reverse-climate-change

  62. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I also think that we will see big changes, soon.

    I have to agree with Dice. The extra energy and resources devoted to obtaining and extracting same is energy and resources not available for other economic activity. This why economies are beginning to stall and crumble and more debt only creates more debt but, this is the least of our problems. The whole industrial food supply chain depends on oil. We have built a civilization totally dependent on something that is going become harder and harder to obtain and that something is oil.

    “Modern agriculture is the use of land to convert petroleum into food.” — Prof. Albert Bartlett.

    For Civilization: This Is Necessary (Life Feeds On Life) 3 minutes.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A6gzIrV5Ae0

    Then we can compound all of this with climate disruption and subsequent agricultural failures. Only severe restrictions and quotas now are our last chance to maybe avoid the very worst.

  63. Miriam English

    John Brame, that’s true. There are currently some efforts to change that. They’re so far fairly ineffective, but the longest journey begins with a single step. At least people are working on it. One of the things I’ve read of is adding charcoal to farm soil. It does help. It isn’t enough. But it does indicate people are trying.

    Rapideffect, yes, growth is a major part of our problems. It is made far, far worse by the mind-boggling amounts that we waste. However there is a way that we could grow the economy without harm. We could move over to a truly information-based economy. This began some decades back, but was greatly hindered by the powerful, anti-technology entertainment industry. It is difficult to see how that battle will play out, but considering they haven’t been able to kill off file sharing, which can be the basis for an infinitely growing information economy, I’m cautiously optimistic. Unlike physical things, ideas (research, knowledge, art, music, stories, culture) can grow without limit and don’t need to drain physical resources in order to do so.

    As for population, that has already passed peak growth rate a little more than 50 years ago. Population is still growing, but at a slowing rate. We do need to reach a negative population growth rate as soon as possible. The best way to do that is to use efficient technology to raise the poorest people to a good standard of living. Using efficiency means we can do this without doing too much damage to the planet, but in order for this to be effective we in the developed nations — especially Australia (we are the most wasteful people on Earth!) — need to invest heavily in efficiency and curtail our obscene levels of waste.

    Renewable energy is not renewable at all, it’s an oxymoron.
    That’s a ridiculous thing to say. You know very well the way the term is used. The sun will last billions of years, sending energy to Earth. In that sense the source for solar, wind, and hydro power is renewed each day. The Moon is moving away from the Earth by a couple of centimeters each year, but until it is gone tidal energy is renewed every month. The Earth’s core is cooling over billions of years, but geothermal energy is constantly renewed, flowing out from the source — the hot mantle and hotter core.

    In contrast fossil fuels have only a short life expectancy. Oil has passed its peak, with perhaps just a few decades of increasingly expensive reserves remaining. Coal has already collapsed economically, even though there could be many decades worth of the stuff remaining in the ground — perhaps even a century of it, though certainly not the 200 years coal lovers like to say. Gas is a flash in the pan. I don’t expect it to last very long at all.

    Doomsayers like to quote our recent squandering of resources when saying we are at our limits, but a big change has been underway in recent years: people have been embracing efficiency. This is why the electricity companies in the developed world, especially Australia, were caught with their pants down recently when consumer demand fell, against all their projections. And it’s not just high-efficiency lightbulbs. People are using energy-efficient fridges, cooking equipment, washing machines, and computers. The home insulation companies are doing brisk business because people like to save money through energy efficiency.

    You can’t just look backward and project the same old way of doing things forward. People change. We don’t all ride horses and use wood-burning stoves. People change. We are altering our energy use. We telephone people or email them instead of using petroleum to go meet them. We use solar panels where we can to cut our use of batteries and mains power. I’d like the change to be faster, but I’m impatient. It is moving in the right direction.

  64. Dice

    Annie B.

    Our civilisation is far more precarious than you seem to think. Crop failures have cascading effects in riots, repression, wars, starvation, disease, economic failure, and if staple food production is disrupted on more than one continent at the same time, trade cannot get us through. Yes, if that happened two years in a row, I don’t see civilisation recovering. Climate catastrophe is likely to cause crop failures from drought, flood, heat, etc. Whatever caused a grain corp failure can be assumed to cause other failures as well. There is an argument that the unrest in Syria began with climate change causing water and food shortages, even before it started being torn to sheds by competing factional interests, internal and external. That sort of event can certainly increase in scale even without deliberate exacerbations.

    I am well aware of the oil market, and how it is intrinsically linked to economic war and hegemony, reserve banking systems, and why national reserves are utilised to manipulate prices and geopolitical competition. Proven US oil reserves are 36 billion barrels. The US consumes 19+million per day. So what’s that about five or six years? I think if there is a sudden oil shortage, half of the reserve will go to the war machines to take oil from others, and the other half will be locked up for essential uses, not citizens/consumers. The nation grinds to a halt. No production = no real possibility of transitioning. Now, an endless supply of oil doesn’t fix anything, because if we keep setting fire to it, we die, and if we have it, we do not transition away from it.

    Water is another critical point, absolutely. There are many others. Each of the essential things required for civilisation to continue are intersectional and interdependent, and of course, under threat.

    Acting before the crisis is the way to deal with it, and in the last 50 years, if we are being honest about it, next to nothing has been done.
    Capitalism has proven itself incapable of addressing problems which can only be solved through cooperative, collective, and global action, and at the expense of the barons of banking, resource extraction and consumption.

    We are kidding ourselves if we think this trajectory will be significantly changed voluntarily. It is optimistic to the point of… some sort of pathology… to think there will be a series of sudden and sweeping changes made deliberately by the powerful in our civilisation. We would be continuing to do the same things while expecting different results. Democracy is not the power in our world. Money is, perhaps second to the ability to inflict industrialised violence with relative impunity.

    Trying to make the way we live now more efficient, does not make it sustainable.
    That’s trying to buy a little more time in luxury, not achieve an environmental equilibrium.
    I still do not think most people understand the magnitude of transformation which has to occur, because we were all raised within industrial civilisation, and it is so normal we can’t see what it is. We don’t know how to live without it, and rely on it still to come up with solutions to the crisis… but industrial civilisation is the cause of the crisis (along with the self interest inherent to capital, and the nationalist divisions which prevent cooperation). It sounds awful, but I do hope for that extremely “lucky” collapse I mentioned earlier, where we are able to pick up the pieces and reorganise sensibly, because sensible reorganisation is not going to happen voluntarily. Not on this trajectory.

    We are trying to replace the power stations which are killing us, rather than stop using the power for the technologies we like. We are choosing comfort over survival of the species, every day. We don’t switch the power stations off, to save lives, we let them burn, hoping we will get around to a solution. In the end, that’s who we are.

  65. Annie B

    Dice ...

    Many good points in your post, some I agree with – others not so much. … And I am certainly NOT unaware of the fragility, precariousnsess of our planet at this time, and in fact I believe it has been that way for many decades, even centuries. …

    It supports life, and life is not infinite. However, that doesn’t mean we should stop finding absolutely every possible means of preserving as much of it as possible for the sake of future generations. The trick is to convince world leaders, and consumers in general that these issues must be taken seriously and dealt with – not next year, or later – but now.

    As far as your comments about oil are concerned – I tend to rely on more legitimate sites ( as I posted Dec 2nd, 9.17 pm ) … which I can only hope you did read. I have since done some more research and frankly, I don’t think the below site is going to exaggerate a situation, as they have a huge reputation to protect – so here is their contribution :

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/judeclemente/2015/06/25/how-much-oil-does-the-world-have-left/#5b8980255dc5

    I can hear it now – “OMG – Forbes ?? – the mouthpiece of capitalism and big money, the billionaires magazine ” … but it is not ALL that – it has much in the way of articles on science, technology, law, communications etc. There are many other websites that quote various themes – but a few are of the opinion that 53.3 years of oil remains ( i.e. of oil we know of now ) … which is not very long in fact. Other legit. websites are far more generous in their projections. Then there are the ‘other’ dubious websites, some of which are full of doom and gloom promoting a shortage of oil in a matter of less than 10 years.

    An enormously long winded debate could be had on money, war, resources, oil, the use of natural sun / oceans / wind to provide energy; … food, housing, infrastructure, materials shortages, weather patterns, animal and plant extinction, and 100 ++ more topics – all of which would touch on one another – somewhere along the line. So I ain’t gonna start that one up.

    I reject the doom and gloom scenario, but at the same time do not deny there are massive problems to be solved to preserve life, living and our planet. …. ‘Solved’ is the key word there – and human beings, being a resourceful lot – particularly where survival is concerned – will find ways to do it. This means, imho, that we should right NOW, begin to cut back on the excessive expectations and matters ‘taken-for-granted’ that we currently see across the western world in particular. “Must-haves” to be done away with. Wastage, done away with. Education to that end, a must. .. Positive re-inforcement, a must.

    Pessimism and fear is not going to help anybody … it in fact stultifies the very spirit, the get-up-and-go, the ‘we-can-do-it’ attitude that is needed today.

    ……….

  66. Miriam English

    Dice, you are far too pessimistic and ignore the many good things that are being done. Of course it will look like all doom and gloom if you do that. You need more balance. Annie is correct.

    Dice, you say industrial civilisation is the cause of the problems, which is broadly true, though not entirely correct. You don’t seem to notice that industrial civilisation is our only way out of the problems too. And great headway is already being made. If you ignore those advances and look at only the downsides then it doesn’t help. It will just drive you to despair. That doesn’t help you, or the world.

    Renewable energy is coming to the rescue in a big way. People value natural places more than ever, are fighting the destructive forces, and very often succeeding. Ingenious new technologies show how to replace fossil fuels in many areas, for instance new work on using solar panels to make fertiliser at the farm instead of in centralised factories depending on fossil fuels. There are more solutions being pressed into service every day.

    We can fix this. Many people are working hard to do so. The question is not whether it will be done, it is will it be done fast enough? Nobody can answer that. We won’t know until afterward. We need to work towards solving this. Crying doom and giving up gets us nowhere.

  67. Dice

    Annie B…
    “However, that doesn’t mean we should stop finding absolutely every possible means of preserving as much of it as possible for the sake of future generations. The trick is to convince world leaders, and consumers in general that these issues must be taken seriously and dealt with – not next year, or later – but now.” /quote

    I never claimed the attempt to preserve was not worthwhile, I claimed it is not going to bring balance between us and our habitat. The best ideas we have are still – shouting at the tide to not come in. ie: not even close to what is needed. I spoke on how we are going, on convincing world leaders, and it is not at all good.

    I don’t think I have exaggerated my take on oil problems. Consumption is increasing still, and will continue to do so, despite decades of warning, war and lip service to the task of reduction. When we realise – “What do you mean I can’t drive to work? What do you mean there’ll be no food at the shops?”… We encourage a market solution, which never comes, because it opposes the business and power of capital.

    “…human beings, being a resourceful lot – particularly where survival is concerned – will find ways to do it.” /quote
    Survival is not the survival of civilisation as we know it, and it is not something fun. All over the world (but particularly in Tasmania and NZ) the so called “elite” are buying up land and building their own fortified bunkers. Survival for whom? I expect most of the world, particularly the global South, are essentially in sacrifice zones. To note population problems, population is only a problem relative to the efficiency we distribute the resources people need (not want), and those owning capital do not share. (Take a look at Jaques Fresco’s “Venus Project” if you would like to see some optimism for global planning. I’m sure you’ll spot the glaring problems in between the brilliant ideas there.)

    Mirriam,
    “You don’t seem to notice that industrial civilisation is our only way out of the problems too.” /quote.
    I actually did address this. You want to find ways to continue as we are. I claim this cannot be done. Not in time, and not without the incentives of self interested capitalist structures collapsing first. Collective efforts could be made, but as we’ve seen for decades, there is no movement towards this on a useful scale. I claim there will not be. We have trouble getting political figures to even accept that the present crisis is real (Adani, barrier reef, water, wind turbines being a blight on the landscape). The powerful are not going to act any more than a little green-washing here and there. The most sweeping changes on the political table, are actually completely inadequate! Even replacing all electricity generation with renewables by 2030, is not even close to attaining equilibrium, and that is considered dangerously radical.

    You see “great headway” being made, I see nothing close to “great” and that, so slow as to be more PR than action.

