RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Ahmed writes: "The risk of civilizational collapse and outright extinction is perhaps the clearest signal that there is something deeply wrong with the global system in its current form."

Earth, from Europe to East Asia, as seen from International Space Station. (photo: NASA)
Earth, from Europe to East Asia, as seen from International Space Station. (photo: NASA)


Beyond Extinction: Transition to Post-Capitalism Is Inevitable

By Nafeez Ahmed, Medium

04 August 15

 

In response to "It’s Not Climate Change—It’s Everything Change"

n Margaret Atwood’s powerful essay on the reality of climate change—and its implications for the future of oil-dependent industrial civilization—she tells two vastly distinct stories of our future.

The first is a tale of dystopia—a future so bleak, it would make Hollywood moguls looking for the next science fiction blockbuster of action-packed (post)apocalypse salivate with anticipation. Here, Atwood tells a story of human failure: of short-sighted choices based on fatal addiction to business-as-usual, and an egoistic hubris rooted in centuries of globalisation.

In this scenario, we largely ignore the overwhelming evidence of climate change, and the result is that industrial civilization enters a period of protracted collapse, fuelled by accelerating war, famine, and natural disasters.

The second is a vision of utopia—a collectivist dream-world in which everybody works together, harnessing the best of human ingenuity across society, economics, politics and technology, to peacefully restructure the fundamentals of human existence. Here, Atwood tells a story of human success: of far-sighted decisions based on confronting the follies of business-as-usual, and by embracing our unity as a species.

In this scenario, we act on the overwhelming evidence of climate change, and the result is that industrial civilization enters a period of carefully calibrated transition to a techno-utopian post-capitalist, post-materialist infrastructure, avoiding the worst of today’s scientific warnings.

Crossroads

Of course, both these scenarios are extremes, but there is a purpose to such extremes. Atwood uses the power of story to help us awaken to the starkness—and gravity—of the choice we now face: a choice, effectively, between hell and heaven on earth.

And Atwood is spot on when she notes that this is not just about climate change.

The meteoric accumulation of scientific data over the last few decades has increasingly brought home the fact that the climate crisis is a symptom of a deeper, civilizational problem. It is not just that we are completely and utterly dependent on fossil fuels, oil, coal and gas, to do literally anything and everything in our societies—from transport and food, to art and culture.

It is the wider context of that structural dependency: the extent to which cheap fossil fuels enabled the exponential economic growth trajectory that took-off since the Industrial Revolution; the symbiotic relationship between economic growth and the evolution of the banking system, which has been able to flood the world with credit on the back of seemingly endless supplies of cheap oil; the relentless expansion of Anglo-European capitalism through empire and slavery; the transformation and militarization of global capitalism under US dominance, accompanied by ownership and control of much of the world’s land, food, water, mineral and energy resources by a tiny minority of the world’s population; and the subjugation of planetary resources to the endless growth-imperative of that minority, as it seeks, entirely rationally within this structure, to maximize its profits.

The corresponding ecocide that has resulted—with species extinctions now at record levels, and the degradation and destruction of critical eco-systems escalating at unprecedented scales—is not factored into the narrow calculations of quarterly returns by these powerful interlocking corporate and banking conglomerates.

Climate change is merely one symptom of a wider Crisis of Civilization.

Collapse

Last month I reported exclusively on a new scientific model being developed with support from a UK government task-force at Anglia Ruskin University. The model showed that on a business-as-usual trajectory, industrial civilization as we know it would likely collapse within 25 years due to global food crises, induced by the impacts of climate change in the world’s major food basket regions.

The model showed, however, that this outcome is by no means inevitable—in fact, its creators pointed out that such a business-as-usual trajectory would be unrealistic, as already policy changes have been pursued in response to the 2008 food and oil shocks. Though inadequate, this means that as crises accelerate, they will simultaneously open up opportunities for change.

The question, of course, is whether by then it will be too late.

A widely-reported paper in Science Advances published in June concluded using extremely conservative assumptions that an “exceptionally rapid loss of biodiversity” has occurred “over the last few centuries.” The scale of this loss indicates “that a sixth mass extinction is already under way.” Although it is still possible to avoid a loss of critical ecosystem services essential for human survival, through “intensified conservation efforts,” the window of opportunity to do so is “rapidly closing.”

There is much corroborating evidence for these findings. Another study in May found that if global warming continues at current rates, one in six species on the planet will be at risk of extinction:

“Extinction risks from climate change are expected not only to increase but to accelerate for every degree rise in global temperatures. The signal of climate change–induced extinctions will become increasingly apparent if we do not act now to limit future climate change.”

