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Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIX

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIX

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Andrew Nikiforuk is an author and contributing editor of the online media site The Tyee. He has been writing about the oil and gas industry for close to 20 years. In his most recent article he writes about the lies being told by the Canadian government regarding its attempts to reduce carbon emissions. The Canadian government is certainly not alone in its misinformation (propaganda?) and one of the issues I believe is contributing to the lies is a (purposeful?) misidentification of our planet’s fundamental existential dilemma. Below is my comment on Andrew’s excellent discussion.

Thank you, Andrew. You’ve laid out the case for some very, very difficult decisions/choices/discussions that lay ahead of us.

I’m not convinced we will make what I consider to be the correct choices or even engage in some meaningful and productive dialogue since the changes that I believe are needed (degrowth) would be viewed as exceedingly painful to many as it challenges not only some core beliefs but what could be considered rights/entitlements/expectations regarding living standards (and it doesn’t help that we are genetically predisposed to avoid pain and seek pleasure). The brakes that need to be applied to some social practices/policies (perhaps most? all?) would also be challenged by some because I would contend the fundamental dilemma we are having to address is not necessarily carbon emissions, which I would argue is one of the consequences of the underlying issue, which is ecological overshoot.

The finite, one-time cache of easy-to-retrieve and cheap-to-access energy provided by fossil fuels has ‘fuelled’ an explosion in human numbers and sociopolitical/cultural/economic complexities unlike any other time in human pre/history. With this energy resource at our disposal we have constructed a complex, global, and industrialised world with technological wonders that would certainly appear magical to past generations.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XVIII

Tulum, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

As per usual, my comment on an article in The Tyee that gives an interesting perspective on the idea of ‘Carbon Footprint’ and individual verses collective actions in addressing the behavioural/consumption changes necessary for effective action on climate change.

Great read and perspective.

“The problem is that climate change is as much a political problem as it is a scientific one. It’s not that we’ve been failing to make individual lifestyle changes; it’s that powerful interests have knowingly obscured, distracted from and delayed climate action over the last 50 years.”

I find this key to help in understanding one of the narratives that have come to dominate the ‘environmental/climate change/global warming’ movement: a transition to ‘renewables’ (or ‘green/clean’ energy) and ‘electrifying’ everything is the best path forward; and many of The Tyee writers are as guilty of this as well.

As has been shown by Jeff Gibbs’ Planet of the Humans and Julia Barnes’ Bright Green Lies, the ‘environmental’ movement appears to have been hijacked by powerful/influential political/economic interests in order to market the idea that getting everyone to shift away from fossil fuel-based industry and products is the key action in fighting climate change and avoiding the predicted consequences of it.

This idea is, I believe, primarily a marketing/sloganeering/narrative control campaign to help the businesses/corporations/industries involved in ‘renewables’ and associated products in expanding their consumer base and shifting capital towards them. It is not and never has been about protecting or saving the environment and ecological systems. It is about protecting and saving our energy-intensive, business-as-usual complexities and the technologies necessary to support/maintain these; and it is driven by the primary motivation of the ruling class/powers-that-be/elite: expansion/control of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XVII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XVII

Teotihuacan, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

‘Renewables’. They will save us! This is one of the most common beliefs being bandied about by the ruling class and especially those that stand to profit from a shift to them in an attempt to power our complex society. I would argue, however, that we are not being told some uncomfortable truths about such a shift. Here is my comment to a Tyee article that discusses the city of Vancouver’s plan to address air pollution.

“…shifting industrial power sources from coal to renewables…”

As Mike Tyson is credited with saying: “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.”

And the face punch here is the fact that many industrial processes cannot be shifted to renewables — to say little about the fact that renewables also rely heavily upon the industrial processes that depend upon fossil fuels and simply externalise the pollutants/ecological destruction required to ‘energise’ technology.

Here are a handful of articles that explain why alternatives are inadequate for significant industrial processes we rely upon:
https://www.vox.com/energy-…
https://www.energypolicy.co…
http://energyskeptic.com/20…
http://energyskeptic.com/20…
https://www.independent.co….

