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Calling “Game Over”

Human-induced climate change is real. The risks of inaction are real and mounting.” So Fairfax editorialised in this week’s papers. The gist of the article is that we still have time to mobilise and get our governments and policymakers to take real action on stymieing climate change. It is probably true, as the article claims, that we are witnessing a slowly dawning awareness of the Australian people and by the global economy. But by some measures, this is significantly too little – and way too late.

“Two degrees Celsius.” How many times have you heard the “two degrees” target proposed as the benchmark? Almost every popular media outlet, when writing about climate change (when they’re not claiming it isn’t happening or isn’t worth our attention) includes a statement like “We can still keep warming below two degrees, but we have to start now.” So we talk about carbon budgets. We talk about carbon capture and storage. We argue about the merits of a cap-and-trade system, an incentives system, a carbon tax – as if we still have time to compromise, time to experiment and find the ideal balance between maintaining our treasured social systems and the rescue of the global environment.

The current climate change narrative is based on a series of mistruths and falsities. We are told that we still have time to turn the ship around. The truth is that we do not.

We are told that two degrees is a hard and fast target, beyond which everything turns to disaster and before which we will be okay, if slightly uncomfortable. The truth is that there is no safe limit, that two degrees is not a magic number, and that two degrees is likely already beyond our prevention. The truth is that we have already emitted more than enough carbon to take us to two degrees and well beyond, and we’re showing no signs of slowing.

We are told that even if we go beyond two degrees, the disruption that results will come in the form of hurricanes and bushfires and rising tides. The truth is that while increased frequency and severity of hurricanes and bushfires will be a part of the outcomes of climate change, this is the merest tip of the iceberg. These visible disasters can be constrained and understood as freak occurrences that interrupt the status quo and from which we can recover. Less so is the permanent loss of arable land, the global starvation that may result, and potentially the tipping of our environment into a hellish morass incapable of supporting human life. That we are now seeing reputable sources raising the spectre of near-term human extinction in public narratives is telling of both how far the public discourse has gone ahead of public policy, and of the potential import of the fact that we’ve been so slow to act.

Whilst we have seen that the public and the media are far more accepting of the urgency of action on climate change than any of our leaders are willing to countenance, the public narrative is nevertheless generally years behind the science. Science has been telling us for the better part of a decade that two degrees is both insufficient and unattainable. Meanwhile the news media, and through them the general public, have been absorbed by the question of the reality of climate change, a question that climate researchers put to bed decades ago.

Only in the last few months have we started to see the global narrative start to catch up to reality, which is at the same time optimistic and disheartening. The truth that the media are slowly coming to understand is that two degrees might be possible, but not in the world that we know and live in now. As the media have finally started to catch on that yes, climate change is happening; yes, climate change is deadly serious; and no, we have not acted as quickly and as desperately as required; it begs the question. What is the current state of scientific understanding and how long will it take for the world to catch up to that?

An inevitable outcome?

There are reasons for the lag in public understanding. In years to come the placing of blame might become a hobby, but while attributing responsibility to various groups and individuals is easy, it is also simplistic. The long answer is that our inaction on climate change has been driven by the systems within which we work and live. These systems are well designed to order society and to offer freedom and opportunity to some. They are not effective, however, at providing for philanthropy. Our current systems of democracy and capitalism reward selfishness and self-interest and they pander to our genetic weaknesses. And the unstoppable forces of consumerism encourage and reward immediate gratification not only as a personal pleasure but a social good. The system requires us to buy and consume in order to sustain the order of things. More fundamentally, we need to buy and consume in order to feel good, and we are rewarded by a sense of accomplishment, we are rewarded by social approval and we are rewarded by endorphins. The same psychological tendencies that cause us to become fat and unfit also put barriers in our way to accepting bad news.

Bad news is a climate scientist’s stock in trade. Scientists are conservative by nature – they have to be. Crying wolf leads to a loss of respect and credence, and inevitably to a loss of funding. For a scientist or scientific organisation to decry an oncoming disaster, a high level of proof is required, and this takes time. The rumbling on the tracks isn’t enough: they need to be able to see the oncoming train’s lights before they’re willing to commit.

Scientists are not to blame for their reticence. One of the most constant criticisms of the IPCC’s work is not that the work is flawed, but that the resulting reports are universally conservative. They err on the side of caution. IPCC reports contain a range of projections, using a selection of different assumptions and resulting in very different outcomes, but they do not advise on the relative likelihood of being able to meet these curves. The effect is to allow policymakers to treat each projection as equally possible, and when one or more of the scenarios results in a temperature rise under two degrees, the opportunity arises to claim that this is still in reach. Scientists would say that the contents of the reports are reliable as a best-case scenarios, but that’s not how the reports are received in practice. The policy makers who must take IPCC reports into account largely consider them to be worst-case scenarios, and the urgency of the problem is diminished.

Tempting as it may be to do so, politicians also cannot be blamed for their inaction. Politicians are rewarded (in electoral popularity) for populist messages of hope and optimism. Politicians are punished, severely, for being the messenger that tells their people that they will have to make sacrifices (financial, creature comforts, lifestyle changes) for the sake of the public good. Far worse awaits those who attempt to impose these sacrifices. It is entirely reasonable to expect politicians to clutch at any straws offered, be they a possible solution that doesn’t carry electoral cost (e.g. direct action) or a skerrick of doubt about the science. In an environment filled with lobbyists arguing that there will be consequences to climate action, and think tanks and vested interests obscuring the science with manufactured doubt, motivated by a kind of economics that cannot afford to take climate change into account, it takes a special kind of political courage to take a stand. As we saw in the case of the 2013 election, all too often The People will punish such presumption.

We can’t even blame The People. The truth is that our evolution has not equipped us well to handle the kind of challenge that climate change presents. Humans are an immensely adaptable species, and when we cannot adjust our environment to suit our needs, we can adjust our own lifestyle to suit. However, we almost always need to be spurred into action. We evolved from hunter-gatherers who would gorge in the good times, in preparation for the long stretch of privation that would follow. At our core, we’re not prepared to leave the carcass on the ground.

Too little, too late

However it happens, whatever the cause, we are caught by it. Humanity is having a cook-out in a tunnel and we’ve ignored the rumblings underfoot for too long. It’s not until we see the lights of the oncoming train that we even start the engine of our getaway car and there’s no way we’re dodging this express train.

We read that we have, at most ten or fifteen years to turn the ship around. Here’s the thing, though: they told us this ten or fifteen years ago, too. If the problem was that urgent then, if the need for change was so pressing then, how can we still have a decade left to act now? The explanation is that the definition of “action” is changing. Climate scientists, pressured to give an optimistic outcome – to avoid calling “Game Over” – move the goalposts. They adopt increasingly unrealistic assumptions and expectations in their models of climate action. They invent ever more fanciful future technologies – magic bullets, couched in scientific-sounding terminology.

It is finally reaching the point where normal people – journalists, activists, even politicians – are calling them out on it. The likelihood of us being able to meet a trajectory to keep temperature increases below two degrees is presently somewhere between none and laughable. But so long as it is still technically possible to succeed at halting global warming, we keep hearing the “we still have time” message. So let’s have a look at what is actually required to stave off the kind of climate change that runs an even risk of killing every human on the planet.

http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2014/12/two-degrees-will-we-avoid-dangerous-climate-change/ : “In order to get back on track, emissions need to peak and then fall by between 40 and 70 per cent by 2050, the IPCC says, with unabated fossil fuel burning almost entirely phased out by 2100… That would require a never-before seen global effort to be sustained for a generation.”

http://www.vox.com/2015/5/15/8612113/truth-climate-change : “Holding temperature down under 2°C – the widely agreed upon target – would require an utterly unprecedented level of global mobilization and coordination, sustained over decades. There’s no sign of that happening, or reason to think it’s plausible anytime soon.”

http://www.newrepublic.com/article/119757/two-degrees-climate-change-no-longer-possible : “To be sure, the IPCC noted, it’s conceivable the world still could stay below that level – but only if governments immediately imposed stringent and internationally uniform carbon limits, and if a host of new low-carbon energy technologies proved able to scale up. Those are massive “ifs,” and though the IPCC wasn’t so impolite as to say so, there’s little to suggest that perfect trajectory will play out.”

In order to achieve the goal, humanity as a species must put aside national partisanship, untrammelled economic growth as a priority, and our current industrial machinery. Advanced economies must immediately and radically decarbonise their economies, at the same time as effectively building first-world economies in less advanced nations who would otherwise strive to catch up to “modern” standards of living via their own industrial revolutions. Humans in the affluent West must accept a curtailing of their profligate lifestyles and their aspirations.

Some have likened the effort required to the mobilization of the West in the early days of World War II, when entire economies were retooled to face an existential threat. But these similes were raised half a decade ago, and the problem has become even more dire since then. We must, as a species, put the good of the planet and the environment ahead of our own short-term interests. This is something that goes against our very nature.

But even our best intentions are not enough. At this point, there is enough carbon in the atmosphere to blow through two degrees and well beyond – potentially setting off the feedback loops and tipping points that bring us to a very final The End. In order to limit temperature rise to two degrees, current models include assumptions about negative carbon emissions – capturing carbon from the atmosphere and putting it into the ground or into trees. This requires either huge swathes of territory to be converted to forests – and only good, arable, important-for-feeding-seven-billion-humans land will do – or the widespread adoption of technology that doesn’t even exist yet.

Is it time yet to call game over?

You can’t get there from here.

There are a number of good reasons to declare “Game Over” on climate change.

Because there is a point beyond which hope becomes denial.

We see an example with Australian farmers in northern Queensland. Devastated by crippling floods in early 2013, it did not take long before large portions of Queensland were back in the Long Dry. By March 2014, the State’s largest ever drought had been declared, following the failure of the “wet season”. Drought is a largely artificial definition, designed primarily to enable governments to provide assistance to affected areas, predicated on the understanding that this is a “natural disaster” and will come to an end. The terminology of “drought”, at core, assumes that there is a normal state of being, and the lack of rain is an exception, an aberration, on par with storms or cyclones.

More than a year later, the rains have failed again and the drought has not broken – it has become worse. All this in advance of a predicted severe El Nino. The signs are not looking good for relief for our beleaguered Queensland farmers any time soon. And still we hear politicians State and Federal talking about drought assistance, of getting the farmers through the hard patch before the rains return.

According to my calculations, most of Queensland has been officially in drought for fifteen of the last twenty-five years. An El Nino can run for up to seven years, so we may be in for a significant period before the end of this cycle. If you’re living under drought conditions for more years than under wet conditions, can it really be called a drought any longer? At what point do we bow to the inevitable and admit that, rather than being a drought, this is the new normal? That climate change has made these areas untenable for ongoing agriculture? That continuing to support farmers with “drought assistance” is a never-ending battle that cannot be won?

Admitting defeat would mean the departure of farmers from these lands and force an alteration to the economy and markets of the State. It could be argued that reclassifying land as non-arable will destroy the lives of farmers trying to eke out a living on it, but it could as well be argued that those lives are destroyed anyway and farmers seeking support are modern-day King Canutes who will eventually have to move anyway.

Sometimes, it makes more sense to just admit defeat, rather than throwing good money after bad.

Because denial makes us focus on the actions that we need to take to win, rather than getting started on the actions required upon losing

As long as electors are told that two degrees is possible if only we find the right balance of punitive and reward policies the longer the policy debate remains mired in detail and technicality. It allows governments to hold out policies like Direct Action as a valid approach to climate change. It allows an ETS to include a variety of loopholes and concessions designed to protect vulnerable industries at the expense of the scheme’s effectiveness. This author has been a critic of the Greens’ approach to Labor’s ETS, scuttling a plan that might have gotten a foot in the door because it wasn’t ideal at the outset. But that was then, and this is now. It is far too late for half-measures. Unfortunately, we will never see full-strength climate policies as long as politicians can still argue that all will be well if we just cut our emissions by “five percent over 2000 levels”.

