• xraymike79
    4
    I have been studying environmental and sociopolitical news for nearly the past two decades, particularly as it pertains to the life cycle of modern civilization:

    "...These disturbing headlines indicate to me that the Sixth Mass Extinction is gathering pace and the real stock market underlying our very existence and survival is crashing before our eyes!!! Humans are recreating the past extinction known as The Great Dying, perhaps at a much faster pace and definitely at many more human-forced levels that leave no ecosystem on Earth intact. By orders of magnitude, the human endeavor has grown much too large for the Earth to support; climate change, plastic pollution, and biodiversity loss are just a few of the symptoms of this global ecological overshoot..."

    We are following the growth, decline, and death cycle that any organism or civilization goes through when it finds a rich energy resource to exploit and eventually overshoots its environment's carrying capacity, this time on a global scale. Essentially all organisms will expand their population to the maximum that available resources allow. Environmental constraints are beginning to bite, outstripping our technology's capacity to overcome them. According to the study 'Limits to Growth', human population should level off and begin to decline around 2030 with complete collapse of modern civilization happening some time around mid century. In Immoderate Greatness: Why Civilizations Fail, William Ophuls wrote:

    “Civilization is trapped in a thermodynamic vicious circle from which escape is well nigh impossible. The greater a civilization becomes, the more the citizens produce and consume—but the more they produce and consume, the larger the increase in entropy. The longer economic development continues, the more depletion, decay, degradation, and disorder accumulate in the system as a whole, even if it brings a host of short-term benefits. Depending on a variety of factors—the quantity and quality of available resources, the degree of technological and managerial skill, and so forth—the process can continue for some time but not indefinitely. At some point, just as in the ecological realm, a civilization exhausts its thermodynamic “credit” and begins to implode.”

    Nothing lasts forever. For modern man to have extended his reign would have required a herculean exercise in self-control and sacrifice for long-term gain and good —not a natural proclivity of humans. Notice that I said "would have," because it is far too late to reverse what has been set into motion. The Earth cannot even begin to reach a new climate state until humans stop emitting the roughly 40 to 50 gigatonnes of CO2 per annum and stop altering and destroying global ecosystems. Climate change might as well not be real to humans because we have literally done nothing to stop it even though we knew it was real for decades and even suspected it to be real for far longer when Svante Arrhenius published this paper in 1897. The Fossil Fuel Age would not be stopped by any scientific consensus on climate change. There were profits to be had. The wonders of plastic were coming to fruition. And consumer capitalism was spreading throughout the globe. Humans even reset in their minds what they perceive as normalcy in their environment, accepting the ever-shifting baseline of anthropogenic climate change.

    When renowned paleoclimatologist Lee Kump was asked whether comparisons to today's global warming and that of past mass extinctions are really appropriate, he ominously said, “Well, the rate at which we’re injecting CO2 into the atmosphere today, according to our best estimates, is ten times faster than it was during the End-Permian. And rates matter. So today we’re creating a very difficult environment for life to adapt, and we’re imposing that change maybe ten times faster than the worst events in Earth’s history.” Four of the last five mass extinction events were preceded by a disruption of the carbon cycle. All the conditions that existed in previous extinctions now exist plus novel new ones created by man, and they’re worse than ever. The stable Holocene climate which has allowed mankind to flourish is coming to a close and with it we may be going as well.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    I don't know what to say, except don't hold your breath waiting for insights, solutions or even recognition. My own recent thread on the topic was not terribly illuminating.

    So I see you are working hard to change minds. And I see you are not optimistic. Is there something else you'd like to do while we await our annihilation?
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    Shit, unenlightened. I’d like to get physically fit enough before the upcoming free-for-all at the end of civilization. I reckon there will be a lot of running and fighting involved. LOL
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    human population should level off and begin to decline around 2030 with complete collapse of modern civilization happening some time around mid centuryxraymike79

    So 2050, 31 years from now is the end of times? I'll mark it on my calendar along with all the other end of times predictions that have come and gone.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    Very foolish in my opinion. Far better to sit in your armchair and conserve energy and not try and out live your species.
  • Noah Te Stroete
    1k
    I was being facetious. I don’t know if civilization collapse will happen in my lifetime, but I suspect whenever it comes it will be hell.
  • bert1
    188
    So 2050, 31 years from now is the end of times? I'll mark it on my calendar along with all the other end of times predictions that have come and gone.Hanover

    I don't know the exact date the rotten tree leaning over my house will fall. But that doesn't mean I should ignore it. I don't understand this weird smugness about other people not guessing correctly.
  • xraymike79
    4
    True. It's happening now and for many, end times have already arrived:

    https://www.thenation.com/article/climate-change-media-humanitarian-crises/
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    The Uninhabitable Earth: Life after Warming by David Wallace-Wells (published Feb. 2019) takes the view that there is very little hope for the future, not zero but not a lot. We are running out of time and we probably will not be able to change fast enough. Wallace-Wells doesn't give an end date, only that the synergistic effects of intensive agriculture, population growth, CO2, methane, and consequent global warming may prove to be insurmountable challenges and may result in our near extinction sooner than we might like to think. We'd like to think our extinction in terms of maybe a couple of million years. We should probably be thinking in terms of several decades to a couple of centuries.

