The Economy, Post GFC

For all who think that the GFC of 2008 is something that has passed, is in the past, is over and done with, things are now looking up again, and we can soon look forward to everything getting back to normal, here is a quote from an article I just read,

“The economy isn’t coming back. On the contrary, it’s a patched-together mess on its way to the crapper.”

The article also revealed this related cartoon:

The-EconomyThe serious article this is referenced from is titled The Economy Isn’t Coming Back and it can be found posted on  It is penned by none other than Mr Chumpy, aka Eric Krasnauskas, author of the Science Pope website.  It takes a refreshing view of the seriousness of the situation confronting our global society today and is well worth reading.

So who is Mr Chumpy?  A scientist? Climate Change expert? Economist? Well known author or leader in the Peak Oil field?  None of these, but nonetheless deserving of being listened to for his down to earth rendition of the way things are.

He is actually an ex game designer.  I personally find his arguments uncluttered by the obtuse logic, arguments and other paraphernalia often associated with the discourse of experts, yet containing the ring of truth and veracity of relative youth.

Take a look.  You might agree.  And it might be just what’s needed to change your world-view.

The Mad Scientists At AMEG Are At It Again

It has been a while since I blogged here last.  I have been continually observing of course and have been posting some brief and interesting news items on my Facebook page but have not found the need to write an extended piece here.  That has now changed.

On April 12 I posted this on Facebook:

Well, it looks like we are well over the peak of northern hemisphere ice building for this year (courtesy of the National Snow & Ice Data Center graph of Arctic Sea Ice Extent) and about to embark on the annual melt season. I wonder if it will be another record breaking year for ice melt? Chances are good that it will be. Some scientists are expecting to see ice free Arctic Summers in the next 2-3 years. Not good news for you and me or the critters we share the planet with.

I accompanied this post with a link to the latest NSIDC graph at and added a couple of comments:

Let me explain a little about this graph. If you look at the pinkish line for ice build up in 2013 you will see that none of this ice is more than 3-4 months old. That means it will be no more than 1 metre thick. Not much when you consider it is riding on a warming ocean of water. The Arctic region is gathering heat faster than any other part of the planet. Where is the heat going? Not too much into the air, or ice would not form. It is going into the ocean and this is why we now see killer whales hunting up there in recent years. 1 metre ice is going to break up and melt real fast. Next look at the green dashed line for last year. A record low ice cover in September at the height of the melt season. This shows over 80% of existing ice had melted since the previous winter. Meaning that less than 20% of existing ice is now more than one year old and even this ‘old’ ice is being weakened by the relatively warmer water beneath it. Every year there is less and less of this ‘old’ ice remaining. A complete collapse of Arctic Sea Ice is imminently (within a few years) inevitable.


Here is another graphical view of the Arctic Sea Ice scenario, this time courtesy of The Cryosphere Today and the Polar Research Group of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). The picture is much the same but they show less ice (about 1 million sq kms less) year round than in the NSIDC chart, presumably because they have a different definition of just what constitutes the area of the Arctic region.

8 days later, on April 29,  the Arctic News blog posted this, saying much the same as my earlier post: using data from the Cryosphere Today site.

Today,   I find that The Guardian has news that the US Government is beginning to sit up and take notice of the situation at the northern end of our world, in the article: with the headline:

White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral 

National security officials worried by rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice overlook threat of permanent global food shortages

I suggest you read the whole Guardian article for yourself but here are a couple of interesting quotes from it:

“The loss of Arctic summer sea ice and the rapid warming of the Far North are altering the jet stream over North America, Europe, and Russia. Scientists are now just beginning to understand how these profound shifts may be increasing the likelihood of more persistent and extreme weather.”


“The weather extremes from last year are causing real problems for farmers, not only in the UK, but in the US and many grain-producing countries. World food production can be expected to decline, with mass starvation inevitable. The price of food will rise inexorably, producing global unrest and making food security even more of an issue.”

These are the sort of things that I have been warning about for some time now.  It is beginning to get real folks.  The wise will even now be taking steps to prepare and protect themselves as much as possible from these effects.

My greatest concern  is that the calls from the mad scientists at AMEG and certain others for, to quote the Guardian article again:

The AMEG statement adds that governments should consider geoengineering techniques – large-scale technological interventions in the climate system – to “cool the Arctic and save the sea ice” in order to avert catastrophe.

