Today’s Contemplation: Collapse Cometh XXIX
Today’s contemplation was prompted by an email my mum sent me. As she closes in on 80, I find that she’s becoming a bit more open-minded about things but remains somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to global warming/anthropogenic climate change. We periodically share thoughts on the state of the world, especially politics, and I think I’ve almost got her convinced to abandon her faith/trust in government…
Anyways, here is the comment about global warming she forwarded to me and my relatively quick response (typed up while I was engaged in replacing a floor/foundation for one of our greenhouses — I never considered a decade ago when I installed the first greenhouse, of three, that the mini-garden ties I was using to terrace our backyard would decay/rot so quickly so I am replacing them with concrete blocks and putting in a patio stone floor so that my eldest daughter who has taken over the greenhouse can have many years of use with it, hopefully). I have added some minor supplemental thoughts (in italics) and supporting links to a few sources (see endnotes).
With global warming having become as much a political issue as a scientific inquiry, I went from wondering whether mankind might really be influencing the climate to someone questioning a science I do not understand. I am now worried we are being duped by people with an agenda, like keep the money gravy train running. No one has yet explained to my satisfaction the big ice age followed by warming then a mini-ice age, followed by warming, all before mankind was a significant presence on earth and did nothing but have a few campfires.
That human activity has an impact on our environment and ecological systems, I have little doubt. How could almost eight billion of us and our resource demands not? Especially the so-called ‘advanced’ economies[i]. There is growing evidence that shows that our industrial civilisation has surpassed several planetary biophysical limits and likely overloaded a number of the planet’s compensatory sinks due to the vast amounts of waste material produced in its quest to procure the minerals and energy that our tools require for their manufacture and pollutants produced through their use.[ii]
The issue with the focus on global warming/climate change/carbon emissions is multi-faceted —such stories are never as simple as we’re led to believe. Geologic history shows pretty clearly that the planet’s climate changes and probably most significantly as a result of the sun’s cycles.[iii]
Is human activity exacerbating natural cycles? Quite possibly[iv]. Is it as catastrophic as painted by some?[v] Only time can truly tell since modelling of complex systems is fraught with difficulties.[vi] One minor variation of one of many variables that are used to create future predictions can shift the eventual outcome significantly.[vii] Of course, humans don’t like uncertainty (which is really all that can be provided about the future — probabilistic scenarios that may or may not occur — no matter how complex one’s predictive model is) so we cling to and tend to believe forecasts that are at their root uncertain; their potential accuracy matters not.[viii]
One of the other complications of the narrative is that our ruling class always leverages crises to their advantage. Always. I have little doubt that the hyper focus on climate and carbon emissions is being used to pursue the ruling class’s primary motivation: control/expansion of the wealth-generating systems that provide their revenue streams.[ix]
The ‘problem’ of climate change is always presented with ‘solutions’ but those ‘solutions’ do not address carbon emissions in the least; in fact, there’s a good argument to be made that they actually increase them.[x] Much as the ruling class manufactures consent for any policy that the masses might question/reject (almost always via significant propaganda campaigns), they have created a narrative that is designed to persuade people to believe something that is increasingly being shown to be completely false and little more than marketing/sloganeering.[xi]
These ‘solutions’ also, conveniently, increase the revenue streams of the ruling class via taxes and complete replacement/overhaul of virtually all important technology (e.g., ‘renewable’ energy, electric vehicles, etc.). Scratch even gently below the surface of the ‘clean/green’ energy story and you discover it’s all basically bullshit.[xii] These technologies not only are not sustainable because of their dependence upon finite resources (including very much on the fossil fuel platform itself), but their production is hugely ecologically destructive. We are being sold a load of crap on various fronts so that the sociopaths that ‘control’ our world can profit. This being said, we do face some significant environmental and resource depletion challenges.
