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Global food shock may be very close

By Dr Anthony Horton

A new peer reviewed risk assessment produced by Lloyd’s of London shows that humanity may be on the verge of collapse by 2050 unless significant effort is implemented to slow down the effects of global warming. The risk assessment discusses a scenario of three simultaneous disasters-a heatwave in South America, a windblown wheat stern rust pathogen across Russia and a very strong El Nino southern oscillation cycle-all of which are possible given the current trends. The result would essentially cripple global food security.

Lloyd’s commissioned food security and sustainable development economics experts to develop this plausible scenario of a global production shock to some of the world’s staple food crops and to describe the impacts to investigate the implications for both insurance and risk. Members of the UK/US Task Force on Resilience of the Global Food Supply Change to Extreme Events (supported by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office) assisted in the development of the scenario and a group of leading academics peer reviewed the risk assessment prior to its presentation to the insurance industry.

The risk assessment model used in the report estimates that wheat, soybean and maize prices will quadruple and rice prices may increase by 500% on those from 2007/8. Wheat and rice production would fall 7%, maize would fall 10% and soybean would decrease 11%. The resulting scarcity would precipitate riots in Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East and the EU and US stock markets falling 5 and 10% respectively. The degree of shock to each commodity is based on Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) data from 1961 to 2013. Three de-trending methods were applied to global aggregated and country data to address changes in crop area, yield, technology and other critical factors over this period. Midpoints of the range of percentage reduction in production for specific years caused by specific historical events were selected as the basis for the components of the scenario.

Global food demand is rising as a result of unprecedented population growth and shifting consumption patterns. The FAO has predicted that agricultural production will need to increase by more than double by 2050 to close the gap between supply and demand. The existing vulnerability of the world’s food systems is exacerbated by a number of factors including increases in the intensity and frequency of floods, droughts and wildfires along with a rise in conditions that are amenable to the spread of agricultural pests and diseases. Water scarcity is another very important factor, given predictions that approximately 66% of the world’s population may live under water stress conditions by 2025.

Agriculture is the world’s largest employer as it provides livelihoods for 40% of the world’s population. It is also fundamental to the global food system. Most of the discussions around food security have focused on long term pressures which heighten the vulnerability to supply shocks. Crop production shocks are likely to pose a systematic threat to food security if they impacted on any of the world’s traditional surplus production areas or “breadbaskets”.

Businesses are likely to invest more heavily in comprehensive risk transfer structures as they become more aware of the threat of disruption to food systems. Shocks to global food supply could represent significant opportunities for the insurance industry which has a key role in assisting clients to understand their risk exposure and to tailor appropriate solutions in response.

The scenario in the Lloyd’s assessment is based on a “business as usual” approach under which human induced climate change leads to increased flooding and drought and to agriculture functioning under water stress in a decade. If carbon emissions are reduced dramatically and the world’s agricultural systems can adapt, such a dramatic scenario will no longer be on the table.

Anthony Horton blogs on his own site: The Climate Change Guy


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  1. mark

    “humanity may be on the verge of collapse by 2050”. So what?? There are too many people – in the third world. 100 million added every year – births over deaths – in the third world. These people cannot feed themselves adequately or live meaningful lives – because there are too many of them. It isnt the fault of the first world countries – our numbers are declining. We make the problem worse by helping third world countries to breed more people – so yes maybe it is our fault. We should refuse to aid any third world country that doesnt have meaningful population reduction programs.
    This isnt an extreme approach – this is realistic, the Earth cannot support 10 billion people – in the third world. Move them to the first world and there wont be a first world – every country will be third world until nature steps in and WIPES US OUT.

  2. mikestasse

    Wow……. TWO doom and gloom posts in one week, and I didn’t even write them? Well done AIMN, nice to see you’re coming around to facing the truth.

    A couple of comments……..