Madness in the extreme.   Interfering with nature is not the answer.  We have been interfering with the balance of nature on this planet for the last few centuries.  This is why we are on the edge of disaster already. More of the same, but different, is not going to help in any way.  We just have to stop what we have been doing.  And do that really quickly.  At this stage of the game, even if we all went back to stone-age living conditions it is doubtful whether the worst of the ‘inevitable’ outcomes that are foreseen can be averted.

I have said that before too, but it bears repeating.  I will probably say it again before too long.

Can a collapse of global civilization be avoided?

Well, can it?  Good Question.

I have been saying for some time now, here on this blog and elsewhere, that we are headed for a collapse of civilisation, globally, the like of which has never before been witnessed on this planet.  At least, unseen during the 200,000 odd years, perhaps longer, that we or beings like us have been progressing to become the present dominant species here.

Civilisations come.  Civilisations go.  Most, notably in a state of collapse.  Sometimes a sudden collapse.  Sometimes a protracted one (150 years or so).  But go they must, and ours will be no different.

What makes the collapse of our civilisation so unprecedented?  Well, the world has never before seen a truly global civilisation until just a few decades ago.  Perhaps fifty or sixty years or so.

I personally think our fall will be rather sudden.  Why?  Well, for a number of reasons but primarily because of the crazy reliance on debt based economic growth that underpins it. It basically has the stability of a house of cards.  Without economic growth it is frighteningly unstable and such growth now, despite what governments tell you, has reached its limits.  Witness austerity in Europe, $multi-billion budget cuts in America, etc. etc.  Even here in Australia the government, spruiking economic growth, has spent enormous amounts of money it does not have and is not likely to get, as economic downturn begins to bite.  It will not matter who governs in the future.  They will all face the same problem of cutting up an ever smaller revenue pie.

It doesn’t take much of a nudge to topple a house of cards.

That’s My View.  Now Read On…

Well, it is briefly my view, but I leave it there because the real reason I had for adding this post today is to introduce what I consider to be an important paper on the subject originally published by the Royal Society  in January this year and most recently also published by The Simplicity Institute here in Australia.  A paper which coincidentally, wouldn’t you know, carries the same title as my post.

The Authors of the paper are Paul Ehrlich and Anne H Ehrlich.

Paul Ehrlich is a Professor of Biology and President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University, and Adjunct Professor at the University of Technology, Sydney. His research interests are in the ecology and evolution of natural populations of butterflies, reef fishes, birds and human beings.

Anne Ehrlich is a Senior Research Scientist in Biology at Stanford and focuses her research on policy issues related to the environment.

He is perhaps best known for the 1968 book ‘The Population Bomb’, though they both co-authored it, and his outspoken views and predictions on global population issues.  Many of his early predictions failed to materialise but that is often the way when numbers and dates are mentioned.  The general thrust of his ideas is still valid, perhaps even more so, today.

What Does It Say?

This paper argues much the same as what I have been saying but of course with a greater degree of eloquence, academic validity and cogency than I could ever hope to garner.  It focuses mainly not on economic issues but on the social issues of over-population, over-use of resources and consequent problems.  These are very real issues of the type that might precipitate a longer, more drawn out but perhaps just as painful societal collapse as the more dramatic economic collapse that I spoke about earlier.  Either path could very well form a lead-in to initiate the other.

The paper concludes that because of the capacity that society has shown to be able to deal with threats if the collective attention can be sufficiently focussed on the task, a global collapse of society can be avoided.  However, it goes on to suggest that even though catastrophe can be avoided, the odds are small that it actually will be avoided because collectively we will not be sufficiently motivated to work for the good of future generations at the expense of our own.

I could not agree more.

Electricity Consumption

Here is a picture of my household electricity consumption over the last two years, extracted from my most recent utility bill.  This represents my total power usage since there is no gas installed at the property.

Consumption Profile

Please note that I post this merely to show that it is possible in these times of soaring energy usage where the trend is towards global planetary warming, to personally reduce our impact on the environment.  This is not to set myself up as some paragon of virtue in this regard when I fully know that is not the case      …but I am trying to limit the damage to the Earth for which I am personally responsible.

Three factors have changed over this period, which have had a marked effect on power consumption this year from the previous year.

