The Empire Express, 4 August 2017

Editorial

The reason the ‘Train of Civilization’ cartoon works so well as a running gag is civilization’s actually being a train going in a relatively straight line from a beginning to an end at an ever-increasing speed. We are bridging gaps and penetrating obstacles to keep it going where it’s heading. This behavioral linearity and this eschatological directedness is mirrored in the inability to explore off-track territory and to turn back to previous, more functional ways of being. The machine is not going to stop speeding up until we are running out of building materials for bridges, or are simply too fast to stay on track, or lose our ability to tunnel into reality’s fabric. In any case, the train of civilization is going to catastrophically crash, either by jumping tracks, falling off of a cliff, or hitting a wall at full speed.

Most activists and their supporters and sympathizers may have a sense of such an event coming up rather sooner than later, but how close are we actually, and how will we respond when, finally, the day has arrived?
This recent collection of links has its focus for most part on how to face this world in all its beauty and decay, and whether there is something left for humans to be done. We get diverse answers from the Pentagon, Brian Calvert, Keith Farnish, and Confucius, among others. Words like ‘apocalypse’, ‘dystopian’, ‘collapse’, and ‘doom’ are popping up a lot, and SF author William Gibson has an explanation for this trend (see below), but the presence of such a word in an article does not keep most writers from promoting an active stance. Let yourself get surprised. The differences in view between the authors presented here are quite telling and I hope they help you make up your mind about where to find your place in the scenery.

Ongoing Assault

The end of the world is universal shorthand for whatever we don’t want to happen. We have very little control over anything much at all, individually, so fantasies of staving off the end of the world are fairly benign fantasies of increased agency.”
Are we doomed? Let’s have a conversation – Richard Heinberg, Resilience.org, 20170727
Even if – in all unlikelihood – we tackled every single one of our many converging crises with a technological fix civilization may still crash because of unintended side effects to those fixes. And there is no technical solution for social inequality anyway. So the lifestyle we are used to is basically toast. But that doesn’t mean we are doomed, says Heinberg. If we collapsed consciously there’d be something left to rebuild upon. This conversation, though, is happening among few only.
Headline says it all: just your normal climate insanity being confirmed by dumbstruck scientists discovering that Earth’s systems are unraveling faster than expected. Make no mistake, it’s going to pick up even more speed and will exceed the damage projected in this study.
Withdraw,” Kingsnorth advised, “so that you can allow yourself to sit back quietly and feel, intuit, work out what is right for you and what nature might need from you. Withdraw because refusing to help the machine advance — refusing to tighten the ratchet further — is a deeply moral position.”
The unhappy ape – Ben Kadel, Medium, 20170720
The irony is that a raft of recent research in positive psychology has basically rediscovered everything you already learned in kindergarten: money can’t buy happiness; it’s better to give than to receive; bullies are actually scared wounded souls. Science has confirmed what most traditions already teach about how to live a happy life […] Look around at the excesses and the misery, side-by-side. Look at Trump. This is what it looks like when you only care about yourself.”
Then what is science good for, when the things it teaches us about ourselves and the world just confirm what’s commonplace, and when the technology it underlies alienates us from ourselves and the world? The article doesn’t provide an answer, but maybe that’s also not necessary. The path it promotes may lead you all by itself to some insight about the implications of civilized life.
Not in front of the children: liberal meditations of the apocalypse – Chris Shaw, Wrong Kind of Green, 20170719
The nature, problems, targets, and solutions to climate change are being discussed among middle class white men mainly. They bear the mark of cultural narcissism and fail to involve both decision makers and ordinary folks. A Scottish experiment came to interesting results when breaking these limits.
Men unlike gods – John Michael Greer, Ecosophia, 20170719
Similar to Shaw (see above) JMG explores how the myths of a select few drive the development of societies – into the abyss. Awareness of the drivers may become essential when being confronted with historical patterns.
Our study suggests, first, that thinning permafrost in a warmer climate may not only result in the frequently reported and discussed increased emission of biogenic CH4, but also in increased emissions of geologic CH4, that is currently still trapped under thick, continuous permafrost, as new emission pathways open due to thawing permafrost.”
Which is to say that the findings of Shakhova et al., from the East Siberian Arctic Shelf, are being confirmedby research results fromother parts of the Arctic. Subsea Methane deposits are already in the process of breaking open, about to release significant amounts of greenhouse gas.The authors conclude that the results indicate that geologic CH4emissions may contribute strongly to the permafrost-carbon-climate feedback, especially in permafrost areas vulnerable to thawing and therefore warrant much more attention.”
It is to be noted that the data has been collected in 2012/13 already. For an easier to understand description of the issue, read Robin Westenra’s article Methane seeps out as Arctic permafrost starts to resemble Swiss cheese.”
The planet is warming. And it’s okay to be afraid – Margaret Klein Salamon, Common Dreams, 20170717
While I think both Mann and Holthaus are brilliant scientists who identified some factual problems in the article [“The uninhabitable Earth” by David Wallace-Wells], I strongly disagree with their statements about the role of emotions—namely, fear—in climate communications and politics. I am also skeptical of whether climate scientists should be treated as national arbiters of psychological or political questions, in general. I would like to offer my thoughts as a clinical psychologist […] I hope that every single American, every single human experiences such a crisis of conscience. It is the first step to taking substantial action. Our job is not to protect people from the truth or the feelings that accompany it—it’s to protect them from the climate crisis.”
Brilliant!
There are only two elements here that I disagree with:
a) “dire discussions of the climate crisis should be accompanied with a discussion of solutions.”— What if there are no solutions, or if the problem-solution dichotomy is invalid? That would be part of the truth, wouldn’t it?
It is not the duty of Cassandra to discuss escape routes, but to point at the things she alone seems to be able to see.
b) Salamon’s “Victory plan” is a top-down approach requiring all the world’s political and economic leaders, and especially their superiors to mend their wicked ways. Hand on heart: how likely is that? Are you willing to bet your life – and all life on the planet – on the outside chance that this is going to happen?
While the author correctly proposes that for kicking people into action truth must be told, she basically reduces them to consumers of solutions that Cassandra and the world’s leaders are asked to provide. One more example of why someone being able to perform a brilliant situation analysis may not necessarily be as able deducing suitable actions.
Apart from repeating the “2100” myth Wallace-Wells’ “The uninhabitable Earth” has done a great job at bringing runaway climate change to public awareness. The hysterical outcry across the whole spectrum confirms as much. The rapidly warming planet will tell the truth about the time frame.
Pentagon study declares American empire is ‘collapsing’ – Nafeez Ahmed, Insurge Intelligence, 20170717
The US military knows a few things the government denies, but its strategy proposes more of the same elements that brought about the crisis of Empire in the first place.
This is a war, then, between US-led capitalist globalization, and anyone who resists it. And to win it, the document puts forward a combination of strategies: consolidating the U.S. intelligence complex and using it more ruthlessly; intensifying mass surveillance and propaganda to manipulate popular opinion; expanding U.S. military clout to ensure access to ‘strategic regions, markets, and resources’.”
The military, of course, wants to justify the budget it got allocated and the actions it is about to take against perceived enemies of US national security. There may be an element of exaggeration in this report, but they might as well understate some of the trouble the government doesn’t want the general public to be aware of.
Simultaneous harvest failures in key regions would bring global famine.
‘We have found that we are not as resilient as we thought when it comes to crop growing,’ said Kirsty Lewis, science manager for the Met Office’s climate security team.”
Not news. Just for the records. Another July article reported an acutal 25% loss in olives and an acutal 75% loss in grains from Italy and Spain. That’s a currently happening, observed, real life decline in food supply, due to climate change, and similar events have been reported from all continents.
The truth is that these other beings wouldn’t need to be saved if civilization weren’t killing them. The truth is that they can’t be saved so long as civilization is killing the planet. And the truth is that in this culture there are certain topics which must never be discussed, certain self-perceptions and perceived entitlements which are never negotiable.
We would rather kiss ourselves and the entire planet good-bye than to look honestly at what we have done, what we are doing, and what we will, so long as we have this supremacist mindset, continue to do.”
Voluntary poverty as a way of life is millennia old. Wise men know for a long time already that material wealth has its downsides, especially regarding peace of mind and its consequences on human behaviour. It’s true, “some lifestyle choices matter more than others”, yet one has to be careful with jumping to conclusions. Passing judgments is easy, though not at all helpful when deciding how to deal with runaway climate change.
Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t. The author uses the “BP statistical review of world energy” to graphically emulate the information about how much fuel the world is burning or, in other words, whether anthropogenic carbon emissions actually stopped rising. The bad news is, they didn’t. The good news might be, from my understanding, that emissions from natural feedback loops were not as severe as thought – which doesn’t mean they haven’t been kicked off already. But I guess this doesn’t change a tiny thing about our collective inability to stop the runaway train.
The buildup of tensions between US-led countries and Russia comes neither surprisingly nor accidently.
At times, I have found myself performing activism more than doing activism. I’m exhausted, and I’m not even doing the real work I am committed to do. It is a terrible thing to be afraid of my own community members, and know they’re probably just as afraid of me. Ultimately, the quest for political purity is a treacherous distraction for well-intentioned activists.”
A call for tolerance towards different paths rather than black&white points of view.

Pearls Before Swine

As a poet with major depression,” the author writes about seeing an owl in chains, I knew these eyes well. These were the eyes of a creature pushed beyond pain into numbness, overwhelmed with despair, and fading into the void. These were eyes I have seen on the street. These were eyes I have seen in zoos, in aquarium tanks, and in cages. These were eyes I have seen in prison, in psyche wards, and at funerals.

I knew these eyes because I have seen them reflected in the mirrors I have peered into before trying to kill myself. I knew these eyes because I have seen them in myself.”