    “Global food demand is rising as a result of unprecedented population growth and shifting consumption patterns. The FAO has predicted that agricultural production will need to increase by more than double by 2050 to close the gap between supply and demand.”

    Global food supply has more than doubled since the 1950/60’s entirely due to the injection of growing sources of fossil fuels. Gas to make NPK fertilisers/pesticides/herbicides in astronomical quantities, along with diesel fuel to power increasingly ever larger machinery to plough, harvest, and process food and refrigerate it.

    NINETY PERCENT of the calories in bought food today come from fossil fuels………. and 2015 is Peak ALL Energy. Not only that, but as Climate Change starts to bite us in the arse at a mere 0.85C above baseline, with idiots everywhere telling us 2C is an OK target, we need to seriously curtail FF use (read emissions) not by 2020, but NOW. Today. Not tomorrow, not next week, not 2020…….. RIGHT NOW!

    Of course, it’s not going to happen. Maybe if 50,000 Europeans die next week in what’s touted to be their worst heat wave ever, someone might start paying attention.

    All the crops mentioned in this article as ‘staples’, wheat, corn, and soy, are unsustainable monocrops. They’re not even healthy foods.

    So much needs to be changed in the way we grow our foods, it’s hard to know where we start…….. but your own backyards would be a good one.

    Good luck, because you’re gonna need it.

  3. Kaye Lee

    “Wow……. TWO doom and gloom posts in one week, and I didn’t even write them? Well done AIMN, nice to see you’re coming around to facing the truth.”

    Pretentious? Moi?

  4. mikestasse

    Prétentieux? Moi? Mais non ma chere Kaye Lee, je suis realiste…….

  5. diannaart

    Perhaps a little bit more realism – although this is only my humble POV based on past and present behaviour how humans react to power:

    The 1% know they do not need all of the 99% to survive to maintain their preferred lifestyles.

    Of course, we can now run around screeching, “oh great and wondrous mikestasse…(insert doomsayer of choice) please tell us what to do we know we are doomed than you for telling us this over and over and….” 😛

    Another thing I have observed about humans is that they will try to survive at any cost, which means:

    the 1% may not be as secure as they believe
    never underestimate human ingenuity and never, ever give up.

    We may still keep on breeding psychopaths, we also breed MORE reasonable people – which gives us (the maligned majority) a chance, a slim but vital chance.

    Happy Days

  6. mikestasse

    What people don’t realise is that we did not get to “HERE” because of ingenuity…….. we got to “here” because of fossil fuels. Period.

    No amount of ingenuity can make up for lack of resources. In fact, ingenuity has got us into this deep shit. Just look at how ingenious we’ve gotten at fishing? 90% of the world’s fisheries are as good as stuffed…….. look at how ingenious we got at producing food inorganically…. we’ve killed the soils over much of the planet, and now soil is disappearing at the rate of several football fields a second, and furthermore, inorganic farms are now incapable of growing anything without chemicals.

    We can fix these things…… but it takes time, lots and lots of time…. years, years we haven’t got, and commitment. And people tell me all the time how they are simply not interested in getting their hands dirty to grow veggies in their backyards. So exactly how do we fix this on a global scale?

    The whole of California’s farms could go AWOL soon from lack of water. Water that may not return for centuries or millenia. Too much ingenuity yet again…….

