I’ve been reflecting of late about the way that our habitual expectations about change blind us to the way that change actually happens. One of the most important of these is the frankly weird but pervasive notion that the future is a single place, where only one kind of thing happens. It’s always “The Future,” very much in the singular. To most people these days, of course, “The Future” is either progress as usual or it’s instant apocalypse, and I’ve discussed that before, but let’s look at the broader pattern for a moment.
In both of these cases and far too many others as well, the future is all the same, and it’s all the same forever. It’s never one kind of future here and a different kind there, or a glossy Tomorrowland here and something more realistic there, or apocalypse here and everywhere else people just pick themselves up and get on with their lives. Nor is the society of the future generally allowed to peak and decline, as societies do in the real world, nor will the big loud catastrophe fade into memory and leave the survivors to go on to do other things, as disasters do in the real world. Missing here is the crucial realization that history doesn’t stop with us, and change will continue to unfold into the far future the way it has all through the past.
Another conversation along these lines is more than usually timely, because that durable 1972 study The Limits to Growth is back in the news again. There’s good reason for that, of course. The Limits to Growth showed that economic growth on a planetary scale is subject to the law of diminishing returns; pursue growth far enough, and the costs of growth rise faster than the benefits and eventually force growth itself to its knees. Of course it was denounced, derided, and dismissed. Its models of the future have nonetheless proven far more accurate than the conventional wisdom of its time and ours.
You might think that people who looked at the future predictions of The Limits to Growth would notice that the curves generated by the World3 computer model on which the study is based are relatively smooth. Population, industrial product, and other measures rise and fall in great arcs over a timespan of many decades. Yet the weird mental habit mentioned above inevitably swung into action the moment that somebody noticed that the model wasn’t predicting business as usual forever. The corporate media accordingly started screeching at the top of their electronic lungs that we’re all going to die by 2040, full stop, end of sentence.
I’ve noted before that these antics are an absolute necessity to believers in the conventional wisdom just now. More than anything else, those believers need predictions that fail even more obviously than the prophecies of limitless progress hardwired into the acceptable ideologies of our time. Screeching about the imminent end of the world fills the bill very nicely. Sure, Tomorrowland never shows up, and the claims that it’s about to arrive any day now are looking very shopworn. If the only alternative on offer is the end of the world, and that never happens either, it’s a little easier to keep on arguing that the Great Pumpkin-equivalent of the conventional wisdom’s technofetishistic wet dreams really will show up one of these days and hand out flying cars to everyone.
Meanwhile, of course, a very different future is taking shape around us. If we ignore for a moment the Tweedledoom and Tweedledee of the conventional wisdom, it’s possible to get a clear glimpse of the future crouching in the shadow of the present.
The severe drought that has most of western North America in its grip right now is a good place to start. Those of my readers who have been keeping track know already that droughts have been getting increasingly common and increasingly drastic in that half of the continent over the last two decades or so. Of course there have been intervals of more normal conditions in between the heat waves and the droughts, and a great deal of statistical noise, and these have been used repeatedly in attempts to insist that everything’s just fine.
A little while ago, for example, I read an online essay by a meteorologist insisting that the record heat wave that baked the Pacific Northwest last month couldn’t have been caused by shifts in the global climate. The evidence he offered for this claim? Summer high temperatures in the region haven’t been rising in a linear fashion. It’s embarrassing to see this kind of basic ignorance of systems behavior in a credentialed specialist, but it’s not surprising. Once the heyday of systems theory in the middle of the last century waned, most of what was known about the behavior of complex systems seems to have been dropped into our society’s memory hole.
The way complex systems respond to increasing pressure from changing conditions is part of that forgotten knowledge. The change doesn’t unfold in a nice, smooth, simplemindedly linear way. Every complex system tends to settle into an equilibrium condition, held in place by a complex interplay of competing pressures and forces, and the behavior that comes out of this usually takes the form of random wobbles among a set of standard states. That’s why we can talk about the normal climate of a region—under ordinary conditions, the weather mostly cycles through a set of familiar patterns, and any variation from that pattern gets corrected in short order by robust forces pushing things back toward equilibrium.
A system can pop out of one equilibrium condition and into another, but that process takes time and unfolds in a predictable way. First, you get increasing variation without a definite direction of change. The boundaries of “normal” get stretched, and they usually stretch in many directions as the system wobbles back and forth with increasing violence. If the pressure continues, things get more and more chaotic, and then you begin to see the first signs of a new equilibrium: the system flops from its old normal to a new normal, settles there briefly, then flops back again. Rinse and repeat; as the pressure increases, the old normal becomes less and less common, and the new normal stops being the exception and becomes the rule. Periods of the old normal become less and less common and finally stop, and the chaotic behavior fades out as the new equilibrium establishes itself.
That’s what’s happening to the climate in western North American right now. The droughts are the new normal toward which the climate system is moving, and the familiar climates of the recent past are the old normal that’s going away. We even know the shape of the new normal. Paleoclimatologists—people who study the climate of past ages—know perfectly well what happens when global climate is warmer than it has been in the recent past: the West dries out. In the Hypsithermal, the period of higher-than-present global temperatures that followed the end of the last ice age, the West from the coastal mountains to the Mississippi was far drier than it is today—Nebraska was a desert with sand dunes, for example, and quite a bit ofthe land west of the Rockies was uninhabitable wasteland of the sort you find these days in the Sahara Desert.
During that same period most of the region between the Mississippi and the Appalachians was prairie, rather than the broadleaf forest it became after global temperatures cooled. Interestingly, the same rule works in reverse in cold epochs—during the last ice age, for example, Death Valley was a sparkling blue lake surrounded by pine forests—but, er, we’re not moving into a cold epoch. The equilibrium toward which we’re moving is one in which global temperatures are significantly warmer than they have been in the recent past, and the drying out of the West is a sign of the world to come, the climate that will shape the North American future.
The western forest fires that filled so many eastern states with smoky haze several times in recent weeks were a product of that shift. Millions of square miles now covered by conifer forests are turning into desert or semidesert as the climate becomes more arid, and so the forests are going away, with lightning-sparked fires among drought-stressed woodlands as one of Gaia’s preferred methods for making the change from one of her ecosystems to another. When the change is complete—a process that will take many decades and a lot of chaotic wobbles to play out—most of western North America will be desert again, as it was during the Hypsithermal.
It’s worth taking a moment to think about the consequences. In the recent past there was enough rainfall in the great basins west of the Rockies to feed a series of major river systems—the Colorado and Columbia watersheds chief among them—which made agriculture possible across much of the dryland West and also provided drinking water and hydroelectric power in great abundance. As conditions change, most of that water and power are going away. Millions of acres of farmland will have to be abandoned. So will cities that have no other source of drinking water—and there are quite a few of those. Once Lake Mead and Lake Powell become salt flats with a muddy trickle running down the middle, for example, Las Vegas will have rolled snake eyes once too often, and its sun-baked ruins will have to be left to the sand and the keening wind.
Over the century or so ahead of us, as climate belts shift, the Puget Sound region will have to adapt to the sort of climate central California has now, while California settles deeper into desert conditions, without water from the Colorado basin to pick up the slack. If you want today’s Puget Sound climate, plan on moving to the Alaska Panhandle. Further east, the great forests of northwestern Canada will become open prairie. Warm weather systems shifting northward will accelerate the melting of the Arctic Ocean ice pack and speed up the point at which the Arctic will be blue water year round, as it was ten million years ago, when the valley of the Mackenzie River had the kind of climate that the Columbia basin has now.
That’s good news for the people who live beside the Mackenzie, who might want to think about teaching their kids to plant apple orchards and wheatfields to take advantage of the lengthened growing season that’s heading their way. It’s not good news for the hundred million or so Americans who live in areas that are running out of water as the rain belts shift, and who will become impoverished refugees as their homes become valueless and their jobs go away. The economic losses that will follow the collapse of Western agriculture and the abandonment of regions that can no longer support human habitation are almost impossible to tot up. I know, it doesn’t help to realize that the same thing is happening in Asia, where Iran and Kazakhstan are already facing severe water shortages and the drying up of the Himalayas promises to do the same thing to vast regions of China, India, and Pakistan.
Some questions need to be asked and answered at this point. First of all, can anything be done to stop these changes? The answer here is quite simply no. On the one hand, the climate belts are already shifting as the old equilibrum breaks down, and further changes are baked into the cake at this point, given the amount of greenhouse gases that have already hit the atmosphere. On the other, the political will to take significant action to cut greenhouse gas production simply doesn’t exist. The reason it doesn’t exist, in turn, is that most people who claim to be concerned about the climate are eager to see other people deprived of carbon fuels, so long as they themselves don’t have to make any significant changes in their lifestyles.
It’s reached the point that some people on the leftward end of the climate activist movement are loudly insisting that they need to engage in violent terrorism because, as they say, nothing else has worked. They’re right that nothing has worked, because the one thing that would work—leading by example, starting with their own lifestyles—is the one thing they aren’t willing to do.
People on the center and right, meanwhile, have drawn their own conclusions from the antics of the climate chnage movement. Most of them have noticed that the people who claim to be upset about the climate aren’t upset enough to cut their own carbon footprints to any meaningful degree. Many have noticed that nearly all the proposals the left is offering would, as usual, benefit the middle and upper middle classes at the expense of the working classes and the poor. Thus they’re not having any of it, thank you very much. Nor is violent terrorism going to change their minds. It’s just going to convince them that climate activists are dangerous crazies best locked up or used for target practice.
But isn’t the climate crisis all the fault of big corporate polluters? (This is another common talking point on the left these days.) Sure, in a certain sense. Keep in mind, however, that nearly all of what those big corporate polluters are producing with all that carbon are goods and services that support the climate-wrecking lifestyles just mentioned. Since climate activists are still eagerly clamoring for those goods and services, furthermore, there’s no particular reason for the big corporate polluters to do anything else. Yes, boycotts might help, and we’ve already seen that it’s possible to do a worldwide shutdown of commercial air traffic—one of the most climate-damaging industries in existence—without causing undue harm. Will climate activists boycott their annual vacations in Mazatlan and Bali? Let’s just say I’m not holding my breath.
But won’t temperatures just keep on rising and bring on the apocalypse? The evidence from paleoclimatology offers a good way to check the rhetoric. 250 million years ago in the Triassic Period, the atmosphere had six times as much carbon dioxide in it as it has today—a level that will never again be reached, because so much carbon has been locked up in inert geological forms like chalk and limestone since then. The earth was much warmer, ice caps and glaciers were unknown, and the climate accordingly shifted into overdrive: paleoclimatologists have coined the moniker “megamonsoon” for the cataclysmic weather systems that swept over the planet in those days. Nonetheless the ancestors of today’s cedars and sequoias thrived, leaving the traces of vast forests for paleontologists to admire. So did your ancestors, dear reader—for the therapsids, the ancestors of mammals like you and me, the Triassic was a great time.
But what if some kind of long shot catastrophe takes place? Here again, it’s happened. A little later, in the Jurassic and Cretaceous Periods, gargantuan volcanic eruptions in the Toarcian and Cenomanian-Turonian epochs triggered what paleoclimatologists call super-greenhouse events, in which the temperature of the planet spiked to very high levels. The dinosaurs shrugged and went on munching ginkgo leaves. If the dinosaurs had built an industrial civilization, massed huge populations in unsustainable dinocities, and sunk trillions of dinodollars into infrastructure that would become worthless when the temperature rose, they would have had a very hard row to hoe, no question. They didn’t, and so they were still thriving when the earth got whacked by an asteroid millions of years later.
Arguably we aren’t as smart as the dinosaurs. Certainly we’ve got the industrial civilization, the unsustainable cities, and the climate-threatened infrastructure on its way to a final value of zero that they never had, and our species also doesn’t find ginkgo leaves very nourishing. Thus we’ve got a very hard row to hoe. It’s quite understandable that so many people would cling to the fantasy that the world will end sometime very soon so we don’t have to face the consequences of our actions, but you know, the world has no particular interest in catering to our sense of entitlement even when that takes an apocalyptic form.
Yet there’s another point to keep in mind here. The super-greenhouse events in the Toarcian and Cenomanian-Turonian epochs went away once the planet stopped belching gigatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the rather more modest greenhouse event of the Holocene-Neocene transition—yes, that’s where we are right now—will go away in due time, too, once our industrial civilization runs out of fossil fuels and drops the same bad habit. How long? Centuries or millennia, depending on complex feedback loops involving such things as plant growth, oceanic currents, and the modest but significant vagaries of the Sun. The desertification of the West is no more permanent than anything else on this planet of ongoing change.
A couple of thousand years from now, in other words, archeologists from one or more of the future nations of eastern North America will travel on muleback through the slowly greening deserts to unearth the fabled ruins of Las Vegas and marvel at the insane bad taste of their ancestors. Then they’ll go back home, publish illustrated books on their adventures, and go on to deal with the problems and possibilities of life in their own time, which will not be anything like the present, nor for that matter anything like our fantasies of the future. (Look at comparable notions of the future published in, say, 1880, if you want some sense of just how far off the mark ours will be.) Then history will go on and other things will happen.
Apply the same logic to every other crisis of our time and see just how different the future looks. Think about the current population bubble as yet another boom that is already showing signs of tipping over into bust—one recent study argues, on plausible grounds, that we may already have hit peak population worldwide. Just as in every great civilization of the past, centuries of steady population decline will help define the shape of the future before us. Think about fossil fuels not as things that about to run out suddenly, nor as things that are about to be replaced by some new and even more abundant energy source, but as things that are already trickling away gradually as rising prices and shrinking production feed each other, leaving us to get by on the much more modest energy resources of sun and wind and muscle.
What I’m suggesting is that we need to think of the future as a landscape: not a single place where only one thing happens and nothing ever changes again, but as a vast and unmapped territory with many different kinds of terrain, where many groups of people live in many different ways, some more successfully than others. Remember, too, that most of the people who live in that landscape will never have heard of us and won’t care about what we thought or said or did. I suspect that that’s the thing that galls our collective sense of entitlement most bitterly and generates the shrill self-pity so common these days—“but we’re special!”
No, not to the landscape of the future, we aren’t. The sooner we let go of our overinflated sense of importance and grasp that we’re just one civilization out of many, going through the familiar arc of rise and fall, the sooner we can get to work on the possibilities that are still within reach.
And for one of the most incredible statements about the future I’ve seen of late, that shuffling electrons around will negate the need to deal with shrinking resources, I give you the inimitable Dana Blankenhorn:
You can NOT make this stuff up and put it in a novel. Nobody would believe you. Or would they?
I’m in the process of adjusting to having suddenly moved from the middle class to being somewhat poor, and have started laughing about the way that my new lifestyle is so much easier on the Earth. I simply don’t have the money for vacations; nor for new electronics; if I need to go somewhere I walk or take a bus because I can’t afford a car anymore; I use a small fraction of the electricity, because I can’t afford to use as much; and the list goes on.
I’ve never been a big environmentalist, but my sister is, and my lifestyle is now far less environmentally damaging than hers, merely because I’m too poor for most of the really wasteful things. It’s amazing how much of a difference they could make merely by cutting back to a level that a lot of people live anyway. By global standards I’m still ridiculously well off; , and as I adjust I’m finding it pleasant in its own way, so it’s not like this is some sort of hair shirt asceticism. If the environmental activists simply won’t do even this much, why should anyone else believe them about the necessity of addressing climate change?
For those who are interested, I found Donella Meadows’ (one of the 1972 LTG authors) _Thinking in Systems_ to be a very readable intro to systems theory.
“ Digging up the ruins of a Las Vegan hotel, 3961 AD.”
FYI, this, and the extremes of early archaeologists have already been satirized by David Macaulay in his extremely funny graphic novel “The Motel of the Mysteries.” I highly recommend it.
One of your best pieces. Of course, I know climate change activists on the left personally, Many have gone back to the land and grow their own food. Never flying on planes is quite common (many are very fond of train travel.) Many spend much of their time creating terraces, swales, and so on. Most are vegan or vegetarian, in line with their beliefs about meat and climate change. Those who aren’t tend to be very particular about what meat they eat and those with land often raise their own in traditional styles which produce much less methane and are easier on the land. Contrary to your view, I find the hardcore are sincere and willing to sacrifice for their beliefs.
(On the other hand, I also know some of the leaders of various old time, big name enviro orgs and most of them do not lead by example.)
In the transitions between these epochs, it is also true that a LOT of species went extinct. We’re just animals, at the end of the day. Even assuming we don’t go extinct (I think the odds are still on humanity’s side) smooth curves like those show in Limits To Growth (which I first read in the 70s as a kid) tend to show up rather dramatically on the ground, as the discontinuities you mention. Those discontinuities feel really, really bad to those experiencing them.
What we had over the last 40 years was a “smooth” reduction in the living standards of a lot of Western citizens while the rich got smoothly richer. The discontinuities will not look or feel like that, despite the curves also being smooth, because it won’t just be about distribution and because systems will break and stutter and even a stutter can kill people or impoverish them.
I have a shrink friend who for almost 20 years already has refused to prescribe certain drugs because the supply chain is so tight, and the withdrawal symptoms so severe that even a hiccup in the chain that left them without their drugs for a couple weeks could damage them for life or even lead to suicide.
Anyway, it’s not going to be much fun for most people. Again, one of your best.
Dear John Michael Greer,
Thank you for this splendid essay. Thank you also blogging so steadily and intelligently in these crazy-making times.
If I may be so bold, for anyone interested in further reading into this subject of earth changes, I can warmly recommend the well-researched and highly entertaining THE ENDS OF THE WORLD by Peter Brannen.
PS My new favorite saying: “history will go on and other things will happen.”
Hollywood movies haven’t helped. The vast majority show a Manichaean split where some show a glossy future where everybody has exciting adventures and live happily ever after or a ghastly grubby dystopia where people have dreadful things happen and yet somehow manage to triumph and live happily in expectation the glossy future they fought for will come to pass (all plot elements crammed into a neat two hour span). Movies which end on an ambiguous note don’t do as well because people have been tuned to expect finality where everything gets neatly wrapped up with no loose ends. Uncertainty is a dirty word not to be mentioned in polite company.
The refusal of reality to provide a happy-ever-after ending or collapse instantly into apocalypse followed by the inevitable triumph of humans against the forces of rotten-nasty badness is frustrating those who have been convinced by the entertainment industry that if they follow the correct plotline all will end as they desire. So yes, they are going to double down on their rhetoric and get their happy ending come hell or high water by insisting that others change, not them.
Sorry folks, ain’t gonna happen. Ambiguity, uncertainty and just plain muddling along is going to be the order of the day. But they aren’t going to listen, of course. Time to stock up on popcorn. What’s coming doesn’t look like it’s going to be pretty. 🙁
What do you think of the proposals to plant trillions of trees and cultivate algae in the oceans in order to absorb co2? It is a huge undertaking yet it would work in theory.
I have a couple of fairly recent degrees in ecology, and I’ve long thought that the first section of your Green Wizardry is, in fact, the single most succinct and lucid overview of ecology I’ve ever seen, blowing away things used in academia by a large margin.
But I did note, when I first read it while I was still in school, that you used some of the outdated terminology that was common when you went to college but was now somewhat deprecated. I’d need to re-read it to give a full list, but a lot of it was the stuff related to seres and succession. I was familiar with the terms from the occasional older article we’d read, and none of it was considered “wrong” or “disproven,” but I was taught that those terms should be avoided because they gave people the mistaken impression of permanence in ecological systems and lead to sloppy thinking.
I realized while reading this post the the exact opposite is true. My teachers in college would have taken ten times as much space to say what you said here, and would have said it less clearly. Avoiding terms used to describe the relatively stable and predictable stages of ecosystems actually resulted in making it harder to describe how those relatively stable and predictable stages change.
I wonder now if that relates in part to the general trend to insist that everything exists “on a spectrum” in colleges, or if there may be a degree to which obfuscating the implications of ecology might make it easier for working ecologists to maintain the mandatory faith in sciencism when everything in ecology contradicts it.
To be clear, I still think that ecology has fared better than nearly any other discipline in colleges, and I was taught about ecosystem patterns and succession, just a little more clumsily. At my school at least, I didn’t have anything called “systems theory,” and I think I may need to get some older textbooks and remedy that.
I reached my age of majority right when our forever wars were kicking off. I knew then that fighting over resources signaled the end of growth, but I didn’t have a sense of what that would look like twenty years on. It’s getting scary outside. Just like the weather our social systems are doing the same thing.
Just wondering if the Romans, as their empire declined, ever had the notion, “but we’re special!” Or is that narcissism peculiar to us?
Some people want to call our era the Anthropocene, not the Holocene-Neocene transition, as you call it. More narcissism if you ask me.
Also, I think you mentioned that Russia will benefit from climate change as their vast permafrost lands thaw. So they are the obvious new superpower, right?
“one recent study argues, on plausible grounds, that we may already have hit peak population worldwide”. Can you give a reference? I’d like to read it.
Regarding the literal landscape you described, do you (or any readers) know of a good map display of this? A long time ago, someone posted a neat little map that showed predicted sea level rise and climate change on a map of the US with a slider bar for the date in the comments of the Archdruid Report. I lost the link and I’ve been thinking how nice it’d be to have for some deindustrial writing projects . . . .
An interesting hypothesis has been forwarded by Tim Morgan (of SEEDS analyses): there may, in the futures, be places and cultures that continue in some form while other places and cultures wither to nothing.
I am in a convoluted [and probably short] discussion with a facebook acquaintance about the need to display some on the ground lifestyle choices that can show others that there are things that can be done – but he insists that his driving a Corvette has little to do with what the futures can hold!!!
I’d really like to read the report that suggests world population may be peaking/have peaked. Do you have the URL or the title?
OT: but wow, when The Atlantic says the same thing you’ve been saying for as long as I’ve been reading your blog…
Days of future past…
Joy Marie posted this link to an article about using electrical stimulation of the brain to heal disease last week.
The article mentions implanting electrodes deep in the brain to provide relief for Parkinson’s and epilepsy, as well as less serious seizure disorders, PTSD and the phantom pain experienced in the brain from loss of a limb. The electrodes disrupt old patterns of connection and make new ones.
Pardon me for doubting the techno-Borg future, but duh. The brain is an electrical object, and the mind can do remarkable things by directing electricity to the correct place.
There are very old technologies, all of which use the pathways of acupuncture, acupressure, medical hypnosis, and directed self-hypnosis to modify the brain with the mind. Low frequency sounds (7 hertz- 40 hertz) activate various states of the brain relevant to healing and integration.
Old technologies have been rediscovered and redeveloped by every civilization. Otzi the Copper Age Iceman had acupuncture points tattooed on his body. Examination of his mummy revealed the arthritic joints corresponding to the tattoos. Navajo shamans performed the Ghost Way ceremony for their soldiers returning from WW II, to separate them from the memories of war and reintegrate them into regular life.
Of course the article ends with a cheery doubt about becoming the Borg and erasing traumatic memory. The note of cheery doubt is to allay the fears of those who don’t wish to become lab rats crowned with electrodes.
In fact, practitioners of traditional healing already know that the goal is to reduce the emotional charge associated with a memory, not to erase the memory and any useful lessons derived. Can traditional methods stop seizures? The article mentions the actor Danny Glover learning to stop his own seizures, no electrodes in sight.
We are the body. We are the mind-body connection. In the future, we will incorporate the old knowledge into prayer, ritual and ceremony, just as we have always done.
Outstanding post, combining an accurate analysis of the more quantitative earth sciences with the impact of human psychology, and the illogical nuances that brings to the table. The climate of the earth is indeed warming and the only sane response is to adapt and mitigate risk in our lifestyles, and not to preserve them.
I’m rereading Dark Age America, and just in the few years it’s been out, more of the content is now sinking in – and “the future” being varied across the planet’s landscapes is one of them, where earlier my point of reference was upper class USA. Though I’ve known it for a long time, the fact that so many people do not have the humility to admit they were wrong or change their approach to our predicament in the face of overwhelming facts still astounds me. Maybe as a recovering meteorologist and horseplayer I’m just more experienced with being wrong on a regular basis, but I find that personality trait to be a very irritating lack of integrity.
I’m also surprised at how climatology statistics are often based on just the last 30 years of data – a recognition that recency is important, but at the same time ignoring the hard and accurate older data, with no attempt made at whipping in a portion of paleoclimatology. And of course the response to the real predicament of climate change and climate “weirding” has been lost in the political and economic power grab of the “issue hijackers” with different goals in mind.
I find it deplorable that we’re NOT moving into an ice age future, those are just so much more interesting than hot and dry climate futures. Ice ages are seriously cool.
Thanks for bringing up the “Motel of Mysteries”, I’m going to read it, looks interesting.
Where I live, S. Manitoba, the drought this year is pretty brutal with rainfall this summer about a 10th of what we normally get. The main watercourse here, the Assiniboine River, is still flowing, but that is all due to groundwater discharge and that won’t last forever.
Thing is, droughts are fairly common here. There was a study (https://www.manitoba.ca/iem/geo/pflood/p_pdfs/climaticextremesinsmb.pdf) done on climate variability here that suggests some fairly long droughts in the past 700 years.
I don’t expect to live long enough to see the phase transition to a desert/semi-desert but it would be neat to come back in 1000 years to see what place looks like
Thanks for the great post this week John!
I was thinking about entropy in relation to climate change. How heat disperses until it’s so dilute it can’t do any work. Would spreading the heat more evenly across the earth reduce the effects? Or conversely, concentrating it in places it would do the least damage? So the earth would have the same total heat load, but distributed in a way to minimise repercussions. I’m not sure how you’d do it, but theoretically – could that work?
Patricia M, Blankenhorn is always good for a laugh, so thank you. I could put a character based on him in a satiric novel, sure, but everyone would guffaw and tease me about how unrealistic the character of A. Dan Blinkenpoker is…
Kevin, excellent! Welcome to the really rather pleasant world of downward mobility. I’ve come to think that the reason so many people in the privileged classes cling to their overpriced toys and extravagant lifestyles so frantically is that they know, somewhere deep down, that they’d actually be happier if they let it all go.
David BTL, thanks for this! I need to get around to reading that one of these days.
Chronojourner, it’s a hilarious book. I’ve been told that archeologists who take themselves too seriously hate it, and the rest of the profession adores it.
Ian, I’m delighted to hear that you know climate change activists who walk their talk; if that becomes more common, I’ll happily revise my views. Unfortunately I’ve met very, very few equivalents, and a vast number who insist on their SUV lifestyles. As for discontinuities on the ground, excellent! I was wondering whether anyone would catch that. Of course — the curves in LTG are averages, and involve a lot of variation in space and time, along the lines of the climate transition I outlined in this post.
Millicently, you’re welcome and thank you. I’ll definitely see if the local library system has Brannen’s book.
Jeanne, I know. I suspect one of the reasons so many people are wigging out these days is that reality just keeps on rudely refusing to do as it’s told and act like a movie!
Tony, in theory, it’s a great idea. In practice? Is anyone actually willing to pay for it?
Yucca, a lot of terminology that’s “deprecated” has been shoved aside because it’s too clear and too useful, not because it led to sloppy thinking. The science of human ecology raised too many awkward questions! I’d definitely encourage you to read up on systems theory, and also see if you can find Eugene Odum’s classic textbook Fundamentals of Ecology — my battered 3rd edition copy has seen many rereadings and is as relevant now as it was when it was first printed.
Misty, yes, it’s kind of scary out there. May I make a suggestion? Read up on history. If you got an ordinary US public school education you basically weren’t taught any history worth bothering with, so consider hitting up the library and starting to read books on different historical periods that interest you. You’ll find that most of history consists of times when it was scary outside, and people coped.
Bridge, they did indeed. In the Roman vision of time, the Empire had set the world to rights and everything would remain nice and stable forever. That’s why it was such a traumatic blow when Rome fell to the Visigoths in 410. As for Russia, it’ll be interesting to see if it remains a single country, but the northern coast of Eurasia — like the northern coast of North America — will be a happening place for the next few millennia.
Don, thanks for this — I’d meant to link it. I’ve fixed that now; you’ll find the paper here.
Yucca, I wish I did. Does anyone else have a link?
Bruce, Morgan’s right, of course — the world is never uniform, and there will doubtless be some places where some approximation of present cultures endure for a while.
Jim, thank you.
Pygmycory, here you go.
Patricia M, too funny. So they’re finally getting a clue…
Raphanus, good. Very good, and also timely. Over on my Dreamwidth journal, after all, I’ll be discussing one of the ways that the emotional loading of past experiences can be released, starting on Thursday; there are many others, and as you’ve pointed out, they all use the abilities we’ve already got as human beings.
Drhooves, thank you. “The climate of the earth is indeed warming and the only sane response is to adapt and mitigate risk in our lifestyles, and not to preserve them” needs to be put on the business end of a branding iron and applied to the tender portions of those people who love to talk about saving the earth but insist on their earth-wrecking lifestyles.
Ecosophian, back in the 1970s, when many climate scientists believed we were headed into an ice age — I can document this up the wazoo if anybody tries to quibble, by the way — I was fascinated by the possibility of ice age conditions in our future, and wrote some (really pretty dreadful) stories set in that context. Alas, it was not to be — well, not for a while, at any rate. We’ll probably be back in an ice age in another hundred thousand years, last I heard.
Raymond, you’re welcome and thank you for the data points!
Yorkshire, it takes energy to move energy. Where are you going to get the fantastic amount of energy you’d need to move heat from the tropics to the poles faster than weather systems and oceanic currents do that anyway?
I think your friend is an amazing person who is looking long term at their patients welfare. I have a friend who is on suboxone, used for people who were once addicted to opioids. I have recommended that he try to wean himself off of it, but it’s been extremely hard. I worry about the day when that drug is not around.
Hi, I live in Maryland. What’s likely to happen to the climate here over the next century? And if it’s going to suck, where in the US should I move? Cheers, Jim Daniel
JMG, thank you. I’ll definitely have a go at that.
Thank you for your very interesting post. Do you think that the behavior of human beings and societies might resemble natural weather patterns in their messy evolving to a new climate/civilization normal?
It certainly explains a lot of the weirdness and seeming chaos for me. And no new equilibrium in sight yet I think.
Also, on a physical level, do you think the future of Australia, in particular their East coast, might resemble the future of the West Coast of the USA? They seem to be having some extreme weather patterns too.
The craziest thing to me is how fast the future can come at you without it being some apocalyptic collapse.
China for example has such low fertility that within 50 years, a time frame I could be around to see even if it a stretch , uncorrected something that thus far no society has done its population will be half what it is now. In another 50 after that, halved again. The later is of course less predictable but this event would put the population of China to where it was in 1800.
The irony is for all the panic of government officials , it would be good for the long term future of China. Its probably quite sustainable at that level.
Here in the Western US we seen serious water related issues and even if you don’t think that its climate change, aquifer depletion and drought are real right now. There may be little to no crops in a few year in California and no water in a very short period of time.
Even if we can’t do anything about climate change since even if we had the will, and we don’t China doesn’t care and will double down on coal, Brazil won’t stop cutting down trees , you’d think some discussion of water and related issues might be forthcoming. Like that army of migrants moving east all armed for example.
But with an elite like ours, no way. This makes things so much worse. On top of that we have a growing chunk of the population psychologically preparing for an all out civil war that they estimate could kill 2/3rds of the US population.
