The LIFE PROJECT – Strategic Initiative for Reduced Human Survival

LIFE PROJECT – Strategic Initiative for Reduced Human Survival

Draft 0.9 – Revised January 2019

Project Author: Jonathan Richards, Survival Acres

Abstract

Earth System geophysical changes are accelerating far beyond the Holocene era. This will destabilize civilization beyond the human species abilities for mitigation and adaption. Extinctions within the biosphere, including the real possibility of homo sapiens will occur. Reduced human survival, if any will require cooperative planning and coordinated efforts on a global scale.


LIFE PROJECT – Strategic Initiative for Reduced Human Survival

Profound impacts on global climate, ecosystems and human society caused by climate change and the resulting effects on human civilization are projected to be serious to severe throughout the globe. Extensive study of the published literature and science underscores a distinct possibility that human extinction may occur, along with nearly all of the biological life within the living biosphere. Self-reinforcing feedback’s may push Earth Systems past planetary thresholds, preventing stabilization of the climate and cause continued warming. If so, much higher global average temperatures and sea level rise will destabilize civilization, affecting ecosystems, society and economies.

Mass extinction events are within predictive values if global temperatures, sea level rise, salinity changes, thermohaline circulation and melting of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), Greenland and Arctic ice melt exceed habitable geological forcing on Earth Systems. Planetary trajectories have been assessed to indicate that geophysical and biosphere feedbacks intrinsic to the Earth System are already exceeding the interglacial in the past 1.2 million years.

Planned approaches to decarbonize the global economy, mitigate climate change, endorse technological changes and capacities and deploy adaption strategies may prove to be inadequate responses to prevent the devolution of human society. Integrating biogeophysical Earth System science with social sciences and humanities on the functioning of human societies should include a global response effort to preserve the human species and other species integral to Earth. The decisions reached over the next several decades will significantly influence the trajectory of the Earth System for tens to hundreds of thousands of years and potentially lead to conditions that resemble planetary states that were last seen several millions of years ago, conditions that would be inhospitable to current human societies and to many other contemporary species (1).

The Life Project proposes the creation of protected bio-regional zones and habitation for human and biological survival on every habitable continent selected to ensure continuity of life for the human race and as many other species as possible.


Executive Summary

The LIFE PROJECT is a global initiative for human and biological survival to be developed in five phases, replicated, adopted, adapted and modified as required throughout the world at different locations where human habitation is deemed possible.

Adoption and contribution towards the project goals is mandatory for all participants involved. These goals are the establishment of habitable bio-regional zones and locations, development of essential infrastructure, participation in protection and preservation of community personnel, biology and assets.

Understanding the above habitat and biosphere changes necessitates planning in advance for reduced human and biosphere survival. This outcome will occur whether or not humanity manages to respond to climate change in any significant way. Humanity has already pushed the safe operating space by altering important feedback loops, potentially producing abrupt and irreversible systemic changes with impacts on current and future generations (3).  These irreversible large-scale impacts on human and ecological systems pose an existential threat to humanity resulting from large, long-term consequences for a Earth system. Positive feedback, reversible phase transitions, phase transitions with hysteresis effects, and bifurcations where the future state of the system is qualitatively altered pose negative long-term risks and probabilities for human civilization and survival.

Most analysis models presume a quasilinear relationship between cumulative carbon dioxide emissions and global temperature rise. Direct human degradation of the biosphere affecting biogeophysical feedback processes within the Earth Systems may eliminate the possibility of intermediate warming trajectories. The significant risk that these internal dynamics, especially strong nonlinearities in feedback processes, present dominant factors the trajectory of Earth System over the coming centuries (1). Even if the Paris Agreement target of a 1.5 °C to 2.0 °C rise in temperature is met, we cannot exclude the risk that a cascade of feedbacks could push the Earth System irreversibly onto a “Hothouse Earth” pathway.