  7. donwreford

    We need to know more why people are producing more human beings? if as part of the over production of humans in relationship to pollution erosion of the planets resources and for most humans other than the few who have arranged a outcome that protects them from what most will be forced to endure.
    What comes to mind as to why many humans are born is the third world having no social security and have to depend on offspring to support them in old age.
    The excesses of the first world in terms of food waste and factors such as fashion that constantly requires change for often change sake and this creates waste, further to this direction is waste created by the first world culture such as a tidal wave of humans driving to and from work? the question is can some of this work be done at home and save resources? and many factors as such to be considered, as the reader knows the cost of military expenditure is Australian two and a half million dollars per minute, if we consider cost of building and infrastructure destroyed would have to be double military expenditure not including the cost of loss of production through death and injury.
    It is as if our human political situation is not run by spiritual insight nor commonsense but is run by the inability of our managers of our planet are more like mechanical machine oblivious of those who are enlightened and know better but are marginalized as being a threat to the status quo? of business as usual.
    The train is on the track and we can all see the ramifications of the impending disaster yet no one is allowed to slow the train down for the fear of change being a threat to our habitual method of what the culture has to be? as the age of civilized man increases now some say ten thousand years of civilization? we now see such a degenerative disease as a sort of mass disorder such as Alzheimer’s disease, this affliction can be seen on a daily basis as a symptom with our politicians and also the concerns of our population of individuals who now having tattoos, body modifications such as breast implants and so on not leaving out our corporations who are now so gigantic that no longer adhere to sense of paying taxes and so it all becomes a nightmare that no man can change what is.

  8. diannaart

    Yes, oh Great Mikestasse not ALL human ingenuity is good and yet you are able to proclaim your constant stream of negativity via some of the very best of human ingenuity.

    Don’t let me stop you from your crusade to where exactly?

  9. mikestasse

    ………crusade to wake people up.

  10. mikestasse

    Australia’s production of omega-3 health supplements is having a devastating impact on krill stocks in Antarctic waters, a marine conservation group says.

    Sea Shepherd Australia on Thursday launched a campaign targeting Blackmores over its manufacture of pills, Eco Krill, for which it is claimed factory ships are vacuuming the ocean of krill, a key component of the food chain.

  11. carlo

    so much sort sightedness, brain. hurts.

    Anyway onto food shortages, perhaps some geoengineered weather to cause food shortages mainly in third world countries to reduce population maybe? doesn’t sound too far fetched to me considering all the other stuff the white western world leaders get up to….destabalise regions some more, reduce population and therefore resoure useage, sounds like a win win for those in charge. Those in charge with all their wealth and wealth spent on military campaigns could end world hunger in a second if thats what they wanted i’m sure so there must be another reason why this hasn’t happened yet and given the challenges facing humanity in the future i’m sure they have come to the unfortunate conclusion that the sick, weak and poor will need to go, well most of them anyway?

  12. DC

    mikestasse is anti renewable energy and anti technology. His solution to any problem is voluntary population decline

  13. carlo

    so who’s putting their hand up then? haha

  14. DC

    not mikestasse lol

  15. Keith Woolsey

    DC “voluntary population decline” might be less messy than involuntary population decline. Having said that wealth equalisation, less waste and mitigating climate change shock through renewables should be the way to go. Just hope the Earth and its inhabitants are up to it.

  16. DC

    I agree it would be less messy, but you have to pick your battles. The population may not ever achieve stability without an external shock to bring it back in line but with the right technology advancements and some deep changes to how we humans govern ourselves we can make that impact a lot lighter. Things like large scale renewable energy & desalination plants, smarter farming techniques, alternatives to petrochemicals

  17. carlo

    we’ll see if theyre up to it at the next election i guess…

  18. DC

    I know the more specific I get, the more I leave myself open for mikestasse to tear me a new one so I’ll just leave it at that : )

  19. mechandy

    DC, from what I have read of your comments on the ‘Game Over’ thread and now this one, you don’t get specific about anything. Not once have you cited any Scientific or Engineering literature to back up your highly questionable opinions. The only references you cited in the last thread, were to two mainstream media outlets.

    So I am curious. Could you please get specific, from both a scientific and engineering perspective, and explain the knowledge you apparently have that enables you to make statements like this one, from the ‘Game Over’ thread….. (I quote)

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

  20. Matters Not

    Who would have thought?

    While one can’t argue against the notion that ‘infinite growth’ is not possible in a ‘finite’ world, one can certainly suggest that the ‘finite’ limitations have some way to go.