Viewing human mental health through the lens of deep ecology he writes, We are animals and animals are an ongoing process of relationships. When those relationships become impossible, we lose ourselves. I do not believe I go too far when I write, We are no longer human. By weI mean civilized humans who live much like I do.
Confucian-inspired family values: a moral vision for thee 21stcentury – Henry Rosemont Jr, Huffington Post, 20160510
The autonomous individual simply does not exist in our daily life. Confucians view other persons not merely accidental or contingent to my goal of living a full life, they are fundamental to it. My life can only have meaning as I contribute to the meaningfulness of the lives of others, and they to me,” Rob de Laet writes in his summary of Rosemont’s blog. Gratitude, respect, loyalty are important values that when practiced on a daily basis towards all our relations cultivate their own meaning, their own sense of joy and happiness, so this is not some form of altruism or selflessness. In our yearning for a different society built around collaboration rather than competition we may assume that,Each of us comes from a family, and thus the revolution begins at home.
What does the end of our world look like from a Buddhist perspective? What is left to be done?
Those following my blog do almost certainly see that something is profoundly wrong with our set of living arrangements. Some if not all of you may agree that something must be done about it, and that it were basically better for it to go away. You heard me saying that building alternative structures while starving the old system of our contribution — distributed denial of servitude — was the way to go. That does not mean, though, you should fully ignore the system’s doings; knowledge about how it works and how you can extract yourself from its grip may be of vital importance in defining your own paradigm and successfully develop into actually living it. The same information may be important when it comes to a showdown, intentionally or not, between your life plan and society’s plans for you.

“Underminers” is a seminal comprehensive work in this field. The book which is available as a webpage, as a pdf, or in paper meticulously shows how the system undermined human faculties completely, but also how we in turn may undermine its hold on us and bring it crashing down.

Don’t think about going into noble lines of work, think only of doing what you do best. Because that’s where you’re going to make the most difference in the world.
Action is the antidote to despair. The author of “Ishmael”on the question what every single person on Earth could do.

Cartoon

The train of civilization
“Waiter! There’s a fly in my soup”

Famous Last Words

Humans are not like mice!

Carbon confusion

While climate scientists naturally keep an eye on human carbon emissions as the main driver of global warming, people like Charles Eisenstein have been wondering whether the problem / solution approach makes any sense in handling the planetary crisis. ‘Carbon reductionism‘, as he calls it, is just an expression of the underlying worldview that created and fostered the crisis; our sense of separateness that makes us think we could manipulate and shape the ‘external’ world according to our likings. We have failed achieving the desired outcome and instead have created a situation that threatens to wipe out millions of species, our own among them. What makes us think we could find our way out of this with just a little more (geo) engineering?

Eisenstein’s perspective may not be easy to digest when all you ever believed in were rational thought and scientific research results. But rationality may go wrong and lose its grip on reality quite a bit, especially when its conclusions are founded on assumptions, or doctored data even.

Recently I am running more and more often into the assertion that anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases had peaked and were levelling around 36 Gtons of carbon during the last three years. Trying to find out where this figure is coming from I discovered what I intuited already: that human industrial gas output has not been measured, cannot be measured, and is utterly based on industrial claims about the amount of fossil fuels burnt. It’s all paper declarations.

At the same time, greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere have actually been measured and found increasing, with no sign of even the rate of increase reducing. I find it probable that emissions have continued rising exponentially while governments and industries claim they had done their level best to curb them. Nobody can actually know where all the surplus gases in the atmosphere are coming from exactly. We only know they are there, on the rise, and they are here to stay.
Until only weeks ago I did not notice a single article in which the claim that greenhouse gases had levelled off has been questioned in any serious way, and I find this somehow peculiar when there is a lot of cynicism going around regarding corporate sources of information. After all, manipulation of deceptive practices to hide global warming and its source have been well documented.


source: GCP, licence: CC

“This result is part of the annual carbon assessment released today by the Global Carbon Project, a global consortium of scientists and think tanks under the umbrella of Future Earth and sponsored by institutions from around the world,” reported ‘The Conversation’ (Global carbon emissions have stalled“, by Pep Canadell et al., 20161114)

The graph states that the economy is still growing and that the alleged drop in carbon emissions is based on Chinese figures about their coal use.

The industry uses those ‘level’ figures because they seem to show that the age of fossil fuels is over anyway and that it’s not worth people’s time to think about regulations. They want their fictional carbon budgets last a little longer.

Governments embrace the figures because they seem to show that their efforts with curbing global warming are gaining traction and that emissions have decoupled from economic growth.

Climate scientists who think civilization can be saved use those numbers to call for more personal action, development of ‘green’ energy infrastructure, or even financing their pet geo-engineering technology.

And the doomer community, yes, it has an interest in upholding those figures as well; after all, the implied growing discrepancy between stalling industrial emissions and rising atmospheric carbon levels strongly supports the notion that Earth’s climate has entered a runaway mode of change.

When government, industry, and various shades of the environmental movement unite in embracing ominous figures, it makes me wonder what’s going on. While we cannot expect industry, corporate-controlled governments, and their gate keeping scientists and journalists to tell the truth, truly concerned people need to take a second look at the assumptions connected to above mentioned figures. Please note that I am not saying that non-human feedback loops hadn’t been triggered, just that I doubt the figures delivered by governments and industries. Those are very likely twisted, and certainly not based on reliable facts.

An article in the ‘National Observer’ (These ‘missing charts’ may change the way you think about fossil fuel addiction, by Barry Saxifrage in Analysis, Energy, 20170713), for the first time, wonders if those figures make any sense at all. It presents evidence that there is no reason to believe anthropogenic carbon emissions have so much as stopped rising at all. Paul Beckwith, climate scientist at the University of Ottawa, just now also expresses doubt. (“Fossil fuel use is rising like there is no tomorrow 20170726)

Absent solid data, and regarding the root causes of the planetary predicament, what actually needs to happen is a profound rethinking — or rather, re-sensing — of humanity’s nature and place in the Universe. If we are to come to our senses all of the distractions which keep the mind busy need to fall away: entertainment, belief systems, career, money, consumerism… you name it. The falling-away of all the confusion they cause would shatter our whole way of life, otherwise called industrial civilization.
What is in the way? Only addiction and fear.
The interesting thing about it is that this is not about doing more but less, and that the way is identical to the goal.