And the funny thing no matter what there will be people, some society and not the pat apocalypse .
I guess the best we can do is tribe up, get tough and get ready.
Also to what ecosophian said, we may get some version of that Ice Age anyway.
We appear to be entering a solar minimum but we have no idea how that will react with the extra carbon in the atmosphere, If I had to hazard a guess I’d assume it will mitigate the heat effects but foul up the weather even more.
Your description of establishing new equilibriums sounds exactly like the evolution of consciousness. Thanks for the post.
I think lot of green party activist or environmentalist are motivated by a deep seated belief in doing the right thing for the good of the planet. This is admirable, but it leaves them open to being exploited.
Our Green Party Leader, now Minister for the environment, spent about 2.4 million euro on three hydrogen powered buses as a test bed for the technology…at the same time while public transport numbers are low because of Covid…and alongside a massive funding crisis within our state owned national transport companies…alongside everything else.
I mean on one hand I can understand the hope in technology, but, at the same time, I really do worry about the amount of money we are throwing at this problem. Indeed, its more concerning that people seem to think the earth is a kind of machine that we can control.
Anyway, thanks JMG.
(Our Green Party Leader is known for being a bit…odd. He went viral in parliament last march during covid by telling everyone to put a windboxes on all our south facing windows so when there were supply line issues we could, and I quote, “Have our salads ready.”)
He’s a good man, just a bit of a mad yoke.
Here’s the video if you want a laugh. Starts 10 seconds in.
I loved that, AND specially the conclusions you lead to. I don’t have anything to add except my gratitude that you wrote the piece.
In Dark Age America: The Cauldron of Nations you wrote about the new peoples living in North America with their cultures and languages, now Haiti, Venezuela and the Northern Triangle of Central America are “drying out” because of massive emigration, If Colombia goes ballistic (actually when), at least 10 million colombians would be “happily” waiting for a Green Card near El Paso, I wonder if TPTB think that the wall is unbreachable.
Europe is having few kids, but in the future I believe that the new Egyptian couples there will help with that…
The more conversations I have with people the more I think we need to replace the word “collapse” with “decline” to avoid the sort of misunderstands that are occurring with this new round of attention towards the limits of growth.
When I try to talk about catabolic collapse people seem to envision waves of zombie’s instead of the decline of a great civilization. I don’t even use that term anymore. Now I just talk to people about, “catabolic decline”. The fact that many I talk to flatly deny there as ever been a 90 to 95 percent population decline outside of something like a volcanic eruption doesn’t help either. There seems to be a pervasive belief that human population has been continuously rising with virtually no setbacks across any substantial region for any substantial length of time.
I’m not sure where to start, but perhaps the best place is here: how much of what you write – thinking about epochs, eras, ages, and a timeline of earth evolution – do you know? And how much is belief?
You’ve written very well about the hidden histories of the past, overwritten or excluded from the current worldview because they don’t fit the dominant narrative of how we have risen from technological ignorance to free ourselves from the fetters of nature. The thrust of that, rightly, is to question and examine the stories we are told about where we come from, who we are and where we might be headed.
There are many alternative stories about these three questions.
Anything I cannot verify with my experience, mediated as that is through my senses and critical faculties, falls into the category of belief. It’s a story.
There are many competing ideas/theories/stories about climate, but the consensus, we are told, is that the argument is over. Anyone suggesting an alternative is villified and especially if they are a scientist effectively excommunicated. Familiarly medieval.
Any grand narrative which brooks no alternative raises my suspicions.
I think you are right to place our earthly struggles in the context of time, and many generations.
Perhaps with sun activity at a low we may be about to enter a period of global cooling.
For me the broader question is about resources, conveniently sidestepped in talk of the green new deal. Cherish them, nourish them, because we are they and they are us.
Thanks for the essay this week JMG.
The drought affecting the Midwest this year is really something else. Here in my neck of the woods, Northeastern Minnesota, a lot of neighbors are watering lawns. The was one old timer who told me that when water gets scarce, people will be coming here because no where else in the USA can you climb up a hill and find yourself in a marsh. That’s what makes the drought even more surprising, but I recall reading literature of this ecosystem which had suggested a decade or two ago that these drier conditions were going to be the new normal. Still, it comes as great surprise to many of us. A friend was over this morning and he’s been haying all his life. He said last summer was terrible, and they got about twenty-five round bales of hay off my grandpa’s property. This year they got six. On top of all the storms caused by covid-19, this drought and the effect on livestock and other forms of agriculture are going to be devastating. Still, as my friend has adapted, a lot of folks will. Life will go on, just not the same as it was yesterday. That ought to be welcome news for a great many who have been unhappy with our civilization, but unsurprisingly, as you illustrated, most of those people are unhappy that the high-tech future they imagined won’t be the reality, just they can’t accept it. This reminder from you that there is a future out there, and it is still taking shape is a hopeful reminder that there is still a lot yet that we can do shape the days, years, decades, centuries ahead.
More than you probably wanted to know.
Very short version, the medieval warm period in Europe was also the medieval drought period in the American Southwest down through Central American. And drought is what collapsed the Mayan civilization at the time.
@Yucca glauca #13
This tool might be useful. You can adjust it for specific locations, and for amounts of sea level rise.
Use this web mapping tool to visualize community-level impacts from coastal flooding or sea level rise (up to 10 feet above average high tides). Photo simulations of how future flooding might impact local landmarks are also provided, as well as data related to water depth, connectivity, flood frequency, socio-economic vulnerability, wetland loss and migration, and mapping confidence.
Visualize potential impacts from sea level rise through maps and photos
Share maps and links via email and social media
**** Tutorial for the local scenarios tab of the tool
**** Tutorial for the marsh migration tab of the tool
Also look at this short article with map:
Not the same level of detail… more like being punched in the gut.
This is a hard sell to people who are obsessed with status and chasing instagram illusions, but as resources dry up the sell is getting easier all the time. Along the lines of “to keep silent”, openly advertising your collapse beliefs is definitely a concern at the moment especially with all the increasingly psychotic communist minions of the Great Reset running around. You definitely do not want to get thrown in the gulag for consuming poison-free milk, refusing mandatory gene therapy drugs, or keeping your kids out of state-run indoctrination facilities. Sometimes setting a good example can mean quietly going operational while keeping an eye out for those with compatible values who are less likely to screw up everything they get involved with.
I am very grateful for your post today because it made me realize that some options we have been mulling over are no longer viable. This saves us a lot of energy by narrowing down our focus, and also comes with the relief that in such an environment it will be impossible to run a technototalitarian one world government.
Another great piece and a much needed reality check. I recently visited Antelope island located in Utah’s very own (drying and rapidly disappearing) Great Salt Lake. It was a stark reminder of the very points you mentioned here: that the Earth keeps on changing and all of us down here gotta keep up or get left behind! I imagined a century hence, when the human made fences were trampled or rusted away and buffalo, antelope, and other critters roam the streets of a crumbling suburb on their way to greener pastures.
Anyway, I enjoyed this week’s essay, but one passage in particular stuck out to me.
“I suspect that that’s the thing that galls our collective sense of entitlement most bitterly and generates the shrill self-pity so common these days—“but we’re special!”
No, not to the landscape of the future, we aren’t.”
I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and videos about the Fall of Civilizations lately and I’ve noticed that the host, lecturer, podcaster, whatever, will invariably have a moment where they say, “imagine if you will,” and go on about the lives and times of the people living in these twilight years of ancient cities as they are abandoned and forgotten and what it must have been like to live in those interesting times. Is it a product of our Faustian civilization that we who study history tend to think the people in the future will look back on us as we do the people of the ancient past? That is with curiosity and wonder and what-must-have-beens?
@JMG – Regarding the future climate of North America; I wonder what effect the Isthmus of Panama will have on rainfall patterns. Unless my dates are wrong, the last time Earth’s atmosphere contained 400ppm CO2 was about 4 million years ago. The isthmus became an above water landmass about 2 and 1/2 million years ago. Do you know of any research into the effect that a lot of water moving from the Caribbean into the Eastern Pacific had on rainfall patterns then, or what effect it might have on rainfall patterns going forward?
You mention that the continent east of the Mississippi resembled prairie. I can see how the desert climate belt of the southwest would move north as the climate warms, but wouldn’t’ the climate belts that move north from the Caribbean/Gulf mean a more raining, tropical climate for the eastern half of the continent? Additionally, if the higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere trap more heat energy, which speeds up the uptake of evaporated water, wouldn’t rainfall be heavier (where it fell) in a hotter world?
@ Bridge – Russia may benefit form climate change over the next century, but it has a few problems that will, I think, prevent it from being a long term ‘superpower’
1 – the population is in free fall and might drop below 100 million by 2050. I’ve seen no data indicating that trend is stopping or slowing
2 – Russia is situated north of a lot of countries that have huge populations, and are, right now, running out of water (India, China, and the ‘Stans’ to name just a few).
3 – much of Russia’s ‘wealth’ is tied up in resource extraction, rather than a dynamic economy. Combine that with a security-state rooted elite, and you have a recipe for long term decline.
My guess, and it is just that, is that Russia will lose control of all its lands east of the Urals, sometime after 2100 or so. I doubt it will ever recover those territories. Most of their expansion east took place over the 18th and early 19th century, so that land hasn’t really been ‘Russia’ for very long. Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if the central question of Russian statecraft over the second half of this century will revolve around whether, and how, to keep control of Siberia and the Far East. Beyond 2100, as petroleum-fueled economies permanently fail, my guess is that the Russian state as we know it, will collapse along with every other industrial state.
China MAY be the ‘last man standing’, but my guess is that as the Yangtse river valley becomes the Gulf of Yangtse, hundreds of millions of Chinese will move north. The Yellow River will become the southern border of whatever dynasty replaces the current Red Dynasty, errr… PRC, and the Amur River and Lake Baikal will lay at the heartland of the next great Chinese culture.
Working my way back towards Russia, the Ob River will probably become the homeland of all the Muslim refugees from central Asia and the India, and will form something of a buffer state between the Urals and the neo-Chinese. They may even form a great culture of their own, as they may be the heirs to Islamic culture.
As for European Russia, it will fragment into a number of Slavic successor states. Eventually, along the banks of the Volga and/or the Don, a new, Slavic culture will emerge. They will probably speak a descendant language, made up mostly of the eastern Slavic language (Russian, Ukrainian and Byelorussian), with what we currently recognize as modern Russian becoming a ceremonial language (much the way I expect modern English will here in North America).
By 3000 or so, I would guess that either the Don or Volga culture will have conquered the other, and formed a ‘universal state’, which will probably look back to Tsarist Russia, and maybe even the Soviet Union, as a long lost golden age.
@ Tony C – I always find it funny when I see news articles about ‘this wonderful carbon sequestration machine’ that will save us from climate change. I always chuckle, and find myself thinking; “do these people know what trees and grass does?”
JMG – I thought you might be amused that scientists are now seeking protection under hate crime legislation:
This post made me think of and miss Bill Pulliam. I always enjoyed his commentary on climate related topics.
I found that population study titled:
“Footprints to singularity: A global population model explains late 20th century slow-down and predicts peak within ten years”
On PLOS ONE
They do not use a traditional demographic approach it is more of an ecological approach.
Here is the key finding
“Population growth has been sub-exponential over the last 50 years, suggesting that humanity is passing through an inflection point of a curve that is the product of two steep trends, one upward, the other downward. The upward curve is the combined exponential expansion of humanity and the intrinsically exponential increase in technological innovation, and the downward curve is the accelerating depletion of non-renewable resources and the loss of food security. The model predicts that the results of the 2020 census (not yet available) will be in the range 7.2 to 7.6 billion (80% confidence) instead of the projected 7.8 billion . The model predicts that the population will peak or has peaked, with the peak in the range 2018 to 2023 (80% confidence) and will decline to between 2.1 and 6.6 billion by 2060. The nearness of the peak is supported by accelerating increases in adult mortality and decreases in birth rates since 2016”
And here is what the authors think are the basic limits of their model
“The theoretical appearance of a population decline in the near future is a foregone conclusion of the design of the model itself. The model encodes the business-as-usual (BAU) assumption that humanity will not react to change and will continue to degrade the environment. It also assumes that the carrying capacity depends critically on resources that are not under human control nor are regenerated by human activity, and which will not come under human control within the timeframe of the simulation. “
If this model is correct we are in for an interesting decade, think food scarcity.
Personally I’m glad I’m getting at least part of the personal collapse out of the way now, before the full blown crisis hits. I think that the longer that I live my “impoverished” life the easier making the next steps will be, whatever they might be. For now, I’m just trying to get comfortable on a very tight budget, and not worrying too much about the future. That’ll change as I get used to where I am now.
I had a historian I know try to tell me that no technological knowledge was lost in the fall of the Roman Empire. I think that as the realities of the decline sink in further, more and more people are going to try to argue it never happened historically, so they can avoid grappling with it in the here and now.
I will have to get “After the Ice Age”. Some time ago, I searched around for information on Quebec in either the hypsithermal or last interstadial, but haven’t found a lot. Do you remember anything on the Atlantic Seaboard and St. Lawrence Valley?
Jim, if you use a search engine and look up “Hypsithermal” and then go looking for the mid-Atlantic states you should have no trouble finding adequate data.
Pygmycory, you’re most welcome.
Naomi, if I understand correctly, that’s the standard process for all sufficiently complex systems under pressure. Not all human beings are complex enough, however. 😉 As for eastern Australia, I haven’t researched that — you ought to be able to find information online about what the climate was like there during the Hypsithermal.
Simon, the future is always coming at us fast. When I was a kid nobody, but nobody, expected the 2021 we got.
Youngelephant, it’s how complex systems behave.
Adrian, I’d be less cynical about the climate change movement if I saw more of those deep seated beliefs actually motivating a serious decrease in personal carbon footprint.
Brazzart, you’re most welcome.
Quinshi, keep in mind that if they get across that barrier they may be facing hundreds of miles of waterless, sun-blasted desolation. Nature raises her own walls!
Stephen, I’ve been trying to get people to think in terms of decline for decades. If they’ve finally stopped defaulting to apocalypse, maybe some gains have been made.
Nick, I base my view of the future on the evidence provided by past and present. Despite all the quibbling, the West is drying out the way it usually does in times of global warming, and other proxy markers are also moving in a warmer direction. Furthermore, paleoclimatologists have documented past greenhouse periods caused by excess CO2 in the atmosphere, and it’s kind of silly for us to insist that the excess CO2 we’re producing won’t have the same effect. You’re right, of course that we haven’t freed ourselves from nature, and that resource shortages are at least as important as climate changes — but the latter are happening too.
Prizm, many thanks for the data points! Minnesota ought to be perfectly viable if its farmers shift to dryland farming methods — but we’ll see.
Siliconguy, thanks for this. More supporting evidence is always welcome.
Aloysius, excellent! You’ve grasped a crucial point: totalitarianism is resource-intensive. We can expect a lot of things in the future but that’s unlikely to be one of them.
StarNinja, I wonder how many people who listen to those shows realize that they’re in exactly the same situation…
Ben, all those are good questions to which I don’t believe anyone has the answers. Nonetheless, the West is drying out exactly as it did in the Hypsithermal, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of increased rain in the deep South, so apparently not…
Logan, since “hate speech” these days means “saying anything the authorities don’t approve of,” it makes perfect sense that scientists would want to join in the orgy of censorship!
Croatoan, agreed. He was well versed in ecology and always had good things to add to the conversation.
Skyrider, that’s the one. (I’ve linked to it in the post.) As for its implications, well, yes. I’ve been talking about that for a while now…
Kevin, collapsing ahead of the rush is a good plan! As for people insisting that technological knowledge can’t be lost, as Mark Twain said, faith is believin’ what you know ain’t so.
Matthias, not offhand, no. It’s a little complex because the Laurentide ice sheet was still melting.
One more thing: I agree with much of your criticism of climate change activism, but surely there is more blame to spread around, for example people who evangelize for the positive power of consumer capitalism and call any talk of limits “communism”. Not that apportioning the blame matters all that much…
A while back Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, and was widely denounced for it. I have a feeling we may live to regret that. As I recall, the Greenlanders themselves were against the idea. They too may live to regret it. They are 50,000 people living on what is about to become prime real estate; they’re going to be conquered by someone, and history shows that people who are conquered by the United States end up doing rather well for themselves, even if ideological fashion forces some of them to insist otherwise.
In any case… This may sound terrible, and that’s fine, but climate change activism seems to me to be among the most useless concerns of the environmental movement, along with “invasive species.” Both amount to “Nature is changing in a way we don’t like, and we think that we have both the right and the power to force it not to.” Regarding invasive species, I once worked on a BLM invasive species project in coastal Oregon. Our job was to walk several miles of Oregon beach and remove every Scotch broom or European beach grass that we found. The problem with the beach grass, as I understand it, is that it grows upward in place, and dies on itself. Eventually it produces heaps of compost, that become soil beds for coastal trees like shore pines. The shore pines provide habitat for predators like foxes, cats, and racoons, which eat all of the snowy plovers, which are now disappearing from the region.
To be clear, the problem the project is trying to solve isn’t that there won’t be any trees, grass, birds or predatory land mammals. It’s that there will be the *wrong kind* of trees, grass, birds and land mammals, according to an ideology which claims that any species not present in an environment before some arbitrary Date X is “unnatural” or “invasive.” (This is similar to claims that so-called “indigenous people”– those that conquered a given territory before some arbitrary Date X– have more of a right to it than those who conquered it after that date.)
At the time, that seemed a bit silly to me. On reflection it seems more or less criminal, given that it was funded with taxpayer dollars, as well as insane. The belief here is that a small group of technocrats– government agencies and academics– have both the right and ability to re-shape nature according to their will.
While I’m aware of the role of industrial pollution in climate change, the claim still seems similar. I don’t honestly care whether there are deserts in California, prairies in Canada, or temperate rainforests in Alaska. There are deserts, prairies, and temperate rain forests in North America now. Yes, the displacement of people may result in suffering, but suffering is a fairly normal human condition. What’s more, I’m also fairly sure we are living in an age wherein the world is being deliberately remade, and by more-than-human hands. When I did live in California, I used to visit a nature preserve in which the dominant trees were live oaks, Australian Eucalyptus, and palms from the Canary island. If you come back to North America in 2,000 years, you might find a similar mixed forest where Anchorage is now– and you might see ostriches, tigers and emus under the branches, with no one living then aware that those animals were originally brought here for farms and zoos.
Of course, getting there might not be fun. But this is Earth after all– the place variously known in the world’s spiritual teachings as the vale of tears, the world of shadows, or the Kether of the Qliphoth. (Hell’s Rooftop Garden, is how I think of it.) Things tend not to be very fun here.
Do you happen to know of a good source for paleoclimatalogical maps – preferably online – showing the pattern of desertification in the western United States during the last long warm spell? For those of us unwilling to leave the West, it might be useful to have an idea where the few future wet spots at this end of the continent are likely to be. I’ll do my own web search of course, but am not sure what would be the best search terms.
I live on the San Francisco Bay. Thus far we’ve been very fortunate to escape the awful heat wave that’s been hammering most of the West.
I mentioned in the last post in a later comment that is still possibly pending, that its all a giant more complex game of Bughouse (Exchange Chess, or transfer chess). It takes tremendous power and knowledge to be able to predict ten to fifteen moves ahead in a normal game of chess like the grandmasters typically do, but imagine if you will if they were to play bughouse, they would be thrown off their game much to easily and would have to resort to planning only but a few moves because there’s so much to consider.
I’ve honestly just want to be left alone, I want to live freely without someone telling me that I’m a horrible human being and then told the world and society is going to end soon and there’s nothing I can do to heal it and no use in any form of progress to improve the lives of not just myself and others be in in the form of technology or spirituality. Apparently they didn’t get the memo that they’re walking talking corpses already. in essence I really do not like doomers of any kind just as much as I don’t like toxic positivity types, because they’re exactly the types of people that that drag society down along with them and then wonder why the world sucks.
JMG – Thank you again. I’m a guest on an island of sanity. Cool, calm, soothing sanity. Makes me want to grab a beach chair and umbellar, take my shoes off, crack a Corona (beer!), and wait for the approaching desert in peace:)
For my fellow intellectual heretics, General System Theory can be downloaded for free from Academia.edu
The original Limits to Growth report by the Club of Rome can be found here:
Thinking in Systems can be found here:
Your image captions were hilarious! Today I saw a map that well, maps out how the climate would change according to different regions, by translating to what place the climate of say, Florida, would look like if compared to another place. Most cities were mapped to more southern regions by hundreds of kilometers and it placed some US cities to the region that now corresponds to the Mexican desert of the north. Nice timing!
Here is an image:
And here the references:
You may have heard about the catastrophic floods that wrecked havoc to some western parts of Germany experienced recently. The Ahr, a small, less than 100 km long river opening out into the Rhine more or less destroyed several villages and towns, killing hundreds, by a spring flood that was the result of extremely heavy rainfalls. The historic all-time high of the Ahr was at about 5 metres (roughly 16 feet), it reached 8 to 9 metres this time. Some of the lower-lying houses were flooded up to the 3rd floor. Many houses collapsed, many more will have to be teared down because they took too heavy damaged. Several bridges have been destroyed. The whole region is now contaminated by large quantities of heating oil. There’s no running water, there’s only very limited electricity in many towns and fall is not far away.
This was a very extreme, but rather local event. And now, they’re all crying climate crisis again. NGOs are holding petitions that the rebuilding of the villages has to happen in a “sustainable way”. If they mean by “sustainable” what they usually mean, since “sustainable” has a very limited bandwidth in their definition. Next month we’re going to have federal elections but I don’t think it matters who wins anymore. Even if the green party was green, and if they should win (they have some chances) and even if they should push their super-duper green deal through legislation I doubt that anything good will come out of it. There seems to be some strange kind of correlation between the amount of remaining resources and the capabilities of our politicians.
My father-in-law uses to say that when everybody takes cares for themselves, everybody is taken care of. He is certainly a very good example for this and I think this is a very good rule of thump for the time to come (which doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t care for others if you can, of course. Very soon after the events at the Ahr, hundreds of farmers appeared with their tractors and other heavy vehicles. Thousands of people from all corners of the republic went there to help, too. They do pick up and go on, although I fear that for many it will count up to having loosen everything and leaving their home anyway. Definitely not an easy row to hoe).
I have a copy of a book by the astronomer Fred Hoyle, Ice : (a chilling scientific forecast of a new Ice Age) which explored the possibility of the return of glacial conditions, however reading it it doesn’t actually say this is imminent on the timescale of a century or two.
When Extinction Rebellion came along, there came this idea that 2030 was a deadline. The idea was that human extinction would happen by 2030 if we stayed on the > +2°C warming track, this is seriously overegging the pudding, this is what is being referred to by saying that “we have nine years left”.
The most extreme climate change scenarios would involve no ice at the poles in the long term, and a return to Cretaceous-like conditions of polar forests. In the similarly warm Eocene period, the coast of Antarctica had a paratropical climate: Persistent near-tropical warmth on the Antarctic continent during the early Eocene epoch (Pross et al. 2012, Nature) containing families of plants similar to tropical or subtropical forests in Australia today.
Although the transition to this kind of climate would be very disruptive to civilisation, and the biosphere, it is unlikely to mean actual human extinction let alone the end of life on Earth.
If I was really cynical, I would suspect Extinction Rebellion of being an operation by the fossil-fueled establishment, to derail climate activism by presenting it as a binary between XR’s radical ideas, and doing nothing, and at some point decrying their predictions as overly alarmist, their demands as impossible, and presenting refocusing on adaptation as the lesser evil.
Came across this:
JMG – Great essay & thought provoking, as usual. Thank you!
We do live in interesting times!
This is near and dear to me since I still live in the west with my family, and I’m seeing the effects of the drought daily. Our lakes are less than 50% full and when you go through a burned-out forest area, it really does feel like it’s turning back into a desert. Someone mentioned replanting trees, but even if they planted millions of trees, they need water to grow.
I want to go look at property in N. Idaho since they still have lots water, but my wife is certain we’ll get a normal or above normal rainy winter (she’s basing this on hope). What if we don’t and it’s as bad as last year (worst on record)? Water to residential users will be severely cut or non-existence and you can’t live in suburbia wo water (currently everyone is supposed to cut-back 20%).
I really don’t want us to be a water refugees when I could have acted sooner. Tough call, but I might have to strike-out on my own and get a place with secure water (probably a good well), and if things get bad in N. California, like I think they will, the family will have a place to go and not turn into thirsty migrants. Strange times indeed.
@Yucca A good fiction book about what the west coast will be like after the ice caps melt is The Great Bay by Dale Pendell. It has many maps showing the Sacramento Valley flooded for 100’s of miles north and south and 50 miles east to west (the capital of Sacramento is only 16 ft. above sea level).
@Simon Peacecraft #28
you said “On top of that we have a growing chunk of the population psychologically preparing for an all out civil war that they estimate could kill 2/3rds of the US population.”
Who is saying that? Do you have links to any further information?
I did a quick google search and found many references with variations on “we’re close to a civil war” but nothing as specific and frightening as what you quoted.
Here’s the best summary I found.
Matthias, I ain’t arguing! The reason I try to hold climate-change activists’ feet to the fire is that I think there’s some hope that they’ll actually shake themselves out of their trance of privilege and do something. The Objectivists and other capital-worshippers? No hope at all.
Steve, it struck me as a good idea, frankly. We could grant it statehood. As for climate change activism, it would be nice if they could slow things down a bit, so that local bioregions have some time to react smoothly. That’s as much as seems within reach at this point.
Kevin, I wish I did. All I’ve been able to find to work with are text descriptions in books on Holocene paleoclimatology.
Michelle, I understand the feeling. I hope you don’t consider me too doomerish!
Dennis, you’re most welcome.
Galen, thanks for this. Bertalanffy is a good place to start!
Augusto, many thanks for these! I find it amusing that here in Providence, what we have to fear is weather like that on the eastern shore of Maryland — you know, the place where so many people go on vacation…
Nachtgurke, yes, I heard about that. A sharp increase in extreme local weather events is one of the things that happens when a climate equilibrium is destabilized. I think you’re probably right that none of the parties in the German federal elections will do anything about it, but it’s good to hear that so many people pitched in to help. That’ll do more good than any number of politicians mouthing slogans.
MawKernewek, that’s one of many books on the coming ice age that scientists don’t want to talk about these days. As for XR, I think it’s quite possible that it’s being funded by fossil fuel interests. Watch the very rich fawn over Greta Thunberg if you want proof that they know they have nothing to fear from climate change activists.
PatriciaT, thanks for this! That’s very good to see.
Karl, I hope you can find a way out. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be.
On Russia, even if it warms up, wouldn’t sunlight be an issue? Also, the thawing of permafrost won’t turn the tundra into an Eden, but more of a muddy, mosquito-infested swamp. Demographically, even as it is, Russia seems destined to have more and more of its population consist of Central Asians (they go there to find work) and yeah, Chinese in the Far East, so the distinction between what we call “Russia” and neighboring countries should blur some. Right now all these countries are run by mafias, which ought to affect their response to changes, although I can’t imagine how politics may transform in the future.
On a more optimistic note, do people know about Paul Hanley’s book “Eleven”? (Eleven billion is–or was–the estimated global population in 2100.) Hanley is a Saskatchewanian reporter on agronomy issues (if memory serves, he has no degrees) whose approach has been molded by Baha’i (*) expectations of a future global civilization:
(*) The Baha’is are a religion which follows the 19th century Iranian prophet Baha’u’llah, and stresses the unity of humanity.
“But isn’t the climate crisis all the fault of big corporate polluters? ”
I run accross a fb meme to this effect almost daily. If I point out that the poster is buying cars, refridgerators, airliine tickets, etc. etc. I usually get a sheepish agreement, then they go right back to blaming corporations. It’s as if they have trouble seeing that their lifestyles actuallly cause problems.
George Carlin had it right when he said, to paraphrase
‘That life is not all that complicated, you sleep eight hours a day, go to work, eat three meals and then you’re back in bed.’
That is as true now as it was in the past, or it will be in any future scenario.
On the climate issue however, there is a huge amount of evidence that Geoengineering is already being attempted on a massive scale
Given that amount of monkeying around with the weather, bad things are likely to happen, and happen fast when that engineering stops, or can’t operate to scale as the economy gradually declines.
No argument about climate can be taken seriously without mentioning the elephant in the room.
Excellent article, and I’m so glad you brought this up, because a few dsys ago I thought of a question, but I ran out of time to ask last week.
So I’ve read a bit about the Dust Bowl, and I was wondering what everyone here thought the odds are of it happening again, within the next, say, 20 or 200 years.
Looking at the maps links provided by Augusto I see Bellingham will be suffering the climate of … Seattle.
The continuing influx of (someday thirsty) people looks to be the bigger problem for our small (for now) city.
At times like these I always like to re-read the book of Ecclesiastes (King James version, of course).
There’s a time to live and a time to die. There’s nothing new under the sun. All is vanity and vexation of spirit.
JMG, there is one possibility that is about to open up on international air travel. Without a vaccine to keep them safe, the salary class may give up on flying. Greta Thunberg has been telling them to do that for a few years and now they have a tangible reason. I’m not holding my breath, but it may happen.
There’s a whole lot that I’m not going to bother with, but, having read “Limits” back in ’73, and having had a front row seat in the Geography Dept. at San Diego State since the 60s, and having watched the climate patterns change for decades I want to posit a question here that I’ve dared not ask anywhere else: Preface, if you ever look up you’ll have noticed about 20 years of active weather modification using persistent jet trails to tune the pressure gradients that drive the course of weather. Before I bite on the climate crisis, in a world of ear to ear crises, I want to know what all those high-frequency active aural ionospheric heaters (since late 80s) stationed around the world have bee up to. In other words, what part of weather and the changing climate is real vs man-made, do you suppose?
As another Westerner (S.E. Idaho, and we are at .99″ now since snow melt-March, that was-of precipitation, yes, that’s a hair under an inch) may I suggest you look at what terrain and geoglogical features make an oasis now in deserts and look for similar features?
The other thing to look at is what did the nomads who lived here before us do? If we stay, we’ll need to plan on a similar lifestyle.
We have some archeological data, if not as much as we’d like: dry climates are good for preservation.
Best of luck to you.
Excellent post, as usual, but I have a quibble with part of “during the last ice age, for example, Death Valley was a sparkling blue lake surrounded by pine forests…” Maybe single-leaf pinyon, which still lives below limber pine and bristlecone pine on the flanks of Telescope Peak in Death Valley National Park today, but when I looked at a 1999 United States Geological Survey publication on Death Valley (Page 130), it didn’t mention any pine fossils found in pack rat middens from the late Pleistocene. Instead, the author cited papers that listed Joshua tree, chaparral yucca, which lives where I grew up in coastal southern California, and two species of juniper, one of which grows along with single-leaf pinyon today. That doesn’t contradict your point that Death Valley was much different 18,000 years ago than today. One of the papers cited in the 1999 USGS paper interpreted the fossil plant assemblage as supporting “a Pleistocene climate which was less arid and more equable than today. Precipitation is estimated to have been three to four times the present values and summers 8–14°C cooler.” I just doubt it would have looked much like the photo of Maligne Lake in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada with lodgepole pines growing on Spirit Island and along the lake shore that you used to illustrate that paragraph.
