• frank
    2.3k
    My great realization happened when I discovered that Europeans might not have brought the American Bison close to extinction. Hunting killed many, but climate change may have killed the rest. That made me wonder: on what basis did I assume it had to be just Evil Humans? One of my favorite authors had made exactly the same assumption.

    It's a kind of soul-feeding misanthropy. The roots of it go down past where I can see, so I know it's beyond my control. It's a force of nature. Nature itself stirs within us to make us fear ourselves. One of the passing clouds in this landscape is the notion that if we fear the worst, maybe we can defend ourselves from it before it's too late. Another darker cloud is that the greatest, bloodiest drama gives a human face to the Great Threat. This is a thread that runs through Christianity and back to some shaman vomiting blood in spasms of lamentation, as the tribe watches spellbound.

    But yes, for the most part, the American Bison might have gone the way of the mammoth and the African elephant today: squished around tiny dwindling waterholes, unable to adapt. Science frees the mind of superstition.
  • ssu
    996
    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'?unenlightened

    Why is World government seen as the answer? Is an extremely centralized authority global problems the answer? Has it been? Is it politically viable? Is a centralized authority the best way to tackle a difficult complex problems? And is a theoretical physicist the best political leader?

    Why isn't cooperation between independent countries seen as a clever answer? Many times best solutions have come from surprising innovations from surprising places, not something that a centralized authority has thought to be the thing needed.

    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!
    Bitter Crank
    Ah, and think about what great time the media would have with it. People would be glued to the televisions, laptops and smartphones...

    Anyway, I had "a traumatic experience" in my youth with volcanoes. I was living as a child in Seattle and my father took me to a trip to Florida. For a boy in 2nd grade Disney World and John F. Kennedy space Center were simply awesome. I even saw a huge fire started from race riots in Miami as we were on the runway leaving the place. Our flight from Dallas was cancelled and so we had to stay for the night in Dallas. I saw this huge thunderstorm with lightning everywhere from revolving restaurant top off a skyscraper. I was all eager to tell my schoolmates what awesome things I had experienced.

    None of them listened to me at all. All they talked about how they had waken up early on Sunday on the eruption of Mt. Saint Helens. Nothing can compare to waking up to AN EXPLODING VOLCANO. We lived in the place called View Ridge, which had direct sight to the mountain, hence all the talk was how huge an awesome the sights and sounds were. When I came there, the first explosion clouds had already drifted to the east (Seattle had no ash fall). Yes, erupting volcanoes are simply awesome.

    If Yellowstone blows up, I'll congratulate you on how lucky we are to live in historical times...
  • bert1
    188
    Is it possible that more cleverness, more decision making, and more planning is not the answer?unenlightened

    No I don't think so. World government is not something we have tried before. A system is a saviour for a time. A world-size problem needs a world-size system. Not doing this is exactly to keep running towards the cliff edge.

    One could argue that the problem is not external but internal - individual self-control is ultimately the only proper answer to any problem. But this would take imminent metanoia en masse of company ceos, voting populations, oligarchs and dictators, which on statistical grounds alone seems unlikely.

    My invocation of an AI is just a practical suggestion which may not be a good one. If the massive changes to global society is to be effected with miminum loss of life and minimising suffering, the calculations involved in figuring out what to grow where and how to distribute food and energy and whatnot would be horribly complex.

    What do you think constitutes not continuing to run towards the cliff edge?
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    What do you think constitutes not continuing to run towards the cliff edge?bert1

    Well the idea I'm playing with is to suppose that science and reason has created a problem and cannot solve it, because there is no reason to stop. Humans are stuck in a multi-billion way prisoner's dilemma where every individual's best interests lead them to continue towards the cliff, in a vast game of chicken. Perhaps there would be still time, if we stopped, but we are not going to stop, because those who stop are already being trampled by those who won't. So the preppers in their reasonable insanity are stockpiling, grabbing what they can, building their fences and bunkers, and that is obviously the sensible thing to do, given the imminent cliff. Bunkers will not be open to the general public.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    I was all eager to tell my schoolmates what awesome things I had experienced.

    None of them listened to me at all.
    ssu

    People hate getting upstaged by volcanoes. The nerve! I feel for you. It must have been a crushing experience.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    I discovered that Europeans might not have brought the American Bison close to extinction.frank

    I thought that large numbers of buffalo were wantonly shot -- and not slaughtered, maybe just skinned for their hides -- as a way of depriving the plains Indians of food. Is that true? Don't know for sure at this moment.
  • Maggy
    3
    The fur on their heads and shoulders was made into hats that were popular in Europe.
  • Janus
    6.7k


    The biggest danger for humanity and the species being brought to endangerment and extinction by us seems to lie in the idea that the natural world is merely a bunch of resources for us to use as we see fit, and the associated assumption that when the resources being currently consumed have run out or become too difficult or costly to source, human ingenuity will always find new ways to exploit yet-to-be discovered resources that will enable us to get out of any pickle we may find ourselves in.

