Tipping Points Passed (I told you so)

Truthout has an article that says what we’ve long feared, the tipping points for climate change are already passed.

This isn’t “news” to regular readers of this blog, but now it’s backed up by more scientists. I had already said –

“There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the so-called “tipping points” have already been reached. The idea that they are yet still future-based is ridiculous. Nobody seems willing to step up to the plate and announced the fact that out goose is cooked. The climate has changed, the temperature has risen, the oceans are acidic, the reefs are collapsing, drought is occurring, the weather is severely affected. All these things are already happening, the tipping points have already been reached. The warnings signs we should have paid attention to in the 70’s were widely ignored, and now it’s too late.”

I don’t consider it really worthwhile to debate the issue any longer, or discuss the tipping points, because such discourse is pointless at this time. Nor is there much room for “discussing what we can do about it” meaningful either, because nothing effective can be done. According to this article, deforestation could be stopped, which would have a huge impact upon CO₂ released into the atmosphere. But that is not going to happen as world leaders continue to pointlessly debate the issue ad nauseum.

The noxious response by world leaders is truly a spectacle worthy of historical significance (and it will be). The words “cowardly” and “greed” also come to mind. Not only is the world truly lacking in leadership, it is also lacking the citizen support it desperately needs. It’s easy to toss rocks at our so-called leaders, but they’re just the rabid extension of the general public (remember, we recruit from our own ranks).

We’re not willing to make the desperate changes now required. Our daily actions and activities point this out, hundreds of millions of times over. Billions of times over. We most certainly share in the responsibility for the destruction of our home planet. Some have pointed out (including me), that we have little choice in the matter. But that’s not the same thing as saying we have no choice, because we do. But how many are making that choice?

Not me. Let me be the first to declare my own non-compliance and non-commitment to saving the planet. I can’t and I won’t. I’m not at all prepared to live at a subsistence level. Are you? Because that’s what it would take. The total abandonment of our modern lifestyle. I quit driving a couple of years ago, but that’s not enough. I don’t fly, I stay home a lot more, but I’m still driving (with others), buying, selling and taking care of business and personal affairs. My carbon footprint undoubtedly reduced, but not sufficiently. Not even close.

I’m doing several other things too, composting, gardening, raising rabbits and chickens, mulching for water conservation, even planting bushes and trees (besides the ones I cut down to create more sunlight for the garden!), but this isn’t enough either. I’m still running a negative balance. The fact is, because I’m still a modern consumer, despite all of my past efforts, and my head knowledge of what is happening to the planet, I can’t reduce my carbon output that much. I can’t because I’m ill-prepared to live a subsistence living.

And so my own actions, despite my deep and abiding concerns for a future, livable planet, miserably fail to meet the standards required to change the outcome we are all facing. I only know of one person, just one, who has the potential to live at the subsistence level required. And even he isn’t doing it right now!

You see how easy it is? To throw the rocks we gather at our world leaders and decry their ineptitude and inaction? It’s very easy, but we’re all just as guilty. And it’s because nobody ever taught us how to live right. These are the sins of our fathers, handed down and replicated by us all, generation after generation.

And the opportunity to live right has long since been abolished, outlawed, fenced off, paved over and polluted. Thus, we’re screwed, through and through. There is NO chance that the world can “save itself” by changing it’s ways. None whatsoever. This is an absolute pure fantasy based on wishful thinking and nothing else.

There are billions and billions of people that would need to change their lifestyles, dramatically and drastically and immediately before climate change and global collapse could be forestalled. That will not happen. You can take that to the bank. It’s now a foreordained conclusion that humans have screwed the pooch. All these claims that we can somehow change ourselves, our habits, our lifestyles, our patterns of abuse, exploitation and pollution are absurd. They’re lying and quite frankly, they’re too stupid to know it.

We simply refuse to give up our lifestyles. We’d rather run the gauntlet of climate change and ecosystem collapse. Actions speak louder then words. We’re still stuck in the old paradigms and the false beliefs in technology and “human ingenuity”. We’re not willing to critically examine the evidence why such beliefs are utterly false. We would rather “hang on” to the few remaining threads then let go before they too, break.