    “It will just drive you to despair. That doesn’t help you, or the world.” /quote
    I’m past despair, and on to acceptance. I occasionally slip back to anger, but not depression or denial. Kindly do not assume my journey to what you consider “pessimism” is something you are able to treat with well meaning patronisation. If I was to return similar sentiment, I would say that your optimism is irrational due to the trends of the last half century contradicting your hope for action in the near future, which is likely the same hope you had 10 years ago, and since then, everything got worse. Now much greater and rapid action is needed than before, and there is still no significant sign this will occur.

    “The question is not whether it will be done, it is will it be done fast enough? Nobody can answer that. We won’t know until afterward.” /quote

    That is the question, and evidence mounts that no, it cannot be done fast enough. This is based on the pattern of what we have done so far, the present political will of the powerful, and the present lack of understanding in the populace. None of these are approaching adequate to the task. I still think you underestimate the scale of the problems. Exponentially increasing problems, must require exponentially more drastic change in the structures of civilisation. We’re all still trying to preserve a way of life incompatible with preserving our own habitat. We are putting our habits and preferences before the survival of our species. It is not our fault, because we have absolutely no idea how to survive in a different way… let alone create the sort of surplus required to actually enjoy and progress culturally.

    Most of us devote equal time to worrying about unemployment, what the latest LNP fool has done, who gets taxed, which minority group is being targeted for persecution this month, that fascism is a bigger thing than it used to be, and how media crafts opinion far more than rationality or criticality… and these are all symptoms of the very same economic and power structures which prevent significant systemic change occurring in pursuit of the survival of our species. We rarely assess the whole supply chain, the cultural indoctrination which creates cultural norms we don’t often think to question, the trajectory of the whole machine (earth systems and our place in it). I’m not even close to understanding this vast network of causal interrelationships, but what I do know, is there is cause for realism, not optimism.

    But hey, I’m just me, just squiggles on a screen, so don’t let me ruin your day. 🙂 I find acceptance liberating. It took a while.

  68. Miriam English

    Dice, I don’t think we should try to continue to maintain the same lifestyle. I’ve never said that. I see a great need for eliminating waste and making our systems more efficient. There has been great progress on that, but much, much more is needed.

    I think what is depressing you so much is you’re looking for change to come from politicians. It won’t… or at least, is extremely unlikely. Change is happening in spite of them. Read some of what Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) is accomplishing. They are ignoring all politicians except local ones. They consider politicians basically a waste of time. They will follow in time, but almost never lead. RMI focus on what the broad population wants (most want an answer to climate change and a way to live comfortably with less energy) and helping businesses to find more efficient, money saving systems and connecting them with the vast market of people who want those things.

    If you just concentrate on the politicians and the most corrupt businesses then, yes, it will all be depressing. Look instead at what is happening to turn things around. More than ever before people are doing the right thing without the idiot politicians.

    As I said, it is slower than I’d like, but I’m impatient. However it is happening. Will it be fast enough? I don’t know. I see a lot of encouraging signs by ordinary people and a lot of small to mid-sized businesses. I also see terrible retrograde moves by powerful people. One thing I can be pretty certain of, it is going to be close. There will be hell to pay in some places. It’s up to us to make sure it doesn’t get too bad. We can’t rely upon the politicians. Too many of them are crooks.

  69. Dice

    Hey, my post was just eaten by the tech gremlins.

    Short version:
    Your solutions are aimed at continuing as we are, or at least similarly.
    Political action is centralised power, and necessary to cause significant change, because consumer choice only exists as much as people are immune to cultural indoctrination, advertising and media narratives with vested interests in this economic structure. Ergo: rational consumer choice has a negligible result on our systems. Democratic government gave up control over economic structures, and so, we now have an economy we serve, not a society served by economy. Power can’t be considered democratic, not any more (except for social issues which do not matter to power, which provide a perception of empowerment where none exists when it comes to ‘real’ systemic features).

    People power failed. Opinion is purchased. Democracy is a facade. Economic players reject urgent transitions away from fossils and consumerism, in favour of their own privilege. Individuals haven’t and won’t try to become self sufficient en mass. War is ongoing to preserve the whole house of cards, and yet…

    …it’s okay, we’re making progress on climate action? That’s the hope you mention, right? As if climate action will suddenly grow exponentially when there is no indication of that occurring. Focusing on anomalies does not work if we’re extrapolating a whole.

    It is not okay. We continue to accelerate the problems while thinking we are acting the opposite way. So far our civil actions (demonstrations, elections, petitions, et al) to change things have had minimal effect… but we are intending to just do more of the same. Doesn’t that seem…

    … *trails off leaving things unsaid*…

    Guy’s latest talk in NZ, if you feel like engaging.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJNF_ZfJTJ4

  70. Dice

    Oh yeah, here is why democracy is not a thing any more… Public opinion has no statistically significant effect on policy in the US, and it is a safe bet to conclude the same of Australia. Money is power, we are ruled, not represented, and politicians have no power over economic players – quite the reverse. So if our economic system is dis-incentivising renewable energy and a reduction in consumerism… and opposing this provokes state violence, and democracy doesn’t matter…

    …well… what’s next?

    https://scholar.princeton.edu/sites/default/files/mgilens/files/gilens_and_page_2014_-testing_theories_of_american_politics.doc.pdf

  71. Dice

    Self reinforcing feedbacks are happening, and there is little understanding of this in our population (obsessed with representatives and small ‘l’ ‘liberal’ causes).

    It has not entered the mainstream yet, that things are far worse (smaller time frame to act) than we understand so far.

    When it becomes clear that all the things we intend to do, are mere band-aids, and that we can’t even get those done in our present geopolitical and socioeconomic structures, you might note that these conclusions have already been reached by those with power.

    Rather than surrender their own individual power and status, these people (seem to) consider mass extermination of humans to be a viable option. Nuclear war, and the subsequent nuclear winter are acceptable results to some of those people in power, or there would be no military build up on the borders of Russia and China. The “West”, or more accurately, the “US Empire” is locked in to the conflict option, rather than the cooperative option. 57% of US expenditure is on militarism, at least. War industries are essential now, to US economic stability.

    We are trapped in a set of economic rules which lead inexorably to the end of our species. We gain from these rules, and cannot extricate our lives from them.

    Some amongst the elite, seem to think that a massive population reduction (unprecedented mass murder) is preferable to restructuring our civilisation to be something more like a collective (Venus project)

    Equality is not the goal. Egalitarianism is not the goal. Peace is not the goal. The goal seems to be absolute domination/extermination of the cultural ‘other’, and dealing with climate after that is finished. Needless to say this is not civilised, but is a representation of the nature of ‘our civilisation’.

    Capital eats. It must grow. Here is the thing though… we actually invented the debt which must be outpaced by growth in consumption and capital.
    We made it up, that debt which we must outpace with economic growth. It isn’t real.

    Growth is a dead end on a finite planet. Our whole society’s prosperity is based on growth (GDP) outpacing debt which does not have to exist (FRB)
    If we don’t understand that, and refuse to change that: our wealth extraction mechanism, we can’t even approach the need to cooperate globally, on a footing which is appropriate to the task of saving civilisation.

    But sure, I’ll still reduce, reuse and recycle, and not just rely on the placebo of the latter. I’m just not thinking this matters much at all to the end result for us all.

    But hey, have a lovely day. 🙂

  72. Annie B

    Dice – ( Dec. 4, at 9:46 am )

    “Survival for whom? I expect most of the world, particularly the global South, are essentially in sacrifice zones. “ … So – ‘particularly ‘ the global south, which is us, are in ‘sacrifice zones’ – do you mean we are expendable ? of little significance ?… and we can all go to hell in a basket, more quickly than much of the rest of the world.

    Survival is the primary universal instinct – in all creatures, including humans. Water and sustenance being first cabs off the rank there. … That is what I meant by survival, and behind that, is the solving of world problems today – solutions to reduce the heavy impact so much chaos is having on the world…. As a matter of fact, while I sit here typing in response, I am contributing to the massive carbon footprint that the Internet leaves behind it, not to mention all other technological devices that beep and burp at us every 5 minutes of the day ?. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2010/aug/12/carbon-footprint-internet

    ~~~~~~~

    Again, you present pessimism under the cloak of realism. … I too am very much a realist ( often labelled ‘too heavy and negative” ) … but I have never lost sight of other realities in life – that being the innate human ability ( as we are the thinking, inventive creatures ) to find a way around challenges to make something / anything better. And frankly, no person, ( without exception ), has any idea of what exactly will happen in the future. We can hypothesise until the cows come home, but tomorrow ain’t here yet. While people spread doomsday / end-times theories, the impetus to change for the better, will be stultified. The wise, however, will disregard it, and press on for problem solving and a better future. THAT is what I see, and choose to see, when I contemplate futuristic situations – at home, in the neighbourhood, in the State / Country / World.

    It is fairy-tale stuff to consider that magically overnight – all overlords ( leaders of countries, who will not listen to e.g. climate change ) will disappear in a puff of smoke. To be replaced miraculously with younger, vital, forward thinking people who will advance solutions to our global problems, far far quicker than they are being done today, and in fact who could produce miracles to save the planet, within a year. … It just does not, and cannot happen that way, no matter how much anyone might wish it to be so.

    So – I suggest we agree to disagree – and have this ‘debate’ wrapped up and put aside. It can only go further around and around in circles, which is a waste of time and energy.

    It has however, been an interesting exchange.

  73. Dice

    “which is us”
    No, that’s not what the term “global south” means. See how assumption escalates?

    “Global South” is another term for the third world and the exceptions for the word “South” are just as bad as the exceptions for the word “third” or the term “developing nations”.

    Survival is an instinct for all creatures, until they are made to believe that nothing is wrong, or they can’t see the danger.

    Sure you may discount what I say as hypothesis Annie B, but if you watch the linked videos and resources you might note that my perspective is not unfounded. It is different from the culturally normal positions on these topics, but that is not objectionable in itself.

    re: puffs of smoke and leaders…
    I don’t think I said what you think I said.

    If I agreed with the normalised cultural narrative of hopeful market solutions, then we’d both be wrong.

    You don’t have to agree. At some point reality asserts itself no matter what we think. I see the difference between the culturally normalised narrative, and the quite dire facts left un-reported, as the contention we need to address.

    Agreeing to disagree, is the same as saying “not changing anything in my view so far”, but that’s essentially meaningless, besides saying I failed to change your mind. That was not my goal though. I don’t have that power. I mostly felt like writing. How you take it is not in my power.

  74. Dice

    It is worth noting that bias only has a significant effect on our reasoning when we are unaware of it.
    This is the difference between subjectivity and objectivity. To complicate matters, no one is truly objective.

    So, when we look at doom scenarios, we have to discern whether they are plausible or not, but our entire being, our ontological selves, are in a position of rejection before rational analysis even has a chance to discern meaning, cogency or relevance to our own lives. Let alone objectively assessing a factual position which is unpleasant to our cultural normalcy.

    What if we actually are likely to be gone in a decade or two? Unthinkable! What does that mean for your day to day life? Would it make you better or worse, as a person? Why?

    Do you know near term human extinction is not true? Are you certain? Why? I think it is preferential bias which makes us reject doom scenarios, and not rational analysis. We’re all human.

    But hey, we cool. Whatever you want to think is fine, because after all, it might not matter at this late stage anyway.
    If you think it does matter, and you continue fighting for sustainable civilisation, what did you lose?

  75. Dice

    I think you, Annie, and Myriam, seem to have come to the conclusion that if we are doomed already, there is no point trying to act in favour of sustainability. I’m sure you will reject the notion, but it is a very human reaction.

    I still act in favour of these things, and I don’t think Humans have much time left at all.
    The reason for this, is that it is still right, and if my assessment of our situation is correct, I still helped buy a little time.

    I heard a story about New Orleans during the storm… not sure where from. Some people showed exemplary compassion, and went above and beyond to help others and organise resources for the people in need, because it was the right thing to do.
    Others, ended up looting and raping in armed gangs.

    If we come to the conclusion that humans are not long for this earth, and civilisation is pretty much doomed to disintegrate fairly soon… which sort of person do you want to be? Which do you think you would be?

    I like to think I’d be a helper, who recognises the strength in community. I do not like to think I am a person who only does the right thing because a man with a gun and uniform says I should.