Because reality

If for no other reason, it might be valid to call an end to the charade of climate change action because it’s a colossal waste of time and money on the basis of a lie. It’s a lie, because none of those arguing loudly that we can still save the world are taking the next step and adding “only if we do what the world has never managed to do before and only if all the cards fall our way”. This is a lie of omission, and those telling it are often not even aware of it because they themselves have not been shown the sheer unlikelihood of what they’re proposing. If we reframe the argument in the appropriate terms, at least we can start talking about things with a sense of truth and reality rather than what we hope might be the case.

Reasons not to declare “Game Over”

Because it might not be

There may still be time – if atmospheric sensitivity is lower than modelled, and if we can invent and distribute carbon capture technology, and if the world radically reverses direction. Under the IPCC’s optimistic models, there is still time. Meeting these optimistic assumptions will be a heroic task, but we won’t get there if we don’t try and we won’t try if we’ve already thrown in the towel. An important first step would be the support of research into carbon capture / atmospheric cleaning technologies that will be absolutely fundamental to any kind of success from here.

Because it’s too important

Declaring “game over” sends the message to those who’d be most harmed by climate change that they aren’t worth saving.” Our mythologies are full of humans in dire circumstances not giving up on hope. If there has ever been a cause around which the world could rally, that has the immediate threat to human survival on a global scale and the fortunes of small groups of people in specific, this is it. To give up on climate action is to give up on a large part of the world, raise the fences around the wagons and wait out the next great Human Extinction. Those most badly affected will be those who contributed to it the least and are least deserving. For the advanced nations to give up while there is still even the ghost of a chance is to add insult to lethal injury.

Because we need the urgency

We need urgency; we need the seriousness. There’s a fine line between panic-inducing immediacy and threat, and inertia-generating fatalism. World War II, in its size and ferocity and its immediacy, was enough to jolt the western world into action. We will see, over the next decade, increasingly dire climate outcomes. At some point, public attitudes and governmental policies will catch up with the exigencies of climate reality. The media and the government may always be a decade behind in understanding the threat, but action taken now on the basis of last decade’s threats will still have a beneficial effect on this decade’s crisis. We don’t know for sure that we can salvage the silverware, but we can be absolutely certain that nothing will survive if we stop fighting for it.

Because game over isn’t necessarily “game over”

We will miss two degrees – but the story doesn’t end there. “Everyone agrees on the general point — risks and damages keep piling up as the world gets hotter. So if the world can’t prevent 2°C of warming, it’s still a good idea to try and avoid 3°C of warming. If we can’t avoid 3°C of warming, it’s still a good idea to avoid 4°C. And so on.” The world doesn’t end at 2 degrees. Tipping points and reinforcing cycles may mean that the world is more fragile than it appears, but every extra degree of warming increases the inhospitability of our future world far more than the degree before it. If we can halt warming at three degrees, it’s still worth doing.

Because victory ain’t what it used to be

In the end, we may be forced to move the goalposts of what constitutes success. The two degrees scenario is aimed at preserving our current civilization. Restrain global warming to two degrees and we may be able to retain our present way of life, our creature comforts, our technology, and our populations. It may be – it probably is – too late for that: our world will change and our way of life must change to suit the new, hotter world we are creating.

But the end of our current, comfortable civilisation does not have to be the end of the human story. If the worst case scenarios are true, then the game is no longer about salvaging a world for our children: it is about salvaging a world for ANY children. If it is too late for current nation-states to survive, it’s not yet too late for modern life somewhere, somehow. If it becomes too late for capitalism as we know it, it’s not yet too late to preserve some kind of civilisation. If it is too late for us, it is not yet too late for humanity. We don’t know where we’ll end up, but however far beyond the point of no return we may have gone, we know that there is more road yet to travel. In the end, the best reason not to call Game Over – not to just stop trying and learn to love the bomb – is that there may yet be time to salvage some kind of future for some of us.

Just probably not all of us.


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  1. Bozo

    Just wondering why you use the Australian vernacular when naming forest fires (‘bushfires’), yet the American when discussing weather events (‘hurricanes’).

  2. ozfenric

    I was honestly unaware of the distinction. 🙁 I’m not certain how scientifically specific the term “hurricane” is, except insofar as it requires a particular minimum wind-speed. In any case, it’s a global phenomenon and you can count the article as being about climate change worldwide, if you like.

  3. Harquebus

    This is the most important piece that I have seen so far here on theAimn. Please copy the url and send it to every one that you know, as I will be doing.

    A couple more in support.

    We know that the prior interglacial period about 120,000 years ago – it’s called the Eemian in Europe –but it was less than 2 degrees C warmer than pre-industrial conditions and sea level was a least 6 to 8 metres higher, so it’s crazy to think that 2 degrees Celsius is safe limit.

    Please let me be a pain and again offer my solution.

    Population reduction is the only viable solution to pollution, scarcity (water), resource depletion (oil, etc), climate change, the sterilization of our oceans and the destruction of our environment. The pursuit of all other solutions, including renewable energy, are not going to do it and are a complete waste of time and precious resources. We would do much better to abandon consumerism, reduce populations and conserve what’s left of those precious resources which, ain’t much.

    Pedanticism is bad form in the face of such an important piece.

  4. Kaye Lee

    Hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons are all the same weather phenomenon; we just use different names for these storms in different places. In the Atlantic and Northeast Pacific, the term “hurricane” is used. The same type of disturbance in the Northwest Pacific is called a “typhoon” and “cyclones” occur in the South Pacific and Indian Ocean.

  5. corvus boreus

    Cyclone, hurricane and typhoon are basically the same thing occurring in different locations.
    The same goes for the difference between bushfires, forest-fires and brush-fires.
    In practical terms, there is a greater definitional difference between pedantry, sophistry and semantics.
    None of which addresses or negates consequences and repercussions of destructive human activities destabilising basic biospheric functions.
    Ps, cheers Kaye Lee, that would be ‘specifics’.

  6. The AIM Network

    This is the most important piece that I have seen so far here on theAimn. Please copy the url and send it to every one that you know, as I will be doing.

    You could have knocked me over with a feather. 😉

    But thanks – appreciate it.

  7. DanDark

    Harquebus play nice now…. it is a hot topic this one, so take 2 Bex and behave 🙂
    You are still on your probation period arnt you ….. 🙂

  8. Harquebus

    We are definitely on the same side on this one. You’re welcome.

    Yes, I am on probation. The real me is bursting to get out.
    Perhaps I will take a couple of Bex.

  9. DanDark

    Harbeques lol……….Nooooooo the nice Harquebus isn’t too bad, stick with it for a while.
    Sharing is caring, if we don’t share in a positive way, we don’t care…

  10. corvus boreus

    Unmentioned in the article are emerging biospheric repercussions beyond the realm of direct consequence (feedback loops).

    One example would be the Arctic (once was) permafrost. Recently it has begun melting, releasing both oceanic and sub-soil methane cladates (over 50x more potent than CO2 in terms of greenhouse effect). A secondary effect of the permafrost melt has been a hugely incidence of tundra fires over the past few years.
    Another would be the mass die-off of Northern hemisphere forests, both coniferous and deciduous, from both biological pathogens (fungal and invertebrate) and atmospheric conditions (eg acid rains). This too is causing huge fires.

    I have personally witnessed a gtrowing decline in general health of many areas of native canopy vegetation that would seem to be directly unaffected by human activities.

    Shit is now deepening of it’s own accord, and we are still dumping pails on top.

    Ps, Harquebus,
    Phuq Bex, that is just another form of pharmaceutical causing personal analgesia, substance dependence and feeding general societal sedation.
    I try to find somewhere that petrochemical fumes are not, and exhale deeply and thoroughly with a ‘sighing breathe’.
    If the hurt is deeper, I utilise the silent shout to the sky (from lower lungs, not throat), or the deep underwater scream.
    I do this on the principle that basically run on oxygenation, and carry all manner of stale crap in the bottom of our lungs.

  11. Harquebus

    @corvus boreus
    The positive feedback mechanisms are many and a real worry. Once started, they are unstoppable and the consequences will be severe. That is why this issue is so urgent.

    I have a small sledge hammer that I use for the moments that you describe and already have a few dead computers out back.

  12. ozfenric

    I did only have three and a half thousand words. 🙂 The chances of there remaining much beyond a few million humans at the end of next century are looking dicier by the day, but I console myself by thinking my descendants are amongst those most likely to be there.

  13. corvus boreus

    I intended no disrespect to either you or your article by mentioning the ‘omission’ of emerging biospheric feedbacks.
    You succinctly and accurately covered a broad range of subjects within a limited space.
    I am just a caw from the comments section ranting (with errors of spelling and diction) about my particular focus within the topic.
    I thoroughly appreciate your article upon a subject crucial to the future of life on this planet (particularly us humans).

  14. Brooklyn Culture Jammers

    corvus boreus already mentioned Arctic methane, but it bears repeating. There were multiple predictions for this September being ice-free in the Arctic. At that point, the hope that we can keep temperature increases to ‘only’ two or three or four degrees are over. Multi-gigaton ‘burps’ of methane as predicted (and anticipated) by scientist Natalia Shakhova will accelerate warming, perhaps as much as the six to ten degrees anticipated by Paul Beckwith. There comes a point (and we’ve passed it) when the climate will warm in a runaway fashion. A recent statement by Malcolm Light puts the date for the start of runaway warming (based on modeling) at October 3 of this year. http://brooklynculturejammers.com/2015/06/13/10-03-2015-does-earth-have-an-expiration-date/

  15. mikestasse

    WOW………. TWO articles in one week supporting everything I’ve been saying for years from the AIMN. I’m with Harquebus. Keep it up. Because hopefully, once the AIMN has woken up, maybe the rest of the world (or at least Australia) will follow.

    As far as solutions go, there is only one: Powerdown. I urge you all to read this…….

    http://simplicitycollective.com/introduction-to-prosperous-descent-new-book because two degrees is no target, it’s civilisational suicide and a trigger for another extinction event. Including ours.

  16. Ken Butler

    As I read this piece a cartoon image of our earth topped by Easter Island statues kept looming before my eyes

  17. mikestasse

    “The two degrees scenario is aimed at preserving our current civilization.” But is it? I believe it’s more about keeping the oligarchs in power with the banks still humming……

  18. ozfenric

    Mikestasse, we are in agreement on the serious crisis point our civilisation faces, but we differ on the appropriate response. I do not agree that “simple living” is the only sustainable future, and in fact as I have previously maintained, it’s an unethical construct. The carrying capacity of the planet under “simple living” is far lower than the current population, so a large proportion of the world’s population would need to be… shall we say, reduced. This is likely going to happen anyway, but I don’t see SL as an appropriate response to the challenge of climate change. From my perspective, the technological and social development of the human race is the goal, and forswearing progress is betraying that goal. A managed transition to an equitable, sustainable world society is not beyond our species’ reach, but it’s unlikely to come from the elites until it becomes shriekingly obvious to them and everyone else that there’s no way for them to hold onto their power. This article might hopefully be an early step toward that realisation.

  19. ozfenric

    Mikestasse, as far as the world is concerned, preserving our current civilisation *is* keeping the oligarchs in power. It’s the system, and I do believe we’ve passed the point where it might have been sustainable into a low-carbon future.

  20. stephentardrew

    Mikestasse and Harquebus: Bit long however I think I have earned the right be remaining circumspect.

    I have never doubted the facts however the research demonstrates that continually bashing people verbally only builds resistance and resentment. Ignoring the Psychology, while driving many of us to despair when we already accept the consequences of global warming, is not at all helpful. A visit to Skeptical Science and a thorough perusal of research is all that is needed.

    We knew about this over twenty years ago yet nothing changed. Evolution is about to swat us, not out of malice, but because fear driven conservatism is not an adaptive strategy so no matter how much you bleat on nature will inevitably take its path. Let me point out I am not a doom-sayer. Artificial intelligence may be an important contributor to rationality and logic.

    It may well be that we have misconstrued freedom and choice to mean a subjective free-for-all while the science of causation, which concerns a primarily deterministic reality, have been around for centuries yet habituated magic and mythology still dominate. The problems are much deeper than rattling on about global warming when poverty and inequality are a sign of a lack of communitarian action which is the core of species survival and adaptation.

