Money Will Not Stop Runaway Climate Change

I want to dispel a widely held myth:

Money will not stop climate change.  You heard it here first (afaik).

Anthropogenic climate change (human caused) is the physical result of economic activity (growth). Every nation on Earth continues to pursue economic growth.

I recently read some ridiculous comments about spending money to ‘combat climate change’. This won’t work. Spending money (economic activity) anywhere will only contribute to climate change.

Virtually all economic activity generates CO₂ and consumes energy.

Not many people seem to realize yet that we are not going to somehow reduce CO₂ in the atmosphere or oceans, affecting climate change. CO₂ is only going to continue to go up. This will result in even more devastating effects of climate change.

CO₂ is a very long lived gas. From Skeptical Science:

Individual carbon dioxide molecules have a short life time of around 5 years in the atmosphere. However, when they leave the atmosphere, they’re simply swapping places with carbon dioxide in the ocean. The final amount of extra CO2 that remains in the atmosphere stays there on a time scale of centuries.

CO₂ can last 500 – 1000 years in the atmosphere (read the link), creating a very long time span of warming potential. So what we’ve created in the past 100 – 200 years is still there. And what we creating today will still be there for centuries. And this will continue to exacerbate temperature increase, causing permanent ice melt, ocean acidification and carbon saturation, amplifying the hydrological cycle. The impact upon humanity and the biosphere will be absolutely enormous.

Human civilization, and indeed, the very fabric of our society is built upon economic activity, which in turn generates massive amounts of CO₂ at every single point of human activity (existence). It will make no difference whatsoever if that activity becomes building solar panels or wind turbines (which are still derived from fossil fuels at every point in their life cycle), or even whether we were all to revert back to an agrarian existence (farming, a huge contributor to climate change and CO₂) or plant trees for a ‘living’.

This is perhaps one of the biggest lies of all being foisted upon the world (next to religion I suppose). We are not going to ‘spend our way to our salvation’ and reverse climate change as claimed. Instead, we are going to go on contributing to climate change in everything that we do (even planting trees – as long as we are here). It is our economic activity (by whatever action or industry or ‘business’ this may be) that caused anthropogenic climate change. Nothing will change that.

Climate change is therefore irreversible and will only worsen every year. The media and industry, government and businesses and a whole lot of pundits are simply lying to the world about ‘stopping climate change’. It’s unstoppable and there is nothing we are going to be be able to do about it.

I can only think of one ‘solution’ that will not contribute to climate change (given enough time) – and it’s far more horrible then anyone imagines: Massive (near total) depopulation, and the total economic collapse and destruction of all industrial, business and human economic activity. Even this won’t ‘stop’ climate change from accelerating for a long, long time (thousands of years), but it would stop our current emissions. The Earth would still have to absorb the results from our industry and activity, which will continue to spew out toxic chemicals, nuclear wastes and yes, greenhouse gas emissions from millions of sources (fracking wells for example, tailings, garbage dumps, cement and many, many other sources) for a thousands of years to come.

The true horror of climate change and what it means to human survival and our future on this planet is still very poorly understood. Realizing that simply being alive, buying food, driving a car, turning on the lights or getting out of bed in the morning is part of the ‘problem’ and why it is in reality, unsolvable. Humans are not going to go back to living in caves or teepee’s, the drive to grow and push forward will always be what we do, and this in turn, is what will continue to contribute to climate change now that there are billions of us. We have no choice but to accept it – and what it ultimately means.

 

 

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17 thoughts on “Money Will Not Stop Runaway Climate Change

  • May 17, 2016 at 9:29 am
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    unrelated: want to ask about the “Multilingual Website” feature/app. Where to get it? Does it cost? Is it fairly easy to add to a site (for a novice website creator)?
    • May 17, 2016 at 9:31 am
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      It’s a WordPress module. If you are using WordPress, you can easily get it from their site. It’s free.

  • May 17, 2016 at 1:45 pm
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    Had to register here just to tell you that you have a fantastic blog, which ought to get way more traffic than it does.