And I am just as guilty. I know that only one cannot make any difference at all. I know that my “sacrifice” of lifestyle and living standards would be totally insignificant. And there is a secret justification and false comfort in that fact. Multiplied a hundred million, billion times, we are all doing this. One can’t make a difference, nor can ten, not even a million.

This is why collapse is a 100% certainty. Too many people exploiting too many resources for too long and causing too many chain reactions. The gigantic asteroidal impact of civilization upon global ecosystems and climate has created huge tidal waves poised to wipe out all lifeforms, human and not. We’re all the inheritors of generationally induced problems, there is ZERO chance we can “fix this” in ten years, 20 years or even a 100 years.

The elephant rampaging in the closet is human population, human behavior and human civilization. Too many people, taught too few ways in which to live and expecting, nay, demanding too much. The final threads have snapped, cataclysm and catastrophe await us all, far, far below on the jagged rocks of reality.

Okay, enough hyperbole. But regular readers of this blog will know why I believe that most, if not all, human intervention at this stage is utter nonsense. It never measures up, it’s always too little, too late and applied to too few (and almost never to the ones where it would count the most, like first world nations). And most importantly, we don’t want to do it. Let’s quit kidding ourselves. We’d really much rather be doing other things. And we’re even willing to risk it all.

I find this very frustrating. But frankly, I believe it to be true despite that fact. Humanity is quite willing to gamble it all on the secret hope that the outcome won’t be quite that bad as it is now being warned around the world. This is the false hope for the hopeless, the consensus trance that deceives and misleads the “faithful” who believe that “staying the course” will somehow mystically and magically change the outcome.

This is why I’m such a strong advocate of preparing. This is something I can do, something that can make a difference, if not for me, for someone else. I admit right up front, it’s going to be inadequate. How could it not be?

I, like millions of my fellow countrymen, suffer from a lack of knowledge, experience, skill and awareness. My dependency is just like yours, I’m stuck in this failing paradigm and I cannot escape. My transitional reality is incomplete. I’m preparing, as fast as I can, but it’s never going to be adequate. My generation is quite possibly, the most poorly prepared and skilled generation to ever walk on the face of the earth to deal with the problems coming our way. Our level of knowledge, skills and awareness and perhaps most importantly, our dependency is unmatched throughout all of history. How many people have even thought about this?

The reality is, “human ingenuity” will fail us, because it is (most often) based upon technology, cheap energy and the concept of “plenty”. Bear in mind that all of these inventions of technology are recent and have not stood the test of time. Nor could they, because of the energy deficit they imply. They all transitory technology at best, and will not be used by our descendent’s. None will last like the Egyptian pyramids have, future generation will likely know nothing of us or even about us.

There will be a lot of castoffs in collapse (almost everything), but how much of this junk will actually be useful, even for survival? It is the ancient skills of hunting, gathering, herbal medicine, food preservation, shelter construction and tribal culture that will be needed, skills that have been proven for millennium. How many modern skills or technologies fit these criteria? Any? And how much of our modern technology will be useful? Anything?

It all depends on how deep the collapse is, and how much of this world we try and manage to preserve. Some estimates that nothing will be preserved and humans (if any) will live in the Arctic Circle. Others think that technology will somehow save humanity, although at much lower population levels. Me? I think modern technology will ultimately be useless, because it all depends on cheap energy for it’s manufacture, maintenance and repair. When the energy is gone, it’s all gone.

Even the hydroelectric dams won’t last much longer, there won’t be any energy available to repair them. Once the power grid goes, it’s all over as far as modern technology goes. The useful remnants of our current technology will be around for a while (metal and glass and plastics), but once this is rusted, broken or lost, that’ll be it, possibly forever. The rest of our technology will simply be huge blighted junk piles on the landscape.

My expectations is that 100 years into the future, if humanity survives, our descendants will be living much like our ancestors did. Neither the oil, coal or natural gas will last that long, and when this is gone, we will be utterly unable to find any other energy source (it takes energy to find energy).

Nor will climate change leave the world unscathed. This is the world that we need to prepare for, a world much like the ages gone by, except in far worse shape. A world of no energy and no modern agriculture and no petrochemicals. A world of globally decimated populations, widespread environmental destruction and drought. Temperature changes may be so severe that the Arctic Circle may be the only refuge left for humanity. Or not. But human migration on a massive scale will be very real, this is already happening right now.

