We Have A Problem

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“WE HAVE A PROBLEM, HOUSTON.” were the words used by the Apollo 13 astronauts to announce their spacecraft’s stricken status. Miraculously, the astronauts and “Houston Control”, working together, managed to overcome this “problem”, and the crew of Apollo 13 were returned safely to Earth.

Forty years later, the inhabitants of “Spaceship Earth” also have a “problem”. Unfortunately, they do not have a “Huston”. This time the “crew” are going to have to sort things out by themselves.

What is the “problem”? Obviously, the biggest part of the answer is Climate Change. But it’s not the whole answer. Simply identifying Climate Change as the problem to be overcome does nothing to resolve the problem hidden inside the problem.

The ‘problem within the problem’ arises out of the fact that 85 percent of the energy utilised by human-beings is derived from carbon (a finite resource) and the balance is provided by machines and structures manufactured and constructed by means of carbon-based processes – all of which must be regularly replaced. Put simply, the skeleton of the advanced technological civilisation we inhabit is made out of coal, oil and natural gas – plus the objects they allow us to make. Remove these things and our civilisation will collapse.

The use of coal, for example, is critical to rapidly developing nations such as China and India – just as it was to the industrialisation of Europe and North America. The massive coal-mining venture getting underway in Queensland is being undertaken by Indian capital on behalf of Indian energy generation and manufacturing. A similar massive coal-mining exercise is underway in East Africa on behalf of the Chinese. The American coal industry, thanks to President Donald Trump, has resumed its decapitation of mountains to keep the furnaces fed.

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These developments will pour gigatons of additional CO2 into the earth’s atmosphere – worsening the already dire consequences of anthropogenic global warming.

“Keep it in the ground!” Cry the young defenders of the planet. “Blockade the coal ships! Halt the coal trains!” Would that it were that simple.

Coal is not burnt simply to produce mechanical and electrical energy. Some of it is used to make steel. Try to imagine a world without steel. It’s not easy. So much of the infrastructure of the present depends upon an endless supply of high-quality steel.

The infrastructure of past civilisations depended on implements made of iron. What’s needed to make iron? Charcoal – carbonised wood. The continuous burning of trees to make charcoal is one of the principal causes of the deforestation of the Northern Hemisphere – an unqualified ecological disaster. And, when the trees were gone, our European ancestors moved on to digging up the petrified forests of the planet’s distant geological past – otherwise known as coal.

“We are stardust/ billion year old carbon/ we are golden/ caught in the devil’s bargain”, sang Joni Mitchell in her hit song “Woodstock”. And it’s true: humanity and carbon are inextricably bound together. In mastering the extraction of energy from carbon, human-beings were simultaneously mastering the planet.

Except, of course, we weren’t. The planet has its own means of mastery, and we are beginning to feel them. The scientists insist that the only way we can ensure our species’ long-term survival is to unwind its extraordinary relationship with carbon. We must solve the problem within the problem.

In practical terms that can only mean unwinding civilisation itself. Humans will only cease being a threat to themselves, and others, when they give up using carbon-based products to smelt metals, manufacture cement and extrude plastics. Only when our species’ collective footprint  is light enough to be blown away with the leaves on an autumn wind, will the planet, and all the other species that dwell upon it, be able to breathe easy.

Such a footprint will never be left by a species numbering 9 billion.

Does humanity grasp this: the brutal, but inescapable, reality that lies at the heart of the problem within the problem of Climate Change? That to come through the next 100 years, the human species will, somehow, be required to reduce its present population by nine-tenths?

Think of the Holocaust. In 1939, there were approximately 9.7 million Jews living in Europe. By 1945 there were fewer than 4 million. Two-thirds of the Jewish people living in Europe had perished at the hands of the Nazis. The dismantling of our carbon-fuelled civilisation would be accompanied by an even more devastating process of depopulation: not two out of every three would vanish, but nine out of every ten. Will those billions of doomed souls go gently into Gaia’s good night? Or, will they rage, rage against the dying of human civilisation’s light?

Some in the West are openly talking about refusing to have children. Others speak hopefully of universalising the achievements of feminism, Such a victory would, if the experience of those countries in which women have won equality is any indication, gradually reduce the number of human-beings on the planet. Would this depopulation option occur at a pace and on a scale to avert planetary catastrophe? It seems unlikely. Especially when patriarchy in all its forms would have to be defeated first. That will not be easy!

How does one persuade the most privileged layers of the human population to surrender their creature comforts: their cars, their red meat, their dairy products – their guns? How do you make men understand the consequences of Climate Change, when the ongoing enjoyment of their many privileges depends upon them not understanding the consequences of Climate Change?

It’s not just men. Around the world, cities and even nation states are declaring “Climate Change Emergencies” in recognition of the diminishing amount of time humanity now possesses to stabilise the phenomenon of global warming. All well and good, but the truly chilling feature of such declarations is what happens after they are made. Which is, in nearly every case, nothing of any use whatsoever.

