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Ignorance, Hubris, and Stupidity

Ignorance, Hubris, and Stupidity

Artwork from Ken Avidor

As I frequently point out, we face a series of predicaments all brought to us as a result of our own behavior of using technology, which has produced the predicament of ecological overshoot. When a species goes into overshoot, it always faces the same outcome: collapse. There is quite literally no way to avoid this; it is baked into cake, so to speak. I frequently hear people talk about avoiding collapse to which I can only chuckle and explain that attempting to avoid collapse and extend civilization is a fool’s errand because all this does is steepen the Seneca Cliff once the ability to extend civilization dries up. Civilization exists upon the surplus energy provided by technology use such as that furnished through agriculture; this then provides the ability of humans to develop permanent settlements which is the beginning of a civilization. Sadly, civilizations are unsustainable and each one that has ever come into being has also collapsed. Today’s civilization is no different and there will never be a sustainable civilization. Talk of such ideas is no different than “sustainable” development or “green” growth (see greenwashing).

I genuinely want people to understand the truth about where we are within these systems and predicaments and what can and cannot be done about them. Most people’s responses are fueled by a desire to “fight” one of the symptom predicaments such as climate change or energy and resource decline. Sadly, a considerable number of those folks read or hear something about stopping or reversing climate change or emissions or any other symptom predicament and get the incorrect idea that this is actually possible…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Why Is Society Still Mired in Mainstream Thinking?

Why Is Society Still Mired in Mainstream Thinking?

Eagle Rock Train Station, Eagle Rock, Virginia

In my last article, I spent a considerable amount of time describing how a large part of society today is still mired in mainstream thinking and I pointed out how I don’t see or expect the possibility that much will change in the future based upon a general lack of interest in the subject of ecological overshoot and collapse along with the myriad symptom predicaments that overshoot produces. Much of the material is subject matter that I have covered here before, although some of that (subject matter) was covered a considerable while back.

It’s just that I see so much material consistently which is based on what amounts to unicorn magic pixie dust rather than actual science or even common sense once one understands the basics of overshoot. Take for instance this approach from Simon Michaux, which has already been attempted in many different forms in the past, most famously as The Venus Project. Attempting such projects entirely ignores ecological overshoot and the simple fact that civilization itself is unsustainable. Michaux made himself widely known for his telling the “Captains of Industry” that their plan to replace fossil fuels with non-renewable “renewable” energy harvesting devices, simply stated, would not work. So, his plan now has replaced these devices with thorium modular nuclear reactors and he is embarking on a project to build a “radical tomorrow.” Unfortunately, this project is destined for failure. It isn’t how civilization is powered that is the issue, it is the fact that civilization is built on the platform of technology use, making BOTH of those systems unsustainable. It is precisely the power of technology to remove or reduce negative feedbacks allowing for population growth which then feeds back into a self-reinforcing positive feedback loop of more people, more technology use, and increasing overshoot. Powering it differently won’t change anything – the systems themselves will remain unsustainable.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Rationalizing, Storytelling, and Narrative-Generating Apes

 

Falling Spring Falls, Falling Spring, Virginia

First off, before I get started with the heavy stuff, I hope that you and yours have had a wonderful holiday season and I wish you a Happy New Year! OK, now onto less celebratory and more serious material.

There are people who want to cling to civilization because this is the only life they’ve ever known. Then, there are others who realize that this way of life CANNOT be continued, period. Attempting to continue this set of living arrangements WILL cause the extirpation of our species, along with countless other organisms. Even if we attempted to end civilization right now, there is no guarantee that there is a tomorrow for our species. Let’s say an EMP takes out the electrical grid in the USA, which proceeds to end industrial civilization as we know it. Over the following months, billions of people would die from starvation, disease, predatory behavior, and other issues caused by collapse. Climate change would possibly be stymied for a short period of time by the massive amount of aerosols released from burning of wood and plastics caused by millions of people trying to stay warm and cooking any available food, but once these aerosols are washed out of the atmosphere, climate change would be supercharged with the additional carbon dioxide produced along with an absence of aerosols from fossil fuel burning (the aerosol masking effect). Ultimately, we’re in a double bind, which means that most people will probably decide to live in as much comfort as possible until the end. I have little doubt that some people will go against the grain and follow a more ecological path, especially those who understand ecological overshoot. Trying to predict a precise outcome, of course, is a fool’s errand; too many interconnecting and interacting processes are involved.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Why Do Today’s Realities Escape Society?