But let’s be frank, the Overton Window being forced upon this discussion (i.e., the only choice for our energy-intensive society is to shift from fossil fuels to ‘renewables’), including by many journalists, completely ignores some harsh realities, such as biophysical limits on a finite planet and thermodynamics. The assumption seems to be always that we can only fight climate change (ignoring all the other ecologically-destructive consequences of our constant pursuit of growth) by shifting away from fossil fuels (a high-density and easily transportable fuel that supports almost everything about our globalised and industrial complex world) to ‘renewable’ forms of energy (that are not truly renewable and especially not ‘green/clean’).

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XVI

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XVI

Knossos, Greece (1993) Photo by author

Another quick thought on our impending energy cliff situation and comment on an article suggesting overconsumption is our greatest threat and that we can be happy without it.

The threats humanity faces are never simple and always multifaceted and intertwined. Overconsumption by a relatively small percentage of our world’s population is certainly one of the contributing factors. As is the way we create and distribute ‘money’ and our sociopolitical systems, to mention just two.

Underpinning all of these complexities is energy and the one-time, finite cache of energy provided by fossil fuels has provided a boost to human exploitation of the planet unlike any other time in humanity’s 100,000+ years of existence. In the waning days of this phenomenal energy surplus (be it due to supply constraints because of diminishing returns or some recognition of the negative consequences of its use — which are many and go far beyond the production of greenhouse gases), scaling back ‘advanced’ economies’ overconsumption tendencies could help forestall the energy decline we have begun to experience. It is unlikely, however, to prevent it — I would argue it is mostly magical thinking to hold on to the idea that some ‘clean’, ‘renewable’, and ‘sustainable’ energy source will suddenly appear and save us; a ‘solution’ that would not in any way address the mountain of other dilemmas we face, such as lack of arable lands and fertile soils, biodiversity loss, the negative repercussions of our past several centuries of expansion and exploitation, and numerous other biophysical limits imposed by a finite planet.

In fact, I would argue there are many reasons a pullback in our consumer-(profit-)driven societies is unlikely to happen, not least of which is the ruling class’s motivation to expand/control the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue stream and the societal repercussions that always seem to arise when a people’s living standards (expectations? entitlements?) are threatened.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XV

Rome, Italy (1984) Photo by author

Energy. It’s at the core of everything we do. Everything. Yet we take it for granted and rarely think about it and what the finiteness of our various energy sources means for us.

As Gail Tverberg of Our Finite World concludes in a recent thought-provoking article that should be read widely: “Needless to say, the powers that be do not want the general population to hear about issues of these kinds. We find ourselves with narrower and narrower news reports that provide only the version of the truth that politicians and news media want us to read.”

Instead of having a complex and very necessary discussion about the unsustainable path we are on (especially as it pertains to chasing the perpetual growth chalice) and attempting to mitigate the consequences of our choices, we are told all is well, that ‘science’, ‘human ingenuity’, and ‘technology’ will save the day, and we can maintain business-as-usual with just some minor ‘tweaks’ and/or a ‘green/clean’ energy transition. Pre/history, physics, and biology would suggest otherwise.

Here is my relatively long comment on a Tyee article discussing the International Energy Agency’s recent report that calls on all future fossil fuel projects to be abandoned and drastic reductions in demand in order to avoid irreparable climate change damage to our planet. The answer, however, will not be found in ‘renewable’ energy and related technologies as many contend because the underlying and fundamental issue of overshoot has been conveniently left out of the story.

Having followed the ‘energy’ dilemma for more than a decade I’ve come to better understand the complexities, nuances, and scheming that it entails; not all mind you, not by a long shot, but certainly better than the mainstream narratives provide…

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIV

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIV

Pompeii, Italy (1993) Photo by author

Part of an ongoing conversation with another regarding globalisation and whether it is a beneficial or detrimental endeavour of humanity. You can find the entire back and forth here.

The notion that to address our overshoot dilemma by bringing the impoverished up to the level of the so-called ‘advanced’ economies so that population levels out or decreases (eventually) requires some significant magical thinking.