Perhaps, in the end, the planet – Gaia herself – will solve the problem. Perhaps a virus – as yet unencountered by any human-being – is already mutating away in the mountain rain-forests of equatorial Africa. Perhaps it will break free of the trees. Perhaps, like Ebola, its lethality will be in the vicinity of 90 percent.

Will it be a good or a bad thing, I wonder, when humanity’s bright blue spacecraft is stricken by this final problem, that no Huston will be standing-by to rescue the crew?

 

59 COMMENTS

  1. There are solutions but the first step is to curb the steady rise of neo liberalism and questionable trade deals that give big corporations too much power over government. NZ is one example over blown neo liberalism alongside Australia Canada, Mexico, USA and in a hybridized form China.

    China is trying to change but its sheer size and heavily consumerist culture make that extremely problematic. I have been there many times and I know for a fact Chinese dump their mobiles for new ones every few months, car ownership is huge and all of this is a sign of affluence and prestige. Just two examples, there are lots of others. Its govts hold on power is like many other nations more fragile than it would I suspect care to admit too. Take away peoples toys and well…….

    Can we save ourselves? To be honest I’d be inclined to say no. It may already be too late and would take something truly drastic to save us in the face of political apathy, consumerism and corporate greed.

    • The crisis ahead will come, whether the economic system is based on ‘neoliberalism’ or not. Humans want and have needs, some basic needs may be able to be met, but the needs of the now mostly consumerist humans go beyond of what is sustainable.

      No matter what, when people have to give up cars and other things, that equals a write off of asset values. Forget the idea of electric cars. As Chris writes, so much can only be produced by still using fossil fuels, to make the products like solar cells, even electric vehicles and the homes we live in, plus other infrastructure.

      So electric cars and many other things will still have a significant carbon footprint.

      Writing off assets and forcing people to reduce their consumption will mean economic contraction, of a significant degree. That will in some form resemble an unprecedented economic collapse.

      The logical, not pleasant conclusion is, that we will have those that feel more entitled than others, and that have better technology and weapons, they will force their ‘rights’ ahead of those of others, and ensure they get what they see fit to have, while others will be left to suffer and die.

      It is already happening, has happened throughout human history, it will come at a scale never seen in our history before.

      • As pointed out below it is all quite doable by smacking the hands of the naughty children at the top of the pyramid quite hard. If you get the 1% to consume the same amount as the rest of us individually then you are pretty close to solving the problem already.
        No cataclysmic dystopian future required and no major dying events. If you are worried about fertility rates then research suggests that giving women an education is the single most influential factor. I know its lovely to wallow in dispair but thats just the narrative you are expected to follow so that you can then accept whatever is next dished up to you – war or preventable famine or disease as a necessary event for everyone else to survive. Except that its always the 1% that escape any sacrifices and get to do all the things all over again that got us to this place. Yet if we confronted them and said enough is enough no one would need to die.

        • I am afraid you are misguided by the belief that dealing with the behaviour, lifestyle and excesses of the so called ‘1 per cent’ will solve the problem that Chris has presented with this post.

          If you add up all the carbon emissions created by the rich and powerful, caused by producing their luxury vehicles, yachts, planes and homes, and by their the use of these, you will come to a high per capital CO2 footprint, for sure, but the total on a global scale will still be minute to the sum of all emissions.

          The bulk of emissions are caused by feeding, transporting, housing, clothing and equipping the consumerist middle class in many developed countries, who do live beyond their means from a purely environmental point of view.

          Those flying to their holiday in the sun, perhaps going on a cruise, driving their kids to school every day, picking them up, driving to work and home, and driving to the malls and other places in their two to three cars belonging to their households, they altogether create the largest share of the carbon foot print. Add the many goods they consume daily, the picture gets clearer.

          Emissions by transport, industry and so forth are mostly caused by providing the goods and services most people like the middle class want and consume and use, and also the basic needs of the poor in developed countries has a significant per capita carbon foot print.

          The ones that live in truly poor, underdeveloped places, they of course have a much lower per capita carbon foot print, yet the sheer number of the billion plus living in India and China, that makes up a large carbon foot print also.

          Simply reducing the emissions and waste created by the ‘1 per cent’ will not solve much at all, apart from creating more ‘social justice’ perhaps, especially if others keep having more babies than the world will be able to feed, also leaving a carbon foot print.

          You cannot force all to become egalitarian poor vegetarians, restricting their intake and energy use, some will rebel, and those will use force and violence, to get what they think they need and ‘deserve’.

          Look at the refugee crisis in Europe, the US and so, where the entitlement driven richer residents in better off countries do in increasing numbers oppose refugee intake, that is just the beginning.

          There are few idealists, and while you may wish to belong to those, I fear you will not have the numbers to educate the rest to join you with good faith and happiness.

          • But you can force a proper distribution of wealth and all the other problems you mention have answers that are already able to be implemented.
            Again it is just the inability of people like you to imagine a world where excess wealth is considered the monstrous crime that it is. Rather than promote the easy fixes that are already available you would prefer to hold onto your priviledged position and tell stories of death on a massive scale so that people will accept war and famine and plague as the price for you to maintain your priviledges

            • F*** off!