    So, when facing doom, you may find out who you are, and who you want to be.

    I think we’re totally f***ked and beyond the point where civilisation can be salvaged. You may not agree, that’s fine.
    If you ask yourself why your motivations ‘may be’ all about tomorrow, what’s stopping you from living as your own ideal, right now? If there is no hope for the future, how do you want to live and who do you want to be? What is important to you, if you only have a year on earth, is what you should focus on anyway, right? Not jobs or TV or home loans or other constructs… if you only had a month, where would you want to be? Who would be beside you?

    I mean, if it takes the end of the world to make us assess these things… we are wasting our lives. All we ever had is an unknown amount of time. How we spend it is who we are.

    😀 xo

  76. Dice

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0vwW_T1JNw

    It is a difficult thing to realise how late in this game we are. It is even more difficult to realise how silly our political theatre is, as Pyne and Abbott and Turnbull cavort about, and Morrison and Dutton’s atrocious views are taken seriously, when such rantings are inconsequential compared with climate and habitat.

    Our political engagement is a matrix. Just a game, laid on top of, and obscuring of, the fate of our civilisation knocking at our door.

  77. Annie B

    Dice

    I wasn’t going to – – – but I will. AND I have very deliberately ‘cherry picked’ here, some of your comments to reply to –

    My mistake – re : Global South. I had heard / seen the description before, relating to 3rd world countries, and the “North” being made up of countries that comprise the G8 group ( which incidentally does NOT include Australia ). … Very bad labelling that one, by whatever dimwit thought it up. !! … however, I misread your comment about it, forgetting the distinction made by ??? whoever. … A bad and very discriminatory distinction there – but nothing to do with you or me.

    …….. ” At some point reality asserts itself no matter what we think” ….. ABSOLUTELY and a point often made throughout my posts. … Sad that you didn’t see it that way. ..The written word can be a real bastard, can’t it ?

    ……… “Agreeing to disagree …. >> is essentially meaningless” ??? …. it usually means the end of a conversation, peacefully – with all egos entact 😉 … It does indeed hint at you / others – not changing my mind …. much the same as no-one here who has engaged you in debate, has been able to change YOUR mind about anything. So – it’s a bit of a stale-mate, isn’t it. … Therefore agreeing to disagree is meaningful.

    …….. “It is worth noting that bias only has a significant effect on our reasoning when we are unaware of it.” – I would respectfully suggest you read your own words there, many times over, and consider exactly what it is you have said, because you yourself cannot claim to be unbiased. Has your bias affected your reasoning, perchance ?

    ……. “Do you know near term human extinction is not true? Are you certain? Why?” You ask a question, so I will answer, but with a question – “Do you know near term human extinction IS true? Are you certain ( it is true ) ? Why?” …. well you have attempted to answer that over and over again, citing continually the ‘end of times’ scenario … and I now seriously suspect you are of a religious persuasion that espouses that idea.

    I decline to answer the personal questions posed in your 3 recent posts. e.g. “which sort of person do you want to be? Which do you think you would be?” …. that is for me to know, and no-one else.

    And you have overstepped the mark in the contemplation of ‘doom’ on a personal basis ( ” if you only have a year” etc.) I do not wish to elaborate on that.

    With these too many remarks, I am ending this conversation – If it helps you to deal with some form of torment you are experiencing yourself, you are as free as anyone here, to write whatever you wish to get it off your chest. … I wish you well.

    However, for me – it is at an end for this topic.

  78. Miriam English

    Jesus, Dice, give it a rest already.

    There are two futures: 1) it’s too late and we’re all screwed, or 2) we can still fix this.

    You have two choices 1) give up and suicide/carry on as normal/taunt people or 2) work on fixing things, inspiring people with solutions.

    This give a set of four possibilities:

    1) it’s too late and you give up and suicide/carry on as normal/taunt people
    . . . . that’s useless or a waste or cruel
    2) we can still fix this but you give up and suicide/carry on as normal/taunt people
    . . . . that’s useless or a waste or cruel and impedes fixing things
    3) it’s too late, but you keep working on fixing things and inspiring people with solutions
    . . . . well, at least we tried
    4) we can still fix this and you keep working on fixing things and inspiring people with solutions
    . . . . best solution

    Notice that in no case does giving up produce a positive outcome? It is even worse if you taunt people with tales that it’s all too late, you’re all screwed. Talk about pssive-aggressive cruel streak!

    You asked what kind of person we all are. You’ve made clear that you’re a mind-raper, a pillager.
    What is it you think you’re doing here?

    Go and sob into your beer somewhere else, or go and get psychological help. I so get sick of people trying to convince others to give up.

  79. Rapideffect

    Miriam EnglishDecember 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Go and sob into your beer somewhere else, or go and get psychological help. I so get sick of people trying to convince others to give up.

    Every time REAL problems are presented, you choose to put on your rose colour glasses and pretend that some technology will somehow save Global Civilization, without proving how this would be done. You fail to take the issues seriously, using only opinion to support your BELIEFS. You have already given up and leave these problems for my generation to mitigate.

    Annie BDecember 4, 2016 at 8:40 pm

    With these too many remarks, I am ending this conversation – If it helps you to deal with some form of torment you are experiencing yourself, you are as free as anyone here, to write whatever you wish to get it off your chest. … I wish you well.

    However, for me – it is at an end for this topic.

    Again, another who cannot back up what they say with facts. My generation is going to pay for your denial.

  80. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, I’ve never argued that the problems are not real. I’ve acknowledged over and over again that they are. I’ve also said many times that I’m an optimist. I don’t pretend that technology will save civilisation. I point out solutions, that the solutions are real, and that we need to work on them, not collapse in a defeatist heap saying “Oh woe is me, we’re all doomed.”

    You think I don’t take the problems we face seriously??? Why do you think I post long comments painstakingly describing research and technology that can repair some of our problems? Why do you think I talk over and over and over again about the urgency of reducing our waste and becoming more efficient and how that drive to efficiency has thankfully begun? Why do you think I’m so careful to point out our greatest chance for survival is efficiently raising the standard of living of the world’s poorest people so the birthrate quickly drops below replacement? The thing many doomsayers seem to relish is the idea of calamities befalling those poorest and cutting populations that way. I try to point out that not only is that a nightmarish thing to wish for, it doesn’t work, because people faced with adversity breed like rabbits. The last big population boom came out of the last world war.

    You have already given up and leave these problems for my generation to mitigate.
    This is a really weird thing to say. I’m the one arguing in favor of adopting solutions, of pointing out roadmaps to get us out of our horrible mess. You and a couple of others here are the ones taking grim pleasure in saying we’re all screwed and civilisation is going to collapse no matter what we do. Seems to me you’re the one who’s given up.

    Read my post from late last night at 11:04 pm.

  81. Harquebus

    Civilization in its current form can not survive. It requires too much energy and resources which, we don’t have, to sustain it. Civilization collapse is also probably the only thing that can slow climate change.
    Gather hand and gardening tools, improve your gardening skills, develop good relations with your neighbors and prepare for a life without trucks.
    When the credit cards stop working, everything stops including governments and law enforcement.
    Cheers.

  82. Miriam English

    Civilisation in its current obscenely wasteful form clearly can’t survive, but it is (gradually) being replaced by a more efficient, less wasteful form that has a chance at surviving.

    At the moment we waste something like 99% of our energy and resources. A civilisation that used 1% of the resources we presently use would give us a chance to bring other technologies to bear on reducing still further our footprint.

    Can we do it? It has already begun. Granted it isn’t proceeding as fast as I’d like, but human actions often follow exponential curves. We need it to become fashionable for people to be efficient and eschew waste. We are even seeing the beginnings of that, with some prominent movie stars making it known that they favor efficiency.

    Not long ago it would have been unthinkable that every household would have a recycling bin. Things can happen breathtakingly quickly. We need to work towards bringing them about… instead of giving up and saying it will never happen and we’re all doomed.

  83. Dice

    I feel strongly that Miriam and Annie B have misinterpreted and misrepresented my position, and assumed my motives to be something quite untrue (torment? nope, as I said: acceptance). This approaches an ad hominem argument, entailing quite a bit of projection.

    Between essentially “no you are” (too?) from Annie, “give it a rest” and a false equivalency of two futures from Miriam (despite evidence indicating they are not equal prospects), I just have to shrug and say – good luck, I wish you well, and I hope you have a lovely day. 🙂

    Here is a summary which is a bit cute, in that style comes before references, but quite digestible and cogent.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vApEgrLf7S4

    Bad news is hard to accept, and denial is a stage of grief. I have no hard feelings on the matter, guys, because I didn’t ever think this discourse would unfold any other way. My assessment of the crisis we face indicates the positives mentioned (recycling, for example) are so tiny as to be more PR than actual action, and all such action combined, and present goals to address climate destruction, are grossly inadequate. This does not stop me from acting in support of them! Why would it?

    Each day is precious. 🙂

  84. Dice

    I must note that there are thousands of people coming to the conclusion the near term extinction is a real possibility, and there are corresponding support and discussion groups readily available should they be needed (just have a search). In the famous words of Douglas Adams: “Don’t Panic!” (in big friendly letters)… This topic often provokes negative reactions (of course!), but do try not to jump to conclusions too early (particularly binary if/then absolutes). We’re all in this together, and doubt and scepticism are healthy and fine. The way I see things, if my conclusions are wrong, YAY! I just journeyed through a reassessment of my priorities, which is a positive thing.

    For the record I am an atheist, I have formally studied philosophy, some physics, and some psychology and sociology. I do not have a degree, but I do have a disability which means I stay home quite a bit, spending time researching macroeconomics, politics and most recently anthropological topics. I’m just a guy with no agenda, because I am not a large participant in our societal machinery. I hope that because I am not heavily invested in this model of civilisation, that makes me more objective than most… but of course that is just speculation. Hehe. 🙂 Good luck. Best wishes.

  85. Rapideffect

    Miriam EnglishDecember 5, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Rapideffect, I’ve never argued that the problems are not real. I’ve acknowledged over and over again that they are. I’ve also said many times that I’m an optimist. I don’t pretend that technology will save civilisation. I point out solutions, that the solutions are real, and that we need to work on them, not collapse in a defeatist heap saying “Oh woe is me, we’re all doomed.”
    Why do you think I talk over and over and over again about the urgency of reducing our waste and becoming more efficient and how that drive to efficiency has thankfully begun? Why do you think I’m so careful to point out our greatest chance for survival is efficiently raising the standard of living of the world’s poorest people so the birthrate quickly drops below replacement? The thing many doomsayers seem to relish is the idea of calamities befalling those poorest and cutting populations that way. I try to point out that not only is that a nightmarish thing to wish for, it doesn’t work, because people faced with adversity breed like rabbits. The last big population boom came out of the last world war.

    You have already given up and leave these problems for my generation to mitigate.
    This is a really weird thing to say. I’m the one arguing in favor of adopting solutions, of pointing out roadmaps to get us out of our horrible mess. You and a couple of others here are the ones taking grim pleasure in saying we’re all screwed and civilisation is going to collapse no matter what we do. Seems to me you’re the one who’s given up.

    Read my post from late last night at 11:04 pm.

    Miriam, you do believe technology will save civilization, that is where you are getting your so called solutions. You fail to understand the problems, therefore your solutions won’t solve anything. I don’t take pleasure pointing out serious issues Global Civilization is facing. I’m no doomer, I want Global Civilization to continue forever, but I am not naive enough to think that that will happen. I like facts, something you have a hard time with. You might want to try google scholar for your research, instead of wishful thinking.

    Efficiency doesn’t help example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jevons%27s_paradox

    Raising the living standard sounds good, but more consumption is not a solution, just another problem.

    “You think I don’t take the problems we face seriously???”
    No, otherwise why would you make claims that are not backed by anything other than wishful thinking…

  86. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, yes, I do hope that technology will save our civilisation. (Seems you missed my italicised stressing in the sentence “I don’t pretend that technology will save civilisation.” It alters the meaning from what you think I intended.)

    Jevon’s paradox is a potential danger, admittedly. But it doesn’t have to be that way though. The greater electrical efficiency of households is an example. Because of it, electricity consumption fell. People didn’t save money on electricity and then use more to make up the difference. Consumption actually fell. It panicked the electricity companies awfully.