I think this is where the study of paleoclimatology is helpful for perspective – once one has tried to comprehend the ways the climate has changed over the last 12k years or so, along with related sea level changes, what we face seems tame. Even the normal cycles of the vast Sahara desert make all this seem trivial.
Imagine dealing with one of the meltwater pulses of rapid sea level change when all the coastal cities are lost, the loss of Doggerland and the plains now off the coast of Florida and the Bahamas? Or the intrusion of seawater that created the Persian Gulf or the flooding of the Black Sea?
The idea of a stable climate is an illusion, and we were fools to mess with it. Nonetheless there will still be places where people can thrive, and as I expect I have quite a few lives yet to go I’ll have to experience that. What I don’t understand is that with some 7 billion people now, how will there be a place for all of the lives that will be needed as they move along their journeys?
@Ilona #38, the Forbes article about sea level rise rise inundating coasts by 2100 shows the lower 48 states. Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and Guam can expect rising sea levels to shrink the available land. Looks like we are in for immigration from the Caribbean.
JMG, I just read a book called 1177 BC, The Year Civilization Collapsed, by Eric Cline a professor at George Washington University. It paints a picture of a thriving eastern Mediterranean world of civilizations connected by travel, trade, aristocratic inter-marriage and diplomatic relations and correspondence. It was a literate world, some of the royal archives having survived to tell the tale of what happened to bring a lot of it crashing down.
It was a picture of earthquakes, decades long mega-droughts, migrations and violent conflict, some of the fighting because of those migrations, but some maybe because of internal rebellion. The Egyptians wrote about war with the Sea Peoples, for example the Shardana – the name suggestive of Sardinia and the Shekelesh, maybe the origin of the name “Sicily”. The queen of the Hittites wrote to the pharaoh telling him that there was no grain in her kingdom. Apparently it was one damn thing close on the heels of another, no one thing enough on its own to bring about collapse, but there wasn’t enough resilience to withstand all of it.
It was calamitous for the people at the time as evidenced by archeological remains which show widespread destruction and also by those ancient writings. But after a while things moved on. People forgot what came before. Or they dimly remembered by way of song and story. And eventually other peoples and kingdoms took shape in the place of those buried under mounds of dirt.
The reason I bring up this book is that the account it gives may be a road-map of sorts for what we’ll face in the next few generations or decades, I mean, given what we’re seeing by way of drought, desertification, migration etc. It wasn’t an overly demanding read, informative but not brain-bogglingly full of arcane terminology. Was it Mark Twain that said about history, it doesn’t repeat but it sure does rhyme.
I am one of those people who listens to podcasts about collapsing societies in order to get ideas on how to survive our current one. So far I’ve got: be part of a larger group, have a range of useful skills, have a belief in something that transcends the current society, and get used to shortages and suffering from time to time.
Here in Queensland, Australia, our Hipsithermal is likely to bring us slightly wetter weather, and our artesian water basins are actually filling (from NASA satellite data). If we can avoid turning the entire state into an open-cut mine, we’ll do well. The culture is fairly conservative which makes it hard to live here sometimes but … seeing some of the insanity lately, I’ve learned to appreciate the ballast that it provides to a society.
Bei Dawei, the former tundra will remain soggy only until the water drains away — it does that, you know! — and the sunlight issue cuts both ways — in the summer, the arctic gets sunlight 24 hours a day, which makes it a good place for farming if the weather’s warm enough.
Christophe, of course they go right back to blaming corporations. If they don’t, how could they live with their own hypocrisy?
Workdove, interesting that it seems to be doing so little, then.
Jessi, Dust Bowl conditions will be hitting the west repeatedly over the decades and centuries to come, as desertification proceeds.
Eric, I wonder if the people who made that map program realize just how underwhelming some of the results are…
Simon, I hope so!
Coboarts, if they were effective, you’d think they would be being used to keep droughts away, wouldn’t you?
Vince, interesting. I was misinformed by my college teacher, then.
Twilight, there won’t be. Fortunately world population may well have peaked already and will certainly begin to decline in the not too distant future.
Roger, I’m familiar with the late Bronze Age collapse, and yes, it makes a fascinating case study.
Kfish, that’s good to hear. Thanks for the data points!
Can I ask where you found the modelling for that? I’m in Victoria so would like to check the expected conditions here. Drier and warmer seems to be the direction we are headed but would be interesting if that matches the models.
Thank you for this post! I have struggled recently not to get overly stressed about the accelerating crises I see developing around us, so a reminder to take the long view is quite comforting.
Another good source of system dynamics thinking is in George Mobus’ blog Question Everything.
He seems to have quit blogging, but the archives are intact.
Interesting post JMG. I sometimes look up from where I reside.. at the base of the Olympics (the mountains, not the sporting venue..) from my admittedly infrequent travels doing errands or whatnot, and wonder what they’d look like clothed in say, groves of bamboo and hardwood forests, rather than the dominant dougfir/spruce that cover them now.. especially if the region
sees higher average temps along with even higher rainfall .. or, conversely .. if in resource desperation, we instead log-off virtually every tree on the Peninsula, thus having something simulating a ‘mini Afghanistan in mountaine appearance.
You know, maybe I could jumpstart things and become the future that I envision, planting giant grasses hither and yon .. a kind of ‘Johnny Bamboo Culm’ if you will..
Oh boy! Can you imagine the reaction The Federal Park Service poobas would have with such a scheme. They’d completely blow their collective wigs! Oh well, one can dream.
I probably won’t live long enough witness Ginger, Citrus, Pomegranates, or even Jujubes growing outdoors year-round up here .. not in this life anyway. Dang! Guess I could get a taste of the future being reincarnated as a plant juice sucking thrip of psilid .. so there is that at least.
JMG, I took a look at the article you mentioned. I found it a bit daunting. I can’t really tell how good the model they’re using is. The headline conclusion is certainly riveting, though! And I hope population doesn’t go much higher.
One thing I found interesting was their expectation of population decline occurring more quickly than the population rise. Still a decline rather than a fast collapse, though.
Do you know of any print or e-resources that project the changing North American bioregions over the next century (desertification of the West)?
I’m glad you say that! Because providence is in my top three list of places to move. Just need to go an visit the places to have a sense of my own.
Seattle has become unbearable, it’s basically California now, even the trails.
Hey hey JMG,
I really like this post. When I am confronted with narrow binaries about the future I usually respond with “well, you never know, the future is a big place.” Then follow up with it might have room for whatever thing or things are outside of your binary or in-between them.
JMG and StarNinja,
RE: “I suspect that that’s the thing that galls our collective sense of entitlement most bitterly and generates the shrill self-pity so common these days—“but we’re special!”
Following the Ukrainian talk from last week’s open post I found a book, that I haven’t started yet, about the twilight of the USSR called:
Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation
“Soviet socialism was based on paradoxes that were revealed by the peculiar experience of its collapse. To the people who lived in that system the collapse seemed both completely unexpected and completely unsurprising. At the moment of collapse it suddenly became obvious that Soviet life had always seemed simultaneously eternal and stagnating, vigorous and ailing, bleak and full of promise.”
I’m looking forward to reading it. I’ve read Orlov’s Reinventing Collapse and I suspect that Dimitri and the Ukrainians are right. The Soviet Union was a very special place, almost as special as we are. 😉
@Stephen D #33
To distinguish the coming decline from the mad max zombie apocalypses or the startrek singularity I came up with the term ‘the crappening’ It’s a slow process were things get crappier over time, but don’t implode. It’s a steady decline in the long term, but bumpy and uneven in the short term. The weather gets crappier, the economy gets crappier, and international relations get crappier, but the nukes never fly, the asteroid doesn’t hit, and the AI keeps misunderstanding me and giving crappy answers to my questions instead of taking over.
I’ve got a couple of things for you.
1) The Isthmus of Panama
by Lloyd D. Keigwin
I wrote him to ask what would happen if we dug a huge canal and reopened the Central American Seaway:
I’m not sure closing or opening an Atlantic-Pacific connection in Panama would affect global temperatures because it would merely, at first anyway, cause a redistribution of heat. A warmer northern North Atlantic from a stronger Gulf Stream could supply more moisture that might lead to ice sheet growth, but then the albedo feedback from more ice could lead to an ice age. At least that was the thinking long ago. Others have proposed that the North Pacific might have been the more important moisture source.
These kinds of “experiments” are best left to the world of modeling because of unforeseen consequences. The ocean contains most of the water, heat, and CO2 in the earth-ocean-atmosphere system and acts as a mighty flywheel. Anything we do to throw the system out of whack can have huge and uncertain effects, as we are learning. A late colleague said it is a sleeping bear that we do not want to provoke.
2) Rain on the plain
I believe the issue is with Hadley Cells. Hot ocean temps at the equator evaporate a lot of water and it falls back out as rain as it rises. The air then moves away from the equator, cools, and falls back down as dry air which causes the subtropical desert like the Sahara.
My understanding of this is less than perfect, but if I am making sense of it then as the climate warms up the region around the equator that heats and rises expands. Currently The water rises from 10-15 degrees above and below the equator and falls at around 30 degrees north and south. Warmer temps cause the center of the cell to expand by 5-10 degrees and the desert regions get pushed poleward.
Although, to be perfectly honest, I’m confused by what some of the research is saying on this. We know from the paleoclimate that the deserts move poleward, but I’m not sure we understand the how exactly the Hadley cells are changing.
You’ve fallen pray to one of the classic blunders. The most famous of which is never get involved in a land war in Asia. 🙂
Seriously though, I see things as much more favorable for the Russians.
1 – Their population has not returned to it’s 1990 peak and looks like it might fall further. This a win for them, closer to carrying capacity and not growing at the moment of overshoot is a good plan.
2 – Foreign Invasion? Russia has been preparing for this since WWII. After invasions by the French (Napoleon), Germans (Hitler), and the cold war Russia has focused its military on their defense from invasion.
3 – Russian economy. The Russian economy is focused on Autarky to a much larger degree that the rest of the world. They make all of their own military gear in house, all of the components too. Before the Soviet revolution they were the breadbasket of Europe and they are a grain exporter again these days. Their economy isn’t hollow either like the Kingdom of Saudi Aribia or North Korea. It’s not super impressive, but if the rest of the world experienced, oh, say, a global crappening the Russians would not be lacking in their basic needs or military resources.
3B) Russia gets Alaska back. The news has reported a lot of new Russian weapons, like their hypersonic cruise missiles, that could be very significant if, oh, say, the USA has a serious internal problem similar to the collapse of the Soviet Union. It seems to me that these new weapon systems were probably developed to keep the Americans from causing too much trouble for Russia, but it also seems to me that they would be very useful if the current world order were to be seriously upset by the collapse of a superpower.
And yes, they are thinking about it. Igor Panarin (former KGB analyst, dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s academy for future diplomats) predicted in 1998 that the us would collapse in 2010. His timing is clearly off, but his reasoning is looking sounder by the moment. The US press picked up the story a few years later
Russian version 2005: https://web.archive.org/web/20101128015047/http://panarin.com/doc/25/
WSJ (good info, paywall) https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB123051100709638419
The Atlantic (good graphic, short version) https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2010/06/map-of-the-day-ex-kgb-analyst-predicts-balkanization-of-us/58945/
Tulsa World (good info, glitchy) https://tulsaworld.com/news/russian-professor-predicts-end-of-us/article_7190d11b-abee-52ba-94fd-32cba9ceb102.html
AnInjusticeMag (2020 version) https://aninjusticemag.com/the-panarin-nightmare-442cf75692e8
When asked in an interview about the map of Alaska on his office wall he said “it’s not there for no reason”
Here’s a photo I took a few weeks ago near Aurora, MN. In my teenage years, I lived in West Texas. The grass sure had that look. Just missing the mesquite and cacti.
It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the years and what sort of pattern the weather sets into here. There’s already a lot of localized patterns based on the geography, mostly the Laurentian Divide, but the mining pits have also influenced the wind patterns. As Lake Superior lowers due to the drop in water, how will that influence things? It’s mind numbing to consider all the possibilities! The best bet is just to practice living a life with less water, especially in areas that are going to be drier.
Thinking about my life in Texas, there was a huge advantage to being much younger: I was much more adaptable to change. Having moved all over the place, I still am pretty adaptable, but it got me thinking that cultivating habits of mind which made one better able to adapt will be beneficial to many. Were those things taught more often in our educational system? I imagine it also had a lot to do with the experiences one had in life too. Another good reason to ditch all the high-tech stuff which forces people to specialize.
One advantage I thought of for some of the urban kids who decide that want to give up that life, they’ll come out to the rural areas with fresh, curios minds. Hopefully they’ll take it upon themselves to consider lots of possibilities instead of just specialized narratives.. a lot of folks already established in rural areas may be less likely to change. I could be wrong though!
No more mocking the “scientists” in your blog and pointing out the silly “trust the science” petitions.
New paper is asking for “Hate Crime” protection for the scientists from “right wing” extremists –
I don’t know if my HTML skills are that rusty or if I accidentally left it out of the comment, but this is the image I meant to include.
This time I found a reference suggesting, surprisingly, that during the warmest period of the Holocene, Quebec had less summer droughts and therefore less forest fires than in the last 2000 years: https://ferld.uqat.ca/recherche/climat_e.htm
That is actually encouraging, since I had naively thought that rising temperatures would make the summers even warmer and drier here than they already are.
Interesting how the early part of the summer in the middle Atlantic area I live in had absolute bright and clear skies.I had an excellent blueberry and early tomato crop.Then the haze hit and feels like a dark summer at time,waiting for the dog days of August with almost no wind circulation.Most strange summer weather in my lifetime and some dying birds mystery as well.
Lauren, you’re most welcome. Deep time is always a source of comfort to me!
Antoinetta, thanks for this.
Polecat, planting seeds suited to the new normal is going to be a very useful thing to do, and bamboo is even more useful than most…
Pygmycory, it’s not an easy article to follow! As far as I can tell, though, its arguments seem sound.
Jon, I wish I did. I don’t know of anyone else who’s taking the paleoclimatic evidence seriously.
Augusto, Seattle was a lovely city once. By the time I left in 2004, it was a wasteland. I shudder to think of what it’s like now.
Tim, I think “you need a bigger future” is going to become one of my catchphrases.
Prizm, you have to have the photo uploaded to a website that this site can access, and then use the img src html command.
Manoj, I saw that. It’s embarrassing to think that science started out as a way to get rid of dogma…
Matthias, thanks for this. That doesn’t surprise me — warmer climates seem to make the northeastern end of North America moister.
Patrick, thanks for the data points. I’ve heard about the birds — weird, and not in a good way.
hrm, no idea if the website hosting the photo is accessible from this website, so a link then, since I’ve successfully done those in the past https://i.ibb.co/HH08q6j/20210710-131543.jpg
In hindsight, comparing the grass to West Texas grass really isn’t fair. This grass has been mowed, which contributed to the dying factor. If I were to compare the fields up here to the fields in West Texas, our fields were still more on the green side. So even if this year were more of what a normal year would be for us, we’ll be relatively well watered, all things considered.
Quoting Steve T. ” A while back Trump floated the idea of buying Greenland, and was widely denounced for it. I have a feeling we may live to regret that. As I recall, the Greenlanders themselves were against the idea. They too may live to regret it. They are 50,000 people living on what is about to become prime real estate; they’re going to be conquered by someone, and history shows that people who are conquered by the United States end up doing rather well for themselves, even if ideological fashion forces some of them to insist otherwise.
As a Western Canadian I have been thinking about what will happen when our US neighbours to the south seriously start running out of water… good neighbours, but how far will that take us? With respect, I don’t think Canada will do too well for ourselves with US (insert your adjective here: agression, ownership, invasion). We will however gladly accept immigration, real estate purchases and business investments to our mosaic mix of citizens 🙂
Dear Mr. Greer, et all: Someone mentioned the recent floods, in Germany. It was a terrible event, but one article gave me a bit of a smile. The high tech siren warning system, failed. A monk ringing a “storm bell,” alerted people to the approaching danger.
One of the most evocative depictions of ecological change I ever saw was in Kevin Kelly’s Out of Control. Cactus patches move. New cacti grow on one side of the patch, old ones die on the other. So the cactus patch advances slowly across the landscape, leaving the desert behind it subtly changed.
Off the top of my head the only other time I can think of subtle change like that being emphasied was in China Mieville’s Iron Council. There the ability to create golems is an allegory for the labour theory of value (or in that universe, the ‘toil concept of worth’). 🙂 Once matter has been given purpose by thought and will, it’s not quite the same afterwards.
There’s a logical reason for not hearing about climate-change activists who walk the talk. If you want to be heard, then you have to spend work and money on advertising, or work for someone who has the money to advertise. You need high speed internet connection and modern smartphones, edit videos, make yourself available at forums, go to conferences, demonstrations, … If you become a reference, a symbol, like Thunberg, then you’ll be asked to talk here and there, forcing you to increase the ecological footprint. (Traveling by ship severely limits the agenda, as we have seen).
So, any activist who walks the talk is probably missing the loudspeaker, and you can’t be an activist without the (figurative) loudspeaker.
Let’s imagine that half the climate-change concerned people follow the ‘showing by doing’ path, and the other half follow the ‘telling others what they should do’ path. The first ones don’t expend too much time and money and effort trying to be heard or watched, since they are already busy trying to make a better world on their own, not trying to convince anyone. So, the audience only gets to learn about the second half.
Being of the second kind is easier, they don’t have to change your lifestyle, they feel superior, and even think that they are doing something for the betterment of humanity and saving the day. They think that if they can lower the footprint of a hundred people, that will be much more effective than reducing their own footprint, but they only convince people that want to tell others what they should do, instead of changing their habits. They feel good with themselves, and angry at the rest of the world who doesn’t understand. A good member of the tribe.
Reality is not binary, so there’s actually a few people that find the resources to ‘speak the word’ while they ‘show by doing’, but it’s a minority. There’s even a few people that have listened to the ‘loud’ activists, informed themselves and decided to be honest and walk the talk, step by step, without trying to make everyone know, but we don’t see them in the news.
About Russia, I remember reading once that Putin used to think climate change would benefit Russia, but is now not so sure, because it is one thing to potentially be able to extend agricultural production northwards in the future, but quite another for Russia’s existing agricultural regions to suffer from drought, and the taiga to be going up in smoke from forest fires.
Where I am in Cornwall, we are reaching the point with climate change when frost-free winters become commonplace, there was no temperature below 0°C recorded at all in 2020 at Camborne: https://www.infoclimat.fr/climatologie/annee/2020/camborne/valeurs/03808.html
It might be possible to grow things like avocados here in the future, indeed I have several avocado plants in pots that were out all winter long last year and survived despite some light frosts in early 2021. However, I doubt we will see the kind of hot summer temperatures that are needed to grow the subtropical range of crops well. Also, not having a real winter freeze can cause problems with pests and diseases, with the slugs and snails being able to survive and munch through the plants 12 months of the year.
No, you’re fine. Honestly I apologize for projecting more than a few things, when i initially read the blog and the 23 year old ADD squirrel brain kicked in. It may be an age and experience issue.
I don’t disagree, at least now, the concept you speak of is something I’ve noticed too somewhat but in a different way, but I had to watch my tongue and deleted a good portion of what was initially said. Really it was about collectivist thought and the dangers of such ideologies because despite having good intentions, less freedom to progress and improve basically anything and everything, creates more waste, and more unnecessary hardship and suffering to the individual, to the community, and to nature on every level of existence. Liberal countries are more likely to promote necessary change rather than the more conservative collectivist ones. When you’re growing up inundated with the ideas that ultimately degrade one’s very existence into a uniform grey blob and you’re just barely becoming more motivated to create ones own future as an individual getting rid of the old and bringing in New ideas, people, and things, it really tends rustle a few feathers and defecate in people’s cereal. And no it’s not just leftists I’ve experienced this with but with right wingers as well especially religious right wingers.
No, you make a point and back it up unlike a pure nihilist (a doomer) which is actually rather refreshing in its own way.Its almost akin to how the free markets usually have depressions and bursting bubbles after a hot economy and time of massive growth. It seems like the end of the world and it means losing what progress is made, but people have to realize that during these bubble bursts and depressions they essentially get rid of or readjust bad investments, old ideas of the world, old technology, etc. and people cry for the government to help and step in to save these inefficient tools which of course often ends up in even more disaster as seen with the events and societies leading up to and putting in power the world’s most notorious dictators and even here in America today to a degree. New Deal anyone?
For me ecology is not necessarily one of the disciplines I find interesting so much as I do with economics, psychology, history, and spirituality and that’s possibly where the disconnect is. The topic of ecology and other natural sciences for me is already tied into each and every one of those topics in its own way that I don’t find a use or want in looking at it independently. I presume that’s what happens when your childhood curiosity and interests all conglomerate or change as you grow older and have less resources to study them in more detail.
JMG I remember the 70s. A school teacher told us that an Ice Age was coming and I think I remember seeing a tv show saying the same thing. Why did scientists get it so wrong back then?
Also I was looking at Russia’s population. Apparently they had “negative growth” aka decline due to the Rona. It’s funny how people can’t even bring themselves to use the word!!
@Ben Russia’s population has fluctuated quite a bit recently but I am not sure that population decline is a bad thing in a time of diminishing resources. I also believe many people are quick to dismiss Russia as they were subject to a lot of Cold War propaganda when they were young and impressionable. That said China could well have designs on Russian territory. It will be “interesting times” for sure.
Meanwhile, in Eastern Mediterranean countries…heat waves so very big fires:
Worst heat waves in forty years…
Oh, I phrased my question poorly – what I was wondering is that if there are over 7 billion people living now, presumably each with a unique consciousness and many lives yet to live, but only room for maybe 500 million at a time, how will that work?
Is it possible some of those alive now don’t have an inner light (lol, it often seems like many haven’t any consciousness at all)?
John, that was a great article. I’m curious as to how climate change will effect the uk. At the moment we have the Gulf Stream hat warms our islands. But as the ice caps melt and introduce fresh water reducing the salt content of the water it’s slowing down and will eventually switch off. There is a risk it will cause much longer cold winters and short cool summers and a significant impact on crop production. But with climate change increasing will it offset this? At the moment with the jet stream in the atmosphere meandering more widely the uk is now getting long hot spells and long wet spells rather than the usual regular influx of weather fronts coming in off the Atlantic so the effects are already being felt through more extreme weather events. None of which is helpful for ensuring good crop production, ie even worse than normal
I have found this year in Texas extremely surprising. I had expected it to get hotter and drier as time went on but this has been the coolest, rainiest summer I’ve had here (10 years now, but people who have lived here all their lives agree). I spent yesterday – an August day in central Texas – out on a river with friends and it was actively pleasant with a cooling breeze. We blew past our average annual rainfall totals by June or so. It seems like the West Coast got all our usual weather. I wonder if this is a trend or a fluke.
Hello JMG and Commentariat!
I think the aspect of decline with the potential for a very high level of sorrow, suffering and death (especially for sophisticated, first world people) is food. Or to be more precise: the lack thereof.
Growing a few tomatoes is easy. Joining a local veg-allotment is fun and a good way to connect with people. Turning your suburban yard into a food-forest is a great conversation starter. None of these things even begins to cover the annual caloric needs of even one family.
I think of the privations of Great Britain during WWII or the US during the Great Depression. Even with the high percentage of citizen farmers and local food producers (not to mention the robust commercial ag businesses ) yet both these societies suffered inordinately with regard to lack of food and increased hunger and nutritional deficiencies.
Best to be clear-eyed about what may lie ahead….
Cheers and best wishes to all
Does anyone know any good sources on how bad the fires are out west? If it’s bad enough to make the skies in Eastern Ontario hazy and bother my lungs, they must be pretty bad; but I can’t find good sources on just how bad we’re talking, which also tells me really bad…..
Also, I had a very strange thought: given that as a culture we feel a burning need to be unique; and we are currently erasing the massive evidence of decline in the past in order to avoid dealing with it now, I wonder if at some point when the realities of our decline are impossible to ignore we’ll hear people insisting no other society in history has ever declined….
@Ben #41 and JMG
A small data point on rainfall in the Southeast. I have lived in Georgia my entire life, nearly all of that in Atlanta except for brief periods a decade ago in Athens, Columbus, and Macon. It was long true that in deep south Ga, say Valdosta and similar, it thunderstormed every afternoon. Atlanta had plenty of rain, but no pattern that easily marked. These last few years Atlanta has increasingly had the start of a rainstorm most summer afternoons, but I’d guess they fail about half the time, and the successful showers are often on the lighter side. In winter Atlanta now often has very heavy rains that can last for up to a week, followed by time gaps ranging from a few days to several weeks between events. Macon a decade ago didn’t have these patterns as I recall, but I was deep in residency training and a bit oblivious. I cannot recall if brushfires in the grassland and pine tree farms in the band around Waycross were frequent before, but family just over the state line in Hilliard Florida reports they are fairly common these last dozen years.
This summer has been exceptionally wet for us and much cooler than usual. We’re a little obsessive about measuring precipitation here and in July, the month just past, we got an eye-popping 10.58″ on our farm. I think the local news mentioned that it was the wettest July since 1916 in Vermont, a welcome change from 2020 when we were in a moderate drought and had to watch every drop of water we used.
Our berry crops are doing spectacularly well, but other parts of the garden are battling downy mildew, especially the cucumbers and melons, not a surprise with all the precip. The newly-planted fruit trees will need a spray of copper to combat the fungal effects of too much rain too.
Last week the haze from western wildfires settled in the valleys here, a strange sight. Haven’t noticed any dead birds though and the local wildlife seems about normal: the bear that wanders around outside the bees’ electric fence at night, the red fox we see occasionally, the groundhog who lives under the shed out back, the bazillions of chipmunks that live in the old stone walls on the property and would steal the chicken food if they could only get into the coop. There’s a momma robin raising her third (!) brood so far this summer in the nest under the eaves of the barn; she gets awfully cross when anyone has to go into the barn.
JMG and all:
Regarding the Ecology Army™: Vermont is home to a lot of People Who Care Deeply About the Earth, but all in all I never really see any difference in the way they live versus pretty much anyone else, not that I would expect to. They do vote for the right politicians, so I guess they’ve got that covered, plus there’s all the consciousness retreats and such that are advertised on flyers at all the shops. I’ve never been to one – a retreat, that is – but I imagine it involves a lot of commiseration without much else since there isn’t any evidence they’re living differently than those of us who do not attend these seminars.
It is notable that the people who are quietly caring for the environment are not the elites, the higher-income types who wail about it all and like to point fingers at the people who vote for the wrong politicians, but rather the farmers whose livelihoods depend directly on its continuing health. I suppose it’s the same elsewhere too.
I like the idea of a landscape instead of an endpoint. I believe that people’s idea of time has something to do with the endpoint idea. Given today’s time is the upward pointing arrow, the future looks bleak with climate change. It wasn’t supposed to be that way.
But if the idea of time is cyclical, then it becomes a landscape. Where the seeds of the future are in the present and past. The present has to end for the future to begin.
What I see is a sense of trying to stop time to be the present, always. Instead allowing things to move on.
Perhaps it has to do with hubris – man is the final expression of life or something like that. Life has always found a way to continue. Perhaps the future is made up of intelligent squids. (Tentacles anyone?)
When the climate warms, the day and night cycles through the year still stay the same across latitudes.
That makes for interesting ecological arrangements with a warmer sun in a country where its long night and long
day through much of the year.
A interesting law I learned at University, just shortly remarked there, is that models tend to predict better
when they are more general. Every added detail or complexity makes the model less realistic;
That makes for an interesting contemplation how this fits with an esoteric world view.
You also cannot know the motion of each particle in a steam tank very well or model it, but you can easily
measure and model its pressure on average as the sum of all particle behaviours, or calculate.
A model adapted to a single factory, for how to place machines and find output bottlenecks for example, is
often made by engaging the managers and engineers of the company who know their factory by their own experience,
so they will formulate general principles they know about.
I think I find this law of generals reflected in the board game Catan and much more in the PC game “Civilization”, especially Civilization III.
Civilization was based on systems theory modelling I think, as was definitely Sim City, a legendary City building and managing
simulation from 1991.
If I look at my personal mental image of history out of what I have read and heard – in terms of geography, mixed with ecology, an overview of populations, cities,
down to the details of course to traces of everyday life in various epochs and places, mixed with economic thinking…-
then Civilization catches the core concepts of state leaderships most well, and in most general terms.
You start in history 5000 years ago and progress to our age and a little bit beyond. Your settlers found cities, embedded in a geography with terrain types (Woods, Grassland, Lake, Shore…).
These all have a mix of the basic economic units:
food, production and gold. You also have a few strategic resources, appearing when a successive technology as been researched, which can utterly hammer your leaderly pursuits
when you end up without them after a successful start. Because enemies can build tanks (oil) and you have only gunmen for example.
In your management you have all the generyl topics of history: where to develop land with your workers, how to lay your road network, recruiting military and commanding it,
keeping your populace happy , and diplomacy of course with your ambitious neighbour states ans empires.
The game has a technology tree that is a good attempt I think at catching the most important technological changes of history and their consequences.
Only lack of this games simulation is that after modernity, there is no real resource depletion phase, maximum is endless stagnation unless some contender wins
the game through total conquest, cultural victory, or building a rocket to lala land.
The later Sequels of Civilization, especially since number V, have added much complexity to your decision systems and alas, feels stiff and rather arbitrary, more
like an individual world view or ideology rather than universal principles of polity and ecology.
If another computer game should be produced it should be one other game of this type, added some modelling after Machiavelli and Limits to Growth…
@ Tim #84 – Hi there! I’ll try to reply in an orderly manner:
1 – The Isthmus of Panama – Thanks for the link and the feedback. It looks like the formation of the isthmus, and it’s impact on the climate, may not affect the future rainfall in North America that much, if it was already affecting rainfall patterns the last time the atmosphere contained this much CO2.
2 – Thanks for the info on the movement of the Hadley Cells. So far, the drying out seems to be affecting eastern Oklahoma a lot less that the western half of the state. The last major drought we had was 2011-2012. Before that, there was a drought in the mid-1950s, and the infamous one that caused the Dust Bowl in the early 30s. I’m wondering if, as the Gulf of Mexico expands, and the moisture that (currently) flows north from it, will intensify, even as the desertification encroaches from the west. I’m certainly no expert, but I’m speculating that one could almost use I-35 as a rough dividing line, with everything west of it getting drier and drier, and everything east staying (relatively) wetter. What do you think?
3 – Oh Russia. Dear, long suffering Russia. I lived in St Petersburg for a year. Humanity will lose a wonderful city when the Gulf of Finland puts it underwater…
1- According to the UN, the medium range scenario now has their population dropping to about 120 million by 2050, based on current fertility rates. Might this change? Sure. Right now, I’m assuming a shrinking population until the end of this century, at least.
2- As for foreign invasions; certainly, they will defend the Russian heartland to the last man. I doubt the will keep control of the lands east of the Urals. When that break happens depends on the continued rise of China, and mass migration out of Central Asia. Defeating an army on a battlefield is one thing, but the scale of genocide needed to keep out millions of migrants moving north into Siberia, I’m not sure even Stalin or Chinggis Khan would have been able to achieve. As those regions move culturally and ethnically away from European Russia, political control will slip out of the Kremlin’s grasp as well. I’m imagining a hundred Chechnya-style revolts against Moscow, scattered from Ekaterinburg to Vladivostok.