Many parts of the world are anticipated to then become uninhabitable, rapidly increasing in size and scale as climatic effects worsen destabilizing human civilization. Dramatic population losses are deemed completely unavoidable. Species extinctions throughout the globe will be very significant. Our ability to sustain civilization and grow food will be seriously imperiled, affecting human survival and population levels throughout the world.

Current adaption and mitigation planning and strategy by world governments is still at a nascent stage. According to the Third National Climate Assessment Report, these efforts are inadequate and insufficient, their effectiveness is not known and efforts have only been incremental in scope. This, and other published reports such as the Implications for US National Security of Anticipated Climate Change is strong evidence that an adequate response to the issue of human survival and that of the biosphere will remain inadequate and will even be outpaced by climate effects.

This position has now been further supported by the Fourth National Climate Assessment Report with increasing alarm over the inadequate responses of global governments (4). The pace and magnitude of actual and projected environmental changes clearly emphasizes the need to be broadly prepared for a wide range and escalating intensities of climate impacts far into the distant future. Proactive responses are already urgent and necessary. Deep uncertainties surrounding critical Earth Systems indicate that risk-management and risk-framing are imprecise due to complex systems and interdependencies. Better better (adaptive) risk management needs to include worst-case scenarios.

Additional review of the Fourth National Climate Assessment report found these absences:

  • Negative consequences/impacts imposed by climate change
  • Uncertainty introduced in predicting events and outcomes due to climate change (as the future is no longer like the past) and increased climate variability, and sources of uncertainty in these predictions
  • Effects of the stochastic nature of the environment
  • Compounded events
  • Model-based uncertainties
  • Uncertainties due to divergent expert opinion
  • Effects of knowledge gaps due to non-existing research
  • Feedbacks and interaction between different sectoral risks
  • Feedbacks and interactions between infrastructure (built systems), ecosystems (natural systems), and social systems (interconnected impacts)
  • Feedbacks and interactions between climate risks and non-climate stressors (e.g., aging infrastructure, stressed ecosystems, social inequality), which are mentioned on page 19 of the draft NCA4
  • Risk of underutilizing existing climate and climate change forecasts, willfully or due to individual or institutional myopia and status-quo bias
  • Risk of not having adequate theory and tools to model and predict complex emergent risks

There is also little literature evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation actions to date. Evaluation and monitoring efforts, to date, have focused on the creation of process-based rather than outcome-based indicators. It is already clear that the intended response to climate impacts is probably not going to be the right response, primarily due to cumulative failures to assess the viability of civilization within the known scale of cascading climate impacts.

It is the view of the LIFE PROJECT participants and project managers that humanity will not survive in anything like its present form as cascading climate effects destroys the global civilization. Intelligent adaptive actions for human survival can still be taken now, but become increasingly unlikely and ineffective as climate change effects worsen.

Project security dictates public disclosure only of the project, goals and efforts to prospective participants and cooperative personnel, to alleviate efforts at interference, non-cooperation, harmful legislation, misdirection, and co-opted goals. All participants are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Only actual vetted participants will be informed of project details, activities and locations.


Project Scope

The LIFE PROJECT is global in nature with limited participation and public knowledge. Virtually all of the world’s human populations will be facing issues of survival in the immediate years ahead. Rapid biome shift may occur via extensive disturbances or events (destabilization of the ice sheets, wildfires, insect attacks, droughts) that can abruptly remove an existing biome and correspondingly dependent human systems within civilization. Ensuing cascading effects will dictate the necessary participation and knowledge to a limited participation group.

There are many areas that humans are not going to be able to influence or change; they need to be identified, and ‘stepped-over’ (move on past them as much as possible). There is no point in wasting time on the topics and efforts that cannot be resolved. Acceptance and adaption are the only course forward.