    I look forward to spending a few weekend afternoons just pursuing through the archives.

    Please do keep it up.

    • May 17, 2016 at 1:52 pm
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      Thank you. Not much traffic here anymore. After you get a chance to read the site, I’ll let decide why that is!

  • May 17, 2016 at 1:49 pm
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    I posted this seven days ago at NBL. But it seems on point for a cross-post:

    “As long as you have the current banking system, you’ve got more interest than principle. In order for people to repay their loans, they must convert low-entropy natural resources into product, heat and waste, with the product eventually becoming high-entropy heat and waste too. Borrowers can then use that product as collateral with which to take out more loans in order to get the currency to repay the interest on their original loans.

    “The ultimate result is a debt-fueled economic demand for growth that grows ever more intense, with ever more low-entropy terrestrial stock converted at ever faster rates into high-entropy heat and waste so that people can have yet more loans in order to repay yet more interest.

    As Mike Ruppert says, ‘Until you change the nature of money, you can’t change anything.'”

    • May 17, 2016 at 2:11 pm
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      Dead on. We are in a debt-demand-destruction cycle with endless repetitions – until it all stops, breaks or runs out of humans. Which it won’t, in time. Therefore, there is virtually no solution as claimed. Money will always be in demand (use) afaik, can’t even imagine when it won’t. Wouldn’t make any difference at all either if we were to return to gold and silver (nothing would change).

      And furthermore… if even money was somehow abolished… nothing would change (now)… until all the humans are finally gone and then after several thousands of years, the Earth finally recovers from our imprint… and the climate stabilizes, but it would be very different then what we have today in any case and quite possibly unsurvivable for humans.

      Not a fun thought exercise and it will be even less fun to experience this reality.

  • May 17, 2016 at 3:43 pm
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    When I was first learning about these issues in the early 1990s, I had four intellectual mentors. No, never met them, just read their stuff. They were Garret Harding, Paul Ehrlich, Jeremy Rifkin (author of Entropy), and Nicholas Georgescu-Roegen.

    From the first I learned of peak oil, which Harding referred to as “Hubbert’s Pimple”. From the last two I learn that our economic system was a based upon the assumption of, essentially, perpetually motion, and eternally spinning wheel of supply and demand. In fact, because that eternally spinning wheel underlies the paradigm, you have people who are fluent in it deny the reality of all sorts of environmental issue, case in point AGW, the most notorious. That’s why so many businessmen and economists simply cannot fathom these issues. Their paradigm, at its core, won’t allow it.

    As Mike Ruppert said, “A paradigm is what you think about something before you think about it.” So, yeah, they literally can’t think about these issues; AGW and the like literally won’t run on their operating system. It’s like those old Trek episodes where Kirk talks an android or computer into short-circuiting, except, unfortunately, these guys never burn out or explode.

    It was Georgescu-Roegen who first said (AFAIK he was first), no, the economic system is not an eternally spinning wheel, you have a limited terrestrial source of low entropy, and the economic process converts that into high-entropy heat and waste, which is absorbed by the terrestrial sink to the extent that it can.

    Georgescu-Roegen believed—like most of us, I presume, until the past decade or so—that the ultimate limiting factor would be the amount of low entropy terrestrial stock, and that after that, industrial civilization would fail. (He made allowances for the possibility fusion energy, but he was writing in the 1970s.)

    Turns out that what he did’t know was that the limiting factor is our terrestrial earth sink. It’s ability to neutralize high entropy heat and waste is much more limited than we ever guessed.

    Interestingly, there are a lot of environmentally conscious persons who can’t grasp this fact: that the terrestrial sink is far more limited than the terrestrial source. Witness, for example, the Archdruid, who invites essays speculating what life will be like for humans in a thousand years. He can’t seem to grasp the idea that, no, we’re not just going back to horse-and-buggy days like the Amish.

    Anyway, I don’t know what you think of the Archdruid, but I find it a curious blind spot to have. He’s far from alone, of course.