3- I agree that they will remain a potent military power for the next 50 years or so. Maybe even past 2100. But as high-tech weapons become unaffordable, and the resources get used up, warfare will devolve back to resembling something like the mid-19th century. I just doubt they will be able to project power much beyond the Urals past 2100. Maybe a new Cossack class will arise from the demise of the current Russian state? I could see that happening. The historical Cossack cultures formed along the lower Don and Volga rivers in the 17th century, and I think the Volga or the Don will form the heartland of the next great Slavic culture. Maybe a far future Cossack class will lead a reconquest of chunks of Siberia in the 28th or 29th centuries, after the coming dark age is over?
Thanks for the info and the response!
@ Buzzy – Thank you for that data point! As I mention in my response to Tim, Oklahoma’s climate seems to be splitting in two. The western half of the state (west of I-35) is definitely drying out, but the eastern half, especially the southeast, seems to be getting wetter, or at least not getting drier. We will see how long that trend holds…
Hi JMG. I was amused by this reply you made to a commenter:
“I’m delighted to hear that you know climate change activists who walk their talk; if that becomes more common, I’ll happily revise my views”, from which I inferred (I hope not incorrectly) that you do not “identify” (lol!) as a “climate change activist who walks their talk”… 😉
Even though I would hazard the view that your “walk”, insomuch as it can be seen, is eminently true to your “talks” on many, many themes – among which climate change does feature from time to time. 🙂
Here in the UK, the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman for COP26 drives an old diesel car and encourages the populace to buy shower gel in cardboard packaging and not scrape plates before they go into the dishwasher to save the planet. Allegra Stratton has no plans to buy an electric car – apparently, it has disadvantages in her circumstances.
I would say that the fear of drought would be reduced, and that drought could then be used as a weapon. Take CA and water. Our five year full reservoirs (2019) have been drained to the current critical stage for salmon and smelt, or for whatever reason. The current and upcoming emergency mania, although whisper quiet all year from authorities, will be very effective in changing the legal water rights held throughout the state. That’s probably a good thing. At least it’s a step in the right direction, maybe. I do believe that we are capable of making the weather, and that we’re actually quite good at it. If we’re on a path to control the planet, sun, galaxy, as some suggest we should be, then this is opening round 1, round 2 might be (https://earthsky.org/space/what-is-a-dyson-sphere/). What interests me is the choice we make of technologies, tie it down, take it apart and dominate it tech or manage whole systems, I don’t know, perhaps magically
I’ve lived in the Norfolk Va, area over 32 years. In that time Ive watched the sea levels rise so that even a high tide with breeze cause flooding. The cities are buying up buildings in flood areas, removing them, detoxing the land, and letting them revert to marsh. Many people are having their houses/ buildings raised on piles and buying small boats to get around in flood times. There has also been an ingress of plant and animal species not native, such as skunks, gators, and manatees. We have so many Eastern Coyotes that they brazenly hang out on the beaches, while “Do NOT feed the coyotes” signs proliferate.
Along with sea level rise, the land is sinking. This area has always been watery, so we are adapting. Several years ago they instituted “flood zones” A-D with A being the most likely to flood. Only once has A been told to evac. I live in zone C, so Im not in danger…yet. While I can afford to move to higher ground, the expense and wear on my body is not worth doing ,yet, if ever. I do want to mention that the first time I saw coyotes in the East was along the George Washington Parkway, in Va, right across the Potomac River from Washington DC. …in 1968! My reaction was “OMG!! Those aren’t dogs, those aren’t COYOTES!!!! *It wasnt “OMG” but JMG has said “NO profanity” *
I’ve been noticing something unusual here in the northeastern U.S.: people expressing appreciation and even gratitude for routine rain. This started during the Fourth of July weekend, which was rainy and unusually cool, almost chilly. That would normally have caused endless complaints about canceled beach trips and ruined barbecue plans and postponed fireworks; but with the ongoing news of extreme heat waves, drought, and fires out west, people seemed happy to make the best of it instead. Today the rain is pounding down again. I don’t know what the meteorologist personalities on TV might be saying about it, but my friends and neighbors and co-workers have been talking about the benefits to their gardens.
Such appreciation rarely lasts long, but for the time being, the astral current/flux (an almost literal wind of change) accompanying the smoke haze from the northwest is having some effect.
I wonder, might it have been wiser for all those artists and free spirits who gathered in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada all those years, if they’d celebrated, and invoked, water instead of fire?
You are wise to be considering Providence. We live in easternmost Connecticut, about an hour from Providence and go there often. It is a great little city, with everything you need or want, but not too much of what is unpleasant about many cities. If you don’t plan to live in the city, parts of Rhode Island are surprising rural; within half an hour of the city (about as far as you can go and still be in the state) are some lovely rural areas with amazingly low home prices.
And if you are feeling wealthy, there are beautiful farms south of the city, on the coast.
Practically speaking, you will need a car unless you live in the city or very nearby. In which case public transport is decent. Bikes work well in or near the city too.
If you do come to visit, don’t miss the athenaeum. It alone is a reason to move there.
A map of fires: https://fire.airnow.gov/
A map of “air quality”: https://www.airnow.gov/national-maps/
For contrast during the fires last fall the Air Quality for the whole west coast was basically orange/red/purple so then seems to have been worse than what we are seeing now (which is still quite bad).
Everyone is concerned about climate change and greenhouse gases until go on vacation. Or buy a car, boat, turn on the AC, mine bitcoin, etc. There is zero will to actually change anything. Change will be imposed by the uncaring hard limits of physics.
Greenland is politically a colonial possession of Denmark. Well, the Danes are probably calling it something else by now, but in reality, a colony. Geologically, I believe, it is part of Canada. As for us buying it, only a bankrupt real estate dealer notorious for not paying his bills could have come up with that one. We can’t afford it. We can’t afford it now, never mind what it is going to cost when the ice melts. I think it likely Greenland will become part of Scandinavia, with independence and maybe neutrality guaranteed by Canada. One area of the world I think will become wealthy and maybe even powerful in the coming century is Scandinavia. The Scots seem to agree, and I think would rather be part of the happening North Sea/Baltic area than tied to England in decline.
Kevin @ 104, For Western state fires, you need to look up the individual states, which post maps of current and recently contained fires, including the small ones. Mostly, the technicians don’t dare lie about how bad it is, because too many people rely on those maps to decide things like whether to evacuate their homes.
it varies depending on where in the west you are and which way the winds are blowing. Calgary has had smoke on the vast majority of days, Victoria only about 4 days this year, none of those badly. Vancouver is somewhat worse off than Victoria, but much better than Calgary. The BC interior is reportedly very bad, but I haven’t heard directly from people living there.
fruit and veg tend to be quite expensive and perishable compared to things like sacks of grain and lentils. One way to deal with substantially worse food situation is to grow whatever you can, buy flour/oats/lentils etc when they’re available at whatever stupidly high price, plus whatever drabs of nicer protein you can afford with whatever is left over.
This makes your food dollars go much much further than the standard diet in the west, and even a few basic steps in this direction can lower your food bill substantially and make you more resilient to food shortages and shocks. I went somewhat in this direction last year, and I could have gone a lot further if I’d really had to.
There are relatively few situations in which there is no food at all to be had. More often, there is some food, but it’s too expensive for the poorer end of the population and people get malnourished or outright starve.
re russia benefiting from climate change: long term this is likely true but the process of change does a number on arctic areas.
Judging from Canada’s experience:
-infrastructure gets wrecked by melting permafrost, and this is super expensive to replace and requires big investment which might not happen in a declining civilization
-winter and ice roads are operable less of the year, making entry and exit from isolated communities harder and more expensive
-natural food sources become less reliable (like caribou herds) as things change
-increased danger from rotten ice etc when hunting
-food prices and insecurity get worse
From what I’ve been able to learn, climate change is generally considered by the people living in the arctic to be a major threat, not a blessing.
Flooding is becoming more frequent in Michigan as we get more of the rain previously spread across the continent. Most Michigan houses have basements. That leads me to wonder how will homes be adapted to a wetter climate, while everything becomes more expensive. Basements may be kept as empty tornado shelters, mostly filled in as crawlspaces, or filled up to the floor joists. The costs of moving the washer, dryer, water heater, and furnace upstairs may nudge suburban depopulation, until woodburning stoves and washtubs become more common.
I notice that, whereas the Club of Rome comes in for a good amount of well-deserved derision for their subsequent visions of The Future, this particular publication has, thus far been above reproach.
Perhaps, after its publication, they became horrified at the implications and so subsequently spent their efforts to try and deny its reality. Having looked into the abyss of not-progress-as-imagined for the past 200+ years, they recoiled in horror, much like many of the jabbering inmates of the Arkham Asylum in Lovecraft’s tentacled world who just couldn’t cope with the realization that the world is vastly different from what they want it to be.
I wonder if the climate might not return to a much cooler equilibrium in less than a hundred years, based on what happened in the 1500s. The short version is that contact with the first European adventurers inadvertently introduced diseases that effectively wiped out most of the population of North America. The agrarian societies along the Mississippi and Ohio valleys ceased to be and vast forests grew up in a couple of generations. This period became noticeably cooler across the globe within a decade, the so-called mini-ice-age as a result. Side note, Sir Francis Bacon died of pneumonia because he wanted to find out if stuffing a freshly-killed chicken with snow would freeze and preserve it, i.e. they had real snowy winters in Europe. Bruegel painted skating on the icy canals as a regular event, after all.
As the population falls in accordance with the Limits to Growth prophecy, I’ll bet the amount of woodland will increase accordingly, hence the real carbon-capture-and-storage devices will expand rapidly, and the draw-down will drop the temperatures, and no need for the frantic antics and you-suffer-first policies to ‘save’ the planet.
I’d say, we’ll see, but I doubt we’ll be around quite that long. But some here might catch the start in 50 years or so.
Kevin J, – For fire info check out https://cwfis.cfs.nrcan.gc.ca/ha/nfdb and https://www.nifc.gov/fire-information/statistics/wildfires They’ve got current year stats as well as data for the last 40 years. The American wildfire stats are measured in acres while the Canadian ones are measured in millions of hectares, so some difference in scale!
It’ll be a fascinating mid millennium with nomadic tribes of Saskacens on camels.
I have been poking around the internet trying to find evidence for that near term peak in human population. This is what I found from the publicly available data:
The current global crude birth rate is ~17.8 per 1,000. For the last few years it has been declining, but only at a ~1% per year rate.
The current global crude death rate is ~7.6 per 1,000. For the last few years it has been increasing but at a rate of less than 1% per year.
That means we are still growing at about a rate of 10 per 1,000 per year (or 1% per year, about 80 million people).
So we are not really seeing the indications of a near term peak in the public data. Although the data for birth rates and death rates are moving in the direction that the study indicates, the rates are changing much more slowly than predicated .
Birth rates would need to fall by about 50% and death rate increased by about 20% to be at peak population. (for example)
Fire and smoke map:
Terrorists lead by example, but I’ve yet to be seduced.
I understand the desire for an abrupt, apocalyptic outcome. Anything less will not be perceived as a shock to the system, and whatever happens to us personally, will be written off as anecdotal.
I have lived long enough to witness a transition from a positive to negative global landscape. Can’t ask for more than that in one lifetime.
Please everyone, read up on Allan Savory and holistic management. His core message is that grazing animals managed right, can heal the carbon, mineral and water cycle of the land. Thereby reversing desertification. Grazing animals can in relatively short time increase the water holding capacity of the soil. Increasing the carbon in the soil. Carbon is excellent at holding water.
read the book dark emu, it talks about how the australian aborigines managed their landscape to be drought resistant and thriving. Usin controlled fires.
There is a lot that can be done to make the landscape resilient and thriving despite climate change. Grazing animals managed holistically is the nr 1 key, since they are long descent friendly 😉
@ team10tim – “the crappening” has a ring to it, in that it does not suggest anything happening fast. On the other hand, one of the tests that I see myself having to undergo, is to ensure that “the crappening” in material trappings does not produce any corresponding “crappening” of my spirit, of my outlook, of my dealings with others, of my capacity for deriving joy, satisfaction and contentment with whatever this life brings me.
May your own “crappening” times bring you blessings and unexpected satisfactions!
“I was wondering is that if there are over 7 billion people living now, presumably each with a unique consciousness and many lives yet to live, but only room for maybe 500 million at a time, how will that work”
Obviously they will have to queue up for reincarnation like good little souls. Though I’m sure some will trade their queue position for favors.
Thank you for the posting with respect to the Limits To Growth book. I’ve been wondering if would get any recognition as its 50th anniversary approaches.
1. Even if we are “special” it doesn’t matter. Nature is indifferent to us and every other species. Yet, this is too hard for many to grasp including those who think they are victims in some sense.
2. The recent spate of articles about the safest places to live during civilizational collapse are a hoot. Do they think they will remain that way when millions become ecological refugees? If you knew that to be true, wouldn’t you want to keep that information under your hat?
JMG: “Every complex system tends to settle into an equilibrium condition, held in place by a complex interplay of competing pressures and forces, and the behavior that comes out of this usually takes the form of random wobbles among a set of standard states.”
Planets orbiting around a star form a complex system that can wobble and settle into a new equilibrium. You can try this for yourself in a game called Super Planet Crash.
The aim is to get the maximum weight of planets orbiting stably for a thousand years. Small planets have a low gravitational force so don’t disturb other planets’ orbits much, but bigger planets have a major gravitational effect and cause other planets to go into a wobble and finally crash or get flung out into space.
Regarding the fires happening in the PNW(and Central Canada plains provinces), we denizens of the NOP have been so far spared of the worst of the smoke, indeed very high up, and very light. A couple of years ago we were not so fortuitous … receiving a double whammy of both Oregon and Califonia to the south .. Annnd from our British Columbia neighbors up across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
This year I scored 3 box fans from Big Home Improvement – being the ONLY ones to restock 2 weeks after the Great Heat Wave of 2021, as virtually ANY FAN was still unobtanium! .. at least from local sources. While there, I purchased 3 high quality furnace filters .. and stopped at the local lumber/hardware to buy 16 Simpson L-ties .. which I then affixed to the BACK of ea. fan housing (Your fans will appreciate the placement there of ..) with the tie slots such that one can secure said filters to the back fan grill by dropping ea. filter downward onto the bottom ties, next tightening them and the side ties, then completing by screwing on, and sliding in place, the last 2 ties. PRESTO! – we now have 3 PISAFUs (Poorman’s Interior Smokey Air Filtration Units..)
If the filters get too funky, just change them out for new ones.
I have a feeling that one of the places that will be changing rapidly is Central Oregon ( Bend etc.) As you have pointed out other places in the west will change over time, but Central Oregon on the eastern side of the Cascades is a transition zone that already had a dry climate but just enough moisture for certain kinds of trees. The Well-to-do from PDX ( plus many from California) attempt to retire, or live the WFH lifestyle ( much like your old haunt in Ashland. They always want to live among the trees. I have a feeling the length of time that it will take untill they are all wiped out be fire can be counted on the fingers of one hand.
The perfect storm may be gathering strength….
Prizm, thanks for this — it came through just fine. That really is an astonishing picture for Minnesota in the summer!
SecretDi, it’s anyone’s guess whether the US will be one country at that point, or whether it (or its successor states) will be up to invading anything. You may instead have a serious problem with dirt-poor illegal immigrants sneaking across the 49th parallel at night…
Lew, oh my. That’s too funny. Clearly Germany needs fewer high-tech warning sirens and more monks who know how to ring a bell!
Yorkshire, interesting. Thanks for this.
Abraham, well, there’s that!
Michelle, thanks for this. Me, I was attracted to ecology early and often, and have come to see history as the study of human ecology over time. But of course that’s just one perspective.
Bridge, they responded to the best information they had at the time. Current scientists who talk about global warming are doing the same thing. That’s not the problem; the problem is the culture of scientism that leads so many scientists to think that they have to pretend to omniscience in front of lay audiences, and deny their many mistakes in the past.
Chuaquin, I heard of that. Poor souls.
Twilight, to judge by older accounts of reincarnation, it was normal for souls to spend a lot more time out of incarnation between lives, so they could adequately process the experience of each incarnation. These days there are so many bodies to fill that souls are being sucked back into incarnate life when they haven’t had time to let go of the memories of their previous lives — this may be why so many people these days suffer from the feeling that they’re in the “wrong body.” They still remember their last one!
Averagejoe, I don’t happen to know. You might try looking up what the British climate was like during the Hypsithermal, and also during the Eemian, the warm period between the last two ice ages.
Breanna, fascinating. That sounds like the weather we’re having here in Rhode Island.
Court, that’s a major issue. Learning to provide at least some of your own food is crucial; bulk calories aren’t usually hard to come by, but vitamins and protein are something else again…
Kevin, I don’t have good sources for current fires — anyone else? As for “no one has ever declined,” well, one of my other readers got into an argument with a guy who insisted that no technological knowledge was lost when Rome fell, so we’re not far from that.
Buzzy, many thanks for the data points.
Beekeeper, thanks for this. No surprises there!
Neptunesdolphins, I think you’re right that people are trying to stop time. The tentacles always win in the end, though. 😉
Curt, it would be nice to see Decline of Civilization as a game!
Scotlyn, I’m not a climate change activist. I’m a peak oil activist. 😉
Stephanie, well, that’s refreshing!
Coboarts, well, obviously I disagree. I think human beings are a lot less powerful than that, and as for Dyson spheres, well, I had similar notions when I was young and took acid, too…
Marlena, I’m delighted to hear that the local governments are letting flooded land go back to salt marsh! That’s something that will help immensely in the transition to the deindustrial age.
Walt, I’ve certainly found this cool and rainy summer in Rhode Island very pleasant, but then I’m native to Seattle and this feels like home. 😉 As for your hypothesis, sure, but Soggy Man just doesn’t have the same ring to it. (And Drowning Man would be rather creepy in a different way…)
John, I ain’t arguing.
Lunchbox, many thanks for the data points.
Renaissance, the team that wrote Limits to Growth wasn’t the same group of people who wrote the later books, and I don’t think anyone tested the proposals in the later books using the World3 program! As for sudden cooling, that would require a lot of people to die in a hurry, rather than the relatively slow curve I expect — but if there is a sharp dieoff, yes, that could happen.
Skyrider, the paper I cited suggests that current estimates of birth and death may be off. Still, we’ll see.
Michael, (1) that’s one of the things I appreciate about H.P. Lovecraft. He gets the fact that the universe does not care about us and will not notice when we’re gone. (2) I figure those are just sales pitches for high-end real estate.
Martin, interesting. Thanks for this!
Polecat, thanks for this. That strikes me as a very clever gimmick.
Clay, that wouldn’t surprise me at all.
Jeanne, it’s more likely to be an imperfect storm, but yes, I think we’re approaching crunch time.
The AMOC will collapse… maybe… we don’t know when. Maybe soon. Maybe later. Maybe never. BUT WE JUST CAN’T ALLOW THIS TO HAPPEN!
I’d like to emphasize the “WE” even more. “WE” can’t allow this to happen… “WE” think that anybody cares for what “WE” think is right or not. George Carlin has framed this nicely in his piece “Saving the planet”:
“And the greatest arrogance of all: Save the planet! […] The planet is fine, the people are f!@$ed. Difference!”
But our prospective green chancellor Baerbock knows better: “Who wants to save the climate has to build windmills!”
It is interesting that the first of the curves on the Limits to Growth Model that peaks and begins to decline is the one for industrial output. It is interesting because that is exactly what we are seeing now. The official narrative is always one of ” a chip shortage” , ” a random fire in a key factory”. or “shipping bottlenecks”. But I think we have to face that fact that for any number of reasons, well detailed in LTG, industrial output is sputtering. Our current regime of printing money to cover things up only makes this more confusing. In distopian fiction a future world of shortages is usually depicted as something that everyone grudgingly accepts. But I have a feeling that 20 years from now some people will still be visiting the tumble weed caked car dealership hoping to find out if the super 550 mega pickup they ordered many years earlier was going to come off backorder.
Periodic long droughts have been a feature in the American West for several thousand years…California wasn’t settled until the 1700s because of a 100+ year drought so severe that the coastal Chu Mash Indians were driven up into the mountains…For a good scientific read on all this, I recommend The West Without Water…https://s3-us-west-1.amazonaws.com/themarinpost/doc/1249/Blog_-_A_Must_Read_-_The_West_Without_Water_6-15-16.pdf
“history doesn’t stop with us, and change will continue to unfold into the far future the way it has all through the past.”
Indeed. I’ve just read Steven Mithen’s After the Ice: A Global Human History, 20,000–5,000 BC and Jared Diamond’s Collapse. The clear takeway is that climate change is a constant in human history and people migrate or adapt, populations wax and wane, civilzations rise and fall, all in their own inevitable and unalterable rhythm.
Nature pays little heed to either end of the apocalypse/Tomorrowland denial spectrum.
@ team10tim @ Scotlyn
We can now add one more data point to The Crappening – even the “vaccines” don’t work anymore.
I’ve found that turning away from The Crappening is actually an uplifting experience and need not necessarily involve a reduction in material trappings. Take growing your own food as an example. The quality of anything grown in the backyard is better than the supermarket alternative in almost every case. If ever I’m trying to convince somebody to grow their own food it’s never on financial grounds but on taste grounds. And I find that anything I produce myself is preferable to things that I can buy even if they aren’t aesthetically as pleasing. I prefer simple things that I understand over complex things that I don’t. It removes a lot of underlying anxiety. In that way The Crappening can be “spiritually uplifting” as long as you are prepared to no longer need to keep up with the Joneses.
A great post and a reminder to keep improving my little 1/4 acre.
The better my soil is, the more water it holds with every rainfall.
Son and daughter will inherit a paid-for, improved house with the means to grow a lot of food and a way to keep somewhat cooler in hot summers. They even have some knowledge and hands-on experience.
What more can we do for our children than give them a fighting chance like this one?
The other reason to improve my 1/4 acre is I don’t know what will survive. Every critter and plant that’s here has a better chance than it otherwise would.
Marlena, Manatees! Maybe someone will introduce river dolphins, which seem to be going extinct in Asia.
The proof for global warming was when armadillos started showing up in Missouri (about 10 years ago).
Hi John Michael,
Yeah, to quote Yogi Berra, the future ain’t what it used to be! 🙂 He’s pretty funny, that bloke.
We’re in lock down again. It was announed late in the afternoon yesterday and came into effect at 8pm last night. Fortunately my lady and I had just enough time to get to the local pub for a pint and a feed before it closed, and it was a travesty to eat at such an early hour of the evening, but one must make do in trying times and the pub is of course one of the more important things in local rural life. Incidentally I’m now unable to travel more than 3.1 miles from home, and the pub and the general store are the only two businesses within that distance, and as the recent amusing song suggested: The pub is now shut, and that’s not on. 🙂
I dunno, but I’m kind of pondering the question that if someone else is asking small to medium businesses to commit Seppuku, a good argument can be made that you shouldn’t necessarily follow that instruction – which they at the upper end of town don’t seem to be following. And that theme also plays out in your fine essay this week. I enjoyed the essay immensely and I get comfort from the thought of deep time.
For your interest, it’s getting wetter and hotter here. I doubt very much whether I’ll see any snow this year. Crazy stuff. And the climate history suggests that when the oceans and atmosphere warm up, it gets wetter in parts of down under – when it doesn’t swing into serious drought. People should be alarmed at the extra rainfall, because conventional agriculture and processes does not perform well in such conditions – forests do pretty nicely though. We’re physically altering the landscape here to take this likely outcome into account, whilst doing something passive with all that extra water. Ferns work well. I like ferns.
@JMG, Did you see this?
Yeah, thumbs down on “Soggy Man” and “Drowning Man,” and in any case there’s no use completely flouting the site’s genius loci. “Adequately Hydrated Man” would do. 😉
I have also seen the world through the lens of systems theory for quite a few years. At least us here in the west, it feels as though the whole of society is becoming more and more chaotic, at least at a cultural and economic level, largely fueled by the high degree of connectivity afforded by the internet.
One of the metaphors by complexity theory is the image of “Dancing Landscapes” – if you are trying to optimize for, say, a good career and good income, there may be certain “hills you can climb” to get to where you want to go. However as things become more chaotic, the landscape changes under your feet.
For an example of how to profitably respond to such high degrees of uncertainty, I think it pays to look at the “Boomer” Generation in Mainland China who navigated massively chaotic shifts during the lifetime, from the cultural revolution to the reintroduction of a market economy, and rise of China as an industrial power.
From what I can tell of my Chinese friends’ parents who navigated the chaos well, the watch-word is to look before you jump, but don’t look too far ahead, and make sure to jump quick. If you see a trend, assume it will be profitable for 5-10 years max, invest your time/money fast, then cash out as the wave crests and it loses profitability.
Not exactly a model of slow and steady “sustainability,” as this blog is known for. But as a youngish person (31-yo) it’s hard to be certain that any career will be for the long term. Feels like “creative destruction” will continue apace as tech continues to eat the world. Throw in this creeping desertification of entire continents, and it’s hard to imagine what growing old will look like at all.
You’re welcome. I hope you enjoy it. I loved it and most of the people I know did, too. As JMG said, archaeologists who take themselves overly seriously hate it, but those who are more easy going love it. I think for the later, it’s a reminder not to let their theories run amuck.
Add my voice to the kudos for this essay. Read the other day that the West Coast US needs to follow Saudi Arabia’s example and install desalination plants to harvest water from the Pacific Ocean.
After seeing it mentioned various places online, I’m just now reading Joseph Tainter’s The Collapse of Complex Societies. In trying to understand Rome, I glean from Tainter that as Rome was in expansion phase, they succeeded around the Mediterranean basin. Roman generals confiscated everything from conquered countries and brought all back to Rome so conquest paid for itself. They brought back slaves (for the military and general servitude), riches, art, plunder, basically anything that wasn’t nailed down, so military conquest paid for itself at first.
Romans NEVER conquered Persia. Cautionary tale. Yes, as Rome extended as far as Britain/Hadrian’s Wall, maintaining the far-flung Roman Empire faltered, failed, and Rome shrank back in on itself. Agriculture output was stressed. Taxes were raised until peasants couldn’t pay up any longer and taxation could not maintain a far-flung military..Emperors tried currency debasement: shaving off slivers of gold and silver coins to make them go farther and other monetary and account tricks. It’s interesting to me that after WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, the US military made no effort to bring plunder, monies, treasure, art, gems, and slaves back to the mainland US. Imagine what overpopulation in the US would look like now. Much better to set a good example and receive immigrants as they are motivated by the US example.
“Many have noticed that nearly all the proposals the left is offering would, as usual, benefit the middle and upper middle classes at the expense of the working classes and the poor.”
Once you know to look for this, you see it everywhere. Take vehicle emissions testing, for instance. The cars most likely to fail are older cars, which tend to be driven by working-class people, in contrast to newer cars driven by managerial-class people. The cost to fix emissions problems are a substantially greater burden on the working class than they would be on the managerial class, and working-class jobs can’t be done from home while the car is being fixed, unlike managerial-class jobs. JMG, I have a lot of respect for you for staying out of the mess that is car ownership.
The first is something I wrote in a comment on Sharon Asytk’s FB group the other day.
It was that I could say that I had a wonderful financial product which was almost guaranteed to add $100-200 a month to your retirement income, and get huge interest from people but if I said I can teach you to garden, live simply and more frugally, and it would not only save you $100-200 a month during your retirement, but probably make your life better, and all I’d get would be the sound of crickets.
The second is something I saw in a post tonight:
“I just told my wife I’m sorry we had to raise children in these dystopian times.”
And she recalled a quote she had read.
“Never feels sorry for raising dragon slayers in a time there are actually dragons.”
@JMG @Tony: “Crowther found that there are approximately 3.04 trillion trees exist on the planet today… We have chopped the total number of trees in half since the advent of humans on our surface.” https://blog.tentree.com/fact-check-are-there-really-more-trees-today-than-100-years-ago/
How much would it cost to plant and nurture appropriate trees? I don’t really know, but I’m going to assume $100 each. So, $100 Trillion for 1 Trillion Trees. That’s obviously really expensive, but consider that our collective “World’s $281 Trillion Debt Pile Is Set to Rise Again in 2021”. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-02-17/global-debt-hits-all-time-high-as-pandemic-boosts-spending-need
About $300 Trillion, by my seat of the pants reckoning (anyone have significantly different numbers with backing?)
So, for about 1/3 of the world’s current deficit — pretty nearly all of which has been run up in the last 50 years, if we consider that until 1984 the US was still a net creditor nation and debt stayed pretty constrained and balanced until about 1971 (https://wtfhappenedin1971.com/) and use that as a general guideline for the world.
So it took 50 years to create this problem. And THEN if we consider that “Switching from fossil fuels to low-carbon sources of energy will cost $44 trillion between now and 2050” https://www.technologyreview.com/2014/05/15/172849/how-much-will-it-cost-to-solve-climate-change/
The thing about trees, though, is they can sort of pay their way, and even produce a revenue stream if we try to pick our trees intelligently in terms of nitrogen-fixers, food production, succession, etc. And if we did it in stages, over 30 or so years, it seems not even all that hard. How could we bootstrap the funding?
My favorite idea is to double the cost of throwaway plastics, with 100% of that “tax” committed to tree planting. https://unctad.org/news/global-plastic-trade-40-bigger-previously-thought-study-finds says “Trade in primary forms of plastics was worth $348 billion in 2018 and reached some 196 million metric tonnes, accounting for around 45% of global primary plastics production. For other categories, trade is less significant, with a larger share produced and consumed domestically.” $348 billion – And that doesn’t include cleanup costs nor the other 55% of economic value in plastics. And is likely a gross underestimate, I suspect — given that the same article acknowledges that we just discovered the previous estimates were wildly low.
My favorite candidate for additional source money is a 1% tax on all equity trading. “The total value of global equity trading worldwide was 34.8 trillion U.S. dollars in the fourth quarter of 2020.” per https://www.statista.com/statistics/242745/volume-of-global-equity-trading/. Consider that stock trading adds virtually NOTHING in productive value. Yes, the initial IPO and additional rounds sold to the markets, raises capital for new and growing companies, but trading itself is not even a zero-sum game and is quite akin to gambling – a pure vice if we look at the whole system. Anyway, 4x$35 trillion is $140 trillion, and 1% would be $14 Trillion per year – with NO real impact on productive goods and services. Again, stock trading of existing stocks produces nothing in real economic value.
Personally, one of the things (there are others) which make me most suspect that governments of the world, and, especially the Davos scoundrels, view climate change more as another extraction racket is that they aren’t really proposing choosing something which COULD likely be done. Everything seems to be just another boondoggle when I consider the stupid things governments do year after year and the sheer waste and Ponzi of our monetary system.
I’d appreciate further thought or estimates on how to pull off this project. It seems pretty win-win, to me, if not run as another Davos/psychopath extraction racket. If the various schemes being promoted instead by government “workers”, PIgman Gore, et al make more sense, I’d like to know why. Just standing under a tree is a joy which can be shared by all without costing anything.
On the Alexei Yurchak book just going by the part I was able to read it was a really good book! The founding creeds and the growing gap between the earlier hope those creeds promised from what one actually saw happening was all over the USSR and has parallels in the U.S.