    We have a structural biochemical problem that relates to an overactive amygdala which allows people to be easily manipulated by fear. A new type of conscious, reflective of nominal choice, which dampens emotional reactivity, is required to overcome the slow pace of biological evolution and in many respects much is out of our hands. Change is slow not because humans ore smart or stupid but simply because that is how evolution works.

    The science of global warming is, of itself, complex and specialised as is psychology and neuroscience in terms of extinction ossification adaptation or stagnation. The dynamic mix of personality types is not a thing we choose it is a process in the hand of nature and evolution and there is no guarantee that we are in any way the zenith of evolution. We may well be close to failure, not through choice, but through the complex dynamics of nature and nurture; subjectivity and objectivity; logic and illogical; meaning and intentionality; magic, mythology, religion and empiricism; reactive autonomic emotional fear which generates anger and hate; choice, free will, nominal choice and determinism which continually act as countervailing forces in human thought and activity. Kant’s antimonies and basic conceptual contradictions, paradoxes and dualities are, whether we like it or not, innate human attributes..

    Having said that I don’t believe in despair and giving up. Even if it is a minority who plan for the future through critically analysis of the failings of human thinking and behaviour, which need to be understood in relation to the observable facts rather than wishes, hopes and desires that things be otherwise, we need to fabricate a new type of rationality which dampens fear and hate. Counter factuals do not help whereas analytical non-emotional detached observation is essential. If even a few are to survive and achieve positive change, given the worse case scenario, we need to understand and change the psychological dynamics that, if left unchanged, will just continue more of the same. Economic boom and bust over the centuries have not change the fundamental aspect of economics that lead to inequity, exploitation and financial disaster. In short we have not been learning from our mistakes.

    It may well include neural-interfaces with scientific databases that will provide the logical connections necessary to achieve revolution in habituated magical mythical thinking.

    The shock of global warming is going to challenge humans to act as a species. It will become very obvious that power and wealth will not save you. There are complex dynamics at play that no one can, at the moment, predict or solve absolutely or universally.

    Nature will have the last say however to survive we will need to adapt and I am sure the necessary adoptions will occur unfortunately many may suffer intolerably. Sometimes the facts are disturbing however that is all we are left with.

    Having said all of that we must continue in a measured and respectful way to try and change hearts and minds.

    Right now reason is the only reliable tool whereas emotional reactivity negativity will tend to reinforce the fear centers of the brain, especially those driven by emotions and not reason, which seems to represent some fifty percent of the population.

    we need some deep thinking and reasoned solutions free from emotional reactivity.

    Excuse any mistakes late and tired.

  21. stephentardrew

    Sorry about the crapy intro. Bit long however I think I have earned the right by remaining circumspect and keeping a low profile

  22. darrel nay

    quote from Australia’s Chief Scientist,

    “Risks of SRM (solar radiation management) include possible unintended consequences
    to climate patterns. For example, there is some evidence
    SRM may reduce precipitation on land and contribute
    to drought risk” …. maybe geoengineering is contributing to the droughts mentioned in the article.



    ps. Why do global warming proponents always claim everyone agrees with them when it just isn’t true?

  23. darrel nay


    http://canadafreepress.com/article/9629 … Obama profiting from Chicago climate exchange.

    I honestly don’t understand how meteorologists can’t accurately predict tomorrows weather but they project confidently into the future when it comes to global warming?

    The same people pushing global wars are behind pushing global warming – I smell a rat and I am not the only one – millions of people agree with me (including scientists and other experts).


  24. corvus boreus

    darrel nay,
    The summary by the Chief Scientist states the possibility that a discussed theoretical ‘geo-engineering’ measure of adding sulphate (and other) particles to the stratosphere to help mask/alleviate direct temperature rise may also possibly contribute to drought conditions.
    Since the addition of particulates to the upper atmosphere has also been trialed as a method of ‘seeding’ clouds to induce rain, the science on this is rather uncertain.
    Other factors involved in reduction of rainfall (eg shifts in oceanic patterns and effects of terrestrial deforestation) are well established and accepted science.
    The fact that senior scientists are seriously discussing outlandish and potentially destructive geo-engineering ideas to alleviate the immediate symptoms of climate destabilization should be taken as an indicator of the seriousness of the underlying problem.

    Ps, Why end in a sweeping generalisation that is, by it’s very absolutism, false?

  25. darrel nay

    I challenge people to look into why GE was given exemptions from all the greenhouse gas legislation. Also, why are the politicians shutting down our coal power plants while getting financially involved in the opening of Chinese coal plants? Are we going to see an increase in nuclear power plants to compensate for the loss of coal power?



  26. corvus boreus

    darrel nay,
    Because corporate lobbying and attendant political corruption causes bad decisions. The power/greed thing.

    This does nothing to refute the scientifically valid point that human industrial activities activities have destabilised the earth’s climate.

  27. darrel nay

    Hey corvus boreus,
    The geoengineering is already occurring – it is a classified military program so it is difficult to research. The relative patents are online and they show that geoengineering is ongoing. The Australian government went to the high court in London recently to try to stop private groups, from Canada, from dumping millions of tonnes of iron particles in the ocean in a geoengineering scheme.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xFQ2_0QNiks&w=560&h=315%5D

  28. corvus boreus

    Haiku for for those who can clearly see the biospheric picture,

    Hearts and bladders drained,
    we stand, shoulder to shoulder,
    pissing on bushfires.

    I’m off to plant some trees.

  29. darrel nay

    Thanks for planting corvus boreus

  30. mikestasse

    ozfenric “The carrying capacity of the planet under “simple living” is far lower than the current population”

    I’m gobsmacked. HOW could you possibly come to that conclusion….?

    The ONLY reason we currently have 7+ billion people, and seemingly are able to ‘maintain’ them, is 100% due to fossil fuels. Take the FFs away, and we immediately go back to pre industrial carrying capacity of ONE billion….. except we have so f*cked up the soils with chemicals, so f*cked up the climate by doing EXACTLY the above, that I doubt the world population by 2100 will exceed 100 million….

    We are slowly technogising ourselves into extinction. Technology is seductive. Is it the power? Is it the comfort? Or is it some internal particularly human attribute that drives it? Technology surrounds us and becomes part of our story and myths. Technology tantalizes the human mind to make, combine, invent. There are always unintended consequences with technology. It affects how we experience the world in time and space. It affects how we feel the world. If all the externalities were included in the prices and cost to nature, we would be very, very wary of technology.

    I think we have moved from technology in the service of religion (pyramids and gothic cathedrals ) to religion and culture in the service of technology. It isn’t a deity that will save humanity but in the eyes of many; it will be technology.

    We will do more of the same, business as usual until there are no more holes in the ground to dig, no more water above and below to contaminate, no humans to wage slave, no other lifeforms to eliminate. Yes, we are building trojan horses in our hearts, minds and spirits. It will be elitist and entitlement and hubris – both a bang and a whimper.

  31. mikestasse

    @ steventardrew: “Having said that I don’t believe in despair and giving up.”

    Neither do I……

    I don’t despair, I’m frustrated as hell. None of this has to be this way. And I’m sure not giving up, because I’m going ahead and preparing 100% as best I can.

  32. DC

    mikestasse & Harquebus, I agree with a lot of what you say but we can overcomplicate this issue when we start talking about how much resources or fossil fuels are currently required doing it this way compared to that way (based on current technology). Technology is dynamic. The simple goal is to divest from fossil fuels ASAP, use that capital to fund R&;D to sustaibnable energy technology to accelarate its advancement and decarbonise our global economy. Doing that alone won’t make everything sustainanle forever but it will make things so much better and its a good start. The problem with your simple living solution comes down to power. Who is going to enforce it? How are you going to stop people from consuming fossil fuels without a better alternative being available? Even if you did, how would you stop some politician from gaining power by promising to bring back the old ways?

    If on the other hand, baseload renewable energy could make parity with the cost of fossil fuls, we could have an abundant supply of carbon neutral energy that could power everything including transport, there would be a lot more hope in the world, even if just for another few generations. The population decrease is never going to happen voluntarily but it may happen via nature. If so you would want the remaining human population to have other options than fossil fuels

  33. DC

    Not that I’m saying we should wait for renewables to make parity, we should be charging full steam ahead into renewables regardles of cost, if we do that, the cost WILL reach parity due to the nature of technological advancements (see Swanson’s Law). Its just that once it does reach parity, there will be no more need to waste time & energy debating, lobbying, protesting, any of that stit. Things will just start changing on their own

  34. Harquebus

    I agree with mikestasse and believe that the sustainable carrying capacity of our world is 1 – 1.5 billion people.

    For Australia, and I don’t have the link anymore, I understand is about 8 million. That means, you and one of your mates has to go. (Just kidding).
    Does anyone know the number of aboriginal inhabitants prior to white settlement?

    There is no such thing as renewable energy. It is a myth. Also, wind and solar energy collectors are very polluting in the manufacture of these inefficient devices.
    The cost of solar cells is coming down because, the toxic pollution caused in their manufacture is dumped and left in the local environment.

  35. mikestasse

    DC, take it from someone who’s been studying this for fifteen years, I know what I’m talking about……..

    The 20th Century was built, one brick at a time, as and when it was required, using not just the densest energy source known to civilisation (fossil fuels) but the densest fossil fuels of all!

    80 years ago, the Energy return (NOT MONEY!) on Energy Invested for oil was 100:1. Today, it’s 15, and for shale and tar sand oil it’s about 1.5:1. Solar is ~2.5:1. For nearly one hundred years, we have been using declining ERoEI energy sources to develop new sources of lower ERoEI. eg, we used 100:1 oil to get 80:1 oil, 80:1 oil to get 50:1, 50:1 to get 25:1, and now 25:1 to get 15:1 or far lower….. AND we are using 15:1 oil and 50:1 coal to make 2.5:solar and 15:1 wind…….. What do you think this trend shows you?

    Not only that, we have more people than ever wanting to do this.

    We are heading for an energy cliff. For a fairly technical explanation, read this: https://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/implications-of-declining-eroi-on-oil-production-2013-by-david-j-murphy/

    If you can’t handle the science (and not everyone can…) then look at the video at the bottom of this post (the pertinent bit is in the second half where Susan Krumdieck explains the concept of SURPLUS ENERGY…..

    You don’t know shit

    Mind you, I think everyone should know how much wasted energy goes into dealing with their shit, but that’s another issue, still pertinent to why we are facing climate catastrophe all the same……

  36. mikestasse

    Pre invasion aboriginal population has been estimated at 800,000……..

  37. OzFenric

    MikeStasse, not sure why you’re gobsmacked… it’s obvious, as you’ve pointed out, that the natural world under simple living conditions cannot support seven/eight billion humans. Like you say, the only way we can have such proliferation is through intensive petrochemical force-growth, highly specialised professions focussing on doing one thing and doing it as efficiently as possible (which, by the way, is anathema to employment in a capitalist system). Simple Living might have been a nice idea, once, but I can’t support it if it means the best-resourced one tenth of the population (i.e. you and me) get to survive while the other nine tenths go to hell. Incidentally, that would include a large proportion of the people reading this blog who don’t have the luxury of owning property. And I don’t support simple living because I believe humans were meant for more than being born, eating, growing, having sex and dying in one little corner of the countryside without ever achieving anything.

  38. DC

    BUT how is anyone going to agree on let alone enforce that population decline? The carrying capacity of earth, like technology, is not stagnant. If the capital that has gone into fossil fuels was put into renewable energy and the parity I was talking about is achieved soon, then the world would start phasing out dirty power at a much more rapid rate. Combine that with smarter farming methods, smarter water management (even desalination plants powered by renewable energy), a tax on unsustainable packaging to eliminate plastic waste and a few other simple ideas and before you know it, that carring capacity is looking a lot better.

    Either way, the population is not something we can control directly. That being said, people are breeding muuch less. Education and urbanisation tends to decline birth rates as seen all over the world. People living the simple life tend to breed more

  39. OzFenric

    Darrel Nay, I don’t put it past businesses to be doing geoengineering test seeds in a research sense, but it won’t be happening on a large scale as yet. It makes a lot of sense for fossil fuel companies to be investigating geoengineering because it’s about the only way they’re going to be able to preserve the old model of carbon energy (and they still have an awful lot of carbon energy resources to mine and sell, claims about peak oil notwithstanding).