    As I’ve said many, many times (god! this is getting tiresome) the idea is to raise the standard of living using efficient systems so consumption doesn’t skyrocket. This is possible to do. As an example, I live an extremely luxurious lifestyle, yet I live below the poverty line and consume very little electricity, food, or other resources. My garbage bin gets put out about once every three months and my recycling bin about twice a year. (Both would be less often but visitors tend to fill up my bins.) Water is pumped up to a water tank from a solar pump I put together. I use almost no electricity from the mains because of solar panels on the roof. (I’m not happy with the small amount of electricity I do use and am presently working ways to further reduce it.)

    You probably don’t realise this, but your arguments reduce to little more than “Nyah, nyah you’re wrong.” Not exactly convincing.

    You say I don’t back my statements by anything, yet I illustrate what I say with examples and refer to real technology that actually exists, not vaporware. You, on the other hand illustrate nothing. You make empty claims: the end of civilisation is nigh because you know this to be true. A couple of times you’ve referred to actual things, but they’ve been refuted.

    As I said before, when you divide up the possible futures — doom vs surviving — and look at possible choices — giving up vs working on solutions — it is clear that those doomers who tell us it’s over will always come to nothing, whereas those who work towards solutions have a chance of succeeding. You didn’t look at my post of December 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm did you? No of course not. You’re far too heavily invested in doom.

    Interested in trying to fix the world? Some of us are actually trying.

  87. Annie B

    There seem to be two ‘debating’ teams at work here.

    The “Affirmative” and the “Negative” …. the Yes and the No.

    Team A – is promoting the idea that no matter what is done now, or in the near future, nothing will save civilisation or the planet – .. end of !! …

    Team B – is promoting the idea that something should attempt to be done, and IS being done slowly – to preserve civilisation – as much as possible.

    Neither side has supplied much in the way of links – although there have been a few. Both sides have come at the debate from a stand that speaks of their own particular viewpoints, and properly organised debate is largely made up of those frameworks. And yes, condescending attitudes creep into arguments in debate, on occasions, and from when I was a member of a debating society, it was frowned upon. “Cheap shots” it was called.

    ( I have noticed a few slotted covertly in here, particularly from Team A, towards Team B !! ).

    There is no adjudicator or mediator to give ‘points’ to the winners of this particular debate, however.

    ____________

    Dice – …. in your comment ( Dec 5 – 2.01 pm ) “no you are” (too?) from Annie, “ I have absolutely NO idea what you are talking about. … I can find no such reference ( of 3 words !! ) to anything I have said here on this thread. You don’t need to explain it – you seem to believe you’ve seen it – so that’s OK with me. ( but it IS weird ).

    What is not good enough for me however, – is the ‘negatives’ that are being thrown about continually, relentlessly here – with not so subtle references to ‘misunderstanding’ … ‘misrepresentation’ … ‘you make empty claims’ … ‘you fail to understand the problems’ … and numerous other digs at the reasonings of others. Have had the thought that you like to argue, simply for the sake of argument – but always on the negative side of things. …

    Debating this subject gets no-one anywhere. … Team A or Team B will ultimately be proven correct – or not. We probably won’t be around to see it happen. Which just about sums it all up, anyway.

    I am officially leaving the debating hall. …

  88. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Energy saving devices will not be available along with a lot of other things that we have become accustomed to.

    Annie B
    Not being around is the excuse that I often hear, even from my elderly mother. I tell them that they will see the end of civilization, as will you. Some can see it happening already.

  89. Dice

    Annie B:

    “Sad that you didn’t see it that way” (reversal – a: no, you are argument)
    My quote was “At some point reality asserts itself no matter what we think”.
    Note the “we” there. Here you have projected my opinion based on your (adversarial) assumption.

    “has been able to change YOUR mind about anything.” (reversal – a: no, you are argument)
    Here is my actual quote: “Agreeing to disagree, is the same as saying “not changing anything in my view so far”, but that’s essentially meaningless, besides saying I failed to change your mind. That was not my goal though.”
    So, you essentially say “no, you are”, while I was stating something else. It is true that I have not had my view changed by you, because you have not presented an argument which I have not considered. Your focus shifted on to me, and I find myself the target, not the topic. I have not convinced you of anything, clearly, but the problem is that you seem to feel attacked by me, when I see no cause. Attempting to show hypocrisy is ad hominem, especially when my statements are not aimed specifically at you, but are about “people”. After a glance through my posts, I do not see the hypocrisy, but even if it was there, the message is not the messenger.

    “because you yourself cannot claim to be unbiased” – (another one)
    I actually acknowledged that. The difference, as I have posted about, is I’ve been assessing this issue seriously since the start of the year, I noted the nature of bias, recognise what I went through in my journey, and even speculated on why I am less likely to be biased on the topic.
    In my observations, projection is common. My own biased rejection of unpleasant news seems to be mirrored regularly by others. I noted that bias is influential when we are unaware of it, which of course means – how can you or I know when we are affected? This sort of subjectivity has been fascinating to me for years, and leads to philosophy topics like determinism and free will.

    Anyway, I don’t know anyone who was unbiased and objective about near term human extinction at the start. Sometimes an ontological crisis occurs, where one’s very self, or identity, feels seriously threatened.
    This is not the only position to take, but (it seems to me) is a common and involuntary reaction.

    Miriam seems to have concluded that “giving up vs working on solution” is the binary we are dealing with, and I reject that notion whole heartedly. It is a false dichotomy, and has not been thought through yet. It takes time to realise this, and is addressed frequently in Guy’s work. It is a knee-jerk, slightly panicked position, and I think this because I was there.

    If near term human extinction is inevitable,
    …we simply know about it, when before we did not. I would rather know than not know.
    It is not a circumstance someone invented to attack us, it was true and we just did not know it.
    It was true last week, but we had a false belief last week.
    Now we do know, a rational assessment of what changes we may wish to make to our lives, can be performed.
    Some hopes need to be discarded, and some goals too.
    The future was always an imaginary concept.
    Take some time to research further, and work things through.

    All this discussion has done, is provide a possibility we need to be aware of. My research and fact checking over the last ten months or so, consistently falls on the side of near term human extinction being the most likely scenario. “Teams” don’t matter. Looking at the sociological effects is secondary to looking at the evidence of the scenario itself. I don’t think you should go too far with predicting what people, or yourselves will do, until you have had some time. I needed that. Research and fact check for yourself, we surely agree this is of paramount importance. I never expected to be convincing. Don’t trust me, do the work yourself.

    Bye, have a lovely day, peace, thanks, and best wishes. 🙂

  90. Miriam English

    Harquebus, energy saving devices and systems are already available and increasingly in use. They will magically disappear?

    Dice, it’s getting a little tiring explaining this so many times. I’ll try this one last time.

    Faced with 2 possible futures, the end of civilisation vs its survival, there are 2 broad categories of choices people can make: give up vs try to fix the problems.

    People who give up can do so through a variety of different actions. They can suicide, they can do nothing and essentially carry on as normal, they can taunt others. The first is sad and does nothing to help the situation. The second passively impedes solutions. But those who cruelly taunt people that the end is nigh and that everybody is wasting their time because they’re all screwed, those people are making things much worse by getting others to give up and creating a climate of despair.

    People who try to fix the problems can work actively on building useful solutions, can advocate for change, can implement solutions, can spread information about solutions. At the very least they can minimise their own footprint and encourage others to do likewise.

    The 2 possible futures combine with the 2 categories of response to form a matrix of 4 combinations.

    1) giving up + end of civilisation
    2) giving up + fixing is it possible
    3) try to fix it + end of civilisation
    4) try to fix it + fixing is it possible

    Notice that regardless of the outcome, giving up gains us nothing. In the case of giving up when we can fix things we actually make the solution more difficult… but worse, if sufficient people do that, then that, by itself, is enough to bring about our downfall.

    In the case of trying to fix it, but it turns out impossible to fix, we’ve lost nothing, but as we can’t know beforehand whether it’s truly fixable or not, it’s the best choice of action because of the final one in the list: trying to fix it when it can be fixed.

    Giving up achieves nothing. Gloating about the end coming, and that we can do nothing about it, is defeatist in the worst possible way because it can bring about exactly that which it prophesies. The only sensible choice is to concentrate on solutions… or if you must give up, at least have the decency to get out of the way so others can attempt to fix this mess.

    One final note. I know you’re convinced that you have access to the truth, but let me assure you that there are far too many uncertainties involved for anybody to genuinely know the outcome. Are the problems pressing? Definitely! Until the future actually unfolds none of us knows what unforeseen good or bad things can spring up to change all our assumptions. Only those who deceive themselves can be certain of it, just as the uneducated religious bigot is absolutely assured they know things that are impossible to know.

  91. Rapideffect

    Miriam EnglishDecember 5, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    Rapideffect, yes, I do hope that technology will save our civilisation. (Seems you missed my italicised stressing in the sentence “I don’t pretend that technology will save civilisation.” It alters the meaning from what you think I intended.)

    Jevon’s paradox is a potential danger, admittedly. But it doesn’t have to be that way though. The greater electrical efficiency of households is an example. Because of it, electricity consumption fell. People didn’t save money on electricity and then use more to make up the difference. Consumption actually fell. It panicked the electricity companies awfully.

    As I’ve said many, many times (god! this is getting tiresome) the idea is to raise the standard of living using efficient systems so consumption doesn’t skyrocket. This is possible to do. As an example, I live an extremely luxurious lifestyle, yet I live below the poverty line and consume very little electricity, food, or other resources. My garbage bin gets put out about once every three months and my recycling bin about twice a year. (Both would be less often but visitors tend to fill up my bins.) Water is pumped up to a water tank from a solar pump I put together. I use almost no electricity from the mains because of solar panels on the roof. (I’m not happy with the small amount of electricity I do use and am presently working ways to further reduce it.)

    You say I don’t back my statements by anything, yet I illustrate what I say with examples and refer to real technology that actually exists, not vaporware. You, on the other hand illustrate nothing. You make empty claims: the end of civilisation is nigh because you know this to be true. A couple of times you’ve referred to actual things, but they’ve been refuted.

    As I said before, when you divide up the possible futures — doom vs surviving — and look at possible choices — giving up vs working on solutions — it is clear that those doomers who tell us it’s over will always come to nothing, whereas those who work towards solutions have a chance of succeeding. You didn’t look at my post of December 4, 2016 at 11:04 pm did you? No of course not. You’re far too heavily invested in doom.

    Interested in trying to fix the world? Some of us are actually trying.

    My argument is you don’t understand the problems with Global Civilization, so your solutions are useless. Using less non renewable resources doesn’t solve the problem. Global Civilization is UNSUSTAINABLE. Harquebus has provided many links to back up his position (and mine), and you refute none of it with facts.

    I read all your posts, none have solutions, so you are not trying to fix the world as you imply. I’m trying to get people to see the problems of Global Civilization and how it is unsustainable. Only when enough of the people realise the problems of Global Civilization , will change happen.

    Miriam said:
    “In the case of driving a 4WD car, more than 99%. We only need to replace a tiny fraction of the oil in order to run civilisation efficiently — considerably less than 1%.”

    “Wind has already replaced coal as the least expensive energy source.”

    “Dice, you say industrial civilisation is the cause of the problems, which is broadly true, though not entirely correct. You don’t seem to notice that industrial civilisation is our only way out of the problems too. And great headway is already being made. If you ignore those advances and look at only the downsides then it doesn’t help. It will just drive you to despair. That doesn’t help you, or the world.”

    Again more wishful thinking with no facts. In the last paragraph in reply to Dice, you said that industrial civilization is the cause and solution to the problems of industrial civilization, that shows your lack of understanding.
    I live a happy and full life, the fact that Global Civilization will collapse doesn’t make me sad/depressed any more than the fact I am going to die one day. Just because someone points out the problems doesn’t mean they are pessimistic/negative, they could just be concerned about the people they love.

  92. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    Yes. As I keep stating, supply chain disruptions will be part of the course. Make sure that you have spares available.
    Sounding the alarm and preparing is not giving up.

    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Frankli

    Cheers.

  93. Harquebus

    Did I mention supply chain disruptions? Something that has not attracted much attention.

