• Brett
    434


    There’s something about your first post that I didn’t like, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Now I realise that it’s the whole issue of fear. The stakes may be very high and you and others may feel that fear, as a last resort, is called for. But I don’t want to have our problems addressed through the lens of fear. There are probably a long list of reasons for this position, but my main concern is how can anyone think and act rationally under the shadow of fear.

    It’s probably true that there are some out there who can function under fear, and I suppose those are the ones who might make the decisions. But then again I don’t like the idea of those decisions being removed from me and being made on my behalf. Because if I’m living under fear I can’t even be sure about their position, about the quality of their decisions. How can we think theses things through then vote under these conditions.

    This reminds me a little of the fear ramped up during the Cold War, until children were taught to hide under school desks and families bought their own nuclear bunkers. The insanity was high then and this doesn’t look so different.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.7k
    Which insanity? The insanity of nuclear weapons or the insanity of building backyard fallout shelters?

    Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was, indeed, pretty crazy -- and did it ever go away? Not much. Whether the Soviets were going to attack us or not, and regardless of how many bombs they did or did not have, we all had been led to believe they were wicked enough to trigger MAD. (We were just as likely to trigger MAD, and we had more bombs.) At the time it made sense for the citizen to take note of where the public fall out shelters were, whether they were ready, or whether their own basement would suffice.
  • Brett
    434


    If I had left out the word ‘insanity’ how would you have responded to my post?
  • Brett
    434
    What’s disturbing is that we have children believing that the world is going to end in ten years.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    My immediate thoughts are that even if it were highly plausible that societal collapse is imminent (and I'm not saying it is or it isn't, since I don't have expert knowledge that would enable me to decide) and even if people were generally able to entertain the idea with equanimity (which I don't believe they are), I am nonetheless skeptical that they would be able to prepare for it in any systematic or useful way.

    I say this because, over and above the psychological and emotional difficulties people would likely face in seriously attempting to entertaining the idea, there is the greater difficulty that the exact form and duration of such a hypothetical collapse, as well as the aberrant human behavior that would seem likely to be manifested in a such a situation are incalculable.

    Add to that the fact that if everyone believed that societal collapse is imminent, it would probably become a self-fulfilling prophecy, and so in light of all that I can't see much value in the article. Academics are not always the best judges of human emotion and psychology.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.7k
    Let's get in the time machine; repost without the word 'insanity'. We'll see.

    The fear of getting nuked at that time was real enough (I remember it). Some people called the situation insane, the anti nuclear warfare people (SANE not an acronym, for a change) in particular (Bertrand Russell was one). The rank and file weren't insane for being worried; it was the military industrial political elite that were insane.

    I'm not sure how many people think the world is going to end in 10 years -- not too many, I would guess. It wouldn't be insane of someone to think that -- it might be merely premature or slightly neurotic to think that today. What is INSANE is the world's corporate/government elites being unwilling to make the necessary decisions to seriously cut CO2 emissions rather than just slowing the growth rate.
  • Janus
    7.3k
    What is INSANE is the world's corporate/government elites being unwilling to make the necessary decisions to seriously cut CO2 emissions rather than just slowing the growth rate.Bitter Crank

    I would have thought the two go hand in hand. It would seem you can't seriously cut CO2 emissions without seriously slowing the growth rate, and you probably can't seriously slow the growth rate without seriously cutting CO2 emissions.

    What if the corporate/ government elites have plans in place (regardless of how misguided or ineffective those plans might be) to save themselves and their families and friends from any coming catastrophe?

    It's like the twin scientistic fantasies of extending human life indefinitely and traveling to the stars; even if they ever came to fruition, it would most probably only ever be for a tiny elite.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    This reminds me a little of the fear ramped up during the Cold War, until children were taught to hide under school desks and families bought their own nuclear bunkers. The insanity was high then and this doesn’t look so different.Brett

    I guess it depends where you live, but the time that I am reminded of is more the thirties. Nobody wants to know that a war is coming there is an angry divisive atmosphere comprised of mixed fear and despair, the rise of Fascism and much wild indulgence.