Why Do Today’s Realities Escape Society?

Philpott Lake, Virginia, as seen from the Visitor Center of Philpott Dam
First of all, many people do clearly see what is happening. However, society as a whole still has many blind spots. The news continues to worsen regularly as this article points out, and more studies pointing out tree decline and deforestation like I have written about before are constantly coming out. That article is about the forests in the UK and this article goes into detail on the Amazon Rainforest, quickly turning into a carbon source rather than a carbon sink. Countless articles tell the story of countless animals meeting up with mass die-offs, including the elephants in this article. Once again, Tom Murphy hammers these points out in his new article here (his word, BTW), quote:

“What I am saying is that a system powerful enough to destroy ecological health and biodiversity—which we have demonstrated in spades—cannot survive unless it deliberately refrains from using this power. It must invert the cultural hierarchy and place ecosystem health—the vitality of the biodiverse planet—above all other considerations…ABOVE ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS, to hammer the point. 

We have abundant evidence that we can destroy life, at large scale, up to and including a ballooning number of permanent extinctions. It is far beyond our power to create biodiversity and life—especially pre-tuned to play a viable ecological role in the context of all other life. Only life can create itself, and only long exposure to the full world-as-it-is can shape life to work in the long term, via multi-level selection processes. While we can’t create and shape life to our whims, what we can do is get out of its way: let life do what it does best. Give it room. Make it a priority…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

What Are GeoDestinies?

What Are GeoDestinies?

 

Lover’s Leap Overlook, Virginia

How are you doing? Are you feeling alright? If you answered in a positive fashion, then great! If not, then I’m sorry to hear that things aren’t going so well for you and that you aren’t feeling good right now. Why do I ask? Well, because I’ve been working on reading a greatly detailed book about our predicaments and combined with the general realities I outline in this blog, I’m feeling a bit down about how these trajectories are proceeding. So, if you are also not feeling great about these predicaments, I can safely bet that like me, you are just a tad bit too clear-eyed and you are seeing beyond all the hype and distraction currently filling mainstream media right now. I’ve never had any doubts about exponential change and that it will (and is doing so already) outpace any ability we might have to adjust, adapt, or mitigate the circumstances we find ourselves in the midst of. This book I mention is GeoDestinies by Walter Youngquist, and it is an experience in humility, literally.

New studies continue amassing the evidence I routinely post here regarding these predicaments, but when one looks at the actual historical evidence of where we’ve been and what we’ve done and how even when countless warnings have been issued, society has paid little, if any, attention to any of them. How many final warnings must be issued? I’m pretty sure I posted the study this article discusses already, but for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, there it is. I could look up more recent studies, but the one by James Hansen I published many months ago has now been peer-reviewed and represents a distinctive view of where we’re headed…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Why are “Solutions” Really Just Bargaining?

Why are “Solutions” Really Just Bargaining?

Flag Rock Recreation Area, Norton, Virginia

I have tried to point out the reality throughout this entire blog that what we face moving forward is a set of predicaments with outcomes, not problems with solutions. Therefore, prescribing different ideas (whether they are actually labeled “solutions” or not is more or less irrelevant) focusing on ways to mitigate or “fix” these predicaments is a fool’s game because no solutions are available. Reflecting on a recent article where I pointed out that the chief cause of problems is solutions brings a certain level of discovery to many people. Pointing out that enlightenment eradicates false beliefs and that who and what we are as a species isn’t going to change no matter what ideas are brought forth, human ingenuity needs to be seen for what it actually is – precisely what brought us to this point in the first place!

I have also pointed out my support for the degrowth movement but that doing so changes nothing with regards to the predicaments we face. Sadly, I am still frequently accused of NOT supporting the degrowth movement despite my efforts (which frequently are far superior to those busy denigrating those efforts). I am also often accused of “giving up” or being a doomer or spreading doomism or being a nihilist or even “Malthusian” of all things. I choose to laugh at this criticism because none of those criticisms hold up under scrutiny and their hypocrisy is noted as what is known as special pleadingThis is a logical fallacy, in other words. Each one of these people who criticize me for being skeptical, critical, or otherwise pointing out the reality is suffering from denial of that reality and often at the same time suffering from optimism bias as well, which often leads into toxic positivity. Basically, these folks are suffering from a huge dose of hopium