  • May 18, 2016 at 5:56 am
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    In some respect, I think you’re naive to think that economists and business people don’t see these issues. Frankly, some don’t give a damn about anything but money and power and would happily destroy everything to become more wealthy and powerful, future generations be damned. Hell, look at the daily pictures of rich people hunting endangered animals for trophies. Look at the guy that took millions from the fishing industry to make academic claims that they aren’t overfishing!

    Look at myself – I drive, I fly – I know these things pollute the environment, yet I have to do these things to earn income and provide for my family. So, I may be less guilty, but still contributing to the problem.

    On another note, I personally like the writings of the Archdruid, John Michael Greer. I think he has some interesting ideas about the future and is probably right about many topics he addresses such as the future of the internet.

    With that being said, I am probably in the survival acres blog camp – there is a small probability we might be saved, but it’s highly unlikely due to these runaway climate change phenomenons we have triggered. But the future is very difficult to predict.

    Make no mistake though, we will attempt to address these crises as they come no matter the cost. You can be sure that carbon capture, cloud seeding et cetera will all be tried to save our sorry asses.

    • May 18, 2016 at 2:54 pm
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      The question of what our elites truly understand is a complicated one. I’ve spent a lot of time contemplating it. The Republicans and various camps that support them appear to honestly be outright climate denialists.

      The Democrats are more complicated. They purport to believe in AGW, but if they do, they obviously believe in empire, neoliberalism, globalism and economic growth even more so. The problem is that these two sets of beliefs are incompatible, like the guy who says he wants to lose weight, but eats jelly donuts every day. It doesn’t fit together.

      Take Al Gore. Made the movie, sounded the alarm, got the Nobel Peace Prize … and yet, he’s pro NAFTA and globalization.

      Just one of the things NAFTA did was to enrich giant, subsidized, mechanized, American petroleum-based agriculture while displacing millions of Mexican small farmers. Obviously, if you believe in AGW and truly understand its implications, then you want less subsidized, mechanized, petroleum-based everything, and more locally-based self-sufficient communities. Keep the millions of small Mexican peasant farmers doing their thing.

      Al Gore is our paradigm useless liberal. Does he actually not see that globalization and preventing AGW are absolutely incompatible? Does he engage in some kind of Orwellian double-think so he can hold two sets of contradictory beliefs at once? Is he a giggling psychopath who just doesn’t care?

      I think you’ll find that most of the Democrats in Congress have a similar cognitive profile, but putting your finger on exactly what it is, well, not so easy to say.

      One thing is certain, though: the end result of the policies they adopt are the same. That is, no logical and consistent efforts are made to address AGW, since their commitment to war, empire, neoliberalism, and globalism take precedence.

      A note here: Trump is an AGW denier, but at the same time, it is not clear to me that Hiliary’s policies would be all that different. We might term her, Gore, the like to be faux-believers of AGW.

      • May 18, 2016 at 4:07 pm
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        I do not think there is much difference at all between the two parties. Their difference are rather minor. None represent ‘me’ or the things I believe in or embrace. As for AGW, no, both parties are dead wrong / guilty on all counts. Their hypocrisy extends far beyond AGW of course, as it does in most humans. We’re all committed to fossil-fuel existence, it is in fact what keeps each and every one of us alive. The difference is always in degrees, between the parties, between ‘good’ corporations and ‘bad’, green vs. capitalism, etc., with those being worse and those better, but none are actually the real deal – committed to fundamental and lasting changes that would permanently reduce contributions to greenhouse gasses, pollution, resource extraction, energy consumption, population, etc., etc. Those discussion are never even on the table (but have been here, many times).

        It is my belief that the system is entirely rigged, scripted and orchestrated far beyond the common understanding of cronyism, corruption and overall incompetence we are all aware of. But of even more importance is the overall indifference that permeates virtually everything. No matter at what level of knowledge or awareness there is, there is just too little interest. Change is not forthcoming – at any level, except more destruction. The public believes in the lies so routinely trotted out every (s)Election. And even in those that don’t (such as myself), can’t change anything, not even ourselves (much) when it comes to our contributions and dependency upon fossil fuels keeping us alive.

