The Adorable Optimism of the IPCC.

They showed us why we were there: the dust zones, the drowned coastlines,
the weedy impoverished ecosystems choking to death on centuries of Human
effluent. They showed us archival video of the Koch lynchings,
which made us feel a little better but didn’t really change anything.

—”Hotshot”

People have noticed.

I got it in Lviv. I got it in an epic email interview with BiFrost. I get it in pubs and emails, and from one disapproving professor at Concordia who— clearly regretting having invited me into her classroom— asked “So why do you even get out of bed in the morning?”

“You once described yourself as an angry optimist,” Erwann Perchoc asked me a few weeks ago. “Is that still true?”

Perhaps the tone of my writing has changed over the years. It was always what some insist on calling “dark”— but perhaps the shadows have deepened. Even a dozen years ago, the backdrop of my stories— not the plot or the theme, mind you, just the context in which the story took place— might have been described as a forlorn fire alarm: Jesus Christ, people, can’t you see the cliff we’re headed for? We have to hit the brakes! Now, though— well, in recent years I’ve written at least three stories with happy endings. And the reason those endings are happy is because they end in murder and massacre.

It’s not that I’ve given up hope entirely. But perhaps my narrative emphasis has shifted away from Avoid the Cliff and closer to Make the Fuckers Pay. Hope— dims, as time runs out. Anger builds.

And now, nearly a hundred world-class scientists throw a report at our feet that proves something I’ve recognized intellectually for years, although not so consistently in my gut: I’ve been just as childishly, delusionally optimistic as the rest of you.

Bear with me, though. Read on. I have at least one more happy ending in me.

*

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It’s been a couple of weeks now since the IPCC report came out. You know what it says.  If the whole damn species pulls together in a concerted effort “without historical precedent”— if we start right now, and never let up on the throttle— we just might be able to swing the needle back from Catastrophe to mere Disaster. If we cut carbon emissions by half over the next decade, eliminate them entirely by 2050; if the species cuts its meat and dairy consumption by 90%; if we invent new unicorn technologies for sucking carbon back out of the atmosphere (or  scale up extant prototype tech by a factor of two million in two years) — if we commit to these and other equally Herculean tasks, then we might just barely be able to keep global temperature from rising more than 1.5°C.[1] We’ll only lose 70-90% of the word’s remaining coral reefs (which are already down by about 50%, let’s not forget). Only 350 million more urban dwellers will be exposed to severe drought and “deadly heat” events. Only 130-140 million will be inundated. Global fire frequency will only increase by 38%. Fish stocks in low latitudes will be irreparably hammered, but it might be possible to save the higher-latitude populations. We’ll only lose a third of the permafrost. You get the idea.

We have twelve years to show results.

If we don’t pull all these things off— if, for example, we only succeed in meeting the flaccid 2°C aspirations of the Paris Accords— then we lose all the coral. We lose the West Antarctic Ice Sheet and the Greenland Ice Shelf (not that it isn’t already circling the bowl, of course). Twice as many people suffer “aggravated water scarcity” than at 1.5°C; 170% more of the population deals with fluvial flooding. The increase in global wildfire frequency passes 60% and keeps going. Marine fisheries crash pole to pole. The number of species that loses at least half their traditional habitat is 2-3 times higher than would have been the case at 1.5°C.  It goes on.

There’s no real point in worrying about a measly 2° increase, though, because on our current trajectory we’ll blow past 3° by century’s end (the Trump administration is predicting 4°, which is why they’re so busy dismantling whatever pitiful carbon-emission standards the US had already put into place; what’s the point of reducing profit margins if we’re headed straight for perdition no matter what we do?). We don’t really know what happens then. Methane clathrates released from a melting Arctic could turn the place into Venus, for all I know.

You probably know all this. You’ve had two weeks to internalize it; time to recoil, to internalize the numbers, to face facts.

To shrug, from what I can see. To go back to squabbling over gender pronouns, and whether science fiction has too many dystopias.

*

One of 43 reasons why that prof from Concordia doesn’t like me all that much.

Remember last year’s New York Magazine article by David Wallace-Wells? It came pretty close to outlining the fate we’ve made for ourselves, closer than any bureaucrat or politician has ever dared. Remember the pile-on that happened in its wake? Activists and allies all decryig the story as hyperbolic and defeatist? Remember the Hope Police insisting that we had to inspire, not doomsay?

Where are they now?

One of them is Michael Mann, Climate Science superstar. Back in 2017 he shat on Wallace-Wells with everyone else:  “There is no need to overstate the evidence, especially when it feeds a paralyzing narrative of doom and hopelessness.”  And now here he is, just a few days ago: admitting that even this stark doomsday report is “overly conservative“, that it understates the amount of warming that’s already occurred.  And Mann is still an optimist compared to, say, Prof. Jem Bendell, who argues that society is bound for inevitable collapse just a decade down the road and that we might as well start grieving now and avoid the rush. (He even wrote up a paper to that effect, but the policy journal he sent it to wouldn’t publish it until he rewrote it to be less “disheartening”.)

Still. Optimistic or not, this latest report is unprecedented by IPCC standards. It effectively offers, as The Tyee points out, a simple choice between Catastrophe and Disaster. It does, as a thoroughly-vindicated Wallace-Wells proclaims, give us “permission to freak out“.

So. Are we?

In terms of media reaction, the usual suspects say the usual things. Big Think and  Rolling Stone go straight down the middle, admit the sitrep is dire, express doubts that we’ll doing anything about it even now. David Suzuki— well, zero points for guessing where David Suzuki comes down. The Tech folks are talking about geoengineering again. The Guardian talks about food. Over at Medium, Daniel Estrada tries really hard to put a good spin on it, to work within the timeline of the IPCC Report and the US Election cycle to explore ways in which we might achieve the merely-disastrous Best Case— and then, halfway through, admits that he doesn’t really think any of it will happen, that this is merely a hopeful thought experiment, and in his heart of hearts he thinks we’re all well and truly fucked.

The dotted line is where we are now. Nowhere to go but up.

Over at the National Post— Canada’s answer to Fox News— some idiot named Kelly McParland blames the activists for everything, because they hectored and warned and complained for so long that who could blame the rest of us for tuning out? But perhaps the most telling reaction from the right wing comes courtesy of petro-shill Anthony Watts, who— unable to deal with the actual science— simply ran a cartoon showing IPCC authors whining for more money, alongside a guest editorial suggesting that even if it is all true, it would be way cheaper to just give everyone air conditioners.[2]

Of course, none of these folks wield any actual power. What they think doesn’t matter. What about the people who actually call the shots? How have the World’s Leaders responded to this latest 10-alarm fire, to this 12-year deadline?

Brazil is two days away from electing a far-right reactionary who has promised to quit the Paris Accords once elected. Germany— a world leader in environmental issues, not so long ago— reacted to the report with a profound “Meh”.  Australia‘s Energy Minister dismissed it as a distraction from the more-important goal of lowering energy prices for Australians. Back in August France‘s Environment Minister resigned in disgust over his own government’s inaction on climate change; that was before the report’s release, but has Macron had a come-to-Jesus moment in the meantime? Here in Canada, provincial premiers are taking the Feds to court over a measly carbon tax; the government itself permitted an “emergency session” right after the report came out, a parliamentary debate which— as far as I’ve been able to tell— accomplished exactly fuck-all beyond one side of the aisle yelling Think of the Children! while the other yelled Think of The Economy!

And these are the progressive jurisdictions. I probably don’t have to tell you about Donald Trump’s hilarious “Instinct for Science“, which apparently allows him to dismiss the IPCC’s findings as biased even as he makes clear that he doesn’t actually know what the IPCC is.

And what about the world’s real leaders, the 0.01% who actually hand out marching orders to these presidents and premiers and prime ministers? Turns out they’re retaining consultants to advise them on how to prevent their personal security forces from killing them, once civilization has collapsed and their money’s no good any more. It seems to be a lot more than mere thought experiment to these people: global societal collapse seems to be their default scenario. They call it “The Event.”

Why, it’s almost as though they knew what was coming before the IPCC even tendered their report.

*

To me, one of the most interesting facets of this whole clusterfuck is how eager everyone is to tell us that It’s Not Our Fault. “Neoliberalism has conned us into fighting climate change as individuals“, the Guardian charges. “Capitalism Killed Our Climate Momentum“, claims Naomi Klein (who, in all fairness, I’ve admired ever since No Logo).  Over at Slate  Genevieve Guenther asks “Who Is the We in “We Are Causing Climate Change”?”, and saves us the trouble by answering herself:

Does it include the 735 million who, according to the World Bank, live on less than $2 a day? Does it include the approximately 5.5 billion people who, according to Oxfam, live on between $2 and $10 a day? Does it include the millions of people, all over the world (400,000 alone in the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City) doing whatever they can to lower their own emissions and counter the fossil-fuel industry?

GQ reassures us that “Billionaires are the Leading Cause of Climate Change“. And I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read that a mere 100 companies are responsible for 71% of global carbon emissions.

To which I say, Bullshit. You’re all to fucking blame whether Naomi Klein wants to let you off the hook or not.

Not that I’m denying any of her arguments. They’re all true. We were certainly  told— by supposed allies like Greenpeace and the PIRGs, as well as more obviously-nefarious corporations and governments— that if we all just recycled and ate one meat-free meal a week, we’d be Doing Our Part to Save the Planet while BP and the Koch Brothers continued to rape the biosphere. Up here in Canada, the reigning Liberals— for all their noble rhetoric about fighting climate change— are still buying pipelines and forcing Tar Sands down our throats and subsidizing Big Oil to the tune of over three billion dollars a year; the Conservative Opposition won’t even pay mealy-mouth lip service to the issue. Down in the states both mainstream parties are sucking too hard on the corporate teat to do anything that might actually endanger the profits of their owners. Individual actions can’t fix things: the very scale of the problem guarantees that institutional responses have always been necessary. All of this is true.

But you know what, people? There were always alternatives. You could have voted for Sanders. You could have voted Green. You could have voted for Ralph fucking Nader, when he was running. Hell, am I the only one who remembers Jerry Brown’s abortive run at the presidency, back in 1980? I still remember his announcement, the Three Priorities he laid out for his administration:

  1. Protect the Environment
  2. Serve the People
  3. Explore the Universe

That’s a damned good mission statement if you ask me. All it got him was jokes from Johnny Carson about how Jerry Brown had locked up the Grey Whale vote, and jokes from everyone else that usually revolved around the fact he was fucking Linda Ronstadt.

Of course he didn’t have a chance. Of course voting for him, or Nader, or the Greens was “throwing away your vote”. None of them had a chance.