As I stated, the primary reason for ‘advanced’ economy riches is the exploitation of a finite resource; a finite resource that is already in its death throes due to the law of declining marginal utility (to say little about all the other resources that are similarly experiencing diminishing returns and requiring greater and greater amounts of energy to even maintain or slightly increase extraction levels).

There are not the resources remaining to bring the entire world up to the level supposedly necessary to lead to smaller families. What resources remain would be best used in helping everyone relocalise which is going to be most difficult for those caught in the trap of globalisation: dependence upon long-distance supply chains, especially for food.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XIII

Electrifying everything has become a rallying cry for many people concerned with the ecological/environmental impact of humanity. But do such attempts to mitigate/solve such problems/dilemmas actually do what they claim to? I would argue no. They are simply substituting one set of problems for another set of problems and completely avoiding the underlying causes. They are primarily about creating the idea that they are a solution, not that they truly are. They are a marketing scheme to sell products and gloss over using language the problematic issues they prolong or create. It is fundamentally about propaganda, not addressing the plight that human expansion is.

In this vein, here is my comment on an article that looks at substituting electric long-haul trucks for internal combustion engine ones.

We really do need to stop using language that does not reflect reality. Electric vehicles are neither ‘green’ nor ‘clean’. A shift to them is not in any way, shape, or form helping us to address the various ecological/environmental dilemmas humanity has created in its endless expansion and exploitation of the planet’s limited resources (and that go far beyond carbon emissions).

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XII

Teotihuacan, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

My comment on an article regarding the cessation of a provincial programme for municipalities in British Columbia meant to support and fund climate change initiatives.

Not sure what the situation is like in BC surrounding provincial mandates and municipalities, but I would judge a programme that is supposedly to support climate change initiatives ​in Ontario municipalities to be primarily about political theatre, certainly not about addressing any type of environmental dilemma. I live in a municipality on the edge of the Greater Toronto Area that has been chasing perpetual growth for many, many years. In fact, it uses this growth to try and attract more growth, marketing itself as one of the fastest growing areas in Ontario and thus the place to live and work.

This growth comes at a steep cost, if you ask me. That being the expansion of suburban residences over prime agricultural land and sensitive ecological habitat being on the glacial till known as the Oak Ridges Moraine. They have shifted their plot somewhat in arguing that they are concentrating on densification of the town proper (they just approved a large apartment/condo complex in the middle of town that far exceeds previous ‘bylaws’ regarding height restrictions — you know, a one-off exception), yet the construction of residential communities continues unabated in areas outside this supposed new approach as farmland continues to be paved over; adding to the looming crisis Ontario will face as it adds more and more people yet already imports more than 80% of its food.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XI

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XI

Knossos, Crete (1993) Photo by author

Yet another in an increasing collection of comments I have posted to the online media site The Tyee. This time it is a commentary on an article that reviews a book arguing in favour of the implementation of Universal Basic Income.

“No stone is left unturned in their thorough and convincing argument…”

I’m not so sure this is true. My personal focus for the past decade+ has been on the unsustainability of our complex society, particularly as it is impacted by our propensity to chase growth — especially population and economic, for these both have a significant connection to our ever-increasing drawdown of finite resources and ecological destruction of our planet. If we are not correcting this tendency to ‘grow’ in any way, shape, or form, then we are just creating more ways to kick-the-can-down-the-road of our wasteful and ruinous path; and place the significant burden of our misinformed ways on future generations.

One of the key arguments of archaeologist Joseph Tainter’s thesis regarding societal collapse as presented in his text The Collapse of Complex Societies is that a society becomes increasingly susceptible to collapse once it encounters diminishing returns on its investments in complexity. It is not a stretch at all to argue that we have been on the path of such decline for decades, particularly once we began creating a purely fiat currency that has allowed an explosion in debt/credit. If one looks at the ‘growth’ of our world since the late 1960s when central banks/governments shifted the world to a monetary system that creates money from thin air with no connection to physical commodities that could constrain our growth somewhat, it is almost all predicated on debt/credit expansion; a conundrum since debt repayment necessitates the growth imperative to continue (yes, basically a gargantuan Ponzi scheme).