    It doesn't seem to be generally acknowledged that without Christianity and fossil fuels there probably would not have been an industrial revolution and the ensuing explosive growth of science and technology with all the benefits and problems they have brought. For a fascinating study of this and other related issues, see The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent. :smile:
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    [
    I thought that large numbers of buffalo were wantonly shot -- and not slaughtered, maybe just skinned for their hides -- as a way of depriving the plains Indians of food. Is that true? Don't know for sure at this moment.Bitter Crank

    Could have been partly that, but I think that the buffalo's land was wanted for cattle, competition for the grass. The best way to take their land is to kill them. Kill two birds with one stone?
  • Taneras
    19
    So what might we do or think or discuss in the meantime?unenlightened

    Make long term plans because Dr Jem Bendell doesn't speak for anyone else but himself. Bottom line, how many educated individuals are predicting societal collapse within 10 years?

    Even worse, how accurate has previous doomsday predictions been? (I'm looking at you Al Gore!).

    This thread will not age well.
  • Brett
    328
    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
    unenlightened

    The obvious question, to me, leading on from this, is what do we need? What is it we should take with us through to the other side and what should we leave behind? Who do we want to be?
  • Brett
    328
    I thought that large numbers of buffalo were wantonly shot -- and not slaughtered, maybe just skinned for their hides -- as a way of depriving the plains Indians of food. Is that true? Don't know for sure at this moment.Bitter Crank

    That’s my understanding, too. Though in the end it makes no difference why they did it.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    Even worse, how accurate has previous doomsday predictions been?Taneras

    The nice people who set up the Svalbad seed bank chose to assume an ecological disaster. They don't look silly because one hasn't happened, any more than having a fire alarm looks silly unless you have a fire. They do look a bit silly because their precaution looks inadequate. Frankly, the argument that it is silly to consider disaster unless it has happened is so fatuous as to look insane. It is the complete opposite of the rational precautionary approach that science and industry takes in every other field.
  • ssu
    996
    People hate getting upstaged by volcanoes. The nerve! I feel for you. It must have been a crushing experience.Bitter Crank
    Thank you for your kind words, Bitter Crank. :smile:
  • Maggy
    3
    Frankly, the argument that it is silly to consider disaster unless it has happened is so fatuous as to look insane.unenlightened

    And no one has made that argument. Everyone agrees the world could end tomorrow. No one disputes your right to believe it will happen whenever. If people reject your invitation to join you in this belief, there's nothing at all wrong with that and you aren't owed any justification for that rejection.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    you aren't owed any justification for that rejection.Maggy

    Indeed not. and your right to not discuss the topic of the thread is fully acknowledged on my part. Indeed I wish quite a few people who do not wish to had availed themselves of the option, and also not found it necessary to inform me at length and in detail of their rights and wishes.
  • Brett
    328
    For a long time I’ve wondered how, or in what form, this headlong cultural rush towards destruction we are in: cost of living, cost of resources, environmental damage, psychological damage, stress on families, etc., is going to be changed.

    It seems to me that climate change is the thing that will do it. The cost of fighting it will be high, something that will be passed on to the consumer/citizen. Decisions about what we want as opposed to what we need will have to be made. Where will our wages go: in paying for energy or paying for a pair of torn jeans?

    The cost of ignoring it will have virtually the same impact.

    So my earlier question of who we want to be will be answered by what is available, what can be sustain, what’s lost and what’s gained. This is evolution in action, right?
  • jorndoe
    647
    Came across this one:

    There's so much CO2 in the atmosphere that planting trees can no longer save us
    Rob Ludacer, Jessica Orwig
    Business Insider
    Oct 2018


    Alarmist panic isn't helping anything/one.
    Being informed is a good first step, though.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    Alarmist panic isn't helping anything/one.jorndoe

    Haven't noticed much of that, fortunately, aside from the wall building, migrant hating, xenophobia. But I suspect it will manifest right along with the food shortages. You can't panic while starving though - it will be those that still have food that will panic.
  • Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k

    Yeah, they'll panic, as they sit there stuffing their faces, while the hordes prepare to attack. Wall building is itself already an act of panic.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act. — Greta Thunberg

    I don’t care if what I’m doing – what we’re doing – is hopeful. We need to do it anyway. Even if there’s no hope left and everything is hopeless, we must do what we can.