And that’s my fucking point. It’s not that no one had heard of these people. It’s not that you weren’t familiar with their platforms. You knew what they stood for and you wrote them off. You were told they were fringe, that they never stood a chance, so you went out and made it true. You voted en masse for the status quo and the corporate teat-sucklers. Now Darby and Klein and  Guenther trip over themselves to let you off the hook, to blame Capitalism and Neoliberalism and its stranglehold on the groupthink of modern politics— but how did you end up with leaders who so willingly abased themselves at that altar in the first place, you ignorant shit-heads? There were always alternatives, and you saw them, and you laughed.

Sure, the Neolibs conned you. Because you wanted to be conned.

Reap the whirlwind, you miserable fuckers. May your children choke on it.

*

So what’s left?

Every pundit on the planet is fond of pointing out that politicians can’t look beyond the next couple of election cycles— but twelve years is a couple of election cycles, more or less, and we’re still accelerating toward the cliff. Last weekend, The BUG and I talked about how we’d have to kill our cats before abandoning the house. We weren’t joking.

And yet— in my own way, I’m right with you in The Nile. I can still laugh at The BUG’s jokes. I still watch Netflix. I lie in bed with a sore back because Minion has been sitting on my chest for an hour and I don’t have the heart to disturb her. Sure, there are fewer insects, fewer frogs, less wildlife than I remember from childhood (more pigeons, at least. More raccoons)— but the ravine across the fence is still green, the sky still blue. The tag line on this ‘crawl remains as true as ever: I’m still In Love With the Moment, because I am not starving yet, because those I love are still doing okay, because all the birds have not quite come home to roost and there’s something so indescribably wondrous about being sapient, being able to look around and wonder at the universe.  There is still so much to love in the Moment.

But the second part of that line is even truer: I am scared shitless of the future. Because those birds are closer than even I allowed myself to think, and not so far from now I could be a skeleton in the background of a Mad Max movie.

The only hope I can see lies in Donald Trump.

Don’t worry. This isn’t one of those contrarian bits of agitprop designed to provoke a reaction. I’m dead serious.

But when I speak of hope, I’m not talking about the world. I’m talking about hope for my country. I’m talking about hope for my family. Hope for maybe an extra decade or two before the ceiling crashes in. That’s the limited, desperate, end-of-need hope I pin on Trump and his enablers.

Help us, Obi-Don. You’re our only hope.

Because what do you do when your family is starving and the guys next door have food? What does any country do when drought and famine and heat waves are decimating its taxpayers while the cooler, luckier land to the north  has enough— well, if not for all, at least for some? Will the governments of imploding regimes just sadly shake their heads, and—  wracked with remorse for their shortsightedness— resign themselves to well-deserved apocalypse?

Of course, Canada’s hardly immune from the unfolding catastrophe (anyone from Fort McMurray could tell you that much). But we’ll still be better off than the US. Smaller temperature jumps. Less agro impact. Hell, our growing season could actually improve in the short term— and there’s lots of room to move north with the isotherms, even if northern soils don’t hold a candle to what we’re used to. Sorry, Inuit. You lose again.

So, yeah. If your family is starving and the house next door has food, you break in. You invade. And if the US invaded us now, we wouldn’t stand a chance. They’d Spread Democracy north of the 49th without breaking a sweat, and our pathetic little armed forces wouldn’t be able to do a damned thing about it.  (Hell, the West Edmonton Mall used to have a bigger submarine fleet than the Canadian Navy; the only reason that’s not still true is because the Mall shut down their sub attraction in 2006.)

After a couple of terms of Trumpism, though, who knows?

The US is already at war with itself. It tears itself apart even as we speak: wagons circled, guns beyond counting all pointed inward. Trump and his ilk seem only too happy to spur  them on. Maybe, given enough time, they’ll waste all that ammo on each other.  Maybe that hypermilitary will be so busy guarding gated communities and mowing down protestors that they’ll forget to invade anyone else. Maybe— if Trump has his way— they’ll be so busy eating each other that by the time they remember us, they’ll have too many self-inflicted wounds to do much about it.

Maybe then we’ll have a fighting chance. Or maybe they’ll just leave us up here to die in peace, a few decades further down the road.

See? I told you I wasn’t out of happy endings.


[1] That’s global mean temperature, mind you. The Arctic’s already up by 3°C, and could blow past 4.5°C while the “mean” temperature is still languishing down at 1.5.

[2] No link from here, though; you can Google the site if you want. And good luck washing the stench off your fingertips.

This entry was written by Peter Watts , posted on Friday October 26 2018at 01:10 pm , filed under climate, politics, rant . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

85 Responses to “The Adorable Optimism of the IPCC.”

  1. We’ll reap the whirlwind. We’ve done it before and who knows, maybe some variation of us will do it again. I met you at a Con about a decade ago and told you I was working on a tale of ecological vengeance (you seemed keen on the idea) but by the time I finish it won’t be a work of fiction it will be current events. And we totally deserve it. Not the readers of this blog, obviously but humans. Humans are insufficiently adapted to their environment because they can’t restrain their greed, lust for comfort and tendency towards magical/wishful thinking. On top of that we have a lot of the same problems as other phyla – inability to restrict our numbers, inability to recognize true threats. Maybe most fatal of all – inability to see how we’re not that special, not really smart, just specialized, and we need to fit in with everything else to survive. We never had what it took from the start and we know how these things end. That’s why it hurts. We thought we could hack it but we can’t. Nature will reset. Maybe that was our only function. Warm things up. Avoid the ice age a while longer. Clear the board for another game.

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  2. cheers Peter!
    If there is something you can do about it, why do you worry?
    If there isnt something you can do about it, why do you worry?

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  3. You’re way more optimistic than I am.

    Once Miami’s aquifiers get sufficiently polluted from the next big storm surge, Nestle is going to blow the contract for water distribution. It’s going to be in the midst of disastrous reports of cholera outbreaks that a few of the smart ones — the ones that picked Miltoronto for it’s elevation above sea level and abundant fresh water — are going to feel compassion for the dumb family members they’d left behind and try to sponsor them as refugees.

    Word will spread of a sanctuary for the newly dispossessed, and once a few make it across then the floodgates will truly open. They’ll come in family units, they’ll come in caravans, they’ll come up through the prairies, upstate New York and in boats over the great lakes. The Carolinans will come because they’re flooded out and their water is full of pigshit, Texans because the only water they can get is sea water.

    The U.S. gov’t won’t give a shit. They’ll turn a blind eye, less people to manage. The Canadian government may try, but by the point that everyone here gets bloody minded enough to give them at least tacit permission to be as ruthless as necessary we’re going to have a large enough contingent of 5 Columnists that the border will be assaulted by both sides.

    Anyways, that’s my cheerful take on things. I kept the nukes and methane belches out.

    If you want some more ideas about things will come undone check out Climate Wars, a happy little book written by the amazing Gwynne Dyer.

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  4. Cal:
    We’ll reap the whirlwind. We’ve done it before and who knows, maybe some variation of us will do it again. I met you at a Con about a decade ago and told you I was working on a tale of ecological vengeance (you seemed keen on the idea) but by the time I finish it won’t be a work of fiction it will be current events.And we totally deserve it. Not the readers of this blog, obviously but humans. Humans are insufficiently adapted to their environment because they can’t restrain their greed, lust for comfort and tendency towards magical/wishful thinking. On top of that we have a lot of the same problems as other phyla – inability to restrict our numbers, inability to recognize true threats. Maybe most fatal of all – inability to see how we’re not that special, not really smart, just specialized, and we need to fit in with everything else to survive. We never had what it took from the start and we know how these things end. That’s why it hurts. We thought we could hack it but we can’t. Nature will reset. Maybe that was our only function. Warm things up. Avoid the ice age a while longer. Clear the board for another game.

    Very well put. I take some solace in that the game of life could start again, but I do find myself worried over what will happen in my future. All I want is a cabin in the woods at this point, but I doubt even that will be safe for long.

    I don’t think humans are any good at thinking far ahead. It’s not just that we don’t plan well, but our political systems the world over have fucked us over by capitalizing on our species’ tribalistic nature. Environmental collapse will probably do have the job, and we’ll finish the other half ourselves.

    It’s unbelievably disappointing that you can hardly bring up this issue in public without it’s occurrence being questioned. I’m tired of everyone saying who’s fault it is or who’s fault it isn’t. It’s already a foregone conclusion. It’s happening and everyone will have to deal with it at some point.

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  5. >Reap the whirlwind, you miserable fuckers. May your children choke on it.

    Mine have already choked inside my balls, or dried out on a tissue. Antinatalism is a conversation killer but seems kinder for the sprogs on the whole

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  6. Time to start a global pirate geoengineering conspiracy. Methods of choice are relatively affordable SAI and/or space mirrors (conveniently doubling as orbital death rays)

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  7. Doomsday cults are the Next Big Thing(tm). I’m calling it now.

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  8. Look on the bright side. You’re 60 years old, so you’ll only need to be pissed off about this for another 20 years.

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  9. I knew you’d do a good one on this.
    It’s scary how this is just coming across another news story for most people, something to worry about while there’s a new publication bringing it to the public attention but in the long term, as far as most people are concerned, things will go back to normal, there will be other news stories to occupy the attention.
    I’d recommend everyone actually read the Jem Bendell paper linked. Adapting has to be the priority now because whichever version of this future we encounter, things will not stay the way they have over the last 40-50 years, this will not blow over like everything else, as much as people want it to. It’s gonna get weird, so get ready.

    Nestor,
    Exactly. I won’t have the guilt of consigning any sprogs to this ugly picture on my hands.

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  10. It couldn’t have happened any other way. You know better than anyone the mountains of cognitive biases that effectively hamstring us from doing anything remotely right in the long term. The Earth will turn into Dune and new generations will kill themselves over reasons more real than they kill themselves today. Pandemics will cut down swathes of consumers, the 12% of top test takers will divide up what’s left and the whole thing will keep spinning until someone rewrites humans from the ground up into something that can actually look ahead or survive the gooey mess we make. It will be fine, don’t worry about it.

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  11. 10 bucks that the Pacific Northwest kicks off with ‘The Big One’ mid-way through this happy story.

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  12. What, Trump hasn’t annexed Canada yet? Maybe he can’t find it on a map.
    When the cows get sick of milking, they call the butcher for help. Happens all the time. Canada might still invite the Chinese for protection. Or it might become Indian land again, in a way. Canada’s potential to retain independence is even smaller than Russia’s potential to retain Siberia. But it was a great country while it lasted.
    But it’s certainly not the only doomed one. As populated territories become less inhabitable, the empty North more inviting, you’ll have masses of people moving, mingling, abandoning old borders, drawing new ones, creating new languages, religions, races. Just look at a globe from the top: There’s a lot of Siberia and North America to fight for. Not to forget Patagonia, Antarctica and such.
    So we’re just sitting here and watching ourselves die, as so many others before. Even the rich ones you talk about can’t change anything any more, because it’s not their fault. They’re just modules, like you and me. Just jigsaw pieces, components of a self-organizing system, a global organism that’s too stupid to prevent it’s own death. Every cell of the beast is much smarter than the beast as a whole, but the beast rules them all. Paralysis, decadence, trumpoid cancer, it’s all so depressingly normal.
    We should start considering Earth a foreign planet. A purgatory we have to colonize, because we blew up paradise right under our butts.