The risk of civilizational collapse—and outright extinction—is perhaps the clearest signal that there is something deeply wrong with the global system in its current form. So wrong, that it is right now on a path to self-annihilation.

War, famine, and social break-down are happening today in the context of escalating, interconnected climate, food and energy crises. The conflicts in the Middle East that are now pre-occupying Western governments were sparked by a cocktail of climate-induced drought, entrenched inequalities, depletion of cheap oil, and political repression.

The spiralling terrorist violence in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and beyond—purportedly in the name of religion—is being aggravated by concrete material realities: water scarcity, energy scarcity, and food scarcity.

Which of course should really beg the question: which war are we fighting, and in whose interests?

The world is locked into a clash of civilizations, each side pointing the finger of blame at the other: the Western world’s ‘war on terror’ to crush Muslim barbarians, and the Muslim world’s ‘jihad’ to repel Western empire. Ironically, neither side could exist without the other.

As economic hardships accelerate while the global system continues to unravel, this reactionary violence against the Other is becoming evermore normalized. Communities, searching for somewhere to pin their anxieties, root themselves in simplistic, artificial categories of identity—political identity, religious identity, ethnic identity, national identity.

These identities serve as anchors amidst a maelstrom of intensifying global uncertainty, as well as convenient vindicators of blame against those who stand Outside one’s chosen identity.

But while both sides are consumed with mutual hatred, they are missing the point: the real issue is not a clash of civilizations, but a Crisis of Civilization in its current form.

Extinction

According to another groundbreaking paper in Science, published earlier this year to little media fanfare, while we are busy fighting each other to death, overconsuming planetary resources and annihilating the very ecosystems we need to sustain long-term human survival, we are in fact contributing to the permanent destabilization of the Earth System (ES).

The new study develops a framework to understand ‘Planetary Boundaries’ (PB) within which can be discerned a “safe operating space” permitting modern societies to evolve.

The study is authored by an interdisciplinary team of scientists from Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Canada, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany, Kenya, India, the US and the UK. Noting that the 11,700 year long epoch known as the ‘Holocene’ is the only state of the Earth System that definitely supports “contemporary human societies,” the scientists conclude:

“There is increasing evidence that human activities are affecting ES functioning to a degree that threatens the resilience of the ES—its ability to persist in a Holocene-like state in the face of increasing human pressures and shocks. The PB framework is based on critical processes that regulate ES functioning… [and] identifies levels of anthropogenic perturbations below which the risk of destabilization of the ES is likely to remain low—a ‘safe operating space’ for global societal development… Transgression of the PBs thus creates substantial risk of destabilizing the Holocene state of the ES in which modern societies have evolved.”

Renewal

While much attention has been paid to the new science of impending doom, there has been less focus on the new science of civilizational transition.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from these warning signs is what they tell us about the need not simply for ‘change’, but for fundamental systemic transformation.

The science of impending doom does not prove the inevitability of human extinction, but it does prove the inevitability of something else: the extinction of industrial civilization in its current form.

The endless growth model of contemporary global capitalism is not just unsustainable—it is on track to destabilize the Earth System in a way that could make the planet uninhabitable for society as we know it.

It is not humanity, then, that is doomed—it is industrial capitalism.

The choice before us, then, is whether or not we are willing to give-up fossil-fueled endless material growth.

As much as governments and corporations would like us to remain deluded in the conviction that this choice lies not in our hands, but theirs, the truth is that both are becoming increasingly obsolete as global crises accelerate.

The oil empire is crumbling. The US shale industry is collapsing under ballooning debt and diminishing profitability. Canadian oil and gas firms are “bleeding money” as they experience the biggest drop in profit in a decade. The UK’s oil industry is “close to collapse” according to Robin Allen, head of the Association of UK Independent Oil and Gas Exploration Companies.

The governments that remain beholden to the fossil fuel lobby will die along with these firms.

As they crumble, in their place new post-capitalist, post-materialist ideas, structures, and practices are fast emerging.

One powerful compendium of information on the rise of the new paradigm is a new book by Dr. Samuel Alexander, an environment lecturer at the University of Melbourne, Research Fellow at the Melbourne Sustainable Society Institute, and a co-director of the Simplicity Institute.

“The main issue, however, is not whether we will have enough oil, but whether we can afford to produce and burn the oil we have,” Alexander writes in Prosperous Descent: Crisis as Opportunity in an Age of Limits (2015).