    Maybe it depends, to some extent at least, whether one is an optimist or a pessimist?

    What say thou Mike re the ‘limitations to growth’ and the way we conceptualise same today?

  21. mikestasse

    A quick glance doesn’t show where this Novacq comes from. The first rule of sustainability is “there is no such thing as a free lunch”. Making Novacq almost certainly involves fossil fuels. And/or stealing resources from the foodchain somewhere else. Once you’ve eaten your prawns, where does the waste go? In the bin and down the toilet…… somewhere called ‘away’. As an aside, whenever we rarely eat prawns (and I only buy raw Australian prawns) our waste goes into a compost toilet, and the shells and heads are turned into fertiliser. But none of that negates the fact an oil powered fishing vessel had to go to sea to catch them, and then they had to be refrigerated using more FFs. I love prawns as much as anyone else, but we probably only eat them 4 times a year, and I feel guilty when I do…..

    You can “suggest that the ‘finite’ limitations have some way to go”, but for what gain? More people?

    The madness has to stop. It will stop.

  22. Kaye Lee

    so now you want to get rid of refrigeration as well?

  23. John Armour

    Mike, I for one, and no doubt others here, understand just as clearly as you do what threats we face due to our 200 year addiction to fossil fuels and unsustainable exploitation of the natural environment.

    I’ve been watching the disaster unfold since I first read Limits to Growth in 1972, quietly observing the accelerating deterioration in our situation, despite my composting all my vege scraps and installing a Bio-Loo.

    You are not Robinson Crusoe.

    I’d much prefer to read a post about how your project to achieve a measure of self-sufficiency is going rather than the endless proselytising which I find quite boring.

  24. mechandy

    Hi Mike, please keep your comments, links and passionate perspectives coming, I greatly appreciate your contribution, even when I disagree with what you say. But then again, I don’t have a high ‘sensitivity’ factor that makes me want to censor what others want to say……

  25. Kaye Lee


    mikestasse has a site called which you might find interesting. There’s heaps of stuff about the imminent collapse of civilisation

  26. mechandy

    I know Kaye Lee, I’ve been reading Mike’s comments since 2003 on various blogs / listservs….. and still enjoy them today, wherever I read them.

    In the past, Mike’s commentary (and mine) have been largely kept away from the general publics view by the control and censorship of mainstream media. It is so good to see the Australian ‘Independent’ Media Network cracking open that control and censorship and giving the general public an aggregation site with the opportunity to read challenging and thought provoking views previously kept from them…………

  27. Kaye Lee

    I’m not sure that the views have been kept from anyone interested enough to read scientific papers which, personally, I much prefer to doom and destruction blogs.

    Identifying a problem is one thing. Offering positive suggestions on how to address it is another.

  28. diannaart

    While there are doom-sayers who believe we will return to the stone-age if we do not immediately cease all modern technology – does that mean we forget all knowledge as well?

    A global forgetting along with the very worst of the effects of climate change would be required to keep us in the stone-age for a millennium or 2.

    Seriously, are we likely to forget all the science, knowledge and expertise while tending our camp-fires at the entrance to our dank and smelly caves?

    I don’t think so, besides, according to Mike’s graphic, only men will devolve.


  29. mechandy

    Scientific papers, as long as they support your particular bias, which is perceived as ‘positivism’, and in Mike’s case, perceived as his ‘negativism’.

    I desire the publication of both, because, as an individual, not aligned with ‘group think’, I can draw my own conclusions from them.

    I read from both sides of the divide, educing more information, so that I can develop my mind beyond the positions that those on each side of the divide take. I read Mike’s blog, not because I believe him to be someone to be ‘worshipped’, and I do not read the publications of those who believe in the ‘convergence’ of advanced artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, biotechnology, pharmacology, nanotechnology, technology, as something to be ‘worshipped’ either.

    I read them all because ‘I’ want to arrive at my own balanced understanding, not what others want me to think.