    The scary thing is that while large-scale geoengineering could have a swathe of unintended consequences that we don’t anticipate, and that we don’t have thousands of scientists studying, it’s a simple enough proposal that a medium sized nation state could go ahead with it unilaterally and stuff it all up for the rest of us. But you can bet that if that happens, it won’t happen in secret.

  40. Harquebus

    We don’t have to enforce population reduction. In fact, we don’t have to do anything at all. Mother nature will take care of that for us. It won’t be pretty but, it will happen.

    “It’s coming home to roost over the next 50 years or so. It’s not just climate change; it’s sheer space, places to grow food for this enormous horde. Either we limit our population growth or the natural world will do it for us, and the natural world is doing it for us right now.” — David Attenborough

  41. OzFenric

    DC has the key to it right there. Population growth is not inevitable. Low GDP countries have the highest birth rates not by accident but because it’s a parent’s way of ensuring that a) some of the kids live to adulthood, and b) some of the kids are around to support you when you’re old. Increase the living standards and the prosperity of a nation, its population growth decreases – to the point that some advanced economies, such as ours, would have population decreases if not for immigration. Population control should be a global priority, but there are better ways to do it than to let six billion people starve to death after climate change destroys the world’s agricultural output.

  42. mikestasse

    I believe humans were meant for more than being born, eating, growing, having sex and dying in one little corner of the countryside without ever achieving anything.

    Ah yes, human exceptionalism…… personally, I love eating, I love growing food, and I love sex. I also love cooking BTW… And exactly WHAT do you want to achieve?

    During the 25 or so years I ‘worked for a living’, I reckon I achieved less than since I abandoned the matrix….. in fact, nearly everything I achieved while I was part of the Matrix was deleterious to my well being AND the well being of the planet.

    It’s all in your head methinks.

  43. DC

    I am well aware of the energy density of coal. But you make it out as if energy density is the only factor for comparison. Remember that renewable energy is RENEWABLE and coal is not. Even though there is plenty of coal left in the ground, it still requires the constant expendature (and use of diesel fuel) to keep those coal supplies coming in. If I was to forget about the cost of harnesing the energy I could argue that the sun is actually much more energy dense than coal. The cost of harnesing renewable energy is declining but no where near as fast as it would be if we all divested our super from new coal & put it into renewable energy development. Besides which we know coal is destroying the planet and you cant answer me when I ask how on earth anyone could enforce a return to the simple life. You can go and live like that and its very noble, but what difference will it make when the majority of the population go on with busines as usual

  44. Harquebus

    There are three things that have enabled rampant population growth:

    First was sanitation.
    Second was modern medicine.
    Third was crude oil.
    Reverse the sequence for reduction.

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

  45. Wendy Bandurski-Miller

    Habitat for humanity and other’s is subject to some basic laws of physics. It has become apparent that industrial civilization is a heat engine and we are cooking our habitat.

    Great article thank you for your honesty. Extinction is forever. Be the best human you can.

  46. Kaye Lee

    Don’t project your failure to achieve on the rest of us mikestasse.

    I know of many people who have contributed greatly to our society and continue to do so. They don’t do it by building themselves a bolt hole and saying f you to the rest of the world. They do it by helping others in a myriad of ways. I have no respect for those who say “I’m alright Jack” and stuff the rest of you.

    I have made the analogy before about when my father was dying of cancer. I knew I couldn’t cure him but I also knew that I would do whatever I could in the undetermined time we had left to treat his symptoms and to make his life as comfortable and enjoyable as possible.

    We no doubt face grave problems. Giving up is not an option. We must do what we can and for me, that will NEVER involve abandoning people.

  47. Harquebus

    A green politician in Adelaide has told me personally that, he still wants to be able to drink his beer and watch the footy on TV on Saturdays. Boy, is he in for a shock.

    Remember that renewable energy is a fallacy designed to distract us.

  48. mikestasse

    I have no respect for those who say “I’m alright Jack” and stuff the rest of you.

    I don’t need your respect, because I’ve earned the respect of hundreds (thousands?) of others who agree with me.

    Besides, I’ve only reached the “stuff the rest of you” conclusion because there are far too many people like you who simply will never see the light. So instead of giving up and going down with the ship…… I’m doing the bolt hole thingy. I have a choice as do you. Good luck, because you’re going to need it.

    I’m only trying to help, but in the end you can only help those willing to help themselves…

  49. mikestasse

    Most people do want to live sustainably. But when confronted with what it REALLY means……. they don’t like it.

    I’ve been trying to sell my house for about a year. I’m pretty sure I have now….. but you’d be amazed at how many people wouldn’t buy because we don’t have a carport, or that half the property has tall grass on it that I don’t mow because……. I have goats doing the job for me! They all want manicured lawns and gardens instead of food forests. And you wonder why I no longer give a shit?

  50. Kaye Lee

    You may be right mikestasse. And in the mean time I will continue to encourage our scientists and researchers in whom I have more faith than you seem to. I will continue to push for action to address inequality, to educate children and empower women, and to do what we can to mitigate the damage we are doing to our planet and to look for alternatives.

    “The road that is built in hope is more pleasant to the traveler than the road built in despair, even though they both lead to the same destination.”

  51. OzFenric

    MikeStasse, to me it’s not about individual achievement. True there will be some exceptional individuals who do great things, but progress is measured in little steps, iterative improvements in technology blended with new ideas on how to use it. Mankind’s future might be in the stars (where we will proceed to destroy the natural habitats of a million planets rather than just one, but that’s an argument for the future), or it might be in some other future we can’t currently predict. If mankind’s future is simply to be another animal in balance with the natural ecosystem, then what is the point of it all? You might be satisfied with an answer that says there is no point, that humans are just animals and should be in balance with nature. I am not.

    And yes, nature and our own stupidity as a species might enforce some kind of simple living upon us all and lock our species into a thousand years of subsistence living. If that happens and you happen to survive the fall, I suspect your gentle satisfaction with your life might falter the moment one of your loved ones has a serious injury or illness and there’s no modern medicine available to help you.

  52. Kaye Lee

    There are almost 5 million people living in Sydney. Do you seriously believe there is enough arable land for each of them to have their own plot where grow their own food and run a few goats or pigs?

  53. Harquebus

    I regularly send emails to many politicians and journalists. Here are a just a few links that I have sent them.
    I hope the moderator will be obliging. I will not make a habit of this.
    Yes, I have read them all.

    “Humans will be extinct in 100 years because the planet will be uninhabitable, according to Australian microbiologist Frank Fenner, one of the leaders of the effort to eradicate smallpox in the 1970s. He blames overcrowding, denuded resources and climate change.”
    “there is no way emissions reductions will be enough to save us from our trend toward doom.”

    “There is no longer any doubt: We are entering a mass extinction that threatens humanity’s existence.”
    “Avoiding a true sixth mass extinction will require rapid, greatly intensified efforts to conserve already threatened species, and to alleviate pressures on their populations — notably habitat loss, over-exploitation for economic gain and climate change”

    “New scientific models supported by the British government’s Foreign Office show that if we don’t change course, in less than three decades industrial civilisation will essentially collapse due to catastrophic food shortages, triggered by a combination of climate change, water scarcity, energy crisis, and political instability.”
    “Before you panic, the good news is that the scientists behind the model don’t believe it’s predictive. The model does not account for the reality that people will react to escalating crises by changing behavior and policies.” – Don’t count on it if recent history is anything to go by.
    “the general onset of collapse first appears at about 2015 when per capita industrial output begins a sharp decline.”

    “When people talk about decarbonisation, they tend to make the mistake of thinking about energy only in terms of electricity. If you ask how to wean us from fossil fuels, they will say build more solar power, more wind farms and so forth. There are several problems with this.”
    “And while it’s easy to see how you can store kilowatts and megawatts of green power in the batteries of the future, getting up to gigawatts is another matter. The huge engineering requirement makes it almost impossible to get the costs to a point where this is viable.”

    Good luck G7 leaders – we won’t be off fossil fuels by 2100

    This article is quite long and suited to the economic types. It has one flaw, economists think that fiat currencies have value. Fiat currencies only have worth. What someone willing to trade for them is what they are worth. Intrinsically, they they have very little value.

    “In the empty world, the economy was small relative to the containing ecosystem, our technologies of extraction and harvesting were not very powerful, and our numbers were small. Fish reproduced faster than we could catch them, trees grew faster than we could harvest them, and minerals in the Earth’s crust were abundant.”
    “But the empty world has rapidly turned into a “full” world thanks to growth”
    “The concept of metabolic throughput in economics brings with it the laws of thermodynamics, which are inconvenient to growthist ideology.”
    “In the past, the fish catch was limited by the number of fishing boats and fishermen. Now, it is limited by the number of fish and their capacity to reproduce.”
    “Our vision and policies should be based on an integrated view of the economy as a subsystem of the finite and non-growing ecosphere.”
    “Economic imperialism seeks to expand the boundary of the economic subsystem until it encompasses the entire ecosphere.”
    “This question of optimal macro scale is neither answered nor even asked by either neoclassical or Keynesian economics in their blind quest for growth.
    Ecological reductionism begins with the true insight that humans and markets are not exempt from the laws of nature.”
    “The Ultimate End, whatever it may be, cannot be growth.”

    “For years now, conservationists have warned that Earth is in the middle of the “sixth great extinction,” with dozens of species going extinct every day owing to habitat loss, pollution, climate change, and other factors.
    But here’s even worse news: That may be just the tip of the iceberg.”

    “we badly need ways to overcome that peculiarly evil view of the world that sees each one of us as a mere economic agent, interested only in maximizing profits and accumulating capital. That can’t be the way to run things on this planet and if we need a religion to tell us that we should do better than that, then welcome religion!!”
    “There is still time to avoid a climate disaster, but we still face a hard fight. What is sure, anyway, is that the pope’s intervention is a big push in the right direction and a great hope for all humankind.”

    “That animal instinct frightens us, because as humans, we like to believe that we are so far above everything else – smarter, faster, educated, cultured. But we’re not.”

    This was going to be at the top of list in my next mail out until ozfrenic trumped it with his.

    “This article seeks to explain why China’s environmental crisis is so horrific”
    “Reckless dumping of industrial waste is everywhere in China. But what caught the attention of The Washington Post was that the Luoyang Zhonggui High-Technology Company was a “green energy” company producing polysilicon destined for solar energy panels sold around the world.”
    “Polysilicon production produces about four tons of silicon tetrachloride liquid waste for every ton of polysilicon produced.”
    “China’s rise has come at a horrific social and environmental cost.”
    “for all the waste and pollution, most Chinese have gotten surprisingly little out of it all.”
    “most of the world’s light-industrial goods are made in China and they are, for the most part, deliberately designed to be unrepairable and mostly unrecyclable.”
    “High-speed trains are hugely expensive to build and operate and consume more than twice as much electricity to run as regular trains”

  54. Harquebus

    @Kaye Lee.
    Now you see the problem.

  55. DC

    OzFenric, thats exactly right, and even though birthrates are still much higher in the developing world, birthrates are actually declining everywhere and improving access to education can enhance the rate of that decline. This economy we are all part of is so wasteful and unsustainable in so many ways. I think that concentrating on ways to reduce that wastefullness and unsustainability is more productive than fantasising about everyone individually volunteering to live sustainably by living with less

  56. Kaye Lee

    “Now you see the problem.”

    If you think that you have ever informed me of anything at all you are sadly mistaken Harquebus. I take nothing you say as fact. I do my own research. On that note, I will leave this thread to you yet again. Your circuitous defeatism is very wearing.

  57. Harquebus

    @Kaye Lee.
    It is not my intention to chase you off and I will look forward to seeing the results of your research.

    Defeated? Hardly!

  58. DC

    I’m more than hapy to live off less myself, I just don’t have the power to enforce others to follow me and right now nobody does. Try running for a seat in parliament by telling the electorate you want them to live off less and see how that works. One day our culture may evolve but right now, most are preoccupied with more important matters like who made a nice cake on Masterchef. Thats why we need to get their lifestyles off coal dependancy ASAP, they don’t care where its coming from as long as their tv has power

  59. Kaye Lee

    “I will look forward to seeing the results of your research”. As if. You will continue to repeat ad nauseum that we are doomed. And I will continue to be heartened by the progress we are making.