    Is the book worth buying? If one is well informed about this stuff already, no. Wallace-Wells pulls the familiar (and occasionally unfamiliar) information together and makes a range of generally depressing projections. As a gift to a friend or relative who thinks there is nothing to worry about, the book might be helpful, but it is just as likely to cause a mental shutdown of cognitive dissonance.

    The book preaches to the choir of doom. That's not a bad thing, just that for the already well-informed, the cost of the book might better be spent on alcohol.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    Our problem is that the complexity of global warming, and everything connected to it, is overwhelming. It's not too difficult to grasp -- lots of people have -- but the necessary responses involve too many literal and figurative global changes in life over a very short time span.

    One response is to dismiss the threat -- Hanover. A second response is to propose all sorts of solutions which amount to magical thinking (many of us). A third response is to contemplate our demise (some of us). The difference in the three responses has nothing to do with intelligence or technical acumen. It's personality. Hanover in Hell would see opportunities. Unenlightened in Eden would see problems. These aren't flaws. Hanover can't help being Hanover, no more than Bitter Crank can help being Bitter Crank, or Unenlightened being Unenlightened.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    It's personality.Bitter Crank

    And religiosity, which is probably a personality trait as well.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    Our problem is that the complexity of global warming, and everything connected to it, is overwhelming.Bitter Crank

    That's what I thought when I first saw An Inconvenient Truth. My hunch was that liberal democracies would not rise to the challenge, because it is such a difficult problem, and the science is too hard to understand. And I was correct.

    Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, for about 3 years there was a consensus in Australian politics that it had to be tackled, and there was bi-partisan support for at least some kind of action (even if pretty weak). Then in 2009, the conservative faction of the Liberal Party (then in opposition) overthrew their then-leader entirely on the basis of his agreement with the then Labor PM's climate policy. They then introduced a disgraceful scare campaign, that a carbon tax was a 'great big new tax on everything', and rubbished the basic idea of climate change. This same politician then became PM, and completely dismantled a successfully-introduced carbon tax, which was doing exactly what it was intended to do, namely, bring emissions down, and introduced some half-arsed scheme to 'plant lots of trees'. Since then, emissions have started rising again.

    The same politician who did all that (Tony Abbott) gave a speech in London recently where he compared climate change science to 'sacrificing goats to the mountain gods'. And the same politician who had been rolled by him as Opposition Leader, namely, Malcolm Turnbull, was deposed as Prime Minister last September, also over energy policy and climate change. So it's been a complete and utter shambles, a total failure to come to terms with the problem.

    Just as I thought it would be.
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    Incidentally a current review of the book BC mentioned https://nyti.ms/2HiIKDo
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    I actually do think that Western culture as a kind of collation of ideas, economic practices, and theories, might well collapse. Which is really scary, as today we welcomed our first grandson into the world. He will be 21 in 2040, which is the key date in last year's UN report on climate catastrophe. :yikes:
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    Thanks, a nice succinct review.

    Another problem that prevents action is that ordinary individuals can not individually do anything that will make a difference. We are encouraged to recycle. I do, faithfully, but as far as the difference it makes: pfffft. If we all did the same sensible and strategic things, say all 3 billion people in the industrialized world, that would make a big difference. When was the last time such a thing happened?

    Probably 100,000 wealthy, powerful movers, shakers, and not clearly benevolent overlords could bring about drastic changes in short order if they so chose. They are not so choosing at this point.

    Which is really scaryWayfarer

    It is, indeed, really scary.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    Probably 100,000 wealthy, powerful movers, shakers, and not clearly benevolent overlords could bring about drastic changes in short order if they so chose. They are not so choosing at this point.

    So...
    Bitter Crank

    Politicians and the wealthy are not going to solve the problem because it is not in their short term interests to do so.

    The same goes for the populace. The problem is that hardly anyone is prepared to sacrifice their precious lifestyles (including me, of course!) even to a small extent. We want to continue to drive our cars and fly overseas, and purchase foods and other goods from other countries, buy from supermarkets because it's cheaper and more convenient, enjoy the benefits of modern health care, cheap goods that are cheap on account of outsourced slave labour, and so on and on.

