Apr 302007

There’s a great article on titled “The Ecology of Work” by Curtis White.

My argument is simply that the threats to humans and the threats to the environment are not even two parts of the same problem. They are the same problem. For environmentalism, confronting corporations and creating indignant scientific reports about pollution is the easy stuff. But these activities are inadequate to the real problems, as any honest observer of the last thirty years of environmental activism would have to concede. The “last great places” cannot be preserved. We can no more preserve them than we can keep the glaciers from melting away. Responding to environmental destruction requires not only the overcoming of corporate evildoers but “self-overcoming,” a transformation in the way we live. A more adequate response to our true problems requires that we cease to be a society that believes that wealth is the accumulation of money (no matter how much of it we’re planning on “giving back” to nature), and begin to be a society that understands that “there is no wealth but life,” as John Ruskin put it. That is the full dimension and the full difficulty of our problem.

Unfortunately, on these shores the suggestion that there is something fundamentally destructive in work, money, and capitalism leads quickly to emotional denials.

… Capitalism as a system of ever-accelerating production and consumption is, as we environmentalists continually insist, not sustainable. That is, it is a system intent on its own death. Yet the capitalist will stoically look destruction in the face before he will stop what he’s doing, especially if he believes that it is somebody else whose destruction is in question. Unlike most of the people living under him, the capitalist is a great risk-taker largely because he believes that his wealth insulates him from the consequences of risks gone bad. Ever the optimistic gambler with other people’s money, the capitalist is willing to wager that, while there may be costs to pay, he won’t have to pay them. Animals, plants, impoverished people near and far may have to pay, but he bets that he won’t. If called upon to defend his actions, he will of course argue that he has a constitutionally protected right to property and the pursuit of his own happiness. This is his “freedom.” At that point, we have the unfortunate habit of shutting up when we ought to reply, “Yes, but yours is a freedom without conscience.”

There is a lot more, I hope you read it, and it’s companion article (Part 1), The Idols of Environmentalism.

A fair and honest examination of our society, even our cherished Constitution, would reveal that our desire to live in peace and harmony with each other and on the planet wherein we reside, is based on the idea of ownership. I’ve presented this argument before. The perceived need to “possess” things is because of fear. The “Getting me and mine” mantra permeates the very fabric our civilization. This is the exploitation principle at work.

Unlike White, who holds the view that humans are not violent, I disagree. Humans are just animals, competitive and vicious. Our social structures enhance this tendency. The difference between us and the animal kingdom is we are the only real species capable of self-inflicted harm. An example of this is found in this statement:

For instance, as a matter of conscience we should be willing to say that the so-called greening of corporate America is not as much about the desire to protect nature as it is about the desire to protect capitalism itself.

We well know that corporate America is killing the planet, but our competitive and vicious nature prevents us from acknowledging that. Fear drives us to ownership, and ownership provides the illusion of safety. But that “safety net” that we so carefully crafted by dismantling the world and reorganizing it into our image is now falling apart. And this is all happening because of our deep seated fear that drove us to extinguish the planet.

I don’t see White’s conclusions of the “benevolence of mankind” as being evident in history. Civilizations have long been warlike and highly destructive to each other and their environment. White claims:

If all this is so, it is only possible to conclude from our behavior for the last two hundred years that ours is not a human society; that it is a society outside of the human in some terrible sense.

Human society as long as mankind has had one has been earmarked by war, violence and competition. Capitalism may indeed excaberate that tendency, but it’s always been there anyway.

White’s conclusion in Part III is confusing, to say the least. The future holds a huge promise of the very violent nature of humans to come forth. And the survivors of that conflict (if any), which will last several generations, will very likely repeat the entire process all over again. The Party of Life that he envisions is likely the fiction of his imagination. A nice fiction, but not one based in the reality of human nature or human history.

 Posted by at 9:59 am
Apr 292007

There’s a highly informative article on the global warming debate regarding the “non-human caused” theory proposed by Dr. Martin Hertzberg (and championed by the likes of Alexander Cockburn). It’s well worth reading, especially when your in one of those conversations with the (usually) uniformed persons who still insist that global warming cannot be caused by human activity.

Hertzberg insists that global warming is caused by water vapor and not by C02 emissions. In fact, according to Hertzberg, it’s never caused by C02 emissions of any amount. Yet this theory falls flat on it’s face when the empirical record is examined.

“… CO2 concentrations are cumulative. Once released, the gas remains in the atmosphere for centuries—unlike water vapor, which quickly precipitates out of the atmosphere as rain or snow.”