How about this one –
*hand on heart for the Pledge*
“One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”
This is what it has since become:
“One nation, under God, with diversity and safe spaces for all (except Deplorables).”
The Faithful still Believe…
Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Hordes,
We are trampling out the vintage where the Grapes of Wrath are stored;
We hath loosed the fateful lightning of a terrible swift sword
Our Truth is Marching On…
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our Truth is marching on.
I have seen Us in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps,
We have built up altars on the Evening News and bluestamps;
We can shout a righteous sentence through any din or online rants:
Our Day is marching on.
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our Truth is marching on.
We hath sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat;
We are sifting out the hearts of men before Our judgment-seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer! Be jubilant, my feet!
Our Truth is marching on.
****a Panda wanders off humming****
When they first mentioned Trump’s notion of buying Greenland from Denmark, they made it sound like it was just him being a moron, but then I remembered that the US already bought islands from Denmark – the US Virgin Islands, which used to be the Danish Virgin Islands.
Ian Welsh is a Canadian and has mentioned in his blog that if Canada wishes to retain its autonomy, it must prepare to protect it.
Phil, that sounds lovely actually. I do motorcycles and bicycles because they are less polluting than cars and much more fun. The fact that you just said there are also rural areas is a major selling point and also that housing is relatively cheap, since I don’t have much money to spare. I won’t miss the place you mentioned.
JMG, I won’t say anything then, I don’t want to ruin your mental image with the harrowing pictures I took before I fled for home to pass the pandemic.
@Simon: I can’t find my original source, but here is a decent-looking paper:
Greater river activity on the eastern coast and more rainforests in the northern parts of Australia.
Hello JMG and the Commentariat.
I’d like to expand on Curt’s post above regarding applying system theory principles to game design, two areas I’m rather comfortable dealing with.
4X (explore/expand/exploit/exterminate) video games such as Civ and its sequels (and counting offshots such as Alpha Centauri and the like) are linear and monotonical (in the mathematical sense) because softwares need predictability and stability, two things that are jeopardized when one adds retroaction loops in the mix. I’m still playing Sid Meier’s Civ I from time to time and the only two things that impede the player are unrest and pollution, two issues that can be dealt with rather easily in the game. I don’t know that much about the sequels but I think the core game model remains largely the same.
Boardgames for that matter are a lot richer in impeding mecanisms, especially those designed by germans designers such as Uwe Rosenberg, Klaus Teuber or Friedmann Friese. I’m glad Curt mentionned Catan because it is the ur-example of such mecanisms put in place to prevent one player from gathering all resources. Agricola which is Uwe’s cult classic has similar features but many more and not based on random.
I’m also taking advantage of this comment to answer a question Darkest Yorkshire asked me below JMG’s open post from June : How complex would have a game based on JMG’s Retrotopia been? My intent was to set up two negative retroactions, one player-wise: the more you develop unsustainable techs the more you and other players get pounded by the game and one board-wise: a kind of climate clock. This game is in my own development hell because implementing such features proved kinda hard. I’m developping a card-based game loosely based on Machi Koro and Innovation and featuring cards for techs and buildings with a consistent pollution-based negative feedback. Once tested I may use it to serve as a basis for a Retrotopia-like version. The core mecanism is that a player sets up techs and buildings that have disminishing returns over time and should either switch to more advanced tech/building at the cost of more impediments or revert to less advanced ones (retrovation as JMG puts it cleverly).
Speaking of environmentalist groups – I do like when I stumble across groups that actually seem to get the problems and provide reasonable solutions.
For instance, the group ‘Stay Grounded’ – https://stay-grounded.org/
They are a group that are entirely against air travel. They propose not traveling as far, as often and if you have to, use things like trains. A very simple and effective message.
Martin Back #134, I’m playing it now. Using only two planets I managed to pinball one out of the system in two seconds. 🙂 I’d like a version where the point is to set up eccentric orbits. Get some tidal heating and volcanoes going and see how long they can keep themseves warm after the star dies.
Thanks for your reply. I agree with your assessment that most food crisis are about distribution and access and not outright absence of anything to eat.
The point I am trying (poorly😜) to make is that in the 1930’s Americans who raised and processed a very significant portion of their food supply were considered not only
normal but prudent, thrifty and wise. By the 1950’s anyone growing their own food on a homestead scale was viewed as a bit loony and backwards (unless of course they were Mormon😉). This view certainly didn’t apply to commercial farmers, even if they were small scale nor did it effect the backyard hobbyists who tended a plot for nostalgic reasons. The point being that if you were trying to feed yourself and family, you weren’t onboard with the whole prosperity and success that a modern lifestyle (aka commercialism) provided.
Fast forward to the 2020’s and think we have a population who are shockingly ignorant of where food comes from, how is gets processed (into something that can stock a winter larder) or the amount of mental and physical labor that the whole process takes.
Since food and its preparation has always been a fascination for me personally, it stands to reason that it is the aspect of “THE CRAPPENING” (brilliant marketing btw!😂) I am routinely focusing on.
Cheers to you Pygmycory and all.
Along the lines of many of your pieces, JMG, about renewables not necessarily offering us quite the rosy future they promise, my own state has been busily installing huge battery banks to balance out the renewables, and this very safe and reliable technology… burst into flames. It burned for four days before fizziling out.
And of course, residents were asked to stay inside with windows and doors closed to protect their from the toxic smoke of the green technology. Ahem.
As my son has learned as a mantra: “good, fast and cheap – choose one, get one, choose all, get none.”
I totally agree with the author. It’s neither an either or scenario. In the future, it’s not going to be the Little House on the Prairie or a Mad Max world. When our current fossil fuel based system declines to the point it is no longer useful and collapses, life will be hard because our current way of life was built from it. In the end as we have always done in the past, people will adapt and survive and learn to rebuild.
Thanks for this essay! I’ve been thinking about this a little this year because there are severe droughts on the other side of Canada, but where I live in Southern Ontario we have seen so much rain. It’s been a great year for gardening as a result and I’ve never had such success at it. It’s the first year that is noticeably more success than failure, and considerably so (I think I’m closing in on the 5 year mark of taking this project seriously – which I believe is when you noted that people tend to “get the hang of it”).
I did wonder if the carbon from forest fires (we’ve had a few days of air pollution advisories here as you mention from all the travelling smoke) is helping us out a little too. Everything is green and lush and producing enough to be used at every meal. Working from home is a nice boost too as I’m able to tend to things every morning from dawn till my workday starts and then again at lunch for a bit, and sometimes after work too. As always it’s a great time to talk to the neighbours, and it lets you exchange produce, share seedlings, and talk about techniques and the results of different experiments.
This year I have been trying to grow plants next to larger perennials (and also in some cases right in the same space as each other) and have discovered that they actually seem to love it, so I plan to incorporate this sort of companion gardening into the future as it means there is much more useable room. Also we have many bees this year, and I am never out there without seeing several at work anywhere I look – I have always seen them around, but I don’t remember it like this before.
I got a notion to consider with the weather. This could be selection bias, but it seems to me like the weather, has gotten much more wack over the last year plus. I wonder if that is caused by covid restrictions. Sounds moonbat crazy, eh, but consider the following.
Air travel contrails reflect a lot of light, both away from the earth, but also back to the ground. There was a theory I came across called global dimming, suggesting that pollution and contrails and all that were dimming the sunlight to the Earth by a modest amount. It was given some backing by 9/11 flight restrictions back in ’01. The limit of air travel did not last long enough to cause average temperatures to change an amount that could be picked out of the noise of random variation, but in a couple of nights the average different between day time and night time temperatures did change by a significant degree. No planes, no contrails, less day light reflected to space, less infrared escaping to space at night. The source I seen on global dimming, a decade ago so my memory is not detailed, made thee claim that the effect was decreasing global temperatures by most of a degree C.
So by suddenly limiting air travel, and generally rapidly shifting driving patterns, we have changed the scale and distribution of human made albido, and this is making the poorly balanced climate patters wobble extra.
Or I could just be looking too deep for patterns. Either way the weather this year seems to be implying the climate pressures could be reaching a point where they going to be making few places safe from the weather, and fewer still safe from the refugees. hrmph.
Thanks, JMG. Really good, factual information. I sent this to friends and relatives, the response? ……..crickets.
@kfish: I am not an Australian, but the link you sent refers to the Last Glacial Maximum. In that case, the eastern coast of Australia would behave rather like western North America, which was wetter at the LGM than now.
If you read Zerohedge website, you’ll see today an article about how electric vehicles cost 1.6 to 2.3 times more to service than internal combustion engine cars.
Of course they do.
It may not be the primary reason behind the push to end production of ICE vehicles, but the opportunity to get all of the Deplorables out of their wasteful and unnecessary pickup trucks and into expensive-to-maintain (and therefore less useful) EVs is certainly a bonus for the Powers That Be, who don’t really want the little people driving at all. And now the current administration in Washington – whoever is actually in charge – wants half of all vehicles produced to be zero emission (electric) by 2030, that’s less than a decade. Even I can see huge problems with that.
General question to commenters (JMG, please delete if not appropriate this week): What utterly ordinary things have you gone to the store lately to buy that were completely out of stock? Things that, maybe a year or so ago, were always on the shelf and you didn’t give it a second thought? Yes, we all know about the toilet paper.
-Yesterday I was in a big box store to pick up a simple bottle of Naproxen. Nothing but emptiness where Naproxen should have been. There was some Tylenol and aspirin available, but that’s about it.
-There are no canning supplies on the shelf in the stores, although I found one place over in New Hampshire with a good supply of jars. No lids or rings, though; if you want to re-use your old jars you might be out of luck. Lehman’s, supplier to the Amish, has a waiting list for new canning lids.
-Pet food, especially the better brands of canned wet food, is hit-or-miss these days.
It seems odd the way that everything was rolling along as usual, Covid hit, then suddenly all sorts of other ordinary things went sideways and don’t seem to be rebounding. I don’t want to sound all tinfoil hat, but sometimes I wonder if this is not entirely accidental. I’m starting to buy stuff when I see it at the store that isn’t on my shopping list right now, but will be in a month or so, just because I don’t know if it will be available when we need it.
anthonyeuclare @ 154, So called Medicare for All is a prime example, which is why a host of loud influencers in their dreams are trying to get some of the newer members of the House to sign on to it. M4A is, in fact, from a working class person’s perspective, lousy public policy, nothing but a give away of public money to various private interests, and a jobs program for middle class and upper middle class persons, just like the welfare offices are today. What we need is some kind of price controls on pharmaceuticals and a national health service with local, easy to get to, clinics. The Republicans will obstruct the former and the Democrats will never consider the latter because their “woke” constituency does not want to have to go to work in the impoverished people’s neighborhood. Ever wonder why the welfare offices always seem to be downtown or outside the city limits, never within reasonable walking distance of most of the clients?
Jenxyz #153, with Operation Paperclip the US plundered Germany of its high technology, scientists and engineers. 🙂
Sebastien Louchart #161, my favourite board games were Scotland Yard and Escape From Atlantis. In the latter the island progressively disappeared under you. 🙂
There are several headlines about the ocean “conveyor belt” weakening. Nearly 20 years ago the Pentagon made a geo-global assessment of the possibilities. Although outdated, it is still an interesting read. –JD
@Tony I get a ton of news stories about how such-and-such trees are actually creating carbon somehow. The rainforest especially. Take the time to read them though, and they’re still garbage. Forests and the complex systems of fungus they contain are still the best carbon sinks and no matter what people on Reddit say it’s not inevitable that a forest will burn. Not anymore inevitable than it is a house will burn, probably less.
As for what Gnat said about trees costing $100 a piece? That is Bloomberg and their ilk attempting to make the planting of trees into some kind of money-making enterprise. Even with AI, GPS, and a load of bureaucrats, trees are still cheaper than the land we’re putting them on in a capitalist market. The tree in a suburban backyard has to be fertilized, protected from pests, pruned, and otherwise coddled so that it will survive. Trees in the wild, not so much.
The best tree-planting charities do it for less than a dollar per tree, and they have plenty of money to advertise and teach people in central Africa (where most of the tree-planting is going on right now, when not being done by the Chinese or the Dept. of Natural Resources) how to monetize their new trees.
If we were really serious about getting new forests instead of making a Wall Street game out of it, we’d take all of the seed-containing hot mulch that is created from raked leaves in the suburbs and trees being cut down around (mostly suburban) houses, parks, etc and instead of spraying it with poisons we’d spread it on wastelands and just let nature take its course. Then the cost of trees would be the cost of fuel to get the mulch there. Instead the public thinks that forests have to be carefully generated with AI programs and trees have to be watered weekly for years so that they don’t die.
It’s like those in charge are saying that we can only feed the homeless gourmet meals in carefully calculated positive-feng-shui buildings.
Nachtgurke, yes, I saw that, and chuckled. That “WE” might not have any say in the matter, that Gaia does what she wants to do and will never even notice their shrieks of outrage, is beginning to trickle into their darkest dreams. When they actually grasp that inescapable reality, things will get really weird for a while.
Clay, excellent! I was thinking the same thing — and was planning on discussing it in an upcoming post.
Pyrrhus, that’s also true, but the droughts become more severe when the planet is warmer, and less severe when it’s cooler.
Teresa, that strikes me as an eminently sane approach.
Anne, that’s a very good piece of evidence. The fact that manatees are showing up in coastal Virginia, and opossums are all over the US these days — they used to be purely a southern phenomenon when I was a kid — are others.
Chris, I know that during the lockdowns here in the US, there were a lot of businesses that refused to comply and whole networks sprang up for people who wanted to get together anyway. I hope folks are doing the same thing down your way…
David, yep. It won’t be the last time.
Walt F, funny. “Guzzling Man,” maybe? 😉
Nico, I ain’t arguing. My route to relative prosperity has involved a lot of sudden jumps and moment-by-moment improvisation, for what it’s worth.
Jenxyz, and where are we going to get the energy to power all those desalinization plants?
Anthony, an excellent example. Thank you!
David, two solid points.
Gnat, sure. In theory, it’s possible. You might see if you can get any significant interest in making it happen.
Sébastien, so what you’re saying is that computer games by definition teach people to expect less complexity than the real world provides. That makes a great deal of sense…
Michael, I’m delighted to hear about them!
Hackenschmidt, oh my. Funny. Predictable — Tesla products seem to have quite a penchant for bursting into flames — but funny.
Rod, good. I’ve been saying this for years.
Johnny, that’s fascinating. I don’t know of any studies of the effect of forest fires on plant fertility downwind but wood ash is an excellent fertilizer. It would be a fine irony if the drying out of the west were to turn the eastern half of the continent into thriving gardens…
Ray, it’s not crazy. I don’t know if you’re right, but it’s certainly worth investigating.
Mac, of course! Most people don’t want to think about this stuff.
John, many thanks for this.
As I often tell others in the Willamette Valley about our likely future climate “Portland will be Fresno, Fresno will be Phoenix, and Phoenix will be toast.” Still better to be here than on the other side of the Cascades, which will be the Sahara.
I think this essay represents our likely future, though the quibble I have with JMG is about who is to blame. I know a lot of people concerned about climate who cut out flying and don’t eat beef and take a lot of trips by bicycle. Doesn’t seem to have inspired a lot of others to do the same. The left may not have done a lot to help the situation, but it was a very intentional disinformation campaign from the right that still keeps many from acknowledging climate change as a scientific truth.
That said, we lost the battle in 1988, when James Hansen went before congress to warn what was happening, and the response was a collective shrug. Turns out that regardless of political persuasion, people really like their extrasomatic energy and aren’t keen on giving it up willingly. So nature will impose those limits, much more brutally than otherwise had to happen.
Mary Bennett #145 Yes! Manatees!! They use the intracoastal waterway to meander here from farther south. There are 2 of those, the older one being sleepy and peaceful most of the time. Even runs through Great Dismal Swamp. The gators use the same waterways . The critters like the skunks and coys just walk, and of course “birds have wings, they go places”. Years ago when I lived out in the far burbs, my semi-feral porch cats adopted a young possum.
My guess would be… mainly the depressed and pessimistic ones 😉
Though I get a general sense that more and more people are waking up to the realization that snide social commentator’s snide comments about bread and circuses and America as the new Rome might have some truth to them after all.
Apocalypse is a word that gets bandied about a lot these days, but it feels like we might be heading toward one in the original sense of the word. Much like the Soviet collapse, there may come a point in the near future when America wakes up to the hard truth of decline as it smacks us repeatedly in the face and we realize we were living in this Potemkin nation all along. Granted, it won’t be the Great Awakening or the Come to Jesus moment several movements are hoping will happen to whatever pet cause they champion, but I can imagine a kind of national acceptance of reality, followed by a national shrug and a national moving on to the next emergency like post-Soviet peoples did. Perhaps instead of all at once, the Great Reveal will unfold just like decline is unfolding around us right now. That is, unequally and spread across time and space with pockets of folks falling off the shrinking island of the ignorant until a new equilibrium is reached and we all realize we live in a different world as a matter of course. Then again, I never underestimate the ability of Americans to be absolutely deaf tone and unaware of the reality around us and a “President” may continue to meet with their “cabinet” in a “White House” long after the nation they pretend to govern ceases to be.
gnat – A 1% tax on financial transactions is not a bad idea, but you can forget about collecting 1% of the current flow in those transactions. A 1% tax would make a vast number of those transactions unprofitable, so they wouldn’t happen at all. That might be a good thing, actually, to increase the “viscosity” of highly-liquid transactions. The financial wizards at the non-bank banks would also figure out how to execute non-financial financial transactions, to avoid the tax.
Getting back to the point, of planting more trees, how long can it go on before all of the available land is planted? The obvious solution, at that point, is to clear-cut the tract (“harvesting biomass”) so it’s ready to receive new plantings. We can keep planting trees “forever” (if we don’t insist that they grow to maturity).
@Niko Boyo: Remember, China had its Crisis Era in Mao’s day, so the Chinese contemporaries of the Western Boomer Generation would be a Civic Generation equivalent to our Greatest or Millennials. Who had equally chaotic, rapidly shifting lives of the same sort.
JMG – A howler from the Washington Post: “Many economists believe infrastructure spending can help alleviate inflationary pressures by improving the nation’s productivity. But Republicans and tax experts warn that long-run U.S. deficits could spiral out of control.”
When the current amount of U.S. Total Public Debt Outstanding is $28,427,684,511,594.88 (https://fiscaldata.treasury.gov/datasets/debt-to-the-penny/debt-to-the-penny), there is, indeed, a possibility that deficits could “spiral out of control”. Perhaps this has already occurred?
(By the way, the terms “debt” and “deficit” are often used interchangeably, incorrectly. The annual deficit is the change in debt over the year. Or, you could say that the debt is the running total of all prior deficits. I seem to remember when a $350 billion DEBT was a scary possibility (1968, sourced above); now they’re talking about $350 billion in additional deficit just from this one infrastructure bill!)
@womensatlasrc _ I love your idea of gathering up raked leaves (which I used to ask my neighbors to give me for my own backyard mulch) and tree trimmings to spread on wastelands – what wastelands would there be locally? Empty lots? The edges of roadsides? What Stephenson (in Anathem) called the “tidal zone” between the end of the city and beginning of the country, which he described as cluttered with tossed cans and beverage cartons, etc?- and – Do you know any Eagle Scouts looking for a project?
I have passed this on to a friend who owns a house on the outskirts of Klamath Falls, with proper attribution, of course, and asked her exactly that – do you know any Eagle Scouts?
Speaking of ecological succession in California, google streetview for Paradise City CA has been updated since its razing by fire. It will be interesting to see how the succession happens over the next decade. If the trees don’t come back, I guess it will at least be safer with only grass to burn. It may even make sense to buy properties at fire sale prices for reselling to people fleeing southern cal…
I dunno, diving man or swimming man wouldn’t be so bad.
I think I get the point you’re trying to make. Some people are frightening clueless. I occasionally get sideswiped by how clueless people can be about how food works and where it comes from. And related stuff. How can a kid not know that woodlice won’t bite you, and that caterpillars turn into butterflies?
To be fair, she was four, I explained, and her parents took up food gardening and chickens shortly thereafter. I reckon that got fixed in short order.
Those who don’t know how to grow food can learn, and lots of new veggie gardens and fruit trees sprouted up last year, many of which are still going. I ended up mentoring a few new gardeners over the internet, and the little free libraries started stocking seeds, which vanished almost as soon as they arrived. I think the the culture is shifting away from ignorance on this subject, and the worse the shocks of decline get, the more true this will be.
My parents grew small amounts of food the entire time I was growing up, and I have done likewise for past ten+ years. One set of parents went and moved to a small town and started selling their produce and seedlings at a farmer’s market, which I sometimes helped with. That was interesting. More recently, there’s a lot of people who grow food in Victoria, including more upscale people like the mayor. She has chickens as well as plants.
I do worry about the fact that a lot of the less well-off are living in apartments and have very little space to grow food, and the working poor are often overtired from long work hours to go searching for accessible land for gardening while frail elderly and people with some disabilities have major-insurmountable physical barriers even if they have time.
Hi Beekeeper in Vermont,
I haven’t encountered it in person, but I was reading in a local message group today that vacuum tubes for electronics, used notably in vintage stereo equipment that many people (myself included) still use, are in short supply these days.
I had such a talk with a man walking the neighborhood, asking people to sign a petition for a gas tax to offset carbon emissions.
I asked him why the the poor people had to pay the gas tax. I pointed out that many poor people who lived in the outskirts of the metro — because they were kicked out of the city due to prohibitive rents — had to drive into town for their miserable, low-end jobs, many assisting the affluent of the city. They couldn’t afford to live, much less pay higher gas prices.
He stared at me, dumbfounded for a few seconds. Then he said, “Well, we’ll have a credit system for the poor.”
I replied that would never happen and we went our ways.
The PMC really is that delusional.
Climate has changed for millions of years – life has survived, in spite of meteorite strikes and humongous volcanism.
Humans have survived hundreds of thousands of years of changing climate – Tambora anyone?
The biggest upheaval among humans isn’t basic survival – it is continuing survival at the high energy lifestyle we currently enjoy.
As for government – the USA was the first experiment in representative democracy. It appears to be suffering the same ailments as other methods of governing, systemic corruption. I have no idea how this will play out, but those with the money are sowing division with every tool at their disposal in order to remain “at the top of the food chain”.
I have no idea what type come first, but the future holds one thing for sure – changes. One that is certain is the decline of the current debt system – it will implode and things considered ‘assets’ (debt, paper IOU devices, currencies, etc.) will be rendered worthless in some cases and worth far less in most.
Another certain one is natural resource depletion, which has been evident for 50 years. The geniuses switching us to EVs and solar refuse to even admit that not only are their resources already depleting rapidly (cobalt, lithium, uranium, etc.) but those resources are impossible to harvest without cheap fossil fuel, which is already currently in disappearing mode (check your gas prices). Anyone with eyes to see can spot the denial at all levels – and the cognitive dissonance is deafening.
One thing to keep an eye on is natural gas, from which fertilizer is made. Fertilizer prices have been on the rise for well over a decade, and spike whenever a plant goes BOOM or goes out of business. “Modern” agriculture relies on nitrogen almost entirely…
We will adapt – we are by far the most adaptive of the land animals currently extant. But the threats to current lifestyles is real. Depletion of natural resources is real. Hypercomplexity of global supply chains is real. The global economy going pfft is very real.
There are so many chickens looking for a roost that predicting which one will get a perch is impossible until just before it lands.
And we aren’t even talking about the pandemic that wasn’t…a great example of self inflicted harm done by those in power, just as the myth of zero carbon will turn out to be.
Civilizations may fall entirely. Countries such as ours may balkanize. Look to Mexico to understand what warband culture will look like, courtesy of our own see-aye-eh. Our federal government has isolated itself to our capitol and effectively rules from there by edict, without a thought to the constitution. Rule of law has become a joke, with our DOJ issuing the same illegal edicts. The FBI has become a complete joke, now the same as the ATF morons in my book.
As I am wont to say, the center is not holding. So do what we humans do best. Reach out locally and stand together, because those in power obviously fear unity of the masses. Watch them retreat when you stand together, whether school board or state of federal. They are wildly outnumbered, and while Rand Paul isn’t my favorite person, he is right; they simply cannot arrest us all.
Don’t look to government for help – it never comes unless it includes hooks to your future income or property. Instead, look to your neighbors because they are in the boat with you even if you don’t like their wardrobe choices.
Changes are on the way – this is just the first storm surge. And when they finally exercise the 25th amendment, it’s going to get crazier. As it will when half the country doubts the election results next year. Government approval at all levels is at historic lows, and the pollsters are inflating those numbers as egregiously as everything else they do (remember, EVERYTHING is a business model).
I’m long on popcorn, and getting ready to have a huge garage sale to unload things I really can live without…
Nice essay JMG – got the point across without pointing out those chickens flying all around us…
Greetings JMG and everyone else,
I’m a long time reader and 99% lurker since your archdruid report days, but I have actually posted before once or twice that I remember. I bought the King in Orange recently and will be making my way through it. Retrotopia and Star’s Reach have all been passed around my family extensively already.
In answer to your question “where are we going to get the energy to power all those desalinization plants?”
This would be an excellent opportunity to use the nuclear waste to generate power instead of being just wasted as you referenced a few weeks ago.
I’ve read crazy ideas for supplying California with water over the years, including a canal from the Mississippi! Desalination will perhaps be the easiest when the rest of the west finally has enough of California wasting its precious resources on Beverly Hills and golf courses.
Colorado has sold alot of water rights west, I believe alot of other states have as well when rainfall was more plentiful.
Desalination works, even if its not a perfect solution. If nothing else, perhaps it will help the communities upstream of Cali retain some water.
Now if we could only harness the heat from political hot air…..Cuomo and Newsom could solve the water crisis by themselves.
I also wanted to say thank everyone for such intelligent and occasionally inspiring conversation. It’s really a pleasure to read and my apologies for not adding anything to it.
According to Pliocene and Eocene provide best analogs for near-future climates, Burke et al 2018, the Last Interglacial (129-116ka) global temperature was 0.8°C-1.3°C warmer than the pre-industrial annual mean, and the mid-Holocene (around 6000 years ago) 0.7°C warmer.
According to them, the middle Representative Concentration Pathway 4.5 pathway, which would see CO2 concentrations stabilize at about 550ppmv around 2100 CE, would take climate back to the Pliocene around 3 million years ago.
The main ecological difference between the current interglacial and the last interglacial in many parts of the world, is the megafauna extinctions rather than the climate. There is no climatic reason that elephants and rhinoceroses couldn’t live in Europe today. wheneuropewasanocean.blogspot.com/2015/10/lands-pristine-europe-during-eemian.html
About Civilization III and related games (I’ve played both that one and Civilization: Call to Power), one thing it does simulate is that it is possible to overbuild your cities, by giving them lots of city improvements that do provide certain benefits but also have maintenance costs, and the latter can empty your empire’s treasury if you’re not careful.
you might want to check out where you intend to plant all those trees. A lot of the deforested area worldwide gets used for agriculture or housing the very large human population we’ve got right now.
Some formerly-and/or-currently-forested areas are turning to savannah or desert, and finding trees that will survive under those conditions isn’t going to be easy. Planting a tree is no good if it just dies. One place to put trees is at the northern treeline. That is creeping north as it it, and the process might be speeded up by human action.
Replying to your comment on “so far it doesn’t seem like there’s been an increase in heavy rain events in the deep south”…I’m a hydrologist based in Georgia whos work deals heavily with tracking precipitation with most of that region. And as much as I hate correcting you, that statement isn’t accurate. Two regions in particular have been getting slammed with anomalously heavy precipitation events over the past several years — the northern/northwestern gulf coast, particularly the stretch from the TX coastal bend to the Mississippi river delta, and North and South Carolina.
While a lot of these events have been a result of tropical cyclones stalling because synoptic scale steering currents keep falling apart — the flipside of the same coin that is causing heat domes and ridging to dominate the western cordillera — many of them are due to non-tropical systems (see the 2016 Louisiana floods). Essentially, the decreased heat differential between the equatorial regions and poles has resulted in a slowing down of Rossby waves — the normal, progressive undulations of the jet stream that tend to move weather patterns around. These days there are more and more occasions where you get a “standing wave” pattern and you just end up with lows hitting the same area over and over and over again (that is to say flooding) and highs parking over the same region stubbornly for way too long (for a southeastern example, see the 2016 drought over the upper south and southern Appalachia, where Gatlinburg + Pidgeon Forge got severely damaged in fires).
Is this slow down a harbinger of things to come? I don’t know. Could be another pseudo-equilbrium on the way to a much more stable one decades down the road.
Of course, here I am tying up an essay about your disagreement, and all I can think of in my head as I’m typing this are the monsoonal rains of 25th century Joja that the protagonists of Star’s Reach dealt with…who knows, maybe your prediction may turn out to be right. It does line up with paleoclimatology!
Guzzling Man took place in Australia circa 2005. Here’s a photo: link.
We are saved! 😉
I admit that I found the above extremely entertaining. And I needed some entertainment at a time like this.
Slightly off topic (delete this if you want to). Toynbee’s external proletariat are being walled off in europe!
@womensatlasrc #185: Thanks for adding to the discussion and correcting my number. I suspected I would — and I did — made some math or factual errors, so I assumed $100/tree because I wanted to allow some room for that.
Mostly I wanted to encourage the consideration that something COULD be done, which John acknowledges, which would actually be scaled up and start from a practical base.
What bothers me the most about the whole “climate change” drama, is that the usual suspects keep putting big business and bigger government (their best interests) ahead of actually addressing the issue. As long as they are doing that — and throwing bogus “science” on top — I find it impossible to take any of it too seriously. Still, I’d like to see the trees — they would be a good investment in any case. And it just so happens that if this can be turned around, planting trees appears to be the most direct, efficient, and win-win way to do it.
Our Masters can’t have common sense solutions, of course.
Regarding the Tesla battery that went up in smoke, it is funny to think that if the risk of fire had been properly considered, the boxes full of batteries would be further apart (it isn’t as if Australia is hurting for space) and only one box might have caught fire.
Hi John Michael,
How I live now, by Chris… Mate, I can’t tell you about such things on a public forum. Thought crimes have become a thing down here and anything on the interweb is well, public. My writing is normally a touch cagey and subtle, but mate I’ve gotta take things to 11 nowadays.
Interestingly by sheer chance this morning, I happened to speak with a politician of the opposition party who failed to get elected in the last election. I was checking the mail and picking up milk at the only business now operating within 3.1 miles of home and the person was there. At least I now know how that lot are thinking, as it was like listening to a bunch of canned talking points. I almost had a discussion about historically what happens when the centre is abandoned, but people believe what they want to believe. And sometimes societies have to learn the hard way.
And there is building pressure for mandatory vacces (sic) – it’s being touted publicly in the news, and years ago plenty of articles were paid for, nowadays I wonder how such media businesses make money. There is a real risk that people will become non persons, in the not too distant future. Which is a bit odd given how few people down here have actually had that treatment. Speaking of which, I noticed that our new Japanese friends are having a similar outcome and I do wonder about that coincidence. I’d like to believe that the precautionary principle is part of that story – you never know.
Mate, I’d imagined many possibilities for the future, but never imagined this outcome. Alas for my sad education as somehow I never got around to reading: The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Instead I read 1984 and understood that the book was a warning. Others take fictional books as a ‘how-to’ manual and so I guess that is their bag, man!