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh X

Monte Alban, Mexico (1988) Photo by author

Circumstances have kept me sidetracked from writing for a few months. As life has settled a bit, although the spring weather keeps me busy working in the food garden, I felt it time to post again. Here is a comment I wrote this morning in the Tyee in response to an article on corporate bailouts and a call to give government more power.

Almost all of us live within a narrative matrix that we exist in a fair and transparent world where the ruling class exists to serve the people of a particular territory, that government and its efforts/energies are directed primarily towards benefitting the citizens it is supposed to represent, and that the resources of the nation will be distributed in a way that is equitable and just. We are taught such a world exists through our government education systems and repeatedly told this via our corporate media. If glitches in the matrix occur, it’s because of some particular individual’s defect but never a systemic problem.

A look through pre/history and a gentle scratch at the surface of this general perspective, however, will show that this view is all bullshit. The ruling class exists to benefit itself, and this is always done at the expense of its citizens. They have created an elaborate narrative to market themselves as ‘representatives’ of the people in an ongoing and expansive attempt to legitimise their rule and power. And the vast majority of people believe the stories (primarily to reduce the cognitive dissonance that is created when the notion of living within a massive, propagandised world where one has little true agency in sociopolitical and socioeconomic matters collides with the sociocultural myths of ‘representative’ government and citizen participation).

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

Olduvai: Excerpt read by author, Steve Bull

Olduvai: Excerpt read by author, Steve Bull

Marketwatch: Commentary Censorship

Marketwatch: Commentary Censorship

Yesterday (February 1, 2021), MarketWatch published an article on why the short squeeze on silver being discussed by some on WallStreetBets/Reddit would be short-lived. Having read a number of articles on the issue it was not difficult to identify some misleading/faulty statements in the article. I sent a comment through to point out these inconsistencies in the article only to receive a message back that my comment “has been rejected as it contains content that is in breach of our community guidelines.

Here is the comment:

__________________

Some misleading and missing ‘facts’ in this story.

First, the gold-to-silver price ratio is not ‘historically’ 60-1. That is only a relatively recent ratio. Historically, the ratio is about 15:1. (https://www.mining.com/web/alert-gold-silver-ratio-spikes-highest-level-27-years/)

Second, the argument that the WallStreetBets/Reddit crowd is justifying its position based on the industrial use of silver in electronics/technology is only partially accurate. Several others justifications have been forwarded: the ratio of silver mined to gold mined is even lower than the price ratio, about 8 ounces of silver to every 1 ounce of gold (https://www.jmbullion.com/investing-guide/james/silver-supply/); and, most importantly, there are 100s of paper ounces of silver to every actual physical ounce in existence, so taking physical deliver, as many are suggesting, will expose the fraud that is the precious metals market (https://www.goldbroker.com/news/paper-silver-market-250-times-size-physical-silver-market-526#:~:text=This%20would%20mean%20that%2C%20for,circulating%20in%20several%20financial%20products.)

And finally, many simply want to expose the fraud and manipulation by the Big Banks that has been going on for ages. (https://www.reuters.com/article/jp-morgan-spoofing-penalty/jpmorgan-to-pay-920-million-for-manipulating-precious-metals-treasury-market-idINKBN26K325)

__________________

The community guidelines are fairly extensive, but I can find no where in my comment where I was in breach of them, except maybe “excessive links to external websites”; but is 4 excessive?

Blatant censorship? It seems so to me.

Today’s Contemplation: The Coming Collapse IX

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Chichen Itza, Mexico (1986) photo by author

Once more a comment posted in the Tyee in response to ongoing ‘debate’ with others in regard to the 2020 U.S. presidential election and some of the accusations of irregularities surrounding the process. While not obviously related to ‘collapse’ I will add some context to draw it into my ongoing thesis afterwards.