The Empire Express, 28 June 2017

Editorial

Three distinct areas have emerged as today’s focus points: clear indication of the climate’s rapid deterioration, studies in anthropology and sociology, and the battle to bring down the Megamachine. You might also express it in terms of observation – realization – action; or, past – present – future.
A lot of that has close relationship to food supply which is absolutely no surprise to anyone who pays attention to their basic needs.
The question of how to deal with the dire realities of today’s world permeates many publications even when their main topics seem harmless. The threat of a global war, nuclear war even, and the collapse of our culture is hovering over our heads; anarchists, anti-imperialists, environmentalists and primitivists are pondering the role of violence in their struggle to save whatever they are out saving. Does pacifism equal collaboration with the omnicidal System? Is there a moral obligation to use violence against things and/or people? Or is there another way?
I think those belong among the most burning questions of our times, and while I personally tend to favour nonviolent liberation I do suppose that some situations might require the application of force. Can’t plan this beforehand, though, because it depends on the specifics of the moment. In any case, let compassion prevail. Don’t act from a place of hate.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news
Climate scientists reveal their fears for the future – Kerry Brewster, ABC news, 20170627
An Australian climate scientist studying heat waves says, “I don’t like to scare people but the future’s not looking very good.“She and many of hercolleagues have second thoughts about having children and they are moving to places like Tasmania where temperatures are lower – as do many of the rich and powerful. If you need reliable indication of an impending climate collapse, here tweetsyour canary.
Carbon in atmosphere Is rising, even as emissions stabilize– Justin Gillis, New York Times, 20170627
That raises a conundrum: If the amount of the gas that people are putting out has stopped rising, how can the amount that stays in the air be going up faster than ever?”
If you are aware that various tipping points have been reached beyond which self-reinforcing feedback loops kick in you do not need to read this article. Just share it with people who wonder what is going on.
Both climate change and political issues may interrupt global trade at any moment now. A number of African countries depend heavily on food imports, but the problem is not theirs alone. The failure of raw materials and fossil fuel supply is sure to fell the economies of developed countries in no time. The whole situation is a threat to all of global industrial civilization and has a potential to bring it down permanently – which is why big harbours, channels, and straits have been identified as trouble areas by the anti-capitalist movement.
Subsea permafrost on East Siberian Arctic Shelf in accelerated decline – interview by Nick Breeze with Dr Natalia Shakhova and Dr Igor Semiletov, Envisionation, 20170624
Latest research results show that the threat of a multi-gigaton outburst of methane from the ESAS is real and would have severe and immediate impact on the world’s climate.
The twilight of anthropolatry – John Michael Greer, Ecosophia, 20170621
Check out any other issue where the survival of industrial society is at stake, and you’ll see the same thing. In case after case, it takes very little work to identify the habits and lifestyle choices that are dragging our civilization to ruin, and only a few moments of clear thinking to realize that the way to avert an ugly future has to begin with giving up those habits and lifestyle choices. Yet that last step is unthinkable to most people. It’s not just that they refuse to take it, for whatever reason; it’s that they don’t seem to be able to wrap their brains around the idea at all.”
Then what is it that keeps people from acting according to their best knowledge? After all, civilized humans deem themselves the most intelligent species on Earth by far. We even call ourselves homo sapiens, wise apes. The author thinks that we cannot believe anything will ever be able to come and bite us because of “A paradigm that insists that human beings are above nature—in the full literal sense of the word, supernatural—and therefore can’t possibly need to rethink their own choices for nature’s sake.”
Though the concept is not exactly new JMG puts it in a way that helps with reconsidering humanity’s place in the greater scheme of things. We are divine, but no more so than squirrels and apple trees.
Forbes’ “Go Bust” prescription for Indian farmers is a death warrant– Colin Todhunter & Binu Mathew, Countercurrents, 20170614
A piece in one of the ‘finest’ business magazines, on the need to industrialize Indian agriculture, led to this systematic rebuttal of both the analysis and the conclusion of Forbes’ neoliberal line of argument. Well written, but I am missing the insight that, very soon, the world is running into a food crisis and no one is going to eat if farming productivity is getting measured in financial rather than nutritional value.
The business model of big agribusiness in the US is based on overproduction and huge taxpayer subsidies which allow it to rake in huge profits. However, it drives a model of agriculture that merely serves to produce bad food, creates food deficit regions globally, destroys health, impoverishes small farms, leads to less diverse diets and less nutritious food, is less productive than small farms, creates water scarcity, destroys soil and fuels/benefits from World Bank/WTO policies that create dependency and debt […]
While [Forbes author Tim] Worstall argues that unproductive agriculture is a burden on society, it is not agriculture that has been the subsidy-sucking failure he imagines it to be. It has been starved of investment while the corporates secure the handouts. If anything, farmers have been sacrificed for the benefit of the urban middle classes whose food has been kept cheap and whose disposable income and consumer spending provides the illusion of growth.”
Earth is not in the midst of a sixth mass extinction – Peter Brannen, The Atlantic, 20170613
Interesting read. But palaeontologist Doug Erwin’s argument does not convince. First of all, mass extinctions may have similarities to failing power grids but they are not that, not pieces of technology. It’s simply an analogy like, comparing civilization to a ship, or seeing life as a journey, and it might be just as wrong as the computer/brain analogy. Secondly, previous mass extinction events played out over thousands or even millions of years before the collapse was complete. As we cannot foresee how the extinction of a certain species affects the web of life as a whole, we cannot tell whether key species of today have already vanished or not. We might already be over the edge (or we might not, agreed). Saying that today’s ecosystems don’t look like they were 90% collapsed is like driving a car at top speed over a cliff saying, a crashed car wouldn’t make one hundred miles per hour. From the figures I know the world has lost more than 90% of its vertebrates and insects populations within the last 100 years, and that is a pretty close call for extinction. Add to this the increasing speed at which we eat up living beings and destroy habitats, then look at ocean acidification, abrupt climate change, global pollution, and disastrous technological events, and do not forget to include the general disregard for non-human beings when money enters the game; then tell me again about being alarmist.
Mandsaur agitation: how demonetisation brought MP farmers onto streets – Aman Sethi & Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times, 20170612
Humanity’s behaviour towards the world we inhabit is often described as ‘soiling our nest’. Most civilized people definitely got mental issues when it comes to natural processes, even when they are being adapted for human use, like in agriculture. The average consumer looks down upon their farmers, and generally feels that food prices are too high. But those who produce the vital goods each and every one of us depends upon work the hardest and longest, earn the least, and take the highest risks. Some of the governments know very well that they cannot stay in power if the farmers become aware of their potential leverage. That’s why they are getting shot at while the general public doesn’t care. People don’t care in Delhi, they don’t care in Auroville, they don’t care in Berlin or New York or Buenos Aires or Cairo. They don’t care in your home town, and likely you don’t care either, do you?
Maybe you should. Because when the day of food shortage comes it’s the farmers who will eat, if anyone. I say ‘If anyone’ because it seems more likely that, with all the obstacles and hardships put on the farmers, and with all the destruction brought upon the landbase, no one will eat.
Paris 2 degree rise relates to 1750 – Paul Beckwith, 20170610
The Canadian climate scientist explains where some of the confusion about the actual rise in global average temperature comes from.
It’s habitat, habitat, habitat, stupid – Robin Westenra, Seemorerocks, 20170607
An essay discussing our crop plants’ dependence on habitat, and the dependence of civilization on crop plants.
Vanessa Beeley on White Helmets, Syria – Sane Progressive, 20170526
It is thanks to a handful of independent investigative journalists that we can see the extent to which the public is being fooled into believing that governments were fighting morally good wars. The war in Syria not only shows that this is true for the West’s attack against yet another sovereign nation, but for the whole so-called War on Terror which is really only a deadly sham. In Syria, it is no longer ISIS or al-Qaeda who are being bombed by Western troops. Vanessa Beeley, Eva Bartlett and others did a great job describing how the so-called terrorists are being financed by Saudi, Israeli, US, and UK governments. Especially disgusting is the role of the White Helmets that our media style into angels. But listen to the reporter for yourself.
Now: The Invisible Committee – Non (copyriot.com), 20170520
This world is no longer to be commented on, criticised, denounced. We live surrounded by a fog of commentaries and of commentaries on commentaries, of criticisms and of criticisms of criticisms, of revelations that trigger nothing, except revelations about revelations. And this fog takes away from us any hold on the world. There is nothing to criticise in Donald Trump. The worst that one can say about him, he has already absorbed, incorporated. He embodies it. He wears as a necklace all of the grievances that one could ever imagine holding against him. He is his own caricature, and he is proud.”
This is not an essay about the US president.
The truth is not something towards which we would tend, but a non-evasive relation to what there is. It is not a “problem” except for those who already see life as a problem. It is not something that one professes, but a way of being in the world. It is therefore not something that is possessed, or accumulated. It is given in a situation, from moment to moment.”
It is a call for an anarchist revolution, written by an “Invisible Committee” of authors that has, ten years ago, published “The coming insurrection.” Its analysis of the global predicament goes deep, its scope of interest is wide, and although I am really not a friend of applied violence I have to admit that its place in the grander scheme of things seems properly defined.

Pearls Before Swine

A collection of older articles that – obviously – didn’t change the world.
The demoralized mind – John F. Shumaker, Newint, 201604
Unlike most forms of depression, demoralization is a realistic response to the circumstances impinging on the person’s life […]
Research shows that, in contrast to earlier times, most people today are unable to identify any sort of philosophy of life or set of guiding principles. Without an existential compass, the commercialized mind gravitates toward a ‘philosophy of futility’, as Noam Chomsky calls it, in which people feel naked of power and significance beyond their conditioned role as pliant consumers. Lacking substance and depth, and adrift from others and themselves, the thin and fragile consumer self is easily fragmented and dispirited […]
Cultural deprogramming is essential, along with ‘culture proofing’, disobedience training and character development strategies, all aimed at constructing a worldview that better connects the person to self, others and the natural world.”
International migration flows: tracking the trends – Down To Earth, based on UN international migrant stock 2015
In 2015, the world saw the highest levels of forced displacement recorded since World War II. There was a dramatic surge in the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people across the world.”
Ho’oponopono for beginners.
Thinking on a clean slate: preface to the human story – M. J. John, Human First – Thinking Beyond Industrial Civilization, 20141208
Nothing could be more misleading than the idea that computer technology introduced the age of information. The printing press began that age, and we have not been free of it ever since.
[…] Everything from telegraphy and photography in the 19th century to the silicon chip in the twentieth has amplified the din of information, until matters have reached such proportions today that for the average person, information no longer has any relation to the solution of problems.
[…] For most humans living today, it is hard to imagine life without technology – without second-hand intelligence-dependency. But on the scale of human history, the
Internet and mobile devices are recent inventions, a few decades back, and the modern science and technology a few centuries back. Until just 5,000 years ago, we lived in small groups, hunting and gathering. While that life might seem to be ancient, it is also the life for which our bodies and our brains are adapted. So, we have something to learn from people who still live naturally, as we did for almost 99.9% of human life here on Mother Earth.
[…] In ancient Greece, even slaves had a deep social role as part of a household, unlike even higher class modern workers, who are valued as things, interchangeable as parts in engines of profit. Medieval serfs worked fewer hours than modern people, at a slower pace, and passed less of their money up the hierarchy. We declare our lives better than theirs in terms of our own cultural values. If medieval people could visit us, I think they would be impressed by our advances in alcohol, pornography, and sweet foods, and appalled at our biophobia, our fences, the lifelessness of our physical spaces, the meaninglessness and stress of our existence, our lack of practical skills, and the extent to which we let our lords (leaders of religion, government and market) regulate our every activity. They are sure to consider us as pitiful creatures.
[…] Supposing there were no books, TV, radio, the newspapers, phone and the Internet, we would know very little of what went on or is going on in the world. We would have fewer thoughts, fewer second-hand ideas. Being less cluttered up mentally, we would be better able to concentrate on things near at hand. We would be able to live more intensely. Perhaps we would be closer to REALITY, the real knowledge or the TRUTH. This was, of course, the condition of our ancestors in bygone days, even as it is still the condition of many people untouched by industrial civilization in some of the so-called ‘undeveloped’ countries.”
A veeery long essay taken from the book “Life on meltdown: exposing the root of this genocidal collective stupidity”by M. J. John, and it has, of course much more to tell, beyond critisizing industrial civilization. I chose to quote these passages, especially at such length, because, for the resolving message to come across, it takes for the reader to let go, just one moment, of the idea that humanity is living at the apex of its abilities. There aremassive amounts of evidence today that both human intelligence and human sensory and memory functions are actually in decline. Think of it.
An anthropologist’s presentation regarding tribes of the Northern Congo basin, explaining the locals’ understanding of equality and its rootedness in different kinds of blood. Beyond the social equality – between men and women, old and young people, strangers and family, and all kinds of other dichotomies – there is also equality between human and non-human populations in their forest. I found it interesting to see how the concept of equality differs between civilized and tribal nations. Profound differences in lifestyle result from that.
This book is about fighting back. The dominant culture—civilization—is killing the planet, and it is long past time for those of us who care about life on earth to begin taking the actions necessary to stop this culture from destroying every living being […] it won’t stop doing so because we ask nicely.”

Cartoon

The train of civilization
“Must go faster!”

Famous Last Words

It can’t happen to us.