    You can make a choice as to whether you close your mind or not, and I fully respect your choice to do so, if you wish.

    Please do not try and control what it is that others may wish to read, based on your biases.

    Mike’s comments on this site led me to a very interesting Scientific presentation, one that is not from some perceived ‘whacko’, but an esteemed and highly respected Scientist, one that puts forward his perspective on the future of Human life on the planet. I do not agree with everything he states, but the information contained within it, and my exposure to it, would not have been possible without Mike’s postings.

    If you want to ‘banish’ commentary that doesn’t suit what it is that you want to hear, I’m sure Tony Abbott has a spot for you……

  30. Kaye Lee

    I don’t have a particular bias. I just prefer peer-reviewed papers. The reviewers know way more than me. I usually just read the introduction and the conclusion unless it is something that particularly interests me.

    I am not aligned with group think any more than you are. I want to learn, but I want it to be factual. That does not indicate a closed mind but a wary one. I like to know something about the source. Checking that can be very informative.

    I am not sure how you think I am controlling anything at all.

    My only problem with mike is that whilst identifying the problem I rarely hear suggestions beyond subsistence farming. I admire the personal choices he has made and wish he spent more time talking about things we can practically do to reduce our footprint but whenever I ask he just says it’s all too little too late and we can’t do anything that requires energy beyond wood-burning at any stage of its manufacture or distribution. So we end up with nothing to talk about.

    We are all aware of the dangers we face. We need practical suggestions that can at least slow the pace of the damage while smart people keep coming up with more ideas and the rest of us adjust our practices. Change has to start somewhere. A journey does not begin at its destination.

  31. mechandy

    Thanks Kaye Lee, we are certainly moving towards a greater understanding of the various perspectives voiced on this thread. Firstly, I would like to confirm, that you have no desire to supress, repress, obfuscate, obstruct or manipulate the comments of others, in order to substantiate a bias. Whilst you have stated that, ‘I am not sure how you think I am controlling anything at all’, there are some inconsistencies in your argument and ‘appeal’, that don’t quite confirm your true position.

    For example, there are a number of Peer Reviewed Scientific Papers that Mike Stasse has cited in his postings, from Susan Krumdieck to Paul Wadham, amongst many others.

    You freely admit that you only read the introduction and conclusion of Scientific Papers, ‘unless it is something that particularly interests you’. Could we read in to this that what interests you is whatever appeals to your particular bias?

    You declare that you think the source of a Scientific Paper is important, but you clearly missed this vital presentation, available via Mike Stasse’s links, the one that I alluded to in my previous post, that you simply ignored, and did not request further information on, a presentation that is not only Scientifically credible, but also posits the imminent collapse of civilization, something clearly, you don’t want to hear.

    Obviously, what you want are ‘answers’ and ‘solutions’, that someone else comes up with so that you don’t have to think too much about it. This is the antithesis of having to work it all out, for yourself….. and then doing something about it…..

    Oh the wonderment of being a victim…..

  32. Kaye Lee

    You are new to this site mechandy. I am always amazed at people on the internet who feel they can explain me to me.

    “what you want are ‘answers’ and ‘solutions’, that someone else comes up with so that you don’t have to think too much about it.”

    I would suggest you go back over the last couple of years and read some of the articles I have written making suggestions about what we could be doing. You will find mike commenting on many of them talking about peak oil and fossil fuels and population reduction while telling me that nothing can be done because we are all doomed but he and his family will be ok because they are self-sufficient.

  33. Kaye Lee


    Great article. Full of suggestions of how we can begin to address the problem. It’s good Prince Charles is using his high profile for good rather than Muslim bashing as he has been wont to do in the past.

  34. mikestasse

    Seeing as you know where they are Kaye, perhaps you could point us to those articles you wrote about solving our problems?