    This article in The Australian is behind a paywall however, it can still be read elsewhere.
    “Greg Hunt has summoned the nation’s leading energy executives to Melbourne for crisis talks today on looming gas shortages that are causing spiralling prices and threaten manufacturing jobs.”
    http://peakoil.com/business/australian-energy-bosses-called-to-crisis-talks-on-gas-threat

  94. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, you have a very strange notion of “no facts”.

    I have no problem with people pointing out the problems and attempting to find solutions.

    I don’t even have a problem with people pointing out problems and saying we don’t have a solution to this yet and desperately need one.

    I do have a very big quarrel with people who try to convince everybody that it’s too late, we’re screwed, we should just lay down and die.

    And screw you — I don’t give a flying f*ck whether you’re depressed or not. Just stop spreading nonsense that depresses others, makes them give up, and gets in the way of fixing the very pressing problems we’re facing.

    You obviously didn’t read my explanation of the cost-benefits of giving up vs trying to find solutions.
    I gave it another shot, just above at 10:45 am. See if you can be a bit more honest this time and actually read it.

  95. Miriam English

    Harquebus, your warning about potential supply chain disruptions is a good one, as is your suggestion of keeping spares. I do try to keep both those in mind, as do many of us who’ve grown up in the bush.

    I’d been expecting gas to fail pretty soon. It was always just a very temporary thing. It’s another good reason we should be heating water with thermal solar panels. They pay for themselves extremely quickly.

    As I’ve always said, it’s important to understand the problems facing us. And it’s essential that we find solutions, even if they’re only partial or fallback ones. And we need to spread knowledge of those solutions. What we don’t need (for the reasons given above at 10:45 am) is for people to convince others to surrender themselves to doom — that actually helps to bring it about.

    Be aware of the possibility of collapse, certainly, but no matter how much you know, no matter how sure you are, you can’t know which way it will go. We may be able to fix this, or it might all go pear-shaped. New developments can occur at any stage to completely change the situation and all our preconceptions. Nobody knows which way it will go. (And if they say they do then their ignorance is deceiving them.) All we can responsibly do is try to fix it.

    By the way, by preparing to fail you are also guaranteeing failure. — Miriam English 🙂

  96. Harquebus

    Miriam English
    I wasn’t going to post this but, your last comment changed my mind. Something that I just read this morning.

    “if only we use objective science to persuade the public, we can transform society and create a great future. That person also said we should not convey negative messages to the public because that would alienate them. I had neither the time nor inclination to engage with that person. I did not bother to point out the obvious contradiction in his position: that objective science unequivocally shows our future to be dire, which by necessity will convey a “negative” message to the public.”
    http://www.doomsteaddiner.net/blog/2016/12/05/tumbling-down-the-net-hubbert-cliff/

    Personally, I am preparing for the fight of and for my life.

    Cheers.

  97. Rapideffect

    Miriam EnglishDecember 6, 2016 at 11:35 am

    Rapideffect, you have a very strange notion of “no facts”.

    I have no problem with people pointing out the problems and attempting to find solutions.

    I don’t even have a problem with people pointing out problems and saying we don’t have a solution to this yet and desperately need one.

    I do have a very big quarrel with people who try to convince everybody that it’s too late, we’re screwed, we should just lay down and die.

    And screw you — I don’t give a flying f*ck whether you’re depressed or not. Just stop spreading nonsense that depresses others, makes them give up, and gets in the way of fixing the very pressing problems we’re facing.

    You obviously didn’t read my explanation of the cost-benefits of giving up vs trying to find solutions.
    I gave it another shot, just above at 10:45 am. See if you can be a bit more honest this time and actually read it.

    I did read ALL of your posts. Your cost benefits of giving up vs finding solutions means nothing more than do something or do nothing. No need for personal insults, that does not advance debate. I’m not spreading nonsense, that depresses people. Facts are what I am spreading. You do have a problem with people pointing out problems, I said the problems can be mitigated, not that it’s the end of the world.

    I’m not trying to convince anyone it’s too late to do anything, just as Harquebus is doing I am trying to get people to see the problems with Global Civilization.

  98. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, you may have run your eye over it, but clearly you didn’t read it. It doesn’t merely say do something or do nothing. If you did read it your comprehension has grave problems.

    You seem to have amnesia. You have NEVER said that problems can be mitigated. You’ve constantly said that we have no hope.

    Why the hell am I arguing with someone who has so little self awareness???

  99. Dice

    Miriam.

    “Faced with 2 possible futures, the end of civilisation vs its survival, there are 2 broad categories of choices people can make: give up vs try to fix the problems.”

    This is your claim, and I do not support it. You keep pushing it, and I consistently reject it. You stack conclusions on this, and each of them are full of assumptions.

    It does-not-follow (non sequitur) to your four option matrix. You arrived at a false conclusion of give up vs try, without reasoning why anyone would give up, or what they would give up on, or what is being tried, or what could be tried, or the effectiveness or beneficence of any of those things. You seem to have made yourself a pyramid of assumptions, based on your own rapidly formed perspective, without due consideration.

    As well as this, you are not focussing on the evidence, but on speculative psychology which assumes much.

    You are focussing on the cultural and psychological effects of a belief, not whether the belief is true.

    You are also concluding without having ‘done the reading’, so to speak.

    I understand you do not like the prospect of near term human extinction. No one does. You skipped past analysis of how factual the claim is, straight to speculating about social repercussions.

    There is plenty of evidence that our present ‘action’ on climate is drastically inadequate for the task. This seems to be the ‘action’ you refer to, without considering that actions doomed to fail are a waste of everyone’s time. Action to learn to live without the industry on which we rely is more likely to keep you and yours alive longer, than expecting a vote will somehow defeat the systems of the most powerful people on the planet. Walking away won’t reverse the problems, but it is a beneficial action (for some). Just one small example.
    You claimed you are not trying to support the existing civilisation structure, but then use it in a dichotomy where the intent of action seems to be to save industrial civilisation. You try to promote incentives to “Fix the problem”, but the problem is the operation of industrial civilisation and the economic incentives which prevent the fixing anything significant until far too late. “Trying” occurs in other ways than the ones you support, and “some of us are actually trying” differently to you. Anti-capitalists have a point, for example. Planned obsolescence is evil. Slavery is evil but that was the start of it (re: Eric Williams 1948), and likely to be the end too. This is an argument about band aids vs cures, and the problem is; we like the disease.

    We are only presented with large scale actions which are capable of being integrated into the global consumption, industrial, and hierarchical structures we are used to. We do not know how to walk away from a failed set of rules, because they are all we know, even when we realise how badly they have failed us and why. The entire global economy is structured to funnel wealth and power to very few people, and it is they who bear the vast majority of the responsibility to act decisively and adequately. They are not doing that and show little sign of doing that later. From there, you can begin to unravel the reasons many people are realising existing ‘action’ plans are a placebo to maintain social order (false hope prevents deliberate dismantling of dangerous power structures) and the existing consumption economy.

    Faith in the empowerment granted by democracy is much the same sort of control mechanism, because (see the widely respected Princeton study linked ealier) it does not affect policy, money does. False hope keeps people buying cars, because *insert optimistic future solution here* and the only way most can eat is to serve the same system which caused the crisis. It’s a trap! (*does Ackbar voice*)

    Please Miriam, there is much more to this that what you seem to presently see. (As Rapid notes as well)
    I don’t know where you are getting this stuff about “gloating” or “taunting”.

    Certainty about anything is ‘probably’ (hehe!) a bad idea. Saying that no one is certain does not address the probabilities we are assessing.
    When I did the research and fact checking, I was expecting to have my existing views supported pretty fast (still time, tech can save us, etc, etc). That didn’t happen. That was hard. That’s why I broadly asked questions about what is really important in your lives, because if we haven’t got long, I’d rather keep the best people close, and find joy and productive fulfilment where I can, than do work I hate for someone I hate to make everything worse. Strange how that was where I started as a teen.

    I don’t want to be a Cassandra, and I am no Sisyphus, so I’m leaving this alone now. Nothing I say matters as much as your own research and engagement. Thank you all very much for the chat. A pleasure. 🙂

  100. Rapideffect

    Global Civilization will collapse, that is as close to certain as can be. The problems of collapse can be mitigated to some degree, but saving/continuing Global Civilization will not happen. Collapse of many civilizations have happened before, this time it’s global. I have never said we have no hope, otherwise I would not be here. You clearly BELIEVE Global Civilization can continue for a very long time, which shows your complete lack of understanding of the problems.

    My comprehension is fine thanks, you have said nothing more than do something or don’t do something, except you like to write a lot of filler in everything you post.

    @Dice, good post

  101. Miriam English

    Dice, probably no point in my replying, as what I said was again, for the umpteenth time misrepresented.

    [sigh] I don’t say we will save civilisation, or even that we can. I say we don’t know. When you apply a matrix of trying vs giving up it is clear that trying holds the chance of success while not trying holds no chance. This applies to any level of civilisation you happen to be fond of. Personally I love being able to exchange ideas with people on all continents and gaining access to antibiotics and vaccines that may save my life, so my vote is for global civilisation. I’m not in favor of the pseudo-capitalist oligarchy funnelling vast wealth to a minuscule number of people. I consider that one of the problems to be solved. But even if you want a world steeped in tribalism, where you have to defend your patch of soil with its veges and chickens from lawless gangs of thugs, you still have to solve problems or else give up. Again, attempting holds out the chance of succeeding; giving up doesn’t.

    Your research into the topic of the survival of civilisation has convinced you that it is doomed. I can say categorically that you are definitely wrong. Civilisation might fall, or it might survive, but either way, you’re still wrong. You probably don’t follow my logic. I’ll explain.

    Certainly there are massive problems, but nobody can say what the future holds. You talk about probabilities. Okay. That’s a new modifier in the topic, but okay. What are the probabilities that some new technology or social change will alter all our assumptions? When whale oil was the dominant energy source for lighting everything changed virtually overnight when rock oil (petroleum) was discovered and refined. When letters were the only way of sending the written word over long distances, suddenly everything changed with the telegraph, then changed radically again with the fax machine, then changed completely again with email. The appearance of the computer is another massive change. The internal combustion engine has been another. Steam power, another. Smelting of copper then alloying to make brass, then smelting iron then alloying to make steel. The production of plastics. Stumbling upon antibiotics. Discovering viruses. There are thousands of such total reversals of the existing order in our history. The rate at which they appear has been steadily accelerating. The most fascinating thing about them is that they can’t be predicted. They completely change all the rules.

    So, how can you be sure global collapse will happen? I can name a dozen technologies that could save us. Will they have the breakthroughs to do so? I don’t know, but I’ll lay pretty good odds on a few of them, and by damn I’ll keep trying to preserve what’s best in the world until I can’t. I’m not prematurely pronouncing the death of civilisation. To do so would be wrong on multiple levels.

  102. Kaye Lee

    I cannot see the point in presaging the imminent extinction of civilisation unless you are suggesting a course of action. To my mind, any improvement, no matter how small, gives us a little more time to move in the right direction and time for the incredibly smart people in this world to lead us there.

    I agree with Miriam. You are making assessments based on today. None of us can know what tomorrow will bring but I am certain I will continue to be amazed.

  103. Michael Taylor

    Miriam.

    “Faced with 2 possible futures, the end of civilisation vs its survival, there are 2 broad categories of choices people can make: give up vs try to fix the problems.”

    This is your claim, and I do not support it. You keep pushing it, and I consistently reject it.

    I need a bit of help getting my head around what you do support, Dice. It doesn’t get any simpler than what Miriam stated: you either give up or you keep trying. In rejected either of those, are you suggesting that we just go with the flow and see where it leads us?

  104. Harquebus

    Do we try to save the system as it currently is? Is it worth saving?
    We could let it crash and burn and then rebuild something better. There will be a lot less people to cater for so, it won’t be a humungous task.

  105. Michael Taylor

    But H’, what if there is nobody left?

  106. Annie B

    Miriam …. for your many excellent posts – particularly the summary you give at 3:13 pm ….. thank you.

    Kaye …. for your comments, concise and absolutely spot on, a few minutes later … thank you.

    Michael – agree – difficult to see what is being driven at. … Miriam has made it clear and simple.