The Empire Express, 2 June 2017

Ongoing Assault

Recent news
A relation of love with the land – Manu Sharma, Ecologise, 20170530
When humans love the earth they live upon, when they truly see each part of the ecosystem as equal and valuable, when they build a non-violent relationship with it, something magical occurs […] Balance is restored in a matter of years.”
One week’s headlines on abrupt climate change – Robin Westenra, Seemorerocks, 20170526
One fine analyst you should have heard of if you are concerned about global warming is Robin Westenra. Many of the articles I have been wading through on collecting interesting material for the Empire Express are gathered in one of his latest essays, a digest of news on research on, and results of, abrupt climate change. Though it shows just one one-week’s segment of a really huge pie, the headlines illustrate the rapid decline of the situation, an unraveling which goes on week after week after week at increasing speed.
The empty brain – Robert Epstein, Aeon, 20170518
A very interesting piece on the history of the cognitive sciences and the myth of the brain/computer analogy.
The willingness to face traumas — be they large, small, primitive or fresh — is the key to healing from them. They may never disappear in the way we think they should, but maybe they don’t need to. Trauma is an ineradicable aspect of life. We are human as a result of it, not in spite of it.”
The extent to which the planet gets turned into trash and poison is truly staggering.
“We need to drastically rethink our relationship with plastic,” [Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the University of Tasmania] said. “It’s something that’s designed to last forever, but is often only used for a few fleeting moments and then tossed away.”
The globalization of misery: Mosul on my mind – by Tom Engelhardt, Information Clearing House, 20170515
“The globalization of misery doesn’t have the cachet of the globalization of plenty. It doesn’t make for the same uplifting reading, nor does skyrocketing global economic inequality seem quite as thrilling as a leveling playing field (unless, of course, you happen to be a billionaire). And thanks significantly to the military efforts of the last superpower standing, the disintegration of significant regions of the planet doesn’t quite add up to what the globalists had in mind for the twenty-first century. Failed states, spreading terror movements, all too many Mosuls, and the conditions for so much more of the same weren’t what globalization was supposed to be all about.”
I’m not so sure about intentions. After all, it is the difference in wealth that keeps the shareholders happy.
How do you degrow an economy, without causing chaos? – Jonathan Rutherford, Resilience, 20170515
Well, how do you? I guess we never had a nation willingly walking away from progress, and doing so without leaving plenty of shards. Our timeframe is pretty short, and we are living in a system that is based on growth, so you can’t just slowly adapt to no-growth or negative-growth conditions. Grassroots movements may have to play a role here; if they gained traction, the state might hook up by nationalizing corporations, Rutherford says. (topic relates to the Ted Trainer interview; see below)
Prepping for the end of the world – Mike Sliwa, The Good Men Project, 20170514
Maybe dying has a lesson that outweighs the frantic struggle to survive?“
Recent studies have shown that there’s a direct correlation between climate change and CKDu [chronic kidney disease of unknown origins]. The disease affects farm workers across the globe […these]are the very people who provide the basis of our economies and lifestyles. Climate change will impact our entire economic system and CKDu is potentially a canary in the coal mine, a warning of what is to come.“
There is a large contingent within the biosphere that would love to see ants take over after humans step down,” said Eldridge, who cited the insects’ tireless work ethic, longer tenure on the planet, and ability to work well in groups.“
Hilarious!
Where have all the insects gone? – Gretchen Vogel, Science, 20170510
Observations in the wild in Germany show that insect populations have dropped by 78% in 24 years. That’s worse than the decline in vertebrates.
People acquainted to me know that I have a pretty simple, radically downgraded lifestyle. I go to bed shortly after the sun sets; I get up at dawn. My place is more or less a roofed platform with grills for walls, so it’s very open to its environment. Most of the wake times in bed I just listen to the birds, crickets and frogs, and though their numbers have audibly fallen we still have a huge biodiversity existing in our farm. I enjoy being with those fellow creatures every day. After all, “you only get so many Mays in your life”,says ornithologist Tony Whitehead who invites people for forest walks at dawn. I know what Tony is talking about, and he’s right. How many of those Mays do we actually remember? I confess, I have difficulties recalling even one. Springtime memories, yes. But how old was I back then? And, was it May, or April? It’s really better not to reduce one’s nature time to Sundays or, worse, to postpone it till after pension, but to be out constantly, consciously.
“Only now, once you’re outside and engaging with this stuff, is the basis for a meaningful engagement and then a meaningful advocacy for the natural world can come about. You have to get out here”.
Especially recommended article.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley explained, “[W]e can’t honestly say that we can protect our people by allowing the bad actors to have them, and those of us that are good, trying to keep peace and safety not to have them.” North Korean president Kim Jong-un could have said the same thing about his seven nuclear warheads, especially in view of US bombs and missiles currently falling on seven countries.”
Commercial opportunities are vastly outweighed by damage to the climate,”the unknown author subtitles his or her considerate article. Several problems standing in the way of an Arctic gold rush are described. “Nothing, however, looms larger than the potential for environmental calamity.” Given that countries were unlikely to keep within the limits of the Paris Agreement, more radical measures – various ways of geo-engineering — needed to be taken. But,
Even if such ways to cool the planet could be managed on the vast scale necessary, other unwelcome outcomes cannot be discounted. When volcanoes release vast amounts of aerosols and sulphates into the air, they damage the ozone layer—might the same be true for geoengineering?”
Overall it seems that the time has come for climate change to hit the mainstream press, which is quite surprising, but truly astonishing for a magazine like this is the article’s summary:
To ensure political and commercial stability in a defrosting Arctic, and to limit the harm caused by and to the warming pole, countries need to pay it far greater attention. The danger is that it is already too late.”
With all the natural sinks exhaling their carbon quickly, the (non-existent) efforts of mankind to curb emissions have exactly no consequences for the outcome.
This high-level waste must be isolated from the environment for one million years – but no container lasts longer than 100 years. The isotopes will inevitably leak, contaminating the food chain, inducing epidemics of cancer, leukemia, congenital deformities and genetic diseases for the rest of time. This, then, is the legacy we leave to future generations so that we can turn on our lights.”

…provided there are future generations.

Pearls Before Swine

A collection of older articles that – obviously – didn’t change the world.
Towards a unitive life: An interview with Shyam BalakrishnanS. Sharath & Jayan P.M., Ecologise, 20151105 [as featured in Keraleeyam Magazine; translated from the Malayalam by the interviewee]
The interviewee became famous in India after he has been falsely accused of being a Maoist and has been harassed and arrested without warrant by the police. Kerala High Court acquited him, ordering the state to compensate him, because “being a Maoist is not a crime”. Balakrishnan does have radical thoughts, though. He talks of the irreconcilable relation between democracy, nation-state, and capitalism, advocating the fostering of a non-dual, unitive existence which respects life.
The essential truth about us is our oneness… Those living in the delusion of a private life are missing the greatest beauty that nature holds.”
Since the nation-states contradict the natural and basic principles of life, they must fall. The sense of otherness and territory are the prime capital of nationhood. We must fully accept that every community has its own culture and unique characteristics but this doesn’t make it necessary to have a territory guarded by armed human beings.”
we have to integrate all the values ranging from food to freedom scientifically and we must live that through infinite diversities.”
Ted Trainer Interview on ‘The Simpler Way’– Jordan Osmond & Samuel Alexander, The Simplicity Institute, 201511
The current crisis can be taken as an opportunity to shift to a simple lifestyle. The Australian academic explains why there is no way capitalism could be reformed, and why there is no need for fear of an impoverished existence. There are indeed ‘benefits’ from ending consumerism…
What it would really take to reverse climate change – Ross Koningstein & David Fork, IEEE Spectrum, 20141118
Two engineers at Google report on their failed attempts at tackling the climate issue by providing cheap renewable energy.
Those calculations cast our work at Google’s RE<C program in a sobering new light. Suppose for a moment that it had achieved the most extraordinary success possible, and that we had found cheap renewable energy technologies that could gradually replace all the world’s coal plants—a situation roughly equivalent to the energy innovation study’s best-case scenario. Even if that dream had come to pass, it still wouldn’t have solved climate change.”
So even if we listened to our best experts, started right now, and put all our energy into it – we are still running against a wall, one of them being the financial bottom line against which they fought an uphill struggle.
There are, no doubt, all manner of unpredictable inventions that are possible, and many ways to bring our CO2 levels down to Hansen’s safety threshold if imagination, science, and engineering run wild.”
One may dream, of course, but when our lives depend on it we’d better come up with something more solid, no?
We’re hopeful, because sometimes engineers and scientists do achieve the impossible.”
Hopium, Hopium. Some day I might win the lottery, but from my experience, it is rather like, sometimes you lose, and sometimes somebody else is winning.
We can’t yet imagine which of these technologies will ultimately work and usher in a new era of prosperity—but the people of this prosperous future won’t be able to imagine how we lived without them.”
There! The golden age, lingering just around the corner. Let’s face it: money is one of the major problems in the game, and most people rather believe in fantasy tech than to imagine a world without currency. What it would really take to reverse climate change is for industrial civilization to cease existing, and for mankind to survive and wait a few million years until the planet finds a more human-friendly mode of operation again.
Why Capitalism makes us sick – Dr Gabor Maté, 20140928
From the perspective of a physician who specializes in the study and treatment of addiction and is also widely recognized for his perspective on Attention Deficit Disorder, Dr Maté explains the connection between psychological and physical sicknesses, and inhowfar those are being caused by the way we organize work and society. No surprise there, but this is a well presented analysis. See also his interview “Attachment, Disease, Addiction“.

Cartoon

The train of civilization
“Dear Passengers! Travelling at our current high speed, we are going to get term… uhm, I mean, arrive at terminal before twenty-one hundred, faster than expected.”

Famous Last Words

“What do you mean, crash?”

The Empire Express, 12 May 2017

Editorial

 

A lot of the material presented here may seem unpleasant to the unprepared eye. If you think so, there are two points to keep in mind.
First of all, that something looks unpleasant doesn’t mean we should look the other way. It is just one facet of things as they are. Yet those are some facets mainsteam media chooses to avoid or to make them appear less serious than they are. To achieve a more accurate picture of the world at large, though, these aspects need to come to one’s awareness. Those who prefer to consume standard news from abundant corporate or government sources – be free to switch programs.
Secondly, you may ask yourself why I chose to focus on those unpleasant aspects of reality. The answer is, that I prefer truth over propaganda, and that, by having a more accurate picture of the situation, I may respond more aptly. When we view information as merely ‘interesting’, ‘entertaining’, or ‘thrilling’, it becomes meaningless. Every event carries a lesson. It has something to tell about how well our actions are aligned with what-is. When our path is littered with suffering, conflict, catastrophe, and other unpleasant debris, it suggests that something doesn’t work in the way we see and handle things. This has collective aspects to it, but also carries lessons for the individual. When it seems like we are just little cogs in a giant machine who cannot change much, that is true, regarding the machine, yes; at the same time it is not true regarding the impact we can have on the origins of suffering, both materially and spiritually.
Those links which lead to the less unpleasant stories may help with understanding how that works.