  35. mechandy

    I don’t need to go back several years Kaye Lee. Having read just two of your most recent Op-Ed’s on this site, I already know that your thinking is as habitualized and indoctrinated as the majority of people in mass Society and a such, you are unable to truly critically think.

    That’s why you write ‘populist’ Op-Ed pieces, with warm comforting group think messages for your progressive reformist demographic………

  36. Kaye Lee

    Have at it boys….I am out.

  37. mechandy

    So, the progressive reformist era has had its day, and we are now well and truly in need of both radical thought and critical self theory.

    My question to the AIMN, is simple.

    Are you prepared to open your editorial space and publish content that includes radical thought and critcal self theory?

  38. DC

    mechandy, if I’m to do your research for you then at least tell me which opinions of mine specifically that you find highly questionable

  39. mechandy

    Nice try DC, but the question I originally posed to you remains, and is simple……

  40. DC

    mechandy, if I’m to do your research for you then why don’t you at least tell me which opinions of mine specifically that you find highly questionable

  41. DC

    mechandy why so hostile? Are you an angry little man like Mike. Do you also live in a hobbit hole & claim to be above everyone who lives on the grid? (despite relying on the internet to preach your weak and disingenious garbage?) Are you so naiive that you think about solutions in terms of “if only EVERYONE agreed with me we could fix it this way? Do you have no regard for the power struggles involved in achieving positive changes?

    My statement that renewable energy combined with electric transport can eliminate the need for oil in transport was in response to Mike & Harqebus or whateverhe calls himself who seem to think that continued investment in coal & oil is better. My statement does not require evidence to back it up. It’s common sense. Are you claiming otherwise? Please share (and that does not mean sending lots of links proving that the world that we know is on a path of destruction – we already agree on that).

    So if you do want me to do your research. First tell me which opinionS (yes you did make it plural) of mine you find “highly questionable”, and to be fair, lets hear how your opinions differ.

    From there lets see what we can agree on hey?

  42. mikestasse

    This video is part of an online course being taught at the University of California, “ICS 5: Global Disruption and Information Technology”. Only a portion of the course material is accessible via YouTube.

    How complexity is not in favour of sustainability.

    And part II about innovation and its drawbacks…..

  43. mechandy

    Thanks DC. Your responses to date, especially the last one, which was the real clincher, have confirmed what I have suspected all along……

  44. mikestasse

    mechandy, you can lead a horse to water, but…………………………………….

    DC’s insistence that harquebus and I believe “that continued investment in coal & oil is better” is truly baffling.

  45. DC

    Well don’t keep us in the dark mechandy, please do share. Still waiting for you to tell me which opinions of mine are questionable, and where your opinion differs

  46. DC

    Mike, as I’ve said before, you are like a naive teenager who has no understanding of human nature and power, you wouldn’t even know how to defend your little garden of Eden if you were to live to see the apocalypse you seem to look forward to

  47. mechandy

    DC, you’ve clearly been in the dark for so long, it’s best you are kept there……

  48. mechandy

    Mike, baffling indeed. But then again, as Machiavelli stated,

    ‘Occasionally words must serve to veil the facts, but this must happen in such a way that no-one becomes aware of it; or, if it should be noticed, excuses must be at hand, to be produced immediately’……

  49. DC

    ok, ill try to get by without your enlighenment but it was you who pulled me up on my opinions

  50. mikestasse

    I have a pitchfork DC……… don’t worry about me!

  51. Harquebus

    Some of Earth’s limitations are yet to met and some already have been. It only takes one, water or oil for example, to reach it’s limit and that will be the limit.
    Declining oil production will cause high food prices, social conflict and migration. All of which are now starting.
    The Earth’s human population is going to collapse, as all plagues do. We don’t have to anything, it’s too late anyway, the natural world will take care of the human plague in the usual way that it takes care of all plagues. Famine.

    John Armour
    I do not find the battle for very lives boring.

