It’s… Well, It’s Really Just The Absolute Inevitability Of It All…

Sharing a most revealing exposition (Hope and Vision in the Face of Collapse – The 4th R of Deep Adaptation)… with lines of enquiry that I have personally long awaited. The time is now. Get real…

https://jembendell.com/2019/01/09/hope-and-vision-in-the-face-of-collapse-the-4th-r-of-deep-adaptation/

Dr Jem Bendell is a Professor of Sustainability Leadership and Founder of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) at the University of Cumbria (UK).†††

I have extracted a few notable quotes from this article but there is much more to be gained by reading it all.

On Currency:

“Last year it was unusual to claim that it is too late to stop runaway climate change damaging our agriculture to such an extent that it will lead to the breakdown of our societies within the next ten years.” – Jem Bendell

My view:
Not so now, this year, reading the signs. I have also claimed, frequently, that it will not take ten years, but only two years (this and the next), before we witness this for ourselves. I am prepared of course to possibly extend that to ten, but at this stage I don’t think that will be necessary. Not at all. I also take into account that this process of collapse is not playing out evenly. There are nations and regions that are already in collapse (mostly from external instigation) and others (mostly less developed societies) for whom collapse may not even be noticed for quite a while longer. A general rule to watch for is the complexity of a society – where more things can go wrong more quickly, compounding as collapse develops.

On Hope:

“When people say “we need hope” they might be expressing their assumption that they themselves need a pleasant story of the future in order to avoid their own emotional pain – and avoid witnessing it in others.” – Jem Bendell

My view:
“…we need hope…” (for a continuance of the way things are), but, brothers and sisters, let me tell you – there is none (for that).

On Inevitability:

“People may want to avoid believing societal collapse is inevitable in order to provide themselves with a psychological escape, so that they can still hope that someone or something will stop it happening somehow.” – Jem Bendell

My view:
That is wishful fantasy on people’s part. We have been brought up on a cult of Super Heroes. Super Heroes don’t exist. But even if they did, they can’t (stop it), and it won’t (not happen). 

On Unavoidability:

“Looking at the current climactic changes, the rising emissions and habitat destruction, the biological impacts, the warming feedbacks, the agricultural impacts, the slowness of response, the intransigence of capitalism and its client politicians, and the cultural dependence on ideas of progress and control, and the rise of stories of blame that avoid reality and foster ignorance and hate, I think that “inevitable” societal collapse is a more accurate way of communicating my view that it is now unavoidable, than saying collapse is likely or near certain.” – Jem Bendell

My view:
Totally agree.

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The End of Human Rights

As we bid goodbye to 2018 – and why wouldn’t we want to? – it is time to take a very brief – we don’t need to look too closely or we might become a little despondent – look at what the past year has been all about.

One thing, above all else, stands out from a crowded year. Human rights. Just about everything that has occurred this year has had at its core the subject of, neglect of, denial of, striving for or abuse of, human rights. I don’t think I need to go into all the specifics of these things. If you don’t agree with my assessment, stop wasting your time, go read somewhere else.

We, as a people today, place great emphasis on the rights of human beings, and consider it of such importance that organisations at all levels of human society have been set up to define and/or enforce what we think of as an unalienable and irrevocable part of our heritage within the human family. Yet the very fact that this has been thought necessary, speaks volumes as to the fragility of our position even amongst ourselves.

I pulled this quote, a brief definition of human rights, from the latest book I am reading, which was the final ‘spark’ I needed to write this piece:

‘…rights to the benefits of culture, to property, to the preservation of health, life, physical integrity, security, and a means of subsistence, and to residence, movement, and inviolability of the home.’

– Lynas, Mark. Six Degrees: Our Future on a Hotter Planet (p. 75). HarperCollins Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Let us ask ourselves the question: If we require, for peace of mind and physical well-being , such rules of law around our personal rights, enforcible, though quite obviously often ignored, waived, or indeed frequently and rudely stomped on, among the human community, even now, in what is supposed to be an enlightened age of cultural enrichment, economic prosperity and advanced technological progress –

a) How will, or do, we fare as but a small though influential part of the natural world and life of our home planet, when that natural world presents itself as less benign or implacable, and much more forcefully antagonistic to our shared existence here than it has fortuitously been in the recent past of our living memory?

b) How will we fare on this issue in a time when our ‘enlightened age of cultural enrichment, economic prosperity and advanced technological progress’ is somehow removed or ripped away from our grasp and we are plunged into a state of much lowered expectations or even into a ‘survival of the fittest’ situation?