    Can only hope that readers of this particular article, see a glimmer of positive forward hope – and the endless possibilities that can ( and most probably will ) be explored, in every facet of life in the future …

    ~ ~ ~ ~

    As an example, a friend was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer – but something was puzzling, to the specialists she visited regularly. She expected to die within a matter of months, confirmed by her oncologist. …. 3 years later she is still here, and, after much investigation including specimens sent to U.S. and U.K. …an answer – ‘ auto-immune pancreatitis.’ The ” rare and newly discovered disease can be mistakenly diagnosed as pancreatic cancer” ( from the Mayo Clinic – link can be provided ). …

    Just one of the millions of examples that can be found, where one thing is believed ( death ) – and a better outcome is proven ( life ) – along with medications. .. Admittedly this does not fit in with the original article, but does go to show that nothing is certain in this world. One persons’ personal misery, worry and doubt, turned right around to become a positive for her. … Through relentless analysis and research by scientists, dedicated to finding answers.

    I could go on, but won’t. ‘Tis enough said.

  107. Miriam English

    Michael, I found the answer to your puzzlement regarding what exactly Dice wants: he actually want global collapse. He said it in his final reply at 2:30 pm at the end of the largest paragraph when explaining why he thought my set of choices didn’t apply.
    “This is an argument about band aids vs cures, and the problem is; we like the disease.”

    Going with the flow — doing nothing — was one of the possible choices I’d mentioned as giving up. No, he is eager for civilisation to crash and burn. I guess he’s the sort of person who voted for Trump and Hanson — where the solution is worse than the problem.

    I often accuse Harquebus of being too wrapped up in doom. After he’s said a number of times that he wants to avoid collapse I’d come to believe his fascination with doom was from a genuine fear of collapse and that he wants to avoid it, though his post at 5:12 pm does make me doubt him again. It looks like he’s actually in favor of a “solution” which kills off most people and is looking forward to doom, as I’d previously thought.

    Thanks Kaye, Michael, and Annie. I was getting quite frustrated there… witness my sudden outburst at RapidEffect, who is not the best thinker in the world (I’m now wondering if he’s a small child and I shouldn’t have been so harsh on him).

  108. ozfenric

    Complete near-term human extinction from climate change is certainly possible, but things would have to get a lot worse than all but the most dire of predictions. Industrial society will collapse well before climate change gets bad enough to kill all of us, and the collapse of industrial society will at least take the foot off the accelerator of climate change. If positive reinforcement loops are triggered before then, it’s feasible that the globe could continue to heat to the extent that humans simply could not survive. Given our ability to manipulate the environment to our own needs, and our history of man’s inhumanity to man in situations of adversity, humans will survive in some capacity until well beyond the natural ability of the planet to sustain us. This probably means that humans will be the last macro-organism on the planet to become extinct. There is a long way to go before we reach those extremes.

    More likely, we’re talking about the collapse of global society as we know it and the mass death of a majority of human populations on the planet. Even these, however, might be mitigated. Miriam is right – we don’t know if a technological breakthrough might become our saviour. A sudden development of free and nonpolluting energy would go a long way towards saving human civilisation. It would, of course, revolutionise that very society, because our existing systems of governance and society (particularly, but not only, capitalism) are built on a model of scarcity. You can define that in terms of money, but it could as easily be described in terms of energy. Once every human on the planet has an inexhaustible source of energy the whole model collapses.

    The technology that might save us from climate change apocalypse will force society to change into something unrecognisable. The lack of that technology will lead to disastrous outcomes that will force society to change. A middle path, whereby we change society into something unrecognisable in order to save us from apocalypse, will nonetheless lead to a changed society. The only thing that is certain is that the current system – which has been in place for a very short few hundred years at most, and arguably only sixty or so – will not survive.

    Any discussion that presumes the survival of our current democratic, capitalist western society is, I think, not supportable. But that doesn’t mean that the next society is going to involve hoes and pitchforks. We can’t rely on technology to save us: I suspect in the vast reaches of space there are barren worlds where civilisations waited too long for the deus ex machina that didn’t arrive in time. What we can do, what we must do, is identify and support the technologies, the social movements and the leading minds that can shape the next society and ease the transition. Either that, or we invest in hoes and pitchforks and hope we can be one of the few to survive, in the expectation that our descendants might be able to start building the next society a few thousand generations down the line.

  109. Miriam English

    RapidEffect, I’d like to apologise for my frustrated outburst to you. I’ve since realised you’re probably a young child. You hinted as much a couple of times, referring to your generation. I was misled by the picture you used as an avatar of a fellow not much older than myself. Who I’m now wondering might actually be “Dice”.

    Anyway, sorry about that. Keep thinking. Don’t let my anger stop you. Learn as much as you can. Don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t have a future.

  110. Michael Taylor

    He said it in his final reply at 2:30 pm at the end of the largest paragraph …

    No disrespects intended to Dice, but I was lost by then. (Which probably has more to do with my attention span at the moment. 🙁 )

  111. Annie B

    Michael ….

    There are many times I wonder just how you do what you do – attending to so many articles and replies / comments. I know you have a wonderful staff of moderators, but – the buck stops with you. …. Not to mention the technical glitches you have to contend with from time to time – you do a brilliant job.

    Much kudos and applause to you for your endless efforts to keep this really great independent media source going and viable. This current thread could have posed many problems … ( and at times it did !! ) …. so don’t worry about your attention span. ,,, Many others’ attention span would have flown out the window long ago.

    Will say to all – have a great Christmas and New Year 2017 ( although heaven knows, I will probably be back again on other articles, before the hour strikes midnight for the 25th !!, but not sure ).

    Thank you Michael, for all you do.

  112. Miriam English

    I’ll chime in with a hearty agreement there. I think I would have given up long ago. Another project would have captured my all too flighty attention. I don’t know how you manage, Michael. Thank goodness you do, though.

  113. Michael Taylor

    Thank you, Annie. That was a wonderful thing to say and it is truly appreciated.

    It can be testing at times but I’m grateful for having a very good team here that makes it all worthwhile. Where would it be without our fabulous writers? Where would it be without our fabulous commenters? It wouldn’t be much of a place without any of them.

    And I mustn’t forget the admin team who help out with the guest posts and the moderating. They have the thankless tasks.

  114. Harquebus

    We could do some things in a controlled way. Contract the economy and reduce consumption, population, rations, quotas etc. but, all I ever hear and even on theDrum again tonight is, growth. That’s it. No other solution but to pursue it with no alternative being considered let alone discussed. This is why collapse is inevitable.

    Michael Taylor
    The methane monster is real and it is stirring. If it wakes, there will be no people. We shouldn’t joke about these things. Large scale methane release will be an extinction event.

    “Nevertheless, forget all of the handwringing over 2°C, or 1.5°C for that matter, because humongous problems are already here, right now!”
    “We have reason to believe that such emissions may change the climate. This is due to the fact that the reserves of methane under the submarine permafrost exceed the methane content in the atmosphere by many thousands of times”
    “At some point in time, that’s immensely problematic for life on Earth. Still, nobody really knows for sure when runaway global warming hits hard, 5 years, 20 years, 100 years. It happens unannounced!”
    “the planet hasn’t even come close to hitting the 2° C marker, yet all hell is breaking lose!”
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2016/11/30/the-arctic-goes-bonkers/

    Cheers.

  115. Michael Taylor

    Michael Taylor
    The methane monster is real and it is stirring. If it wakes, there will be no people. We shouldn’t joke about these things.

    I fail to see where I was making a joke. I simply asked you a question in response to a contradictory set of statements.

  116. Harquebus

    Michael Taylor
    I honestly thought that you were joking. My apologies.
    I have searched for the contradictions. Are you including other pages?
    If there’s nobody left then, there’s nobody left.

  117. Michael Taylor

    H’, it was when you said something about there’d be a lot less people. I thought you’d said earlier there’d be nobody left. I may have mistaken on the latter. If so, my humble apologies.

    Nonetheless, my question is perhaps a valid one, even if misdirected.

  118. Michael Taylor

    But you’re right, if there’s nobody left then there’s nobody left. So on refelection my question was rather stupid. If there’s nobody left … there’s no “ifs” or “buts”.

  119. Harquebus

    Michael Taylor
    “If it wakes, there will be no people.”
    “If” mate, “if”.
    Methane release is, in my opinion, our greatest threat for extinction. Hopefully there might still be time to avoid it even with the decades of continuing warming that are already guaranteed.
    Cheers.

  120. Miriam English

    Agreed. Large scale methane release is scary. Methane is about 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. It is worrying that runaway methane release seems to be starting.

    I must admit, optimistic though I am, I can’t think of a solution to that, and it bothers me that the dummies in office might be irresponsible enough to think that’s a good reason to do the geo-engineering thing, dispersing particulate pollution in the high atmosphere, crashing food harvests, lowering the effectiveness of solar panels, and risking an Ice Age. They just might be that short-sighted.

  121. corvus boreus

    Harquebus,
    Given the rapidly increasing rates of methane hydrate release currently occurring in the arctic regions (as sea-ice and permafrost acceleratively melt), I would say that the horse has likely bolted on that one.
    Whether similar cladate releases will occur when the Antarctic thaw kicks in remains to be seen.

    Miriam,
    There are also grand schemes being touted to sprinkle the oceans with iron oxide particles in an attempt to stimulate the photosynthetic rates of zoo-plankton, both to mitigate against rising levels of carbonic acid in the seas and to make up for drastically reduced carbon sequestration on land (due largely to wide scale deforestation).

  122. corvus boreus

    Ps, post proof reading; for ‘zooplankton’ read ‘phytoplankton’.
    I really shouldn’t type pre-caffeine.

  123. Miriam English

    I’d forgotten about that. I wonder what unforeseen consequences that will have. I have to admit it seems a lot safer than deliberate global dimming.

    I’m currently writing a novel set in the aftermath of a tiny evolutionary change to oceanic algae, letting them use the oxygen produced by their photosynthesis to generate further energy, making them more efficient, but meaning our main source of atmospheric oxygen is lost. All animal life, fungi, and other oxygen-consuming life on Earth dies out. Some people survive in an ecological experiment reminiscent of the famous Biosphere2 experiment. (All this is related in the first couple of pages, so it’s not really a spoiler.)

  124. Harquebus

    In regards to seeding the oceans with FeO2 and from memory, the extra algae when it dies, it sinks to the bottom and decays creating hypoxic dead zones.

    Search criteria: hypoxic dead zone

    “The world’s oceans, coastal seas, estuaries, and many rivers and lakes are experiencing declines in dissolved oxygen. Long known as an issue associated with sewage discharges and fertilizer runoff, the problem now is exacerbated by climate change, often independent of nutrient loads, and is global in scale.”
    “The effects of deoxygenation, which depend on complex sets of interactions in the ocean, will not be evenly spread: the north Atlantic, north Pacific, and Antarctic waters will be particularly affected.”
    http://www.salon.com/2016/11/03/the-oceans-are-suffocating-climate-change-is-causing-low-oxygen-levels_partner/

    “The main issue is that we are using up more oxygen than is being put back into the atmosphere.”
    “You cannot deny the fact that our current methods of energy production are going to suffocate everyone.”
    http://www.greenism.com/climate-change-deniers-will-be-choking-on-the-truth-literally/

  125. corvus boreus

    An immediate foreseeable consequence of sprinkling the seas with rust would be a likely increase in the incidence of red-tide algal blooms (which are broadly toxic to marine zoology) in coastal and estuarine areas, since dinoflagellates tend to thrive in iron oxide enriched conditions.
    I agree that the predictable repercussions of seeding the atmosphere with micro-particulate pollutants seem more severe.

  126. Rapideffect

    Your anger and abuse is nothing more than you not being able to refute what I say. I am not a child, but your behaviour is child like, maybe you should take some of your own advice (as you said to Dice) and get psychological help. The avatar picture is Albert Einstein but since science is not your strong point I guess that’s why you don’t know who he is. I have been researching the issues of Global Civilization for over a decade and understand the situation far better than you think.

    Miriam English December 3, 2016 at 11:51 am

    Rapideffect, yes, growth is a major part of our problems. It is made far, far worse by the mind-boggling amounts that we waste. However there is a way that we could grow the economy without harm. We could move over to a truly information-based economy.This began some decades back, but was greatly hindered by the powerful, anti-technology entertainment industry. It is difficult to see how that battle will play out, but considering they haven’t been able to kill off file sharing, which can be the basis for an infinitely growing information economy, I’m cautiously optimistic. Unlike physical things, ideas (research, knowledge, art, music, stories, culture) can grow without limit and don’t need to drain physical resources in order to do so.