Ongoing Assault

Recent news
Towards an ethics of permanenceNyla Coelho & Dr. M.G. Jackson, Ecologise, 20170510
The authors are “calling for a fundamental transformation of our perceptions of reality, and a befitting code of conduct to govern our relations with one another and with every other entity on earth.”
As we are today, we should consider ourselves to be ill; in dire need of healing. Our illness has been brought about by our many failures to act in accordance with the ethical imperatives of the core pattern of relationships underlying manifest phenomena. These failures are due to ignorance or inadvertence. Healing can occur if we endeavour to be mindful of the imperatives of the active causal agency that shapes and governs all beings and their activities, and act in accordance with it. This applies to our personal emotional and physical health, as well as to that of our families, our communities, our nations and the larger global community of which all these are parts. The cumulative effect of all our individual illnesses is an ailing planet.”
[The article is a collection of excerpts from the book Tending Our Land: A New Story, Earthcare books, Kolkata, 2016]

Science presents to us another positive feedback loop that drives global warming without human intervention:
Measurements of carbon dioxide levels taken from aircraft, satellites and on the ground show that the amount of CO2 emitted from Alaska’s frigid northern tundra increased by 70% between 1975 and 2015, in the period between October and December each year. […]

Whereas soils 40 years ago took about a month to completely freeze over, the process can now take three months or longer. In some places in the state, the soil is not freezing until January, particularly if there is a layer of insulating snow. The result is a huge and continuing expulsion of CO2 [not to talk of methane].

A lot of models were predicting this thawing would happen, but not for another 50 to 100 years.”

Big polluters are headed for Germany for UN climate talks – Nathalie Baptiste, Mother Jones, 20170504
How the latest United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) comes into existence. It’s ok to feel a little bit disgusted.
Stark warning on health of oceans – Tim Radford, Climate News Network, 20170504
As the oceans heat up they take in more carbon dioxide, which means they become more acidic and less oxygenized – a threat to the marine food chain.
Crop failures in USA as a result of extreme weather events – Robin Westenra, Seemorerocks, 20170503
No one seems to be alarmed by the heat wave in India, not even the government of India. No one seems to be alarmed by the famines in Africa, except for the Africans. No one seems to be alarmed by crop failures in the US, except for the stock markets. It’s all just freakish events… yes?
The science of this article is based on the flawed IPCC/Paris figures (see my essay, 2°C to Midnight), but the message it carries is absolutely correct: “It’s a species-level emergency, but almost no one is actinglike it is.” And,“If we mean what we say, no more new fossil fuels, anywhere.”
Though that won’t be enough, as the already-developed resources carry us to 2,2°C (IPCC), or rather 6.5°C (Wasdell). Seriously.
The crazy scale of human carbon emission – Caleb A. Scharf, Scientific American, 20170426
Want some perspective on how much carbon dioxide human activity produces? Here it is.”
Careful, it’s getting graphic 😉
We can save life on Earth: study reveals how to stop mass extinction – Morgan Erickson-Davis, Truthout, 20170426
The deal is, to conserve around 50% of the planet’s land areas for proper functioning ecosystems – currently there are 15% under protection. ”Increasing protections and restoring degraded land would cost somewhere between $8 billion and $80 billion per year”, which is a joke compared to what is being spent on war. But then again, it is this greedy mindset of ours which drives us into war time and again that will keep us from doing it.
The deal reminds me a bit of historical divisions, say in Korea, where the opponents fear defeat and hastily agree to an armistice before it’s too late. Only that, this time, it might actually be so. It doesn’t ever work out, anyway. Look at Ethiopia/Eretria, or Israel/Palestine, or India/Pakistan, or Germany, or…
We will insist on fully transforming “our” part into the Anthroposphere, and we will have wars against the other part, for all the stupid reasons we have wars among human nations. First and foremost the capitalistic juggernaut is not going to stop the plundering of the world before it has felled and monetized the last tree on Earth. Meanwhile, experts are going to discuss which areas are worth protecting, or how this is going to effect the economy.
I don’t believe we see more than an ultra-shortterm result from such an endeavor. Humanity and nature are one. The insistence on a separation that has no reality anywhere else but in the mind can only lead to further crippling of both parts. Let’s overcome separation!
The upshot of the judges’ opinion? Monsanto has engaged in practices that have violated the basic human right to a healthy environment, the right to food, the right to health, and the right of scientists to freely conduct indispensable research.
The judges also called on international lawmakers to hold corporations like Monsanto accountable, to place human rights above the rights of corporations, and to ‘clearly assert the protection of the environment and establish the crime of ecocide’.”
A conversation with Helena Norberg-Hodge – Charles Eisenstein, A new and ancient story, 20170417
The author of ‘Sacred Economics‘ and the author of ‘Distant Futures: Learning from Ladakh’ have a dialogue on the reductionist assumptions regarding climate change and how to “attack” it, on localization as a means of healing wounds of all kinds, and how huddling together in ever larger numbers is a main driver to the convergence of crises this civilization faces today. They talk about cities, their functioning and the ramifications of their growth. What impresses me time and again about Charles is his ability to connect dots from very different areas in order to show the larger picture.
In the present day, the biomass of the entire human race is approximately equal to 300 million tonnes. This is more than double that of all large terrestrial vertebrates that lived on Earth prior to human civilization, and an entire order of magnitude greater than that of all vertebrates currently living in the wild. At 30.11 trillion tonnes, the size of the technosphere is five orders of magnitude greater than even that. It is the equivalent of every single square metre of Earth’s surface being covered with nearly 50kg of matter.”
According to Aspen, the total Mass of carbon in the whole biosphere is about 1 to 4 trillion tons. The comparison to our own collective weight shows that humanity is literally eating up the living planet as it develops its realm and grows in numbers.
I disagree with every single point made in this video, as far as those points are meant to discredit the ability of self-acclaimed and alleged ‘doomers’ in general and a certain professor emeritus in special. With his kitchen psychoanalysis Paul, who has made himself a name as a climate system scientist and proponent of geo-engineering, falls into the same traps he believes others have become victims of. Rather than refuting point by point, however, may I emphasize that Paul touches on something that is of relevance to every activist: the danger of getting hysterical about the news, of overrating single events, and of identifying with a specific interpretation of the facts. We need to be aware of the larger picture, and we need to check our facts in the light of new information and different opinions. Because we might be wrong. In the end, all predictions of the future are inaccurate projections. So… pass on the popcorn and relax 🙂

Pearls Before Swine

A collection of older articles that – obviously – didn’t change the world.
The only way I can honor Earth Day is to grieve all that has been lost, and to refuse to participate in the ongoing destruction.”
8 widespread but deadly eco-myths – Michael Thomas, Exposing the Truth, 20140821
Nice to have all this pointed out in a tidy fashion. People, in their human bubble, too easily forget that money, science, or ingenuity cannot bring back lost lives.
Recommended article, both as an introduction into the madness of our culture, and as a call for resistance. Hedges shows how the story of Captain Ahab, the main character of Moby Dick, is emblematic of what our culture is doing to the planet today. “The novel is the chronicle of the last days of any civilization,”he writes, because “Complex civilizations have a bad habit of ultimately destroying themselves […]
The difference this time is that when we go down the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new peoples to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed, hubris and idolatry.”
Ronald Wright once pointed out that our neolithic ancestors, as well, have been facing a fundamental change that required major changes in how people lived. Mankind, after having hunted every large species into extinction, parted into two directions; those who turned into tribal caretakers of the land, and those who continued as farmers and civilization founders; those who got the lesson and those who didn’t. It remains doubtful whether the latter will get it this time around, because “We believe, because we have externalized evil, that we can purify the earth. And we are blind to the evil within us.” Hedges.
On the positive side, he says, “we only need 1 to 5 percent of the population actively working for the overthrow of a system, history has shown, to bring down even the most ruthless totalitarian structures.”
Yet the stakes are high, especially for those bound to the machine who see clearer than others. In the face of a conflict of interest, “moral cowardice turns us into hostages.”
To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut-level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth—intellectually and emotionally—and rise up to resist the forces that are destroying us.”
AMEN!
Human extinction without a squeak? – Michael Thomas, Exposing the Truth, 20130407
The question why “no one” is taking the impending collapse of global ecosystems serious is being asked again and again. This article provides an answer from an emergency helper’s point of view.
The paper discusses the techniques of how alternate ways of acquiring knowledge are systematically getting eradicated through scientific discourse. See also my previous article, Cognitive Justice: Science and the Sacred.
A short history of progress – Ronald Wright, 2004
Wright argues that civilizations usually end up in a development trap. Technological items that seem beneficial in the beginning become staples before a society slips into addiction. What looks like a stairway to heaven is actually a highway to hell. The author describes the demise of some historical civilizations, analyzing which of their cornerstones gave way and made it collapse. For example,
We might think that in such a limited place [Easter Island], where, from the height of Terevaka, islanders could survey their whole world at a glance, steps would have been taken to halt the cutting, to protect the saplings, to replant. We might think that as trees became scarce, the erection of statues would have been curtailed, and timber reserved for essential purposes such as boatbuilding and roofing. But that is not what happened. The people who felled the last tree could see it was the last, could know with complete certainty that there would never be another. And they felled it anyway.”
There must be reasons why we do not react appropriately. One of them might be that,
We are running 21st-century software on hardware last upgraded 50,000 years ago or more. This may explain quite a lot of what we see in the news.”
Wright also describes the fall of Sumer and Rome, and briefly compares them to the cases of China, Greece, and Egypt. All this does of course have a meaning for our own situation in which we have reached the peak production of our main energy source at a time when environmental breakdown is well underway. When a civilization reaches the limits to growth it needs to acknowledge them or perish. It’s not like there were no precedences like the Maya, whom we can learn from. And what did the Maya do?
As the crisis gathered, the response of the [Maya] rulers was not to seek a new course, to cut back on royal and military expenditures, to put effort into land reclamation …, or to encourage birth control… No, they dug in their heels and carried on doing what they had always done, only more so. Their solution was higher pyramids, more power to the kings, harder work for the masses, more foreign wars … the Maya elite [was]squeezing the last drops of profit from nature and humanity.”
Doesn’t it sound awfully familiar to you? Does it make you feel like you want to smash the pathetic system and start all over again? Beware!
There is no going back without catastrophe. Those who don’t like civilization, and can’t wait for it to fall on its arrogant face, should keep in mind that there is no other way to support humanity in anything like our present numbers or estate.”
And maybe there is no other way left to go but to reduce the numbers and estate. Population and property were the main physical drivers of all civilizations – and their eventual unraveling. I know that our Empire, just like the Maya kings, is not willing to go slower, not to speak of decreasing its size. It should have taken steps four decades ago at latest. The end of the road has been reached. The current generation may experience the expected outcome of our civilization’s project of conquering the world.
The lesson I read in the past is this: that the health of land and water — and of woods, which are the keepers of water — can be the only lasting basis for any civilization’s survival and success.”
[The above link leads to a file containing the introduction to his 200p book.]

