On the delusions of normal.
As grim as the world is, it’s oddly comforting to read someone like yourself who’s not living in the “everything is fine” pretend land our collective society has become.
In some ways the not talking about what we need to be talking about is the most painful part.
You’re a realist. That why I subscribe.
Very impressed you got the school to change policy. I wouldn't have even tried out of hopelessness. Shows the value of not throwing in the towel.
I feel like I have been preparing for these last few years my entire life. The despair and the anguish I went through enabled me to devise healthy coping mechanisms and to see clearly. I still feel those things at times, but now those feelings don't engulf me. I want to thank you for giving me a phrase to describe what I have experienced for over 3 decades: sentinel intelligence. I can see. My eyes have never lied to me. I can see.
You know things are falling apart when I got a brand new credit card over a month ago. It never arrived. I called to have them cancel the card because it was obviously intercepted in the mail, right? Nope. They don’t have enough plastic to make the card...
You put to words what is in my head - especially since I lost a patient to rhinovirus last week - 1 month after he had COVID. You are worth every penny of my subscription. Thank you.
I don't think most humans are physiologically capable of understanding what's coming. Old Testament, Gilgamesh level disasters are now guaranteed.
James Hansen just published a paper synthesizing all available scientific knowledge regarding how climate change will really happen, using realistic physics and assumptions about feedbacks. The paltry 2 or 3°C of warming people are allowed to talk about--which would easily end civilization--is a hopeless underestimate. 10°C of warming is in the pipeline when ALL greenhouse gases are accounted for, and all feedbacks (warming creating more warming) are realistically considered. About 5°C of this warming will happen this century, with the remaining warming happening over the coming centuries. We will warm to where the planet was many tens of millions of years ago. Humans will not be able to survive such an environment: too hot, mostly too humid, and other places like continental interiors will be too dry.
California is "the southwest". Just because of our tremendous, and ultimately foolhardy, engineering to bring northern California's water to the south has let us build cities and have agriculture in otherwise uninhabitable deserts, doesn't mean it is viable long-term--over centuries. In relatively recent geologic history, 'the valley' was a giant inland sea. Now, as humans have set in motion warming we probably can't stop, much less reverse, all of the US southwest will dessicate and warm up.
Draw a line from roughly San Jose, up to Salt Lake City, and then down to the OK/AR border. Everything south of that line will be uninhabitable within the lifetime of most people reading this. I'd guess within 20 years. It will be too dry and too hot. Excursions there then would require equipment and preparations equivalent to the Apollo astronauts.
Most people will think such a statement is ridiculous, but this betrays why most humans will die over the coming century. The changes coming are *non-linear*. Just like Sars-CoV-2's spread, they are exponential functions. One today, ten tomorrow, 100 the next day, then too many to count. The shattering heat experienced around the world over the last few years will keep increasing, along with storms and other things humans have no experience in, such as massive H2S (hydrogen sulfide) plumes from stagnant, anoxic bodies of water. I can imagine that Californian inland sea again reappearing, and it becoming hot and stagnant enough that it offgasses huge and deadly volumes of H2S from anaerobic organisms. It would become a Canfield ocean (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canfield_ocean). Sure, maybe it would only exist a year or two, but everything that breathes oxygen dies in minutes at concentrations you can smell. This is why we evolved such a sensitivity to that rotten-egg smell and get away as fast as we can.
Normalcy bias, denial, everything Jessica wrote about in that psychology piece--these will keep us standing around uselessly while we drop dead. I know someone living in Albequerque who has already lost their well and now must truck in water. Their house will soon be worthless. This person is a climate scientist. They aren't leaving. I have already accepted their death.
Our civilization cannot continue. It's possible we could do things with biochar to remove CO2 from the atmosphere, and put the planet back in the Holocene, where we could survive. But that *must also* be coupled with a reduction in consumption and frivolous toys so extreme the rich countries would never accept it. No flying, at all. Very limited if any driving. The end of disposable anything, planned obsolescence. Probably no meat, or very little. And even doing all these things would still require a much reduced human population. It is impossible to feed 8 billion people without massive use of diesel and natural-gas derived fertilizer, and a lot of irrigation. This must end. Thus, so will those people.
I seriously doubt the rich West has any moral fiber that would accept these sorts of changes. So, they won't happen. So, civilization is already doomed. In a sense, it always was, because it was unsustainable. We were just 'lucky' in that we were able to avoid a pandemic like SARS2 (now probably SARS3, since the virus now circulating has changed so much) and had access to resources that let us build what we've built, and grow our numbers so ridiculously high. Our precipitous rise will have an equivalent fall.