Probably the most dire predicament we face is ecological overshoot — too damn many people (especially living in ‘advanced’ economies) for a planet with finite resources.[xiii] The constant push for growth (which really is just to prolong/support the gargantuan Ponzi that our financial/economic/monetary systems have become) is the exact opposite of what we likely need to be doing; as is the push to ‘electrify’ everything.[xiv] The unfortunate thing for the future is that any species that overshoots its natural carrying capacity has only one way to be rebalanced: a massive die-off.[xv] When that occurs (and how it unfolds) is anybody’s guess…
As much as we tend to believe we understand our world and its complexities, I would contend we do not; at least, not very well. To compensate for this uncertainty we have developed all sorts of psychological mechanisms that lead us to believe particular narratives with some ‘certainty’. The beginning of a recent paper that challenges the mainstream story surrounding ‘renewable’ energy (that has been presented as a panacea for reducing carbon emissions; although I would argue Peak Oil is a more troubling issue in the energy needs of industrial civlisation[xvi]) is pertinent to this idea: “We begin with a reminder that humans are storytellers by nature. We socially construct complex sets of facts, beliefs, and values that guide how we operate in the world. Indeed, humans act out of their socially constructed narratives as if they were real. All political ideologies, religious doctrines, economic paradigms, cultural narratives — even scientific theories — are socially constructed “stories” that may or may not accurately reflect any aspect of reality they purport to represent. Once a particular construct has taken hold, its adherents are likely to treat it more seriously than opposing evidence from an alternate conceptual framework.”[xvii]
[i] https://archive.globalpolicy.org/social-and-economic-policy/the-environment/general-analysis-on-the-environment/45393-how-much-of-the-worlds-resource-consumption-occurs-in-rich-countries.html; https://www.livescience.com/20308-greedy-nations-top-resource-users-earth.html
[ii] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0921800914001323; https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/1259855.full; https://ideas.ted.com/the-9-limits-of-our-planet-and-how-weve-raced-past-4-of-them/; https://www.stockholmresilience.org/research/research-news/2015-01-15-planetary-boundaries---an-update.html
[v] https://www.populationconnectionaction.org/2021/08/12/ipcc-catastrophic-climate-change-is-coming/; https://www.npr.org/2021/08/09/1025898341/major-report-warns-climate-change-is-accelerating-and-humans-must-cut-emissions-; https://mahb.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/deepadaptation.pdf
[x] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/blog/2012/jan/09/wind-turbines-increasing-carbon-emissions; https://www.amazon.com/Life-after-Fossil-Fuels-Alternative/dp/3030703347; https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/opinion/mondaycop22-lower-co2-emissions-with-lower-carbon-solar-energy/
[xi] https://www.amazon.com/Manufacturing-Consent-Political-Economy-Media/dp/0375714499; https://www.amazon.com/Propaganda-Edward-Bernays/dp/0970312598; https://planetofthehumans.com; https://www.brightgreenlies.com
[xii] https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/environmental-impacts-renewable-energy-technologies; https://www.e-education.psu.edu/eme807/node/715’ https://www.nap.edu/read/12619/chapter/7; https://www.altenergymag.com/article/2015/08/the-dark-side-of-renewable-energy-negative-impacts-of-renewables-on-the-environment/20963/; https://www.routledge.com/Environmental-Impacts-of-Renewable-Energy/Spellman/p/book/9781482249460; https://www.instituteforenergyresearch.org/renewable/the-environmental-impact-of-lithium-batteries/
[xiv] https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/our-economy-is-a-ponzi-scheme-8fc56b9e594f; https://eand.co/how-the-economy-became-one-giant-ponzi-scheme-4ac84bf18738; https://moneyweek.com/economy/global-economy/601657/why-our-economy-is-a-giant-ponzi-scheme
[xv] https://thesenecaeffect.wordpress.com/2014/12/01/humans-in-ecological-overshoot-collapse-now-to-avoid-a-larger-catastrophe/; https://www.earthovershoot.org/who-we-are/frequent-questions.html; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overshoot_(population)
[xvi] https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/29458/peak-oil-decline-coronavirus-economy/; https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/has-peak-oil-already-happened/; http://large.stanford.edu/courses/2014/ph240/liegl1/
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