As online sales outlets are apt to say, ‘Recommended For You’.

This post is simply to recommend to anyone who has the slightest interest in the weather, climate, eating, personal safety, plans, ambitions and pretty much anything else to do with life in general…   this article and its embedded video.

This is the best of the best I have seen so far, in terms of the clarity of its message, both visual and explanatory.

It does however stay away from the most controversial and potentially most dangerous aspect of this situation, the question of catastrophic release of methane deposits from melting permafrost and Arctic sea-bed.  For that sort of insight you would need to go to, for example:  Arctic News or AMEG

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Reply to ‘Is This What Collapse Looks Like?’

Foodnstuff Blog just published the following article, asking the question: Is This What Collapse Looks Like? based on a report that millions of farm animals globally are to be mass slaughtered because feed for them is now too expensive due to summer droughts.

Well, Foodnstuff, it is another step onto a downward rung on the ladder of global economic and societal descent that we should collectively already be treading, oh so carefully .  We collectively are not doing that of course, putting ourselves in grave danger of system collapse.  Collapse will actually come when we run out of rungs during that descent but have not yet reached the stable ground at the bottom of the ladder or when the remaining rungs are too fragile to hold the weight (if that is not too obscure an analogy).  [Added after initial publication: I am not sure if anyone really knows just how many good rungs are still left on the ladder of descent for us to safely tread on.  In other words, collapse could happen any time.]

I read a comment about where is the ethical care for the animals.  While it is a sad situation for the animals, very sad, the question of ethical care doesn’t really come into it except for the question as to why the animals are there in the first place.  They are destined for the chop whether now or at whatever the normal time for their despatch would be.  The big question is what effect this will have on food prices and availability in the near future.   [Added after initial publication: Looking on the bright side, at least there will be a reduction of new CO2 to the atmosphere with less animal farting and belching going on, releasing methane which breaks down to considerably more CO2 than the original volume of methane.  The largest source of methane in the US is said to be cattle.  Note – this year’s northern summer season drought is not likely to be a one-off event.  Get used to high meat prices folks!  Time to become vegetarian?  Or perhaps grow your own, if you really can’t give it up?]

For my own situation, I think it will not make much difference what happens to the normal food chain.  As far as possible, I avoid ‘normal’ food, for health reasons ie. I value my health.  I gave up eating animal, fish and bird carcases almost ten years ago and I am endeavouring to phase out all of my now quite infrequent visits to supermarkets.

I long ago took the free advice, that people should increase their chance of surviving unexpected future events by keeping on hand at least a number of weeks essential food supply items.  Some sources suggest preferably three, six or even up to twelve months reserve supplies.  This advice came to the fore back in the days of the Avian Flu Pandemic scare a few years ago now, but while the threat of unexpected events has not diminished since that time, the web references have disappeared or in the case of the Medical Journal of Australia who published the Food Lifeboat, have been restricted to members only status.  This document was produced by scientists at the Universtiy of Sydney.  Fortunately, I took a copy of the document for personal use at the time when it was freely available and am happy to include The Food Lifeboat here now.  While this is a scientifically based balanced nutrition emergency diet, I do not of course endorse the content but present it as an example of the sort of thing that all should start to consider putting together for their own personal needs.  I am sure that many other source guides are readily available for anyone interested.  It is fairly clear that this will become increasingly important as time goes by.

While most of my food comes from my garden, local farm gate shops or my favourite eco-store, I also eat from my own emergency stores in order to keep them turning over for replenishment.  I almost never eat out and I tend to bake rather than buy, where possible.

When I first heard of the northern summer droughts affecting grain supplies this year, I decided that to ensure some personal resilience I would store up some wheat.  I had previously been buying 12.5kg bags of bio-dynamic flour for baking, but living by myself as I do, this resulted in long usage times and possibly stale flour by the time I got to the end of a stored quantity.  Un-milled wheat grain has much longer storage time than flour when stored in food grade plastic containers (see photo) and takes about one third less storage space.  I acquired a hand cranked grain-mill to get fresh flour on demand but have not yet started to use it as I am finishing my last stored flour first.