The train of civilization

“Are we going to arrive in time?” – “I think so. Emergency services are pretty quick these days.”

Famous Last Words

“Don’t worry. We can fix this.”

2°C to Midnight, or, In Paris We Trust

Just a few months ago, in November 2016, the world celebrated the coming-into-effect of the 2015 Paris Agreement on limiting anthropogenic global warming – only to get disappointed shortly after by the announcement of the POTUS-elect that he intended to cancel the treaty. The leader of one of the planet’s most polluting nations who is at the same time commander-in-chief of the US army, the single biggest polluter worldwide, has already started to dismantle mechanisms of environmental protection both at home and abroad. One could sing a very sad song about that, but I want to talk about something else here. As we will see by the end of this essay, the United States’ adherence or non-adherence to the Paris Agreement might be of marginal significance to the unfolding of climate change, if at all.

The Paris Agreement which has been signed by numerous nations on the 21st UN Climate Change Conference (COP 21) has actually been a breakthrough, somehow, because, for the first time, a majority of the world’s countries, including the US, have committed to far-reaching specific goals for environmental protection, in order to prevent catastrophic climate change. But that victory’s value is only of symbolic nature; it will not achieve what it is supposedly meant to do. Quite the opposite. Various scientists have pointed out that the treaty is simply misleading public opinion. The action to be taken will not only be insufficient, it is coming too late – by decades – and will result in inappropriate handling of this truly existential crisis of our planet. Therefore it is suitable for leading to great damage.

The Paris Agreement is mainly based on data collected, reviewed, evaluated, and presented by the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Its main goals – curbing global warming at 2°C above pre-industrial levels, ideally stopping it at 1.5°C, through national carbon budgets – derive from reports issued by the IPCC. Certainly it’d be unfair to demand infallability of those good folks, but criticism of the IPCC has been getting louder and louder over the years, and point is adding to serious point. Those who believe that the tide is turning, climate-wise, should definitely have a look at what the general public is being served as a major breakthrough. Let’s dive into matters from here on.

Composition
As its name suggests, the IPCC consists of government representatives of the world’s nations. Founded in 1988, its purpose has been to inform decision makers of the state of global climate. The IPCC appoints scientists which are to provide assessment reports. The last word on content and way of publication are with the IPCC, i.e. the governments, not with the scientists. The latest report has been issued in 2013 (AR5).

Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), of 2013
It is the scientist’s duty to come to an assessment of the future development of the global climate system. Their appraisal has to be based on solid data. Well, we all heard about climate change denial, and we would like to have a clear picture of what is going on, rather than having to rely on anybody’s best guesses. There is just one problem with solid data: it is old data. For scientific research to receive wider acknowledgement, the reports have to go through a lengthy process of checks and appraisals by fellow scientists, the so-called peer review. This usually takes two to three years before relevant journals are willing to print the report. Only then does the scientific community regard the data as solid. The assessment by the IPCC takes several years more, e.g. it is currently in its sixth cycle of assessment, the report of which is not to be expected before 2022. So the data grows old and older.

Climate, in the meantime, continues to change, and quickly. The current state of affairs is documented ‘merely’ through unreviewed measurements. Instead of working with those, the IPCC used computer models. There is much to criticise about that.
Models can provide only rough calculations of climatic mechanisms. Small causes below the resolution of the model can amplify into surprisingly huge effects. One example of this is the localised melt of the Greenland ice sheet through darker particles and its large-scale destabilisation through the resulting melt water.
Quite a few fundamental climate factors have been missing from the IPCC’s models, such as the greenhouse gases methane and water vapor, and the multiple effects of melting polar icecaps. Those factors are not merely adding up, they interact with each other. That means, instead of the expected (by IPCC) relatively steady increase we see a sudden escalation in figures, such as with global average temperatures and polar ice melt. Already more than seventy natural feedback processes have been identified which reinforce themselves and each other and drive the heating of the atmosphere without needing further human intervention. The IPCC does not acknowledge any of these feedback loops.
That’s why the IPCC has come to false predictions regarding polar ice melting, atmospheric temperature development and greenhouse gas concentrations, all of which are skyrocketing at unprecedented speed. No wonder – the models were completely inaccurate, as illustrated by the following chart.

measured data (red) as compared to modeled Arctic sea ice extent (blue).
[public domain / source: Wikimedia]

It is easy to see how inaccurate models prevent people from getting aware of the obvious emergency. Instead of an ice-free Arctic starting from somewhen between 2017 and 2025, IPCC predicts this so-called Blue-Ocean Event from 2100 on, when today’s decision makers will no longer be alive. Blue Ocean leads to significantly higher intake of solar radiation energy, resulting in higher water temperatures, and those will probably trigger massive outbursts of methane from the seabed; a sudden leap in atmospheric temperatures will be the consequence – exactly how the ‘Great Dying’ some 250 Million years ago came about, when more than 90% of all life forms went extinct.

Scientists tend to give conservative figures. That’s not new. Valuing the models with their systematic large-scale deviation higher than the real figures is. The intervention of governments in the interest of fossil fuel industries has played a major role in this, some scientists reported. Further window-dressing has been achieved by shifting the baseline. In the 80s, the UN held that a 1°C temperature rise above a pre-industrial baseline (1750) was beyond safe. Today, the IPCC is talking about 2°C as compared to a pre-industrial baseline, meaning 1880 (!) In those intermitting 120 years, global average temperature has risen by at least 0.3°C due to human activity. Recently we see more and more publications that use an even later baseline, thus playing down the level of warming the planet has already reached. Ordinary people watching the news usually won’t become aware of it; they will falsely believe that there is plenty of time for countermeasures while there isn’t.

David Wasdell, director of the Apollo-Gaia Project, previously coordinator of the Meridian Programme, comes to similar results. Years of climate research enabled him to draw a corrected version of the IPCC’s chart depicting the relation between industrial CO2 emissions, CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere, and expected global atmospheric temperature rise.

[source: Wasdell]

The top of the graph translates the weights of carbon into their equivalent amounts of CO2, in parts per million (ppm). This translates into a total amount of human carbon emissions measured in petagrams (PgC), shown on the lower edge.
The vertical axis shows the temperature increase which a certain amount of greenhouse gases may result in. This depends on the models used.
The blue line shows the steady increase the IPCC models project. This does not acknowledge greenhouse gases other than CO2, and it does not account for changes related to the melting of the polar ice caps. It doesn’t acknowledge the dynamics of natural processes.
The curved red line calculated by Wasdell does include some of these factors and is matching paleoclimatic precedence.

Wasdell’s analysis of AR5, in short:
„Avoiding dangerous climate change is no longer possible.“ The IPCC has delivered a systematically false report that does not describe the reality of climate change. Its proposals are misleading and allow for too much time to pass. „On these grounds the AR5 should be rejected as not fit for the purpose of policy-making.“ The specifics are frightening:

  • The temperature response to the 2014 set of emission-reduction pledges is about 10°C, not 4°C . This is where we are most likely headed as many states seem to have a hard time implementing the Paris Agreement.
  • If we actually performed as proposed by the AR5/Paris Agreement, we’d end up at 5.4°C, not 2°C.
  • The atmospheric CO2 concentration in 2014 already leads us to 3.9°C, not 1.5°C. The effect of other greenhouse gases which have been disregarded by IPCC needs to be added. The temperature increase locked in actually amounts to min. 6°C and will probably lead to a sea level rise of 23 meters, following precedents in Earth’s history, according to Guy McPherson. We don’t need to worry about wet feet, though, because a temperature rise by 3.9°C equals the extinction of the human race, following the demise of our crop plants.
  • The so-called CO2 budget of 300 gigatons which could supposedly get emitted before breaking the 2°C limit is wholly illusory. In reality the account was already overdrawn by 388 gigatons, with 10 gigatons of industrial carbon pollution being added every year. There is no budget to distribute. We have missed that exit decades ago, around 1970.

Those who do not shy away from climate technical vocabulary should have a look at Wasdell’s critical evaluation of the AR5.
If, for some reason, you find it wanting, there still remain a few inconvenient facts:
2°C are not a goal based in science. The limit has been set by the neoliberal economist William Nordhaus who tried to define conditions under which economic activity makes sense.
2°C are not a safe goal. This shows clearly from the increasingly numerous, increasingly massive natural disasters over the last few decades. Epic droughts, larger storms, rainbombs, quickly changing weather, extreme heat and cold – and all of these clearly more often today than in the past. It already devastates crops throughout the world, from Spanish lettuce to Californian almonds, from Australian sugar to Indian grains.
2°C are not a realistic goal, even by the assessment of the IPCC. AR5 states that it requires geo-engineering to achieve its 2°C goal (which is really 5.4°C), yet it fails to mention any specific technology that can accomplish this. Such a technology which could manipulate climatic factors in the short-term and on a global scale does not exist yet!

Summary:
The Paris Agreement of 2015 whose goals and policies mirror the fifth assessment report of 2013 of the IPCC exposes the community of life on Earth to dangerous climatic changes, says David Wasdell in his critical evaluation. Others – Sam Carana, Michael Mann, James Hansen, or Paul Beckwith – do call for immediate action. They propose a shift to renewable energy sources and demand geo-engineering of various kinds. In the absence of suitable geo-engineering technologies, and factoring in that the so-called renewables are not carbon-neutral at all, Professor Guy McPherson came to the conclusion that the train of civilization has jumped tracks and is heading for the bottom of the cliff.
Global warming might not be catastrophic, but rather apocalyptic in extent, as human activity has triggered a sixth mass extinction already which may only get worse on this quickly heating planet. It’s literally 2.5°C to Midnight.
I would have liked to end this essay with the words, „If that is so, who cares what America is doing or not doing?“ Yet the one thing America still may – and possibly will – do is to throw the planet into a nuclear winter, either deliberately to stop the warming, or as a byproduct of their pursuit of securing the remaining resources it needs for feeding its war machine.
You may think that all this is far out and that things could be worse than what you see outside your window. And that’s true. Yes they can.