    The "100,00 wealthy, powerful movers, shakers, and clearly not benevolent overlords" only exist because we keep buying their shit and/or voting for them.

    Also, people become cynical when they discover that figures like AL Gore not only don't want to give up an ordinary more or less prosperous lifestyle, but live far more extravagantly than the average. Gore lives on a large estate and flies a private jet, which makes him look like a hypocrite.

    https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/aug/2/al-gores-nashville-estate-expends-21-times-more-en/

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamestaylor/2011/06/29/is-al-gore-a-fossil-fuel-industry-mole/#253201f0d150
  • Wayfarer
    7k
    That is true. Everyone is going to have to make changes. One thing I wanted to say that, while it's true that what any individual does, or even a country like Australia, the really important thing would have been (had it not been buggered) would have been the ability to co-operate and act meaningfully for a common goal. That is what has been completely f****ed by climate-change denialists - they've shattered any hope of consensus and any prospect of a concerted response.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    I think the climate-change deniers have a relatively insignificant effect on what actually gets done. They are more of a symptom, or a voice for post hoc rationalization of what we don't want to sacrifice than a cause of inaction.

    The truth is that most governments have an official policy which is in accord with accepting the climate science, but democratically elected governments would lose their corporate support and be voted out if they took any actions which were adequate responses to the actual situation.

    The real problem is that the populace cannot achieve any coordinated action because, for example, they are not educated, or they don't care, or they are cynical when they see the hypocrisy of figures like Gore, or they have given up in despair of having any effective political voice.

    Many, if not most, of the strategies that are ostensibly designed to ameliorate global warming and pollution in general are really exercises in public relations, and amount to no more than paying lip service to the need to do (or more accurately, to be seen to do) something "green". For example as @xraymike79 indicates below "recycling is a sham".
  • xraymike79
    4
    Another problem that prevents action is that ordinary individuals can not individually do anything that will make a difference. We are encouraged to recycle. I do, faithfully, but as far as the difference it makes: pfffft. If we all did the same sensible and strategic things, say all 3 billion people in the industrialized world, that would make a big difference. When was the last time such a thing happened?Bitter Crank

    True and this has been proven in research papers and real life:

    An Inconvenient Truth: Does Responsible Consumption Benefit Corporations More Than Society?

    Are environmental and social problems such as global warming and poverty the result of inadequate governmental regulations or does the burden fall on our failure as consumers to make better consumption choices? According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, responsible consumption shifts the burden for solving global problems from governments to consumers and ultimately benefits corporations more than society.

    “When businesses convince politicians to encourage responsible consumption instead of implementing policy changes to solve environmental and social problems, business earns the license to create new markets while all of the pressure to solve the problem at hand falls on the individual consumer. For example, global warming is blamed on consumers unwilling to make greener choices rather than the failure of governments to regulate markets to the benefit of society and the environment,” write authors Markus Giesler and Ela Veresiu (both York University).

    The authors studied the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in order to examine the influence of economic elites on the creation of four types of responsible consumers: the bottom-of-the-pyramid consumer, the green consumer, the health-conscious consumer, and the financially literate consumer.

    The authors identified a process that shifts responsibility from the state and corporations to the individual consumer. First, economic elites redefine the nature of the problem from political to one of individual consumption (for example, global warming stems from consumers failing to cultivate a sustainable lifestyle). Next, economic elites promote the idea that the only viable solution is for consumers to change their behavior. Third, new markets are created in order to turn this solution into a material reality (eco-friendly light bulbs, hybrid automobiles, energy efficient appliances). Finally, consumers must adopt this new ethical self-understanding.

    “The implications of our study are far-reaching and relevant for consumers and policy makers alike. While the responsible consumption myth offers a powerful vision of a better world through identity-based consumption, upon closer inspection, this logic harbors significant personal and societal costs. The responsible consumption myth promotes the idea that governments can never achieve harmony between competing economic and social or environmental goals and that this instead requires a global community of morally enlightened consumers who are empowered to make a difference through the marketplace,” the authors conclude.

    Markus Giesler and Ela Veresiu. “Creating the Responsible Consumer: Moralistic Governance Regimes and Consumer Subjectivity.” Journal of Consumer Research: October 2014. For more information, contact Markus Giesler () or visit <a href="http://ejcr.org/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://ejcr.org/</a>.

    We're dealing with the superstructure of capitalist industrial civilization which cannot be reformed.