    Kaye Lee.
    “We need practical suggestions”? Does that mean that we don’t have any? I know of only one.
    Oh, too late. She’s gone.

  52. DC

    well in a scenario where social, political & economic structures have broken down, do you know what happens to people who defend their living space with pitch forks?

    they get shot

    Another thing Mike, why do you paint prince Charly as someone who “gets it” & me as a lost cause, when I’m pretty much saying the same thing?

  53. mikestasse

    At the darkest end of the spectrum are groups like Deep Green Resistance, which openly advocates sabotage to “industrial infrastructure,” and the thousands who visit the Web site and attend the speeches of Guy McPherson, a biology professor at the University of Arizona who concluded that renewables would do no good, left his job, and moved to an off-grid homestead to prepare for abrupt climate change. “Civilization is a heat engine,” he says. “There’s no escaping the trap we’ve landed ourselves into.”

    The most influential is Paul Kingsnorth, a longtime climate activist and novelist who abandoned hope for political change in 2009. Retreating to the woods of western Ireland, he helped launch a group called Dark Mountain with a stirring, gloomy manifesto calling for “a network of writers, artists, and thinkers who have stopped believing the stories our civilization tells itself.” Among those stories: progress, growth, and the superiority of man. The idea quickly spread, and there are now fifty Dark Mountain chapters around the world. Fans have written plays and songs and a PhD. thesis about them. On the phone from Ireland, he explains the appeal:

    “You have to be careful about hope. If that hope is based on an unrealistic foundation, it just crumbles and then you end up with people who are despairing. I saw that in Copenhagen—there was a lot of despair and giving up after that.”

    When the End of Human Civilization Is Your Day Job
    Among many climate scientists, gloom has set in. Things are worse than we think, but they can’t really talk about it.

  54. Harquebus

    Events are unfolding as predicted.

    I read about the Arctic expedition last year (mikestasse’s link above) and am still waiting for MSM to pick it up.
    I have the link somewhere and it’s too late to go looking so, here are few more recent.

    This link has some amazing photos by Jason Box, the man discussed in mikestasse’s link.

    “Right now CO2 is higher than it has been in over 20 million years. But it has been higher, a lot higher.”
    “The atmospheric methane has jumped about 400 parts per billion in just the last 15 years.”

    Are We Headed For Global Warming Collapse?

    “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as world governments ignores the risks of an ice-free Arctic”

    Methane Outbreak Nears

    No solutions here however, I just thought I’d throw it in. At least they are trying.

    “If even a small fraction of Arctic sea floor carbon is released to the atmosphere, we’re f’d.” — Jason Box.

  55. mechandy

    ‘Few men (humans) realise,’ wrote Joseph Conrad in 1896, ‘that their life, the very essence of their character, their capabilities and their audacities, are only the expression of their belief in the safety of their surroundings.’

  56. mechandy

    ‘Then what is the answer? Not to be deluded by dreams.
    To know that great civilisations have broken down into violence,
    and their tyrants come, many times before.
    When open violence appears, to avoid it with honor or choose
    the least ugly faction; these evils are essential.
    To keep one’s own integrity, be merciful and uncorrupted
    and not wish for evil; and not be duped
    By dreams of universal justice or happiness. These dreams will
    not be fulfilled.
    To know this, and know that however ugly the parts appear
    the whole remains beautiful. A severed hand
    Is an ugly thing and man dissevered from the earth and stars
    and his history … for contemplation or in fact …
    Often appears atrociously ugly. Integrity is wholeness,
    the greatest beauty is
    Organic wholeness, the wholeness of life and things, the divine beauty
    of the universe. Love that, not man
    Apart from that, or else you will share man’s pitiful confusions,
    or drown in despair when his days darken.’