Further links:

All the fools sail away

We bring you beautiful
We teach you sin
We can give you a piece of the universe
Or we will disappear
Never to return again

And all the fools sailed away…

– from the Dio album ‘Dream Evil’ (1987)
You may have noticed that I wrote recently that I am preparing for a collapse til around 2020 and I wonder somehow what you made of it. The statement itself may appear confusing, even ludicrous, especially when you know me closer or followed my blogs: I’m not at all a prepper. I don’t store canned food in the cellar, I don’t build bunkers, I don’t hide out in the mountains. When the time comes I’ll just perish with the rest of the community of life, likely early on. This is not something I’m looking forward to. I didn’t buy into a death cult. Life has become such a joy to me recently, but this was made possible with the emergence of the understanding only that living happens from moment to moment, with no guarantee there will ever be another. Preparing, to me, means that those moments of presence become the dominant, or the only, way of being, and that I’ll be able to contribute to other people’s wellbeing this way, especially when it matters most: in the end.
2020, yes, that’s quite a risky prediction. It leaves very little time for coping with the bleakness of a no-future future. If I still broke my head over shallow moral issues I’d be afraid of whipping people into a – possibly unjustified – panic. But I don’t, and people are denying the probability of extinction anyway, so there is no panic to be afraid of. The risk that I’m turning myself into a laughing stock is way more real, although I’m not afraid of this, either. If I were wrong, there’d be an off chance that, within the extra time, we curbed the worst consequences of our culture’s destructiveness, yet it also meant the prolongation of trillionfold suffering until the time civilization had actually reached its limits. It meant that, instead of being grateful for getting to live another year, self-acclaimed skeptics could continue to spew their cynicist acid like they always used to, and yet another round of global exploitation would unfold. Doomer dude was wrong. How convenient.
2020. Few people pretend to know the schedule of future history; I certainly don’t. I’ll not assert I’m right while everyone else is wrong. I don’t want to be right. Equally, I don’t want to be wrong when I look at the ever increasing pollution of water, soil, and air, when I observe the steep decline in social coherence, social justice and social peace, when I hear the drums of war drown out all other utterances. Global debt rises exponentially; so does human population. I see boreal forests burn up, temperate forests dry out, tropical forests getting clearcut. I see record melting of ice caps at both poles, both on sea and land, sea currents changing directions, reefs bleaching, and overfished littered oceans turning acidic and deoxigenized. Temperatures soar all over the planet, breaking records, megadroughts devastating large parts of several continents. The destruction of the ecosphere, hundreds of animal mass death events per year, also hundreds of species extinctions – per day! – and all this goes on for day after day after day while politicians speak after business managers who claim that economic growth is more important than lives. This is also what most activists from the green movement promote when they are proposing ways how to make money from ‘saving the world’. Shopping for good conscience we succumb to Hannah Arendt’s banality of evil. We are so brainwashed, we will never even consider starting ‘right now’ with anything, certainly not anything that is radical in nature. At a time when everything develops ‘faster than expected’, lip service to concern has become the last nail in the coffin of mankind. That’s why we’re fracked is a done deal to me, and it doesn’t really matter whether it happens tonight, or until 2020, or a couple of years later. I am talking near-term, I am talking inevitable. I am talking about mankind breaking everything including themselves, neither be willing nor able to stop the killing frenzy.
2020 is not a date to point at and say, ‘You’ll see!’ Boy, I wish everybody would see already, though most of us never ever will. 2020 reflects my understanding that things have become so unsustainable, people have become so mentally sick, problems have become so numerous, conditions have become so dire that the breaking point seems to have arrived.
I’m flying!
Employing the well-matching shipwreck metaphor we are past the iceberg, with a capital leak in the hull through which sea water presses into numerous sections. Some of the crew who notice the damage are beginning to drill more holes into the hull – for the water to flow off again, they say. Others are trying to get the captain to slow down the ship a bit which would reduce the amount of water coming in, but the radio is blocked with gossip, and some public-relations employee is praising the insurmountable Rolls Royce engines, inviting all passengers to enjoy the phantastic convenience on board. The only valuable piece of information received is the fact that the complete emergency rescuers team has joined the plumbers, for fixing a broken toilet flusher in the King’s Suite. The first mate, with the help of the purser, is plundering the safe while the staff are accusing each other of having stolen pencils from the chart table. The captain is sending a team of housecleaners around; they collect used tissues from recycle bins in each cabin to be stuffed into the fissure in the hull. Some people are still discussing where the annoying amounts of water are coming from and why it is so f***ing chilly. But most of us attribute our cold feet to a broken thermostate we believe we should fix somewhen soon. As the icy water quickly reaches our necks it is hard for me to imagine how the illusion of controlled normalcy could be upheld for much longer; certainly not until 2100. The sinking of a ship, like the decay of natural systems, is an exponential process that ends suddenly, cataclysmicly. Now you float, now you don’t.
For the third class – the Third World – the race for life boats has already begun while the folks on the upper decks still discuss the weather over a glass of Martini. And don’t you worry; even God couldn’t sink this ship! Nevermind them building last resorts in New Zealand, underground bunkers in the Rockies, fortresses of solitude in the Arctic, seed banks in Scandinavia, and spaceships to Mars.
There is no running away from karma, though, and to be among the last of men alive will constitute the ultimate punishment for those who took it onto their shoulders to drive the boat into the berg.

A bus and a truck: The multiple crises of civilization

Last December, I posted a concise explanation on the state of affairs regarding abrupt climate change – Deep into the spiral – and I concluded that the drastic rise in global average temperature might do homo sapiens in from this year on, due to the inability to grow enough food for our overshot world population. Plenty of research supports this statement. First signs of such a food crisis are failed crops in the US, Australia, Western Europe, India, and several African states within recent months. At the same time we see massive die-offs of sea animals big and small in all the oceans. As the perpetually rising temperatures and ever more numerous weird weather events might not allow for a return to normal, the ensuing mass starvation will wreck societies around the planet, thus leading to the collapse of global industrial civilization. With 435 nuclear reactors in operation and 1200 basins for cooling spent fuel rods, the loss of human capacity as well as the disappearence of the fossil-fuel-driven grid energy for maintaining these structures operational for another ten, or even hundreds of years, will result in desastrous nuclear explosions followed by catastrophic decline of all life on Earth.
Some governments might try and capture some vital resources beforehand, staking out their claims with ABC weapons. Needless to say that this would shorten humanity’s lifetime even further.

One can regard humanity’s multiple crises from many angles, social, environmental, cultural…, all of which point to cataclysmic events in the near future, certainly within my generation’s lifetime. Based on a report by HSBC bank, investigative journalist Nafeez Ahmed wrote on 6 Jan. 2017 that we should Brace for the oil, food and financial crash of 2018 because, “80% of the world’s oil has peaked, and the resulting oil crunch will flatten the economy”. While he might have the date wrong, we should ask in the light of modern research when, almost fifty years after the Club of Rome’s analysis, industrial civilization is going to hit the wall that the limits to growth posit. With the converging crises in mind, what is the timeframe we are talking about?
Recently I came across a study that described the thermodynamics of our culture’s energy consumption and their interaction with financial and economic mechanisms. You need to know that there are no freebies. It takes a certain amount of energy to do what you do. It takes a certain amount of energy to extract oil from the ground. Conventional petroleum originally came at very low energy investment, and that left the lion’s share of energy per barrel for industrial activities. As the world’s industrial productivity increased over time, more inconvenient deposits with lesser and lesser energy yield have been drilled into, and we also saw the decline in conventional oil production happen from 2005/2006 on. More expensive unconventional sources with even lesser energy yield became attractive – speaking tar sands and fracking, among others – but since 2015 they seem to be in decline as well.
So a rising demand hits a declining production. With fossil energy getting sparser, prices should rise, yet the declining harvest of net energy per barrel reduces the value for the customer. Once the energy used for extracting, processing, and transporting equals the energy content of the extracted raw material, it will no longer make sense, both energetically and financially, to pump the stuff, no matter how much we would like to have it.
As carbon is an irreplacable raw material that is needed for packaging, insulation, pesticides, jet fuel, powering of mining machinery, lightweight mechanical parts etc etc, the end of affordable oil will bring industrial activities to a sudden halt. Even so-called renewables and alternative energy sources are depending on oil for parts.
Read the details in, End of the “Oilocene”: The Demise of the Global Oil Industry and of the Global Economic System as we know it. 22 Jan. 2017 by FEASTA, the Foundation for Economics of Sustainability.
The bottom line is, energetically, 2021 is very likely the year we hit the wall, and again, political mistakes and military acts of desparation might both shorten the remaining time and worsen the consequences.
See the bus’ destination? [cc by Seattle Municipal Archives]

While I can follow the line of argument of the study it is hard for me to check the validity of the math. Whether the authors have nailed the date, or not, isn’t so much the point here as the fact that the multitude of crises converging on us are an unmistakable sign that our culture, global industrial civilization, is coming to its end, and soon. It is not like we had an awful lot of time to waste. From my understanding, it is late in life, and regardless of what you are intending to do – starting to push back the power of corporations, enjoying your time, or proceeding on the path to awakening – you need to do it right now. Unless we get run over by a bus and a truck, the collapse of civilization is for us to witness, front row & popcorn.

As mentioned above and in previous blog posts, our species is likely to exit the planet shortly after civilization collapses. This is not a question of which countermeasures we employ, which social systems we adopt, or which side in the eternal battle of Good vs Evil you and me are on. We cannot survive without all those species that create oxygen, purify the water, build up soil, and constitute the food chain we depend upon, yet we are utterly destroying those not only directly but by exposing them to an abrupt climatic change that unfolds tenthousand times faster than biological evolution. This is the singularity the techno freaks and futurologists have been talking about, but it’s coming at us from an unexpected angle.
You cannot live in a future that never arrives. Every day, every hour and minute counts. That I personally prepare for collapse before 2020 does not mean I had absolute proof from the data, yet combining all the information I have makes it highly probable to me that impact is imminent. I might be wrong on this account, yet it is an undeniable fact that lifetimes are limited. The recent passing of a beloved one only emphasized the understanding that all we have is just the moment, and that the one thing worth filling it with is love.
So the question remains, what are we going to do with the short time that is left to us? Are we living with urgency? Does it matter to us what we do today – the people we meet, the relationship we have with them, the joy of being alive we feel?
Or are we still working a job we don’t care about, meeting people we despise, and worrying about bills we have to pay? If so –Why?