Very much related to this theory is the recent story that the oceans are not carbon sinks as once thought, which would shatter Hertzberg’s theory to smithereens (his theory is based in part on the oceans being huge carbons sinks).

In case you missed it, Lonewolf has posted some shocking comments about just how much C02 we are releasing with the burning of oil (and these figures represent just oil and nothing else).

NOTHING, not even the oceans (or all the King’s men), can remotely absorb the vast amounts of carbon being extracted from geologic-sinks and injectyed into our atmosphere. The oceans may not be a “sink” but they will surely continue to ’sink’ as they become increasing acidic.

1 “standard cubic meter” of crude oil = 6.29 bbl = 0.85 MT or 298 lbs/bbl’
Crude oil (mean of grades) is 80% Carbon by weight.
This means each barrel combusted ‘releases’ 239.4 lbs of Carbon into the air.

Global consumption (primarially combustion) is presently estimated at 85 Million barels per DAY (31,025 Million bbl/yr, or 7.4 Trillion lbs/yr) [Trillion = million million or E10^12]

This is an ‘release’ (injection, pollution) scale of 3,700 MILLION TONS of Carbon (just the C atoms) per YEAR (currently !).
When one adds two Oxygen atoms for each Carbon atom (i.e. CO2, Mol.Wt.=44.01) the mass jumps to 13,570 Million Tons.
Try wrapping your mind around that amount of mass.
I double-dog dare you.

The atmosphere of the planet is the most fragile resource we have. In relation to the Earth, it’s eggshell thin and can be easily damaged. Along with the carbon we are releasing into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels, we’re also actively destroying the environmental mechanisms that create and clean the atmosphere.

Of course, I’m referring to the oceans and the Amazon rainforest in particular. The combined effects of human emmissions, pollutants, and environmental destruction on the surface of the Earth are nearly incalculable. But not entirely so, because of the empirical evidence that has already been collected all over the world.

This blog has recorded many of these stories, there is absolutely no debate about what this will mean. Cumulatively speaking, we know that we are killing the planet and all possibility of life.

 Posted by at 5:51 pm
Apr 282007

There are countless examples of the collapse already showing itself. New Zealand has some of the highest fuel costs in the world. Costa Rica is already experiencing blackouts due to drought. India is threatening power cuts, as is Tiawan, & Columbia. Denver is running very low on gasoline. $4 gasoline is expected this year. Gasoline inventories are at an 18 month low (we only have 24 days of fuel on hand in the entire country).

Australia is having severe water shortages that will affect everything, even food. Even food shortages in the U.S. are forcing imports of grain, once thought unthinkable, while wheat prices soar. The breadbasket of Canada is shrinking. South Africa faces a potato shortage due to drought. Florida is loosing lakes, Georgia is in flames, Nevada and the Sierra’s are facing significant drought.

Switzerland, Thialand and Italy are also facing drought and energy collapse. Zimbabwe is going to have to import water by train to hydrate it’s citizens. Add Taiwan, Hawaii to the global bee collapse.

There’s a lot more, but do you really need to see it? Collapse is happening, right now, all over the world. The climate change deniers be damned. Feeding the world is growing more serious everyday. No water = no food. No energy = no food. No energy & no water = global resource wars, chaos, starvation, death and destruction. Armageddon is actually spelled c.o.l.l.a.p.s.e.

Rising energy costs will continue to be felt throughout all sectors of the economy. Future wars will all be fought over energy, water and arable land as the world scrambles to stay alive. The massive immigration flood into the U.S. is about receiving a better standard of living, which includes adequate food, water and shelter. But it will all come at a very high price as billions around the world are displaced by economic and environmental collapse and overstrained resources are depleted to exhaustion.

The collapse is ongoing, it’s happening now, all over the world but most Americans still believe they are somehow immune by wishful thinking. We may indeed be the fatted calf, but it’s only because we’re all being led to the slaughter by the ring in our nose.

 Posted by at 1:09 pm
Apr 282007

This is an interesting story.  Ecuador is asking the international community to help it not drill for oil in the heart of the Amazon.

Some years ago, I had read a proposal where the international community had a responsibility to protect the natural resources in fragile environments like the Amazon. The only way to truly protect them was to pay the host countries to not exploit their own resources.  It appears that this is the route that Ecuador is now taking.

In a capitalistic world, you can’t really blame a country for utilizing it’s natural resources. In this case, they happen to be the lungs of the Earth.

Apparently Ecuador still owes the World Bank (recall this blog entry where Ecuador kicked out their representative?). It seems a bit strange that Ecuador is getting a lot of news lately, almost a country you never hear about.