              Your constant diatribe about me being ‘privileged’ or supporting the ‘privileged’ is sickening.

              I am actually anything but ‘priviliged’, so shut up with your BS.

          • In some places the greed is good ethos will take longer to fade but not in all. You may promote the competitive capitalist model and believe that to be the only choice but its not and only coooperative societies will survive. So the sooner we stop attacking each other the sooner we can come up with a workable plan. One future is that laid out by Aaron Bastani in “Fully Automated Luxury Communism”. He works with Jeremy Corbyn and has input to their policy. Some people are going to try to include as many people in the journey beyond climate change as they can. Some see it as the beginning of a new and exciting future because to make it we have to come together and make a plan that ditches the scrambli g over bodies just to survive in the capitalist world

        • As far as I can see the 1% are having their hands shook not slapped by those who could actually do something about this. Its preventable but human apathy and an unwillingness to actually enact real change is what will I suspect be the end of us all sooner or later……

      • Less chance it would be as bad as it is if neo liberalism were not on the scene. Indeed its fostered the kind of consumerism that’s made this situation 10 times worse. Of course try telling that to its exponents……

  2. Maybe we’ll be like rabbits when their population has grown beyond available resources, …. reabsorb our foetuses
    But Chris, I thought there was technology on the horizon that could extract carbon from the atmosphere
    Tim Flannery was on about something like this a few years ago

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2019/02/liquid-metal-catalyst-turns-carbon-dioxide-coal

    https://www.nesta.org.uk/feature/tipping-point/carbon-positive-turning-planetary-pollutant-asset/
    Is it not possible that another evolutionary movement(like the development of speech)could take place, whereby humans develop other less material notions of well being.
    Its consumerism that drives growth, all that Warehouse crap that is destined for the tip, only to be replaced by more current crap

    Is there some insider pun involved in spelling Houston as Huston?
    Please tell
    I don’t get it

  3. @CT. Jesus yes! I hear you.
    “Perhaps a virus – as yet unencountered by any human-being – is already mutating away in the mountain rain-forests of equatorial Africa.”
    A virus being genetically mutated in a laboratory in readiness to be released upon the masses of humanity from drones while the drone masters seek refuge within space stations and moon bases to grimly watch the show, more like.
    Have you noticed, given the circumstances, the seemingly irrelevant, illogical drive to head into space for giggles by Musk, Branston and Rocket Lab? ( Not to mention the Chinese and Israeli efforts ) I had an opportunity to view NASA’s exhibition at MOTAT recently. As I wandered around the slick presentations showcasing high tech satellites and rockets while a white-teeth eagerness to have me swoon into a pro space exploration hysteria was played I felt like I was, to use U$A’merican vernacular, being sold a shit ton of bullshit. If Spiderman had run across the ceiling as Superman came up through the floor boards waving the Stars and Stripes I’d a not been surprised in the least.
    I’ll be honest. I think I have the skill sets to survive the albeit slow moving climate crisis looming. I can grow things. A skill I learned as a primary school kid back in the 1960’s. We kids had to grow vegetable gardens which were judged and the best gardeners were awarded prizes. My mum and dad were farmers who grew all their own vegetables and meat. We never used chemicals and if a fruit or vegetable had a wee beastie in it or had bitten it? No one cared at all. It was entirely a part of our lives, to expect insect bitten foods. Now A days! If some mope spotted a bite mark in a hot house lettuce they’d need therapy, profuse apologies from the ‘retailer’, their own Instagram channel to show off their relevant emotional traumas and a refund plus damages. And I know how to kill and ‘process’ an animal to cook and eat it. I know how because I’ve done it more than once I’m sad to admit.
    I know many people who’ve never grown a lettuce, a potato or have killed, gutted, skinned, butchered then cooked and eaten a sheep.
    Basic survival naivety is a very, very dangerous ignorance and if things get as bad as they’re threatening to become? You will starve. You will get hungry and that hunger will drive you to desperate acts.
    We don’t repair things like we used to. I was at the rubbish dump in West Auckland not long ago and was agog at what I saw being chomped up then crushed and no doubt buried there. Appliances, furniture, a nice sofa! I thought… “ How do I sneak in there, steal that sofa and make off with it”. Like we used to at rubbish dumps. Scavenging was a great, noble and productive neighbourhood sport of a Saturday. We’d often come home with more than we dumped.
    And fix your stuff and things for fucks sake. There’s bugger all that can’t be fixed and if you think it can’t be repaired? Don’t buy it. Don’t buy the hype either. Perhaps most importantly. Don’t buy the hype.
    Then, of course, the Bankster Army was deployed against us.
    Neoliberal wankers fucked it up for everyone. ‘ Health and Safety’ mania, for example, has become the scourge of enterprise at a grass roots levels and it is, by and of itself, creating a psychological dependancy on ‘authority’ that is at once absurd AND ironically dangerous.
    One final thing.
    Human population.
    I get around a bit. Not, like our politicians nor that there. Those bastards seem to be everywhere yet achieve fuck all. Have you noticed that too?
    I see a lot of open lands. Fertile lands globally.
    Been to Phnom Penh? A larger city in Cambodia of about 1.5 million people? It’s a city that’s survived genocidal lunatics like johnson and nixon who instated equally sadist mad bastards like Pol Pot who pioneered the Killing Fields.
    That city’s crazy/fab. At least it was twenty years ago. Today? Bent Russian and Chinese money’s taking its toll on that wonderful buddhist country. It was a densely populated space and deeply impoverished. What got me was that the city was dense and populated for kilometres …. Then suddenly it stopped at ramshackle walls, then there were fields of rice. No trailing suburbs leading out into life style blocks then farm lands like here. It was city,city,city then bang! Country. Phnom Phen’s people lived beside the farm lands that gave them their daily sustenance. They couldn’t comprehend ‘supermarkets’ where the food arrived wrapped in plastic and was horrendously expensive too.
    Here’s what I think. There’s plenty of room for everyone. I know, I know.
    But I think there is. The problem is that we’re being manipulated by the banks globally to stay, crushed into one city-spot, work until you die and pay your dues to the billionaires infesting pockets of our paradise planet.
    Our planet’s being killed off by the banks and we’ll going to go down with the ship if we’re not careful.
    Any revolution should be focused on the banksters.
    And this is looking very interesting, in my opinion.
    New left economics and a network of thinkers. Can’t be all bad.
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2019/jun/25/the-new-left-economics-how-a-network-of-thinkers-is-transforming-capitalism
    Which brings me to this. Fabulous!
    1000 musicians play:
    “Fuck you! I won’t do what ya tell me!”
    Rage Against The Machine.
    https://boingboing.net/2019/08/12/1000-musicians-gather-to-play.html