    But whether anyone likes the tone is no concern to me. Fear might be appropriate, but is singularly ineffective. Fear leads to bigger walls to keep out the dreaded migrants and the greedy stockpiling of the preppers. Fear leads to the anointing of Elon Musk as saviour of humanity - fear personified. Fear is already dominating, and doesn't need my little thread.

    If you take this seriously, fear is ended, and grief can begin. It is way too late for acting rationally, even if such a thing were philosophically conceivable. Indeed it is the fantasy of rationality that has lead us to the extreme of debating here in all seriousness, with scientific rigour and appropriate format references, the possibility of our having already contrived our own destruction. And what was it you thought was insane, again?
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    So, folks, this is the game I am inviting you to play. Stop finding reasons why the future cannot be known, because you all don't behave like that any other time, you save money you get qualifications, you make plans and buy season tickets. So imagine that you have seriously come to the view that some combination of sea-level rise flooding most major cities, more extreme and unpredictable weather , an overall warming of anywhere from 2 to 6 degrees C. Leave it vague, but assume massive population displacements, assume some infrastructure collapse, civil unrest, starvation and disease. Assume normal service will not be resumed. The internet might be slow.
    So the plans that you have been making on the assumption that everything will go on as before, need some adjustment. It's not worth making plans. What is still important?

    And here, especially for Brett, is the thread theme song.

  • Brett
    434
    Fear is already dominating, and doesn't need my little thread.unenlightened

    What percentage of the population would you use as evidence that fear is already dominating?
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    It's from that era. The hippie response to the cold war/Vietnam war.

    Oh here's a factoid. 1.5 million people were internally displaced in the US in 2017.
    http://www.internal-displacement.org/countries/united-states

    I'll use them as evidence of something
  • Brett
    434
    A little bid of levity, Unenlightened.

    However, ‘fear is already dominating ’ was not answered.
  • Brett
    434
    I have found that people choose a scenario and a probability depending not on what the data and its analysis might suggest, but what they are choosing to live with as a story about this topic. That parallels findings in psychology that none of us are purely logic machines but relate information into stories about how things relate and why (Marshall, 2014). None of us are immune to that process. Currently, I have chosen to interpret the information as indicating inevitable collapse, probable catastrophe and possible extinction.

    Of course this is not a logical decision, it’s not even based on data and analysis, it’s a scenario individuals chose to live by. It’s a psychological decision that reveals everything about the individual. Of course some people might be lying when they say they chose to respond positively, who can know? Who can know if someone going with ‘inevitable collapse’ isn’t also lying, or doesn’t even know why they would chose such a thing, or doesn’t even know what they’re saying, being an irrational condition.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    However, ‘fear is already dominating ’ was not answered.Brett

    Evidence of fear.
    1. Wall building, border closing, troop mobilising, defence spending.
    2. Intolerance of dissent, polarisation, hate speech.
    3. 'Strengthening', meaning callousness, authoritarianism, nationalism.

    In the UK, the mantra of "strong and stable" has become a horrible joke. But I'm not in the business of researched analysis, merely of hand-waving gestures you can take or leave, according to whatever criteria you wish to call rational.
  • Hanover
    4.5k
    So, folks, this is the game I am inviting you to play. Stop finding reasons why the future cannot be known, because you all don't behave like that any other time, you save money you get qualifications, you make plans and buy season tickets.unenlightened

    We all know with certainty we're going to die, so what is it that we do now as we march toward our death? Why should the remote possibility of starvation caused by flooding be more concerning than the real possibility of cancer or being struck by a car?

    But should I accept your premises that (1) the end is nigh and (2) it's too late or just impossible to repair, then what I ought to do is stockpile food, fuel, and an arsenal. I should prepare as the preppers do. Since you reject those who treat your concerns as folly, what else would be reasonable? It seems the only solution left the way you've presented it.