I’m just getting on with life and doing what needs doing. I’ve had to say to some people recently (who were in a bit of a state): Don’t confuse me for being someone who gives a s!@# (I used the exact words to convey the sentiment and force of the dispell). Boss, their magic is pervasive! 🙂
Dave, so noted!
StarNinja, if they’re waking up and getting a clue, that’s a good thing.
LatheChuck, okay, that’s funny. That’s seriously funny.
Alice, hmm. I’ll keep an eye on that — well, as long as Google can afford the Street View feature.
Pygmycory, so noted!
Oilman2, I’ve talked about the birds coming home to roost often enough. It seemed like a good time to talk about something else.
BobinOK, fair enough. I’d be in favor of that — we’ve got the nuclear waste and it’s not going away, so we might as well make use of it.
Big Jilm, okay, I stand corrected. Thanks for the data points.
Walt, okay, that’s funny.
Tidlösa, hey, at least they noticed that space colonies aren’t a good option if Earth can’t keep supplying them.
BB. okay, common sense is finally seeping through the ideological fog…
Justin, a good point!
Chris, ouch. Hang in there.
Teslas and battery banks bursting into flames reminds me a lot of how the command console in Star Trek randomly bursts into flames when the ship takes damage. I wonder if futurists will use that as an example of how Star Trek predicts the future.
Something I don’t understand is why backfiring isn’t used more to protect property from wildfires. The way it works is when you see the fire coming, light your own fire line right next to your property, facing the oncoming fire. The flames are small and not that hot at first, so won’t do damage (probably helps to damp down your stuff to be sure). By the time your fire has got big, it’s burned some distance away from you. The two fires meet and go out because there’s no fuel left on either side of them.
It does require coordination. Backfirers have to communicate with emergency services so firefighters don’t accidently get trapped between the two fire fronts. Multiple properties may need to light up at the same time so they don’t burn each other. I’ve seen film of it done and it’s spectacularly effective. So why isn’t it routine? You’d still end up with a landscape of ash, but with intact buildings and towns in the midst of it.
Thank you for this insightful essay. I have a few comments:
1) I have recently started reading books on environmental history (in my free time), and to that effect, have prepared a folder containing a few books on the same. I do not, however, have any book on paleoclimatology, which, I believe, would help make better sense of the ecological aspects of the rise and fall of civilizations, as well as the trajectory the modern world is likely to follow. Could you recommend me a book on the same?
2) Your observations about systems theory strike me as very interesting, as I have seen comments in the applied mathematics literature saying that “…20th century systems theory wasn’t as insightful as 21st century systems theory is, as they mostly used deterministic models, as opposed to more accurate stochastic models, possibly due to the lower computing power available at that time”. Interestingly, I recently downloaded a book by Prof. Mike Jeffrey of the University of Bristol, in which he posits an intermediate position between purely deterministic modeling on the one hand, and stochastic modeling on the other. The book is named ‘Hidden Dynamics: The Mathematics of Switches, Decisions and Other Discontinuous Behaviour’. To quote his preface, “Sitting somewhere between deterministic dynamics and stochastic dynamics, nonsmooth dynamics offers a third way: systems that are only piecewise-defined, rendering them almost everywhere deterministic” (which forcefully reminded me of Schumacher’s intermediate technology). If you or anyone in the commentariat is interested, I can post the Google Drive link here, containing the PDF.
3) I was having a discussion with a friend of mine who’s somewhat left-leaning and into environmental activism. Interestingly, he does try to reduce his consumption, with incorporating habits such as using only public transport, cycling and walking, avoiding buying stuff unless it’s absolutely necessary, avoiding installing an AC and sticking to only fans in his house, and so on. The topic of the discussion was overpopulation (a serious problem here in India), and he basically said that it’s best to not get married (both of us are 25 years old), and to support his stance, he made two arguments, which I’ve been unable to completely disregard:
1. Given how population growth is putting a strain on the available natural resources and leading to increased
pollution, is it ethical for people who are concerned about environmental issues to bring a child into the
world and contribute to this problem in a negative manner?
2. Looking at the trajectory we’re likely to follow (especially my generation, which will be living through the
early stages deindustrial dark ages to come through our middle and old age), is it ethical to bring a child
into this world, only to bring him/her up in less luxury than our parents brought us up in?
I’ve already made some changes to my lifestyle after reading your writings, like walking or using public transport wherever possible, cutting down on consumption of processed foods, using gadgets until they completely break down (my laptop, on which I’m typing this, has been with me since July 2016, and it works just fine. I intend to use it for at least the next four years). While my consumption was already quite low before I discovered your writings (definitely an order of magnitude less than that of the average American middle class person), I did find a few things I could improve on, and made those changes accordingly. However, after listening to my friend’s arguments, part of me still sometimes wonders if he’s right, and if avoiding marriage is one more possible change that I can make to my life. Could you help me out with this?
Cordial thanks for picking up on my topic, the games Civilization and Catan, and for your competent contributions!
I guess modelling something like a civilization downturn in a society complex as ours may be a daunting if not impossible task. So many intertwined nodes to fail, so many creative adaptation strategies that may arise.
Soviet Russia’s collapse has been a major example of adaptation after eroding complexity. In Moldavia and elsewhere, as was mentioned at another place in this blog, people have actually reverted to some type of traditional manual agriculture here and there it seems.
(Does anybody know more about it?)
In 2010 I was in Bulgaria, where I was told that the gypsies are taking land that has fallen fallow and are practicing subsistence agriculture there. It’s certainly believable. I assume it is areas that aren’t flat, not the big agricultural areas sold out to big ag, rather mountainous/hill terrain. Just a guess.
Definitely there has been warming in my central European country, during the 20ths century and accelerating after 2010.
When I was a child in the early 90s, I learned skiing around this big city I live in. Has been literally impossible since a decade or so. NO snow at all.
In the early 2000s when I was in high school, there where winters where I built giant snow Penises in our schools yard, skirmishing with little children and peers in snow fights, and together with some colleagues we would some times bombard the city bus or try to manage to throw a snow ball into opened building windows.
The past decade, this was simply *impossible*.
Many other people will tell the same stories.
Last year on the 1st of February, where traditionally would be core winter and cold time below 0°Celsius, it was instead 20°Celsius like in early summer. I remember that exactly because I wandered through the forest around my city, and people were walking in shorts and sitting on the grass talking. I was running around in a short sleeved t shirt. Not normal at all!
Excuse me the offtopic, but this is another elephant in the room
Gail T. dixit
A couple of days ago this was posted … https://www.armstrongeconomics.com/world-news/climate/the-threat-of-an-ice-age-is-real/ … is he speaking through his hat or this is an option or …? Asking in light of your comment that going ice age is off the option list.
I ordered After the Ice Age from a local used books store, and it arrived, by state-owned post, the following day. Fantastic! There’s not actually all that much about the hypsithermal in it, but it’s all worth reading, and my daughter is remedying the lack of colour in the illustrations.
JMG et al, about trees
JMG keeps talking about systems science but it seems nobody is interested.
So here are some questions:
Where will the trees be planted? I assume an area without forests (duh).
So why aren’t trees there now? Either the ecosystem is degraded or unable to support forests OR people cut them down.
Either way, those seedlings don’t stand a chance. Of course you can change the laws and so on but if you do that what are the human costs? Plus if you enforce protected areas, there is no need to plant anything, nature will take care of itself ( see Chernobyl).
In the end it all comes down to too many people consuming too much.
I could keep going with other questions but it’s obvious to me that this idea is just another totem/prayer without any logic behind it. But sure it makes you feel good, right?
Chris in Fernglade, you have a hard row to hoe down there, no question.
My best friend from highschool moved down under for a bloke (and now there’s kids) and her career moves have proven highly predictive of the next crisis.
She had left midwifery and been an emergency room nurse (more predictable shifts) for a number of years, when by 2019 she was promoted into the emergency department of the hospital with the premier burn treatment centre in Australia. Within a few months she had burned out there… for some reason… (pun unavoidable) and left, in February 2020, to work in a long term care home, where the job would be less stressful.
I’ll let you know what her next move is for fair warning. (I’ve told her not to move back here, at any rate) 😉
viduraawakened, about getting married:
Why not leave your options open? You may fall in love someday. You could get married, but avoid creating children. You could adopt, or remain childless.
Curt wrote: “So many intertwined nodes to fail, so many creative adaptation strategies that may arise. Soviet Russia’s collapse has been a major example of adaptation after eroding complexity.”
This reminds me of the 2015 documentary “The Babuskas of Chernobyl.”
“30 years after the Chernobyl disaster, some 100 women fiercely cling to their ancestral homeland inside the radioactive “Exclusion Zone.”…Like the wolves, moose, wild boar and other wildlife not seen for decades that have come back to the abandoned forests around Chernobyl, the women of the Exclusion Zone, too, have an extraordinary story of survival, and offer a dark yet strangely affirming portrait of life post-apocalypse.”
These women are a living example of defiance of consensus science. Their resilience and spirit are deeply inspiring.
I want to say that I appreciate Oilman2’s contributions to this site. Really seeing whats going on, clear words that has a lot of value. Local resiliency is the key for the future!
Synthetic fertilizer has risen 30% in price here in Norway this year. Of which the conventional farmers are utterly dependent. Which adds to the rising discontent and struggle to keep playing the modern agriculture game. The pricy equipment sellers are the winners. Farmers loose and people buying low quality food loose.
There are new farming ways on the rise, using regenerative soil building techniques and establishing local direct sale markets.
Dennis, I bet Elon Musk designed that starship in a future incarnation. 😉
Viduraawakened, (1) I’ve seen very few books on paleoclimatology as such. I’ve mostly had to glean details from general books on paleontology, and from articles published on non-paywalled scientific journals. (2) 20th century systems theory may have been less mathematically sophisticated but it routinely got more accurate answers than the current version; The Limits to Growth is a good example. (3) Population growth is slowing rapidly and shows signs of tipping over into population contraction in the not too distant future. Thus his first argument was true twenty years ago but not now. His second baffles me completely — growing up in luxury is not a good thing for children, and raising a child or two in less extravagant circumstances would be a benefit to them and to the world. Thus I’d encourage you to let other factors play a larger role in whether to get married — and of course not all marriages produce children, you know.
Curt, many thanks for the data points!
Chuaquin, oddly enough, I’ve been talking about the same thing on my Dreanwidth journal…
Warren, it’s a real phenomenon but he’s exaggerating it. What the reversal of the Beaufort Gyre may well do is shut down the Gulf Stream and cause dramatic shifts in the climate of Europe.
Matthias, I wish I had a more detailed book on the Hypsithermal to recommend!
NomadicBeer, thank you.
I wager that overall changes in albedo on a global scale may also influence the weather;
At least as purported in University:
– Land use changes change albode which is the reflection of sunlights different spectral layers on the
It is obvious with cities, hotter and dryer than a forest
– Seemingly deforestation changes regional rain and precipitation. The moisture does not evaporate from the
plants, to form clouds. Trees dont store water in the soil and keep soil itself stable.
Conversely I have heard that due to artificial irrigation in the desert of Egypt, there is now rain where there wasn’t any.
– In the river danube, one hydroplant was planned but rejected. It would have changed the regional wind system of a trench valley around the river, which delivers warm winds.
A dam would create vortices that would cool everything down to the climate of the sorrounding highlands.
Global changes in land cover may affect weather patterns globally is my guess.
Where did you get the 500 million population number from? Just curious.
Sorry for getting off topic, but I’m wondering if you ever listen to Morgoth on his You Tube channel Morgoth’s Review? You’d like this weeks video with just him talking about how the far-left can’t be reasoned with facts, and how they just need to be thought of as evil sourcers . He thinks a lot like you do, and you two would enjoy a pint together in his NE English village someday.
@viduraawakened the only thing I can add to the already excellent advice you’ve gotten from Golden hawk and JMG to your question in #203, is – I remember that argument from some of my “friends” when I was deciding about kids. Whether they truly believed that it was evil for anyone to have more kids now is one of the filters I’ve learned to use to know who to back away from for the time being – especially in my case when they were older friends, who had had children (“best things in my life!”) but insisted in their case it was fine, they hadn’t known any better then, and would have decided differently now, if they were me.
And I remember realizing where I’d seen that argument before – the disability rights community has been fighting that one for ages.
We never know in advance whether our babies are going to have lives of terrible suffering or early death or not. We won’t know whether they’ll be healthy, or happy, whether the life that they get two years or ten or twenty down the road will be the one we hoped for them. Kids from the most affluent parents – doctors, dentists, provincial member of Parliament (Carole James in BC, she’s been very public about it) – have been dying of drug overdoses, here. All sorts of disabilities can’t be predicted ahead of time (my son has one).
And since its basically impossible to decide in advance what another person considers “too much suffering” to endure, the only thing you have to go on about where to have kids after marriage is whether you as a couple, at the time you’re making the decision, think it seems the balance of risk and reward reasonable.
That’s not to say that there aren’t genuine circumstances it may be responsible to decide not to have a kid because of an a priori assumption of suffering – but without the child there to give you an opinion personally, the only gauge you have is whether, based on the immediate evidence you actually have, you know you will not be up to the task of caring for the child in those conditions (resentment at your life plans lost is real, guilt is real), or couldn’t bear to see it live (or die) that way based on what you know at the moment. Everyone is always free to say they are simply not up to the task of having a child in that circumstance before they’ve had it – whatever that circumstance is to them. But no one can say they did it based on how that future person would have perceived their own suffering, if that makes sense.
All you have to ask yourself when that time comes: are you in relatively stable housing? Do you have adequate food? Adequate finances for flexibility around work for a bit? Some idea of the shape of the future? Do you feel emotionally and mentally competent (or at least, you figure you could rise to the occasion 😉)? Do you even want kids?
Then you’re exactly the kind of people who should be having children in a declining world.
You’re welcome. Relevance is a cardinal virtue of mine or, at least, tries to become.
I think we both may have had parallel trajectories Poincare wise if I can be forgiven that lame mathematical analogy. I spent some years in the ersties of 2000 between Kenya, Morocco, Romania and Moldova (and Germany as well). Nowhere in the field of applied natural system studies a.k.a ecology but in my trade: system analysis and software design. I got acquaintances and friends from that time reporting to me that life is changing at quite a rapid pace there. Being stuck with my own business, I didn’t pay attention until recently with that lockdown and time on my hands. I’ve a good friend of mine who’s a romanian IT professional. He’s been working for years in Czech republic for some years and recently decided to get back to Transylvania. I’m gonna pay him a long visit there next year. Will be much interesting. And beer splashed:D I’ll let this place and its dwellers know about my findings.
I wholesome forgot to apologize not having answered your question from June’s open post. Sorry. I don’t know Iron Harvest but I know Scythe. Well, my first go was on par with Through the Ages complexity speaking and this daunted me.
Yeah, you got it. Guess why I play boardgames. First of all, generalistic models are best suited for simulation as you pointed it, second, social fun is important and third, boardgames are rather cheap materials reproducing.
From the S.M. Stirling fan list, no link – be very afraid – “Eon Musk has a company, Neuralink, that’s working on brain implants.”
Curt, that’s quite true. The question is what the overall change has been.
Karl, nope. I don’t do videos — I find watching little colored shapes jerking around on a glass screen boring and annoying, whatever the content might be. (I also haven’t owned a television in my adult life.) If Morgoth does a blog, though, I’d be very pleased to read it, and if I ever get to the other side of the pond I’ll happily down a pint with him.
Sebastien, that makes sense to me. In general I prefer entertainments that stimulate my imagination rather than trying to replace it.
In regards to Dave up at #177; People keep assuming it will be Phoenix that becomes uninhabitable. But a quick trip to degreedays.net and a bit of data entry shows that Phoenix has 600 cooling degreedays in July, taking the indoor temperature at 80. And this time of the year has the maximum solar input for generating the power needed to run the AC unit.
On the other hand, in Minnesota at St. Cloud we get 1600 degreedays of heating (65 degree indoor temperature) needed in February, following 2 other months of over 1300 degree days. (I used St Cloud to avoid the heat island effect of the big city.) And this is a time of year when sunlight is hard to come by. In the past this area was heated by wood or coal. Coal is now out of favor, and there isn’t enough wood for the current population. Minneapolis seems to me in a far more precarious situation in a collapse scenario.
There were 360,000 people in the Twin Cities in 1900. Now there are 4,000,000 in the general area. That is a lot of wood to burn to not freeze on a 20 below night.
On the drought side; I found this.
A super-drought from about 900 to 1050, then a second from 1125 to about 1275. Dates are approximate from reading the graph.
I spent a little while reading the Fred Hoyle book again. His main worry was that an asteroid impact could tip the climate back to an ice age by creating a highly reflective layer of ‘diamond dust’, ice crystals at below -40°C. He actually didn’t believe the Milankovitch cycles were the dominant driver in tipping the climate in and out of glacial epochs.
I’ll just share one passage from it about the Hercynian (Variscan) orogeny 280 million years ago, which picks up on some of the replies to last week’s open post.
The pressures generated when Iand masses were fused lifted mountains which we call Hercynian. The result of this fusing and buckling of the land are still with us today, in the Appalachian mountain chain, the lanes and fields of the counties of Devon and Cornwall, and the hills of southwest Ireland from Kerry to Cork. These are the bones of Hercynian mountains. They are there too in the Massif Central of France, the Hartz and Vosges mountains, the Black Forest of Germany, and also in the beautiful country of southern Poland and Bohemia. The emotional influence of these landscapes on man has been captured in Smetana’s Ma Vlast. Is it because the people of Bohemia, southern Poland, southern Germany, central France, south-west England and Ireland, and American Appalachia all share in a common geological heritage that they tend to feel Smetana’s music belongs not only to Czechoslovakia but to them too?
Polecat: as widespread as “invasive” bamboo over the southeast is, you basically just asked: what happens if the Olympics turn into the Appalachians? Which admittedly would be an interesting proposition. And not so terrible, really. Since I like forest cover (and as good as it would be for mitigating at least some of the future warming prospects, most of which alarm me), i’d prefer that to the thought of those gorgeous Olympic peaks becoming denuded.
Hi John Michael (and Clay),
Thanks very much for the genius insight. So obvious from hindsight, and it is there for all the world to see.
I’ve been banging on about industrial and retail supply shortages for the past year and a half, and it seems like everyone has an excuse, but the situation is there all the same. I’m having to move fast and just act without really knowing, just so as to plug up holes, but honestly keeping one step ahead is like a game of whack a mole, and everyone eventually loses that game.
The situation I’m particularly curious about is petrol prices, as despite 60% of the country’s population now in lockdown, you’d think that petrol prices would plummet due to a lack of demand. But no, they’re going up and last week I paid $1.75 litre (3.8 litres to the US gallon). Yeah, that was interesting, and my vehicle is very small and very efficient. There’s always an excuse though (I should copyright that line!), and serious people suggest that prices are set by world events, except that, down under we don’t have anywhere in the country of note to store the stuff of which 90%+ is imported, and so if demand suddenly drops, surely the supply line pressures would make prices drop, but no. I expect that oil supplies are at the core of a lot of craziness.
And you also mentioned food (a favourite subject of mine). And I agree with you, getting calories from food is the easy part. Getting minerals, proteins and vitamins into food from a producers perspective is not so easy, and there are no incentives for farmers to achieve such an outcome, even if they decided for some odd reason to pursue that goal – and there are diminishing returns. I have a hunch that a lot of illness in the community has its origins in the food supply and that too is at the core of a lot of craziness.
It genuinely makes little economic sense to supply soils with a broad spectrum of minerals, and so our civilisation runs down the ecological capital every single day, but there are limits.
I’ve been getting a very broad spectrum of minerals into the soils in the past year (and that has built on the past decades work), but it is bonkers expensive and labour intensive. And even then, entropy leaches some of the work away – for free! 🙂 Oh well.
A number of lovely people have been conducting mental health check in’s with me of late. There are some upsides to this craziness, and people are drawing closer together, but far out the lockdowns are pushing 180+ days now. It’s economic Seppuku, but maybe a decision was made to collapse now and avoid the rush? Dunno, but it is very weird down here.
Trees: To the Commentariat – There’s a fascinating, newish book on the history of trees. And their movement through space and time. How whole forests have moved north, or south, based on climate. Very readable, and well worth a look. “The Journeys of Trees: A Story About Forests, People, and the Future.” St. George, 2020. The paleohistory of trees. Lew
I didn’t say above that I was really impressed with this post, both the subject matter and the form, and I am surprised not to see more comments, since the future described here has a very high probability of strongly impacting the lives of all those of us who will still be alive in a few decades (and is actually already impacting them right now). Then I saw the post on dreamwidth about the virus, which already has much more comments than here, and I wondered why that subject excites so much more attention. In fact, it ate up so much of the attention on last week’s open post that I didn’t post on a less loud subject. As JMG himself said on dreamwidth, what he posted is only a hypothesis – it is much less guaranteed to impact all our lives than climate change.
It does seem to me that tribal loyalties are in play, and I remember that several predictions widely shared on this site last year didn’t pan out.
So, just as a reminder: climate change is happening now, and we can have some idea of how our surroundings will be like by looking at the past!
That honestly strikes a chord in me, I don’t know why, maybe because of the relatability, but funnily enough your comment made it in my journal that I have exclusively reserved for magical purposes and it’s probably going to end up on an index card along with a few quotes from W. E. Butler or Dion Fortune in red ink.
That aside, The study of economics, especially aided by the likes of large names from the Chicago School of Economics such as Milton Freidman, F.A. Hayek, Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Henry Hazlitt, etc. , has actually lead me to believe that the economic failures of society both macro and micro economics is often caused by a failure to understand and recognize how nature in the form of geography has a very integral role in economic outcomes (Thomas Sowell hints at this in his book Black Rednecks and White Liberals) , economics of self, or the economics of spirit, because all around they all follow the same if not similar principles. If people cant get a handle on themselves at the deepest levels and learn how to delegate scarce resources around them efficiently (home economics and finance are classic examples), what makes these people think they’re able to manage anything else in a broader sense if not by the use of force? Aye, its generally a lie that puts them down that dark well worn road. And that is where man and nature generally don’t get along. Man wants to control the circumstances of which he has no control over, and wants to absolve his responsibility towards circumstances of which he does have control over. Nature will not allow that. A sad and boring existence indeed since opportunity, growth and power come from places of which responsibility has been abjugated.
on a side note. Id like to say there is a reason why a Utopia is nearly unachievable and dangerous to humanity. It all has to do with The Behavioral Sink. The only way to help mitigate such effects is to bring awareness and reign in certain things, but the likely hood of that alone is very slim on a mass scale. This is more or less a brief summary, but its still insightful none the less.
another similarity in all this as I think of this subject is the game series Fallout. It’s a game on PC and Xbox that is based in a retro post apocalyptic world between the 21st and 23rd centuries and all you’re trying to do is not die from a lot of things and get stuff done, but as you read up on the lore, there’s some uncanny similarities in reality and this fictional series (like a lot of post apocalyptic fiction).
Heads up folks: They figured out a way to aerosolize the vaccine and are going to gas the place. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vrr7Tx4KUh0
Just read JMG’s blog on the ADE suggest you read that one to.
@JMG, Pixelated, Goldenhawk
Thank you for your replies. Yes, that makes sense – I just hadn’t thought of that before.
There’s a way of circumventing around paywalled journals to access scientific articles. All you have to do is go to the paper you want to read, copy the DOI or URL, open sci-hub.ee in a new tab, and paste the DOI/URL in the search bar, and press Enter, you’ll get the paper in question in PDF.
Ilona #61 — Its mostly people on the edges of the US right wing however becoming a larger number in fairly rapid time . To note this isn’t meant to be “we’ll be doing that” thinking but a reflection of the extreme fragility of our food and other vital systems.
Its not as much a shift in preference though that is there as well , more an acceptance of the inevitable.
. I’ve seen this kind of shift happen before, views that were “militia guy” views a few years ago are now seen in places as diverse as YouTube comments and Libertarian Blogs and extreme views are spreading fast.
My opinion from observation is that this , went from “militia guys” from the 90’s till 2005 or so (Hurricane Katrina) and sped up from there, some from the Internet making communication easier and other bits from severe government malfeasance.
The reaction to COVID 19 and censorship are acting as accelerants.
Why its gone from “we win” to “split” and now to “there can be only one” is a reflection of our mobility. The notion is there are no Red or Blue States only mixed ones and that only one group can exist per polity.
Ergo, somebody has to leave. This mixing makes a scenario like our hosts Twilight’s Last Gleaming less likely.
This situation is far from rare historically . It could be argued to be the norm.
Recent examples , Bosnia and Rwanda are oft cited there. If interested you might Google Bosnia times Rwanda or Bracken Cube . Be warned its unpleasant reading no matter what end of the political spectrum you are on.
If a video is more to your liking what if alt hist (one word) on YouTube has several and the host Rudyard Lynch is very smart young man with good analytic skills
I have a question for you relating to soul evolution and how this affects civilisation. In the past, we only had amoebas that eventually evolved into other animals through centuries of soul evolution that we ended up with sentient creatures that could develop a civilisation. There were of course a lot of bumps along the way (mass extinction events, civilisational collapses, etc) but life kept on evolving regardless.
Considering that we are 100 years away from the next big civilisational crisis (most thinkers are putting their money on the 22nd century these days), it is quite obvious that Humanity will be back to going through the motions once again.
However my question to you is this – if we started from single cell amoebas and we keep having these cycles that ultimately lead to rises and falls, then ultimately – what will Humanity eventually evolve towards? Will it be something like one big gigantic version of Buddhism eventually down the line or something else entirely? Like, what is the overall long time end game in all of this?
Now regarding Ben,
Ben, I happen to live in Russia and what you are saying is quite correct. I do see Russia following this path and you are very accurate. However there is one part of the puzzle you are missing and that is the “rest phase” Russia is going to have before the next big collapse of their civilisation begin. That is the Russian youth and their demands for a better quality of life and growing liberal concerns.
You see, Russia is basically 30 years behind the West. I would say that Putin is basically Margaret Thatcher and it is the 1980s. The country is still traditionally homogenous but it is changing, the youth want more money and to go visa free on skiing holidays to Switzerland, there is growing liberal demands, Russia is having its “last days” as being a revived great power, etc. You can quite easily see the parallels.
So by my timeline – this is what I will say on a road map is going to happen to Russia:
1) Putin eventually finds a successor and retires (sometime in the 2020s)
2) New successor is not as strong as Putin and eventually concedes more ground to the growing liberal opposition. More money is put into the domestic economy, schools, hospitals. Wages go up. Less inflation, less money for the military.
3) More democratic reforms. Russia starts to retreat from international politics and starts to focus on becoming a bigger version of Finland/Switzerland.
4) Quality of life improves. More liberal reforms are adopted. Russia has about 30 years of peace.
5) Resource shortages, running out of oil and gas, declining population with most people having moved to Moscow and St. Petersburg. Immigration is changing cities in Siberia due to most of the Russians leaving for greener pastures.
6) Russia by 2050 or 2060 starts to have its very own “MRGA” or “Make Russia Great Again” movement. A charismatic caesar promises the population a return to the good old days under Putin when things worked, everyone was happy and you get the rest.
7) Russia takes a back slide from the world stage. Some areas break off but due to low population density (and no desire to go it alone) Russia remains as a sort of overpopulated traditional Russian core zone in the West with an underpopulated Siberian periphery.
8) A new Russian generation has to re-think what it means to be “Russia” and this ultimately leads to the foundation of Sobornost. More European immigrants fleeing from the declining West Europe gives Russia much needed immigrants.
So yeah this is my timeline for Russia. I dont see any major break ups since all of the areas that did already left during the collapse of the USSR. No one else really wants to or are quite happy in the federation. Just an underpopulated wilderness with lots of remnants of the former industrial civilisation before it out in Siberia.
JMG #219 – Just Say No to Video – I rather read a transcript of a conversation that lets me skim what doesn’t interest me at the moment and reread to chew on what does. Presentations dependent on graphs excluded.
Matthias #225 – I also think this post is really good in a way that may be easy to under appreciate. There may be a kind of subtlety to reminding us to widen our lens as JMG does. His landscape describes a number of mixed outcomes increasing both challenges and options which for me created a positive feeling of greater agency while reading it.
The greater activity around covid reflects its immediate and substantial impact on our lives. Global resource issues will be next and then unfortunately, as it has always been, global environmental which are to far in the future and to abstract for most. Hard to think long term when struggling the present.
@Chris at Fernglade Farm
All my life I never imagined your lovely country would become as inaccessible and repressive as the Soviet Union. The future is not just broad, as our host says, it is a vast wilderness dotted with Pedy Coober mine shafts, with buried unexploded ordnance here and there, quick sand, copperheads, and yes, let’s not forget, lots of lovely things as well. Do take care, and I’ll be looking forward to reading your news here.
Japan is so far so good, and my husband and I are in a good position to ride out everything I can see on the horizon. The Japanese seem much more likely to take out frustrations on any Chinese or Koreans within reach rather than Americans, who doubtlessly deserve it more, but you never do know, do you.
@ Matthias (#225)
Re folks’ focus, topics on this blog, and the relative importance of things
I agree. I’m sure that part of what’s going on is climate change evokes a certain helplessness, particularly for folks who better grasp the situation, because we realize nothing can stop it; only mitigation is possible and that hits the psyche pretty hard. Nonetheless, you are right that of the two issues, climate outranks Covid so far as long-term impact goes, yet our focus is reversed. I suspect this is typical human nature.
For my own part, it has taken me many years of this blog to work through the stages of grief to the point of acceptance, understanding that our system is coming apart and that that is okay (in a cosmic sense), that empires and civilizations have lifecycles just like any other living thing. There are times, though, when I still feel sad/frustrated/cheated that all we have to look forward to is relentless decline for the next several human lifetimes. On the other hand, the challenge arises: how does one find happiness and fulfillment in a contracting world? More specifically, can we redefine our sense of those things to be independent of our material condition? It is an eye-opening, if emotionally difficult task.
PS @Chris: Pedy Coober is Coober Pedy from the perspective of someone walking backwards while trying to take a photo.
I’m based in Derbyshire (the midlands) in the UK. We don’t go shopping very much, especially at this time of year when the garden is productive, but I’ve noticed the following incidences at the supermarket:
No strawberries in peak UK strawberry season. The shelves had been filled with watermelons but the shelf labelling not changed. This may have been shortage of lorry drivers or shortage of harvesters. Both jobs were heavily supplied by eastern Europeans prior to Brexit and Covid. Not so much now. The government could have taken action to train up more drivers (the average age is, I think, about 55) but didn’t. The seasonal nature of field harvesting and the lack of accommodation local to the work means that UK people are not that keen to do the backbreaking work for minimum wages.
Completely empty produce shelves towards the end of the day.
No milk at ASDA for four days. Apparently Arla, the supplier, had no drivers available. I have no idea what happens to the milk in that case.
Cost of timber much increased
No water butts in a sensible size available for many months. These are made from recycled plastic and, given the increasing oddness of the weather (we have had two occasions this summer when all saved water was exhausted and we had to use tap water in the garden despite having eight water butts) there has been increased demand. I’ve been checking regularly and one of the various types has just become available. I have ordered two to put in series. I’m wondering if I should have ordered more.