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  13. paul z: Just look at a globe from the top: There’s a lot of Siberia and North America to fight for. Not to forget Patagonia, Antarctica and such.

    I read somewhere that Siberia may actually benefit from global warming. I.e. the soil is viable for agriculture and there’s mining to be done below. Russia could conceivably benefit from defrosting.

    North America… not so much, once those amber fields of grain turn to desert. Good luck planting in the Canadian Shield. Antarctica could not grow crops even if fully defrosted.

    So the future breadbasket of (what’s left of) the world might very well be Russia. Wonder how the Russians will manage it. If historical precedent is any indicator, “not well” is the probable answer.

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  14. Well, the Meadows duo and the other ‘Limits to Growth’ people said it all back in 1972.
    I don’t see what the big deal is. Humans will die off. Other life forms will take over.
    Hmmm.

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  15. Excerpt from a review of John McMurtry’s book “The Cancer Stage of Capitalism”, Healing Our Collective Sickness”-

    To quote McMurtry, “Once the blinkers of the reigning paradigm are shed [and we see the cancer], the bars of the invisible prison fall.” This is to say that when we recognize the cancer, the stage is set for the disease to start dissolving back into its empty nature – as if it never actually existed in the first place. We can then potentially discover our true nature, which we have never been separate from for a single moment. The purity of our true nature—who we actually are—has always been with us and has never been imprisoned, tainted or diseased. Once we realize this, our life-force energy that was continually getting unconsciously sucked into feeding the cancerous black hole can then be re-circulated into nourishing the creative spirit within us, enabling us to create a world more in alignment with our true nature as interconnected beings who depend upon each other for our well-being. Once this realization occurs, the cancer shows its other—and hidden—face: because we would not have woken up without the cancer’s help, it can be recognized to be the very catalyst for the evolution of our species. It is as if concealed and encoded within the seeming poison of the cancer is the necessary ingredient that spurs the dynamics of our individual and collective individuation. This brings to mind Goethe’s masterpiece Faust, in which Faust asks Mephistopheles (who represents the devil – in our case, symbolizing the evil of cancer) who he is, and Mephistopheles replies that he is the “part of that force which would do evil, yet forever works the good.” From this point of view, it is as if the cancer is an instrument of a higher intelligence whose purpose is to connect us with a sacred, creative and healing source within ourselves. How amazing: the very cancer that is potentially killing us is teaching us how to heal it – and as an added bonus is waking us up in the process.

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/the-psychological-depths-of-the-cancer-stage-of-capitalism-healing-our-collective-sickness/5576765

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  16. From the book “World on Fire”, by Michael Brownstein:

    Because it’s a mistake to think this culture will last much longer.
    Walking on eggshells, out on a limb, state of denial.
    Western white noise powered by psychotic episodes dressed up as healthy ambition.
    Western white noise, how I long to hear the silence behind your posturing.
    But, unlike me, nature’s not impatient.
    She waits, compassionate, all-knowing.
    Time means nothing to her.
    She doesn’t care if a million years go by before life’s balance is restored.
    She laughs—you can’t hear her laugh but it’s everywhere, in the crowding and acceleration, in the epidemics and famines, in the ruined lives—she laughs at the desperate compulsions spewing out of Western white noise’s mouth.
    She laughs at the very disasters which are destroying her.
    Yes, even my clairvoyant glimpses of revenge, of oil industry meltdown, she views with a trickster gleam in her eye, indifferent to any outcome.
    She smiles at those working tirelessly for her benefit because she knows their egos are involved in what they say and do.
    Whereas her power is beyond ego, beyond name and form, beyond individual identity, beyond striving.
    The great detachment of the Goddess, breathtaking and fearful.
    The terrible distance from which she churns out and ingests all life—good and bad, beautiful and ugly, vital and sickly, just and monstrous.
    The indifference of the stars, the galaxies which come and go without explanation, without bias, without a sound.
    The silence of the Goddess making any witness—even the bravest of all—crumple in awe, “go blind in her presence,” as the ancient texts averred.
    Because she doesn’t care the way “you” and “I” care. No matter how bad things get, she knows her survival is beyond influence.
    No matter the polar ice caps melt, no matter the half-life of nuclear stockpiles leaking into everyone’s tomorrow, no matter the disappearance of her precious creatures, her trees and flowers, no matter the poisoning of her air and water, no matter the end times.
    End times for us is nothing to her, literally nothing at all.
    Looking us in the eye—her glance that burns our retinas—she reaches under her gown and fingers herself, making herself wet, making herself come, over and over again.
    Out of her moaning mouth spill unending life-forms, forever taking the place of what disappears.
    That’s all she does, from here to eternity.
    And we can’t believe it, we refuse to accept it, the knowledge of our insignificance pulverizes us.

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  17. Bitcoin may be making things worse.
    “The team found that if Bitcoin is incorporated, even at the slowest rate at which other technologies have been incorporated, its cumulative emissions will be enough to warm the planet above 2°C in just 22 years. If incorporated at the average rate of other technologies, it is closer to 16 years.”
    https://phys.org/news/2018-10-bitcoin-global-couple-decades.html
    https://www.nature.com/articles/s41558-018-0321-8

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  18. “There were always alternatives.”

    No, of course not. The alternatives there are barred by the walls we can’t even see.
    You still believe there’s a choice in modern democracy, choosing Sanders over Clinton or Trump would change ANYTHING? Hell, you really are an optimist these days.

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  19. Sometimes, though, when despair develops, it might be dismissed as a standard a part of ageing.

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  20. Peter,

    I’m big fan of your work (just wanted to say that, it’s irrelevant to what I’m saying next).

    Do your complaints against Trump lie solely with the climate-change issues, or do you disagree with his politics altogether?

    I used to wonder how people could support the Republican party. After all, generally the news media has very little good to say about them (save for Fox News, which I don’t trust), while the policies of the Democrats are often praised.

    However, a loose thread for me is the lawsuit against Harvard for discriminating against Asian applicants. Here, you’ve got incredible students, with top grades, conscientious, wide range of interests (not the stereotypical piano/violin player), strong contributors to the community, etc.

    But because they’ve got Asian parents, and are genetically of Asian descent, these applicants are effectively placed on quota. The social engineers at Harvard apply blackbox “personality tests” to deny these applicants fair consideration.

    As you likely know, this case is currently in front of the Supreme Court (SC). A few questions:

    (1) Why isn’t this blatant racism? A subgroup of US citizens is being denied opportunities because of their race.

    (2) Why does the SC need to rule on the moral failing of such a policy? That the SC even needs to be involved makes me fearful how far these policies have over-stepped, seemingly with broad acceptance by most of the media and a large swath of voters.

    (3) Is it surprising that people (like me) who have young children (who are of Asian descent) would be offended to point of supporting Trump’s policies, at least those aimed at racism such as this?

    Of course, there two obvious objections. First, being denied admission to Harvard isn’t the end of the world; indeed, most applicants are denied. But note that other universities seem to be employing the same blackbox process: Brown, Columbia, Penn, Darthmouth, Yale, Cornell, Princeton. Where does it end? And does it end at the university admissions process, or can companies like Google also discriminate based on your parents/grandparents/etc. being Asian?

    Second, one could argue that, while Trump might be on the right side of this issue, his other policies still amount to a net negative. I have two responses:

    (i) Any political argument that asks parents to sacrifice a portion of their childrens’ future for the Greater Good has questionable moral standing (anytime people argue for the Greater Good, a red flag should go up), but more importantly, it is doomed to failure. If you really care about changing people’s minds, don’t ask them to accept racism against their children.

    (ii) It’s unclear that the racism at Harvard is the only loose thread. Title IX (kangaroo) courts on campus is another issue which troubles me. If you have a son in university, it should trouble you too. University bureaucrats are simply not trained to handle criminal matters; the police should handle this, and the criminal courts should rule on it. I’m glad to see this being addressed, and there are many other issues like this that don’t get coverage by the media; or if they do, they are covered with a particular framing (for example, the pushback against Title IX was reported as a misogynistic attack on sexual assault victims). Ultimately, it’s unclear that Trump’s policies are net negative.

    When people complain of fake news, I don’t believe they’re saying that the news is 100% fabricated. At least, that’s not my understanding of it. A more accurate phrasing might be “dishonest news” given that media organizations tend to commit lies by omission (rather than commission), or frame an issue to fit a favored narrative, or use motivated reasoning to smear people.

    For example, currently the shooting at the Jewish synagogue is a top news story. It’s a terrible event, and NPR has no issue with pointing out repeatedly throughout yesterday and today that the shooter is a Trump supporter.

    Why is it relevant? According to 538, roughly 42% of people in the US are supporters of Trump. Moreover, under Trump, the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem; this is something that Israel greatly approves of. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish; Kushner and Ivanka held a Jewish wedding.

    This is an example of the dishonesty that has people upset. Having realized that the media is playing this game, the events that take place in the world make a lot more sense.

    Why would so many people vote against their own best interests? How could they all be so stupid? If you are asking these questions, then you should consider that your model of the world is inaccurate, and maybe that’s because it’s a model informed by the media. Perhaps people are not voting against their own interests, perhaps they are not stupid en masse.

    Anyway, end of rant. Back to work.

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  21. I understand a lot of people are single issue or punishment vote-voters who aren’t necessarily keen on Trump or Bolsonaro or the particular monster de jour, and primate fairness instinct tends towards tipping over the table when injustice is perceived.

    But I don’t think a thread full of antinatalists bemoaning the collapse of the ecosystem is the place to complain about the comparative disadvantage of your kids when it comes to securing sheepskins. Seems a little tone deaf. A little deckchair-on-the-titanic shuffly? Perhaps? I dunno.

    Rat Farmer: The team found that if Bitcoin is incorporated, even at the slowest rate at which other technologies have been incorporated, its cumulative emissions will be enough to warm the planet above 2°C

    Oh shit, there goes my moral high ground. Turns out owning .2 bitcoin is worse than (not) having 2.5 children. Okay okay I’ll sell it off cheap. Gotta have a clean conscience before oblivion.

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  22. Cal: I was working on a tale of ecological vengeance (you seemed keen on the idea)

    Ecological vengeance? How could I not be?

    Dr No: If there is something you can do about it, why do you worry?

    I worry that someone might stop me from doing it. By worrying about that, I can make plans to minimize it from happening.