    Robinson Jeffers, ‘The Answer’

  57. Doug Evans

    leaving all the ‘me too’ comments to one side for a moment this article is a nice concise summary of one aspect of the rolling multi-faceted crisis confronting us. Now for the comments. Kaye Lee is interested in ‘making suggestions about what we could be doing’ but the first step down that path is always clearly acknowledging the problem. Too often clearly stating the facts about our overwhelming environmental crisis is simply brushed aside as ‘doom and gloom’ and therefore more to do with the mind set of the author than the topic of discussion. This is not helpful. Kaye Lee says ‘we are all aware of the problems we face’. This is so obviously untrue as to be ridiculous. On available indications the vast majority of Australians remain blissfully unaware. Mikestasse, it seems to me, having understood the scale and seriousness of the problem has acted as increasing numbers of others have done (Paul Gilding for instance) and moved to isolate himself from our increasingly creaky environmental support systems. However irritated some might be by the tenor of his comments I find it difficult to criticise someone who has throughly analysed a situation, drawn his own conclusions and acted on them. His ‘solution’ of course is unavailable to the vast majority and if his analysis of the problem is correct he will go down the gurgler along with the rest of us. Any objective reading of the evidence supports his view of the seriousness of our situation. To me, the only (tiny) hope lies in direct engagement with the reactionary forces which have taken us to the brink. Six years of blogging and online writing led me to the conclusion that this was unproductive as a vehicle of change, however comforting it might be as a source of reinforcement of pre-existing prejudices. Without radical political and cultural change the incremental technical fixes that will certainly emerge and which Kaye Lee hopes will save our bacon will be no more than a distraction. Without radical political and cultural change mikestasse is in free fall along with the rest of us.

  58. mechandy

    What are the radical political and cultural changes you propose Doug?

  59. Doug Evans

    Hi mechandy
    The glib short answer to your question is full public and political acceptance of both the scale and complexity of the crisis and policies consistent with:
    Rapid reduction in our ecological footprint (in the west) and convergence on a sustainable global average.
    Rapid transition away from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
    Any likelihood of this do you think?
    Given that the SUSTAINABLE average global ecological footprint for our CURRENT population is around that of India (from my rapidly fading memory) what are the odds of any first world acceptance of this do you think? The choice seems to be between catastrophic breakdown and an extreme reduction in energy and resource consumption simultaneous with the total transition of energy delivery. Even if technically feasible I don’t personally see any likelihood of the latter option being acceptable to Australians or others enjoying similar standards of living so I expect the former and I expect it within decades. But hey I’m no Nostrodamus so let’s hope I’m wrong again.

  60. mechandy

    Thanks Doug. I think it would be impolite, inconsiderate and remiss of me, not to delve further, in an attempt to fully understand your not so glib long answer, to my question. To me, the questions and thoughts you have posed, do not indicate true radical critical thinking. They are, as you say, glib. There is obviuosly much more to your thinking…..

  61. Harquebus

    No births globally for ten years followed by a one child policy until global population reaches one billion followed by strict population control.
    Ration food and work.
    Ration fuel and electricity until resources depleted.
    Plant lots and lots of trees.

    Don’t worry. It’ll never happen. The natural world will take care of the over population problem.

  62. Dee

    Why is it that people find reality so hard to accept? The whole predicament we find ourselves in today is due to overpopulation of this finite planet. Each and every one of us can do something about that by accepting this reality and ensuring we (and our already existing kids) are aware of this uncomfortable reality and take responsibility for it. However, try mentioning this obvious reality out in public or even on this site and people get very “titchy”. Unless this reality sinks in, we as a race are doomed…..doomed because we only see what we want to see and hold the futile hope that someone or something will save us from our own ignorance. We all hold this hope for our kid’s future, knowing deep down that it’s now a lost cause. We are just another species, heading for extinction and unable to open our minds to this fact and act upon it.

  63. diannaart

    Why is it that people believe the only problem we face is due to overpopulation and not destruction of our environment or continued use of carbon emitting fuels and depletion of biodiversity?

    We need to be taking action on all fronts – not just one. (scary, yes, but true)

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