Changes to ecosystems, pests and pathogens, disaster losses, water resources, oceans, and social, urban, and economic systems, sea level rise, rise in ocean and freshwater temperatures, thermal expansion of sea water, ocean acidification, coral loss, increase in storm frequency and severity, storm surge and coastal flooding, coastal erosion, inland flooding, hurricanes, cyclones, salinity intrusion, drought, flash flooding and riverine floods, shifts in population and farming centers, extensive droughts, massive migrations, massive destruction to the global infrastructure, aerosols, air temperature, permafrost, ice and snow cover, transportation and shipping ports, threats to or loss of vulnerable yet valuable ecosystems (barrier islands, coastal forests, alpine meadows, coral reefs, tropical mountain forests, and so on) are expected and more.

Massive levels of human relocation and migration will occur in all low-lying coastal countries and inhabited regions throughout the world, with inland countries also being impacted by climate change, environmental degradation, food production and intense competition for resources, land, water and living space. The resulting chaos will lead to increased inter-regional conflicts, extreme competition for essential food, water, living space and medical treatment, resulting in escalating violence and even war.

These global effects are determined to be unstoppable (no clear workable solutions exist), leaving only mitigation and adaption efforts available to humanity and the living biosphere. These efforts however as previously noted, are inadequate and insufficient in scope, scale and even intent. The Life Project proposes something far more serious and intentional towards human and biological survival.


Planning for Reduced Biosphere and Human Survival

Devastating effects from global climate change will severely affect human civilization. Atmospheric concentrations of the three, long-lived greenhouse gases – carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, and methane – all continue to increase.  The rise in carbon dioxide concentration parallels closely the rise in primary energy use and in GDP, showing no sign yet of any significant decoupling of emissions from either energy use or economic growth. This indicates that virtually all aspects of human habitation, production, manufacturing, infrastructure, farming, fishing, resource extraction, transportation and energy production will be negatively impacted as Earth systems respond to these concentrations. Most, if not all of these impacts are expected to be serious to severe in scope lasting tens of thousands of years in length.

Interconnected dependencies of all human enterprises will be experienced in negative ways. Global growth and economic development will be among the hardest hit. Migration and climate refugee accommodation and relocation will severely strain global and regional resources beyond the breaking points. The resulting chaos is expected to spawn severe competition for water, food, land, shelter and severely declining economic opportunities within the human populations of the entire globe. Rampant crime, violence and other acts of desperation will become widespread.

Collapsing and degrading environmental conditions of flora and fauna are expected to cause massive shifts in global wildlife populations seeking suitable habitats for life. Mobile species will suffer from the effects of inhospitable conditions non-conducive to life (lack of water, food and other prey), while non-mobile and other species unable to adapt will simply go extinct. Forested regions are expected to burn engulfing vast tracts of land and contribute towards more carbon pollution.

Because of the expected and extreme extensive nature of the projected effects of extreme climate changes upon human civilization, planning entails severely reduced human population survival from present population levels. The issue is adequate resources, primarily food production and fresh water, habitable conditions conducive to life, and the limited response time available now to the human community.

Nearly all proposals for climate change mitigation and adaption have revolved around the concept of growth, profits and economic opportunities. Social, ecological, and technological strategies and scenarios have been modeled (2), however none have fully considered significantly reduced human survival or even that of the biosphere.

These activities are core components of the modern civilization, but hide behind greenwashing labels such as “sustainable growth” and “green energy”. Because civilization itself is actually a heat-engine, the primary source and creation of anthropogenic greenhouse gases, and virtually all alternative energy projects are really just alternative fossil-fuel energy sources, these type of endeavors at climate change mitigation will continue to contribute to environmental degradation and climate collapse. The growth paradigm suffers from the exact same effects of “more civilization”, as does virtually all present concepts of the economy, furthering human emissions, energy consumption and resource demands at every step. This trajectory of infinite growth and expansion is no longer supportable or desirable.