I feel sure you will understand to what I am referring there. The two most pressing of a whole bunch of unwelcome strangers knocking at our door – Climate Change and Imminent Economic Collapse. The former being a now unstoppable inevitability which is even now breaking down the last barriers of natural resistance to thoroughly overwhelm us in the immediate to long term future – like it or not. The latter almost as inevitable because of our innate inability to stop and think about what we are doing, leave alone any possibility that we may unilaterally decide to change our way of life to accept ‘less’. The usual obscene spending spree of the past week, pledges to that thought.

These things, either acting separately or together, will bring to an end once and for all the question of human rights, bringing with them an eventual, perhaps even an abrupt, overturning of all that has come to mean human society and civilisation. And without that overarching structure in place at all levels of human society, the concept of ‘rights’ will have no meaning – at least for a while – and think, if you have any concept of history, how long a struggle it has been to get to where we are today of those issues, and how relatively ineffective that progress is even today.

So, what have we to look forward to, as the page of history turns once more?

Hh-hh-hh-hh-h. (that was a resigned and suppressed – no heaving of either chest or shoulders – chuckle)

Welcome to 2019, which may well be the year that marks the end of human rights.

…and here, from Wondermom Wannabe, and not more than a hint of sarcasm from me, is the opportunity for you to record the highlights of your life – in a free, printable, review of 2018…

Crapola, Crapola, Crapola

There is so much crap online these days in supposedly ‘Clean, Green, Eco-aware, Environment-Friendly, Forward-Thinking, Concerned, Activist’ sites like The Climate Reality Project, that the situation is unbelievable.  Someone has to be kidding.  That site should be called ‘The Climate Con Project’.

Do I sound like a denialist?  Well, I am not.  Quite the contrary.  I am a realist who knows the dangers that humanity faces from out of control climate change.  I do not subscribe to wishy-washy so-called plans or agreements to stop, slow-down, handle, turn-around, eliminate, mitigate, or in any other way affect climate change.  All such efforts, or at least the ones always put forward, spoken or argued about, are entirely meaningless and ineffective.  They are, in short, a con…

Take for instance one of the latest posts from the Climate Reality Facebook page or go direct to their linked article: What Is Grid Parity and Why Does It Matter?

Tell me, what has anything, anything at all, any little thing, any huge big thing, any aspect whatsoever, concerning the electricity grid got to do with stopping climate change?  Eh?  What?  If you said anything at all, you were wrong, whatever it was you said.  Unless what you said was something like “Nothing at all”.

The electricity grid is all about adding to climate change, no matter how it is powered.  The electricity grid has nothing to do with stopping climate change.  Nothing at all.  To say, or imply, that it has, is the biggest lie that we, the gullible public, are being conned into believing.  It is the big “Renewables Is The Answer” fraud.

Now, if we were to do away with the electricity grid, entirely, altogether, completely, then that might have some effect in slowing down (not stopping) climate change.  But that is not even on the table is it?  We are not being asked to do that at all, are we?

They think we are fools.  Well, they might be right there, generally speaking.  I don’t hear many voices saying what I have just said.  There are a few, but mostly we just suck up whatever people like Climate Reality tell us, if we listen to anything at all or give the matter any thought time.

So, what’s the answer?  Well, shutting down the electricity grid would be a start, but it is only a small aspect of what in total contributes to climate change.  There are a lot of other things that we would need to stop doing in addition to that.  If you think about it.  If you care enough to start to think about it.  That’s the secret, they don’t expect us to think about anything much at all.  We are held in thrall, dummyfied, by the bread and circuses of modern life that have been provided just for that purpose.