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Bargaining and Degrowth

Bargaining and Degrowth

Gazebo at Fort Macon, North Carolina

Once again, new material forces me to write a new article to disclose the new information (OK, honestly, I chose to write this article, but you already knew that). I often simply add updates (both marked and unmarked) to previous articles, but this particular scenario needed its own post as it combines more than just one topic. As is typical with the energy sector, denial of reality and optimism bias is often key as to why people can’t seem to see the writing on the wall that the idea of fossil fuel-derived devices that require the fossil fuel platform in order to continue to be maintained are not items that can exist without the fossil fuel platform; so they do not and can not replace fossil fuels; nor do they accomplish anything to reduce ecological overshoot as Steve Bull points out.

While the typical discussion regarding non-renewable “renewables” continues amassing more evidence that the entire scheme has been nothing more than about money, new material about other angles of the so-called “solutions” typically brought forth are also getting a more critical look from scholars. This is now making it clear that the ideas being marketed to the general public don’t actually solve anything but provide more money to those who will benefit from such ideas in the first place. Chris Hedges discusses some of this with Derrick Jensen and Lierre Keith in this video.

I have covered some of the papers and provided videos from Simon Michaux in the past, and many of these same papers have been criticized, promulgating Michaux to provide a new paper going over these criticisms and his response to those claims (spoiler alert: those claims against his papers are proven to be without merit)…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

What is Degrowth?

What is Degrowth?

C.R. “Doodle” White Overlook, Hampton, Tennessee

I’m going to start this article with a song from Billy Joel. Those outside the United States might find the song somewhat difficult to understand. When the song came out, even I didn’t fully comprehend the implications the song brings to the forefront. The song is basically lamenting the de-industrialization that occurred in the US in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Most of this was caused by degrowth stemming from the peak conventional oil reached here in the US in 1970-71 (the US has since reached a new peak, but this was only achieved with the new technology of fracking). Another factor was environmental laws and the economics surrounding inflation and the necessity of wages to increase to meet the rising cost of living. Manufacturers started realizing that they could save money by moving operations elsewhere and avoiding environmental regulations and expensive labor costs. The US began a transition from a manufacturing behemoth to a more service-oriented economy.

Billy Joel’s song pointed to several social issues above and beyond the disappearing factory jobs, such as high school education here in the US being designed more for how to do certain jobs rather than how to think critically and how to solve problems. Another issue mentioned is the lack of coal (resource decline), having mined it all out locally. Still, it is a rather bold statement regarding the times back then, not to mention what a great song it is (number 43 on Billboard’s Top 100 year end chart for 1983).

With so much talk recently about supply chain issues, inflation, the job market, the cost of groceries, cars, and houses skyrocketing, it seems that many people are finally beginning to realize that there is a serious issue going on…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Bargaining to Maintain Civilization

Bargaining to Maintain Civilization

Happy Winter/Summer Solstice!!As anyone reading my articles often already knows, ecological overshoot is the master predicament causing many different symptom predicaments. I constantly see many people blaming emissions or greed or capitalism or governments or oil companies or fossil fuels (and on and on…) for causing climate change (or their favorite symptom predicament). Playing the blame game gets us nowhere though, and unfortunately, it is also far more complicated than that. Reducing emissions is a great idea (NOT a solution as noted below in the new paper from James Hansen), but it cannot be accomplished without reducing ecological overshoot because ecological overshoot is precisely what is CAUSING emissions. Ecological overshoot is caused by technology use, which means that it is being caused by our behavior. In order to reduce emissions, there is no other choice than to reduce technology use. This requires changing our behaviors. Most emissions historically have been produced by Western Society, so Western Society must change the most in how we behave. This is not optional. If we don’t change our behavior, nature will solve the predicament for us by removing habitat that we require in order to continue surviving. This is the outcome for that scenario – extinction. Of course, inherent here is that infamous “we” which brings the good ole’ lack of agency into the mix.