Despite the known inequality issues that arise, Earth Systems have already been vastly exceeded by humankind and the insatiable demands which must now be reduced. The future Earth is projected to be vastly different then the present with changes in Earth Systems occurring over thousands of years. A new state of equilibrium is as yet scientifically unknown. Earths energy balance must eventually be brought back into equilibrium. This will occur in time with or without the help of humanity, the only real question is whether our species and essential components of the biosphere will survive this extended period.


Project Outline

The LIFE PROJECT is to be developed in multiple phases of increasingly focused effort, participants, locations and security with an interdisciplinary makeup of project participants.

Phase 1 – LIFE PROJECT proposed, Strategic Initiative for Reduced Human Survival.

  • Develop the Project Outline
  • Project Planning Development
  • Recruitment of initial volunteer planners and managers
  • Project Management
  • Project Funding
  • Project Security and Privacy
  • Habitable Bio-regional zones Initial Identification and Study
  • Recruitment Tier 1 Project Personnel Management
  • Project Strategy, Outline and Goals
  • Feasibility Study – Project Goals and Defined Objectives
  • Refinement of Project, Structure, Strategy, Objectives and Goals
  • Timeline for Project Phase 2
  • External Funding (proposal): Establishment of international funding and financial contribution and support through cooperative agreements. These will include ecological, environmental and human aid and development agencies.

Phase 2

    • Participant recruitment (2nd tier recruitment effort),
    • Pursuit and establishment of project funding
    • Identify project regions and locations
    • Purchasing of location and resources
    • Project Security and Enforcement, maintain privacy

 

Phase 3

  • Construction
  • Relocation
  • Purchasing of supplies, materials and essentials
  • 3rd recruitment
  • Tier 3 effort (educators, scientists, workers)
  • Preservation and Restoration of Habitat
  • Project Security and Enforcement, maintain privacy

 

Phase 4

  • Operation, relocation, adjustments
  • Project Security and Enforcement, maintain privacy

 

Phase 5

  • Continuing education, teaching, and enhancement of original or modified goals and objectives.

 


Mitigation

Mitigation efforts by scientists and climate policy lawmakers to avoid the worst effect of climate change will undoubtedly be tried. At this time, it is not known how effective, if any these mitigation efforts will be. There are many unknowns about climate mitigation efforts which will consume significant irreplaceable and non-recoverable time.

There is a fairly high probability that nearly all mitigation efforts will not work as anticipated with desired climatic and environmental effects not responding sufficiently to human efforts. The extensive time frame required for mitigation is well beyond human lifetimes. Prudence and caution are therefore highly advisable. The only time to establish Life Project bioregional habitats is before it becomes impossible to do so.

If as expected, mitigation efforts will only be marginally successful, this means that a limited number of the human species will need to find ways of adaption to inhospitable temperatures, declining food production and extreme weather events, all during massive declines of the human and wildlife population (die-off). Civilization itself is expected to collapse if the worst effects of climate change are realized.

Adaption Efforts

Adaption efforts include

  • Biology
  • Economy
  • Ecology
  • Fresh Water
  • Food Production
  • Immigration
  • Resiliency
  • Safety
  • Salinity
  • Sea level Rise
  • Survival & Continuity of Life
  • Technological Research & Development
  • Mitigation Strategies & Pathways
  • Civilization Downsizing & Reduction

 

Immigration / Climate Refugees

Most refugees are coming from mid-latitude Muslim countries (currently) and equatorial regions escaping economic hardship, violence and the effects of climate change. This is expected to change and encompass essentially all inhabited land masses on the planet. Both developed and lower developed countries will experience refugee and immigration issues. Current policies of the Trump Administration within the United State and the handling of immigrants and refugees remains in dispute. It is unknown how much aid the United States will offer other countries as the crisis accelerates. Immigration into the United States has already been severely curtailed, but the U.S. is but one country. All countries will be facing this issue.

Immigration and climate refugees will factor in as a cultural and legislative changes to the United States and other regions of the world is modified or developed.