    • So you can grow vegetables, good for you, and our impending doom is all the global banks fault. Really. I used to think that once everyone in the world had a massive flat screen TV then everyone would be happy and we could slow down this race to destruction. I was so naive. I now realize that the planet wont be saved until every single person has an iphone 20.

      • How about a way to help people get a grip on reality. MSM dreamland and the ditital world are just distractions while decline is progresses through them.

  4. That’s a cheery thought for the afternoon. Population size is the big unspoken when it comes to the climate crisis conversation. Interestingly genetic research suggests that the human population has faced near extinction at one point in pre-history – due to a cataclysmic event of some sort. Decimation of populations is also not un-common historically. Start with what happened to native populations during colonization then go back a couple of hundred years to the plague in Europe which wiped out two thirds of the population by some estimates.
    I feel so much better now.

  5. What a load of bollocks. If you are part of or sucking up to become one of the top 1% then I guess you do have a problem. The satistics that divide up the world according to wealth have a surprising correlation to the statistics that divide up the world according to consumption. Not everyone needs to get aroun town in a private helicopter or use a private jet for their holidays. So if we start knocking people off on the basis of how much energy they use we would find that removing the top 1% would halve fossil fuel consumption. The removal of 90% of the population is when you start at the bottom which is a weird place to start when you purport to put forward a left perspective. Maybe open your eyes a little and dont always succumb to fear.

    https://www.lemonde.fr/blog/piketty/2019/06/11/the-illusion-of-centrist-ecology/

  6. Everything is doable but not if we talk ourselves out of it – something that is really important to remmeber.
    The truth is that we could also feed 9 million people with biodynamic and/or permaculture techniques but it would require a massive restructure of the way we live – except thats what we have to do anyway

      • Or rather just find that funnily enough when peoples needs are met and they have normal access to health and education they are less likely to have big families because their children are not at risk and there is plenty of other interesting things to be out doing.

        • [Declined for publication. Repetitive, and already published elsewhere. Please do not ‘spam’ discussions with the same material/links. – Scarletmod]

          • Absolutely not. Agriculture that returns carbon to the soul rather than killing all the microbes that help bind carbon is a very easy thing. In fact this type of agriculture if practised everywhere and built carbon back in to the soil to the levels it was before industrial farming practices would make a huge impact on the climate. This is a natural carbon capture that is profound. It makes fossil fuels for fertilizer redundant. Cities will need to retain or reclaim local food growing space. People may need to do more of the labour. Just because you cant imagine the present system coping doesnt mean there isnt one that can. It just means that your input wont be required for the planning

      • Unlikely. Global fertility rates are already well below replacement pretty much everywhere except Africa, India, and parts of the middle east – and those that aren’t already below replacement are trending towards it fairly rapidly.

        While official UN figures still show significant growth this century, many demographers outside of the UN are currently suggesting that global population will peak around 9 billion around mid century, then begin a rapid decline with numbers dropping back to about 7 billion around 2100. Followed by further, drastic, declines into the 22nd century.

        https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jan/27/what-goes-up-population-crisis-wrong-fertility-rates-decline

        And even the official UN numbers show the same trend, but over a longer time scale.

        So, even with all the food we possibly want, the population will never reach 15 billion.

        That said, will the forecasted population decline for this century do much to help reduce carbon emissions? Probably not being that the countries with very high fertility rates are also developing nations that need cheap sources of energy. Just something to ponder is all.