    Greggles: If you want some more ideas about things will come undone check out Climate Wars, a happy little book written by the amazing Gwynne Dyer.

    That book’s pretty old now, isn’t it? I haven’t read it— but I loved Dwyer’s series “War” back in the eighties.

    Angela DeRiso: I take some solace in that the game of life could start again,

    Oh, it’ll start again. There’ve been five mass extinctions in the past, and in every case the few weedy species that remained were enough to speciate into new and wondrously diverse biospheres

    Of course, it took twenty million years to do that. But you can’t have everything.

    Nestor: Mine have already choked inside my balls, or dried out on a tissue.

    Mine too. we should start a club.

    cryptochrome: Methods of choice are relatively affordable SAI

    Great. Botswana or some place unilaterally implements SAI because it’s cheap and effective, and it works just great until some tewwowist organization realizes that all they have to do is take out that one vital spritzer cannon and ten years of climate change happen over the course of a single weekend.

    Some decent story potential there in the meantime, I guess.

    Johan Larson:
    Look on the bright side. You’re 60 years old, so you’ll only need to be pissed off about this for another 20 years.

    Yeah, except that means when the ceiling crashes in I’ll be too old and feeble to bash anyone’s head in with a rock. I’ll be the bashee.

    If only this had gone down twenty years earlier, I might have stood a better chance…

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  23. John Rodriguez: Pandemics will cut down swathes of consumers,

    By an interesting coincidence, the time Bendell tags for societal collapse— ten years from now— is also the point at which my buddy, parasitologist and evolutionary biologist Dan Brooks, expects a series of rolling pandemics to start hollowing out urban centers around the world.

    Never rains but it pours, huh?

    Fatman: I read somewhere that Siberia may actually benefit from global warming. I.e. the soil is viable for agriculture and there’s mining to be done below.

    Except for all the methane clathrates that are even now bubbling up from the Siberian so-called permafrost. I’m given to believe those could triple or quadruple our rate of warming.

    Phillip Neal: Well, the Meadows duo and the other ‘Limits to Growth’ people said it all back in 1972.

    And some university in Australia reanalyzed the LtG models as recently as 2014, and found we were pretty much on the track they laid out.

    Phillip Neal: I don’t see what the big deal is. Humans will die off. Other life forms will take over.

    It’s a big deal to me, personally. I’m one of the Humans dying off. Can’t speak for the rest of you.

    Rat Farmer: Bitcoin may be making things worse.

    Yeah, that got to me too. But then Jon Evans made some good points about the assumptions implicit in that model— like, bitcoin would have to be the dominant currency even after a single bitcoin cost more than the electricity necessary to mine it. So there’s probably some self-limiting elements in there.

    No matter. We can obviously fuck things up just fine without bitcoin.

    listedproxyname: You still believe there’s a choice in modern democracy, choosing Sanders over Clinton or Trump would change ANYTHING? Hell, you really are an optimist these days.

    I think voting for Brown would have, back in 1980 before the avalanche was already halfway down the mountain. And I do think a Sanders victory would have changed things for the better. Probably not enough, at this point. But he would have bent the curve a bit.

    Anyway, those ships have sailed, because we let them.

    And of course I’m an optimist. I keep saying I’m an optimist. I described myself as “childishly, delusionally optimistic” at the top of this post.

    what is depression and its symptoms:
    Sometimes, though, when despair develops, it might be dismissed as a standard a part of ageing.

    I think you’re a bot. But I’m going to leave you here because at least you’re on-topic, and I like to reward machine learning when it gets things right.

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  24. Bob: Do your complaints against Trump lie solely with the climate-change issues, or do you disagree with his politics altogether?

    I don’t think Trump even has politics as normally understood. Trump is stuck in a cognitively infantile reactive stimulus/reward mode, and has very poor impulse control. He grabs and pisses and throws tantrums as a result of the latter state, then gravitates to whichever demographic cheers loudest as a result of the former. Trump just craves applause, indulgence, and adulation; I don’t believe he has any ethics or ideology beyond that.

    Of course, this makes him really useful to the actual idealogues who feed him and wipe the drool from his chin…

    Nestor: But I don’t think a thread full of antinatalists bemoaning the collapse of the ecosystem is the place to complain about the comparative disadvantage of your kids when it comes to securing sheepskins. Seems a little tone deaf. A little deckchair-on-the-titanic shuffly? Perhaps? I dunno.

    Me neither. What exactly are you talking about here? I’ve gone back up the thread and I don’t see anyone complaining about children being disadvantaged at getting condoms (assuming that’s what you meant by “sheepskins”). I didn’t see anything about condoms at all. Just you and I congratulating each other on our vasectomies.

    In fact you could even say that this antinatalist actively hoped for the disadvantage of children (given that all of them choking is generally not seen as advantageous outside of erotic asphyxia circles).

    Did I miss a comment somewhere?

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  25. Sheepskin as in degrees, which is what the poster above me was complaining of. I’m sure his kids not getting into Harvard is an injustice, but it seems a little OT in the “blasted hellscape” discussion

    I picked the idiom up from Charlie Stross, but it’s apparently not exclusive to him

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  26. All the more reason to consume right NOW, if we are already falling down the cliff, we might as well enjoy the flight. Honestly, looking back at our history we were always destined to an end like this. It is frankly amazing and unlikely that we even survived the cold war.

    I will be one if the hundreds of millions dying off namelessly when the end comes, but i prefer that to living out my life in some bunker. Just gotta make sure i have something to hand to end it all painlessly, i guess.

    And i think the sheepskin comment was adressed at the guy whos greatest worry is his kids not getting admitted to Harvard during the Apocalypse.

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  27. I’m curious. Many of you are convinced things are going to get very bad indeed because of climate change. Are you also preppers? And if not, why not?

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  28. Dr No: If there is something you can do about it, why do you worry?

    Peter: I worry that someone might stop me from doing it. By worrying about that, I can make plans to minimize it from happening.

    Dr No: Well, go do it then.

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  29. Johan Larson: And if not, why not?

    Prepping seem to be motivated more by wish-fulfillment than by actual preparation for massive civilization collapse. I.e. the dream of a Mad Max society in which poorly socialized lunatics with plenty of guns are suddenly not only relevant, but kings of their own mini-dominions. Not infrequently, said dominions are envisioned as free from People We Don’t Like and bastions of Our Values.

    Global warming probably won’t render the area where I live uninhabitable within my lifetime. If it does, I have options to retreat further north. So climate change probably won’t kill me in the next 50 years. Of course, the side effects of global warming (e.g. societal collapse, a sharp uptick in the numbers of poorly socialized lunatics running around with guns), might. But that’s out of my control.

    Also, and this is completely subjective, annihilation looks like an infinitely preferable option to surviving in a world populated by preppers. It’s one of the reasons I dislike zombie movies: you can survive for a while, but there isn’t really any future to look forward to, so it’s better to just get your guts/brains ripped out and get it over with.

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  30. Bob: Perhaps people are not voting against their own interests, perhaps they are not stupid en masse.

    Or perhaps you re-evaluate the model, and decide that there is no other explanation and that yes, they are just stupid en masse.

    “Stupidity” here should not be seen as a simple lack of brainpower coupled with poor education. There are other factors in play, like myth (patriotism, Manifest Destiny, the American Dream, a.k.a. hustling), delusion (religion) and deep-rooted anti-intellectualism. Someone who grew up in an environment contaminated by the above is going to have a really hard time seeing it for the nonsense it is. It can’t be the system that’s fundamentally flawed, unsustainable and driven by the worst in humanity, it’s the people who don’t work hard enough, don’t want to work, pull themselves up by their bootstraps, etc.

    Americans buy into this garbage to a massive degree, regardless of political tribal affiliation. Sad part is, so do people everywhere else – they just don’t have the power to act on a global scale.

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  31. Just want to put in a plug for the teachings and wisdom of Nate Hagens, who offers a systemic view of the human predicament, and the fatalism of atmospheric physicist Tim Garrett who believes the universe is determinate, that things will unfold as they will unfold, and, to put it indelicately, we’re screwed.

    Hagens appeals because he admits he doesn’t know what the future will be. Rather, he sees it as the unfolding of a continuing series of bell-shaped probability distributions along a continuum axis from “life diminishing” to “life enhancing” outcomes. But he does tell us what the future will not be: 1) Growing the economy AND mitigating climate change; 2) Growing the economy by REPLACING fossil fuels with renewables; 3) Humans en masse choosing to leave fossil sunlight in the ground; and 4) Governments explaining limits to growth BEFORE limits to growth are well past.

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  32. Peter Watts: ten years of climate change happen over the course of a single weekend

    I suppose THAT would be of great education value to the rest of the world, so a win-win perhaps

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  33. Bob: Why is it relevant? According to 538, roughly 42% of people in the US are supporters of Trump. Moreover, under Trump, the US moved its embassy to Jerusalem; this is something that Israel greatly approves of. His son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish; Kushner and Ivanka held a Jewish wedding.

    I don’t see the connect between appeasing the Israelis by moving the embassy to Jerusalem and assuming Trump is benificial for Jews in the US, except if you assume Jews and Israelis are one and the same. It’s an opinion Arabs (and other Muslims) get called out on in Western Europe, but if the Trumpbots want to join in, I guess they already reached the point where they more or less don’t care about what other people think about them, or actually only get angry at the people instead of questioning their opinions…

    As for Israel ATM, another post-colonial somewhat leftist experiment turning into a ethnocentric autocracy with fundamentalist religious undertones. Just like Rhodesia/Zimbabwe lately. Of course, the US, Australia etc. are far ahead…

    In the interest of my reputation of an equal opportunity basher, I should write something against the Palestinians, too, but I guess some people could do a better job, so I’ll leave it to them.

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  34. Peter Watts:

    Yeah, except that means when the ceiling crashes in I’ll be too old and feeble to bash anyone’s head in with a rock. I’ll be the bashee.

    If only this had gone down twenty years earlier, I might have stood a better chance…

    Oh, well. If you search for it, you’ll find a nifty list of the best ways of committing suicide. Top choice: shotgun. Very likely to succeed. Very low chance of pain. Legal to own in Canada, too.

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  35. Peter Watts: I think voting for Brown would have, back in 1980 before the avalanche was already halfway down the mountain.

    THAT could have bent the curve a bit, since back then. Most people still think that climate problems come from wrong policies rather than wrong structure of society, and the reason for it is not an optimism, but a hopeless naivety still too common for people who haven’t been in need a single day in their lives. They don’t realize how deep their real problems are buried.

    Peter Watts: And of course I’m an optimist. I keep saying I’m an optimist. I described myself as “childishly, delusionally optimistic” at the top of this post.

    Where I hail from, the optimism is a state of mind earned by decades of hopeless suffering, a different kind of optimism, obviously. Developed countries don’t really know what it can mean, but they should. I hope, the still-existing threat of nuclear annihilation might help them a bit.