“Just as expensive oil suffocates industrial economies that are dependent on cheap energy inputs to function, cheap oil merely propagates and further entrenches the existing order of global capitalism that is in the process of growing itself to death.”

The death of the age of oil is, therefore, symptomatic of the end of the capitalism itself.

“We cannot merely tinker with the systems and cultures of global capitalism and hope that things will magically improve,” adds Alexander in Prosperous Descent(2015).

“Those systems and cultures are not the symptoms but the causes of our overlapping social, economic, and ecological crises, so ultimately those systems and cultures must be replaced with fundamentally different forms of human interaction and organisation, driven and animated by different values, hopes, and myths.
Uncivilising ourselves from our destructive civilisation and building something new is the great, undefined, creative challenge we face incoming decades—which is a challenge both of opposition and renewal.”

Alexander shows that conventional growth economics in the developed world has become “socially counter-productive, ecologically unsustainable, and uneconomic.” Not only that, but mounting evidence in the form of price volatility, stagnating energy supplies, and the failure to address the instabilities of the global financial system suggest that the world is facing an imminent end to growth, symptomatic of the breaching of planetary boundaries.

In this context, there is a need for what some scholars call “degrowth”—defined as “an equitable downscaling of production and consumption that increases human wellbeing and enhances ecological conditions.”

Degrowth doesn’t mean the end of prosperity, but the end of a particularly parasitical form of economics that is widening inequalities even as it ravages the environment. If we don’t choose this path voluntarily, as a species, Alexander warns, it is likely to be imposed on us in a much more unsavoury fashion by the unsustainability of business-as-usual.

But inasmuch as Alexander rejects a resigned, fatalistic capitulation to inevitable dystopia, he also warns against blind faith in salvation via techno-utopian ingenuity.

Instead, he coins the idea of “voluntary simplicity”—a way of life in which “people choose to restrain or reduce their material consumption, while at the same time seeking a higher quality of life.”

Revolution

Dr. Alexander shows that voluntary simplicity is the only pathway that avoids civilizational collapse. It does so because it entails the fundamental systemic transformation of civilization—the transition to a way of being which does not eschew technology, but uses the best of human technology to re-wire civilization from the ground up.

At the core of this radical re-wiring is a transformation of the human relationship with nature: moving away from top-down modes of political and economic organization, to participatory models of grassroots self-governance, localized sustainable agriculture, and equity in access to economic production.

This transformation in turn will require and entail a new “aesthetics of existence.” Drawing on the ethical writings of Michael Foucault, Alexander notes that “the self” as we know it today is woven largely from the structures of power in which we find ourselves. As inhabitants of consumer societies, we have internalized mass consumerism, its egoistic values and its reductionist worldview, “often in subtle, even insidious, ways.”

Yet Foucault also showed that “the self” is not just shaped by society, but also acts on and changes itself through “self-fashioning.” What type of person, then, should one create?

“Given that overconsumption is driving many of the world’s most pressing problems, it may be that ethical activity today requires that we critically reflect on our own subjectivities in order to refuse who we are—so far as we are uncritical consumers. This Great Refusal would open up space to create new, post-consumerist forms of subjectivity, which is surely part of the revolution in consciousness needed in order to produce a society based on a ‘simpler way.’”

The post-capitalist, post-materialist societies of the future, thus, represent the emergence of not just a new form of civilization entirely—but a new form of human being, and a new way of looking at, and being in, the world.

This new “self” will be premised on envisioning the inherent unity of the human species, the interdependence of humankind with nature, and a form of self-actualization based on safeguarding, exploring and nurturing that relationship, rather than exploiting it.

Our task today is to accelerate the process of transition to postcapitalism by creating and implementing it here and now, in the bowels of a dying system. We may well fail in doing so—but the point is precisely to broaden the horizons of the present so that we become cognizant of possibilities that lead beyond it, to plant seeds that might blossom in years and decades to come as governments fall and economies rupture.

We need to work together to craft new visions, values and worldviews; to develop new ideals, ethics and structures; to innovate new politics, economics and cultures of resistance and renewal.

Most of all, we need to evolve new stories of what it means to be human. As Atwood shows, we need stories that speak to the human condition, which beckon to a utopian future beyond the constraints of the dystopian present, which can help us reflect on the challenges of today with a view to collectively dream-weave a more meaningful tomorrow.