    “Indian coal giant Adani has halted engineering work related to Australia’s largest proposed mine, say industry sources, raising speculation that the company is set to abandon the contentious project.

    Adani last week advised four major engineering contractors to stop work on projects around the Carmichael mine in Queensland including a joint venture rail line and the expansion of Abbot Point port, Guardian Australia has been told.”


    “Renewable energy will supply the majority of Australia’s electricity by 2040, even without any additional government policy, according to predictions by energy analysts.

    It will account for 59% of Australian electricity generation by 2040, as retiring coal and gas plants are replaced by wind and solar, according to Bloomberg’s New Energy Outlook 2015, which was published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance on Tuesday.

    The study said a continued fall in renewable energy prices would fuel the shift, and that Australia’s power sector would fundamentally change regardless of government policy.”


  60. mikestasse

    There are almost 5 million people living in Sydney. Do you seriously believe there is enough arable land for each of them to have their own plot where grow their own food and run a few goats or pigs?

    So then, you don’t think the arable land where those 5 million Sydneysiders’ food comes from already exists? Do you realise that something like 60% of ALL food grown on the planet is grown by small scale farmers? And speaking of pigs, would you not prefer that the horrific industrial pig farms the Matrix supports be replaced by my methods of growing pigs sustainably, organically, and ethically..??

    It’s been shown that properly implemented Permaculture is more efficient (particularly water wise) and less damaging, than industrial agriculture…

    My three neighbours have between them five acres of unused land for starters…… manicured lawns! Enough to feed four families easy peezy. And I reckon that in the ‘estate’ where I built there’s easily 100 acres of unused lawns.

  61. mikestasse

    “Renewable energy will supply the majority of Australia’s electricity by 2040, even without any additional government policy, according to predictions by energy analysts.

    Well of course………. in fact, by 2040 I’d be very surprised if we’re burning ANY fossil fuels……. we will be well past peak by then, there won’t be enough oil to mine coal or the iron ore needed to manufacture all the mining infrastructure. Besides, by then the monetary system will almost certainly be exhausted, and everyone will be recycling all the crap we’ve made so far and hopefully repurpose it all into something useful…

  62. DC

    The arable land that feeds Sydney or any other major metropolitan region of the world is not in the immediate viscinity of the people who live there. Food comes from all over the state, all over the nation and all over the world, deepening our “dependence on imported oil” (Australia’s Economic Archilles heal) to transport it over long distances. Hence (again) the urgent need to continue the advancement of renewable energy and elecric transport. You can carp on about how ‘unsustainable’ you think all this renewable energy infrastructure is but the world will spend just as much resources updating everyone’s mobile phones every 2 years or so. The only alternative to renewable energy is continued fossil fuels, and if they remain as our primary source of power, I don’t think there will be enough of those martyrs that are willing to cut back their energy consuption to make any material difference.

  63. DC

    mikestasse I’m not having a go at simple living solutions, I’d like to see much more of it (but still keeping certain modern technologies like the internet, & renewable energy & many others), Its just that with current technology & without major changes to the way we harness power, it won’t happen voluntarily on the scale required. How do you enforce it?

  64. OzFenric

    “My three neighbours have between them five acres of unused land for starters…… manicured lawns! Enough to feed four families easy peezy. And I reckon that in the ‘estate’ where I built there’s easily 100 acres of unused lawns.” You do realise that this is not how the other 8/10s live, right? Two thirds of Australians live in capital cities, and most don’t own land. And that’s in prosperous Australia, effectively the top five percent of the world’s population. You can’t base progressive policies on the resources and experiences of the people who happen to own farms. I have family living on farms in Tasmania and they’ll be well set. Personally I have a large yard in my suburban house, so I might be okay. Other relatives have small yards and would be hard pressed to grow any significant food, they certainly don’t have room for livestock. And we’re the fortunate elite who have our own houses. How about the millions of renters and apartment dwellers? How about the teeming masses in Asia and Africa?

    According to some calculations, every person would require an acre of arable land for full self-sufficiency. Conveniently enough, there are 7.68 billion acres of arable land on the planet at present. So, if we were able to somehow wipe the slate clean and apportion land to every human, there might be just enough space to go around. We’d need to level every city, equip every human on the planet with basic tools and knowledge (in itself an impossible task), and commit pretty much every man-hour in existence to farming.

    But that’s right now. Even if we could stop population growth overnight, arable land will decrease hugely over the next few decades due to climate change. It’s currently decreasing by about 25 million acres every year and this can be expected to accelerate. Take it with a grain of salt, but see http://one-simple-idea.com/Environment1.htm.

    Simple Living is possible for some of the elites, but as I’ve already said it’s not feasible for most of the world and if it’s a solution for us at all, it’s a last resort solution.

  65. Morpheus Being

    We will not know when we have gone past the tipping point of no return ie no recovery. We may have already gone past it, like in a canoe heading to a waterfall, stuck in the current, not knowing how far to falls but unable to paddle back to the side or back upstream. My research has made me believe that we are already there, and will not survive past the end of this current century.

  66. Harquebus

    DC is right.
    Growing food is one thing. Getting it to where it is required is another.

    Renewable energy is an alternative but, it is not a solution.

    Here is a glimpse of the future. 4.5 min.
    h ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iuxrWO0JEM0
    (Repair the url. Youtube screens take up too much room.)

    A good metaphor Morpheus Being.

  67. mikestasse

    The arable land that feeds Sydney or any other major metropolitan region of the world is not in the immediate vicinity of the people who live there

    But it used to be until it was all paved over for ‘progress’. You can make arable land you know. Well you probably don’t know. In fact it’s EASY. I’ve turned 1.5 acres of basically crap land into a garden of Eden with chooks and goats and all that lovely solar power that falls on my land every day……

    Food comes from all over the state, all over the nation and all over the world

    ONLY while we still have oil to transport all that stuff…….. what happens when we won’t? Australia is already nearly out of oil (we import 91% of our oil and 100% of the bitumen to make roads). What happens whjen the countries that currently sell it to us decide to keep it for their own development?

  68. mikestasse

    You can’t base progressive policies on the resources and experiences of the people who happen to own farms.

    Obviously…….. you change policies. Great change is coming. Get used to it.

  69. mikestasse

    BP Data Suggests We Are Reaching Peak Energy Demand

    People laughed at Patzek and Croft when they predicted peak coal production for 2011 but it seems they were not far off the mark. Now Tverberg shows in the data in this blog that we are close to the peak of all fossil fuel energy use. That means that the world must already be in a state of declining NET energy from fossil fuels and this has implications for future investment in renewables, nuclear etc. (i.e. it will be limited). I think Tverberg’s closing comment is particularly apt:

    “In my view, low prices and low demand for commodities are what we should expect, as we reach limits of a finite world. There is widespread belief that as we reach limits, prices will rise, and energy products will become scarce. I don’t think that this combination can happen for very long in a networked economy. High energy prices tend to lead to recession, bringing down prices. Low wages and slow growth in debt also tend to bring down prices. A networked economy can work in ways that do not match our intuition; this is why many researchers fail to see understand the nature of the problem we are facing.”

    Renewables and nuclear do not exist independently of the worldwide industrial and logistics networks that support them. To imagine otherwise is a failure of objectivity. Obviously, if we are to attempt to cope at all with our state of declining net energy we must look for responses ( “solutions” no longer exist) that require low up-front energy investment, not high levels of investment. Fortunately this will be reflected in the price of those investments. This means that the most expensive responses, such as an increased focus on nuclear energy, are destined to fail whether we like it or not. However, giving them attention can delay and divert us from more rational responses and so lead to an ultimately poorer outcome.

    An understanding of the resource-limited and intimately networked nature of our economic system is essential. Neo-classical economics simply does not provide this. “Biophysical economics” comes much closer: http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/150665/

  70. stephentardrew

    I have a feeling that something similar to the discoveries in relativity theory, quantum mechanics and computational technology is not far around the corner. We will find that our hide bound assumptions are completely misconstrued and incommensurable with emergent insights. It may not alleviate the suffering however there will be a dramatic change in human ideas and behaviour. Unfortunately it is a problem of probability not predictability.

    I sometimes get the feeling we are all missing the point however it is difficult to predict the future. The body of unknowns is vast yet evolution has a way of bringing about change through crisis and we may well be living through a necessary process. Evolution allows the development of technology and is not concerned with return to an idealised agrarian past it is driving technological complexity head long and we are being carried along, not because it is self-destructive, but, because it has adaptive significance.

    After billions of years of survival life is not so readily extinguished and the future is certainly beyond our limited imaginings. A good dose of lateral thinking often helps. At the moment everything is up for grabs because we are not really understanding the true dynamic drives of evolution that introduces nominal choice which seems to be so destructive and antithetical to determinism.

    Occam’s razor might help by finding the simplest solution however in a complex self-referring environment simplicity is not often an option for contradictory and paradoxical minds. Why magic, mythology and religion before logic and rationalism? There are so many unknowns and unpredictables that we must, at least, stay conscious of our limitations and the fact that we may all be wrong.

    It is bloody frustrating however none of us have absolute knowledge so all we can do is the best with what we have got. To my mind the solution is in finding happiness, joy, peace and love so we can live balanced equitable lives while following the dynamic flow of evolution.

    A good dose of idealism never hurts.

  71. mikestasse

    stephentardrew, you are confusing “the development of technology” with the exploitation of fossil fuels. Absolutely NOTHING you see when you scan your room or what’s outside the window would have been possible without fossil fuels. NOTHING. Once I realised that, there was no coming back to fanciful beliefs in technology. It takes 250kg of FFs to make your computer, even before you turn it on……

  72. DC

    mikestasse thats exactly my point, we are so dependent on foreign oil that if supplys were cut due to some sort of global conflict, we would be in trouble in a matter of hours. Thats why I called it Australia’s economic Archilles heel. We can go on pretending this is not the case (as most do) and even without an interuption to supply, it will get more & more expensive over time to import that oil and we will just pay more at the grocer. Or we can try to do something about it. Where I disagree with you is that I think it is more feasible to apply new technologies to replace that dependency than it is to try to convince every urban Australian to move to the country (or to dig up the pavers) so they can learn how to grow their own vegetables. I’m all for encouraging people to learn how to grow food, just don’t see that as the answer without huge investment in renewable energy

  73. stephentardrew

    Not an assumption I would make mikestasse my comments stand.

  74. ozfenric

    Hi Mike, you are correct in that oil is at the base of our current plastic world. But we can divorce the energy costs of building things from the physical constituent resources required. There is an upfront cost in building / enabling renewable energy sources, but once created they will pay for themselves. Not as profitably as oil, obviously, but that’s a problem for the economists / oil companies. When burning fossil fuels finally becomes closely controlled, this will impact on profits – but not on our ability to power the world. And before you talk about EROEI, this is relevant in an energy competitive environment, but it’s not a deal breaker. Solar power has about a 2.5 EROEI IIRC, so it will pay for itself.

    The profligate energy use of our current culture may be difficult to sustain with complete renewables – although I would argue that technology advance and current developments are showing that it’s possible even now – but we use way more energy than we really need to even with a modern technological society. Energy usage in advanced western economies is already decreasing year on year.

    There will be a need for oil in the foreseeable future, but I suspect our needs for making things are small compared to our current usage of fossil fuels for energy.

  75. mikestasse

    Not as profitably as oil

    I don’t give two hoots about the money……. we can always print that out of thin air!

    But what about the SURPLUS ENERGY…? Have you watched the Susan Krumdieck video yet? IF we waste what’s left of the fossil fuels on building ‘business as usual’ renewables, we won’t have enough left to redesign our landscapes for sustainable use.

    Solar power has about a 2.5 EROEI IIRC, so it will pay for itself

    NO it won’t…….. which is PRECISELY my point (stolen from other more knowledgeable people I might add…) ERoEI of less than 5 won’t even do to maintain the roads needed to deliver solar from where it’s made to where it’s needed… http://netenergy.theoildrum.com/node/6318

  76. DC

    Renewable energy + Electric Transport = oil (for transport) becomes obsolete!