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  36. Bob,

    You’re relying on Negan Trumps tolerance of people who are not Negan. Harvard gets Lucille, because he needs some liberal votes, Mexicans get Lucille, because he needs redneck votes. Wait till he finds out the hard way that Asia is not just another village south of the border.
    Trump, Erdogan, Orban, China, USA, Brazil, the disintegration of Europe: All over the planet, you see symptoms of the Schrödinger syndrome: If I can’t see the kitty, it’s actually gone. Lack of communication is taken for lack of existence. That’s how you create a zombie apocalypse, take people’s souls in a way, make them behave in unpredictable, hostile ways. Put your little fingers into your ears, close your little eyes and scream „Lalala!“ at the top of your lungs, don’t give a fuck about anyone except yourself, and the universe with all its problems disappears. It’s just, the undead hordes don’t stay in their wooden boxes, they go after you, meowing and purring and scratching your door to scraps.
    Entropy is a survival strategy within a highly relativistic order-chaos-hierarchy. Which means, if you can’t handle it, you run away from it. A villager may see a monster, scream something stupid and hide in his safe straw shack, the tiny world that he can control and understand. It works often enough. But the really big monsters, like climate change or global economy, give even less about you than you do about them. They just walk over your shack without even noticing.

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  37. Maybe inefficiency is the way to go.
    You can’t solve global problems locally, and vice versa. So let’s assume, the yetis take over, unite mankind under their scourge and try to save the Himalaya for snowboarding.
    We develop better and better technologies for stuffing global warming into batteries: converting and storing this energy deluge for later use. But that’s not enough: Oil and coal mass transformed into heat have to be transformed back into mass. Any mass, no matter if it’s useful or not, it just needs to be storable without causing new disasters: We need the necessary minimum of efficiency, and tons of ecologically neutral waste. And we need lots of such power plants.
    Organization is the main issue. As an individual, I can’t do much to save the planet, but I’m great at fucking it up. The more people I try to involve into saving it, the more the organization dissolves into an ego-goo of conflicting interests, controlled by circuits and currents of money and power, structures too stupid and primitive to understand, they can’t survive without the bio-units supporting them. Their growing efficiency results in human inefficiency, and this needs to be reversed: This slave rebellion has to end. If not by the yetis, then by science – where the last resorts of human intelligence are still holding some ground against the deluge of lobotomy by economy.
    I just love to hear myself talk. Coz I have to compensate for everybody else.

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  38. My net worth is several billion dollars and I can tell you with certainty that most of those billionaire hedge fund runners wouldn’t have an original idea if their lives depended on it – case in point being their concerns over remunerating their protective personnel after money is worthless. Conceiving wealth as dependent on the current economic system is exactly the kind of brain-dead thinking one might expect from market “makers” and manipulators.

    Those of us who genuinely create markets will do just fine.

    It’s not as if science fiction hasn’t covered this terrain ad nauseum. We’ll create islands here, and in orbit, and there’ll be not one thing you can do about it. We don’t want it this way, but as is clear, vast swathes of this world will become increasingly, and increasingly rapidly, uninhabitable.

    There will be wind, and sun, and for a while yet the opportunity to stockpile uranium and fossil fuels. Our sanctuaries don’t have to last forever. They need only outlast the purge. Our life-rafts will take in those we need for strategic reasons. We will have lethality on our side. We already have the wealth and power of the current economy. Combined with our drive and intelligence, and the technologies we control and will continue to create, the class division will become increasingly stark. We don’t want it this way, but this is how it is. Get used to it.

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  39. You state the problem well. Here is my take as an economist.

    But first, a sci-fi plot:

    Billionaire buys large ships and and fills them with soap. He places the soap under the antarctic ice sheets in well selected locations. Unless the global CO2 emissions are cut, he uses explosive to liquidate the soap between the ground and the glacier. Lower friction makes ice sheets move faster. Faster movement generates friction and heat that melts Ice more. Ice flow is artificially accelerated to the point were sea level raises 10+ meters within a years.

    TECHNICAL SOLUTION SPACE

    Solution exists. Multiple solutions exists. Many of them would allow us to get out of the hook with limited damage. Just like with the world hunger and world peace, global warming is problem where the problem is technical.

    COLLECTIVELY BOUNDED RATIONALITY

    Assuming that humans are rational as individuals (they have limits), there would still exist separate problem of collectively rational. Billion individuals can each behave rationally and generate irrational result in macro level. The ‘invincible hand’ is optimization process that can get stuck into local optima that generates bad outcomes.

    You need mechanism design (reverse game theory) to design the game so that markets work (unlike ideological neoliberals, many of us non ideological capitalists, radical centrists, mainstream economists) understand that free market economy is something you must constantly fix and repair to get rid of negative externalities. It’s like gardening. To fix the system, you need to agree that something is wrong, and choose the right set of tools to fix it.

    We are not random or completely rational. We are individually and collectively predictably irrational. We are still fundamentally the East African Planes Ape with good heuristics for surviving in the environment we have lived million years (We can do it again in post apocalyptic era after our numbers are down radically.)

    Economists have the tools and know the fixes for predictably irrational cases. Economists know how to distribute the cost and solve the problems efficiently. Gentle Pareto efficient fix (or very close to it) would have been possible 30 years ago when the issue of global warming emerged to the global consciousness. Today it would require ‘massive emergency surgery’ for the economy and greater agreement of the methods used. No time to experiment and some get hurt, but there is way solve things collectively if we want.

    MOTIVATION: ALTRUISM and TEMPORAL DISCOUNTING

    We have technological solutions, we have ways to direct our collectively irrational behavior to the goal we want. The real problem is the ‘utility function’ that we use to prioritize in our individual and collective goals over time. The problem is motivation.

    Our altruism is time and space local. We like ourself more than others, our in group more than others, our current self more than our future self, people living now more than future generations.

    From economist perspective the climate change is caused by individual and collective dynamic inconsistency. In economics, dynamic inconsistency or time inconsistency is a situation in which a decision-maker’s preferences change over time in such a way that a preference can become inconsistent at another point in time.

    Our temporal discounting function (not to be confused with time preference) is optimized for surviving now. Procrastination, addiction, failing at weight loss, inability to save for the retirement, and inability to care about the climate change are all caused by the same mechanism that fails in the modern society. If we can’t control our weight, we can’t control our climate.

    SUMMARY AND SOLUTION

    Technical solutions exist, social and economic solutions exist, it’s the motivation that is missing. Only way to solve the problem is to turn future problems into immediate problems.

    There should be a way to set a tripwire where going above 1.5 degrees hurts us all within years.

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  40. Nick,

    There are often solutions, but lack of motivation is a common cause of death.
    The Romans could have easily saved their empire, but nah, let’s just sit and whine. The natives of the Americas and elsewhere had plenty of time to learn from the palefaces, unite, they would still have lost, but would be much better off, but nah. European countries are too small to survive without the Union, but nah, let’s just fall apart and squabble, till someone big feels like conquering us. All over time and space, you see countries, peoples, civilizations and cultures dying from lack of motivation, despite having all the means to keep going.
    It’s the paralyzing effect of the ego-goo. We feel it, we feel the lack of a common direction, a force to keep our societies in line – a line leading somewhere. That’s why we vote for pathetic strong leader impersonators all over the planet. The problem is: What we vote for, is future warlords.
    The global system collapses: economy, ecology, politics, all part of the same. We see no chance of reforming, saving it. We’re already fighting over the carcass. Hope dies first.
    Your soap terrorist would just scare everyone, make them support warlord types even more and accelerate the collapse. There is little use in kicking a headless chicken.

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  41. Johan Larson,

    Johan Larson:
    I’m curious. Many of you are convinced things are going to get very bad indeed because of climate change. Are you also preppers? And if not, why not?

    Because choosing between doing an audition for the lead role in the open air stage production of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” or getting out early to beat the traffic is no choice at all.

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  42. Ted,

    You seem to be awfully certain that not one of those plentitudes you leave behind will lob a nuke or some other nasty stuff right at your sanctuaries, just out of spite, though.

    Or that we wont fuck up the biosphere so comprehensively that it will take thousands of years or more to make the planet habitable again, way longer than your lifeboats will hold.

    Our esteemed host has covered that pretty well in the Rifters Trilogy, so you better make sure your New Atlantis is hidden really well.

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  43. The K,

    Those are valid concerns, but while risk cannot be entirely eliminated it can be reduced. For the most part I expect that narratives can be enhanced, and where necessary created, to ensure that combat transpires between third parties. It is entirely possible that some enclaves will be sufficiently proximate to sites of devastation that they incur damage or destruction themselves, and it is for this reason that my own personnel are investigating resource requirements and time-frames for lunar orbitals containing generational life support and precursors for Mars terraformation.

    A secondary line of investigation is gene treatments that will reverse the aging process. That this will be possible in the next few years at very low cost is highly likely according to results from one of my labs. I will obviously utilize this as planetary damage, as you noted above, may take some considerable time to abate. The deeper question is whether this technology should be made available to the general population. While collapse seems inevitable, the speed with which it will occur is currently indeterminate. One potential problem is that if it is drawn out, long term planetary damage may result in Earth being uninhabitable for an unacceptably long period of time. If this appears likely, psychological stresses may be usefully increased by a readily and cheaply available longevity/immortality treatment, so that elimination of the human problem occurs more rapidly than it otherwise would.

    Certainly PW’s extrapolations inform our planning in important ways.

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  44. Even a screwed-up Earth will still be the most life-friendly planet of the Solar System. Even though the Goldilocks zone is relative to the frequency of the observer. Which means, each planet gets the same amount of sunlight, just over different periods of time. So you just need to adjust your organism’s time flow, the speed at which it works (the Solar System might be full of life from different molecules, closing circuits at different frequencies, but when I tried to ask online if there are any hints at that, I had to explain to an astronomer, that physics, chemistry and biology are parts of the same reality, which doesn’t care if and how we chop it up into different fields of research).
    So you could sit it out on Pluto’s tropical beaches, where the period Earth needs to regenerate would be just minutes or days. Then, you would go there and discover, it’s been re-conquered by high-frequency Venusians, who lived 80 years in one day, but also evolved at a much faster pace, and are as superior to you as humans are to snails. Red Queen sucks, and not the fun way.
    Even without that, you’ll get big fishes fighting over Earth, small fishes trying their luck with space, or other extreme solutions. Same pattern as back then, when our ancestors crawled on land (who’s laughing now, you guppy bully) or when religious freaks sailed to America (who’s laughing now, you Euro bully). Whoever wins, will find a lot of tasty corpses for dinner.
    And I’m not a prepper, because the probability of me surviving anything harder than a weekend cheese shortage ranges somewhere between Vril and Saddam’s chemical weapons.