        The larger issue is culture. Our culture refuses change of significance, whereas other societies in the world are not as far down this road of dependency as we are. They probably offer a much better road for change then we ever will because their dependency isn’t quite the same as ours, and because they are dealing with a different level of influence then we do. Corporate monopolization, government greed and corruption, and public angst and awareness are not the same all over the world (their reaction is very different then ours to these topics). It’s worse here (imo) then anywhere else on the planet, and at the same time, the indifference and apathy here (and distraction and asinine religiousity) is also the worse.

        The ‘elites’ obviously do not care, wheresoever they be found (all over the world, hiding behind ivory towers, anonymous ownership and gated villas). The death of the planet signifies the death of their capitalistic endeavors, so in effect, they both mean the same thing as far as they are concerned. But only one thing concerns them and that is their ability to remain powerful, rich, influential and untouchable (that by the way is how we can affect them the most – remove their untouchable status). AGW is just another way to continue to profit. The compassion for a dying world, extinct species or suffering biosphere is absent except in a distant sort of way (throw some money at it but don’t change the policy or practices that caused it).

        If you want to know what someone truly believes – just watch what they do. The claim of ‘belief’ is easily unveiled by the actions they live.

        Personally, I hold no hope at all for the human race. We’ve always destroyed things (each other, the biosphere, etc.) and this isn’t going to change. The illusionary hope that humans have finally grown up and graduated to caretakers of the planet is just that – it is absolutely not true and quite probably never will be. It is the opposite that is obviously true – we are the pillagers of the planet, Shiva the Destroyer. The evidence is everywhere, we just don’t want to believe it. We’re both witnesses and participants in the destruction of the biosphere, but it’s always been what we are.

    • May 20, 2016 at 9:10 am
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      The ridiculous assumptions in this article boggle the mind.

      Food gets a lot of attention in part because we need it to survive, but also because one solution to a food crisis—growing your own—seems doable.

      The reality is very, very different. It’s not “doable” by individuals as claimed. Only a tiny portion of daily calorie intake is actually doable. There is seasonal issues and storage issues and waste / failure issues. The actual amount of food not purchased (grown / eaten) compared to food purchased (eaten) on a yearly basis is quite small. Published here and on Food Assets – Your Food Preparedness Score, How Prepared Are You?

      I’ve specifically looked at that topic – can I grow my own? – for many years, searching for others who claim they have and comparing their actual production / consumption / shopping requirements. The facts are we are not able to grow what we actually consume as claimed – we buy a LOT which calls into question the claim made above (again).

      The author also assumes that oil consumption halved would still be sufficient to provide essential calories. Not true. He has totally ignored climate change and the effects upon farming activity – and as you pointed out, how much agriculture impacts climate.

      In every major storm, the stores are stripped bare in a matter of hours. In any local or regional crisis, the same thing happens. This is because a) people do not store sufficient food now; b) they do not have the skills, time, energy or space to grow their own; c) store bought essentials have a short shelf-life and there is fear they will run out or have already done so. The author does not understand any of this or the actual history of what happens.

      He is simply assuming we’re going to right on as before in an energy decline. He’s ignored transportation and production, distribution and the glaringly obvious, price hikes.

      Food will be the #1 issue on EVERYBODY’S mind when we start feeling the full impacts of energy or climate impacts, precisely because it will be in very short supply for every nation on the planet.

    • May 21, 2016 at 9:54 am
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      I note that the atmospheric C02 concentration for April 2016, shown in the widget to the right on this blog, is now at 407 ppm. And the ‘Baked Alaska’ post shows just how warm the Arctic really is.

      A lot of humans totally fail to comprehend what this means and how fast things are changing in the planetary environment. They are not concerned. They are not paying attention. They are not even interested. But I also note the dramatic rise in climate disasters already occurring this year and the increasing number of climate refugees there are.

      Americans, especially the evil stupidstitious ones, will not lift a finger (or allow anyone else to do so if they had their way) to try and slow this dramatic threat down. This is a good example of a domestic terrorist and how they have now become a threat to the whole world.

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