    Yes oil goes into the production of almost everything else but the majority of it just gets gets burned for fuel. So our complete dependency on foreign oil is even more reason to aggressively invest in renewable technology development & alternative transport technologies

  77. mikestasse

    Renewable energy + Electric Transport = oil (for transport) becomes obsolete!

    I hate to give you the bad news…….. but 60% of ALL the oil a car ever consumes is spent in………… MAKING THE CAR!!!

    In fact it’s wrong to assume most of the oil is burned as fuel. Most of it goes into plastics, it’s the feedstock for fertilisers, a lot of pharmaceuticals, and I have posted a very long list before on this site listing all the things that are made OF oil. Not least the very roads and tyres we drive on…..

  78. khtagh

    Brilliant writing, I’m sorry to say, but I think that even considering humans being here by 2100 is pie in the sky, by then we will be nothing but skid marks on the jocks of nature. I give us, maybe 30yrs if we are lucky.

    We are setting up a climate calamity which is & will be irreversible, with methane being released, positive feedback cycle etc etc etc. We are changing the most basic of fundamental factors which which took millions of yrs to reach equilibrium & won’t change back for 100,000 or millions of yrs, both wind jet streams & water gulf stream, both control all our weather, look how much they have changed in just the last 5 yrs alone. When the Greenland ice sheet does again what it did in the last warming period, when it suddenly(only a matter of yrs) broke up & slid into the sea disrupting the gulf stream entirely, which started the last ice age its all over red rover.

    We have seen over the last 5 yrs that bees are disappearing in the US so fast that with-in just a few yrs there will be none! left (we sent 30,000 queens from Tassie to the US last yr alone). Now for all that are a little more intelligent than Abbott, bees are the one main keystone to natures food chain OUR! food chain, when they are gone so are we, 3-4 yrs that’s it, this will control population #’s whether we like it or not. If humans survive at all the #’s will be so low that genetic diversity will be lost, we know that is a dead end street too. Nature will unravel faster than a hand knitted jumper with a dropped stitch.

  79. DC

    There are more than enough resources to completely transform the global energy market several times over. Without renewable energy, those resources that would have gone into their development will not be ‘saved’, they will simply be squandered for what mostly amounts to wasteful consumption. People in the developed world replace their cars every 10 years and their phones every 2.

    Renewable energy simply has to be part of the plan and it will be. The problem is that it won’t happpen as quick as it could have because of how far politics lags science. Thats why everyone needs to keep educating themselves and spread the word but not in a way that turns people off.

  80. DC

    “60% of ALL the oil a car ever consumes is spent in………… MAKING THE CAR!!!”

    Ease up there champ. Could you say the same thing about a truck?, a plane? what about a coal fired power plant? (for emmissions)?

    And once again you make the disingenous mistake of assuming that technology is stagnant. Its Dynamic! Look up Swanson’s Law. Things are changing. Big data, The internet of ‘things’ and Global networking are turning the global economy upside down and you don’t have all the answers Mike. Advancements in technology are just happening way to fast for me, you, our government or anyone to be able to keep pace.

  81. Harquebus

    Renewables may be in the plan but, manufacturing them is part of the problem. EROEI mates, EROEI.

    Renewable generators do not return the energy used in their manufacture, construction and maintenance. Things to consider when factoring energy invested include the transport of everything throughout the extensive supply chain, the smelting of ores and silicon, the manufacture of consumables, plant and machinery, sustaining a workforce and the building and maintenance of associated infrastructure as well as all the electricity used in said supply chain etc. Without the still relatively cheap fossil fuels available to us, these devices would never be built. I say “still relatively cheap” because, a litre of fuel is approximately the energy equivalent of two weeks manual labour.

    Those that advocate these inefficient devices either use the economic argument based on valueless fiat currency or do not factor far enough up the extensive supply chain of which, only one link needs to be broken in order to kiss them goodbye.

    “Manufacturing wind turbines is a resource-intensive process. A typical wind turbine contains more than 8,000 different components, many of which are made from steel, cast iron, and concrete.
    One such component are magnets made from neodymium and dysprosium, rare earth minerals mined almost exclusively in China, which controls 95 percent of the world’s supply of rare earth minerals.”
    “There’s not one step of the rare earth mining process that is not disastrous for the environment.”

    Big Wind’s Dirty Little Secret: Toxic Lakes and Radioactive Waste

  82. DC

    And the other obvious point is that once the grid becomes renewable and the transport electrified then the factories won’t produce anywhere near as much CO2 per car built (or use anywhere near as much oil). Add to that the efficiencys of modern technology such as additive manufacturing etc and you can see why basing your assumptions on the present technology is flawed

  83. DC

    You too Harquebus, stop basing your predictions of the future on current technology

  84. mikestasse

    SURPLUS ENERGY…….. nothing else matters. At this stage, I may as well talk to the walls.

  85. Kaye Lee

    Good. That may give people who have vision, ideas, and hope a chance to discuss them.

  86. DC

    Yes. talk to the walls mike. Todays renewable energy does have a positive EROEI, not sure where you are getting your facts from. And it is advancing so fast its hard to keep up. Do you know the only reason its improving so fast is that finally we are starting to see some real money being invested into the sector? (in large part because China is agressively moving into renewable energy). There is still significant scope for advancement of this technology (and its EROEI) but the point is, the technology is dynamic, the pace this technology develops at is a function of the amount of capital this sector receives “Swanson’s law” has held true since the 1970s.

  87. Harquebus

    Basing predictions of the future on undiscovered science and technology is okay?

  88. Harquebus

    It’s obvious that some of us are not going to change our minds on the energy debate. Let’s call a truce on it and get back to CO2 and warming.

    Here’s something not discussed yet. We might not be able to biologically handle high CO2 concentrations, currently around 400ppm.

    “We have evolved in a climate in which the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere (since the time of Australopithecus) has varied in the range of 180-300 ppm.”

    “Mankind’s exothermic machine of industrial civilization recently blew past the 400ppm CO2 mile post, causing a few passengers to exclaim, “Homo sapiens have never existed at these levels of heat-trapping gases!”
    (Link available on request)

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  90. DC

    On a more positive note, Derek Davies and his small environmental organisation ‘Coast and Country Qld’ with only 99c to its name, by launched three legal cases, stalled the development of the $16.5 bill­ion Carmichael mine, port and rail project owned by Adani and the $10 billion GVK Hancock Alpha project in which Gina Rinehart has a 20 per cent stake.

    This delay might buy enough time for investors to abandon the whole project and prevent this massive carbon bomb from being released.



  91. DC

    While this delay is happening in the courts, China & India are doing everything they can to reduce the share of imported coal, unfortunately they will be also expanding their own domestic productin but China is investing heavily in renewable technology.

    You can’t predict future technology thats the point, but you can say that based on the history of every other technology, the more capital invested & the bigger the size of the market, the faster the pace will be that that technology develops/chanes/advances i.e. it will effectively speed up the time it takes for coal to become largely a redundant technology.

    Thats why fossil fuel industry is doing every tactic in the book to stop capital going into this technology. Remember the shit fight tht happened over trying to introduce a mere $23/tonneofCO2 carbon price? and how many subsidies does the coal industry get? and clearly the fossil fuel lobby & IPA own the Libs on this matter while no doubt they are hedging their bets by getting into bed with the ALP too

  92. mikestasse

    Todays renewable energy does have a positive EROEI, not sure where you are getting your facts from.

    WHERE did I say renewable energy had a negative ERoEI?

    WHAT I did say was that renewables’ ERoEI was sufficient to replace itself…….. and that’s all! You need SURPLUS ENERGY to maintain civilisation. And where do I get my facts from? How many more links do I need to post that you obviously don’t read anyway………….??

    And it is advancing so fast its hard to keep up. Do you know the only reason its improving so fast is that finally we are starting to see some real money being invested into the sector? (in large part because China is agressively moving into renewable energy).

    SURE it is…………….


  93. mikestasse

    I am DTM……

    And not only is economic growth completely dependent on surplus energy, it is completely dependent on GROWING surplus energy. Like the whole 20th Century.

    Now we have shrinking demand which is the same as the start of recession, turning to depression. There will be no money to ‘invest’ (ie, print out of thin air) to make all that wasteful renewable energy. the party’s over.

    BP Data Suggests We Are Reaching Peak Energy Demand

    Hiatus? What Hiatus..?

  94. DC

    sorry mike, keep getting you & Harquebus mixed up, its like you are the same person. You both know a lot & both accept that CO2 emitions are at dangerous levels but you act like we didn’t already know this and you both have this defeatist attitude to renewable energy based on outdated info. You don’t get that there are things we can all do that will make coal become redundant sooner, which will have a huge impact on the peak CO2 concentrations. Simple things like divesting super from coal (takes 2 minutes) & investing in renewables & also by influencing others to do the same in a positive way.

    And even if none of this is sufficient, it will still make things… LESS BAD for LONGER than it otherwise would be.

    How do you not get that part. Even if it delays the apocalypse that you envision for just 20 years, that gives a whole generation of people a chance to have a childhood before they presumably all starve to death while you live it up in your hobbit hole munching away on your home grown food with no internet

  95. ozfenric

    Mike, you are correct – our current society is based around the unsustainable lie of continuous growth. At core, this does require forever-growing excess energy. This is why, as you are completely aware, our current society cannot survive the transition to renewables – at least not in its current form. Personally I welcome the end of the wasteful growth-at-all-costs paradigm that we live under now. It holds us back in a multitude of ways. It should be sufficient that we produce enough resources to sustain the population in an equitable and fair manner, and all the excess energy humanity can bring to bear – an almost incalculable amount of time and energy and creativity – would be available for developing our society, our science and technology, our future. It’s unlikely that the collapse of Western civilisation that is impending will result in this ideal outcome but we can hope. It has to be more long-term survivable than our current systems anyway…

  96. DC

    all depends how you define ‘growth’ really. The way economists measure it defies sanity, thats a subject worthy of its own article

  97. Harquebus

    Ah, old friend.
    I thought I recognized you.

  98. Harquebus

    You are confusing a realistic attitude with a defeatist one and I am more than up to date on the latest developments.

    Here’s a free hit for you. Note the source. There is too much economics in the energy debate and not enough physics.

    Here’s the counter argument.
    “And while it’s easy to see how you can store kilowatts and megawatts of green power in the batteries of the future, getting up to gigawatts is another matter. The huge engineering requirement makes it almost impossible to get the costs to a point where this is viable.”

    Good luck G7 leaders – we won’t be off fossil fuels by 2100

    A tip for you. Do NOT mention peak oil when Kaye Lee is around.


  99. mikestasse

    You see DC, I see the grand transition to renewables as part of the problem…. the Earth is dying of consumption. So we must end consumption. It is a complete myth that renewables are any solution at all. EVERY time a new wind turbine, a new solar panel, or a new electric car is made, MORE CO2 is added to the atmosphere. Surely you cannot disagree with that?

    The first two make electricity, the latter consumes it. NONE suck CO2 out of the air……… Sure, they are not AS BAD as the current system, but they are no solution. They are only not as bad. Is that good enough? Is adding less CO2 to the air good enough when we have already added more than were here 100 million years ago? When the Earth was SIX DEGREES hotter than now? It’s almost like sticking bandaids on a cancer patient…… Which is why I’m a fan of firewood BTW….. The trees cut down for firewood, in a sustainable scheme, should be replaced with new trees. Those new trees DO suck the CO2 emitted by your fire out of the air….. In fact, planr excess trees, and you actuall CAN reduce the amount of CO2…. Done properly, firewood is both sustainable AND renewable, unlike wind and solar. But in the final analysis, we still need to reduce consumption by at least 90%, and we need to reduce population by the same amount. THEN, we have a slim chance of ‘making it’. Maybe……

    Prove This Wrong
    What is it We’re Trying to Sustain?
    Links of the Month: November 8, 2013

    I know it’s a lot of homework, and it’s a rude shock to discover everything you believed in is a lie – been there done that – but we have to face the truth, before the truth deals with us.