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  45. Sean:
    Johan Larson,

    Because choosing between doing an audition for the lead role in the open air stage production of Cormac McCarthy’s “The Road” or getting out early to beat the traffic is no choice at all.

    Because “prepping” is useless. At least in the USA. I say that because while early settlers could survive, today’s environment has been so decimated it would be very difficult to find enough food and clean water. The good ole days are gone. Also even if you had some decent land out in the country somewhere most people are not prepared to revert back to 16 hours of manual labor to keep a farm going. And that is what it takes, all day every day, to keep a farm going that can support a small family. Oh, and tools.. like rakes, hoes, plows and shovels… do you know how to make any of those? Or repair them? Can you do metalsmithing? You better learn if you want to survive in the long term.

    And lets say you do make it. You have a small community of your fellow preppers, say 20 people. How do you defend your little sanctuary? As soon as all of those displaced city folk catch wind of your farm you are done for. People are evil when they are starving. Think ‘The Walking Dead’, but instead of zombies its just starving masses of humanity.

    Nope. If things get THAT bad, that we need to abandon our modern lifestyles and our governments cannot care for us… there is nothing you can do to ‘Prep’ for a situation like that.

    But small scale disasters, local flooding and hurricanes, yeah you could do that. Go camping for a couple of months. Most of those ‘prepper’ shows on TV, that is pretty much what they are doing. Fancy camping trip, but no long term plan to stick around.

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  46. Climate-change believers staying home is one reason climate-change deniers win. Isn’t a slightly-mitigated catastrophe (under USA Democrats) preferable to an accelerated catastrophe (under Trump)?

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  47. i agree with Cal,
    it’s natural to reap what we sowed..
    a whole process can begin with this understanding..
    we need acceptance of a fatal -near future- scenario..
    this acceptance can be the key to look introspectively
    and balance our inner powers and needs; and the forces that surround them..
    however, even if we live or accept our dystopia as it is,
    our need for projecting utopia(s) will always be there,
    no matter how hard we try to stick on realism..
    it is kismet (destiny) and it can be magnificent or horrifying at the same time..
    keep on dancing

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  48. You blame us for allowing the status quo to destroy the world, but claim our last real chance to stop it was back in 1980… And I’m betting most of the people reading this weren’t even old enough to vote in that election (if they even existed).

    And to put the two-million-fold increase needed in tech to reduce this to “mere catastrophe” instead of total biosphere collapse? That’s being able to squeeze 228.3 years of work into a single hour. Unless you’re going to yank Superman and the Flash out of the comic books into real life? It won’t happen.

    If — a HUGE if — the people can start to force the world to go vegan, and give up fossil fuel usage entirely, some idiot with nukes under his control will see it as an assault on his power. He hits the launch button… and it all becomes a moot point.

    We aren’t “shrugging” over this report. We are reading it as we’re already up to our noses in the quicksand, and realize that there’s no real chance for humanity to survive…

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  49. Lemming: You blame us for allowing the status quo to destroy the world, but claim our last real chance to stop it was back in 1980…

    I do no such thing. I say there was a good chance, an easier chance, to fix things back in 1980. (Hell, even Exxon was ready to transition out of fossil until Reagan got into the White House and fucked everything up.) But you didn’t.

    I also say there’s a chance— a smaller chance, a harder chance, but a real chance— to save at least something from the fire even now.

    But you won’t.

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  50. Actually Autistic Blogs List:
    Climate-change believers staying home is one reason climate-change deniers win. Isn’t a slightly-mitigated catastrophe (under USA Democrats) preferable to an accelerated catastrophe (under Trump)?

    I dunno. I’m afraid that might be like asking if hitting the iceberg at an angle of 15° isn’t at least a bit better than hitting it at 25°. Do you really think the Dems would have been up for the measures called for in the IPCC report?

    (Also— not that it matters at this point— but calling those of us who accept the evidence for climate change “believers” is kind of playing into the opposition’s hands. This is not a matter of faith. It is not a belief over which reasonable people can disagree.)

    Ted:
    My net worth is several billion dollars…

    …Combined with our drive and intelligence, and the technologies we control and will continue to create, the class division will become increasingly stark. We don’t want it this way, but this is how it is. Get used to it.

    What I can’t get used to is the idea that someone with a net worth of several billion dollars would even bother showing up on a little dick-ass blog like this one.

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  51. Nick: Billionaire buys large ships and and fills them with soap. He places the soap under the antarctic ice sheets in well selected locations. Unless the global CO2 emissions are cut, he uses explosive to liquidate the soap between the ground and the glacier. Lower friction makes ice sheets move faster. Faster movement generates friction and heat that melts Ice more. Ice flow is artificially accelerated to the point were sea level raises 10+ meters within a years.

    I don’t think you’d need soap. Plant small nukes down at ground level and they’ll liquefy enough of the glacier so the deep water layer would work just fine as a lubricant on its own. Which is what’s already happening, though not at “catastrophic within a year” scales.

    Nick: Technical solutions exist, social and economic solutions exist, it’s the motivation that is missing. Only way to solve the problem is to turn future problems into immediate problems.

    Well, yeah. Back in the eighties I was advocating the same sort of thing to stop clearcutting BC Forests: change the economics so that the guys who made the decisions were the ones who suffered for their own short-sightedness (my suggestion was to kidnap family members and mail them back in pieces until the logging crews went away.)

    I would very much like to threaten the Koch Brothers with death by slow torture unless they turn on a dime. Problem is, I can’t think of any way for a Canadian midlist science fiction writer to pull off such a trick. Especially since I’m not even allowed into the US.

    If someone else has the resources, though, best of luck.

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  52. Why the blue-vein hate-on for the Kochs?

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  53. I had an even longer cathartic rant about our species’ shortsightedness and the enormous tragedy of the commons playing out in front of us, but I’ll skip getting spittle on the choir. Related to the IPCC report, The 2018 Living Planet Report also came out, and the report itself surprisingly optimistic about change despite the gloomy story the data actually tell.

    I suspect Ted is some mid-level programmer’s fictional character. That didn’t stop me getting irrationally angry at him and plotting out how to blow up his fucking raft, and make the fucker pay. My imaginary scenario was also quite pleasing, and about as plausible as his.

    Peter, I realized that I don’t think any of your novels mention any off-world colonies. Is that on purpose, or did I miss something? The tech-bro response to our obvious demise on Earth posits that some Techno-Jesus will lead us to a promised land on Mars or in the asteroids—a land flowing with water, soil, and rare earths where our blessed exponential growth can continue forever. I’m personally rather doubtful that we’ll get a self-sustaining population off of Earth. I think we’re stuck on this rock, and we’re consuming the biosphere with gleeful abandon like bacteria filling up a petri dish.

    Yup, we ain’t making it past The Great Filter. I wonder what the crows/pigeons/raccoons will make of our remains in a few million years, or whatever scar we leave in the fossil record. That’s assuming evolution ends up optimizing for intelligence again.

    So much for no preaching.

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  54. Peter Watts:

    What I can’t get used to is the idea that someone with a net worth of several billion dollars would even bother showing up on a little dick-ass blog like this one.

    The reason lies in my observation that, “PW’s extrapolations inform our planning in important ways.” Not all great ideas come from IBM. (Actually, none seem to, but my point is that big isn’t necessarily better.)

    It’s also possible removing “billions” from the phrase would make it true…

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  55. Ted: It’s also possible removing “billions” from the phrase would make it true…

    I read the “billions of dollars” as a joke. I suppose not everyone did.

    Johan Larson:
    Why the blue-vein hate-on for the Kochs?

    In a comment thread discussing disastrous climate change? Serious question?

    Although I don’t think it’s fair to limit the blue-vein hate-on to the Kochs. There are many more just as deserving of a slow and agonized death, in a shack on the edge of a desert, with no access to painkillers.

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  56. A virus, even with middling lethality could kill most everyone by crashing industrial economies and transport, leading to mass starvation.

    A wise enough group could prepare a cache of technology for the survivors to rebuild an industrial economy on a renewables/atomic power basis, plus planet would have time to recover. As a bonus, if they had time to prepare a few thousand survivors, they could select them to be less stupid than we are, at the moment.

    There’s nothing that prevents people from going back to late 19th century standard of living and not use any fossil fuels. The idiots who claim we’d not be able to make fertilizer without fossil fuels are just that, idiots.

    Even barring some Illuminati plot like this,

    At least life will get interesting with anarchy, starvation and apocalyptic cults. Things will feel like they have meaning again, and no one without a deathwish is going to have time to wonder about what it all matters.

    All good things.

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  57. Fatman,

    I imagine everyone who read it took it for a joke (or, at least, as an assumption of an identity for the purpose of exploring other mindsets) … I only clarified because I like how the sentence reads without the “billions” in there…

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  58. P:
    A virus, even with middling lethality could kill most everyone by crashing industrial economies and transport, leading to mass starvation.

    Sufficient depopulation by biological agents might just have the Black Plague effect of raising wages and increasing bargaining power of the working class. I’m unsure on whether the drop in scale of consumption and C02 emission would be long lasting however as more people would be able to live like the average Western citizen.

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  59.   (Quote)  (Reply)

  60. Fatman:
    Although I don’t think it’s fair to limit the blue-vein hate-on to the Kochs. There are many more just as deserving of a slow and agonized death, in a shack on the edge of a desert, with no access to painkillers.

    I object on humanitarian and (natural) philosophical grounds.

    Why waste perfectly good donor organs obtainable through live harvesting?

    And what we could learn from some careful vivisection…

    It’s easily justifiable with Peter Singer, they show less foreplanning than lab rats…

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  61. Ted,

    I have to admit, you mostly had me fooled. The sneering disdain for both the unwashed masses and the “regular” rich people coupled with the delusional belief in your own importance, intellect and infallibility is exactly how i envision the average Tech Billionnaire thinking and talking.

    I wonder what will happen in all those lifeboats when the creators of markets notice that (unless robotization makes huge strides) its their tech-savy underlings that ACTUALLY wield the power, and the ability to strut around like Steve Jobs on stage no longer guruantees their Wozniaks put up with them…ah, one can dream.

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  62. “its their tech-savy underlings that ACTUALLY wield the power”

    Or, at least, they might be able to wield power if they were all together on things. John Steinbeck once said something to the effect that in America the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires, which strikes me as true today, and not only for Americans. There’s always the hope that we’ll do better than others in any given situation, and we don’t want the structures that create that hope destroyed. If climate change renders most of the world uninhabitable, what matters to individuals is not that their standard of living is diminished, but only that it is diminished less than everyone else’s.