Remembering The Permian

Do you remember the Permian?  No, it is not some mid 20th century hairstyling system.

No, of course you don’t remember.  You weren’t around on this planet some 250 million years ago, so how could you.

Or perhaps you and I were a part of that scene if my reading of Rosicrucian and other cosmological systems is correct.  Something that I do not place a great deal of faith in but which I accept as one possibility among many.  If we were actually there then it might have been as a member of quite a different life form.  Perhaps as a mineral, or a plant, or an insect, or even as one of the higher vertebrate animal life-forms of the time.

No matter.  Well…  no matter for the purposes of this post at least.  Perhaps I will expand those thoughts further some other time.  If there is time.

If you and I were actually present in some form during the Permian then we would have experienced the most ancient mass extinction of life that this planet has experienced for which we have geological records.  Not necessarily the oldest extinction event in the history of our world.   After all, 250 million years is a small period, geologically speaking, in the overall span of its planetary existence.

This event is now known as the Permian Extinction Event or The Great Dying in which most life on Earth ceased to exist.  Not to be confused with the Jurassic (200 million years ago) or Cretaceous (65 million years ago) almost equally devastating extinctions.  Of course, things changed and life went on, or we would not be here now.  The planet is self-renewing.  It can look after itself.  But the fact remains that planetary extinctions are recurring events.

Yes, many species were extinguished at the end of the Permian and other historical periods, but they were replaced by other new species.  That is the way things are.  Species come into being.  They flourish for a while.  Then they die off.  Become extinct.  And the circle goes on.  At least as far as we can tell.

Human beings, homo sapiens, are a species.  Some would like to think that we are somehow special.  Normal rules of life don’t apply to us.  Who do we think we are?  We are sentient beings.  We are the current dominant species on the planet.  We can do whatever we like.  Don’t worry, be happy!  Technology is our forte.  We can invent our way out of any situation that confronts us.

Perhaps we can.  Perhaps not.  George Carlin sums it up nicely  …well, as nicely as he can!

Perhaps we are special.  Perhaps not.  Perhaps the non-human part of us, that spark of life that separates us from other life forms, is special.  Perhaps it will go on living for ever. Finding, or maybe even creating ever more advanced species to inhabit.  On this world or perhaps even on other worlds.

One thing remains true.  Homo sapiens is a species.  We have come into being.  We have flourished for a while.  We will die off.  Become extinct.  At some stage.

I don’t want to frighten you  …well, yes I do  …a little bit.  There are genuine earth scientists today who think that the time of our demise has now come.  They have recently concluded that planet Earth is about to go through another extinction event of similar or greater magnitude to the previous Permian event that I have just brought to your attention.  The scary thing is that they have calculated that this will happen in your lifetime.  Actually within the next thirty to forty years.  Don’t believe me?  Read this!

If you can’t be bothered reading all of the evidence in that document, just read this paragraph extract:

“Giant fountains/torches/plumes of methane entering the atmosphere up to 1 km across have been seen on the East Siberian Shelf. This methane eruption data is so consistent and aerially extensive that when combined with methane gas warming potentials, Permian extinction event temperatures and methane lifetime data it paints a frightening picture of the beginning of the now uncontrollable global warming induced destabilization of the subsea Arctic methane hydrates on the shelf and slope which started in late 2010. This process of methane release will accelerate exponentially, release huge quantities of methane into the atmosphere and lead to the demise of all life on earth before the middle of this century.”

The basis for these conclusions is scientific research carried out over the last decade, culminating with recent events in and around the Arctic Circle in the last month or so of this year.

The question is:  Why hasn’t your government told you about this dire situation?  Ask yourself why your bank manager, spiritual or religious advisor, local police chief, business leaders, defence chiefs, newspaper editor, environmentalists or mining magnate have not been in touch to tell you the news.

Let’s just say, you heard it here first.

The same scientists who announced this story have also been working on geo-engineering solutions to prevent or mitigate what they have predicted and have called on the rest of the world to get behind that huge task before it is too late.  Also they have called on all developed nations to immediately stop producing all greenhouse gas emissions.