It’s not tipping points we should be talking about, because it implies so much that’s so wrong. It implies the need and the desire to continue screwing up the planet with our insane behavior. It implies the need to “regulate” and “restrict”, rather then rectify the root problem! We should be discussing humanity’s survival plan, not how we can keep this party going a while longer! This is the debate that needs to be framed by forward thinkers and visionaries and needs to be brought to the forefront of human consciousness the world over.

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7 thoughts on “Tipping Points Passed (I told you so)

  • May 15, 2007 at 12:44 pm
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    As sad as it may sound to some, I am thankful that we have no children, and no plans for any.

  • May 15, 2007 at 1:40 pm
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    I have a wife and three kids, I work in minneapolis during the week and drive 250 miles north every weekend to build a one bedroom house for us to live in when TSHTF. It’s completely stockpiled with stuff we may need later. I’m consuming more of everything as I rush to get it completed. We’ve been on four vacations in the past year and a half, as we know we might never be able to do it again in the future. I’m still driving a tahoe, because I need it to haul lumber, furniture and food to my house. I’m burning so damn much gas from going to work, garage sales, driving up north, vacations, and soccer practice that sometimes I feel guilty. sometimes.
    But then I think what will everybody else do when they find out about peak oil? Stop buying gas and sell the SUV? Hell no! They’re going to panic and do what I’ve been doing for the last year and a half, which is Consume even more to get out of the rat trap they got themselves into, making the problem even worse.

    Please excuse the way I write, I’m a carpenter.

  • May 15, 2007 at 6:23 pm
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    I have a daughter and grand kid. They are worm food in waiting – as am I – and don’t (want to) know it. SIGH

    Homo sapien sapien, as we knew ’em, is ‘a freaking goner’ – IMO.

    “Adapt [evolve] or perish is nature’s inexorable imperative.” – Aldous Huxley

    Admin: (GASP) You’re starting to ‘sound like’ me. OMFG

  • May 16, 2007 at 4:17 pm
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    I’m glad that you posted this. I have been thinking for a long time how screwed we are. For me, it boils down to coming to terms with this fact and to continue what ever preps I can for the future. It may not be enough. But, I’m not going to just give up.

    And Lionstone is so right. When the masses realize what’s going on, they will use even more energy to get themselves secure, making the problem worse.

  • May 16, 2007 at 6:16 pm
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    When the masses find out and start preparing, its over. They’ll hoard, consume, buy, break, steal, and kill for anything and everything they attach value to. There isn’t enough food in your town for everyone to buy 4 days of food. How much panic will set in when people see the grocery store shelves emptying? That will/would break the economy and eventually everything else.

  • May 16, 2007 at 6:37 pm
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    I had the opportunity to go to Safeway today and help a friend stock the shelves. This gave me a chance to find out how they brought in inventory and how much food they had on hand.

    What you see on the shelves is what they’ve got. There is almost nothing in the warehouse. They are supplied each and every night with new inventory. When the trucks stop running, and shelves run out, that’ll be all there is.

    I doubt that there is a 3 day supply on hand in actuality. In most disaster situations, the store shelves are stripped bare in just a few hours.

  • May 21, 2007 at 11:02 am
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    If we are on a course towards ultimate extinction of all life forms on earth, and if we have passed the tipping point, then what does it matter how we live now?

    In truth, I think it matters very much because although I am very sure that technological civlization will collapse, I am not at all certain that we will see a total ecosphere collapse that is beyond healing. When I have looked at ecologies like Mt. St. Helens and the surrounding area, I am struck by the total devastation wrought by natural forces more powerful than any we can unleash. Yet life scrambles to fill those niches rapidly.

    In my personal opinion, preparation is good because I believe it is highly likely that the ecology will begin to repair itself as soon as human population levels fall sufficiently. If it is otherwise, then I’ve lost nothing by continuing to prepare. But if the ecology can repair itself and I have not prepared for the collapse of technological civilization, then I am screwed.

    We all must do whatever we can do. It will never be enough but anything that gets you off the beaten path and onto a new way of viewing the world increases your chances of survival. Beyond that, it is mostly just blind luck.

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