    From here.

    @jorndoe Being informed isn't helping anything until it informs some action. I'm not the definitive expert, but the standard list of easy stuff that us ordinary folks can do is along the lines of, insulate your home, put up solar panels if suitable or other passive heating, stop flying, eat less meat, and eat more local produce, especially fresh produce that is likely to be flown, use public transport, live near your work, recycle, reuse, and reject manufactured and false needs (eg fashion), grow something, set up some insect houses. Let's get to it!
  • jorndoe
    647
    Being informed isn't helping anything until it informs some actionunenlightened

    :up:

    Let's get to it!unenlightened

    :up:

    Already on it.
  • jorndoe
    647
    While we're at it:

    A World Without Clouds
    A state-of-the-art supercomputer simulation indicates that a feedback loop between global warming and cloud loss can push Earth’s climate past a disastrous tipping point in as little as a century.
    Natalie Wolchover
    Quanta Magazine
    Feb 2019
  • frank
    2.3k
    Cool. Repetition of that research would be next, followed by attempts to apply the knowledge to the world of the 22nd century.
  • Pattern-chaser
    801
    Even worse, how accurate has previous doomsday predictions been? (I'm looking at you Al Gore!).Taneras

    Really? I think that the only significant way in which the doomsday (climate-change) predictions have failed is in when they will occur. They start off saying 'by the end of the century', or something like that, but it happens before the end of the decade. Doomsday really is here, but our momentum prevents us from seeing it, even though it is already too late.
  • Isaac
    340
    My great realization happened when I discovered that Europeans might not have brought the American Bison close to extinction. Hunting killed many, but climate change may have killed the rest. That made me wonder: on what basis did I assume it had to be just Evil Humans? One of my favorite authors had made exactly the same assumption.frank

    I think you basically answered your own question. The idea that the Bison were brought to extinction by Europeans must be "soul-feeding misanthropy", but apparently, the contrary view that climate change might be responsible is a "great realization".

    Opinion on scientifically difficult topics varies, and does so for good reason. Confirming what we already know is boring and doesn't get published, overturning what we thought we knew is exciting and, with luck, will make the main press, certainly secure the next research grant.

    It was a shock to learn just how much damage humans have done to the planet, now it's old news and the only thing that is going to get published is anything that indicates it might not have been us afterall.

    So, maybe you're right about the soul-feeding misanthropy of presuming we're to blame for everything, but don't be so naive as to think that evidence we're not is any less psychologically motivated.
  • frank
    2.3k
    but don't be so naive as to think that evidence we're not is any less psychologically motivated.Isaac

    The Little Ice Age doesn't prove that humans didn't wipe out the massive herds of bison that once spanned much of North America. It only provides an alternative explanation. When the bison disappeared, no one was there to collect data, so all we can do is speculate. My realization was that I'm prone to jumping to certainty without any good foundation.

    So I realized what you apparently have also realized: beware of hidden bias.
  • Isaac
    340
    The Little Ice Age doesn't prove that humans didn't wipe out the massive herds of bison that once spanned much of North America. It only provides an alternative explanation.frank

    Yes, fair enough, "not" was only a rhetorical device to make my sentence shorter.

    My realization was that I'm prone to jumping to certainty without any good foundation.frank

    I was using (misusing, it would seem) that quote as a summary of your wider argument about the tendency toward morose self-flagellation.

    Your writing seems to very much express the sentiment that such doom-and-gloom mongers are bewitched by this state of mind, whereas 'reality' is not so anthropocentric in its allocation of disaster-makers. I'm arguing that it's not so much self-flagellation as just publication bias. Yesterday it was shocking (and so publishable) to hear that humans caused the Bison extinction, today its shocking (and so publishable) to learn we didn't, or not so much.

    It's tempting to think the truth lies somewhere in between, but that's just another psychological bias, the idea that permanent fence-sitting automatically makes one wiser than those on either side.
  • frank
    2.3k
    I'm arguing that it's not so much self-flagellation as just publication bias. Yesterday it was shocking (and so publishable) to hear that humans caused the Bison extinction, today its shocking (and so publishable) to learn we didn't, or not so much.Isaac

    Could be. But are you telling me what my experience has been instead of asking me? To ask requires dwelling in a state of unknowing. I think ideal science spends a certain amount of time there.
  • Isaac
    340
    are you telling me what my experience has been instead of asking me?frank

    No, I'm conjecturing an explanation for it. If you say you experience day and night, I'm not being presumptive in suggesting it's because the world is going round.
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