Break out!  Live!  Think!  Read!  And don’t be taken in by their distractions.  It will kill you.

…I didn’t finish, as you may have noticed, what I was saying earlier.  So, finally, what do I see as being a solution?  What do I stand for?  Firstly, there are no solutions (so don’t waste your time, energy and money on any such thing).  Secondly, I stand for Adaptation (the preparing for the unknown future as best as can be done, while leaving behind all that has been accumulated in the past, freeing yourself from attachment to the past.  That is where to invest your time, energy and money).

So, Basically, We’re Trapped With No Way Out

I’m not going to say anything, other than pose the question – “When are people going to accept this and stop trying to fix climate change?”

I will leave Bill McKibben to explain the situation: Global Warming’s Terrifying New Chemistry.  Not that he reaches the same conclusions as I do.  No climate change expert does, or perhaps none of them dares to express those views (except perhaps the mad scientists at AMEG and also Guy McPherson – not that I want to identify with him and, come to think of it, he is one of those mad scientists at AMEG).

It is patently clear that if we do nothing, by simply carrying on the way things are, climate agreements or no climate agreements, we are doomed to fry (maybe ‘dessicate’ is a better description) eventually if we are not starved or bludgeoned to death by natural forces first.  Or possibly we could go out in a gigantic aerial explosion that burns up the atmosphere.  Please note, I have no scientific basis for that last remark, just that an increasingly methane filled atmosphere, mixed with oxygen, must be a very dangerous place to live and breathe.  I offer that simply as a casual thought.

It is also patently clear that if we were to come to our senses and power down our global society and all live like it was the nineteenth century, then most or all of us would still be stuffed because we just couldn’t do it and even if a gallant remnant were able to adapt sufficiently to make a go of it, it probably wouldn’t alter the planetary outcome anyway in a timescale that would be of any benefit to us.

It is also patently clear that if we all agreed to an immediate global power down but first we would do some geo-engineering to slow down the rate of climate change (as the mad scientists at AMEG and others would recommend), the effect or side-effects of doing that would make our power-down gesture meaningless.

In other words, basically, we’re trapped with no way out.

So much for me not going to say anything.

Just for effect, I will finish with my original question: “When are people going to accept this and stop trying to fix climate change?”

Playing With Fire

Well, there you go. You play with fire, eventually you will get burned fingers.  New York investigates radioactive leak in groundwater near city

Photo credit: The Indian Point energy center in Buchanan, New York.  Ricky Flores/AP

This could be considerably worse that they are currently admitting.

And…  just to put it in context, what happens when the electricity grid eventually fails due to poor infrastructure maintenance, lack of natural resources (oil and coal, yes, nuclear power generation relies on the grid to keep operating), war, climate upheaval, civil insurrection, financial or general economic collapse, lack of trained workers, revolt of trained workers or terrorist activity?

All of those 99 nuclear power plants in the US would suffer meltdown (just like Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, among others), if not in the reactor itself then in the cooling ponds.  Much of the US will become uninhabitable when any of those things occur.  That is why, I think, they have military forces scattered over the whole world.  They will soon need, and not just because of the nuclear contamination risk, somewhere else to park their people.  That US Marine battalion up in the north of Australia is not just there for this country’s protection.  Not that Australia will remain habitable for long either, except for Tasmania and perhaps a few small areas up north.

Calving Ice, Redux

It has been three years since I first saw this amazing video.  It was hard to convince anybody about the reality of climate change back then.  Few were interested.  That has changed some, a little, now, I guess, and as the next year and years roll out, that interest will continue to grow, simply because we won’t be able to ignore the facts as they confront us ever more disruptively.

It has been three years, but I still haven’t seen the entire Chasing Ice video.  There is a good reason for that.  Human greed and the need to make money, even out of such tragedies as the melting of Earth’s poles.  This dramatic footage was not shot for the public good.  If it were, it would have been distributed freely.  The fact that it hasn’t been, is a human failure to comprehend the trouble that we are in as a species.  Commerce and money tops that sort of thing and dominates all else, every time.  As a result, I doubt if many would even remember the Chasing Ice movie today because very few would ever have seen it around the world.  That, in itself, is a tragedy.