Whatever choices we make, one thing is certain. Well before the end of this century, our fossil fuel-centric industries will be little more than outmoded relics of an old, defunct civilization.


e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
+16 # jwb110 2015-08-04 09:42
We can't drink oil when we're thirsty and we can't eat money, stocks and bonds when we are hungry. And the deniers will starve just as fast as the rest of us and may end up cleaning their own toilets and picking their own lettuce where they might be able to find it. If the US government were, and as it should be, a bottom up system instead of an oligarchy/gover nment marriage working from the top down, the top would be more safe in the long run and the lower class less ready to revolt.
This country seems to have learned nothing in its 240 year history and has put us on a bobsled to hell.
 
 
+16 # reiverpacific 2015-08-04 10:19
“When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,
when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.”
Cree prophecy, now more than ever becoming fact.
Are the elites going to build themselves a space station -or perish like the rest of us?
Their attitude is very much "Aprés moi lé déluge".
 
 
+4 # Old4Poor 2015-08-04 12:47
Neither a space station nor an underground bunker could provide sufficient potable water and growing food to keep this going for very long.
 
 
+4 # A_Har 2015-08-04 13:46
Guess what--they will be caught in it too. They dream that they will float above it all, but this is a delusion.
 
 
+5 # economagic 2015-08-04 20:52
"Aprés moi lé déluge."

"After me comes the tsunami" (freely translated into modern English)

Some may not be familiar with the historical reference. The speaker was Louis XV of France, the wastrel son of the Sun King, Louis XIV, who built the palace and gardens at Versailles and a lot of other exquisite treasures of that age.

HIS son, Louis XVI, and his wife, Marie "Let them eat cake" Antoinette, perished in the tsunami that ended the "Divine Right of Kings" ("I am the state" -- Grampa Louis XIV) not too long after the mob stormed the hideous Bastille Prison on January 14, 1789.
 
 
+3 # A_Har 2015-08-05 10:12
They KNEW this was going to become a problem. I saw an article in Popular Science a decade ago titled Now You CO2, Now you Don't that noted that even during the Bush era when they DENIED climate change, they were still making plans to deal with it through geo engineering. I could not find the article on the web, but it still exists on Google books (for some reason).

Here is the link--its a long one:

https://books.google.com/books?id=aAJ8pAwSkkUC&pg=PA52&lpg=PA52&dq=Now+you+CO2,+Now+you+don%27t&source=bl&ots=tqOoGqrbK1&sig=1Cfl5CI1UOaAKoGjRQtvlXmzVg4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAGoVChMIo6jhiKmSxwIV0EiICh3wBAbr#v=onepage&q=Now%20you%20CO2%2C%20Now%20you%20don%27t&f=false

So GOV has known about this! and nothing has been done. As to the geoengineering, that is like performing a science experiment on the earth and it could go terribly wrong making things worse.
 
 
+2 # Radscal 2015-08-05 20:13
Yes, the 0.01% (and the government they control) has known all of this for some time.

I do not presume they have done nothing about it, or to plan for it. Quite the opposite.

For people with normal human emotions, it is largely unfathomable to comprehend that those 0.01% psychopaths are not only willing to see a goodly number of us die, but could well consider that to be a terrific idea.

A nice little nuclear war, for instance, would wipe out most of the "First World." But we're already far along the chain of consumption increase. How many new homes, autos and home theaters are we going to need?

The "Under-develope d World," on the other hand could take our places as both consumers and producers. Then, the 0.01% can play the same game of industrializati on and consumption all over again.
 
 
0 # A_Har 2015-08-10 21:34
Quoting Radscal:
Yes, the 0.01% (and the government they control) has known all of this for some time.

I do not presume they have done nothing about it, or to plan for it. Quite the opposite.

For people with normal human emotions, it is largely unfathomable to comprehend that those 0.01% psychopaths are not only willing to see a goodly number of us die, but could well consider that to be a terrific idea.

A nice little nuclear war, for instance, would wipe out most of the "First World." But we're already far along the chain of consumption increase. How many new homes, autos and home theaters are we going to need?

The "Under-developed World," on the other hand could take our places as both consumers and producers. Then, the 0.01% can play the same game of industrialization and consumption all over again.
Perhaps, Rad, but they may also miscalculate in terms of how far they have pushed Pachamama around. Guy McPherson has a blog he calls *Nature Bats Last*.

Climate-Change Summary and Update
http://guymcpherson.com/2014/01/climate-change-summary-and-update/

Perhaps they figure on ejecting themselves from this planet after it is a ruined shell?