Some garden supplies have not been available.
I am deeply concerned about the UK’s apparent approach to farming and food supplies. I recently read Feeding Britain by Tim Lang and was made painfully aware that the UK has never really been food secure but is currently in a very poor situation. There are things that could be done and there seem to be a fair number of books published or being written about what we could do to improve our situation but there doesn’t appear to be any government interest in this. Indeed farmers seem to be being undermined, at least small farmers.
Simon Peacecraft — “The notion is there are no Red or Blue States only mixed ones and that only one group can exist per polity. Ergo, somebody has to leave….This situation is far from rare historically. It could be argued to be the norm.”
I agree, it is historically the norm. But the logic is flawed. Fortunately for the rest of us, it contains the seed of its own destruction for the fools who practice it, who eliminate each other.
Wiser humans who have the ability to get along and cooperate with each other will prevail, rebuild, peacefully co-exist, and carry on. This, also, is historically the norm.
@Matthias Gralle, JMG
Matthias Gralle’s comment about how the Covid-related post gets more comments as compared to this one on climate change reminded me of environmental history in, IMO, a somewhat interesting way. Allow me to explain.
In my school, history was treated as a subject that didn’t deserve any effort, but had to be done because ‘it’s part of the syllabus’. A similar treatment was given to some ‘unimportant’ parts of the syllabi in other subjects, which were given step-motherly treatment as opposed to the ‘important from the exam POV’ parts of the syllabus, and were taught only as a formality.
I believe the same holds true w.r.t. ecological issues in general, and climate change in particular. After all, just compare the amount of climate change-related or environment-related discussion featured in media as opposed to, say, what outrageous thing XYZ politician said. While obviously JMG is not a media person, the fact that this post got fewer comments than a Covid related post is, to me, partly indicative of three things, out of which, two I guess are part of human nature, namely 1) Overly looking at short term things while ignoring long term things, 2) Unwillingness to make serious changes to one’s life, which a genuine effort towards mitigating the damage caused by climate change most definitely involves, while the third is, I believe, more related to our worldview, which is reflected even in the way we look at history, which basically is that human history is a function of *human activity only*, whereas, the reality, as shown by ecological/environmental history, is that the long trajectory human history is a function of human activity as well as environmental factors. Maybe I’m wrong about this, but had our view of history in particular, and our worldview in general, portrayed our existence on earth as a function of both human as well as environmental factors, our response to climate change and other ecological issues would likely at least have been different, if not much less severe than it already is?
@ Ksim – privyet! Where in Russia do you u live, if you do t mind me asking? I livid in St. Petersburg, but visited Moscow, Tyumen, and a number of smaller cities around St Pete.
I enjoyed your timeline. You’re probably right about Siberia, at least for the near future. How do you think the interplay of low population on the Russian side of the Amur river, and the high population on the Chinese side will play out after, say 2100?
Big Jilm # 222,
Well, I had my tongue firmly entwined into cheekyness. Still, I do wonder how things will shake out ecologically-wise here on this geographic ‘refugia’, in a millennium or three..
Chris, that’s interesting about petrol prices. I don’t pay a lot of attention to that for obvious reasons, but oil prices — though they’ve softened a little — remain right around $70 a barrel, which is very high by historic standards. The rolling shortages continue — there’s now a board over on Reddit, r/shortages, which is devoted to keeping track of them. We’ll see, but it looks as though we’re in the opening stages of a very steep downward lurch.
Lew, thanks for this.
Matthias, that’s doubtless part of it, but keep in mind that I’ve talked about climate issues regularly for years now, so people may not have that much new to say about it. Weekly page views are actually higher than average, for whatever that’s worth.
Michelle, I won’t argue a bit. Trying to treat economics in isolation from the rest of human behavior has worked very poorly, precisely because other factors — geographic, psychological, spiritual, and the list goes on — always play an important factor. BTW, Rodent Utopia would be a great band name. 😉
Horseman, so it turns out N95 masks are actually good for something!
Viduraawakened, hmm! I didn’t know that. Thank you.
Ksim, well, according to the teachings I follow, humanity isn’t evolving toward anything else. The souls that are currently in human bodies are evolving toward better things, but our species — like every other species — provides a certain kind of experience useful for some souls, and those souls incarnate in human bodies when they’ve worked their way up to that level of complexity. Humans and a few other species — dolphins and whales, especially — provide the bridge between physical incarnation and the next level up, where our densest bodies will be etheric. In some distant future age there may be a need for brains more complex than those of humans, dolphins, etc., but that won’t be any concern of ours!
Dennis, yep. I can also read a transcript in about a third of the time it takes to watch a video.
Yvonne, many thanks for the data points!
Viduraawakened, interesting. Yes, that makes sense.
Michelle S. #226, I remember reading the mouse utopia was done before they knew about cage enrichment. There weren’t any toys or playground-type stuff, or even safe elements of a natural environment like some plants.. They removed the involuntary excitement of predators and didn’t provide any opportunity for voluntary excitement, entertainment, or even distraction. The mice did all there was for them to do. It would be like putting humans into a bare white room and calling it utopia just because you provided food, water, and a place to sleep. It wasn’t utopia, it was a prison. No wonder they rioted.
But it really rubs in how an expeiment will never be forgotten if it serves an ideology. It’s always referenced in connection with overcrowding and overpopulation, despite explicitly saying the mice stopped breeding before they hit the enclosure’s capacity. It’s the fear of the teeming urban masses. It also allows thoughts of smug satisfaction like “If we didn’t give their lives meaning by exploiting them, the poor would eat each other.”
It’s not like they had to look at mice to see what a life of leisure is like. There are aristocrats who could live in ease but choose to take a 25% chance of death to climb K2. Nobody made Richard Branson go on adventures in balloons and rockets. Insane sports are also common in utopian fiction. In Ecotopia they fight with live spears. In Iain M Banks’ Culture novels they have every dangerous pastime imaginable, including in Look to Windward – lava rafting.
Thank you so very much for the pointer to sci-hub.ee!!!
And thank the benevolent Deities for Estonia and the Estonians. They are generally doing wonderful work in facilitating open access to journals, but I hadn’t known about that particular site of theirs.
(I can already get most of the journal articles I need through my university’s library system and/or through academia.edu, but every now and then there will be one in some less well known overseas journal that I really ought to read, but which can’t be accessed through either of my usual pipelines. Scholarship here in the US, as a rule these days, ignores all work by scholars in the smaller countries as if it didn’t exist. Ugh!)
I think out here in Western Colorado there’ll be some pretty nice micro climates well suited to a modest population. I have to check with some of my archeology buddies about what regions remained populated when the Cliff Dwellers vanished. The cussed thing is that the lives that’d made sense in that context are an almost complete cultural disconnect from anything happening here at present. Herders, in the mountains. That’s what I think has a future. Current public land, resource extraction, private land, this, and tah government agency. Makes herd life a pain. I know some people doing it. There may be a race some day that tell tails of Cannon the Herdsman, and some other folks exploring the niche. Some river valley hamlets might work out too.
The point that builds to is a growing tension as laws and customs squeeze tighter in the direction of maintain the current problem as long as possible, and the land calling for a whole different tact. It might be why some many of the ecological sorts here are drawn to a libertarian bend. Not because humanity ought not be governed, but because the way of live that is prescribed by law is doomed; and likely on a short enough time line to prompt the living.
A data point on 2021’s Western U.S. heat wave and its effect on grain crops and prices came in my email today.https://www.azurestandard.com/healthy-living/heatwave-and-drought-affecting-crops-nationwide/ We loaded up a couple of month’s ago on corn, millet, beans and lentils and found that the lentils and beans had risen almost double. The overseas shipping is getting worse and worse. I suggest buying sooner rather than later. Good luck and blessings to everyone.
For “Millicently Lurking” (#6): Also, I recommend “The Earth After Us” by Jan Zalasiewicz. He’s a palaentologist, and knows his fossil taxonomy, and one of the rare sane writers about the “Anthropocene” meme.
Also, this is interesting, and very much tangential to the topic:
See especially the paper of by Gavin A. Schmidt and Adam Frank (from 2018): The Silurian Hypothesis: Would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?
A quote from the end of the paper:
An intriguing hypothesis presents itself should any of the initial releases of light carbon described above indeed be related to a prior industrial civilization. As discussed in section 3.3, these releases often triggered episodes of ocean anoxia (via increased nutrient supply) causing a massive burial of organic matter, which eventually became source strata for further fossil fuels. Thus the prior industrial activity would have actually given rise to the potential for future industry via their own demise. Large scale anoxia, in effect, might provide a self-limiting but self-perpetuating feedback of industry on the planet. Alternatively, it may be just be a part of a long term episodic natural carbon cycle feedback on tectonically active planets.
Perhaps unusually, the authors of this paper are not convinced of the correctness of their
proposed hypothesis. Were it to be true it would have profound implications and not just for
astrobiology. However most readers do not need to be told that it is always a bad idea to decide on the truth or falsity of an idea based on the consequences of it being true. While we strongly doubt that any previous industrial civilization existed before our own, asking the question in a formal way that articulates explicitly what evidence for such a civilization might look like raises its own useful questions related both to astrobiology and to Anthropocene studies.
@JMG, pah! Whales, who needs ’em? Turns out they don’t like rock music. I take this almost personally.
I’ve since spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the Elton John song they liked was, since I find him hit and miss; if it’s Benny and the Jets, I’m out, everybody enjoy your apocalypse. I’ve decided to convince myself it was at least Levon or Tiny Dancer from the Madman across the Water album, since I figure they wouldn’t have liked Nixon, either.
About those “proposals to plant trillions of trees and cultivate algae in the oceans in order to absorb co2”.
Even if it could work in theory, who is gonna do it?
The same government that can’t maintain regular infrastructure and lets it go worse ever year?
The same private companies who overpromise and underdeliver all the time, and who revise “travel to Mars” promises 5+ years into the feature every time the old promised date nears, while they haven’t put a man on the moon for 50 years now?
Odd bit of information, not quite sure what to make of it:
Speaking to a friend today who is in charge of ordering and stocking food at a local store, he told me that they’re having a lot of trouble getting cheese. Cheese. What they sell is all locally produced and for those unfamiliar with Vermont, the state has long been described as having ‘more cows than people’. I don’t know if that’s entirely true nowadays (it could be), but there are cows and dairy farms absolutely everywhere and as far as I know they’re still producing milk.
Nonetheless, the store can’t get the quantities of cheese that it used to keep in stock regularly before Covid, especially the 10 pound wheels that were cut up into smaller packages. This cheese doesn’t come from China on those big container ships so we can’t blame transportation breakdowns, it’s produced by a couple of small companies within a dozen or so miles of the store, companies that have been in business for at least a century. I have no explanation for this.
There’s been much concern about the shortage of long-haul truck drivers in the US also, a situation blamed for problems stocking shelves throughout the country. From what I’ve read, the average age of US truckers is roughly the same as the UK.
Chris at Fernglade:
Our condolences on the current state of life in your country. Every time we read, with horror, about another measure instituted by the Australian government and are sure that nothing could possibly be more draconian, they manage to up the ante. I’m hoping our useless politicians don’t start taking advice from yours. 😉
I think a major factor is that seeing JMG discussing possible mass deaths is a bit of a shock! I know I was very surprised to see it myself, given his usual tendency to do some serious eyerolling to people who talk like that.
Re: Planting Trees (or, “Installing carbon-capturing devices” (as – IIRC – the late Bill Pulliam once wrote)):
Are there individuals or organizations out there that have long-term practical experience with planting trees and other habitat restoration efforts?
I remember my mother saying that “trees bring rain” and, on the other hand, regarding an area that was over-crowded with trees and brush, she said, “this is a fire waiting to happen”. Somewhere there is a (dynamic) balance. It seems, maybe, that micro-climates (sorry don’t know the correct term) can be influenced in a positive way through wise action and working with nature. I live in an area that has different climate zones – good management (which sometime means benign neglect) vs. poor management and deliberate mismanagement (always in the name of Progress) makes a huge difference. Even just picking up trash brings some positive energy (which sounds “woo-woo”, but still…)
JMG, your description of the periodic oscillations in global climate and the ‘bubbly’ nature of all the crises of our era reminds me of the Sanskrit word for “world” – jagat – which literally means “that which comes and goes” (i.e., is constantly changing).
Funny how so many of the people who believe in the ‘mono-future’ are smart enough to know that many a civilization has risen and fallen over the millennia… however, quite a few whom I have met are under the delusion that with each successive civilization, we ‘pick up’ (in terms of knowledge and technologies) from wherever the previous civilization left off – as if when a civilization falls, all the tools get dropped and just lie around waiting for the rubble to stop bouncing and then folks look down and pick up the tools again! Such a nifty way to shoe-horn a quasi-understanding of history into the narrative of Progress [sigh]. On such occasions, I wish that I could have a time machine and take such a person to London or Bath circa 400 AD, take a stroll, and then go for another stroll circa 700 AD and play the game of ‘spot which technologies have totally disappeared’.
I have always found the imagined mono-future global utopia to be a lot like the stock Christian image of heaven: a terribly dreary place where everybody is idle, never breaks a sweat and never gets dirty. In other words, a veritable ‘hell’ for a workaholic gardener like me!
Darkest Yorshire, RE Backburning.
I work for the US Forest Service. Backburning is absolutely a tool we use when we can. It’s all about the wind. If the wind is driving the fire into town, starting more fire just upwind of town is not likely to help. But when it’s possible, we do it. Often those areas end up with the highest Soil Burn Severity because when they burn it, they like it BLACK.
In my opinion, we should focus our efforts on making our houses less flammable. Look at pictures from Paradise, CA. Entire neighborhoods burned down, but all the surrounding trees are still green.
In semi-related news, I got a memo from work last week. I may need to be self-contained if I go on a fire. Normally, we rely on Fire Camp for food, water (maybe Gatorade and ice), AA batteries, and often vehicle fuel. Apparently there’s hitch in the Fire Machine’s gitty-up and things like food and water may not be available. I’m supposed to be prepared to be self-supported for 96 hours! Usually, fighting fires is a pretty high priority with all the emergency clearances that might be needed, so what exactly is going on? Is it really so bad we can’t give our firefighters on the line a case of water and a hot dinner? If it’s that bad, things are worse than I thought.
@koralis – I suggested Eagle Scouts. The thing is, you’re still thinking “large scale efforts by large organizations,” rather than small local efforts by individuals, and we’re in a time when the former are creaking and wobbling about and not really very effective.
Beekeeper in Vermont,
Maybe All that missing cheese went to satiate the palletts of the varied and many among$t the who’s whoos @BigO’s$hindig …
@ Beekeeper re cheese shortage
I don’t think the problem is so much transportation in the form of trucks and semis, it’s that there’s no qualified help to drive those trucks and semis. This issue is across the board, I believe. I have run into trouble trying to get my disabled brother to doctor appointments. Because of his poor mobility, he needs assistance getting in and out of the house and has to ride in a handicap van. His health care plan offers rides but I have found getting one is very problematic unless I call weeks in advance. I have had to cancel more than one appointment due to lack of transportation. Not enough qualified people means not enough drivers.
Both the RN who visits to check on him as well as the case manager for home health care have confirmed this. In order to avoid placing him in a nursing home, I have been trying to get in-house assistance for bathing and dressing him as well as a little house cleaning to help me out but for over a year and half now, this has been impossible. Covid hasn’t helped any of course but vaccinating health care workers hasn’t changed anything. The extra hands just aren’t there. Why? Good question. But it’s not hard to see where this is eventually heading.
For the want of a nail…..
The geography of Colorado has embraced the future, by re-routing the Colorado river and “indefinitely shutting down” a portion of I-70: https://twitter.com/awalkerinLA/status/1422241982320152577
Slink #252, can a fire still burn into the wind if that’s the only direction there’s any fuel?
That’s really bad when that kind of operational flow and human factors stuff starts to break down. Part of the success of Israel in the Six Day War was they could turn fighter planes around in eight minutes. The plane was refuelled and rearmed and the pilot just had time to run to the bathroom and grab a sandwich and a bottle of water, then be back up again. Presumably firefighters have their optimal equivalent of that.
It’s may be academic if even providing food and water is beyond them, but what do you think of using powered respirators for wildland firefighting? The kind blast furnace and coke oven workers wear. You’d avoid breathing in smoke, without the weight and logistical problems of full BA, but could you do the job while wearing them? Also do you have an opinion on cooling gloves to lower body temperature and prevent heat exhaustion – https://www.rtxcorecontrol.com.au/. That seems like it would be a good thing for fast turnaround and getting back into the action.
I agree with your Mother , trees do bring rain! I’ve stood on the edge of forests before and one step out and it is not raining and one step under the trees and its raining, my young daughter was with me one day and kept asking me why that was, all I could do was give her the reply your mother gave you! I can’t explain that phenomena without thinking in more energetic terms but I do know that the trees soak water from the soil and persperate through their leaves and this breathing creates, fuels and energises weather systems. When you cut forests from the coastline going inland the rain stops travelling inland..it follows the trees… this problem could be corrected by understanding and working with nature much like how they have started introducing beavers into deserts and things because of how much good they can do in creating and retaining wetlands.
I saw a contributor on reddit post an extract of a piece you wrote in the past, during the Archdruid Report phase, couching our predicament in terms of; The Monkey Trap,
it struck me a a very apt way of describing our suicidal obsession with growth and the accumulation of material wealth,
would you consider revisiting this theme and refreshing the image in the publics mind?
with fond regards,
A Band that writes songs like “Rat Race”, “Behavioral Sink”, “Untersmench” , “Ubermench”, ” Mouse trap”, things that sound really controversial but are really wholesome and don’t cover the typical “society sucks I wanna die” formula so pervasive in certain genres. I’ll be sure to relay the information to the disaffected (truly liberal) Goths and Punks I find my self in company with looking to create a band. The irony of it too if you know the background of the respective cultures and how they’re functioning today.
In my opinion as a civilian and a citizen of a state that constantly has fires itself (Utah), I would imagine that despite the complaints of burning/brush clearing, and logging, the benefits would outweigh the cons in that it may prevent people from losing their properties, prevent mother nature butchering herself more than is needed, and cut down on costs and the requirements for resources.
Though I’ve noticed at the grocery stores that certain bottled beverages are on short supply because the plastic supply chain has been disrupted. My theory is that certain companies are having a hell of a time getting the resources they need to make new plastic and process old plastic, which is also heavily tied to the oil industry.
The “Wretched Debby downer” economists were warning about this since C-19 “began”, lockdowns persisted for more than a month, and Biden took office. Yet the powerful still want to push lockdowns and mandates, goes to show that “health experts”, massive businesses, activists, and politicians are great at talking at people rather than listening and thinking about the consequences of their actions/decisions/beliefs.
Hi John Michael,
Thanks for taking the time to pen your hypothesis. Cogitating upon your words cost me many hours of lost sleep last evening, but it was probably time well spent. Your words: ‘brooding and favourable divinations’, rather alarmed me more than the hypothesis itself. Hmm, how to exercise the stratagems of the artful dodger?
The constabulary have eased off a bit, but still, just for a reminder as to how crazy things are down here, there is this bizarre incident from the beginning of the entire affair: Coronavirus Australia update: Victorian couple fined $3,300 over year-old holiday snaps.
I need some time and space to think deeply upon this matter as there is so much background noise that I believe that it is a deliberate outcome to feel confused.
Thanks for the unintended pun, but yeah burn out is common within first responders. And imagine the trauma you’d be exposed to every single day in not just an ordinary emergency room, but a major burns unit. Some of the folks from the White Island eruption might have even ended up there. Thanks to for the heads up of the next major bout of craziness. It really is bonkers down here with the entire state locked down, and there are no cases of the health subject which dares not be named in my area. Crazy. Last year at this time, I had to go through police and military checkpoints and show my identification and papers. The horror of that, still stays with me.
Lovely to hear from you and I hope that things are going well for you in Japan. Thanks for the down under reference. 🙂 We stayed there many years ago in an underground house. It was an amazing experience and an extraordinary place to live (we were just passing through). Without the opal mining, I doubt that there’d even be a town there. The locals used to joke around and suggest that the underground houses were either built for cash and the owners kept the opals found during the dig, or the miners doing the digging got to keep the opals and did the house excavations on the cheap. The summers there are bonkers hot. The British used to do nuclear testing somewhere around there way back in the day.
The Japanese are a very civilised people and a few months ago, I read a very interesting book on the Edo period technology: Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan.
Nice to hear from you, and despite the craziness down here, the bees over wintered well and are now foraging in the gardens again. It’s been a warm and very damp winter here. But yeah, it is crazy here and I really don’t know what to make of it. The state has somehow taken emergency powers, which seem to keep getting extended, and who knew they could wield such powers in the first place? The constabulary can enter my home now without a warrant, so best not give them a reason to do so in the first place. And there is little oversight as to how these powers are being used. Well here’s hoping, fully knowing that things can always get worse. 🙂 Although, I’d like to hope that doesn’t happen.
I had thought about the transportation angle, but the producers are so close by that it would be quite possible for the shop owner or an employee to arrange to pick up orders himself. I don’t think it’s about the cheesemakers hogging all the cheese for their own on-site shops, they’ve been more than happy to have other outlets with greater visibility – especially among tourists – sell their products for many decades; judging by the crowds in the tourist magnets of Weston and Chester the last couple of weeks, tourism is really picking up again. But if there isn’t enough cheese being made by these couple of family-run firms, what’s happening to all the milk? The cows are still producing, and heaven knows family farms can’t afford to keep their cows offline for long, as the dairy industry here is already on the ropes. Are all our supply lines, even the hyper-local ones, so fragile that Covid has shattered them? That’s a sobering thought.
I guess the husband and I will just have to take a short ride to the cheesemakers’ shops to see if their coolers are empty too. If not, we’ll come home with some really good cheese.
So sorry to hear about your brother’s dilemma. Taking care of a disabled family member is difficult even in the best of circumstances; it must be terribly stressful and frustrating for both of you to navigate transportation issues right now with all the other things that are going on.
Mr. Beekeeper has a bus driver friend who is employed picking up and dropping off people at doctor’s offices as well as rehab and recovery centers, including Dartmouth-Hitchcock which is over an hour away. The poor guy works at least 60 hours a week and still gets called in during his off hours when the employer can’t find another driver to take over a shift. This friend tells us that more than a few of the other drivers decline work because they claim to be afraid of Covid. Conveniently for them, they’re really raking it in with all the extra unemployment money. I wish whoever has the power in Vermont to turn off the money spigot would do it soon so as to encourage workers to go back to work, but I’m afraid that would require more backbone than our leaders currently have.
@Ron M @JMG
“I have always found the imagined mono-future global utopia to be a lot like the stock Christian image of heaven: a terribly dreary place where everybody is idle, never breaks a sweat and never gets dirty. In other words, a veritable ‘hell’ for a workaholic gardener like me!”
The stock Christian image of heaven is definitely quite false:
Sorry to quote scripture. But in Christian Cosmology this is what is the case:
“21To the one who overcomes, I will grant the right to sit with Me on My throne, just as I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
Redeemed Humanity joins God in his Council and therefore the administration of the Universe. Lords and Ladies with our own spheres of Authority.
And then there is the doctrine of Theosis based on a few passages in the Bible:
2 Peter 1:3-4
“3His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence. 4Through these He has given us His precious and magnificent promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, now that you have escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
Where Mankind is joined to God in a marriage. Hence Redeemed Mankind will become truly Godlike that even the Olympian Gods as imagined by the Greeks or the Norsemen of their Deities cannot be imagined to be.
Alongside the evidence for a bodily resurrection as promised which I am sure will find passages in the Bible about. Like the Olympian Gods and even exceeding them in beauty of form and glory alongside the promise of bodily perfection and shining with light.(Matthew 13:43) (1 Corinthians 15:41, 42).
Like the Moon,Sun and the starry night sky and the Galaxies thereof of varying glories.
you have a large following which appreciates and agrees with every word you say. Perhaps then you won’t mind an occasional disenting voice. I am going to offer you now a bit of criticism of some of your views and I’ll try to do that in accordance with your rules for commenting, which I find altogether sensible. So if, however, I become sarcastic at places it is only for rhetorical reasons or to make a point, and never to belittle or disparage you personally. Although I disagree with some of your views from time to time, I respect you as an erudite who is also insightfull on various interesting and important subjects, which is why I follow your blog for years.
This is going to be a long text for which I am sorry. I will say it only once and won’t be repeating it even if it changes your position not one iota.
I commend you for the first half of this post, up to the question “can anything be done?” and including the answer – no, because climate change is already underway and there’s no political will to stop it. But what follows I find exceedingly weak. On the face of it your argument – that the lack of political will (or maybe even the climate change itself) is a fault of climate change activists – looks very unappealing. It seems to be blaming the messenger for the message. Upon more detailed analysis, however, your argument doesn’t become any better.
You say that “most people who claim to be concerned about the climate are eager to see other people deprived of carbon fuels, so long as they themselves don’t have to make any significant changes in their lifestyles.” But why only them? If you are correct about what you wrote in the first part of this post – the western USA becoming uninhabitable, 100 million refuges – as I believe that you are, then it seems to me that EVERYONE should be concerned about that, and not just rich climate activists. So – and this is not a rethorical question – why do you say that only rich hypocrites (and nobody else) are concerned about an impending catastrophy for which you say that it is very real and already happening?
Reading on I gather that you see climate activists as politically left and then you say that people on the center and right do not have political will to act to prevent impending disaster because they see that leftie climate activists are hypocrites so they don’t believe them. But, why don’t they examine the matter for themselves, the sound science, the growing evidence…? Can’t they read? Or is it in general more important to them to oppose anything that hypocrite “lefties” say even if it means that they themselves and their children are going to pay a high price?
BTW, my sympathy and my allegiance is and always has been with the working class and the poor, and I believe that that is one more thing in which I agree with you. Strangely then how differently we proceed. It seems that to you, as well as to great many Americans I guess, left equals socialism equals communism equals totalitarian mass murdering state equals satanism. It’s all the same and all beyond the pale. To me, left is by definition the politics to advance the condition of the working class and the poor. So when you say that “nearly all the proposals the left is offering would, as usual, benefit the middle and upper middle classes at the expense of the working classes and the poor” all I can say is that that is a fake left. I guess fake left is not surprising since USA is the center of the global capitalist empire so there’s not much real left there, if any. And that is why the conditions of the working class in USA is in a permanent downward spiral. As someone noted a long time ago: In Soviet Union there was only one – communist – party. In USA there are two parties: a capitalist party, and the other capitalist party.
Back to your climate argument. Big corporate polluters are not to blame because… they are only producing goods and services to support the climate-wrecking lifestyles of the climate activists. Really? Just for them? The center and right don’t purchase products of big business? And the profit is not the real reason, it is just something that happens by the way? So if all climate activists somehow managed to reduce their ecological footprint to the basic sustenance level (which, of course, they never will) then big corporate producers would stop burning carbon immediatelly (profit be damned) and the center and right people would start caring for the disaster which will ruin great many of them, the more so the later they act? I find that very unconvincing.
It seems to me that your argument might be a typical denier argument – climate change is not real since even those who say they are concerned don’t act as if they really are – modified to allow that climate change is actually real… but even so it’s all the fault of leftie climate activists and there’s no need to do anything about it until they do it first.
In my opinion the hypocrite climate activists (and I’m sure that not all climate activists are hypocrites) are to blame for a very small part of the reason why there is no political will to prevent an impending catastrophy. The greatest blame surely goes to the big corporate polluters, and here’s one link to support this claim. https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-53640382
But even more simply and more generally, what destroyed our planet and ruined the futures of our children and grandchildren is capitalism. I believe that Naomi Klein pinpointed that. To prevent the climate catastrophy we would have to abandon capitalism. And there’s no political will for that. As someone noted, it is easier to imagine the end of the world then the end of capitalism, And so the end of the world (or maybe the long descent) it will be.
Darkest Yorkshire #257
Can a fire burn into the wind? Generally speaking, no. I suppose if the wind was very light, fuels were receptive, and maybe with some help from the terrain (fire like to burn uphill more than downhill) it might be possible for the fire to creep into the wind. But it wouldn’t be much and I wouldn’t count on it. If there is a fire upwind of you, you are in danger and the best thing is probably to get out of its way.
Fire fighting has developed into a well-oiled machine. It’s really quite amazing. Believe me, everything that can be thought of has been tried to maximize fire fighter performance. No, you can’t wear a mask hiking up and down the steep terrain in the heat. We try to put fire camps where there is less smoke, so at least you’re not in it 24 hours a day for days on end, but that is not always possible. Some people wear a cold, wet bandana around their neck to help with the heat. The best way is to take a break in the shade and drink some cold water (which is why the lack of ice is a problem).
Michelle S. #260
Obviously the change in fire extent and behavior recently has led to a re-evaluation of our landscape management, and this is a HUGE and complicated subject. It will take many years to come to a new paradigm. More controlled burning in the “off season” seems like a good idea, but people hate it because then you have smoke all year long. Mechanical thinning can reduce fuel loads if done right (done wrong, logging creates more fuel), but then of course you need to maintain it, or everything just grows back.
The lack of water on the fireline is troubling, and I wouldn’t surprised at. all if the problem is a shortage of plastic bottles. In the old days we used to all have multiple one quart plastic bottles that we would refill over and over. That had to stop because: Covid. I would love to see those used again. The amount of plastic and other garbage generated by a large incident is staggering.
Thank you for the interesting essay.
I can add a few observations from Germany regarding the warming of the climate, some are personal experience, but some are also officially observed by the scientist here:
-I talked wit my mother a few days ago about the frequency of winters with a lot of snow. The last winter, we had a lot of snow, but this was the first time since 2010. My mother said that winters with a lot of snow were more frequent, when she was younger.
In the summer of 2019, the thermometer in my car crossed the 40°C barrier for the first time. In the city, where I am working, was not a single green blade of grass. Everything was brown.
In the Harz region, where I currently live, winter sport is huge. The problem is, that there is not enough snow. Therefore, the locals try to convince the tourists to come for hiking and other stuff, which is not dependent on snow. Too bad, that there was a lockdown last winter, otherwise the winter sport tourists would have come there in masses.
Another observation from the Harz region, there are a lot of spruces here due to their fast growth. Currently, they have a major problem with bark beetles, which kill all the spruces. I have learned that the spruces are more vulnerable to the bark beetles due to ongoing droughts.
The water reservoirs in the Harz region were nearly empty last year, which could be a major problem in the future, since they supply water even to larger cities like Bremen, that are 200 km away.
The question would be, if that is just normal change of climate or if this is a unique situation due to human influence.
Your father-in-law seems to be a fan of Ayn Rand. I have read an essays collection written by her a few days ago. For her, words like collectivism and altruism are swearwords of the worst kind.
“And the greatest arrogance of all: Save the planet! […] The planet is fine, the people are f!@$ed. Difference!”
I am a big fan of George Carlin. The sketch about saving the planet is one of his finest.
Maybe all the people trying to save the planet will go insane, if they realize that they cannot save it, while the people trying to cope with the new situation will go on with their lives as well as possible.
Regarding Baerbock, I have read that she is part of the Young Global Leaders program of the WEF (like our grandiose health minister Span). So, you could argue that she is just a normal neoliberal (or communist according to other dissidents) with a green camouflage.