Increasing immigration / refugee activity is projected to occur in the following manner:

1 – Immigration / Refugees, Resettlement. Camps and then housing. Smugglers engaged in human trafficking. Black-market activity. Rise in crimes, property and assaults. Some food shortages. Rising conflicts with local laws and customs. Formation of gangs. Religious conflicts.

2 – Immigration / Refugees exodus. Less managed, more chaotic then Stage 1. More smuggling activity. More camps, fewer planned or schedule housing settlement. Increased black market activity. Escalating rise in crimes, rape, theft, murder, assaults, blackmail, bribery. More food shortages, hunger common. Organized gangs and recruitment. Gang violence (gangs against gangs) for territory, resources, control. Huge jump in conflicts from immigrants and refugees. Retribution (acts of violence) increasing from impacted residents.

3 – Refugee exodus, lawless and unmanaged, more violent, uncontrollable. Widespread smuggling activity in all locations and regions impacted. Cities and towns unable to deal with the overflow. Almost entirely controlled by black market. Rampant violence (theft, rape, murder). Rampant bribery. Massive food shortages. Widespread conflicts, random attacks on both sides (refugees and residents).

4 – Refugee exodus complete breakdown resulting in abandonment of all norms and expectations and organized assistance. Massive starvation. Extreme competition for food, water, shelter, land in all safe locations worldwide.

Economy

No efforts will be attempted to resolve or address global or regional economic issues, as these are outside of the project scope. Only the localized economy and the ability of project facilities and personnel to function as a component of the regional or global economy will be considered, including investments, purchasing, trade and bartering. Economic activity is the primary cause for climate collapse, all efforts to “salvage” the economy in its present form (status-quo) will only exacerbate the problem.

The global economy is projected to face severe contraction and eventual collapse as environmental, human and economic opportunities decrease non-linearly. Immigration and refugees will tremendously strain existing resources and communities, resulting in escalating conflicts and efforts to manage and mitigate mobility.

A new “global economy” will arise based upon basic survival essentials. While this is unmanageable, it should not be discouraged. Local, regional and national efforts will be scaled to attempt adaptation and survival, including economic survival. Only the latter is undesirable from the standpoint of worsening climate effects.

 

Ecology

Earth’s ecology and biological capacity for life survival is under tremendous assault and change. The tolerable temperature range, affecting land and water based ecosystems, biology and human survival have begun dramatic shifts resulting in accelerated species extinctions, endangered animals (also soon to be extinct) and increased competition for land, food and water. Within the human community, the changing ecology will result in escalating competition, violence and war. Declining cooperation will be deemed necessary for national survival and a dwindling prosperity. Collapsing ecological regions will push the remaining mobile or semi-mobile fauna towards hospitable areas dramatically increasing competition, species invasion, disease and disease vectors within all ecology (including human), increased conflicts within the human community, and species extinctions.

 

Fresh Water

Declines in available freshwater, aquifer depletion, snow and glacial melt and recharging of aquifers and water wells is expected. In low-lying coastal regions, salt-water intrusion is polluting fresh water supplies and severely impacting food production. Rising salinity levels are affecting drinking water and crop harvests. Salinity issues in Bangladesh and Vietnam will lead to significant shortages of water for drinking and irrigation by 2050 triggering massive immigration and refugee crisis. Salt water intrusion in virtually all coastal and low-lying inhabited and uninhabited areas will affect coastal fresh water supplies worldwide with the exact amount difficult to quantify (projections are serious to severe).

Depletion rates within inland aquifers continues to accelerate throughout the world affecting human and environmental communities. Drought conditions, lack of rainfall, snowpack and seasonal precipitation patterns affected will impact fresh water availability virtually everywhere. Presently, civilization is based upon climatic conditions that were not expected to change much, this is no longer the case. There will be regions where the lack of water availability alone will trigger massive migration of human and animal species.