If the ecosystem is torched badly enough, it ruins the habitat for ALL humans and the third world will go down too. The climate holocaust makes all other genocides and crimes against humanity almost irrelevant by comparison. And you can include in that crimes against nature itself.
 
 
+6 # Citizen Mike 2015-08-04 10:57
There is no chance that the greedmongers will do anything but cling to their present practice of accumulation. Our civilization will collapse in the chaos of climate change.

That's it, we're done. Gone, like Atlantis and Mu. Back to the stone age for the remnant of survivors, the descendants of the rich who emerge after about 200 years of tunnel life.
 
 
+6 # Old4Poor 2015-08-04 12:52
We do not have to go so far as mythical civilizations.

Look at the Moche collapse along the coast of Peru.

In simplistic terms,A small climate shift brought in rain to a usually drought stricken area which used canal irrigation.

The canals overflowed, the roots rotted, and a shift in the Ocean temperature (This was all part of a strong El Nino) caused the fish to migrate as well.

Suddenly not enough food, and it all went to the well off and then there was no one left who knew how to farm and fish.
 
 
+6 # kando@ltidewater.net 2015-08-04 11:27
Don't give up so easily please. We have the technical means and the knowhow to change over to a renewables based, more communitarian society. All the roadblocks are political and ideological. And those can collapse (especially with some help) overnight. That has happened before. (I remember suitcases full of worthless currencies after WWII and we all survived it.)
 
 
+4 # economagic 2015-08-04 20:59
A-bleepin' MEN! At the very least, let's go down fighting AND loving. Far too many in these threads, by conceding the war when the battle is only begun, are hastening what they fear.

Please read the article carefully.
 
 
+5 # A_Har 2015-08-04 13:44
"Whatever choices we make, one thing is certain. Well before the end of this century, our fossil fuel-centric industries will be little more than outmoded relics of an old, defunct civilization."

Good article....however:

Beckwith and other researchers in the Arctic Emergency Methane Group are saying WE DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME. The warming caused by the burning of fossil fuels is causing the Arctic to outgas methane (an even more powerful greenhouse gas) from the Arctic sea beds and the frozen tundra areas. This creates an ever widening feedback loop that makes the warming go even faster which then releases even more methane. Beckwith is a paleoclimatolog ist who studied past such events. He said *it can happen again* and in a very short time frame.

See Arctic Sea Ice - Methane Release - Planetary Emergency
http://ameg.me/

Video at the link above.

The situation is *quite dire* as the longer the warming goes on, it creates the possibility of a huge 50 gigaton methane burst--meaning that could be released all at once--an extinction level event.

I posted much more on this here: http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/318-66/31653-focus-naomi-klein-obama-is-beginning-to-sound-like-a-climate-leader-when-will-he-act-like-one

Considering these things, one has to wonder how much of a future we have?? So far, our political process has failed to deal with the problems we face relative to climate change and the environment for decades.
 
 
+3 # A_Har 2015-08-04 18:02
Beckwith has said that with the outgassing of methane in the arctic we risk suffering a methane burst that was similar to the one that occurred which caused the end-Permian mass extinction--one of the worst mass extinctions of all. He said it did not take very long for the outgassing to raise the earth's temperature 5-6C in as little as 1-2 decades. He discovered that by studying the paleoclimate records.

Around 2010, they used to think that the warming would occur more gradually and that we would see it show up later in the century (2070-2080). But new information from researchers like Beckwith is calling that into serious question because multiple feedback loops in the direction of greater warming have been discovered. It is moving along much much faster than originally anticipated.
 
 
0 # economagic 2015-08-04 21:01
Right on the science.

"We have no choice" is always a copout. The situation could change very quickly, but for today suicide in the form of acceptance of "inevitability" is NOT an act of courage.
 
 
0 # A_Har 2015-08-05 07:12
Quoting economagic:
Right on the science.

"We have no choice" is always a copout. The situation could change very quickly, but for today suicide in the form of acceptance of "inevitability" is NOT an act of courage.
The trouble with the current situation relative to inevitability is that there is SO LITTLE TIME LEFT to stop a runaway event. The decision may not be in our hands. We don't know if we can stop it since it is already in extreme crisis. For DECADES, there has been *no political will.* The administration did nothing for 2 years. They were told about it in May of 2013.

White House warned on imminent Arctic ice death spiral
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/may/02/white-house-arctic-ice-death-spiral

National security officials worried by rapid loss of Arctic summer sea ice overlook threat of permanent global food shortages

Nafeez Ahmed

Thursday 2 May 2013 09.16 EDT

And now we go into another election cycle that will take 2 more years. Meanwhile it is getting hotter and hotter, and the methane continues to outgas and continue the feedback loop.