    The Prisoner’s Dilemma still seems to me like the best description of how we interact with others in this world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prisoner%27s_dilemma

    Dwelling on the initial conditions of this universe is one head-fuck of a rabbit-hole…

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  63. The K: I have to admit, you mostly had me fooled. The sneering disdain for both the unwashed masses and the “regular” rich people coupled with the delusional belief in your own importance, intellect and infallibility is exactly how i envision the average Tech Billionnaire thinking and talking.

    Poe’s Law. In 2018, without clear signifier ( like a prohibited cutesy fucking icon) it is impossible to create a parody so absurd that it can’t be mistaken for the real thing. Peoples opinions have become so willfully absurd as to be indistinguishable from from parody.

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  64. Trottelreiner: Why waste perfectly good donor organs obtainable through live harvesting?

    As long as no anesthetic is used, I might approve.

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  65. -DA-: Poe’s Law.In 2018, without clear signifier ( like a prohibited cutesy fucking icon) it is impossible to create a parody so absurd that it can’t be mistaken for the real thing.Peoples opinions have become so willfully absurd as to be indistinguishable from from parody.

    “You think you are in the forum, when you’re really in the circus.”

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  66. Fatman: As long as no anesthetic is used, I might approve.

    Hm, sadly this somewhat exclude this song playing in the background, since we’re going for the somewhat opposite effect:

    I swear I did my best to ensure that
    His final moments were swift and free from fear

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  67. Fatman: As long as no anesthetic is used, I might approve.

    No problem. May I propose playing “Human(e) Meat” by Propagandhi in the background?

    I swear I did my best to ensure that
    His final moments were swift and free from fear.

    OK, not that fitting, really…

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  68. Peter Watts,

    Koch brothers, Trump Gov, Saudi Arabia and others like them are the ‘good enemies’ in political climate battle. They are openly against CO2 restrictions and they are the minority. Harassing them is just symbolic gesture.

    What really kills all the hope are those governments who agree with IPCC, who know IPCC is very conservative, and still don’t do enough. This includes EU, Japan, China and Canada.

    If the worried nations would be serious about climate change, we could easily beat Trump in his own game. Trump’s trade war against everybody is huge missed opportunity to change the playing field.

    The problem with implementing effective (= large) carbon tax is carbon exports and imports (moving CO2 emissions to countries without CO2 tax and importing the goods). There has been massive rise in the carbon footprint of traded goods, with the rich world importing far more than it exports. Current trade agreements need to be renegotiated for carbon tax to work effectively. Trump just provided the opportunity to fix this. Imagine Japan, China, EU coming up with countermeasure where they set permanent carbon tariffs against US exports instead of tit-for-tat retaliation.
    Rest of the world would essentially dare Trump to set carbon tariffs against them.

    Principled trade war where CO2 emissions are allowed tariff target would be near perfect strategy. It would not require perfect consensus or central planning, just that those who are worried allow it to play out. We could work towards solution where countries can set up punitive carbon tariff for imported CO2 that matches or exceeds their own CO2 tax until 1.5 degree targets are met.

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  69. Nick,

    As an approach it definitely has the benefit of allowing those countries which care far more about tariff retaliation than CO2 emissions to be seen as taking the moral high ground. Getting players onside when immediate self-oriented benefits depend on a virtually absolute level of trust in one’s partners is very difficult (e.g. my… um, Ted’s… reference to the Prisoner’s Dilemma). This approach seems to lessen some of those requirements – countries can sign on, hope everyone else is solid, but if they’re not you still have the joy of morally sanctioned retaliation against a trading partner prone to confusing “solidifying a Pennsylvanian base” with “national security”.

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  70. I’m trying to think of the problems as resources. Because I just hate to see all this energy stored in the atmosphere and human flesh, all the potential of technology and science, wasted on punching ourselves in the face.
    A large part of it boils down to a H C O jigsaw puzzle. A vague, naive idea would be: Heat is converted into electricity, used for splitting sea water into hydrogen and oxygen. They’re burned as fuel, creating the energy necessary for irrigation works, where the waste – fresh water – is used for growing plants, capturing the CO2 from air. Biomass, which can be used as food. Fossil fuels used to be alive, let them rise from the grave.
    Well, size matters. If we can’t even find a way of shitting our pants less (carbon tax etc), cleaning them remains science fiction. But hey, there’s always hope of that benign machine rebellion. Artificial intelligence is on the way, and let’s hope, we’re on the way in its zoo. Our Skynet, who art in hardware, thy kingdom come, give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses…

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  71. Nick,

    Great proposal,but don’t hold your breath: use a respirator. Eventually everyone will.

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  72. I think if you think that respecting people’s choice of gender pronoun and the inevitable climate apocalypse that will most likely destroy civilization as we know it are any way comparable, or that these things are in any way related, then I have held you in higher esteem than I should have. I don’t want to sound combative, but this really hurt reading it. I’m sorry.

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  73. I know you did not mean it in an insulting way, but why did you have to throw that in there, in the middle of talking about an another important issue which has nothing to do with trans rights?

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  74. P:
    A virus, even with middling lethality could kill most everyone by crashing industrial economies and transport, leading to mass starvation.

    A wise enough group could prepare a cache of technology for the survivors to rebuild an industrial economy on a renewables/atomic power basis, plus planet would have time to recover. As a bonus, if they had time to prepare a few thousand survivors, they could select them to be less stupid than we are, at the moment.

    There’s nothing that prevents people from going back to late 19th century standard of living and not use any fossil fuels. The idiots who claim we’d not be able to make fertilizer without fossil fuels are just that, idiots.

    Even barring some Illuminati plot like this,

    At least life will get interesting with anarchy, starvation and apocalyptic cults. Things will feel like they have meaning again, and no one without a deathwish is going to have time to wonder about what it all matters.

    All good things.

    Going back to a 19th century lifestyle may be impossible. Not that we can’t be farmers again, not that there is a lack of egotistical maniacs who would step in a rule us, and certainly not that the “religions” are not waiting for the day to be back in charge.

    Back to what I said earlier, that we have stripped the environment soo much that just maintaining a 19th century lifestyle would at best be much more difficult than it was back then. The land has been stripped of nutrients to an extent that without man made fertilizers it would be difficult to grow decent crops. And then there is the weather. Its f’d. Of course there were plenty of natural disasters back then… the occasional drought would kill thousands. But not EVERY FUCKING YEAR. How long has the midwest US been in drought conditions?

    And the diseases. Bacteria. The relatively tame common bacteria from the 19th century has become pretty lethal since then. Even with modern medicine we are barely keeping up. The bacteria are becoming ever resistant to our antibiotics, never mind our paltry immune systems. We humans cannot evolve nearly as fast as they can. Be prepared to watch most of the children in an apocalyptic world die from common infections.

    I’d say there is no going back.

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  75. V: I think if you think that respecting people’s choice of gender pronoun and the inevitable climate apocalypse that will most likely destroy civilization as we know it are any way comparable, or that these things are in any way related…

    …aaaand this is how we lose.

    TERFs and Trans face off against each other. Humanities dwellers who never bothered cracking The Origin of Species strawman all of evolutionary science down to a series of Bingo cards because the idea that biology has any kind of impact on human behavior is anathema to their postmodernist worldview. Stephen Hawking— Stephen fucking Hawking— dies, and some overeager virtue-signaler wonders why anyone should mourn such a vile misogynist (apparently Hawking once said he found women “mysterious”). Same thing’s happening to Stan Lee even as I type (who’da thunk the guy most responsible for introducing metaphors about racism and exclusion into comics would end up being tarred a racist before his liver had even cooled?). Codes of conduct appear begging people not to use the word “niggardly” because it sounds kinda like “nigger”— despite having a completely different meaning and etymology— and we don’t want to upset the vocabularily-challenged.

    Meanwhile, the Right falls into line behind a mentally-unstable narcissist with frighteningly poor impulse control— a man-child many of them claimed to loathe, not so long ago— to form a united front that sets about dismantling whatever pitiful environmental protections the US ever bothered to implement.

    I honestly have no desire to be hurtful or offensive on this matter, V., but it’s telling that you focused exclusively on four words out of a three-thousand-plus-word rant, and misinterpreted them, and then used them to play identity politics in the middle of a burning house. I don’t believe you did that in a calculated or Machiavellian manner— I believe that my words did hurt you, however inadvertently, and I am sorry about that— but I have to stand by the point those words were making.

    If you want to know my general views on gender pronouns, you can read about them here. The tl;dr version is that I think they should be a complete nonissue; when I use them in my own fiction, I roll my eyes as much at those who praise that usage as I do at those who deride it. I also believe that you’re conflating two related but distinct issues, in the way you map gender pronouns onto “trans rights”. If you believe, as I do, that Trans right are Human rights*, then no choice of personal pronoun, binary or otherwise, justifies stripping those rights away by definition (personal pronouns imply personhood). There are, arguably, good reasons for the use of nonbinary pronouns (although about half of them would evaporate if we just jettisoned the idiotic prudishness of our forebearers and desegregated all public washrooms), but as far as I can tell those revolve around more logistic issues; the whole concept of “rights as a person” is already intrinsic in the language.

    So I think you’re wrong to assume that an eye-rolling remark about gender pronouns connotes any dismissal of trans rights. But here’s the thing: even if you’re right, it doesn’t matter at the scale under discussion. Are you really telling me that identity politics are anywhere close to the importance of an imminent existential threat to hundreds of thousands of species? Are you telling me anything is?

    Sorry, but from where I stand the kind of environmental catastrophe we’re facing dwarfs any Human rights issue. We’re talking a biosphere versus a single species. Which is why I find it so odd that you’d lead off with “If you think that respecting people’s choice of gender pronoun and the inevitable climate apocalypse that will most likely destroy civilization as we know it are any way comparable…”

    Because I don’t, V. I really don’t. That’s the whole point I was making: the inevitable climate apocalypse is way more important.

    And hardly anyone is treating it that way.

    —————————————————————–

    *Insofar as there is such a thing— personally I find the whole concept of Human Rights narrow and speciesist, and a large part of the reason we find ourselves in the current mess.

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  76. I don’t know what the planet is going to do in the next n-m years. I’ve read some things, and I’ve learned little. Maybe nothing. Maybe it will get worse. Maybe it will get a lot worse. Maybe there will be a big war. Maybe there will be a lot of wars. Maybe there will be a big plague. Maybe something like that kills me. Maybe it kills a cat.

    Doesn’t really matter, as I will die in n-m years, for m=80, or 120 at the far upper bound, regardless of what happens to the planet. Maybe a lot less. My kids would have 80 years, or 120. Maybe a lot less. Their kids would have 80, or 120, or less. Their kids….

    Think of the children, think of the economy, think of the whales… doesn’t matter. Completely irrelevant. Because I’m going to die, and so are you, and so are all the children. It’s all a bunch of noise about nothing.

    So I don’t have children, or a cat, and I’m working on getting rid of as much of my crap as I can, and this stupid computer, and the urge to punch it’s stupid keys. That’s something that’s worth getting angry about. Because it’s all going to burn.