  1. I changed my power plan from a 15% renewable energy one to 100% renewable energy around August 2011.  This means that I am paying more per kWh but I have a reasonably clear conscience regarding  my energy usage effect on global climate.  The energy supplier is supposed to purchase my equivalent energy usage from a supplier producing electricity using only renewable resources.  Yes, I know that ‘renewable energy’ is really a complete misnomer  and is just as unsustainable in the long term as fossil fuel based energy, but it is better than doing nothing except of course for reducing our energy use to only basic essential levels.  This is what the remaining changes are all about.
  2. I installed Solar Water Heating back in March 2012.  I did this even though I am living in rented accommodation on twelve month renewable leases.  I figured that if I were to remain where I am for several years then the savings in power consumption would go at least some way towards paying for the installation and even if I was forced to leave for some reason, then someone else plus the planet would still benefit.
  3. I decided not to install solar power generation tied into the national grid because I wanted a level of security around me that, should I need to move house, or for other reasons require a more mobile lifestyle, I would continue for some time at least to enjoy a level of independent, ‘portable’ power generation capability under my own terms.  To this end I have built a 1 kW, solar fed, battery backed power source that I have been able to use to take up some of my daily electricity requirements over the last 6 months or more.  It is usable even though not in a finished state at this time.  I will at some stage post a detailed review of my system and as I am not an electrician, look out for any helpful hints from others on the way it operates.

A season on season comparison of my power consumption is not easy to make because in 2011 there was an estimated meter reading in July followed by an actual reading in August, resulting in an additional consumption bar for that year.  These two bars need to be combined.  Also, of course, the differing weather patterns over the period would have had some impact.  The May quarter (Autumn) shows around a 50% decrease in consumption.   August (Winter) shows at least a 50% drop (2 bars combined).  Oct/Nov (Spring) shows not much difference.  I can’t explain why that is.  February/current (Summer) shows around a 30% drop.  Very pleasing overall, with an annual reduction of around 40% average.

Of course the cost of power has increased over that period, meaning cost to me stays much the same regardless.


Point of No Return

Point of No Return

This post highlights the new Greenpeace report of the same name.  A worthy document giving a comprehensive account of the dangers to our way of life from known planned expansions of the fossil fuel industry through increased CO2 emissions by 2020.  Just seven short years away.

How old will you be in 2020?

While the report is quite comprehensive, well written, well presented  and carries an important message, it, like many such documents that aspire to a level of academic authenticity (which it has), is lengthy,  hard to read and digest for the average person in spite of the excellent illustrations.  I am not sure who the intended audience is meant to be but I doubt if many, even interested people like myself, will get around to reading it thoroughly.

The chart below, extracted from the report, illustrates the situation quite simply.  It is, if anything, a conservative view of where we are now and the possible future effects.

Passing the Point of No Return

As an Australian citizen I am ashamed and saddened to find from this report that my country will by 2025 be second only to China in responsibility for the increase in amount of CO2 emitted worldwide.  You will need to open the report to see relevant visuals but here is a revealing quote:

“Australia: by 2025, coal exports would increase to 408 million tonnes a year above 2011 levels, pushing associated CO2 emissions up by 1,200 million tonnes a year once the coal is burned. By then, the CO2 emissions caused by Australian coal exports would be three times as large as the emissions from Australia’s entire domestic energy use.”

So much for the Australian Government’s fabled stance on Climate Change.  So much for the vaunted Carbon Tax.  Smoke and mirrors. Smoke and mirrors.

Apart from saddening me that this action is being done in my name, though without my consent or approval, it does not change my view of things generally.  I am also aware of what the alternative is for my country if we stop exporting coal.  It is a good, grand and glorious alternative.  To use their own words, the government focus would have to shift from ‘Jobs, Jobs, Jobs’ to perhaps ‘People, People, People’ which is what democracy was always meant to be about, is it not?.

People, People, People




Forget jobs.  Jobs are passé.  We don’t (or won’t) need jobs.  Jobs are only needed to sustain the current Global, National and Personal economy.  Jobs are there to occupy the people so that they don’t think too much but continue to buy stuff, to hold debt, to consume and be entertained, in order for the government to have a raison d’être and the means to sustain the current system of power.  The problem with that is that if the current economy continues the way it is going, there will soon be no economy, and therefore no jobs.  I repeat, jobs are passé.

People need a sense of purpose, not jobs.  

There is no greater sense of purpose than staying alive, living, breathing deeply, experiencing and interacting with the beautiful and terrifying world of nature, being responsible for your own well-being and nurture.  Oh, of course, and caring for others, the world around you and sharing.  

Please note:  This has nothing to do with jet-skiing, sky-diving, partying, holidaying, accumulating riches or property, entertaining or being entertained.  That, is not living.

