"It may seem impossible to imagine, that a technologically advanced society could choose, in essence, to destroy itself, but that is what we’re now in the process of doing."
This passage from the New Yorker’s Elizabeth Kolbert concluded a piece on global warming, which was published way back in 2005. Over the 13 years since, the warnings from scientists have grown both more specific and desperate – and yet the march to destruction has only redoubled its pace.
Jeff Sparrow's quote of Kolbert, sums up the depression with which I've been struggling of late. He compares the foreknowledge of WWI to our current situation. I had been unaware that regular warnings preceded the first world war.
The first world war killed 20 million people and maimed 21 million others. It shattered the economy of Europe, displaced entire populations, and set in train events that culminated, scarcely two decades later, with another, even more apocalyptic slaughter.
And it, too, was a disaster foretold, a widely-anticipated cataclysm that proceeded more-on-less schedule despite regular warnings about what was to come.
... between 1908 and 1913, the military spending of the major powers increased by 50%.
The eventual declaration of war ... was still a shock – but only in the sense that those attending a patient expiring from a long illness might be startled by the death rattle.
For the people of Europe, the arms race was disastrous; for specific governments, it made perfect sense, for those who did not compete risked falling behind.
The same might be said today.
From a global perspective, the necessity to abandon fossil fuels cannot be denied. But for individual economies, change risks undermining comparative advantages.
If we don’t sell coal, says Malcolm Turnbull, our competitors will – which was, of course precisely the logic of the British fleet expansion in 1908.
This time self-extermination is at stake, including - on the way - our collective ability to tell what's real, our collective sanity.
Lies have a selective advantage in our current media landscape, political lies most of all.
“We found that falsehood defuses significantly farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth, in all categories of information, and in many cases by an order of magnitude,” ... Sinan Aral .... [emphasis mine]
Lately I've spent more time in fantasy, in escape, not knowing how to cope. Political letters didn't seem worth the effort. Political and climate news became painful on top of dealing with the health challenges of old age.
Today, lukemia survivor Alison Spodek Keimowitz gave me perspective.
Keimowitz tells us to cherish whatever delay we can snatch from self-extermination.
In the 21st century, Earth is hurtling toward a specific death with a shape, a name, and a timeline. It is dying of global warming, climate change, extinction, biological annihilation, and ocean acidification. ... the overall trajectory of life on Earth is well-understood: ... and the odds of human civilization reaching the 22nd century are often estimated at no better than 50/50.
In conversations about climate, there is a knowledge widely shared but rarely explicitly stated, that we are no longer able to prevent destruction, biological annihilation, and perhaps the end of human civilization as we know it, we are simply postponing it.
So should we all succumb to nihilism, rage, and grief about our Earth? Should we all just look away, go on with our small lives, and ignore what is happening around us?
... how to move forward, how to breathe, and how to live with the knowledge of our own personal and planetary mortality.
My way forward comes ... from my experience of illness. My stem cell transplant wasn’t pointless just because I will, eventually, die of something. The years I’ve gained, however few or many they may be, are precious beyond measure. So too with the Earth. Each generation of humans living in relative abundance, each species saved from extinction for another 50 years, and each wild place left to function and inspire in its wildness, is precious beyond measure.
As I have begun sitting mindfully with the sadness of Earth’s destruction, I have started to incorporate it into myself. Mindfulness doesn’t decrease my sense of loss, but it reminds me I can get through it, year by year, hour by hour, breath by breath.
When I was ill,... My anxiety began to ease only when I fully acknowledged and named the nearness of death,... By finally looking mortality in the face, its presence ... began to shrink, and I could enjoy the small joys that I could find.
... someday, there will be a last generation of humans on Earth. But the years we can postpone each loss, and each wild place and creature saved, are incalculably valuable.
There is no preventing the inevitable, but the delay is precious. It is all we have. [emphasis mine]
Have I despaired of humanity reinventing itself as a cooperative Partnership civilization? Guess I'm on the cusp, "squealing" between faint hope and being ready to settle for the small joys of slower death.
Besides the bad news that lies now spread 6 to 10 times as fast as truth, the relentless rise of fossil-fuel oligarchy over democracy, and worsening climate news of all sorts, the Climageddon Scenario had pushed me toward depression and escape.
The Climageddon Scenario is a new global warming prediction model. It was created from global warming research to help individuals visualize a 6 phase process of escalating global warming as one interconnected whole as well as one interdependent and continually evolving climate, biological, geological and human system.
In a way never seen before, it both sequences and integrates the most important global warming consequences and tipping points into a new and more accurate and useful consequence and timeframe prediction model. [emphasis mine]
At our current annual carbon ppm emission rates, we will reach this catastrophic carbon 500 ppm range by 2042.
...[then] it is highly probable we will quickly reach carbon 600 ppm within another 25-30 years. The carbon 600 ppm level will raise the average global temperature to 5°C (9 degrees Fahrenheit) and bring about additional massive methane releases from ocean coastal shelves and permafrost.
... in our geologic past once our the average global temperature increased by 5° Celsius, the oceans warmed enough to release methane from the methane clathrate crystals found on most of the coastal ocean shelves around the world. When this methane was suddenly released, temperatures skyrocketed, resulting in a true global extinction event. Past extinction events possibly linked in this way to sudden methane clathrate releases are the Permian-Triassic extinction event and the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum.
... if something extreme does not happen immediately to correct our current ineffective actions, 70-90% of humanity will suffer and die within the next 30-50 years... [order changed]
This approach finally applies complex systems to integrate the fragmented results of studies across many fields.
Complex adaptive system: The collective whole of connected structures and processes (systems and subsystems) that are highly unpredictable, self-organizing, and often include spontaneous or unexpected outcomes and tipping points. They also contain nonlinear relationships, meaning that one area can affect a completely different system or subsystem where there seems to be no discernible cause-and-effect relationship.
New to me was the concept of Keystone tipping points.
Keystone tipping point: A tipping point that triggers other dependent and interconnected tipping points. Crossing a keystone tipping point is one of the potential triggers for irreversible global warming, leading into the later extinction phases of the Climageddon Scenario.
New evidence from Utah says that burning coal triggered the Permian-Triassic Extinction mentioned above. The evidence foreshadows details likely to play out in Phases 5 and 6 of the Climageddon Scenario.
Burger’s samples painted a grim picture of Earth’s environment at the end of the Permian period. A sharp drop in calcium carbonate levels indicated that the oceans had become acidic. A similar decline in organic content matched up with the immense loss of life in the oceans during this period. The presence of pyrite pointed to an anoxic ocean (without oxygen), meaning the oceans were effectively one massive dead zone.
Bacteria ate the oversupply of dead bodies, producing hydrogen sulfide gas, creating a toxic atmosphere. The hydrogen sulfide oxidized in the atmosphere to form sulfur dioxide, creating acid rain, which killed much of the plant life on Earth. Elevated barium levels in the samples had likely been carried up from the ocean depths by a massive release of methane.
As I often do, I "Like" and appreciate not the bad news, but your reporting, explaining, and sharing!
... the relentless rise of fossil-fuel oligarchy over democracy ... (in your reply)
The analogy of humanity as a whole facing a very possibly terminal disease adds an additional dimension to the US government promoting "gun care and health control", with oligarchs being quite willing to let people go bankrupt and die on their own!
Comic captures the "lies travel an order of magnitude faster" thing.