    Plus recycling is a sham:

    'Moment of reckoning': US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports

    Plastic pollution: One town smothered by 17,000 tonnes of rubbish

    Our waste problem has become a gargantuan, globe-trotting catastrophe!! :(
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    Nobody has said so yet: a rapid response to the climate and multivariate environmental crises affecting the planet would be an immediate economic disaster for the world. Slamming the brakes on oil production, electrical generation, auto manufacture, meat or dairy heavy diets, and more would send the world economy into a steep nosedive and crash. Had we seriously addressed the problem 40 or 50 years ago, a more gradual braking would have been possible without causing financial ruin to billions of very ordinary people without the means to protect themselves from unprecedented financial calamity.

    Climate protection and environment preservation change would still have been painful, but it would have been doable without brutal suffering the world over. It's the difference between abrasions on the elbows, knees, and face and perforations of the skull, chest, and abdomen.

    So now we don't have 50 years for a graceful transition.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    I completely agree with what you write here. Not sure about what "nobody has said yet", though...
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    I wasn't sure about that either. I'm sure most people here have thought it, if they did not say it in so many words.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    Yes, sorry I was a bit slow, but I see what you meant now about what nobody had said and I agree.
  • Bitter Crank
    7.3k
    'Moment of reckoning': US cities burn recyclables after China bans importsxraymike79

    My city and county collect trash, recyclable paper, glass, metal, and plastic, yard waste and compostable kitchen waste (which includes paper towels and tissues). Composting turns kitchen and yard waste into a product that gets used for landscaping (particularly highway landscaping and parks). Trash is burned for the most part, as is recyclable material for which there is little demand. At one time the recycling operation could sell most of what they collected. Much less so now.

    The big municipal incinerator generates steam for the downtown Minneapolis area -- heating and hot water. At least some of the garbage goes for a good cause. The city says it is a safe operation, but I would not buy a house near it. It doesn't stink, at least. Does the incinerator produce toxic waste products? Of course. You can't burn garbage and plastics without producing at least some toxic products coming out of the stack.
  • xraymike79
    4
    I would like to sleep, someday never to awake and hopefully before I see the worst of what's to come.
  • unenlightened
    3.3k
    Well the good news is that Emergency triage protocols are being adjusted to grant your wish.
    https://www.propublica.org/article/the-deadly-choices-at-memorial-826

    Might even be worth a separate thread to discuss the morality of collapse...
  • ssu
    996
    I wonder how well Oswald Spengler would have used the ecocatastrophy/mass extinction argument in his 'Untergang des Abendlandes', had he written it hundred years later.
  • hachit
    132
    actually economics teaches as resources get low they raise in price. When this happens it does two things.

    1. Make alternatives more affordable.

    2. Prompts people to come up with alternatives

    For example as price rises solar and wind power more affordable then co2

    Secondly we have no clue why the earth is warming up.
  • Hanover
    4.3k
    I don't know the exact date the rotten tree leaning over my house will fall. But that doesn't mean I should ignore it. I don't understand this weird smugness about other people not guessing correctly.bert1

    Because you're not talking about a rotten limb hanging over your fence that is obviously going to fall fairly soon and that is going to predictably damage a few slats from your fence.

    You're speculating about the end of the world, which has been something that has been going on since the beginning of the world. Call me smug, but you seem to also be calling me blissfully ignorant. What value is there is my fretting with you about something you declare inevitable, regardless of what we do about it?

    My prediction is that you will spend your life worrying about something that will have minimal impact in your life. You're going to be fine, but if you're not, it won't be because the climate failed you. It will be because of war, poor government policy, heart disease, or a drunk driver. Think of all the time you might spend worrying about the floods that are coming only to be hit by a freight train and not being able to see the end of the world you were predicting.
  • Janus
    6.7k
    So 2050, 31 years from now is the end of times? I'll mark it on my calendar along with all the other end of times predictions that have come and gone.Hanover

    That's a flippant and facile way to dismiss a prediction. Of course you must be familiar with the story of the boy who cried "wolf". No doubt superficial thinkers will dismiss any dire prediction with the same blithe disregard as the people in that story dismissed the boy's cry for help.
  • ArguingWAristotleTiff
    3.4k
    So 2050, 31 years from now is the end of times? I'll mark it on my calendar along with all the other end of times predictions that have come and gone.Hanover

    I'll go ahead and mark it down for you since...well...add another 31 years to your current age and lifestyle and do you realistically come up with the idea that you will still be living? :pray:
    Anyway, we innovated our way into this set of problems and we as Americans will be challenged, accept the challenge and innovate our way out of this one too.
    We have to remain nimble and able to morph in order to thrive not just survive.
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