    They called Noah a fool until the rain started falling, so let's take note and start building now.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    But should I accept your premises that (1) the end is nigh and (2) it's too late or just impossible to repair, then what I ought to do is stockpile food, fuel, and an arsenal. I should prepare as the preppers do.Hanover

    Yes. It's surprisingly (to me) popular, and I assume that is a prudential, rational 'ought' you're deploying. I, of course disagree, that this is at all a sensible response, for reasons that are discussed in the article, and will be familiar to Noah, who in my opinion was well advised to take his eco-system with him into the ark, instead of extra crates of destructive power.
  • Brett
    434
    But I'm not in the business of researched analysis, merely of hand-waving gestures you can take or leave, according to whatever criteria you wish to call rational.unenlightened

    I’ve reread your first post and I take note of your “hand-waving gestures”. Which is, I guess, “just putting this out there”. Is that right? You threw a hand grenade into the room.
  • Brett
    434
    What is still important?unenlightened

    Is this your question? I mean is this the point you’re trying to make?

    If we’re mentioning Noah, are we talking about after the flood?
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    I’ve reread your first post and I take note of your “hand-waving gestures”. Which is, I guess, “just putting this out there”. Is that right? You threw a hand grenade into the room.Brett

    The earliest reference to the notion that burning coal might eventually lead to global warming was 1912, I think. A century later, the might has become definite, the eventually has become currently, and consequences are becoming inescapable. I didn't throw the hand grenade into the room, I merely mentioned it was there. Don't shoot the messenger. I don't really want to ague the toss about whether we will start calling it a catastrophe in 2030, or 2050, or whether the global psyche can be fairly characterised as fearful or angry or anything else at this time.

    What is still important?
    — unenlightened

    Is this your question?
    Brett

    Yes. That is the question I am asking myself and the paper is asking itself Given a future social collapse and environmental collapse, and assuming that unlike Hanover you don't think that littering the countryside with arms dumps and food caches is the solution, what will help, what is worth doing?

    I'm a wee bit surprised that no one has taken the monastic view, that in the dark ages, one must hunker down in an abstemious cooperative community dedicated to the preservation of knowledge. The wonderful tech that everyone is so attached to. I'm a wee bit surprised that so few people are even able to consider the idea without accusing me of terrorism, or some other madness.
  • Brett
    434
    I didn't throw the hand grenade into the room, I merely mentioned it was there. Don't shoot the messenger.unenlightened

    I wasn’t intending to shoot the messenger. I just wanted to clarify your intention.
  • Brett
    434
    that in the dark ages, one must hunker down in an abstemious cooperative community dedicated to the preservation of knowledge.unenlightened

    This is interesting.
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    Here's something that some folks have thought to be worth doing, and has already turned out to not have been quite as future proof as they thought. https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/gadgets-and-tech/news/norway-seed-bank-svalbard-frost-upgrade-government-norwegian-latest-a8231361.html

    The way this thread has gone, you would think that no one has ever considered something bad happening except religious nuts.
  • bert1
    208
    I think a world government run by an AI with democratic human oversight is our best chance. Tell it what we want, it works out how to do it, and we just do what it says. Actually we probably don't need an AI. We know roughly what we need to do, we just don't have the right political structures yet. We could set them up easily enough with the internet. Just as online retailers undercut the high street, so could online government gradually make national governments redundant, or at least limited to managing local affairs. Jamalrob, could you purchase worldgovernment.com and take us into a bright new future?

    EDIT: someone already has! Cool! http://www.worldservice.org
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.2k
    Secondly there is a tacit assumption - namely if catastrophe does occur we cant do anything about it. There are many engineers working on the problem that disagree - but that is generally not talked about.Bill Hobba

    This is encouraging! :up:
    • Who are these engineers?
    • What companies do they work for?
    • What sort of projects are they working on?
    • What degree of success have they already achieved?
    • Give us links, so that we all can spread the good news!
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.2k
    The way this thread has gone, you would think that no one has ever considered something bad happening except religious nuts.unenlightened

    I see your point, but who has considered these things? Can we read about what they achieved or concluded? Where? The paper linked in the OP is the first of its kind that I've seen. You say others have considered these matters, but who and where are they?
  • Pattern-chaser
    1.2k
    I would have thought the two go hand in hand. It would seem you can't seriously cut CO2 emissions without seriously slowing the growth rate, and you probably can't seriously slow the growth rate without seriously cutting CO2 emissions.Janus