Thanks for this brilliant essay, so reminiscent of The Archdruid Report, reminding us of ‘the comforts of deep time’. Zooming way out seems particularly helpful in these tumultuous times, as is Stoic philosophy and constant prayer.
Thanks also for “A Hypothesis” on Dreamwidth. As Chris mentioned, it’s profoundly haunting and dark. I recall a few years back when we were in the grips of the last Ebola panic you outlined a possible worst-case outcome which was quite horrific. I don’t believe you were predicting it exactly and certainly hoped to be wrong, and you were. I applaud your courage in publishing this new scenario…it’s certainly not that farfetched . I imagine Cassandra prayed she was wrong as well. We shall see.
This is the big story. A major challenge is that it is a quantitative story, and not everyone is able to appreciate the numbers. For example, the hypisthermal was roughly 9000-5000 years ago. So desertification of the west occurred over thousands of years. If Las Vegas is headed for drought induced abandonment 1000 years from now, many people would say that they are not all that concerned. Our problem is that we are changing the climate more than occurred in the hypisthermal and we are doing it over a century. We actually don’t know what happens when you shock the climate system like this. Maybe the west keeps drying out. Maybe something very different happens. I agree with you that apocalypse isn’t likely. But we should be clear about when future projections are built on quantitatively comparable historical precedent and when they are built on rhetorically similar but physically quite different scenarios.
There is another point that nags me as I read this essay. The scientific and engineering knowledge and capabilities that have been developed by humans over the past few centuries are something that hasn’t occurred in any known era of history. This means that many insane things are technically possible. If preserving the Las Vegas strip was a central goal of the ruling elite and they were politically savy enough to organize the 141 million people living west of the Mississippi, it is technically possible for them to do it, even through the climate chaos ahead. There are available resources to pipe water and electric power to Las Vegas and keep the roulette wheels spinning. Of course it is insane (I love your line “marvel at the insane bad taste of their ancestors”). It would mean pumping wealth from other communities and diminishing overall quality of life. But that is roughly the insane arrangements used to support Las Vegas, Hollywood, Silicon Valley and Wall Street today. To summarize, the point that nags me is that the range of possibilities available to a society with our technical abilities are vast, even as the fossil fuel binge winds down. I suspect that we are headed toward a chaotic set of geo-engineering fiascos in the next few centuries rather than a future determined by the kind of geophysical and ecological systems that dominated the historical precedents. This makes seeing into the future particularly difficult because it is so very difficult to guess what the humans will do.
Fringewood, many thanks for this!
A. Karhukainen, fascinating. Thank you for the paper!
Pixelated, well, did they ask all the whales, or just one pod? They might have had the bad luck to get a pod of whales who were strict polka fans…
Beekeeper, okay, that’s weird. Thanks for the data point.
Ron, I figure the insistence that technologies can’t be lost is purely a matter of whistling past the graveyard. The people who insist on that know perfectly well that they’re wrong but they can’t bear confronting the fact that most of our science and technology is headed for the dumpster of deep time.
Jeffrey, heh! No surprises there.
Matt, well, you can always read that post…
Michelle, excellent! I’ll look forward to hearing their first hit.
Chris, that’s certainly possible. It’s also possible that the people who are guiding your country’s policies are hopelessly confused themselves.
Goran, I see you don’t read my blog very often, or you’d know that there are dissenting voices here all the time. Fortunately, they don’t just rehash the standard talking points of the leftward end of the media, as you’ve done here. Not that this comes as any surprise; ever since I started blogging, the people who insist that I ought to listen to their dissenting viewpoint are almost always people who are simply mouthing the same tired rhetoric that’s been all over the media for decades.
I’ll try this one more time. The reason people on the center and the right don’t agree with climate activists on the left is because (a) the climate activists aren’t acting as though there’s a real crisis, and (b) so many alleged experts have told so many lies about so many things that the first thing that comes to mind when they hear a supposed expert claiming something is “who’s paying him to lie to us?” In other words, they don’t believe you. They think you’re lying to try to manipulate them. They can and do read, and they can and do think for themselves — and that’s why they distrust you and other leftists. They’re going to distrust the left until the left shows that it can be trusted, and a little less blatant hypocrisy of the “restrictions for you but not for me” variety would go a long way to help.
As for your allegiance being with the working class, no doubt. I wonder how much time you actually spend with working class Americans and how often you listen to what they have to tell you. The vast majority of leftists I know who love to talk about how much they support the working class have never in their lives sat down with a bunch of working Joes and/or Janes and listened to their opinions without trying to criticize and patronize them. Working class people don’t see the left as helping them, because the left hasn’t helped them. For decades now, the left has pushed policies that have driven tens of millions of working class Americans into poverty and misery.
As for the rest, you’re deliberately misunderstanding and misstating my argument to try to discredit it. That’s common enough. If you took the time to understand it instead, you might learn something, but I’m not going to hold my breath.
Secretface, many thanks for the data points!
Jim, you’re most welcome.
Ganv, you might want to look into the last thirty or forty years of research into climate theory sometime. Natural climate changes don’t necessarily unfold over centuries or millennia — some of them have happened far more quickly than the global warming now under way. I’m quite sure we’ll see some geoengineering fiascos, but the winding down of the fossil fuel age is already having a sharp effect on how much we can get done; can a nation that can’t even keep its highways repaired manage large-scale geoengineering projects? I suspect we’ll find out.
@ Lew and Rose
On a time scale in which the lifetime of a tree is seen as a few seconds, trees are essentially ground-to-air lightning bolts of water. (They even have a similar shape, for similar reasons: the common process of gathering, channeling, and then dispersing a flow of a fluid, via the roots, trunk, and branches respectively in the tree’s case.) The total mass of water passing through the channel over time dwarfs the mass of what we think of as the tree itself, the wood, root, and leaf tissues.
That would be about the same time scale on which whole forests would move rapidly across the landscape like weather fronts. It makes sense that such age-long water storms are going to be part of the climate, as much as rainfall is.
@JMG, don’t even joke about it; polka reminds me of junior high gym class dance unit. I suppose they just asked the one humpback, so if there are whales that like polka, I bet it’s Minkes, and that’s why the orcas usually eat them instead.😉
@Info, thanks for the quotations from scripture. What you have provided does not surprise me one bit and I could not agree with you more in stating that the “stock” Christian image of heaven is false (that’s precisely why I used the term “stock” rather than “scripture-based”). My mother, who was a devout High Anglican, used to mercilessly mock this stock image of heaven. Sad how every society waters down and distorts the images provided in their holy book as per their particular predilection. It might even be an interesting project to research the origins and development of the highly erroneous image of heaven believed in by a large number of Christians these days. I certainly hope you did not interpret by my comment as being inherently anti-Christian, as it was not intended to be so.
Energy for desalination can come from the sun, at the simplest level. 1. Fill a container with ocean water. 2. Evaporation. 3. Condensation. 4 Collection of the desalinated water. 5. Drink. Thanks to this site
I’m certain if you want to use heat, you can start any fire using a magnifying glass. Once you get the fire going, keep it fueled with . . . your choice.
Goran @ 266, you might benefit from considering that there are several quite different ideological viewpoints in environmental activists. A starting point is the discussion of “Bright Green Environmentalism” on Wikipedia:
As that page discusses, the Bright Green viewpoint heavily promotes electric cars, solar power, wind generation, and various other high-tech items (Smart Homes!) as means to address environmental issues. This viewpoint is held in some disdain (I’m understating…) by many of the Light Green and Dark Green folks also discussed on that page.
As the above Wiki page explains, Light Greens use their lifestyle as a centerpiece for their environmental beliefs, and not by buying electric cars (Own a CAR? Are you kidding?) but by practicing and embodying many things dear to the heart of green wizardry; see: http://greenwizards.com/forum for examples.
The phrase “Collapse Now and Avoid The Rush” is a central focus for Light Greens; our inimitable host JMG coined that phrase.
Dark Greens (a much smaller group) have been quite aggressive, at least in the past, towards insisting that Capitalism Must Die; groups like Earth First! and Deep Green Resistance and Decroissance (the latter in Europe) are central to Deep Green ideas. See this recent book for pointers: https://www.amazon.com/Bright-Green-Lies-Mainstream-Environmentalism/dp/194862639X ; the title there is “Bright Green Lies: How The Environmental Movement Lost Its Way And What We Can Do About It.”
Now I will let you in on a secret: there’s ANOTHER group of quite effective environmental activists in the USA, who have accomplished arguably more than the above three groups. I’ll give them a label in just a second. This group has, among other things, preserved and enhanced and expanded wetlands, such that in a recent scientific overview/census of bird populations, the only major category of birds on the North American continent that had actually increased in numbers were wetland birds (ducks, geese, loons, and so forth.) Ducks Unlimited is one of the organizations that these folks fund and are members of.
So what’s a good label for those folks? Camo Greens!
If you’re thinking your personal allegiance is with the working class and the poor and you’re NOT hanging out with people who hunt and fish (both oftentimes for food) and do lots of camping, then I would suggest you’ve misunderstood who the working class and the poor really are. Unless the folks you admire and hang out with own hunting rifles, shotguns, and fishing equipment, then you’ve likely misunderstood the true class divides in the USA, especially in rural areas (which is what most of the landmass in the USA consists of.)
Best wishes for your continuing growth towards understanding environmentalism. And be forewarned: lots of committed and practicing environmentalists prepend “Not-So-” onto the “Bright Green” label. Avoid being “Not-So-Bright!” 😃
IIRC warehouser paper company was called upon to help re-tree Mt. St. Helen after she blew her top.
@JMG, you may be interested to read that while CO2 levels in the Triassic were over 2000 ppm (5-6 times higher than today), the sun was dimmer (our sun grow continuously brighter over time). The very slow decline of CO2 concentrations since then of 3-4 ppm per year roughly balanced out the increasing brightness of the sun in terms of net impact on global temperature. As a result, as we look for historical examples of high CO2 levels, we may be in headed towards much higher temperatures than seen during those times.
Here’s a succinct summary: https://newatlas.com/co2-levels-return-triassic/48800/
Goran @ 266, I can’t speak for other posters on this forum, but for my part, no, I do not always agree with JMG. Most recently, on this thread, I think, I do not think Trump’s notion of purchasing Greenland, which the Danes were quick to say is NOT for sale, is at all a good idea. I doubt we will be able to keep Alaska much longer. I think all of us Americans need to learn to be grateful for what we have and figure how to make that bounty last.
As for environmentalists not walking their talk, the problem here is that high profile individuals and organizations are vacuuming up money and attention needed by those who do in fact mean (and live) what they say. I doubt the right wing would be impressed by much of any kind of proposal, whether sincere or not, which might threaten to take away their toys.
I also doubt that the USA will splinter into smaller nations, another subject about which I disagree with our host. What I notice about giant countries, USA, China, Russia, Canada and Australia is a lack of defensible internal boundaries. Brazil has been quite poor and lacking in infrastructure till very recently, I believe, and has not splintered.
Phoenix will definitely become uninhabitable, for many reasons:
1. They simply won’t have the water to continue. Lake Mead and Lake Powell are going to be nothing more than streams very soon.
2. Yes, a lot of sunlight is produced in Phoenix. But it’s already pretty impossible to live there without air conditioning, and that’s going to just get worse. Keeping those air conditioner working as they wear out in a future of no fossil fuels seems unlikely, not does it really seem like the kind of place humanity will invest its much more limited resources in.
3. It’s hard to farm a hot desert with no water
Meanwhile, Minneapolis’ winters will get milder
@JMG you have said in one of your works (I think Dark Age America?) that you expect the only habitable area of the western US will be a narrow strip of land along the Pacific Coast. What are you thinking? Oregon and Washington west of the Cascades and the California coast (at least until the sea swallows chunks if it)? Maybe the Central Valley, but that’s going to get pretty hot…
The interior west will certainly be desert. Wouldn’t really be very inhabitable today without vast infrastructure projects for irrigation.
Maybe when future archeologists discover Las Vegas they’ll take it out of context and it’ll look really sophisticated. Like how we think of Greek and Roman statues as pure white marble. But when you see how they were actually painted, they’re gaudy enough to be in Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
I noticed I didn’t even reply on topic.
I concur that climate changes can be rapid and noticeable. I happen to now live in my late parents’ estate (120 m² house, 500 m² land piece) with a cherry tree, a peach tree and a plump tree. None of them has bore fruits this year because of one single and brutal episode of frost and snow in february-march. We then had a not so hot but rainy august all over the country (I live in France). Observable results can be seen in my neighbours’ backyards. Tomatoes, pepperoni, zucchini are dying. Last year was totally different, mild winter and spring, very hot summer and fall just was the year before.
I ‘m wondering how could I start a vegetable garden next year so, for now, I’m observing. Which sorts of weed grow. What is the local observable fauna. So far, I notice I have lots of snails, no slugs, lizards, few insects mainly grasshopers and small green locusts, wasps, bees, flies (lots of) and pesky mosquitoes. The surroundings are some wet zones with ponds near the Loire river although the soil seems to be rather dry. Rosemary, lilac, laurel, wild thyme and roses grow well.
My goal is to have a kitchen garden all year long with species adpated to the climate (Loire’s central valley, flat plains, semi oceanic for now, evolving toward drier winters with random and brutal showers from spring to fall as I can see).
Suffice to say that I know almost nothing on cultivated things but I don’t have any problem learning new trades especially simple ones that can be learnt as a useful hobby.
If any of you has some advice to give, I’d be glad to accept.
How are you doing mate?
We’ve had long discussions over the years you and I, and I respect you, for as they say down here: getting dirt under your fingernails – because I encounter so few these days whom would subject themselves to that indignity. 🙂
Anyway, so I was listening to the youth news radio today about the latest one million word report from the scientists banging on about climate change and how they’d previously understated the case, and now things are dire and going to occur far sooner than they previously reported.
It sounded truly awful, and then there was a casual mention that they’d all get together in Glasgow later this year and have a big talk-fest about the report. Did I hear that correctly? So, the problem is that you have serious people making dire predictions on one hand, and then on the other hand they’re jetting off to a distant locale from all points of the planet to enjoy a talk-fest, thus contributing massively to the problem. It’s not a good look and many people judge them not on their words, but their actions – and it dilutes the otherwise sensible message in a most visceral and easily skewered sense.
This does not in any way make the problem of climate change any less real or urgent, in fact it makes it even more of a problem because people need not to be activists or alarmists, they have to lead by example in the face of an uncertain future. And that lot were apparently jetting off to Glasgow.
Mate, I deal in the world of plants (as do you) and messing around with an otherwise stable climate is a really bad idea and I see the implications of it playing out around me in the natural world.
We need less activists of any political stripe, and more people like you and I to get off the couch and do something different than is otherwise being done today. Activists waste all of their energy resisting a system which is well set up to absorb that energy. And there is enough waste in this civilisation already.
Off topic. Hal Freeman is an American who married a Russian woman, and moved with their family to small town in Russia about 5 years ago. He blogs about the experience at Between Two Worlds. His wife Oksana has fallen ill, and could use all of our prayers/healing wishes.
@JMG do you mind me sharing my perspective in regards to Groan?
Pixelated, I knew a guy who made a decent living playing polka tunes on the accordion, so apparently the Minke whales aren’t alone in that!
Jenxyz, sure. Now crunch the numbers to find out how much water you can get per square meter of solar stills per sunny day, and how much it would cost to keep California provided with water that way…
Paul, and yet proxy measurements of Triassic temperatures suggest that they were much higher globally than today — the absence of ice caps and signs of glaciation and the much higher sea level all through the Mesozoic are among the indications of that. That’s the kind of paleoclimatic data that needs to be factored into any analysis of the sort I’m attempting here.
Dave, Oregon and Washington west of the Cascades are what I had in mind; they’ll have a climate comparable to California’s, when California is as hot and desolate as northwestern Mexico.
Yorkshire, funny. I bet they think the casinos were temples where we worshipped our gods.
Michelle, I’m going to assume that that’s a typo for Goran; if so, it’s as funny as it is appropriate. You may certainly do so, so long as your comments follow the usual rules for politeness et al.
Thank you for a fine and entertaining discussion on the impact of climate change. The future is truly not a single place. One region’s future can diverge greatly from the fate of another region. To wit, the trajectories of Russia and much of Asia will diverge sharply from the Western world. Why? First, the West has been seeking to isolate that region from the global economy in an effort to destabilize and, ultimately, secure their vast natural resources. The West needs “living room” to quote a well-known Western leader and what better place than Russia?
The Western plans are not working out well. Russia with China are settling up another world. I would say a much more sustainable world. Russia despite its vast geography and severe climate emits 30% less CO2 per capita with plans for greater reliance on zero-emission technologies (nuclear and hydro mostly). China emits about 40% of the US levels per capita with a physical economy that is about 300% larger.
My two-cent prediction is that the West will continue its long slow decline as it has run out of ideas, out of territories to conquer and exploit and is living on debt and military/political coercion of its “allies”. Russia, China and like-mined nations (perhaps including parts of Latin America if the US loses its grip), will find a sustainable future.
One factor not mentioned in your analysis is that our elites prefer a low-energy and static society – so much easier to manipulate. The wealthy are the most risk adverse group on the planet. Why take a risk when they are on top? The 2030 goal of us deplorable owning nothing, paying rent for everything and living a low energy life fits their models perfectly. For them, life will abundant with every material pleasure and a limitless supply of human bodies to satisfy their desires. The problem is those Russkies and Chinese…..
Of course, a general thermonuclear war will change the above scenario and can not be ruled out. Any guesses who would start it?
@Jenxyz, in some ways desalinization is a perfect application of renewable (especially solar) energy. You need it in places where there’s little or no rain. You don’t need to try to store extra power for times of low sunshine; instead, you store the extra production of fresh water, which is much easier.
The issue is one of scale. Fresh water needed for drinking and other household uses is a tiny amount compared with the amount needed for agriculture, on a per capita basis.
One standard-size solar panel (max 300W output) in good weather conditions could desalinize about 100 gallons of water on an average day. That’s pretty good; a few panels would provide enough for drinking, cooking, laundry, and bathing for your family and livestock. But to grow one acre of wheat or maize without rainfall, you’d need something like 70 panels (7,000 gallons per day) and correspondingly larger desalinization machinery and storage tanks. Could a homesteader intending to farm, say, 100 acres with mixed crops and livestock get a loan for the cost of an array of 2,000 solar panels and a 200,000 gallon/day desalinization plant, with all the necessary tanks and pumps? Not at present-day prices, and likely even less so at future ones. (All the figures are reasonable ballpark estimates only, but show the issue.)
Without fossil fuels or other abundant energy, a solar powered desalinization plant would make sense for providing water to an inhabited outpost like a mining colony or military base, but not for agricultural self-sufficiency. A colony living on an arid seacoast would probably be better off using most of its available solar influx for de-watering salt and trading the salt elsewhere for food than for desalinizing sea water for large-scale agriculture of its own. And transporting desalinated water (or salt water to be desalinized locally) in large amounts from a seacoast to a large arid inland region adds additional difficulties.
Just thought Id drop in and make my own observation of climate change in St. Petersburg, Russia. When I first moved here in 2018, it was a very cold winter. It got to about -20c. Plenty of snow lasting until April even! Boy, it was cold.
Then rolled around 2019 and that was like a British winter. It was 5c, no snow, it was like where has winter gone? It even set alarm bells in Moscow and they had to import snow for the annual New Year event!
Of course the climate alarmists spelled the death of Russian winter…until 2020 then rolled around with the usual snow. 0c in December that evolved into a sturdy -15c – 23c around January/February. Winter was back on!
Now the key thing to remember here is the following. Russian has usually very hot summers and very cold winters. In 2018, they had a very hot summer in the world cup. In 2019, summer was not hot and was cool. 2020 had a normal, hot summer.
Now 2021 has had a really unusual hot summer of about….34c. It has been the hottest in 100 years. The heat stuck to your skin. Soooo….the big question is – is this climate change and are we going to see a freak warm winter? Or are we due to -30c this winter making it an unusually cold one?
That said, there is a huge debate on if Russia in 30 years will have “green winters” due to climate change like in Europe with the extreme cold relegated to the Ural mountains….or if Russian winter can endure….
My own belief is that I think that, in all honesty, we could unfortunately be at the tail end of the infamous Russian winter. I hope to be proven wrong but I would give it another 30 years. So I could literally be living the last days of it. Which is very sad.
This is right off your blog, but hope you squeeze it into something:
It’s not going to be as easy as TPTB think it is…
No worries. In all the vast Cosmos. There is ample Thrones to parse out. Not to mention the power to teleport instantly everywhere like Christ was able to do after his resurrection behind locked doors(John 20:19, 20:26).
Visiting the different Galaxies and Planets and even the Spiritual Realms in this way will be very interesting.
@Chris in Fernglade, I imagine some White Island casualties did end up in Adelaide, but not her patients, fortunately. Just talked to her today, she has gone back to the ICU, but she says South Australia is still pretty quiet all around, only one or two covid patients have ever shown up on her ward, and no increase in weird other conditions, so maybe that’s a good sign. She said it’s raining, so maybe I should ask her to come back here, now!
Perhaps only slightly related but I was thinking about the equilibrium popping back and forth and realized it’s also true for individual human set-states.
When I was in my thirties I lost my “will”, but it happened not in stages but in moving back and forth between strong willed and almost no will until it settled in no will.
Just a couple weeks ago I had a period where my will came back (I’ve been working on my psychology and spiritual matters for years) and suddenly everything was effortless. Lasted about 4 days, went away, but with luck it’s the first appearance of a new equilibrium (and much better than the old one, which was gritted teeth willpower while this one is almost effortless.)
Anyway, looking back I can see the equilibrium state back and forth on a number of things and I think the model is probably applicable. Going from previous experience, from the first new equilibrium to it settling in has usually taken 2-3 years, assuming I keep doing whatever I’m doing.
@JMG Im starting to think smart phones are not as smart as people claim them to be. Of course autocorrect had to “save the day” once again.
@Goran I apologise for my unusually wrong screed but these are ten points out of many. I’ll have you know that I myself am working class, I work graves at a furniture warehouse and I enjoy listening/reading to books on various subjects including occultism, economics, philosophy, and history.
1. We pay millions or billions of dollars worth of taxes both state and federal, each and every one of us to go towards green projects only to find out that they require more maintenance , non ecofriendly resources that were said to be eliminated, and money. We already get taxed out the wazoo for our roads (which if improved PROPERLY can actually improve fuel economy) why are we pooling money for a project that not just hurts our checkbooks but pollutes more in the long run? Why aren’t we holding the government more responsible when it’s the biggest monopoly and source of waste in general in comparison to those greedy corporations you mentioned?
2. Being green is cost prohibitive to many and some people dont have the space or security.
3. There’s little incentive to be efficient privately or in the corporate realm, or to revert to older ways because of government involvement. Welcome to the world of bureaucracies where our responsibilities are surrendured to those in power and if you dare try and be better be it the use if time, resources, etc you’re somehow punished for it, especially if you happen to be in the presence of a jealous and ultimately greedy person or entity, because you’re investing more (whatever that may be) than what they are willing.
4. Don’t smack down ideas that have great potential now and in the future out of fear based on the disasters of the past caused as a result of human pride and negligence. (Refering to nuclear)
5. There are simply ideas well outside not just our budgets and goals, but all possibility because it applies a one size fits all solution to a problem far more complex towards people and to the environment which cannot be enforced or attempted unless by force (authoritarian government control).
6. The most conservative people I have met were frugal one way or another and often created compost piles, fertilizer piles, grew their own plants, raised one or two animals (bees, cats, dogs, horses and chickens) , refused to take their trash to the landfill and have a burn barrel for non organic materials, pick up trash left by irresponsible people on BLM territory (bureau of land management not black lives matter), burn wood for heat during the winter, hunt and fish regularly, make their own clothes and food etc. Built their own property or improved on it even. Not only that but they were also the most generous people I have ever met, not necessarily nice about it sometimes (kind and caring doesnt always mean being nice), but they were still generous none the less. And yes I’ve met with the religious right and honestly they are tame in comparison to what I’ve dealt with.
I live in a blue lake, and for all intents and purposes while some of the lefties here do give generously and some do live a generally “green” lifestyle, they’re perhaps some of the most insufferable wasteful people I’ve lived with, worked with, learned with, was taught by, raised by, etc. Because of several other factors. And yes I’ve acquainted myself with some genuinely wholesome liberals but at this point some are no longer leftists, they’re independents or libertarians who got red pilled hard or have actually done much needed self reflection and therapy.
7. If anyones answer to everything ends with giving more power and money to the government or someone you perceive as an authority, it doesnt matter what your intended result is, even for the good of the collective or some class, you’re probably not doing things for the right reasons and/or you’re lacking foresight. In other words you cant see the forest for the trees and you have few limits or respect for boundaries of any kind other than your own.
8. The one thing working class and poor people like myself hate the most are people who attempt to kiss our rears. There’s something about people who promise us the world or that they have the answer to everything or to one particular woe that screams cult, and not the wholesome kind.
9. How many times have you been antagonized, betrayed and mocked personally and en mass for the last 15 years for being blue collar and/or conservative/independent/libertarian? Why should we trust the mass of people who call us Nazis, Racists, Fascists, Homophobes, Xenophobes, etc. With the same fervor and insanity as done in the USSR and Germany? Why should we trust people who get all these degrees but can’t manage to get a job or make a job? What benefit do we get from having social/American liberals around besides finding problems? What are the consequences of all these ideas and policies they’re trying to push and do they past muster with our universal laws (The constitution aka the US rule of law) that reflect universal truths?
10. We dont like people who assume stuff about us of which they don’t understand. Asking questions, asking for proof, and disagreeing is all part of the process, that does not mean denial of any given situation, however the issue rises when certain bits of information are obviously skewed towards one result or another and cannot be replicated or the data has been misinterpreted whether or not you agree with the conclusions. Science female adult dog. Right or wrong it will do you no good to force or coerce people to drink from the well when they don’t want to or are unable to no matter how dire a situation is to you. They need to come to that realization themselves.
Tldr: why the ever living f should I listen or trust people who consistently throw me under the bus or threaten my ability to live peacefully and potentially cleaner all under the premise that they know best or that they care? Why should i trust people who don’t trust me much less underestimate my abilities? I can already tell you corporate at my place of work cant manage to keep base employees and throw money at the issue when our issue is how we are being treated by customers and how their policies get underfoot and mess up how we work and run inefficiently. Apply that nationally. It’s a self fulfilling prophesy that we can’t win unless the reigns are loosened.
Real Raw News is a SATIRE site. Just like the Borowitz Report.
I wish that article was true but it is from a satire site. For some unfortunately true bad news in that vein, my Squadron Commander forwarded a memo from the SecDef yesterday.
The relevant money quote.
“Based on these consultations and on additional discussions with leaders of the White House COVID Task Force, I want you to know that I will seek the President’s approval to make the vaccines mandatory no later than mid-September, or immediately upon the U.S. Food and Drug Agency(FDA) licensure, whichever comes first.”
So now I am forced into a decision to bail with only 18 months left until retirement or roll the bones with the J&J. I am not going to take the Pfizer period. Thankfully I do have a civilian job that will easily cover things. However it is the airlines and I dont know how long I can stall there. The only question is how punitive are they going to be with this mandate. No word on that.
Final quote of the memo.
“All FDA-authorized COVID-19 vaccines are safe and highly effective. They will protect you and your family. They will protect your unit, your ship, and your co-workers. And they will ensure we remain the most lethal and ready force in the world. Get the shot. Stay healthy. Stay ready.”
Way late, but here’s a fine example of PMC climate leadership:
@Walft f #289
I am involved in desalination technology with a focus on seawater desalination using reverse osmosis from small scale to mega-scale plants. You mentioned a 300 watt solar panel providing enough energy to desalinize 100 gallons per day. An exceptionally efficient energy consumption for mega scale SWRO plants is 3.1 kWh/m3 or about 84 gallons/kWh. The selling price of desalinated water in the Middle East ranges around $0.35/m3 or about $1.34/1,000 gallons plus cost of distribution and associated “leakage” losses (i.e.non-revenue water).
Small scale desalination plants have much higher costs per unit volume of production. Solar desalination (thermal and photovoltaic) is heavily researched and making minimal headway in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It still does not compete well against other technologies.
In California, desalination costs in mega-plants costs multiple times more than in the Middle East, The plants use the same technology and design but are burdened with soft costs that can exceed the project costs (endless environmental reviews, lawsuits, consultant fees, studies, etc.). The problem is that the focus in not on the outcome but on extracting money and influence. In California, restriction of water resources is a way to regulate growth for both good and bad intentions. That is one of the factors in the train wreck called the US economy.
Claim religious exemption under Title VII. You don’t entitle them to any explanation on what those convictions are, not unless you want to make it known. Army or not, all employers ought to know that under the ADA and Title VII employers ought to make reasonable accommodations and options for those who do not and cannot get vaccinated. Mask mandates and constant testing is something that can be done. If they so much as push the vaccine mandates they’re going to be in a world of hurt because coersion hardly works once their jigs up and they have to suffer the consequences. You can reasonably say that you are not denying the vaccine but defering on getting it till it is officially approved by the FDA in two years after the clinical trials have been completed as per law and you can be protected by informed consent laws of which the waivers they have us sign at the time of vaccination essentially makes it so that pharmeseutical companies that make the vaccines cannot be held liable for any bodily damage or death.
climate is essentially a 1/f frequency distribution, which means it has no average value. measuring the climate at a particular time tells you something about the immediate future, bur the future climate wanders around like a drunken random walk. in the long run there is no information about the future in the present. maybe its global warming, maybe not. we will have to fake it, like life since the beginning.
question to ask: will any of the oil wells be capped off, and will everyone walk away saying “no i will not sin again, i will go green”. forget about it. as the ice melts the countries will be falling over each other to exploit the new resource. debating it–and posturing about it– is hopeless. the trajectory is set. like the dinos. nothing magical about the human intellect when it comes to survival in the universe long term.
I’m very late to this party, but was wanting to let the readership have this reference: “An Analysis of the Potential for the Formation of ‘Nodes of Persisting Complexity'” from Nick King and Aled Jones of Anglia Ruskin University in the UK. Mr Greer, you are quoted in note 63. I’ve not worked my way through the whole paper, but it is sounding pretty familiar so far. https://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/13/15/8161/htm.
Thank you for your insight. It’s helpful to read about changes in a resiliently positive way.
I’m curious: was that meteorologist you mentioned Cliff Mass? I heard the podcast version of that blog post, and I found myself with a hurt head trying to follow his logic, that “2 degrees of global warming would only have exacerbated the 108º high to 106º.” Uhhh… what if your models are, like, not applicable?
Infinite growth within a finite system is not sustainable – a principle that has had economist and physicists at each other’s throats at international conferences for much of the past decade.
The recent IPCC report only verifies the the remarkable and quite enduring insight of The Limits To Growth. It’s findings have been probably the best overall guideline to the evolving future. Of course it does not fit into the narratives of either doomsayers, or the business as usual cheerleeders that global capitalism is dependent on.
And of course global capitalism is not at all suited to to the task of reducing global emissions, given that comfortable classes are not that interested in downsizing the consumptive lifestyles, Americans in particular, that drive the global economy. And corporations have pretty much zero incentive to do so.
Comments are closed.