It will be interesting to see if Ecuador strategy is taken up and supported by the world, because it is the only answer to the  preservation of our natural resources. If this works for Ecuador, other countries may follow suit.  The real challange will be figuring out how to keep the rapacious multi-nationals from exploiting these countries anyway.

 Posted by at 9:13 am
Apr 272007

This is startling news, because it radically changes the outcome of carbon emmission solutions. Most people believe that the ocean serves as a “carbon sink”, storing excessive carbon dioxide in the ocean and sediments themselves. Not so, according to a new study.

If the oceans do not store carbon dioxide as once thought, then hoping or planning for the oceans to rectify our excessive emmissions may prove to be futile.

 Posted by at 3:59 pm
Apr 272007

My website has a FAQ (frequently asked questions page) which I’ve now updated with a new section, The World and Our Future.

I get a fair number of question regarding my thoughts on this subject. Sometimes I point them to the blog or the old forum, other times I don’t say much. Scaring people isn’t particularly productive, and I’ve learned over time that you pretty much have to let people figure things out for themselves, it’s the only way they’ll develop a vested interest.

So anyway, here’s what I wrote as an addendum to the FAQ:

The World & Our Future

Q: Why is shipping so expensive? Do you know the reason for this?
A: Its because of the high price of oil. The U.S. imports over 80% of it’s oil now. The commerical shipping companies like UPS, FedEx and Oak Harbor Freight have all been scrambling to cover their shipping expenses with the higher price of oil. Last year, there were over two dozen rate changes, where in years past, it was a single change, once per year. And we are expecting this to get a LOT worse. Oil is very volatile and projections are for much higher oil prices, much higher then you can even imagine. The world is running out of oil, we’ve researched this extensively and it’s real. We’re all going to be paying far higher prices soon.

Q: What can I do about the high cost of shipping? Anything at all?
A: No, not really. We have a saying that’s proven true for over twelve years we’ve been in business. “It won’t be any cheaper then it is today”. Shipping costs are just going to get worse, a lot worse. Food is a great investment right now because it’s cheap and the shipping is still affordable. But in ten years, what will food cost? What will shipping costs be? We only know for certain that both food and shipping will be much higher. With food that can last 30 years then, it makes good sense to buy today while it is still affordable.

What most people don’t know is how dependent modern agriculture is on oil (and it’s price). All modern agriculture requires huge quantities of oil to grow (fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides) and to be processed (tractors, harvestors, trucks, shipment and distribution and factory plants). Without oil, there simply will be no food for over 85% of the population. The U.S. is eventually looking at massive starvation because of this problem. No nationwide initiative, including alternative energy has even remotely come close to solving this problem. In reality, it is a world-wide problem and the future world will have a massive population die-off because of it.

Q: Are you serious?
A: Very. We have looked into this issue extensively. Our planet is in severe population-overshoot which has only been possible by the availability of cheap, portable energy. No “alternative energy” exists that can replace oil. A single barrel of oil represents 400,000 years of “sunshine” and we burn it up in a nanosecond. The U.S. is using 8 million barrels of oil per day, and that figure is rising. Resource wars will be commonplace as the world fights over the remaining oil supplies. It’s already a matter of life or death and it will only worsen. The world will be a dramatically different place in a few decades as global starvation affects every country on earth.
Q: If this is for real, why isn’t something being done about this?
A: Actually, a lot is being done. Recall the resource wars? That is already happening. Drilling for new energy supplies is occurring all over the world, but all major finds have long since peaked in 1979. It now take almost five barrels of oil to even find one barrel, and this ratio is rising. The obvious outcome of this is going to be a complete crash of our oil-soaked civilization. Governments around the world are well aware of the problem, despite their denials. You can see the evidence of this in their plans for conquest, trade agreements, oil exploration, pipelines and many other factors. They’re also trying desperately hard not to panic the population. We think this is disengenous.

Q: What can I do about this? Anything?
A: Get ready. Learn to live with less. Consume less and conserve more. Realize that the modern world is going to come to an end, rapidly. Learn to be self-sufficient, at least to some degree. And teach your children to do better then we did. It will be the young generation alive today that will suffer the most and be the hardest hit, because they simply do not know how to live without cheap energy, cheap transportation and cheap food. We expect millions to die because of this. Entire nations will be displaced because of shortages of food and water. The ability of the world to feed 7 billion humans is now in serious question.

Q: Where can I learn more?
A: There are a number of sites online that cover these issues extensively. Our own blog, “Sustainable Living & Common Sense” is one place, although we do cover many other issues including the environment. Life After The Oil Crash is another, and Die Off. Peak Oil is yet another and contains many forums and discussions.