Now, this is the background to what I am writing about. While my articles here have just been recently introduced to society at large, I’ve actually been conversing about this and writing about it far longer in several different groups, many of which I’m no longer a member of. Why am I no longer a member in these groups one may ask. Because those groups feature and promote a mental defect known as wetiko, and they refuse to accept the truth that ecological overshoot and its symptom predicaments are not problems with solutions…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Illusion of Debate

The Illusion of Debate

Hanging Rock, Madison, Indiana

I want to disclose a couple of facts regarding the constant focus in many people’s minds of what is considered healthy debate about “renewable,” “clean,” “green,” and “sustainable” energy, electricity, technology, and/or products and services. Those labels are marketing terms, not reality. In other words, they encourage people to buy into these products and services thinking that they are being mindful when in reality they are only continuing the same system that brought the destruction they are trying to prevent in the first place. Buying solar panels, wind turbines, hydroelectric dams, EVs, and other so-called “clean” devices only continues the system of industrial civilization that is causing the destruction of life on this planet. These devices do not reduce carbon emissions but actually INCREASE them through Jevons Paradox. Reducing emissions REQUIRES reducing ecological overshoot, which requires reducing technology use, period.

Human aversion to loss prevents society from gaining grand scale cooperation to reduce technology use. Those with money and power will always work to undermine taking the correct measures to reduce ecological overshoot, and if one looks at social media platforms, this is painfully obvious as inconvenient truths and messages are pushed to the bottom of algorithms or outright censored. I have had Facebook limit my posting and commenting abilities as a result of posts I made, some of which were years ago. Despite my contesting these decisions, they had no effect on the outcome whatsoever other than a few of my posts were reinstated when they discovered that they made a mistake.

To help one comprehend these so-called “debates,” I have included the following quote:

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Why is Methane Such a Threat?

Why is Methane Such a Threat?

Dale Hollow Dam on the Obey River at Celina, Tennessee
Reservoirs behind dams are responsible for large amounts of methane emissions 
One might ask a similar question such as “Why is carbon dioxide such a threat?” or “Why is nitrous oxide such a threat?” or even “Why is sulfur hexafluoride such a threat?” While I’m pretty sure that everyone reading this knows that these are greenhouse gases and that they are all ramping upwards as climate change progresses, I figured I might as well disclose those facts first. My next disclosure amounts to providing some sources for info regarding the statement underneath the picture above here, and here, and here, and here.

I have written extensively about methane in many of my articles (to see which ones, look for the keyword “methane” on the labels for each article) simply because of the existential risks it poses and also how likely it is to become a serious threat and not just a potential one. One article in particular highlights the issue of methane. While other parts of stories about methane are buried in different articles of mine, I decided to bring the various parts into a main one with methane in the actual title to make more of an impact with regard to this specific predicament. Methane emissions continue gaining pace despite more and more efforts to stem emissions from anthropogenic sources such as fossil fuel infrastructure, and I don’t expect these emissions to ever go down again in our lifetimes.

In order to gain a better appreciation of why I say that (that I don’t expect these emissions to ever go down again in our lifetimes), please visit the Methane Links page to view lots of peer-reviewed literature on the subject or go here for the latest updates.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

The Illusion of Control

The Illusion of Control

Dale Hollow Reservoir, Tennessee

How often do you think of schizophrenia? Are you aware that most of Western society suffers from collective schizophrenia? I’ve mentioned wetiko in this space often, because of the implications it has with modern civilization. For those unfamiliar with wetiko, please see this article. Most people completely ignore the unsustainability of civilization, brought about by denial of reality. It is this collective denial which also allows us to completely ignore the real world that we live in; especially the part which actually sustains us – the flora and fauna which provide the wonderful biodiversity that promulgates the ecosystem services we require to survive – our habitat. Without said habitat, we cannot continue as a species.

These words written by Michael Asher have never been more true, quote:

What is schizophrenia? In colloquial use we take it to mean ‘split personality’, but in fact it’s a disorder of the brain’s right hemisphere – the part that sees the world as a web of connections. A serious problem with the right hemisphere leaves people stranded, dependent on the left hemisphere, which sees the world as a disjointed and meaningless collection of separate material objects.

If that condition doesn’t ring a bell, it should. Since the 17th century, when the philosopher Descartes declared that mind was separate from matter, we have tended to see the world almost exclusively from a left hemisphere perspective. Schizophrenia, as it happens, is not recorded before the industrial era.
This hasn’t occurred by chance – it’s the way we are conditioned by family, school, media, arts, and so on. In fact, we’ve developed a whole philosophy based on the left hemisphere POV – it’s called materialism.