  7. There is going to be rage, war, destruction, horror, death and even worse.
    There will be famine plague and pestilence on a scale never before seen.
    The patriarchy will become irrelevant. Whether you are true left or woke will be unimportant. The narratives of today will fade away. The rights of trans gender women to compete in the womens heavyweight weight lifting competitions at the olympics a whimsical memory.
    The wealthy, the powerful and the privileged will retreat to their bunkers, to their compounds and to their hideaways in the South Island. All will die.
    And thats the good news.
    This better outcome for our planet relies on the complete collapse of our current economic system.
    If this collapse doesn’t happen before the full effects of Climate Change sweep the planet then things will get much worse.

    • There is a change that communities that bind together and form a supply of food from local growers, will have the best chance of survival.
      They will be raided by desperate neighbours unless an ethic of inclusion and education is recognised as the only chance for any community.
      Corporate raiders and wealthy pirates will not respond so violence in repelling them will not be avoided.
      Passive resistance only goes so far.
      An arsenal dispersed within a community will be a necessity.
      Community control will be a challenge so the rules of cooperatives will be entwined in that. The purpose is survival not power.

  8. “WE HAVE A PROBLEM, HOUSTON.” So it should read, not ‘HUSTON’!

    As for the summary of the state of affairs of humanity and our planet Earth, Chris is right, at least generally.

    When looking at ‘solutions’, it looks grim indeed.

    Humans are mostly ‘social’ animals, that means they stick together in families, tribes, nations and other organised forms, be this based on culture, religion, politics, ideology, or what else may come to mind.

    No matter what has been tried so far, the internationalists have failed to bring all of humanity together and to act in some ‘united’ form to resolve significant international and global problems. For instance the UN has largely been a failure, it has only managed the chaos and disasters to a degree, we still have unresolved crisis in the Middle East, e.g. in Palestine, in Africa, Asia, even Europe and the Americas.

    The fact is, whether as individuals or as ‘social’ groups in whatever organised form, humans have traditionally competed with each other, for land, access to water, food and other resources. Wars were fought, civil wars, wars between nations, wars between ‘alliances’, and besides of that we have had a history of revolutions and also crime, that have put humanity through often very painful phases.

    With the improved sciences, technological developments, humans have managed to beat certain diseases, learned to improve productivity, to use technology to build new systems, machinery and organisations that are capable of things past generations would never have dreamt of.

    But despite of that, we still have nations and governments (ruling over their people) mistrust each other, and arm themselves to the teeth. Why do we have armed services, why do we have all the forms of weaponry, including nuclear ones and rockets that carry them, and even mass surveillance? It is, because we do not trust each other, and therefore arm ourselves to prepare for the worst, to defend ourselves in a case of attack.

    So that appears to be a deep mindset of us still somewhat ‘primitive’ humans, to rather spend billions on arms than work together. Those that support internationalism, they have to fight off suspicions by others, who do not trust a ‘world government’.

    With all that, I see no solution but that humans will either go back and use war and other means to keep other ‘nations’ and populations at bay, and to protect their own interests, even need be also attack others, to get what they need.

    With modern technology it does not appear something too wild to imagine, that some form of virus or other matter, used as ‘chemical’ or ‘biological warfare’, will perhaps be used by some advanced nation, to get rid of excess populations that take up resources that are scarce, and that such a nation wants to secure for itself, its elite, and a population they have that is needed to ‘support’ the elite and itself.

    We do live in unusual, that is historically unusual times here, distant to crisis such as war, famine and disorder, and we are not (yet) threatened with having to go back to Darwinian evolutionary processes, that would select only the fittest for survival.

    The ‘natural’ process was in history that a selection process of whatever sort, whether brutally violent or else, would see to it, that human populations are only maintained at a level that will be sustainable in a natural environment.

    We are indeed far away from such a scenario now, in many parts on Earth.

    So perhaps it is wise to prepare for the unthinkable, the perhaps inevitable, we are descendants of hunters and gatherers, and the ‘hunter’ can also be a ‘warrior’, we see it in many people daily, we would also not have sports competition, were we not made up of genes that still have us act as fighters and hunters.

    It will be the dream of idealists to expect humans to work together and ensure all the 9 or more billion humans will have food to eat, have enough energy to warm and power themselves, will have homes, and other things that we may take for granted. We do not have this now, for billions with access only to poor and little water, with insufficient food, housing and other services or resources, we do not even have the energy and materials now, to afford them this in an affordable, economic and equitable manner, it seems.

    I prepare for the WORST, I realised the challenges already years ago, and have learned to have little trust in fellow humans, certainly little trust in governments, and even less so in businesses. Hence climate change will come and we will bear the consequences when they come, most do even now not take any significant action to prepare or adjust, to even minimise their CO2 foot print. Once the sea level rises and the waves lap at the door steps, then people will take action, once they suffer drought and food shortages, then they will adjust, nothing much more.