    The last sentence shows exactly why you have little understanding to the problems with Global Civilization. Ideas need energy and cannot grow without limit. Do you know how much energy the internet consumes?? No, otherwise you would realise this is not possible. Everything you have ever done or will ever do requires energy.

    You make up solutions based on belief, and if anyone disagrees with you you attack them and not their ideas.

  127. Miriam English

    RapidEffect, of course I know who Albert Einstein is. He’s one of my heroes. I’m simply unfamiliar with that picture, especially at that small size.

    Well, I’m glad you’re not actually a child.

    I sincerely doubt you understand the issues of global civilisation as well as you think you do. I’m sorry, but you seem to be an example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    One of the things I use my handheld computer for is reading ebooks. Whether it holds 1 ebook or a thousand it consumes exactly the same amount of electricity, has the same weight, and uses exactly the same resources. This is part of what I referred to by being able to grow information without an attendant growth in resource use.

    Yes, I understand how much energy the internet uses. Do you? And do you realise that it’s a moving target as less energy intensive storage and computing systems are constantly being developed?

    When I was a teen, computers took up whole floors of buildings and used many kilowatts of electricity. My handheld computer is far more powerful, fits in my pocket, and with its ultra-low-power ARM microprocessor it uses a bare trickle of electricity. And the energy cost for computing continues to plummet.

    Storage is a whole other aspect. I store enormous amounts of information on external hard drives and flash drives (more than 20 terabytes). When they’re not being used, which is most of the time, they consume zero electricity. Solid State Drives (SSD) use less energy and less physical resources than conventional hard drives and are gradually becoming the standard for storage as their cost brings them in reach of more people. Wind power is already cheaper than coal, previously the cheapest energy source. Solar power is heading in the same direction. (In fact my website is hosted by GreenGeeks, a company that buys electricity solely from wind power.)

    Until fairly recently I earned a good living building virtual worlds inside computers. In the course of my work I found that there is an interesting paradox where I could build universes of infinite size inside a computer that has limited memory and speed. This is similar in some ways to the Mandelbrot Set, which is an actual two-dimensional mathematical object, like a square or triangle or circle. Weirdly, although it has a finite area, the Mandelbrot Set is infinitely complex and has an infinitely long edge. Contrary to what you’d intuitively think we can have access to infinite amounts of information using limited resources (well, limited by time). Information truly is different from everything else.

    So, I’m sorry for your misconceptions, but you really are wrong. It is unfortunate, but you simply don’t understand as much as you think you do. Perhaps rather than simply making wild, unsupported statements you should back them up with examples and links. But even then, all you can say is that it might come to an end or it might not. You think there are reasons to be pessimistic. I think there are reasons to be optimistic. As you can see (if you bother to look) I haven’t made up anything at all.

  128. Rapideffect

    Again you demonstrate your lack of knowledge on the subject. I can and have put up links, but just like Harquebus’s links you refuse to look at the evidence, so you will never understand the problems. What am I wrong about? The collapse of Global Civilization, which you said yourself may or may not collapse. You have made up numerous things example:

    1 There are actually enormous reserves of lithium

    2 Do you realise how much of that oil is wasted? In the case of driving a 4WD car, more than 99%. We only need to replace a tiny fraction of the oil in order to run civilisation efficiently — considerably less than 1%.

    3 Wind has already replaced coal as the least expensive energy source

    4 Your research into the topic of the survival of civilisation has convinced you that it is doomed. I can say categorically that you are definitely wrong. Civilisation might fall, or it might survive, but either way, you’re still wrong.

    5 Methane is about 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide

    So you haven’t made up anything at all then…

    You have this need to be right as can be seen in your posts, the Dunning-Kruger effect applies to you not me. You are just scared of the facts and anyone who points out that the outcome might be dire. Your confirmation bias is not helping you get past your beliefs that everything will be just fine.

  129. Kaye Lee

    Methane

    methane, the gas produced extensively by the livestock industry worldwide, traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide within a 5 year period, and 72 times more within a 20 year period. The good news is that methane also leaves the atmosphere within a decade. This makes for a short-lived, but intense climate changer.

    So methane warms the planet rapidly, but it dissipates from the atmosphere more quickly than carbon dioxide. According the EPA, the GWP of methane is 21, which indicates its effect over a 100 year period. A 2009 report published by The World Watch Institute stressed that the more relevant GWP figure is 72, since it’s within the next 20 years that we desperately need to act to stop climate change before a domino effect is initiated and our imbalanced bio-systems spiral out of livable conditions.

  130. Miriam English

    Rapideffect, instead of whining on and on about me being wrong (I’m not) why don’t you do a little bit of that research you assure us you’re so good at and check my facts. You’ll find I didn’t make any of those up.

    Point 4 doesn’t need research though, as I explained it immediately after the bit you quoted. Just go back and read it. You’ll see what I mean.

  131. Annie B

    Thank heaven for Kaye – the voice of reason, and of excellently researched facts.

    I believe Kaye researches thoroughly, and I for one would trust her search criteria, far more than many others – ( throughout AIMN and other independent media ) ….

    Methane, apparently, has a short half life. …. which is a plus, considering the problems that plague the planet at this time. It is not nearly as damaging as carbon dioxide – ( if I am reading Kaye correctly – and I believe I am ).

    No matter what the source of the decimation of ice, water, land, the length of time is extended – but not by a great deal. However, perhaps long enough for technology and incredible research being done, to avoid a catastrophic outcome. Not saying for one moment that there won’t be very hard times – there will be for sure … but would like to re-iterate how inventive, intuitive, clever and resourceful the human race is – – – especially when it comes its’ own survival.

  132. Rapideffect

    The burden of proof is on you as you made the claims, it not up to others to do the research for you. Why don’t you just produce the evidence to back up your claims??

    Methane is no where near 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide, more like 30. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140327111724.htm

  133. Kaye Lee

    Rapideffect,

    You are using the 100 year Global Warming Potential(GWP). As methane dissipates more quickly, the 20 year GWP figure is much more applicable.

    “the 20-year GWP is sometimes used as an alternative to the 100-year GWP. Just like the 100-year GWP is based on the energy absorbed by a gas over 100 years, the 20-year GWP is based on the energy absorbed over 20 years. This 20-year GWP prioritizes gases with shorter lifetimes, because it does not consider impacts that happen more than 20 years after the emissions occur. Because all GWPs are calculated relative to CO2, GWPs based on a shorter timeframe will be larger for gases with lifetimes shorter than that of CO2, and smaller for gases with lifetimes longer than CO2. For example, for CH4 (methane), which has a short lifetime, the 100-year GWP of 28–36 is much less than the 20-year GWP of 84–87. For CF4, with a lifetime of 50,000 years, the 100-year GWP of 6630–7350 is larger than the 20-year GWP of 4880–4950.”

    But I suppose you knew that already 😉

  134. Rapideffect

    Kaye Lee,

    So is methane 70 times more potent than carbon dioxide or not?

  135. Kaye Lee

    Over the next twenty years, the methane released today will have a warming effect 70-87 times greater than CO2. Over the next five it is much higher. There is no point looking at its effect over 100 years because it only lasts for about 10 so that artificially lessens its comparative impact. We are talking comparatively rather than cumulatively so yes, over its decade lifetime, the effect is much higher than even 70 times that of CO2.

    Even if we use your 100 year figure, that means that the warming caused over the next ten years by the methane emitted today will be 30 times greater than the warming caused by an equivalent amount of CO2 over the next 100 years.

    The next twenty years are our crucial time for action.

    Actually, tomorrow is crucial.

  136. Miriam English

    [Groan] Rapideffect, perhaps I don’t feel like giving the references because even when I do so you won’t accept it, like the methane example above. [sigh] It really isn’t hard to find out these things. You really should get off your arse and learn about things before accusing people of making stuff up.

    Okay. I don’t really feel like working on my novel or eating dinner just now so I might as well uselessly procrastinate this way…

    1. There are actually enormous reserves of lithium
    As I said at December 1, 2016 at 10:45 pm,

    One of the main sources of lithium is so large it can be seen from space — the Atacama Salt Flats in Chile. The economically accessible (now) reserves of lithium are estimated at 9,900,000,000 kg, and there is much more that will become economical when climate change bites. Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) have developed a gel electrolyte that lets lithium batteries last 200,000 recharges instead of the more usual 7,000 recharges, making them even more practical. But I’m not actually in favor of lithium batteries. I see them as merely a good bridging technology that can help wean us off oil.

    Also, continental brines (ancient seas or ancient lakes where most or all of the water has evaporated away) are the major sources of lithium. There are absolutely vast reserves of lithium dissolved in the ocean. We don’t have a simple, cheap way to access that at the moment, but it hardly matters. Lithium batteries are almost certainly a temporary bridging technology. There are good reasons to believe we will cease to need it long before easily accessible reserves run out.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium#Terrestrial
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/mar/23/battery-lithium-south-america-chile-argentina-bolivia

    2. Do you realise how much of that oil is wasted? In the case of driving a 4WD car, more than 99%. We only need to replace a tiny fraction of the oil in order to run civilisation efficiently — considerably less than 1%.
    Most of the energy from an internal combustion engine is wasted in heat, operating the cooling system pumps, friction in the internal mechanism and drive train, and friction of the wheels, and wind resistance. After it is all accounted for only about 15% of that energy actually accomplishes the aim of moving the car. Note that I stated a 4WD car. They can weigh 2 or 3 tonnes, but I’ll be generous and say 2 tonnes. That’s 2,000kg. I’m taller than the average person (almost 6ft) and weigh 64kg. divide 64 by 2,000 and multiply it by the 15 giving 0.48% of the energy moving me if I was the person in the vehicle. That is less than half of one percent. (Kaye, if you’re reading this, did I calculate that right? As you know, my maths is not great.)
    Here is an analysis of where the energy goes in a vehicle:
    http://www.consumerenergycenter.org/transportation/consumer_tips/vehicle_energy_losses.html

    3. Wind has already replaced coal as the least expensive energy source
    This one is easy. Almost any recent info will show this, as the cost of windpower has come down considerably over the years. Here is an article from 2013 with numerous more references in it.
    http://bze.org.au/australia-wind-power-already-cheaper-fossil-fuels-and-solar-right-behind-130211/
    And here is one from this year in a very conservative financial magazine:
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-06/wind-and-solar-are-crushing-fossil-fuels

    4. Your research into the topic of the survival of civilisation has convinced you that it is doomed. I can say categorically that you are definitely wrong. Civilisation might fall, or it might survive, but either way, you’re still wrong.
    Okay, you probably didn’t bother to read my explanation of this (given your writing so far you’re unlikely to comprehend it either) so I’ll try to make it simpler.
    If I was to tell you that I knew for a certainty that we will fix the problems facing our civilisation I would definitely be wrong. There is no way I can be sure of that. Even if we did manage to fix all those problems I would still have been wrong because there is no way I could know. In the same way your certainty that global civilisation will crash makes you wrong, even if it does in fact crash. Being right for the wrong reasons means you are wrong. Saying 2+2=4 because cabbage flowers 4 petals and they taste like the number 2. That answer is wrong even when it comes out with the right number. See?

    5. Methane is about 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide
    Kaye kindly answered this one for me, so no need. Thanks Kaye. 🙂

    RapidEffect, feel free to totally ignore it or say I made it all up again. I certainly don’t expect you to apologise.

  137. Kaye Lee

    I would just like him to say, thanks I learned something….but I ain’t holding my breath.

  138. Harquebus

    CO2 levels have just recently passed 400 parts per million (ppm). In April, methane levels were 1834 parts per billion (ppb). Methane reacts to produce CO2 and H20. Both greenhouse gases.
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/current_ghg.html

    “CO2 is 2.75 times heavier per molecule (or ppm) than methane, so the numbers for methane have to be divided by that if you are comparing the climate impact from each on a ppm basis.”
    There are some calculations in the comments section.
    https://www.skepticalscience.com/methane-and-global-warming.htm

    Lithium batteries are a storage vessel. They are not an energy source.
    http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Could-A-Lithium-Shortage-De-Rail-The-Electric-Car-Boom.html
    http://energyskeptic.com/2016/not-enough-lithium-for-electric-car-batteries/
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/business/batteries/congo-cobalt-mining-for-lithium-ion-battery/

    Civilization as we know it can not survive. The mathematics of compound growth guarantee failure.