    Which is why I’m pretty sure we’re f****d, nobody wants to know, I’m told to follow the visionary when I consider myself to be one. It feels a bit like being Jesus (I’m not at all religious BTW!). I have my followers, but everyone else is heading for the dark ages.

  100. Harquebus

    Now that I know who this man mikestasse is, I can assure you all that, we should take what he says seriously. Very seriously. One of the few that I have met who has a proper grasp of our very real and very serious situation.

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  102. DC

    you two met?

  103. mikestasse

    No, but the cheque’s in the mail..! 😉

  104. Robert Callaghan

    A long, slow, painful death in the blink of Gaia’s eye.


    Extreme heat stress during the crop reproductive period will:

    ► reduce spring wheat yields by 50%

    ► reduce soybean yields by 25%

    ► increase global losses of corn yields by 100%


    In 10 years 4 billion people will be without enough water.

    In 10 years 2 billion people will be severely short of water.


    Ground water depletion has gone critical in major agricultural centers worldwide.



    The world’s rivers and lakes are drying up.



    Drought is spreading across the earth.


    We passed peak growth-rate for food production in 2006.


    In 60 years, human agriculture will stop because of soil loss and degradation.


    We add 1 million more people to earth every 5 days.


    We have to grow more food over the next 50 years than we grew in all of the last 10,000 years, combined.



    We will need 12 million acres of brand new farmland every year for 30 years to do it.
    We are losing 24 million acres of farmland every year.


    We will run out of easy access to 2 critical fertilizers which are irreplaceable, cannot be manufactured by humans and for which there are no substitutes.


    In 2007, the IPCC told us emissions must peak by 2015 to stay within 2 °C of warming.

    In 2014, the IPCC told us emissions must peak by 2030 to stay within 2 °C of warming.

    The IPCC says we can do this because of “negative-emissions bio-energy” for which no such technology exists, and the kicker is that they say we will need 1 billion acres of NEW farmland by 2100. One billion acres of farmland is about the size of India. The acronym for this fantasy is BECCS. The real acronym is BS.


    Our crop lands and pastures are to blame for 80% of all recent land vertebrate extinctions says Anthony Barnosky.


    In 20 years we will pass peak energy and minerals.


    This will happen when all our new solar panels and wind mills stop working and become expensive junk we can’t afford to replace or recycle in times of shortages in water, food, energy, minerals and civility.



    Never mind that magnetic pole reversal could cook the surface of earth for several hundred years…


    …because in 25 years earth will go into a planetary ecological state shift and enter into runaway, irreversible, unstoppable mass extinction. The good news is that know one will know exactly when we will pass the tipping point for runaway extinction until it is too late and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

    ► 99% of Rhinos gone since 1914.
    ► 97% of Tigers gone since 1914.
    ► 90% of Lions gone since 1993.
    ► 90% of Sea Turtles gone since 1980.
    ► 90% of Monarch Butterflies gone since 1995.
    ► 90% of Big Ocean Fish gone since 1950.
    ► 80% of Western Gorillas gone since 1955.
    ► 60% of Forest Elephants gone since 1970.
    ► 50% of Great Barrier Reef gone since 1985.
    ► 50% of Fresh Water Fish gone since 1987.
    ► 40% of Giraffes gone since 2000.
    ► 40% of ocean phytoplankton gone since 1950.
    ► 30% of Marine Birds gone since 1995.
    ► 28% of Land Animals gone since 1970.
    ► 28% of All Marine Animals gone since 1970.

    Collapse Data Cheat Sheet from collapse

  105. Harquebus

    mikestasse or DTM as he was known and I are old comrades from back in the days when theDrum used to be good.

  106. mikestasse

    THIS just turned up on my reading list……..

    Globally, solar grew by 93% in 2011, 60% in 2012, 39% in 2013, and 38% in 2014. Meanwhile, in the countries with the most developed solar sectors, absolute growth has in fact slowed.

    Germany added 7.5 and 7.6 GW of new capacity in 2011 and 2012 respectively. In 2013 and 2014 the figures had gone down to 3.3 and 1.9 GW. The same goes for Italy, where new capacity additions went from 9.3 to 0.38 GW between 2011 and 2014.

    In fact, the current growth of European solar is not even vaguely exponential. Instead, growth is declining overall. In 2011, 22.4 GW was added throughout Europe; in 2012 17.4 GW was added, in 2013 10.4 GW was added, and in 2014 7.2 GW was added. Absolute growth of solar capacity in Europe is now one third of what it what it was in 2011.

    Anyone confidently predicting continued exponential growth of solar will have a hard time accounting for the actual decline in growth in Europe.

    So, how quickly is solar growing globally? Below is a chart showing the top 25 countries in terms of solar growth last year. Growth is measured by comparing absolute growth of solar (in TWh) with total electricity generation (in TWh).


    Number 1 is Greece. Now, exactly why heavily indebted Greece is number one in the growth of a heavily subsidized source of energy generation can be debated, but the fact remains.

    The industrialized countries growing solar energy the fastest (Greece, Japan, Italy) are the countries most likely to crash first into depression because they have no fossil carbon resources, cannot afford current energy prices, and have compensated with too much debt.
    We can choose to voluntarily and peacefully reduce our standard of living now, or we can wait for nature to do it violently for us.
    A voluntary economic contraction will also make climate change less bad.

    Is there a solar revolution? Time for data, not adjectives

  107. humanistruth

    Despite the resoundingly gloomy prognostications cited in “Calling Game Over” comments, I don’t see our situation as completely hopeless.

    Fatalism is a form of denial. I frame the issue not as “civilization is doomed”, but “Fossil-fuel Throwaway Civilization is doomed”. FTC has already cut its throat, and facing that is a first step in collectively rethinking what kind of civilization is still possible. We’ll only survive if we reinvent our civilization, including production/consumption systems, corporate structure, even global justice and some form of population control. Climate Destabilization is an opportunity for all of us to cooperate for a better future. While we won’t have plastic junk shipped across the globe to throw out, we could have mutual respect and empathy, and wrest control from the corporate entities killing us.

    I agree with stephentardrew that communitarian action is the core of species survival and adaptation, and that we’ll have to act as a species.

    Points about surplus energy and ERoEI are well taken, including that “Renewables and nuclear do not exist independently of the worldwide industrial and logistics networks that support them.”

    As mikestasse said, “in the final analysis, we still need to reduce consumption by at least 90%, and we need to reduce population by the same amount. THEN, we have a slim chance of ‘making it’.”

    With Stephentardrew, I hope that, “… something similar to the discoveries in relativity theory, quantum mechanics and computational technology is not far around the corner. We will find that our hide bound assumptions are completely misconstrued and incommensurable with emergent insights. [and]… there will be a dramatic change in human ideas and behaviour.”

    As ozfenric said, “– our current society is based around the unsustainable lie of continuous growth. At core, this does require forever-growing excess energy. This is why, as you are completely aware, our current society cannot survive the transition to renewables – at least not in its current form. Personally I welcome the end of the wasteful growth-at-all-costs paradigm that we live under now. It holds us back in a multitude of ways. It should be sufficient that we produce enough resources to sustain the population in an equitable and fair manner, and all the excess energy humanity can bring to bear – an almost incalculable amount of time and energy and creativity – would be available for developing our society, our science and technology, our future. It’s unlikely that the collapse of Western civilisation that is impending will result in this ideal outcome but we can hope. It has to be more long-term survivable than our current systems anyway…”

    Every household and institution in the world has a role in remaking global society, deciding how to adapt by replacing throw-away consumption and intergroup antagonism with cooperation and mutual respect. Instead of self esteem flowing from conspicuous consumption, with competing groups taking pride in devouring more of the limited resources, we could take pride in being Planetary Managers, our group doing more than others to invent a liveable future. We designed corporations to put profit above all other considerations, then let them loose to lay waste to the planet. Let’s compete to redesign them.

    In sum, the way forward, casting off denial and fatalism, is to reframe our challenge. Fossil-fuel Throwaway Civilization is self-limiting! For those who don’t know where to start over again, I replay a scene from “The Highlander” where Adrian Paul says, “I reinvent myself all the time.” We’ll reinvent ourselves over and over, getting better each time – learning from our mistakes. In centuries to come, despite a far lower carrying capacity, humanity will emerge far better. And we’ll be proud.

  108. mikestasse

    We are used to hearing that if everyone lived in the same way as North Americans or Australians, we would need four or five planet Earths to sustain us.

    This sort of analysis is known as the “ecological footprint” and shows that even the so-called “green” western European nations, with their more progressive approaches to renewable energy, energy efficiency and public transport, would require more than three planets.

    How can we live within the means of our planet? When we delve seriously into this question it becomes clear that almost all environmental literature grossly underestimates what is needed for our civilisation to become sustainable.

    Only the brave should read on.


  109. khtagh

    Watch this if you want the pants scared off you, then reevaluate if humans will still be destroying the planet in 2100. There are these in the arctic ocean that make this look like a fart in a bathtub 10klms long by klms wide, …. oh & no-one is allowed to show them in the MSM, we wouldn’t have even known about this if this guy didn’t film it before the authorities blocked access to it.

  110. DC

    positive feedbacks to warming from CO2 have been known for a long time, no one is disputing this, no one is pretending the economy is sustainable, its just crazy that anyone thinks they can predict when humans will become extingt. Right now there are positive things that people can do and supporting R&D in alternative energy technologies makes sense because it will reduce the amount of time before they reach parity with the cost of delivering coal & oil based energy, once that happens, things change very fast all around the world.

    Without real money going into R&D in alternative energy technologies, volantary reductions to consumption just won’t cut it and coal & oil consumption will just continue untill the day the economy implodes, and the extra damage done will make waste of what little habitable farming land may have otherwise remained for the ‘lucky’ ones

  111. Harquebus

    Adding more people will null any attempts to reduce greenhouse gasses. Also, it appears that renewable energy is not replacing or reducing energy consumption, it is allowing us to consume more.

  112. mikestasse

    We are living in what the German/South Korean author Byung-Chul Han called a Fatigue Society. This is no longer a disciplinary society, Han writes; instead, we are living in an achievement-oriented society that is allegedly free, determined by the call of “yes we can.” Initially, this creates a feeling of freedom, but soon that freedom is accompanied by anxiety, self-exploitation, and depression. Han writes that depression, exhaustion, attention deficits, and burnout are not caused by negativity but by an excess of positivity, which can bypass all immunological defenses. Too much positivity about 21st century work leads to anxiety, depression, and exhaustion.

  113. DC

    You 2 turkeys may as well be working for Exxon. At the end of the day you are both very pro fossil fuel

  114. Harquebus

    You could not be more wrong. I am not pro fossil fuel. My preferred option, the only viable option, is population reduction and control which, I have to be careful when pushing.
    Those, like yourself, who do not understand the relationship between energy, productivity, resource depletion, population growth and the economy are the problem.

  115. humanistruth

    “… the thought of replacing capitalism seems so impossible, especially given the powers arrayed against change. But what’s the alternative? In the not-so-distant future, this is all going to come to a screeching halt one way or another — either we seize hold of this out-of-control locomotive, or we ride this train right off the cliff to collapse.”

    Fossil Fuel Throwaway Civilization is not only self limiting, it’s self-exterminating. (More than 4°C rise by 2100, for example http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/how-fast-will-rising-temperatures-shrink-co2-storage/)

    I’ve come to understand that introspection is just as essential as learning climate science facts. We can’t reshape society without reshaping ourselves. This starts with a nonblaming perspective.

    Every culture, every society makes some moral compromises, and then implicitly comes to term with that working arrangement (less than perfection) by turning attention away from disturbing aspects. We don’t even notice we’re turning our attention away, that we’re compartmentalizing, or that we’re failing to critically examine facile justifications. Kari Marie Norgaard’s Living in Denial (2011) was a helpful study of this mechanism. I see Climate Silence as a contemporary version of an age-old formerly helpful social mechanism, to live with animal cruelty, exploitation of sub-populations, etc. No society has faced such a fast-moving all-encompassing threat. This is a unique species challenge requires climate denial consciousness raising.