Personally I think that the chances of those calls being answered positively is about zero.  I also think that any attempt to fix this technologically will utterly fail.  The best we can do is to gently accept our fate and gracefully live out our lives as peacefully and simply as we can.  Let this be our last and greatest generation ever to have lived.  I advise all young women not to have children.  You will be unnecessarily condemning them to horrifying suffering.  Thankfully I expect that I will not be around for the worst of the inferno to come.  My heart goes out to my own children who, in their middle years, will suffer intolerably.  I am sorry.   If I had known years ago that this was coming, I would not have started a family.  I guess most parents reading this would say the same.

I am happy that the decision I made years ago to move to Australia will probably give my family a few extra years of life.  According to the forecast outcomes, the southern hemisphere will have ten to fifteen years of possible existence longer than the northern hemisphere will.  Also that the Antarctic continent (which will presumably br ice free by then) will be the least affected area on the globe, possibly providing shelter for some folk.

Is this what the 2012 mystery is all about?  Is this the watershed year that humanity as a species becomes aware of its predicament?   Is this the year that we come together globally to jointly attempt to turn the tide of history?   Will some miracle save us?  Will we jointly experience some mass evolutionary jump as some predict?   All nice thoughts.  I don’t think any of these things will occur but I am open to being surprised.

Has this knowledge altered my thinking?  Yes it has.  But I don’t intend to let it alter my life in any major way.  I am already living a fairly simple life and am prepared to see it over time become an ever more basic existence.  Until the end is reached, when it will be a case of:  “Goodbye Cruel World.  I’m Off To Join The Circus.”

Beam Me Outta Here, Scotty!

Breaking News!  Everything that I have said previously may now be irrelevant.

Things are much worse than I thought.  We are now at an Alamo situation.

The heating of the Arctic Ocean and consequent loss of sea ice cover (today down to less than 2.23 million km2, a drop of over 83% in last 167 days) is causing an unprecedented expulsion of seabed methane into the Arctic atmosphere which started in earnest last month (August 2012).

Malcom Light, an earth scientist from the University of London who has been working on this problem for a decade, makes these statements and issues a global call for help to find a way to stop it:

“This Stratospheric methane reservoir is going to increase in density, thickness and extent until it encompasses the entire Earth and will eventually cause catastrophic global warming and the extinction of all life on earth.”

“When the Arctic ice cap melts towards the end of 2015, there will be a massive increase in the amount of heat being absorbed by the Arctic ocean from the sun and the Gulf Stream which presently feeds the Arctic with Atlantic water along the west side of Svalbard and through the Barents Sea. Normally, the Gulf Stream is cooled when it hits the floating ice pack and this will cease to happen bringing even vaster amounts of Atlantic heat via the Gulf Stream into the Arctic. Consequently, the Arctic subsea methane hydrates will destabilize at an even faster rate, because of the increasing Arctic ocean temperature, pouring methane into the Arctic atmosphere and stratosphere.”

“The extreme weather events in the United States this year which included record heating and drought conditions, massive loss of food crops with farmers going bankrupt, more hurricane flooding in New Orleans and tornadoes in New York is just a small sample of what will come in the next four or five summers as the Arctic ice finally melts. The Arctic ice cap works like the Earth’s air conditioner, because of the latent heat of melting and freezing of the floating ice and its effect on atmospheric temperatures.”

“The livelihoods of all the American people are going to be totally compromised in the next few years, unless we develop a system of destroying the atmospheric methane that is erupting in the Arctic…”

From my own observations it will not only be the American people affected by this but pretty much everyone.  The summer weather events in America have been well documented but not much has been said about the 74 million acres in Russia burnt by 17,000 wildfires in August.  We must prepare for increasingly extreme weather events, all year, every year from now on.