I wonder how many people who claim to support action on climate change, quite realise that the logical extension of what they desire to achieve in this regard will result in far-reaching effects in the way that they live ie. that they will have to give up most if not all the ‘perks’ of modern living.  Their nice house, their car(s), their iphone, travel, holidays, entertainment (by others), shopping (except by barter), packaged or frozen food, dining out, etc., etc.

Either way, voluntarily or by force of circumstance, that is what is going to be the situation going forward.  Climate action or no climate action.  Government policy or no government policy.  Climate, Resource Limits or Our Own Fiscal Folly; These are the Game Changers and one or all of them are about to change the game.

So where does that leave us?  I have accepted that no genuine attempt is going be made by humanity to alter the trajectory of human industrial and commercial progress.  I also accept that no amount of huffing and puffing by activists and environmental groups or the publishing of beautifully presented reports like ‘Point of No Return’, however true and virtuous their content, will be allowed to affect the eventual outcome.  Take any metaphor you like:

The brick wall is looming and we will drive straight into it.  

 The cliff is approaching and we will rush headlong over it.

Que Sera Sera.


“Humans are a plague on the Earth”

“Humans are a plague on the Earth”

Who said that?  ‘Twasn’t me, although I have recently and independently come to the same conclusion myself.

No, it was (at least for the most recent utterance) none other than that internationally known and revered, highly honoured and decorated naturalist, named among the 100 Greatest Britons, Sir David Attenborough.  Sir David Attenborough

Sir David made the statement in an article for the current edition of Radio Times magazine as reported by Population Matters.  So we should, merely by dint of whose words they were, approach and contemplate the matter with a serious degree of thoughtfulness and not dismiss the warning outright.

Possibly less seriously, but proving that the concept is not unprecedented, you may remember that this was also the opinion of Agent Smith in The Matrix movies.  Please don’t let this little ‘aside’ diminish or divert your thinking on the important issue raised here. I just thought it a little ‘amusing’ and something that may have been missed by viewers of the movie.

In his statement Attenborough warns that this (over-population) is a problem which is coming home to roost in the next 50 years or so and even now is seen to be in operation in places like Ethiopia where there are just too many people for the land to support.  To which I would add that the situation in Ethiopia is likely to be repeated in many other places around the world as climate forces increasingly continue to wreak havoc on food production.  Places like North America, Europe and China.

I don’t see any equitable solution to the issue.  There is not, nor will be, enough food to go around to sustain a population at current levels let alone future projected levels, even though this has often been mooted to be just a problem with distribution.  Globalisation, the Green Revolution and ceding control of production to Big Agriculture, is and will continue to be seen as having been a monumental failure.

All things considered (climate change, resource limits, Earth capacity to renew itself, systemic collapse), the safe global carrying capacity before too long will fall to something less than 1 billion human lives.  Perhaps considerably less.  The future does not look too rosy for at least six out of seven folk now alive at this present time.  I expect that conditions will be less than ideal for everyone now living as we progress through the next few decades and perhaps for considerably longer than that.

I despair for what the current younger generations, those who have known nothing other than the greed and avarice of ‘the consumer society’, are about to face and would urge young women everywhere not to have (more) children until a safe future can be assured for those unfortunate to be born into the world in these troubled days.  At this time, the future is anything but certain.

The people of the world will not lay down, perish, starve and die quietly.  There is much turmoil, movement and conflict ahead.  Immigration policies will not stand in the way of mass migrations of hungry, desperate peoples.  National borders will very soon count for nothing.

Pre-knowledge of such events is why I have personally, in the twilight years of my life (may they still be many, healthy and fruitful) moved away from centres of population, why I have learned the principles of permaculture, why I am learning how to grow, cook and prepare food and why I have shed all ownership of property/debt and why I am continuing to gather resources around me in preparation for basic survival living which will hopefully equip me to see better times.

Take some time to consider these things for yourself.  Beware the crowd mentality.  Don’t dismiss David Attenborough’s warning lightly.

Humans are an introduced virus on this planet.  You know what happens to viruses within the confines of a limited environment such as a laboratory Petrie dish or a ball of rock floating in space.  They consume all available resources (the food medium in the Petrie dish example) and then die off completely.  On a planet that is continually renewing itself we don’t have to suffer the same fate.  We just have to learn to live for as long as we are able to within the renewable limits of the planet.  That means a lot of us living very simply (few comforts, basic low technology, simple tastes) in a steady-state (zero growth) economy, or a relatively small number of us leading basic but fairly comfortable lives in a truly long term sustainable (zero growth) way.  That is the best we can hope for.

Eventually of course, we will inevitably go the way of all species.  But life, in some form, will go on.

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

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.”