  9. Goood one Chris,

    As I watched Mike Willliams siting with DOn brash yestday what was the first thing that both agreed with?

    Yes you are correct it was the same old capitalist hacknayed term

    “Productivity must increase”!!

    What the F@#$%^&*()_!!!!!!!!!!!

    If we increase productivity we get more consumerism and waste and use of resourses, do they understand that?

    And that means more carbon output to increase global warming.

    These guys are our real problem now as are many others, as they cant think straight any more.

    • They probably could never think straight. They were brought up by a generation that could not think straight and at least a half a dozen generations before that.

      The energy greedies.

  10. To fight it: gummints from people willing to see … beyond … comfort. Said-last, disguising eyes. Only, and just , a hundred or more times than 1939. Makes me religious certainly — with this impossible bullshit: God help us.

    • Who is that.
      Humans have created the mess so if it is to be addressed the humans have to change the path of what they are doing. Blind appeals to mythical supernatural entities denotes thinking of many centuries ago.

      Simply less people and living a low energy, low resource consuming existence.
      Use models from earlier centuries but with changed thinking regarding increasing energy harvesting and expansion of community numbers.

  11. Today on newshub am show Duncan Garner asked Simon Bridges what would he do to restore to combat climate change and the economy again if he is the next PM.

    ‘Simple Simon’ said he would restore the “Roads of National Significance, (RONS)

    What a sad man he is, so how will building more roads for trucks save our climate change?

    Simon is a cardboard copy of Steven Joyce (the “tar seal king” Joyce was called; – for his love of roads, and Bridges is no better, both are truly “hollow men”.

    talk about getting rail going and you may have more votes; – you idiots.

    https://www.newshub.co.nz/home/politics/2019/08/simon-bridges-says-most-kiwis-believe-system-gamed-at-last-election.html

    • Well, they will be roads of future signifance if they are built for horses. I hope that that was what he was meaning. Like Country Boy I have the skills to survive, I can grow things, I have always “hoarded”my useful “rubbish.” There is always a use arising for it. I heeded the early population warning calls re “standing room only ” in the 60,s and had only two children – deliberately. I am angry now to see the people from overpopulated countries being allowed to overflow into countries such as ours. What do they do here, have 2 plus children, like they have not learnt a thing!
      I would not be too good at border control though should the hoards come raiding my potatoe crop, for example, so I guess I am going to have to become a little more commune -like…. But actually my main aim is to see my grandchildren similarily equipped – because sadly the diffilculties to come will fall mainly on them.

      • Your are on a track that is highly likely but communities will need to form cooperatively and individuals will not be able to do a survival thing alone.
        Horses, donkeys, goats plant based material built windmills , thatched roofs, some lime mortar with earthen houses.

  12. Well Chris, it’s good to see some more ‘unacceptable’ fundamental truth being highlighted on TDB.

    As you have pointed out, current living arrangements are predicated on the burning of fossil fuels, and cannot be maintained without them.

    And continued extraction and burning of fossil fuels causes further ‘climate change’, which I prefer to think of as the early stage of abrupt climate change (planetary meltdown).

    So industrial civilization will collapse at some stage in the near future.

    Not mentioned in your analysis is the mass die-off of other species, described as the 6th Mass Extinction, which is caused by human overpopulation and degradation of the environment. Many of the species in severe decline are sources of food or are crucial to food production.

  13. John Campbell on the Breakfast couch today asked whether “There should be balanced reporting” with respect to climate change and further whether any counterargument to climate change (now dubbed climate change denial) should even be allowed. Wtf, it is not the job of journalism to censor and bias, to take sides or favour commentary. Journalism is about reporting objective facts and truth using balanced arguments from as many sources as possible. Journalism must present all sides of a story, including starting with a definition of climate change which I haven’t seen any evidence of. Recently Spark, a telecommunications provider, stated that they wouldn’t be hosting a particular type of website. Paul Brislen seemed to be the only one pushing back on this move, questioning whether this is even in Spark’s purview. We are moving into murky waters when journalists or ICT providers can determine what type of information the public can consume.

    • ” it is not the job of journalism to censor and bias, to take sides or favour commentary. Journalism is about reporting objective facts and truth using balanced arguments from as many sources as possible ”
      Jody it is a nice idea but not going too happen.
      Get used to hearing and reading biased news and reporting that is all right wing and that is the only point of view in NZ apparently.
      When all our news is sourced through overseas and local corporates this is all you will get.
      Even RNZ once touted as red radio ( which it never was ) by National and their supporters because it never took sides and criticized the Labour party has now been filled by National leaning parasites by the last gang of shysters the Key government.
      We used too get fair and balanced reporting but that did not fit with the neoliberal approach to our economy.

  14. The following graphs pretty much say it all with respect to carbon imbalance due to overpopulation and overconsumption of fossil fuels.