    Climate Change Denial manifests numerous, often subtle ways. Discovering the kinds of denial we’ve been using is a personal learning process. We have to collectively invent alternatives, mikestasse, as more and more of us internalize this new reality of rapid irreversible change. Simultaneous personal insight and transformation go hand in hand with activism.

  116. DC

    Don’t assume what I know about relationship between energy, productivity, resource depletion, population growth and the economy.

    You and your mate Mike are very pro fossil fuels when you break it down.

    Regardless of the long term outlook, the worlds demand for energy is only rising for the short term and whether you like it or not that demand will be met. I support further capital going to R&D for non-fossil fuel solutions to this problem so that price parity is reached much sooner and ultimately more coal & unconventional gas & oil stays in the ground. You on the other hand support using ever more fossil fuels until the day comes that the world falls into economic, ecological, polulation collapse.

    Even if such a collapse can’t be avoided, your ideas don’t allow for any damage control. Giving up on alternatives to fossil fuels now could ultimately result in eliminating whatever remaining carrying capacity the earth has left in the era that follows said collapse

  117. mikestasse

    DC, if I was elected PM tomorrow, I would shut ALL THE COAL MINES DOWN……..

    “Regardless of the long term outlook, the worlds demand for energy is only rising for the short term and whether you like it or not that demand will be met”

    Short term, maybe, but if the economy shits itself, it will all go down the toilet. BTW, we do not need more R&D for alternatives, we already know how to do it well. Price parity is NOT the issue…….. the issue is ENERGY PARITY, and renewables will NEVER deliver what fossil fuels did 50 years ago, not even today’s FFs can do that.

    “You on the other hand support using ever more fossil fuels until the day comes that the world falls into economic, ecological, polulation collapse.”

    HOW you can come to such a ridiculous conclusion clearly shows you don’t understand ANYTHING we’ve been trying to explain to you.

    “Giving up on alternatives to fossil fuels now could ultimately result in eliminating whatever remaining carrying capacity the earth has left in the era that follows said collapse”

    Your ‘alternatives’ only produce electricity. You don’t need electricity to produce food. Carrying capacity is determined by cheap and abundant OIL, healthy soil, and water availability. That’s how it’s been for 150 years, and we managed without oil for 10,000 years of agriculture before that, and we knew nothing about soil science or permaculture back then…….. you are truly CLUELESS…..

  118. mikestasse

    Following claims that humanity will soon be killed off by climate change, experts said that the hollow life-affirming statements would continue until zero hour.

    Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies said: “As famine, drought and overcrowding take their toll and civilisation spirals inexorably towards chaos, we’ll still see tweets like ‘Negative people have a problem for every solution’ and ‘Every single second is an inspiration’.

    “When people turn into desperate cannibals and sell themselves sexually for a few slivers of rat meat, you’ll still get people on Facebook saying ‘You can’t live a positive life with a negative mind’.

    “And thanks to internet scheduling software, hours after the last human keels over in a desert wasteland there will be an automated tweet saying simply ‘Love what you do’.”

  119. mikestasse

    ““I am now more convinced than ever that 2015 will see the peak in world crude oil production. I have very closely studied the charts of every producing nation and my prognosis is based on that study. I see many nations in steep decline and most every other nation peaking now, or in the last couple of years, or very near their peak today. These include the world’s three largest producers, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the USA.”
    Ron Patterson, peakoilbarrel.com

  120. mikestasse

    Everyone on this site should listen to this……. by a woman I truly admire who has a PhD in Energy Engineering.
    [audio src="https://sustainablelens.org/audio/15/2015-06-Sustainable-Lens-SusanKrumdieck.mp3" /]

  121. DC

    Mike, you’re not the PM you pelican. I’m not going to get distracted by all of your non sequiturs. Even if you were, you would NEVER have the power to stop people from using electricity. FFS get your feet back on the ground, what are you a teenager?

    If you don’t support renewable energy, then by default you support coal &/or nuclear and unconventional (shale) oil & gas.

    If your not already being paid by Exxon then you should ask them to sponsor you. Dispare & confusion are just as good as denial as far as they’re concerned. Both keep their business model alive for longer

  122. DC

    Conventional oil has already peaked. The world economy is now dependent on non-conventional oil to keep with supply. Renewable energy technology is the only hope left ,and that holds true weather you are talking about keeping things going now OR picking things up after an economic collapse

  123. OzFenric

    I think we’re largely talking about the same thing here. Peak oil, climate change, and limits to growth are going to see the end of our current way of life – that much is inevitable. One way out (which I happen to think is impractical and inequitable at best) is for those with the resources to move to a subsistence lifestyle. This method, I fear, will not survive the degradation of the environment caused by the rest of humanity and could only be sustainable if we somehow brought civilisation to an early end. Even then – and this is the point of my article – it’s probably too late, the damage is done. Living simply is not going to be a way out for anyone when most of the world is uninhabitable. An alternative way out is to try to push through. Advance our technology to the point where we can both mitigate the damage we’re doing and redress some of the damage we have already done. If we can’t come up with functional carbon-removal technology, I fear we are truly doomed.

    For me and mine, the end of oil and the transition to a high-technology low-energy renewable future is the end-game, but we won’t get there the way things are going. Even if it required buying and burning every last drop of oil we can extract, if we could pull the carbon out of the air that would be worthwhile. Low energy technology is the way of the future and we can salvage a modern civilisation, if we’re willing to try, but the odds are against us.

  124. DC

    Very good summary of an excellent article. I agree a high-technology low-energy renewable future has to be the end game. As for the timing of everything else, it is very hard to predict. We don’t know what events lie in the future: Wars? Technological Revolutions? Outbreaks of antibiotic resistent disease? but right now there is a huge and ever increasing demand for energy and that beast is hard to tame. Better we do everything possible to push forward with a high-technology low-energy renewable future than to let the fossil fuel companies suck the remaining supplies even further causing further damage to whatever future lies ahead.

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  127. Harquebus

    “The ocean has absorbed more than 90% of the extra heat created by human activity. If the same amount of heat that has been buried in the upper 2km of the ocean had gone into the atmosphere, the surface of the Earth would have warmed by a devastating 36C, rather than 1C, over the past century.”
    “The only way to preserve the rich diversity of marine life, and to safeguard the protection and resources the ocean provides us with, is to cut greenhouse gas emissions rapidly and substantially”

  128. Harquebus

    “Earth is being run dry; non-reusable resources are being depleted at a previously unconceivable rate; and many reusable resources are being used at a faster rate than they naturally can replenish themselves.”
    “The global crises such as pollution, water shortages, desertification, rising sea levels, global warming, animal species extinction, and economic failures and recessions are reactive issues precipitating from overpopulation itself.”
    “Nobody’s working on a real solution. No one has the courage. Not U.N. leaders, scientists or billionaires. No one. It’s taboo. All part of a conspiracy of silence. But denial is killing us. The human race is in a suicidal run to self-destruction.”

  129. Harquebus

    “A major problem is that global warming, as with the associated environmental problems, can’t be solved within the capitalism that has caused, and is accelerating, the problem.”
    “Earth’s environment is crossing multiple points of no return — business as usual is impossible.”

    Global Warming Will Accelerate as Oceans Reach Limits of Remediation

  130. Harquebus

    “Earth is on track to sail past the two degree Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) threshold for dangerous global warming by 2050, seven of the world’s top climate scientists warned Thursday.”

  131. Harquebus

    “Holding temperature down under 2°C — the widely agreed upon target — would require an utterly unprecedented level of global mobilization and coordination, sustained over decades. There’s no sign of that happening, or reason to think it’s plausible anytime soon. And so, awful shit it is.”
    “There is not a politician on earth wants to tell his or her constituents, “We’ve probably already blown our chance to avoid substantial suffering, but if we work really hard and devote our lives to the cause, we can somewhat reduce the even worse suffering that awaits our grandchildren.””
    “To be the one insisting that, no, things are not okay, things are heading toward disaster, is uncomfortable in any social milieu — especially since, in most people’s experience, those wailing about the end of the world are always wrong and frequently crazy.”

  132. Harquebus

    “Deforestation creates time-lagged greenhouse gases. Those greenhouse gases lead to warming and drying that cause more deforestation, which leads to more emissions. It’s yet another positive feed-back effect.”

    Siberia Ablaze in September! another sign of climate chaos

  133. Harquebus

    “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 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.”

    An autopsy of planet Earth

    “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.”

  134. Harquebus

    “Earth is on track for a third successive year of highest-ever average surface temperatures since records began in 1880.”

    “If international leaders fail to step up, UNEP warns, “we will mourn the loss of biodiversity and natural resources. We will regret the economic fallout. Most of all, we will grieve over the avoidable human tragedy; the growing numbers of climate refugees hit by hunger, poverty, illness and conflict will be a constant reminder of our failure to deliver.””

  135. Harquebus

    “West Antarctic ice loss in some places shows signs of becoming “unstoppable.” There’s enough water locked up in West Antarctica’s Amundsen Sea region alone to raise the global average sea level by four feet, and it’s the fastest-melting spot on the continent.”

    West Antarctica begins to destabilize with ‘intense unbalanced melting’

    “This report confirms that the average temperature in 2015 had already reached the 1 degree C mark. We just had the hottest five-year period on record, with 2015 claiming the title of hottest individual year. Even that record is likely to be beaten in 2016.”

  136. Harquebus

    “a Donald Trump presidency could be game over for the climate”

    “No matter how you measure it, a mass extinctions has arrived.”
    “Humans cannot keep growing in numbers and consuming ever more land, water and natural resources and expect all to be well.”
    “We also have to move urgently to slow human population growth, reduce overconsumption and overhunting, save remaining wilderness areas, expand and better protect our nature reserves, invest in conserving critically endangered species, and vote for leaders who make these issues a priority.”

  137. Harquebus

    “Experts believe there is between three trillion and 23 trillion tonnes of coal buried in the seabed starting from the northeast coast and stretching far out under the sea.”

    “Multiply that by countless millions of locales and hundreds of millions of other individuals and organizations doing the same, dependent on that same finite and ever-depleting resource.”
    “the facts they and we must accept is that we are now on the downside of conventional crude oil supply”

    Peak Oil & System Justification: Denial Will Be Costly

  138. Harquebus

    “Sea ice extent and area have both plummeted to record lows for this time of year in both the Arctic and Antarctic.”
    “For the five-day average ending November 17, the difference in Antarctic sea ice extent between this year and the next-lowest year (1986) was an enormous 1.12 million square kilometers.”

    “Greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere. Aerosols cool it a little bit. Ozone and land-use changes add and subtract a little. Together they match the observed temperature, particularly since 1950.”

    “There are about 21 million acres of trees spread across California’s 18 national forests, and the latest figures show 7.7 million of them — more than one-third — are dead.”

  139. Harquebus

    “Temperatures today are 50ºF above normal near the pole.”

    “The effects of climate change are brutally visible in the Arctic today.””

    “A team at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Australia has found that these important underwater forests are not only suffering from rising ocean temperatures – they’re being feasted upon as we speak, and they risk taking a whole lot of other species down with them.”

    “the sea ice around Antarctica is falling during the southern summer. The sea ice reached its maximum winter extent unusually early this year and has been falling fast, to a new record low for this time of year”

  140. Harquebus

    “Sea ice levels in both the Arctic and the Antarctic have hit record lows, NASA climate scientists report.”

    “Two years ago, Camille Parmesan, a professor at Plymouth University and the University of Texas at Austin, became so “professionally depressed” that she questioned abandoning her research in climate change entirely.”
    “What’s even more deflating for a climate scientist is when sounding the alarm on climatic catastrophes seems to fall on deaf ears.”
    “if scientists are looking for a clearer language to express the urgency of climate change, there’s no clearer word that expresses that urgency than F*CK”

  141. Harquebus

    “In the background of modern life, as people go on debating politics and working for a living, something dreadful is happening to the eco-systems which support us.”
    “With such little attention given to the state of this earth and so much attention given to the human and political dramas that occupy our attention 24/7, will the human race wake up and react in time to avert a major planetary crisis?”

  142. Harquebus

    “The three main dams that supply La Paz and El Alto are no longer fed by runoff from glaciers and have almost run dry.”

    Bolivian water crisis as glaciers vanish

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