    Some things for you Miriam.
    http://energyandcarbon.com/lithium-ion-batteries-versus-supercapacitor/
    I have not read the report discussed in this article. Needless to say, I am skeptical.
    https://medium.com/insurge-intelligence/solar-is-already-producing-more-energy-than-oil-says-major-scientific-review-873d5f779f03

  139. Rapideffect

    1. There are actually enormous reserves of lithium
    Your links do not prove there are ENORMOUS reserves of lithium. Large is a much better description.

    2. Do you realise how much of that oil is wasted? In the case of driving a 4WD car, more than 99%. We only need to replace a tiny fraction of the oil in order to run civilisation — considerably less than 1%.

    Your link doesn’t prove that a vehicle wastes 99% of oil or that only a tiny fraction of oil is needed to be replaced to run civilization efficiently.

    3. Wind has already replaced coal as the least expensive energy source

    Your link doesn’t prove this either. This merely states that new coal plants are not as cheap as new wind farms.
    Comparing wind and coal is like comparing apples to oranges. Coal is an energy source, wind is a technology.

    4. Your research into the topic of the survival of civilisation has convinced you that it is doomed. I can say categorically that you are definitely wrong. Civilisation might fall, or it might survive, but either way, you’re still wrong.

    Being right for the wrong reasons still means you are right.

    5. Methane is about 70 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide

    Methane can last for decades, CO2 for centuries, that’s why I use the 100 year GWP. I ask Kaye if it was 70 times more potent, but 70 -87 times more potent is not about 70 times more potent (using your 20yr GWP). The GWP metric is outdated. Two new metrics are being used to get more accurate results: instantaneous climate impact (ICI) and the cumulative climate impact (CCI)

    Miriam, I don’t apologise to abusive bullies on the internet. You are clearly making it up.
    Kaye Lee, thanks for calling me a he, I am actually a woman.

  140. Miriam English

    Harquebus, good point about methane burning to produce carbon dioxide and water vapor, both greenhouse gases. That honestly hadn’t occurred to me. I wonder if normal atmospheric methane loss occurs that way. The CO2 is a problem, but the water vapor isn’t so much. There are normal balances that quickly take water vapor back out of the atmosphere again as rain. The atmosphere normally only supports a certain amount of water dissolving in it… though that amount does increase as the climate warms.

    Batteries are indeed a storage system, not an energy source. This is generally true of hydrogen too (a point not often noticed). But they are extremely convenient storage systems. In the same way fossil fuels can be seen as storing solar power too, though with the unfortunate side-effect of releasing vast amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. I’m not sure what point you’re making here.

    “Civilization as we know it can not survive. The mathematics of compound growth guarantee failure.”
    You’re suggesting that civilisation as we know it depends upon compound growth. I think that’s wrong. The fact that human populations can stablise at below replacement levels, as they have done in most developed countries, argues against it. You seem to think our civilisation is identical with, or perhaps can’t survive without capitalist growth. Have a look at some of the encouraging developments of our civilisation over the last few decades: Open Source programs, Project Gutenberg, Distributed Proofreaders, LibriVox, NaNoWriMo, Wikipedia, Doctors Without Borders, the enormous rise of volunteer efforts to alleviate poverty and disease in the Third World, and many more. These are all examples of our civilisation turning away from that model of money and physical exponential growth. Where they still have growth, it’s in knowledge.

    So I’d say that certain aspects of society can’t survive because of their utterly unrealistic need for endless growth of resources, but neither you nor I want those aspects anyway. Judging by the encouraging changes I mentioned, increasing numbers of people feel the same.

    The mistake you’re making is in adding the proviso “as we know it” to make your statement arguable, but then you immediately forget it yourself and contract it to “civilisation can not survive”, which is wrong. It might survive, or it might not. Neither of us knows which. If I said it will survive I would be equally wrong.

    Thanks for those links on batteries vs supercapacitors and the other one about solar already out doing oil (yes, I’m skeptical of it too). I’ll read them and get back to you.

  141. Miriam English

    RapidEffect, well, nobody can say I didn’t give you a chance.
    I have to say, I’m truly surprised by the breathtaking level of dishonesty in your reply.

  142. Johno

    Harquebus… I have looked at some of your links. The link regarding the decline of the world’s oxygen supply was alarming but not surprising. There is now a seemingly constant flow of data showing us quite clearly, we are in deep shit. The clear felling of the earth’s forests continue and co2 emissions continue. Maybe humanity will suffocate from lack o2 even before the warming is a problem.
    Humans (and pretty much every living thing on this planet) requires oxygen to survive; There’s is no denying that. If you have trouble grasping this concept, put a bag over your head and see how you feel after a few minutes.

  143. Miriam English

    Harquebus, thanks for those links. I’ve read them now. The one comparing batteries and supercapacitors told me nothing new, but it was very gratifying to see the information getting out there. Woo hoo!

    The other one comparing oil vs solar for energy return on energy invested (EROEI) I found very interesting. I knew the efficiency of solar cells had been climbing and was aware they can now be made with more than 20% light to electricity conversion efficiency and that they’re being manufactured more efficiently (though I don’t like their use of aluminium for frames), but I hadn’t realised how low the EROEI of oil is dropping now. That was a surprise. I wish I could get a look at the original metastudy, but who has $35 to spend on a single article? Companies like Elsevier are impeding science.

  144. corvus boreus

    Haarquebus,
    Cheers for the info links.

    These are the CSIRO’s Cape Grim observatory records regarding the main greenhouse gases (CO2, methane and nitrous oxide).
    There are graphs based on short term data (from late 70’s) at the top of the page, and some longer term visuals (mainly ice-core sample based) further down, plus some solid general overview.
    http://www.csiro.au/greenhouse-gases/

  145. Annie B

    corvus

    The link you have provided is more than interesting. Gives overall summaries, that a person like myself can at least understand. Am not science minded or tertiary educated myself – to comprehend specific scientific facts, as most here would realise !! … 🙁

    Thank you .

    It is with overviews and excellent summarisation of ( in this case ) green house gases by the CSIRO, that helps to enable scientific investigation the world over, to attempt to formulate some ideas to alleviate at least a few of the problems. The ‘action’ however should have begun 15-20 years ago … and I fear it is fast approaching ( if not already here ) the ‘too late’ stage.

    I sincerely hope I am wrong in that last statement, as I still believe that humanity will try every means possible to survive – but ?? ……… what it will cost in sustenance, health, viability of crops and animals etc., is anyones’ guess.

    Speaking of crops – it was interesting and delightful in fact, to see the very substantial increase in crop production for the past 12 months harvesting seasons here in Australia. It was a long overdue lift to the farmers, and produced by a series of weather events, which suited perfectly the growing and harvesting of these crops. I recall wheat and cotton – and there were 2 or 3 others that benefited extremely well ( can’t recall them now ).

    Again – thanks corvus.

  146. corvus boreus

    Here is a similar but simpler page from the atmospheric station at Svalbard, Norway.
    Note the elevated methane levels compared to the Cape Grim records.
    http://www.mosj.no/en/climate/atmosphere/climate-gases-in-svalbard.html

    Here is a quick picture of the current state of both North and South poles (bit scary);
    https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-ttR-UT3MnJM/WDJO3oG9HII/AAAAAAAAWFU/pUL5nCR0OE8YjP-WlwrVXr1a0AW0BwR-wCLcB/s1600/Global-Nov-19-2016.png

    Meanwhile, on the home front, Adani’s Carmichael Mine gets the bipartisan nod.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_C8S4Bz91M&t=5s

  147. jimhaz

    @ Miriam,

    “The 2 possible futures combine with the 2 categories of response to form a matrix of 4 combinations.
    Giving up achieves nothing”

    Umm, I have the view that we should use as much as we can now, so as to force the changes required while the world population is only 2/3rds of what it will be (or might be). In terms of resource usage, it is perhaps only 1/10th of what it would be were development levels across the world the equivalent of ours.

    Only suffering can save us, and even with that we must ensure the wealthy suffer as much. Technology is helpful, but it could be more like giving new shoes to person so fat they cannot walk. For the capitalists, technology is like the Pavlov’s dog experiments – I can picture their anticipatory salivation at more sales.

    Don’t expect responsibility to arise in the masses or politicians – they have to be forced into compliance.

    “As an example, I live an extremely luxurious lifestyle, yet I live below the poverty line and consume very little electricity, food, or other resources. My garbage bin gets put out about once every three months and my recycling bin about twice a year. Water is pumped up to a water tank from a solar pump I put together. I use almost no electricity from the mains because of solar panels on the roof.

    and how much land area does that take? Multiply that by 7-9 billion.

  148. Miriam English

    jimhaz, you don’t seem to understand that poverty, disease, and death paradoxically cause the birthrate to skyrocket. The only sensible way to bring it under control is to increase the standard of living of those worst off. If done efficiently (which means also reducing the resource consumption of we greedy First-Worlders) this can be done with little or no increase in resource use. Remember that we in the First World use most of the world’s resources, but waste most of it. Australians are the most wasteful people on Earth. We use and waste more resources per person than any other people.

    Only suffering can save us
    Spoken like a true puritan. Ugh!

    Your earlier caricature of women shows why you think that people won’t choose to be responsible, but have to be forced into it. What a terrible view of humanity. You are so wrong. People have been willingly reducing their electricity consumption. They positively clamour for solutions, and when those solutions are available they embrace them enthusiastically. They have been taking up solar power faster than mobile phones were adopted. People have been contributing in record numbers to organisations like GetUp, Greenpeace, Doctors Without Borders, Project Gutenberg, LibriVox, Wikipedia, and so on.

    What a sour life you must lead. I’m very sorry for you.

  149. Harquebus

    Miram English

    From one of my previous links.
    “Note:
    Methane intially reacts with ozone in a ‘chain’ reaction that ultimately produces CO2 and water vapour.
    You could summarise the reactions into:
    (3)CH4 + (4)O3 = (3)CO2 + (6)H2O
    Oxidation of methane is the main source of water vapor in the upper stratosphere”

    All I ever hear from politicians, talking heads and economists is the need for growth. It is an immovable absurdity in their mindset so, how can one not expect the worst?

    corvus boreus
    Thanks to you too mate.

    Cheers.

  150. Miriam English

    Harquebus, thanks for that. I greatly appreciate the info. I hadn’t got around to looking into it.

    So that’s a bit of a problem then. Not only does methane decompose to the much more long-lived carbon dioxide, but it eats into the ozone layer as well, reducing our protection from UV light. Bummer.

    I can honestly understand your pessimism after listening to politicians and “economists” endlessly talking about growth, growth, growth, and more growth. I just had a conversation online with an old girlfriend where she was wondering why they seem so firmly insulated against reality. They seem to live inside an impenetrable information bubble.

    This is why I’ve been championing using growth in an information economy as a way to steer them to something far less damaging, on the theory that it’s easier to turn them slightly than to stop them. Unfortunately that seems to be ignored by both the growth nuts and the ones who want growth to slow or stop. [sigh]

    There are good signs though. Increasing numbers of people are giving up on politicians.

    In USA some have been exploring ways of making it profitable for electricity producers to help their customers to reduce consumption. Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) has long been an advocate of this. It works by getting the electricity suppliers to sell services instead of electrons. If they can get the same income while cutting back on the amount they generate then they’re looking at great savings. And it actually works.

    Even without such systems many people have been deciding to cut back where they can. The fall in electricity consumption in Australia over the past 5 or 6 years is a great example of that.

    There are other areas where people are cutting back, though “growth” still seems to be synonymous with “health”. It is disappointing and a little depressing. However people can change quite abruptly and they do get to a point where they ignore the leaders, and it doesn’t even have to be bloody like the French Revolution. You can see all around us that people are becoming fed up to the back teeth with politicians. Of course a large part of the problem is the mainstream media (Murdoch, mostly), who just keep feeding people the same old lies and undercutting genuine discussion.

    Something will break soon.

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