    Yes, I don't (especially) want to sound like a raving commie (:joke:) or anything, but the underlying theme here is that capitalism has destroyed the world. By encouraging consumption for its own sake, it has caused our demands for wealth to exceed the ability of our environment to provide it. Continuous-growth economics? An eco-joke in poor taste, and an impossibility, given a finite environment.
  • ssu
    1.2k
    Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) was, indeed, pretty crazy -- and did it ever go away? Not much.Bitter Crank
    Actually it did. We're now in the situation that the US and Russia don't have SO many nuclear weapons that they can literally destroy every city as they did before. We have come down from 60 000 nuclear warheads to 10 000 nukes. And this is actually makes things more dangerous. Even more dangerous when you take in the new Russian doctrine of "nuclear de-escalation" meaning de-escalating a conflict situation by using nuclear weapons. In 1993 the Russian doctrine allowed the first use of nuclear weapons only when the “existence of the Russian Federation”, it changed in 2000 to Russia reserving "the right to use nuclear weapons to respond to all weapons of mass destruction attacks” on Russia and its allies. And now it has come to "in response to large-scale aggression utilizing conventional weapons in situations critical to the national security of the Russian Federation.”

    Hence Putin thinks using nukes will calm the US down. Now that ought to sound pretty crazy and dangerous!

    So, folks, this is the game I am inviting you to play. Stop finding reasons why the future cannot be known, because you all don't behave like that any other time, you save money you get qualifications, you make plans and buy season tickets. So imagine that you have seriously come to the view that some combination of sea-level rise flooding most major cities, more extreme and unpredictable weather , an overall warming of anywhere from 2 to 6 degrees C. Leave it vague, but assume massive population displacements, assume some infrastructure collapse, civil unrest, starvation and disease. Assume normal service will not be resumed. The internet might be slow.
    So the plans that you have been making on the assumption that everything will go on as before, need some adjustment. It's not worth making plans. What is still important?
    unenlightened
    Well, I'm not looking for reasons why the future cannot be known, just reminding that the human species is quite adaptable and if draughts, hurricanes and political turmoil happen, they aren't anything new to us. But if I understood the game correctly, here's my plans:

    a) Likely have to build a new sauna that is now on the waterfront of the sea. (I assume a lot of countries will look at how the Dutch have used dams in their country.)

    b) Go visit sub-Saharan Africa or places that are still safe... before they perhaps they collapse to be similar places of anarchy as Somalia or Libya nowdays. Or to see Antarctica in it's present state.

    c) Enjoy now the nice Finnish winter with lots of snow. It might turn into the dismal English winter later (except if the Gulf Stream stops, then welcome Alaskan climate).

    d) If mankind cannot find solutions to the problem, like it seems to have found for Peak Oil (at least to avoid a rapid total collapse), then let's hope enough volcanoes erupt to protect us from global warming. (Yellowstone erupting might be too much though...)
  • unenlightened
    3.6k
    One of the things I think philosophy can do, and does do if you are doing it right, is to bring to light the deep assumptions and motivations that underpin conventional wisdom.

    Solution.
    I think a world government run by an AI with democratic human oversight is our best chance.bert1

    Thesis.
    The crisis has been brought about by not enough intelligence, not enough government, not enough humans deciding what they want.

    Is it possible that more cleverness, more decision making, and more planning is not the answer? Is it possible that when heading for the cliff, either a change of direction or stopping entirely is more what's needed? Go to the world government website, and there is a quote from Einstein. Einstein has the answers, Einstein for president. This touching faith in the puissance of great men, is - shall we just say, 'a religious impulse'?

    Anyway, here's the updated theme tune courtesy of @fdrake, moving us on a little from the angry hippy phase, when a change of mind still seemed possible.

  • Bitter Crank
    7.7k
    Yellowstone erupting might be too much though..ssu

    I have a bad cold and feel terrible, so Yellowstone can go ahead and blow up. I'm ready to get it over with. Will it be too much? Dunno. The last time it covered a good share of the great plains with a thick layer of volcanic ejecta. Would stuffing a large H bomb down Old Faithful's throat trigger it?

    GO YELLOWSTONE!
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