Also, it is clear that the total loss of Arctic sea ice by the end of September 2012 (previously said to be at least a decade away), an event predicted a couple of weeks ago, would have eventuated (and may still yet come about through an extended melt season) were it not for the additional ice content being calved from the Greenland ice sheet into the ocean and therefore temporarily replacing some of the melting sea ice.  Yes, the Greenland ice sheet, that major ice sheet which will also have disappeared by end of 2015, an event previously believed to be not due until around the end of the century and which, being land based ice, will increase sea levels by many metres resulting in large scale flooding of coastal infrastructure and mass migrations or die-off of people around the globe.

The call is for geoengineering solutions such as the suggested radio wave beams to decompose the atmospheric methane, but as I see it, that will only be exchanging one set of problems for another set.

We are in deep shit.

Added after publication:

I now want to make a stronger rebuttal of geoengineering solutions proposed by the AMEG (Arctic Methane Emergency Group) on their website, not because I disagree with their message on the acute situation regarding ice melt in the Arctic (on the contrary I couldn’t agree with their findings more) but I cannot in any way condone or promote their plans for any geoengineering action to mitigate the issue.  These AMEG scientists and their cohort of entrepreneurial speculators are very dangerous people whom I would now classify as the archetypical ‘Mad Scientists’.  I do not say that their crazy schemes would not work in some way but would ensure that we have a chance to continue to live, at least for a while longer, in a world just as fucked up as the one we have engineered for ourselves already.  If we survive as a species at all then it would be better to not do anything more outrageous than we already have done to the planet.

All or most of us alive now, are going to die in one or more horrible ways, possibly not too far in the future.  If I should be one of those who might survive, I do not want to have to live in a mad scientist’s nightmare.

My Take on Degrowth: TINA (There Is No Alternative)

I am very happy to be known as someone who considers that human society will never again, following the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, be capable of achieving, regaining, or even restarting the kind of economic growth that has been the signature feature of national and world endeavour for the previous one and a half centuries or so, and the all-consuming goal and expectation of all societies for around the last half century.

There Is No Alternative (TINA for short) was a favourite slogan for Margaret Thatcher and her brand of economic liberalism.  A political strategy that introduced the world to free markets, free trade and capitalist globalization as the best (and only) way for modern nations to develop.  A strategy that has, through an orgy of consumption, greed and financial manipulation, brought us to a point where our global natural resources are reaching a state of depletion, our global climate is changing and is on the verge of reaching catastrophic tipping points, our population levels and rate of population increase are fast becoming unmanageable, and we are rapidly reaching planetary limits on these and other restraints to the continuation of the path that we are jointly treading.

There Is No Alternative now to altering our course from one of Growth to one of Degrowth if we collectively wish to avert complete disaster.

The TINA proposition means that maintaining the status quo is not an option.  We have already passed the point where there would be no consequences if we were to completely and globally bring a halt to our growth paradigm today, right now.  We will have to accept that, wholeheartedly enter into a path of degrowth and deal with those inevitable consequences as they arise.

I personally feel inadequate to make these sort of arguments with the kind of authority and force that they deserve.  Allow me to point you to a masterful discourse on this and related subjects by eminent people who I feel have a good grasp of the situation.  It is worth reading. I have myself just read this interesting piece and have decided to follow their blog. Health issues will be, and already are, one of the consequences that I mentioned earlier.

I am not hopeful that humanity can by any means divert its trajectory from one of utter societal, environmental and population collapse, to something less destructive, before it is too late to do so.  That would be a big ask, and not a directional change that most individuals, groups, political parties, governments and nations would be prepared to make. Even if they fully understood the pressing reasons for such a change.

For myself, I cannot with all conscience continue to support systems that seek to maintain the current way of things.  Consequently, with all Australian political parties hell-bent on continuing the neoliberal ‘growth at all costs’ paradigm, I will not be casting my democratic vote at the national elections next year, or at those of any other level of government.  Instead, because non-voting in this country is punishable by a fine, I will turn up at the voting booth and spoil my ballot paper by writing on it a message something like ‘None of the available choices is acceptable to me’.

I will continue, with renewed vigour, to effect my personal preparations to ensure as best I can that I will have at least some success at being one of those few who will make it through the great changes that are expected to come our way in the near future, should I live so long.