    People think that if they get enough attention, they are going to live forever. If they throw a fit, they can forget that they are going to die. I guess I still think that way, or I wouldn’t be posting this. I wouldn’t be listening to the partiers any more.

    There are a lot of wise-asses in the party of the living dead. Rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief. A lot of real dumb wise-asses. I guess I’m still one of them, at least for the moment. Sucks to be me. Let’s have a pity party for anon, in the pitiless land of the wailing dead.

    Woe is us, for we have learned nothing, and the time is coming when we will never learn anything ever again.

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  77. cryptochrome,
    From https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2018/11/11/1810444/-Rising-Arctic-temperatures-triggering-alarms-about-climate-change?detail=emaildkre#comment_71993315

    “There is no way forward.”

    Really? You’re just going to tell your starving grandchildren, “It was too hard so I just gave up? Enjoy your extinction?”

    Bullshit, lady.

    Briefly:

    Make your home/business/hot water as energy efficient as you can afford;

    Use infrared reflective roofing and paints on insulated buildings, and night flushes, to avoid air conditioning (5% of global Climate Change, CC hereinafter;

    Drive and especially fly as little as you can;

    Contact the automakers and demand electric and algal biodiesel vehicles now;

    Put PV on your roof to power that electric car, and any air conditioning you can’t live without;

    Contact your utility and demand carbon-free electricity; contact your gas company and demand biogas;

    Contact your congressional delegation and demand that they get the hell busy on CC RFN;

    Contact Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer and demand that his next farm bill include both programs to help farmers clean up livestock wastes by making methane to replace all the natural gas possible, and fines for letting those wastes sit in piles dumping methane into the atmo and leaching nitrates into the waters to cause ocean dead zones; Find ways to help—and demand that—farmers improve their soil and sequester megatons of carbon by adding charcoal and crushed basalt to their fields; the char comes from pyrolysis, which turns woody biomass and other wastes into char, oil, syngas, and wood vinegar and creates lots of jobs in the process;

    Demand that the feds make certain that programs developing algal fuels and byproducts get all the funding and expertise they need.

    Cow burps are 5 or 6% of greenhouse gasses. A macroalga that grows off Australia, Asparagopsis taxiformis, can reduce ungulate methane production up to 99%. Getting seaweed to all the world’s cows sheep goats would be difficult, but we’re going to grow microalgae for fuel and all the other valuable products we can make from it where ever there are wastes for it to clean up. Find the gene in Asparagopsis that makes bromoform, the chemical that inhibits the methanogens in the cows’ rumens, and insert it into fuel algae. Press out the oils, and the highly-nutritious remnant is feed that (at just 2% of diet) stops cow burps and makes the cattle grow 15% faster.

    Eat more pork and especially chicken and turkey, and less beef. Pigs and chickens make far less methane. And don’t eat beef imported from Latin America, where the pastures are often at the expense of deforestation.

    Demand that the government stop listening to the current nuclear power industry promoting its ever-dangerous and grossly inefficient pressurized water reactors, and start building a prototype of the apparently much-safer and cleaner molten salt Thorium reactor asap.

    Demand that the gov’t stop wasting billions on the forever-40-years-out ITER fusion reactor, which isn’t even built and is already obsolete; demand that it stop wasting billions on the NIF, which has nothing to do with developing fusion power but is a sneaky way to continue testing nuclear weapons despite the test-ban treaty; and fully fund the start-ups trying to bring much-safer aneutronic fusion online in ten years not 40.

    Stop all exports of fossil fuels RFN. Those belong to all of us. Letting the fossils steal them at 12 cents on the dollar, ship them off to China afap and use them to destroy the future is insane and it’s fascism.

    Governments are going to try to tax us out of keeping our houses warm and taking hot showers. If you ask me to pay a carbon tax while you are still giving the fossil fuel motherfuckers $70 billion/year in taxpayer subsidies, I will count it as fascism and intolerable tyranny. End the subsidies to the fossils; tax the shit out of them, on the backside, their incomes, and prevent them raising prices to compensate. Yep. Price controls. Didn’t even Reagan impose some? Republifucks, get over it. Adam Smith’s “invisible hand” has its finger up your ass, too. And I want to see Rex Tillerson and all the other fossil fuel monsters who knew what hell they were creating 40 yag prosecuted for crimes against humanity, and (among other punishments) their family fortunes confiscated and–

    –Dedicate that money to bringing carbon free renewables online afap. Then you can carbon-tax me (cut the poor and barely-getting-by slack with those taxes); but I want that money also added to a pool that helps people upgrade their homes, businesses and transportation, lends—at reasonable interest—farmers the money to install anaerobic digesters (how you make natural gas from cow/sheep/chicken/pig manure) and algal bioreactors—you clean up the wastewater and CO2 left from the methane digesters by feeding it to algae.

    Outlaw Portland cement, another 6% of climate change. There are better stronger longer-lasting cements for most purposes, that don’t put 1.25 tons of CO2 into the air for every ton of cement made. Some take CO2 out of the air. And for reinforcing concretes where it will do, use bamboo instead of steel rebar. Steel is a filthy industry and another 5 or 6% of CC; bamboo “re-bar” is plenty strong and long-lasting for most residential construction, and using it sequesters carbon.

    While we’re reforesting and afforesting, plant lots of bamboo. It grows incredibly fast and sucks up lots of carbon doing so, and of plants only hemp is more useful. Plant and use lots more hemp, too, and use it in ways that sequester the carbon it sucks out of the atmo.

    Clean up the steel industry. Brilliant MIT prof Donald Sadoway is working on a way to use electricity instead of coal to make steel. We need those liquid salt thorium reactors or fusion, or other abundant clean electricity, and then we can clean up another 1/20th of the problem.

    Sadoway is also working on liquid metal batteries with huge storage capacity, which are what we need to make solar and wind work when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow. See his standing-ovation TED Talk, The missing link to renewable energy. Any government with half a brain would see that Sadoway gets all the funding he ever needs, no strings attached.

    We are on the cusp of a bajillion brilliant new technologies that will let us clean up our act and the environment and create kajillions of new jobs in the process. Those standing in the way are ignorant, or afraid of change, but the worst of them, like the fossils and the pressurized-water nuke lobby, put their own short-term financial interests ahead of the survival of their own grandchildren (and yours), and that level of psychopathology should be treated as the crimes against humanity that they are.

    There are a lot of things we can do about climate change. In the short term some of it will hurt a little; in the long term it is a healthier environment, a greener earth, lots of new jobs, and a future for our children. Throw up your hands and say, “There is no way forward.”? Not on my watch.

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  78. From the book “Jed Talks #2”, by Jed Mckenna:

    How fired up would you have to be to pull up roots, sever connections, burn bridges, and make a new start away from the things of man? How starkly awake would you have to be, how radically independent of thought and spirit, to drag your family to Alaska or New Zealand or some other supposedly remote place to protect yourselves from the toxic effects of the herd? What would it really take to shield your children from pills, needles, soda, screens, and all the corporations and agencies that view kids as consumable commodities? Can it even be done? In days of yore, there were no screens, no traitorous whitecoats, no poisons in everything, and school might have been about reading, writing and reckoning instead of institutionalized daycare, herd indoctrination and forced mediocrity, but what would it take for you to recreate those conditions today?
    As a practical matter, you can’t. Whatever you do, wherever you go, systemic malignance is going to infect and metastasize throughout your family. You can try to shelter in place, improve your current situation, minimize toxic exposure, but how much can you really do? It will take everything you have, all your time, all your mental, emotional and physical energy, all your money and resources, and it may cost you the affection of those you’re trying to save. You can’t be independent in the herd and you probably can’t get yourself and your loved ones out of it. Small wonder that everyone just goes along with the program, what else can you do?
    The spiritual marketplace, which should operate as a sort of underground railroad helping freedom-seekers make their way to a new reality, seeks instead to make them happier and more comfortable in the reality they’re in. In other words, your spiritual solution providers will say the problem isn’t that your head is on fire, it’s your negativity about it.
    We’re like fish in a polluted ocean. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. We can always do better, but we can never get clean. Just something simple like having good household water can be a daunting challenge. What about food you can trust, where do you find that? Will you till up your backyard, amend the soil, and grow your own fruits and vegetables? Convert the front yard to an orchard? Dig a root cellar? Go totally off-grid? Amass a homesteader library and become adept in hundreds of new skills? What about electromagnetic radiation? Where can you go to get away from that? What about the toxins off-gassing from all the products in your environment? They’re poisoning you whether you’re noticeably sensitive to them or not. Are you going to eliminate all synthetic materials from your life? What about all the bad stuff that’s already inside you? Just safely removing mercury and aluminum is a major undertaking. And when the schools and state say your kids have to be medicated and vaccinated, do you choose fight or flight? Or do you just say screw it, everyone else is doing it, and fall into lockstep with the herd?

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  79. @Jakko
    There’s a lot we can do. The thing is – we don’t.
    We’ve made the informed choice to commit suicide. Or rather, make a human sacrifice of our children to happiness, just like our parents and their parents before. Just like them, we bet on being able to pass on the bill to our heirs.
    I’ve a fun piece somewhere about the growing up of a Martian species from the big-headed playful kids of “Mars Attacks!” over the telepathic aquarium heads from “Invaders from Mars” into really God-like beings. The problem is, the more superpowers they develop, the less they need to think. If your pure will solves all your problems, what do you need your intelligence or empathy for? They end up as omnipotent, immortal, indestructible cabbages, capable only of feeling infinitely happy. Other Martians breed them for bricks.
    The world is ruled by the happy and powerful. And we, their Western minions, are not unhappy enough to change anything, either. There’s a link between suffering and evolution.
    @Godfor Saken
    The problem is: Rationality is an irrational feeling.
    After figuring out that mental health is just the locally fashionable, standardized mass psychosis, I decided I was much too crazy already to burden my poor head with the madness of others as well, and dropped sanity for logic. The result of the experiment is an internet freak, babbling stuff that sounds totally obvious to him, but barely intelligible to everybody else. I guess I appear as insane to the majority, as they appear to me.
    Any group of people creates their own universe, with its own concepts of rationality. As long as they work well enough within their universe, they’re considered universal truth. Everyone develops their own folie à plusieurs, which can only be recognized as such by outsiders, with a different sort of rationality, aka folie à plusieurs. You react to having your rationality shattered as to an actual end of the world (we weren’t created by God but have evolved from apes, how interesting, Mr. Darwin, let’s correct the books and have a beer, did you watch the game yesterday?). Which results in Poe’s law, religious wars and such.
    Which means, you have only the choice between different flavors of insanity within the framework of a physical world designed by the psychopathic crackhead kid of Caligula and Mengele.

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