For the sake of argument, let’s say some of these [a list of supposed election irregularities] are fabricated and/or misinterpretation of events (which is what the video of the polling clerk filling out ballots is being explained away as — they were filling out ‘damaged’ ballots). That does not mean they all are and should just be summarily dismissed. They merit further scrutiny and investigation. Conspiracies (that is, an agreement to perform together an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act) are common in politics (in fact, perhaps far too common).

A few thoughts to share for those that believe otherwise.

The fact that the sources are not mainstream should not lead to their immediate dismissal as many suggest. All one has to do is look at how many mainstream sources are deliberately suppressing the whole Julian Assange debacle or the Hunter Biden laptop evidence that suggests pay-to-play shenanigans involving his father. Or Glenn Greenwald deciding to resign from the media company he founded because fellow editors refused to publish an article unless he removed all criticism of Joe Biden. These examples (and there are many, many more — a pertinent one is how many mainstream media accepted the Bush administration’s declaration that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and then basically ran PR for the government’s invasion) should show that mainstream media is quite biased and often does not perform due diligence in its reporting, suppresses stories, or primarily runs opinion-editorials and passes them off as investigative journalism, especially if one is questioning the dominant narratives that they tend to support quite adamantly. It is often, unfortunately, only those outside of the mainstream that question the stories told by the-powers-that-be and challenge them.

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

Today’s Contemplation: The Coming Collapse VIII

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Chitchen Itza, Mexico (1986) Photo by author

Once again, a comment I posted in response to an article on The Tyee.

Where to begin? I realise this article is primarily about a federal political party and its future but there are two underlying issues that are discussed that need far more exploration and understanding if we are going to be projecting where a particular party or even government will be down the road (let alone the entire world).

If we are going to be discussing energy and Peak Oil then there is SO much more to bring into the conversation. Yes, politics plays a role (as it always does) but the topic is vastly wider than sociopolitics. It encompasses virtually everything in our complex, globalised industrial world. Everything. From the way we create potable water, to how we feed ourselves, to how we build and heat our homes (I’ve purposely focused on the three items we NEED to live…everything else is icing but just as dependent on energy, especially fossil fuels).

First things first. There is NO substitute for fossil fuels. At least not one that can sustain our current world the way it is configured. No, alternatives to fossil fuels cannot do it. They are not ‘clean’ as the mining, refinement, and manufacturing processes for them are environmentally damaging. They have a low energy-return-on-energy-invested (EROEI) and provide little ‘bang for the buck’. They cannot fuel many important industrial processes such as steel and concrete production. They depend very much on continued exploitation of fossil fuel, both upstream and downstream. They are NOT a panacea.

We are stuck with fossil fuels, until and unless we are ready and willing to give up probably 90% or more of what we consider ‘modernity’.

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

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh VII

Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh VII

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Pompeii, Italy (1993) Photo by author

Ha! It’s poetry in motion
Now she’s making love to me
The spheres are in commotion
The elements in harmony
She blinded me with science
(She blinded me with science!)
And hit me with technology
-Thomas Dolby, 1982 (She Blinded Me With Science)

Science, it turns outs, is a process not an answer. And, it usually has many answers from various sciences, each having their own methods and standards. When someone tells you, “the science says,” be skeptical. They are usually being paid to say what they are about to say or at least have been thoroughly indoctrinated by others who are paid. There is never just one answer to any supposedly scientific question.
-Kurt Cobb (Why am I feeling so anxious? The end of modernism arrives)

Unfortunately, there are many other misconceptions about science. One of the most common misconceptions concerns the so-called “scientific proofs.” Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a scientific proof…all scientific knowledge is tentative and provisional, and nothing is final. There is no such thing as final proven knowledge in science. The currently accepted theory of a phenomenon is simply the best explanation for it among all available alternatives. Its status as the accepted theory is contingent on what other theories are available and might suddenly change tomorrow if there appears a better theory or new evidence that might challenge the accepted theory. No knowledge or theory (which embodies scientific knowledge) is final.
-Satoshi Kanazawa (Common Misconceptions About Science I: “Scientific Proof”)

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
In progress...

Olduvai II: Exodus
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