Q: Dare I ask? Is there anything else I should know?
A: Yes, there’s quite a bit more. Peak energy (same thing as peak oil in reality) isn’t the only pressing issue. A global race is underway to find an alternative energy source in time before the oil and coal runs out. The widely reported claim that coal will last 400 years is completely bogus. At our present rates of consumption, it will last less then 45 years. Other sources of alternative energy like methane hydrates, hydrogen, solar or wind power are technologies that have very low EROI (energy returned on energy invested) ratios and don’t even come remotely close to replacing the energy found in a single barrel of oil. A great many claims of a promised “technofix” to solve our energy requirements are totally bogus and empty promises. So far, nothing has been developed to solve these issues.

Global climate change is also causing severe havoc around the world and will worsen very soon. Already countries like Australia are having severe water shortages and will be shutting off the water supply to their farmers. Many countries throughout Africa are in severe drought. Global climate change means severely impacted agriculture (food) and even rising sea levels. Nearly 1 billion people will be affected by rising sea levels alone, islands are already being evacuated in low-land countries. The displaced population of hundreds of millions will also affect North America.

Global climate change means many things, but most importantly, it will affect food, disease and immigration. There is a absolutely huge and hidden danger of the Siberian permafrost suddenly melting. This will release billions of tons of methane into the atmosphere all at once (in a matter of weeks) and could cause a runaway greenhouse affect. In the space of a single year, our planet could become nearly uninhabitable for most of the surface of the earth.

On top of this, there are severe environmental degradation issues now being reported around the world. 85% of the world’s reefs are collapsing. 90% of the world fisheries are in severe decline. The ocean is the main protein source for billions of people, and with the oceans in collapse, they will face starvation. Toxic pollution, dumping, overfishing and ocean temperature changes have caused these problems. The world’s plankton is at the bottom of the food change, but there are now hundreds of “dead zones” in the oceans where absolutely nothing lives, and the plankton are in severe decline worldwide.

Q: Why haven’t I heard about these things? Are you just trying to scare me?
A: Not at all. Food is an integral part of our environment and is directly affected by climate and energy. It’s simply reasonable to understand how food production will be affected by what is now happening throughout the world. Population is also a factor.

Our world is changing. We didn’t create this news, we’re simply reporting what is being told around the world. If you’ve not heard of these things, it is because the U.S. media has been ordered to be silent about it. There are now thousands of claims by scientist that their research work, funding and reports have been suppressed by the White House. And what does make it to the news is greatly watered down and even disparaged by media pundits and commentators. The reality is, we don’t believe the government wants you to know what is going on because it would cause too much panic and people would instantly demand what they simply cannot have (solutions). The reality is, there are no solutions, and no government, no politician wants to be put into such a position.

The “answer” is simpler then anyone can imagine. Humans will adapt to a much smaller world, because it’s their only choice. Everything will become localized, transportation will be very limited and jobs, food and consumer goods will be severely affected. Entire nations will be relocated causing massive immigration problems. Disease will be rampant as temperature changes affect things like dengue fever and malaria and bird flu. Population die-off will occur because of disease and food shortages. Eventually, the surviving world will “adjust” to “less” of everything. Civilization will halt it’s present course of advancement to a large degree (all which depends on vast quantities of cheap energy and a available labor pool). Life as we know it will be over, probably forever. Those surviving will learn to live with less and will become much more self-sufficient then they are today. The most affected will be the young generation alive today, and their future children.

In approximently two generations, the present day world will be largely “forgotten” because those who live then will have never known the abundance, prosperity and easy living world that we have had up until now. Our era is about over. We’ve foolishly built our civilization on something that couldn’t last. This has happened many times throughout human history, hundreds of times in fact. Civilizations come and go and ours will be no different. The hard part for us alive today, is figuring out how to survive the next fifty years. It won’t be easy and will become increasing difficult. Eventually, die-off and climate change will force the answers out of us. Those of us that survive will teach our children how to live in the new world. Nobody really knows what that world will be like, but we do know it will be much different then what we have today. Our world consumed it’s resource base too fast and it was bound to crash because of it. We’re all about to find out what this will really mean.

 Posted by at 9:33 am
Apr 242007

A couple of days ago, I had the audacity to applaud Ecuador for refuting the the World Bank and the IMF. Here is a great article on why everyone should, and why poor nations are still poor, after decades of “help” and billions spent.

And a great video here on how money is actually debt. You really must see this. As simple as the presentation is, the meaning behind how money is created and what it means for you and every other human being in the world, is staggering.

 Posted by at 7:30 pm