Wednesday, November 28, 2012


Radical Joy for Hard Times
I have accumulated a mountain of new information about trees dying from ozone, but other catastrophes have interfered so just for today here is a brief segue into other fearsome territory.

As usual there is a thought-provoking post at Collapse of Industrial Civilization, where XRayMike has embedded a talk by Guy McPherson and adds citations from the book "Catastrophism - The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth".  He goes on to discuss this engaging concept of catastrophism, a notion which is new to me - that the populous is becoming numbed to disasters through the "normalization of catastrophe" via games, films, television and other popular amusements...Like the following zombie doomer porn!  I can't wait to see the movie but I'm afraid by the time it is ready for release the theaters will be permanently closed, so perhaps we will have only this trailer:

To me the juxtaposition of that book and Guy's lecture seems a bit incongruous because the authors advocate NOT portending disasters - and you can't find a much grimmer prognosticator than Guy McPherson (which is why I like him).  The overview of the book says:

"The authors argue that those who care about social justice and the environment should jettison doomsaying—even as it relates to indisputably apocalyptic climate change. Far from calling people to arms, they suggest, catastrophic fear often results in passivity and paralysis—and, at worst, reactionary politics."

Anyone who has read Wit's End probably knows I disagree vehemently with that assessment.  Passivity and paralysis and reactionary (fascist?) politics may well result from fear - but on the other hand, that's exactly what we already have - and yet most people are so far clueless as to just how bad our prospects for survival have become.  Put simply, people don't quit smoking because it's a little bit bad for their health.  They quit because they have been told it's going to KILL them, and that is why I think the only way people radically alter their behavior is if they have had the wits scared out of them.

This is some of what David Wadsell, Director of the Apollo-Gaia Project, has to say in the video below:

“The distinction between just a feedback process and a runaway feedback process is very, very important indeed. You can have feedback that slowly increases, if you like, the risk, and puts the temperature up a bit higher. Runaway feedback says the system responds so much to an increase in temperature that it becomes faster in the way it changes the climate with rising temperature. So the hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter...and the hotter it gets, the faster it gets hotter faster, until you move into a process that’s completely uncontrollable. And instead of coming up to a new equilibrium temperature that may be a bit high, it goes on going up faster and faster until something runs out—there’s no more methane to release or we’ve run out of forests to burn or something... or there's no more ice to melt…
“The danger of moving into a runaway climate change scenario is now clear and is beginning to be quantified for the first time in the last few months. It’s probably the greatest threat that we face as a planet."

"The rate of change in the climate is phenomenal compared to previous extinction events.  We are already in a mass extinction event."

Following is Guy's lecture. The Arctic Methane Group are passionately proponents, at least short-term for the ice, of some sort of emergency geoengineering, whereas Guy talks about the moral imperative to enlighten people about our grim prospects - which is, I assume, why he continues to speak and write about amplifying feedbacks and their consequences.  The ice, after all, is as good as melted.


  1. The situation on our planet continues to get is an emergency truly.

    Guy is an amazing speaker, I went to listen to him a few weeks ago.

    It is time to take action against the civilization that is destroying our world.

  2. I'm horrified to learn from Guy that the thermo bacteria that live in the bottom of the ocean won't survive the coming ecological collapse and extinction. I was counting on them to save some of our dna.

  3. I've listened to both these lower two videos before -- or a very similar one from Guy, pre-Sandy, but I'm such a doomist that I listened again. Confirmation bais, feeling a need to reinforce my doomerism, a sick individual indeed, I am!

  4. "the moral imperative to enlighten people"

    We've a Story to Tell to the Nations; evangelize the world with the Good News (Gospel) that will bring a "healing of the brokenness of the entire created universe."

    What should be done with heretics who won't make the Pilgrim's Progress to enlightenment?

  5. Put simply, people don't quit smoking because it's a little bit bad for their health. They quit because they have been told it's going to KILL them, and that is why I think the only way people radically alter their behavior is if they have had the wits scared out of them.

    Me, too.

    That trailer for 'World War Z' is awesome -- I hope you're wrong about the timing (don't we all?).

    ... watching 'Arctic Methane...' now -- holy crap, methane clathrate deposits are thought to have three times the hydrocarbon of all the oil, coal and gas we know about? I've been so wrong; we aren't toast; we're that acrid black stuff you get when you forget to hit 'eject'.

  6. Damn I hate this comment system. Spend ages composing a post, complete with links and puns and stuff, wander off for five minutes, come back and it's magically disappeared. Computers, you gotta love 'em.

  7. Sorry about Blogger's failings, Pendantry. They are legion but I am stuck in a bad relationship. (I always copy comments as I go if they get longer than a few sentences. Saves grief.)

  8. Heh... no need to apologise, Gail (well, not unless you're responsible for Blogger, that is! :)). Wise words from you re: copying long comments...

    ... but in any event my two posts above suggest I must have hit 'Publish', not realising that I had. Serves me right for spending time on the innerwebz at a time when I should really be asleep :)


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