Doom-dee-doom

Abrupt climate change and consequent near-term human extinction are minefields of their own. For most people I encounter they are next to ungraspable as concepts, and completely unimaginable as a reality. The kind of action me and some other folks from the so-called “doomer community” are proposing is yet another very difficult topic to bring across. We are using scientific data as means to point out the predicament we as a species have manoeuvered ourselves into; at the same time we reject science and technology as means to “solve the problem”. Why do we feel this way?
In an interview with Peter Melton, Zhiwa Woodbury argues:
“We allow ourselves to get bogged down in the debate over what the science says and what it doesn’t say. It’s the same kind of technological approach to the natural world that got us into this mess. it’s all about trajectories and predictions and scientific models, acquiring knowledge, learning about the climate crisis as if it is not us that is in crisis. What we need to consider and focus on is not, how all the pieces of the climate puzzle fit together into our model of externalities but rather the cycle of trauma and dissociation that is implicit in our own subjective and dysfunctional relationship to the natural world which is crying out to us in distress. Then, only then, will we begin to discover insights into how to respond to the crisis.”Viewing the Climate Crisis Through the Lens of Cultural Trauma, Extinction Radio ep. 47, Feb. 12 2016
First issue here is, as Guy McPherson likes to point out, a problem has solutions; a predicament hasn’t. (Why we better to consider ourselves being confronted with a predicament has been explained in previous articles here.)
Accordingly, further meddling with Earth’s systems, so-called geo-engineering, will fail to achieve the intended result, as quite a number of scientific reports show, or even worsenthe predicament. Our goal is not some sort of escape from the consequences of our actions as a species, but rather the acceptance of our role in the uglification and destruction of the living planet, and surrender to our not-quite-unlikely demise. Among the aims of the not-actually-gloomy-minded doomers are, reconnecting to the natural world, living with passion, and the effort to soften the impact on our fellow humans and non-human species as many of us go extinct.
Secondly, to understand that it has been technology that brought about our predicament, and that this technology is nearing the end of its ability to handle the climate situation – or any complex situation at all – is absolutely necessary for being able to open up to more fruitful paths of action. Like a rapist is hardly able to soothe his victim, so is technology not exactly a good choice when we think about healing the wounds it has torn into body and soul of the planet. Seen from this angle, again, geo-engineering cannot be regarded as an option. The patient, Earth’s biosphere, is about to die. Another surgery will not do, and surely not another face-lift, painkiller pill, or band-aid. If some of the planetary life force is supposed to survive civilization’s onslaught, it takes less, not more, technology interfering with its functioning. In other words, we need to learn again how to live as one species among millions of others, and in the appropriate way for humans; this certainly means slower, simpler, lower-tech, more respectful and humble, and face to face, in smaller groups.
Thirdly, the deeper reason for why science and technology won’t be able to help the situation is, they are based on the false assumption that the world ‘out there’ is a pile of mindless ‘resources’, that it is driven by an indifferent set of ‘mechanisms’, and that it can be manipulated and put to use at will, by humans. As a result, human activity, in its totality, has altered the chemistry and physics of the atmosphere and the oceans to a degree where they can function no longer the way we were used to. In effect, we unwittingly did perform an experiment in geo-engineering with the aim of rendering the planet inhabitable; all went well and we are supposed to go extinct within the next decade or so. While some may try and reverse the upward trend in global average temperature, many of us just don’t believe in this kind of ‘saving the Earth’ any longer. How many of those wanting to preserve civilization have ever asked what we need it for, in the first place? All this knowledge piled up, all those gadgets surrounding us, all that progress people try to achieve – what are they good for when they come at the price of our lives having become pointless and the planet going to shreds? What makes you think this is going to change if only we hold on a little longer?
There is no golden age right around the corner. There never was. Let’s face it: Our culture has let itself get lost in a nightmare of ever increasing, ever faster destruction from which we cannot see a way out because we got our premises wrong.
The dark side of modern science, and unfortunately it has one, does not arise from science itself, still less from any of the facts of nature. It arises from the impression we allow science to give us: the impression that we are merely biological machines in a meaningless material universe.”–Is there no other way?, by Michael N. Nagler, 2001.
Overcoming the false assumptions at the foundation of our crises might make the kind of difference that matters. It is not only the climate that has come off-balance; so many things and processes within and without our culture have suffered severe damage, and all for the same reasons: our obsession with separation and control.
Even former US secretary of defense, under Clinton, from 1993 to 1997, William J. Perry, who seemingly does not have spiritual understandings in mind says, in his memoirs,
“technical innovation, private profit and tax dollars, civilian gadgetry and weapons of mass destruction, satellite technology, computers, and ever-expanding surveillance are interconnected.”My journey at the nuclear brink, 2016
The politician also thinks that nuclear strategies are “surreal thinking”, and I concur in both of these statements. Our whole civilization is one vast surreal thought that disturbs our perception of what is really real. Our responses to the crises therefore are inappropriate, even adding to the destruction, and will eventually lead to our fall. When and how that happens, and how deep we fall depends to a certain degree on our collective ability to let go of our perceived entitlement to grid energy, supermarkets, automobility, and tap water.
If we fail to ‘save’ mankind from its fate, the demise of the biosphere can at least take on rather gentle than brutal form. While the world is certainly under no-one’s control, the state of awakening will be crucial to how it is all going to unfold. Healing one’s relationship with the world has a profound effect on everything and everyone around us, allowing for everyone to leave this life in peace.
In order to bring this essay to its conclusion, it needs to be said that it doesn’t take science if we want to understand the predicament as such. The damage done can be seen and felt in other ways as well; it is present within all of us as a background fear or pain. Referring to scientific facts, though, helps with waking up those who firmly believe that science represents the only way to grasp reality. There is more to the story, though. Aspects of life besides our physical existence are affected, and layers of reality beyond the scientifically observable are involved.
Science has every right to confine its attention to the physical, i.e. the outside world. It has no right to say, when it has done so, that it has given us the whole story”, says Michael N. Nagler in his book Is there no other way?
Science has contributed its share to dividing the world into the human and non-human realm. While it has been our deliberate separation from nature that has brought about our predicament, the perception of separateness is only an illusion. At no point have we ever been out of touch with the ‘objects’ we observed, or independent from the community of life we require for our survival; we need the bacteria in our intestines, the oxygen that green beings created, the food that consists of other life forms, and gazillions of other things made out of, or created by, other living beings. And that is just the physical aspect of life. We have been born as parts of this world and we do have an innate understanding of its workings. Our connection to the Source and our ability for wisdom never went away. We may trust our personal observations of the real world, and we should as well trust our gut feelings and intuitions about the situation we are facing. Looking at details, it sure seems complicated. Yet the grand picture is simple enough –
Our world stands before a severe change. Every human being should, from now on, try to live joyfully and peacefully for the rest of his or her life. This would really be the best. Everything else is meaningless and useless and there is no benefit in trying to think your way out of it […]
Humanity has arrived at a moment in time from when on our prayers – no matter whom to – will no longer be heard. There is no stopping what we are up against, no matter how hard we cry. –The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu.
As paradoxical as it may seem, in this moment of profound powerlessness, the final hour of a brief epoch called Anthropocene, when we get shaken up, tossed around, and beaten down by the inescapable consequences of our deeds, there is the unique chance of taking back responsibility for how we live. In the words of conservation biologist and climate researcher Guy McPherson,
Let’s give freely of our time, wisdom, and material possessions. Let’s throw ourselves into humanity and the living planet. Let’s act with compassion and courage. Let’s endow ourselves with dignity.
Even if all the data, models, assessments, and forecasts about abrupt climate change are incorrect, even if Earth can support infinite growth on a finite planet with no adverse consequences, I remain unconvinced there is a better way to live.” –Extinction dialogs: How to live with death in mind, 2015

A penny for your farts

I’d like to end the month with something weird (?) to ponder.
Whether our lives are predetermined or rather change their course according to our actions, is a question that has never been answered. The latter might trigger a chain of events, though, that is indistinguishable from deterministic fate. Like this:

Scientists have found out that carbon dioxide takes decades to have an impact on Earth’s average temperature. Today’s global average temperature is the result of carbon emissions back in the 20th century, and they already triggered seventy or more self-reinforcing feedback loops that increase temperatures further, without us having to push. A rise by 6C is already locked in and that means, our food base is as good as dead, and so are we.
Our worst onslaught against the previous climate equilibrium is yet to come, though — the even higher carbon emissions of the last few decades, and we are still continuing the pollution.

The sum total of our actions has driven the planet far beyond the treshold of habitability for humans; extinction is a done deal. I can only hope that this is not a problem for anyone. We all got our daily lives to live, deals to make, appointments to take, and scrape up some money for paying the carbon tax on our farts. Near-term human extinction comes somehow inconvenient, which is why many Americans tend to deny climate change. Europeans, ever so energy-efficient, don’t waste their time on denial; they just refrain from thinking the facts through to their very end, while the rest of the world truly doesn’t know what is in store for us. But ignorance is no excuse. Cling together, swing together, and we are just dead men walking.

“All individual organisms die. When the last individual of a species dies, the species is extinct. All species go extinct. Although there is no reasonable counter to these obvious statements, most people refuse to believe humans will be extinct in the near future. In this death-denying, death-defying, omnicidal culture, the thought of our own death—much less our own extinction—is a bit too much for the typical citizen to bear.” —Guy McPherson, Extinction dialogs
 
„So when people dismiss global warming as “doomsday” they are doubly wrong. Firstly, they ridicule those who see how serious this situation is (using language of the absurd to dismiss it). And secondly, they presume the collapse-of-the-future won’t happen — when in reality it already did.“ —Joe Brewer in Extra Newsfeed, 9.1.2017