    1. Atmospheric CO2 is currently approaching the minimum for the year, after which it will climb to a new record high around 418 ppm in May 2020.

    https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/mlo_two_years.png

    Atmospheric CO2 is around 130 ppm above the pre-industrial level and around 180 ppm above the 800,000-year average.

    https://scripps.ucsd.edu/programs/keelingcurve/wp-content/plugins/sio-bluemoon/graphs/co2_800k.png

  15. Well done, Chris T! Its good that a person with clout has said what needs saying. When climate change issues have been raised in TDB, I have often raised the importance of reducing world population and got little support. No clout I guess.
    In one comment I suggested that world population needed to drop by a third. My suggestion came from a snippet I had read, that our present consumption needed 1.6 Planet earths to meet our present wants. I suggested that we needed to treat the situation like the sinking of the Titanic – save the women and children first. Old codgers like me go to the wall. The passengers participated calmly and very bravely.
    You should have seen the rather rude comments that idea attracted. But we are the offspring of the I-am-me generation and neo-liberal self interest. They (the Titanic passengers) were made of better stuff than we can imagine. We are not given to self-sacrifice.
    Now you are suggesting that we reduce our population by 90% , Chris. I wish you well! Which is sad because the situation is not hopeless. You are suggesting that a world population of 1 billion people is needed. That is about the world population at the time of Waterloo, and about 50 years after the successful mass production of steel (which is no longer valid). We would find that rather basic for our taste but people did live like that so they can again. What you will lose is all the government services (tertiary services), which are funded by the surplusses of primary and secondary industry. There will not be any surplusses.
    So there is the solution. We can survive but forget about “sustainable progress”. And who is going to cull out 90% of our population? We cant even agree on euthanasia.

    • 18 years ago I made the ‘mistake’ of writing and publishing a book (Burn Baby Burn) along the lines of what Chris has written, and included some of the ideas you have shared.

      The idea of writing the book was to promote public discussion and promote a change in the direction of society, towards long term sustainability.

      I used the analogy of being on the Titanic, with the speed and direction locked into position, resulting in certain collision with the iceberg. I wrote that the mass extraction of fossil fuels was unsustainable and would go into decline -especially easy-to-extract oil, and that the production of wastes far exceeded nature’s capacity to process them. And that the release of CO2 into the atmosphere would raise the temperature of the Earth and cause unprecedented floods and droughts etc. If unaddressed, excess CO2 it would overheat the Earth to the point of making it largely uninhabitable.

      Back then I noted that governments promoted increased consumption and increased population -the very things that deplete resources fast and increase pollution. And that it will be our grandchildren who would pay the price if society remained locked into unsustainable globalised living arrangements.

      For several years I was naïve enough to think I could stimulate public discussion of such matters, and in 2007 published another book (NZ Guide to Surviving the Future), which highlighted the further depletion of primary energy resources and further deterioration of the environment, and what people needed to do to protect themselves.

      I was interviewed on the local television station in 2007 (subsequently closed down) and pointed out the resources and waste ‘problems’, and that the human population would fall as resources declined and the environment was further degrade, from the then 6 billion to 1 billion (or less).

      By the time I wrote and published my last book (The Easy Way) in 2011 I had a better understanding of the nature of consumer societies, particularly the financial system and the imperative for growth…infinite growth on a finite planet.

      I pretty much gave up trying to change the direction of society in 2014, and became an observer and commenter, focused on highlighting the irrefutable chemistry and physics of ‘our predicament’.

      Even that has been a ‘failure’ insofar as only a miniscule portion of the populace has any idea what is happening or why, which is really surprising in this generally scientifically illiterate society, which is manipulated by the mass media into celebrating ostentatious consumption – to prop up business profitability in the short term.

      On that topic, we might note that yet another financial-economic crisis is burgeoning, as industrial societies consume the very things they need to persist.

      I find it interesting that you have suggested a population of 1 billion and a 90% cull of population:.
      such a reduction is inevitable. Many who have looked at the environmental numbers believe extinction of the human species will occur in a matter of decades. After all, governments continue to promote the conditions that will result in that.

      Had the ‘issues’ of excessive consumption and overpopulation been addressed a decade or two ago, perhaps a transition to a sustainable society might have been possible. Or at least a transition back to some kind of stone age society along the lines that Maori live before Europeans arrived, with no steel.

  16. Chris, I’m pleased someone on the Left has caught on to the truth at last:
    There is no zero carbon future!
    Any government promising it is either woefully ignorant and poorly advised or is just plain lying. Or both.
    Every technology that has been invented since the 17th involves a carbon emission somewhere along its life cycle:
    > Every EV is made from a mix of exotic metals that are even worse for the environment than owning a standard, small Jap import.
    > Julie Anne Genter’s bike was made of steel in China and was shipped here in a steel ship burning bunker oil.
    > Those wind turbines have 500 tons of concrete in their bases to stop them falling over. The cement used is transported here in a steel ship burning bunker oil. Cement production is highly energy intensive and involves reduction kilns that burn coal. The blades are worse – they’re made from toxic epoxy composites.

    If we were truly planning a zero carbon future we would have to kill off 80% of the human population and be prepared to live the Hobbesian existence of a medieval serf: Nasty, brutish and short.

