THERMO/GENE COLLISION: On Human Nature, Energy, Collapse

Kudos to Lonewolf for this link:

And I looked, and behold peak oil: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

If you were born after 1960, you will probably die of violence, starvation or disease. Although it’s news to you, your generation is challenged with a technically-insoluble problem ““ a political problem ““ which will ultimately kill five out of six worldwide ““ or perhaps all. You can not solve this problem because that carbon-based, selfish-gene rational computer on your neck isn’t logical! THERMO/GENE COLLISION (.pdf)

This is a great, concise read on the massive problem the world faces. Essential reading.

no civilization has ever been able to convince its members to cooperate enough to survive the depletion of the energy resources which gave it birth. When confronted with ever-declining resources, the preservation of social order requires more-and-more cooperation, but individuals are genetically programmed to reduce cooperation and seek advantage. This genetic legacy sets up a positive feedback loop: declining common resources cause individuals to reduce cooperation even more, which reduces common resources even faster, which leads to
collapse even faster.

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6 thoughts on “THERMO/GENE COLLISION: On Human Nature, Energy, Collapse

  • February 14, 2007 at 4:31 pm
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    Iâ’ve been upset since reading this article—not because it contains new information—but because it is causing me to (again) confront my deepest fears. I spend a lot of time working toward my goal of a semi-retirement/homesteading lifestyle (perhaps within walking distance of a small town). I dream about a future patchwork of small farms and gardens sustaining small and remote northern populations.

    But deep inside, I cannot figure out how to get through the time of dieoff that will surely precede any such agrarian life. It doesnâ’t appear possible to live in the forest like a hermit and fight off invaders for a decade while everyone starves to death. However it seems certain the nice, little old lady next door—who thinks nothing of murdering thousands of Middle Easterners to take away their oil supplies—will certainly turn on me and take away my garden. (How much ammo would I need to fight zombie grandmas of death for a decade!)?

    It troubles me that I cannot find a solution.

  • February 14, 2007 at 5:11 pm
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    life is not a destination, it’s a journey (AKA “trip”)

    Indeed, the ‘trick’ is to outlive the ammo cache.
    Congratulatons! You’re now a certified member of a very exclusive group , the Get G’ma Glee Club. OMFG, zombie grandma’s everyfreakingwhere.

    I don’t know your age, but survival of self is a job for the fittest and most preparred. However, survival of the species is a (the) job of the young. I fulfilled my ‘task’ in that regard, nevermind that they’ll be close to first in line to panic (and perish). Personally, I’ll be amazed if I live 10 years even without a massive crash and even more surprised if THE Crash remaining ‘pending’.

    In a crash scenario (and from my mountain fortress), I ‘figure’ a year or two before some ‘ugly’ thing/one pays me a personal visit. Good be days or weeks versus years. Cerainly not decades. If I’m any suitable guage, that gives me about 4 to 5 rounds (zombie Grandmas) per day for 2 years (per caliber). Your mileage may vary. (this equates to a round for every grandma alive within a 50 mile radius). OTOH, there is no such thing as too much ammo, salt, or analgesics.

  • February 15, 2007 at 12:16 am
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    “individuals are genetically programmed to reduce cooperation and seek advantage”

    Actually there is very solid scientific evidence that humans have a very strong genetic predisposition /towards/ cooperation. I’m not claiming that there won’t be conflict as the inevitable die-off happens, but realistically I think its likely to be quite a slow process lasting decades. Any catastrophic die-off scenarios are likely to be quite localised (in both space and time) and more likely to centre around cities, IMHO.

  • February 15, 2007 at 4:43 am
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    From all I have heard of the opportunism in the wake of Katerina in New Orleans and surrounding lands, I am pretty damn sure that a disaster where the food is gone and all hope seems lost it will be much worse than that.

    There are also cultural moderators of this and in the highly competitive US, I believe it will be worse than in Japan, where loyalty is a prefered quality. That is when population density is not taken into account.

  • February 15, 2007 at 8:45 am
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    The real issue is ‘resource limits’, on the local, regional and national levels.

    Food production / distribution will be the #1 factor affecting everyone (billions), next to medicine and essential healthcare (affecting millions). A great many rural areas are far and away from being able to provide for their own food sources, what does exist will be depleted extremely rapidly (weeks). Cites are even worse of course, importing almost everything.

    But this all pre-supposes a very rapid decline in energy sources, nearly overnight (possible due to many factors). If cultural awareness becomes much greater, localization of food stuffs will help immensely, but I’ve seen NO evidence yet that we can actually ‘locally feed’ our populations. Some populations are simply far too great.

    I also see serious problems though in many, many rural areas, soil, climate and skills are inadequate. These places exist now because of imports (anything over 200 miles could be considered an import). I think they will have a hard time of it also. Any failure in a single growing season could easily mean starvation.

    I strongly believe that this issue will be so acute that nationalization of the petroleum, transportation, distribution and food production will be adopted to prevent as much starvation as possible. This means everyone will be walking or riding a bike. But nationalization doesn’t mean it will work, or always work, eventually, even these ‘resource limits’ will be reached.

    Rapid die-off will ensue at that time or before. Since this will all happen within a single generation (resource limits reached), we may be talking about a short time span of a decade. Probably no more then two at the most before population stabilizes to the existing resource limits.

    Another way of looking at it, is there is no way the planet can sustain 7+ billion (we’re still growing) without cheap energy – die-off is an absolute certainty, all we’re really talking about it the “how” and over what period of time.

    Self-preservation is an extremely strong instinct and will create a lot of bodies.

  • February 15, 2007 at 1:34 pm
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    “… will create a lot of bodies.”

    you meant “corpses”, right?

    (and not just bi-peds – largely unburied, too)

    We’ll all become familar with the smell of death – ntm a whole bunch of other decay)

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