 

Food Production

Climate change is already seriously impacting food production in many regions of the world. Progression of rising temperatures will accelerate food production collapse. Accelerating rates of climate change has severely affected winter vegetable farming, seasonal variability and harvests, pollination and planting, this wide diversity from normal food production patterns has already created a real threat to food production in mid-latitude regions and will extend over the Northern and Southern hemispheres.

Cereal crop production is projected to exceed 25% losses or more by 2100 (estimates range from 25% to 50%), resulting in global famine especially in underdeveloped nations reliant upon food imports. Wet-bulb temperatures exceed plant respiratory recovery thresholds will destroy nearly all industrialized agriculture and biology (plant, animal, human) through starvation and competition for remaining resources resulting in massive die-off throughout the biosphere.

Oceanic biology and food production has already been greatly exceeded by over-fishing and depletion, acidification, coral reef die-off, run-off, pollution, plastics, spills and temperature rise. The collapse of the marine food web is projected to impact over 2 billion people worldwide with 20 years.

Inadequate future food production and delivery systems which remain highly dependent upon international cooperation and distribution are projected to fail as hoarding takes over.

The situation is equally bad for land-based production, with regions increasingly experiencing intolerable heat-related deaths of plants, animals and human (wet-bulb threshold) already in 2016 / 2017. Population future projections indicate anywhere from 2 – 6 billion dead from inadequate food production alone, with all other species heavily impacted.

 

Resiliency

Human civilization design has been haphazardly constructed and globally deployed due to our evolving demand upon environmental conditions and opportunities. Overall, climatic conditions dictated almost all of these constructions, resulting in inhabited areas and normalized expectations of weather, climate and essential food production. Human resiliency remains highly dependent upon this construction and expectations. That is changing and will require adoption of entirely new techniques for human and biological survival.

 

Safety

Project safety and operational activities and details are confidential.

 

Salinity

 

Sea Level Rise

One half of all humans live within 60 kilometers of the coast, necessitating a massive relocation effort ahead. The majority of these humans will need to relocate inland. Most will not travel far, moving only slightly inland, creating immense pressure and problems on housing, infrastructure, economic opportunities and resource demands. Fresh water will be increasingly difficult to to supply. Impacts on global food production are expected to be significant accelerating to severe.

Significant sea level rise is now a known certainty. Recent studies have shown that even if human-caused emissions of were to stop entirely, their associated atmospheric warming and sea-level rise would continue for more than 1,000 years.

 


Survival & Continuity of Life

The proposal is to take the best ideas from the following disciplines and practices, during the project definition and goal stages (Phase I and II), these are: intentional communities, community cooperative efforts, work ethics, music, art, new monetary system of equality and fairness, gift economy, mandatory education, super-insulated homes, hardened homes, underground shelters, sustainable homesteads, tiny homes, permaculture, ecology, animal husbandry, greenhouse gardening, living off the grid, primitive living skills, survivalism, living off the land, technological development, alternative energy sources, interdisciplinary training, alternative living, and apply the lessons learned, extracting what is valuable and useful into the future and for incorporation into the Life Project.

Also proposed an educational ‘institute’ (college) to teach the skills and body of knowledge on all of the above adoptions utilized, plus everything else needed to maintain and further human knowledge and development, including the sciences, medicine, mathematics, basic technology (construction, shelters, fabrication, metals, welding, machining, etc.), food production & preservation, animal husbandry, ecology, biology, and all educational grades from kindergarten to the PhD level.

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES, INFORMATION AND SOURCES

 

FOOTNOTES

1. Stefen, W (2018) Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. PNAS

2. Vaidyanathan, G (2018) Science and Culture: Imagining a climate-change future, without the dystopia. PNAS

3. Steffen W, Richardson K, Rockström J, et al. (2015b) Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet. Science 347: 1,259,855.

4. Fourth National Climate Assessment Review (2018)

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