You... complete me.
some of us are, some of us always have been. all indigenous ppl have been for about five hindred years. its not the kind of slam bam griefy heros journey thing. its an interdependent collective karma die with grace thing. its a loss of loss thing. its a ritual sacrifice thing.
There are in fact 5 events happening concurrently that together have great potential to result in societal collapse: SARS2, climate change, demographic collapse, deglobalization and the Russia-Ukraine war.
Around the world birth rates have been in serious decline for decades; today in many countries there aren’t enough 25 y/o’s and too many >50 y/o’s to keep economies functioning. In China the current lack of young females means their population will shrink by close to 50% by 2050.
Deglobalization refers to the loss of secure shipping across the world’s oceans. The US is no longer interested in providing that security. With that security gone countries & corporations will be forced to abandon a decades old economic system that allowed the unfettered movement of goods across the planet. Our economy is based on that system; what replaces it is unknown.
The Russian war against Ukraine has potential to develop in a wider conflict, possibly a nuclear conflict and will cause deep disruption across Europe as energy supplies are witheld.
Any one of these is of critical concern. That all are happening simultaneously is truly unprecedented. I don’t see civil society as we think of it continuing beyond five years.
Once again, you take so much of the jumbled mish-mash of doom from up in my head and you present it in an intelligent, knowledgable, comprehensible manner. I share the links to your articles and I hope others are reading and listening.
When I see anyone posting pics of themselves in public wearing a mask, I think maybe we are actually reaching some people. Maybe some people are listening.
The "End of Civilization" is extreme. Inflammatory. But I get it.
Let's say the 2020's get lucky, and the crazy environmental swings come and go. It rains in Utah eventually. California dries out. Covid turns out to be bad but not nearly as devastating as small pox for the American Indians (up to 85% killed).
Even if these changes are only 30% as impactful as a doomer might forecast on a bad day, they are big deals that our civilization must adjust to... especially if the Earth can't support 8 billion humans with their associated animals, pets, plastic, and habit of exhausting every environment they encounter.
At the very least, humans have to change our insistence on bigger and bigger economies consuming more and more stuff. We have to move past obsessing over the metric of GDP. We have to figure out how to minimize the urge to empower the all-powerful strong men gods like Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong-Un, and even the demigods at Alphabet, Apple, and Meta.
Our civilization must change--evolve, if you prefer. Without big changes to the way we interact with the world, more and more people will be certain that we are doomed. And our civilization as we know it will end.
Milarepa, the poet saint of Tibet, who had a lot of mischief mess to redeem, said he “practiced to undeceive himself”; that’s the thing about the anthropocene! Humanity is addicted to self deception and all the forces of greed array against those like you, Jessica Wildfire, who see “the suchness of what is”
Meanwhile, above all this human farce, the ecological crisis and climate crisis will worsen. Very quickly. Because nothing is being done. We don’t even understand the problem. The Bright Greens are singing the same songs from the same hymn sheet of the Fossil Fuel and large Industrial Corporations. ‘Clean Green Energy’ will save us, more turbines, solar panels, this new technology, that new way of growing food, food from vats run by huge Corporations, the same ones who got us here. It’s all bullshit. None of this energy is Green and not only that, even if it was, we already know how our capitalist system will use it. To dig for more stuff, mining more land, cutting down more forests. Energy usage will accelerate, it always does. The Jevons Paradox is very real. Our use of the oceans as refuse dumps and the plunder of every resource within the deep will continue. Do you know that two of every three breaths you take comes from the oxygen created by Phytoplankton in the oceans? What are we going to replace that with? Will Coca Cola start to supply it in plastic bottles? Nestlé? The once in a lifetime storms will become once every couple of years. The Boy will soon be back. La Nina will fade. The Sixth Extinction is about to accelerate.
Utterly depressing but it's somehow comforting to know that someone other than me recognizes all this.
I recommend reading NATURE BATS LAST by Professor Guy McPherson (online) and THE EASY CHAIR (on Substack), the blog of Dr. Anthony J. Leonardi.
McPherson has been warning of the dangers of climate change for decades. Leonardi accurately predicted Covid 19's path in 2020. He continues to speak truth, today, and is still in the minority. Both men have been laughed at, and ignored. Leonardi is also on Twitter @fitterhappierAJ. He isn't happy.
I have always preferred to know the truth, however inconvenient it may be.
McPherson tells us to enjoy what time we have, now, since these ARE 'the good old days.' It does not get better.
I heard two people use the phrase 'random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty' yesterday. Most people do not know where the term originated. It is from an essay called HANDY TIPS ON HOW TO BEHAVE AT THE DEATH OF THE WORLD, by Anne Herbert.
Here it is.