…click on the above link to read the rest…

What Qualities Do the Predicaments We Face Possess?

What Qualities Do the Predicaments We Face Possess?

The view from Sunset Rock near Sparta, Tennessee

I’d like to address something which has been on my mind quite a bit recently. How we view things or how we judge things has a lot to do with how we see life (our worldview) and the circumstances surrounding it. I was having a conversation with my mom and she asked me something rather interesting. She wanted to know if I thought that the topics I spend so much time dealing with causes me to feel down “because they are so negative.” I feel compelled to dive into this with zeal because I think that there are probably MANY of us who likewise see things from a different angle than society in general.

First things first; I don’t necessarily see collapse, climate change, energy and resource decline, and/or extinction as being bad or negative. They certainly have some bad qualities and negative effects. I cannot deny the grief I have felt as a result of learning that ecological overshoot has many serious symptom predicaments which I learned about mostly BEFORE I learned about overshoot itself. However, as part of the learning process, I was required to view the situation in geologic timescales and from nature’s perspective – and these change the viewpoint or perspective from an anthropocentric, human-focused worldview to a more natural biospheric-based perspective. Nature doesn’t care about our judgements or opinions. So, while I cannot deny the grief I have experienced, I also cannot label all these predicaments as being “bad” either. This is simply nature’s way of evolution. Only humans give such hubristic judgements about these predicaments, based on our perception of loss…

…click on the above link to read the rest…

Collapse and The Exponential Function

Collapse and The Exponential Function

This is the Guard Shack at the Washoe Smelter of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company as it looks today (this picture taken in 2020). More info can be found at the Wikipedia page and the park’s page.

Most everyone reading these articles probably has a good idea of what collapse is. For anyone unfamiliar with it, reading Ugo Bardi’s blog, The Seneca Effect, will definitely provide insight into what the Seneca Cliff is and many different aspects of civilizational collapse. For those unfamiliar with the exponential function, the late Albert Bartlett gave a fantastic presentation of Arithmetic, Population, and Energy.

Many different examples of collapse can be seen in society today – the most visible ones are the inflation of prices of products and services caused by energy and resource decline, mass migrations, downfall of governments, loss of socioeconomic complexity, and the rise of violence (the sheer number of mass shootings here in the U.S. is a very conspicuous sign – more on this later). The hollowing out of the middle class is a symptom of energy decline, another visible sign of collapse.

More can be seen in this article from Sharon Astyk, which accurately points to the difference between problems and predicaments, quote:

Okay, did Sharon just write two FREAKING essays of “we’re fucked” and left us there with no solutions? Hey, that’s not fair, where’s the zero stars button?

In a sense, yes, that’s what I did. The old distinction between a problem (which can be solved) and a predicament (which must be endured and mitigated, but is fundamentally insoluble) applies here.

If you want me to pull a simple solution that will allow people to stop suffering and dying out of my bag of magic beans, and give you back the life you had in 2019 or 2015, I am doomed to disappoint you profoundly.
…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…


Our Impending Impasse and Sid Smith’s New Series

Our Impending Impasse and Sid Smith’s New Series

Keowee Toxaway State Park, South Carolina

I have a backlog of articles I have started but haven’t yet finished, so I’m starting with this one which has to do with our impending impasse. I think William Catton, Jr. worded that very well. It actually comes from his book, Bottleneck: Humanity’s Impending Impasse, in which a review is available hereFor those unfamiliar with Catton, he wrote (among other books), Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, and along with other pioneering giants such as Paul Ehrlich (The Population Bomb) and Dennis and Donella Meadows (The Limits to Growth), he brought awareness to the simple fact that society was breaching planetary limits and beginning to reach tipping points in planetary systems.

Nowadays, it seems that everyone is getting in on some predicament; whether it is climate change, population growth, energy and resource decline (peak oil), pollution loading, or many others, these are all symptom predicaments of ecological overshoot, the master predicament. While I think it is great to have goals and to work towards those goals, I also think it is important to have goals that are not incongruent to what one is working towards. In other words, if one is working towards solving a particular issue, making the issue worse instead of better is senseless. Yet most people have little if any awareness that their favorite goal when it comes to the environment (often climate change) is getting further and further away rather than closer. As long as ecological overshoot is allowed to continue increasing, ANY environmental goal along with most other goals will continue fading into the distance.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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