Still, it’s nice to have even this short video to give us the opportunity to grasp the portents of the climate carnage that we have released on ourselves.  Watch it full-screen.  Feel the immense power of nature.  And tremble at what awaits us as our coastal infrastructure becomes torn apart and buried by and under rising tides in the coming years.

“We Stand Today On A Precipice Of Annihilation”

The dramatic quote that I have chosen as the title for this post comes from an article by Roy Scranton which appeared on the New York Times website dated 21 December 2015 (link below).

Whoever would have thought that one might see an article with the title:  We’re Doomed. Now What?  appearing in a major mainstream media source?  I was intrigued and had to take a look.

I didn’t find this piece myself, it came as a link in an email newsletter from Dave Pollard’s How To Save The World blog

21stoneweb-superjumboImage: Aly Song / Reuters

 

So, what did Roy Scranton have to say?  Did it live up to the excitement generated by the title?  Or was it just another beat-up?

Well, it started off quite well, better than that in fact.  I will repeat the first paragraph here as an appetiser which will I hope draw you in to read more in the article, and make up your own mind.

The time we’ve been thrown into is one of alarming and bewildering change — the breakup of the post-1945 global order, a multispecies mass extinction and the beginning of the end of civilization as we know it.  Not one of us is innocent, not one of us is safe.  The world groans under the weight of seven billion humans; every new birth adds another mouth hungry for food, another life greedy for energy.

He then goes on to talk about how we tend to react to the situation once we realise that something is actually going on that may be important enough for us to consider, and says that “We respond according to our prejudices…”.  Quite true.  Then I actually learned something when he spoke of the different categories of prejudice, mentioning:

  • Right wing deniers – who think that the real problem is not Climate Change but only Terrorism or Refugees
  • Left wing deniers – who think that all the problems are fixable and controllable as a matter of political will
  • Accelerationists – who believe that all it takes is more technology
  • Incrementalists – whose answer is to just keep doing more of the same led by the leaders we already have
  • Activists – who want us to fight, even if it means losing

I don’t appear to fit into any of those categories somehow, but I can’t, offhand, think of a suitable group name for people like me.  I like to think of myself as a ‘Realist – who knows there is nothing we can do and we should just accept the consequences of the nice mess we have gotten ourselves into‘, but I’m sure there would be various objections to that on the basis of ‘what is real’ or ‘we can’t just lie down and give up’.  Did I say anything about ‘giving up’?  No.  Just that no matter what we do, it will make no overall difference.  It might make some difference for the individual though.  But there are no guarantees.  Oh, then how about ‘Pragmatist’?  Yes, that sounds quite important, and has some air of mystery about it.  Maybe that will do.

So, just for that little revelation, it was worth the read.  But there’s more.

Scranton went on to talk at some depth about nihilism and Nietzsche.  I thought at first he was talking about Bill Nye – The Science Guy (nihilism?).   I didn’t really, but it’s a nice line, don’t you think?

Personally, I may have at some stage been interested in pursuing such convoluted, cerebral, logical, arguments (not sure how the average New York Times reader would have reacted), but at 70 years of age I consider that I don’t have enough lucid minutes left to me to spend even some of them in trying to follow that sort of thing.  You may of course think differently.

However, I persevered by skipping along the lines until I came to something that required less energy outlay.  And I was pleased that I did.  I am going to join a few quotes from the piece together in what I think are some very relevant and interesting thoughts which everyone could benefit by considering at some length and with an appropriate degree of seriousness.  So, thank you Roy Scranton a) for getting this piece out there in mediaworld and b) for some of the fine things that you wrote.

We all see what’s happening, we read it in the headlines every day, but seeing isn’t believing, and believing isn’t accepting.  We respond according to our prejudices, acting out of instinct, reflex and training.

Meanwhile, as the gap between the future we’re entering and the future we once imagined grows ever wider, nihilism takes root in the shadow of our fear: if all is already lost, nothing matters anyway.