    But there is good news!
    Most of the claims about global warming are based on wild extrapolations of flaky data and pumped up by media and politicians wishing to grab power in the name of the environment. Every year since its inception the IPCC has had to wind back its predictions to the extent that now it doesn’t even call them predictions anymore. If we’d believed the claims of the environmental movement and their scientists back in the ’90’s and early 2000’s, London and Manhattan would be partially underwater by now, the Greenland glaciers would have slumped into the sea and we’d have an ice free Arctic. By 2008 we should have seen half a million ‘climate refugees’ yet their islands stubbornly refuse to be inundated by the ocean. Bad science!

    Meanwhile the slight increase in CO2 in the atmosphere has stimulated plant growth globally, increasing natural bounty and helping feed us all. Never in human existence have we had so much food per capita.

    So not all is lost 😉

    • Yes, Andrew, we need more CARBON, is that why you favour spaceships going to the Moon and Mars, to ‘harvest’ coal there, or something similar, to use as ‘energy’ here?

      There seems to be darn little coal left on other planets though, as they never had much life, shit, what do we do?

      • We can’t use the accessible coal on Earth nor the available oil.
        As we rush to harvest and burn coal and oil for our convenience we prepare a sentence of increasing misery, violence and death for many of our kids and grand kids.

        Their crime was having you for a ignorant greedy stupid neurotic ancestor.

    • Andrew you are cherry picking, making invalid assumptions and cobbling together dreams deniers use in their wildest propaganda. Heartland institute crap.
      Peak grain per capita was in 1987.

      • I’m definitely cherry picking facts. But facts they are!

        Look, in essence what I’m saying is that we’ve got to learn to live with what will be: The earth may get a little warmer and sea levels may rise, although nobody really knows how much.

        The Paris Agreement basically gives both China and India a free pass. They can continue to build coal fired power stations regardless of the consequences so whatever NZ does is irrelevant unless you’re into virtue signalling.

        Don’t believe politicians who promote themselves on the basis of ‘saving the planet’ or being “carbon neutral by 2050”. These are the same people burning kerosene in the government’s Boeing 757 on trips to Pacific Islands every second week.

        If the world’s politicians were *really* serious about tackling their CO2 contribution they would we promoting the construction of nuclear power stations and adopting GMO technology to reduce the acreage under the plough. But they’re not. They’re flying in executive jets to Davos to talk about it. So excuse me if I don’t take this threat too seriously.

  17. The predicament of humanity agent of a Planet destroying omnicide.
    Noun. omnicide (uncountable) The total extinction of the human species as a result of human action. Most commonly it refers to human extinction through nuclear warfare, but it can also refer to such extinction through other means such as global anthropogenic ecological catastrophe.
    By Deb Ozarko
    http://www.debozarko.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/The-Perpetual-Illusion-of-Change-1.pdf

    ” When we look closely at our separation-based creations over the last few thousand years, we can more clearly see the downward tailspin of our collective diminishment. The agricultural age led to the domination and mass brutality of animals and nature. The industrial age led to overpopulation and the commoditization of Life. The current technological age has caused widespread distraction and the dumbing down of humanity. And if we don’t first go extinct, the emerging artificial intelligence age will render us obsolete. One way or another, humanity is disappearing in the near-term, and by its own hands no less “

  18. I continue to expand upon my argument that global sea level will rise 7 meters by 2070, as I originally discussed over 5 years ago in a video. An Arctic Blue-Ocean Event (BOE) that is very likely by 2022 will cause very large Arctic warming. With no sea-ice left to melt, we lose our Arctic “refrigerator” and all that previous “latent heat” will now be “sensible heat” jacking up temperatures. This will further expose Greenland to accelerated, catastrophic ice loss with rapid sea-level rise and abrupt increases in frequency, severity, duration of extreme weather events globally.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TtjcELcNH1E&t=25s

  19. Global Temps Continue to Soar Upward as NOAA Confirms July 2019 Was Hottest Month Since Records Began in 1880

    “We are seeing record after record after record.”
    https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/08/15/global-temps-continue-soar-upward-noaa-confirms-july-2019-was-hottest-month-records
    countryrds
    12h

    “It looks like the worst case scenario put forward by the IPCC could be an underestimate because we are seeing ice melting now that we expected 30 to 40 years from now.”

    It is called abrupt climate change not slow gradual centuries to manifest climate change. Translated that means serious focused joint immediate effort if there is to be even a hope for short to mid-term survival. So, why is this still being ignored and even shunned by the DNC? Isn’t the election an opportunity for discussion of the serious issues facing us? Is there anything more serious than climate disintegration?

    • Not having your dense knowledge of the science my feel for the rhythm of the truth I’ve seen so far says you’re probably right. So, despite the prevailing pol.sci. wisdom, leaders must not bend to the present wind but make a case. Only purpose to a Labour Govt. Nil expectation of that from this smooth career path ‘labour’.

  20. Unlike continental Europe and totalitarian China, in the 80s the anglophone ‘democracies’ placed themselves under the ‘successful’. Their opposition to addressing climate change in any way as much as the former is the prison-door closure to their shit. Yet there they remain.

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