We stand today on a precipice of annihilation that Nietzsche could not have even imagined. There is little reason to hope that we’ll be able to slow down global warming before we pass a tipping point. We’re already one degree Celsius above preindustrial temperatures and there’s another half a degree baked in. The West Antarctic ice sheet is collapsing, Greenland is melting, permafrost across the world is liquefying, and methane has been detected leaking from sea floors and Siberian craters: it’s probably already too late to stop these feedbacks, which means it’s probably already too late to stop apocalyptic planetary warming. Meanwhile the world slides into hate-filled, bloody havoc, like the last act of a particularly ugly Shakespearean tragedy.

Yet it’s at just this moment of crisis that our human drive to make meaning reappears as our only salvation … if we’re willing to reflect consciously on the ways we make life meaningful — on how we decide what is good, what our goals are, what’s worth living or dying for, and what we do every day, day to day, and how we do it.

We can’t do it by clinging to the progressivist, profit-seeking, technology-can-fix-it ideology of fossil-fueled capitalism.  We can’t do it by trying to control the future.  We need to learn to let our current civilization die, to accept our mortality and practice humility (emphasis is mine).  We need to work together to transform a global order of meaning focused on accumulation into a new order of meaning that knows the value of limits, transience and restraint.

We were born on the eve of what may be the human world’s greatest catastrophe.  None of us chose this, not deliberately.  None of us can choose to avoid it either.  Some of us will even live through it.  What meaning we pass on to the future will depend on how well we remember those who have come before us, how wisely and how gently we’re able to shed the ruinous way of life that’s destroying us today, and how consciously we’re able to affirm our role as creators of our fated future (emphasis is mine).

I guess I can no longer say “You won’t see any of this in the mainstream media” 🙂

Old Arctic Sea Ice Disappears Over 25 Years

You may have experienced climate change for yourself.  It’s easy to do these days.  In most places on this planet, you just have to step outside for a while.

But it is not so easy to see the gradual accumulative changes that take place over years through annual cycles of ebb and flow. The short video below, mapping the destruction of Arctic Sea Ice over a 25 year period, put together from weekly satellite and surface data, allows us to see the effects play out in a time-span that we can relate to and grasp.

The original NOAA article presenting this video is here.

The ice that you can see melting and flowing in this video, mostly into the warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean, will not be replaced in any of our lifetimes.  The Arctic region is warming faster than any other place on Earth and that warmth is acting as an engine (fueled not only by the Sun but also by the release of underwater and underground Methane deposits) for the growing climate disruption that is being experienced as yet mostly through erratic weather patterns across all of the Northern Hemisphere.

3102738-largeImage source

 

This will soon, increasingly, and is even now doing so, disrupt food production around the world.  It will also speed up the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, land-based ice 2-3 kilometres thick, causing several metres, perhaps tens of metres, more rise in sea level than official reports are prepared to admit.  Those are just two of the effects of climate change that we should be, but are generally not being, worried about.

greenland-ice-meltImage source

 

Please do not think, even for a second, that the Paris climate agreement will do anything to stop or even alter in any way the severity of those effects on life on Earth.

We’ve Already Reached the Tipping Point on Global Warming

“The world I want is a world that does not subjugate, does not separate, does not monger fear and inadequacy in order to control.  The world I dream of has clean air, clean water, does not poison its people.  Instead it educates them, gives them room and space to dream.  It respects the plants and animals that share our planet, does not see them as resources to be exploited but as sacred things to be exalted and protected.”

This post inspired by the Medium article: We’ve Already Reached the Tipping Point on Global Warming. I’ve Seen It.  I have included no photos here as the linked article has enough of its own.  Read it if you want pictures.

Now, I dislike promoting anything to do with TED Talks, which have morphed into something akin to meaningless, through overuse and manipulation, but I wanted to use the above quote from this article on Medium since it resonates somehow with my own views, so I have let my dislikes slide this time and for this purpose.

The article starts off well, with the title “We’ve Already Reached the Tipping Point on Global Warming”, but then attempts to stir and warm our hearts by comparing us to icebergs and gee-ing us up to do something.  A noble gesture, but somehow crazy.  Yet worth the read.

If the climate tipping point has been reached, and I have no doubt that it has, then attempting to turn that situation around with platitudes, singing choruses of ‘Kumbaya’ while holding hands in a circle, promoting global climate talk-fests or pretty much anything else to “right this ship and chart a better course” in “service of this planet”, god, humanity, or any other lost cause, is really oxymoronic, pointless, and equivalent to trying to stop a rolling iceberg (see the video).

Face the facts people.  If any of us (or our descendants) are to live through the next several years, decades or centuries, then most of us have to die first.  And soon.  And those that remain (if there are any), need to remember why.  They will also need to learn or relearn how to live in very different circumstances to how we have lived.

Still Kidding Ourselves…

Why are we still kidding ourselves, or what’s worse, not even having an opinion or a care?

No matter what happens this month in Paris, we are not going to hold down global warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.  There is zero possibility of that happening and, even if there were a slight possibility, we have no carbon budget (any amount of CO2 we can still safely emit) remaining to us.  We have used all calculated budgetary allowances up already due to 30 years of political stasis, backed by our own complacency.

We are already at a 1°C rise.  A year or so ago it was only 0.8°C.  So global temperature increase is speeding up, not reducing.  Consider that it has taken over 100 years to get to that 1°C rise but at current rates of increase it now needs only one or at most two decades for the next degree rise to occur.

Furthermore, a 2°C limit is not a safe level to aim for in any case.  It is on the border between the experience of dangerous and very dangerous conditions. A state of life that none of us alive at the time will enjoy, and yet the very best that we are prepared to plan for.

 

I want to include here a quote from this article, written over a year ago, just to give a clear picture of the futility of what is being considered at the current Paris talks:

“It is now clear that the incremental-adjustment 2°C strategy has run out of time, if for no other reason than the “budget” for burning more fossil fuels is now zero, yet the global economy is still deeply committed to their continuing widespread use.

We all wish the incremental-adjustment 2°C strategy had worked, but it hasn’t.  It has now expired as a practical plan.

We now have a choice to make: we can accept much higher levels of warming of 3–5°C that will catastrophically affect the world’s natural and human systems in a manner more forthright scientists say are incompatible with the maintenance of human civilisation; or we can conceive of a safe-climate emergency-action approach which would aim to reduce global warming back to the range of conditions experienced during the last 10,000 years, the period of human civilisation and fixed settlement.

This would involve fast and large emissions reduction through radical energy demand reductions, whilst a vast scaling-up of clean energy production was organised, together with the remaking of many of our essential systems such as transport and food production, with the target being zero net emissions. In addition, there would need to be a major commitment to atmospheric carbon dioxide drawdown measures.  This would need to be done at a speed and scale more akin to the “war economy”, where social and economic priority is given to what is perceived to be an overwhelming existential threat.

After 30 years of climate policy and action failure, we are in deep trouble and now have to throw everything we can muster at the climate challenge.  This will be demanding and disruptive, because there are no longer any non-radical, incremental paths available.”

Let me make it absolutely clear what will happen whether we do nothing, a little, or even enough to prevent the worst from occurring – If you are alive today and under 50 years of age, you are unlikely to live out your entire period of life expectancy.  Human civilisation will largely have ceased to exist other than for small rural groups of people struggling to live at subsistence levels, way before the end of this century is reached. (Why would doing enough to prevent the worst outcome result in the same thing as if we did nothing?  Because the ‘enough’ that would be necessary for us to do, would mean that we must voluntarily end our current civilisation and lifestyles, and live frugally.  Which would also result in a huge die-off of humanity, and also because we have at least 1.5°C of increase already built in to our climate systems resulting from our past indifference.)

For more, read this: http://globalwarming.berrens.nl/globalwarming.htm It is a degree by degree description of what to expect.

It doesn’t really bother me personally, what is going to happen.  I have most likely less that two decades of life remaining to me.  I will only live to see the ‘very dangerous’ levels of climate mayhem.  You, on the other hand, especially if you are under 50, should be quaking in your boots at the prospect.  That may appear to be a rather blunt statement, but tippy-toeing around the subject for the last 30-40 years has gotten us nowhere, has it?