The earth doesn't give a shit around the affairs of humans. People hold up hope for the candidacy of Bernie Sanders as the savior relative to multiple issues. I am far less sanguine about a good outcome from our current political class! I guess I have been around long enough to see way too much BS on things that were vitally important.
 
 
+1 # A_Har 2015-08-05 07:13
Here is a question, what will people here do if he does not win the nomination and throws his support to Hitlary? This is a distinct possibility in my mind. If you have followed our politics for long, you would know how Machiavellian and vicious they are. Bernie's candidacy could well be a way to ringfence those who want substantive change.

Chris Hedges commented about it to Ralph Nader:

July 15, 2015
Chris Hedges on Bernie Sanders and the Corporate Democrats
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/15/chris-hedges-on-bernie-sanders-and-the-corporate-democrats/

by Russell Mokhiber

Hedges said there is a problem with Bernie running as a Democrat:

"“Because the party is completely captive to corporate power,” Hedges said. “And Bernie has cut a Faustian deal with the Democrats. And that’s not even speculation. I did an event with him and Bill McKibben, Naomi Klein and Kshama Sawant in New York the day before the Climate March. And Kshama Sawant ,the Socialist City Councilwoman from Seattle and I asked Sanders why he wanted to run as a Democrat. And he said — because I don’t want to end up like Nader.”

“He didn’t want to end up pushed out of the establishment,” Hedges said. “He wanted to keep his committee chairmanships, he wanted to keep his Senate seat. And he knew the forms of retribution, punishment that would be visited upon him if he applied his critique to the Democratic establishment. So he won’t.”

Hedges said Bernie will be done by April.
 
 
+2 # A_Har 2015-08-05 07:28
So, wake up people and do not take anything for granted. Don't be fooled. We have already seen what happens when you place your bets on the the system that then repeatedly screws us over.

Hedges is calling for a revolution. He thinks we do face extinction. So does Noam Chomsky, and quite a number of other famous people.

When people talk about the sixth great extinction, *they tend to exclude humans.*

NOPE, we are in line for it along with the rest of what would be destroyed by our civilization run amok. We are NOT special. And as noted, if we have a runaway event, it can happen very fast; it may become unstoppable.

Beckwith is saying we could face an End-Permian level extinction event within 10-20 years because the warmer it gets, the more methane is released, and then the warmer it gets....and on and on.

That is the way the feedback loop works.

A few years back people were finding holes that were around a meter across (around one yard) and they were lighting them. They would burst into flames.

UAF - 2010 - Hunting for methane with Katey Walter Anthony
https://www.youtube.co/watch?v=YegdEOSQotE

Five years later, these things have grown to be enormous. Some in the seas are 150km wide--bubbling out methane. There are craters in Siberia and other places that are outgassing methane.

The Really Scary Thing About Those Jaw-Dropping Siberian Craters
http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2014/08/01/3466466/siberian-craters-permafrost-climate-change/
 
 
0 # Radscal 2015-08-05 20:26
"And he said — because I don’t want to end up like Nader.”

Sanders has been very clear about this since we convinced him to run as a Democrat (remember that he asked for input as to whether he should run as an Independent, Third Party or Democrat for months).

We who counseled him to run as a Democrat knew he had the best chance of winning that way. If he wins the nomination, then we can keep pushing, both him and for a progressive Congress (which is arguably more important).

Yes, like almost anyone to the left of Genghis Khan who's active in politics, he thinks any Democrat is better than any Republican. I disagree, but it's irrelevant right now.

And I see no reason why a President Sanders negates further revolution. In fact, it could help motivate more people to become active. He's already saying exactly that.
 
 
0 # A_Har 2015-08-10 21:18
Rad, I respect your POV here. OTOH, if he goes against the big banks and the oligarchs, they will kill him.
 
 
+3 # janie1893 2015-08-04 14:23
It is inevitable that mankind will become extinct. Planet Earth is evolving, as is the universe as a whole. Humanity is not special. We are merely a short-lived form of animal life on a young planet in an ever- growing universe.
 
 
+1 # economagic 2015-08-04 21:05
True, but meaningless. If we continue long enough in our foolish ways ("What fools these mortals be" -- from "A Midsummer Night's Dream?) our extinction could occur within the century. Our number will almost certainly be fewer by then, but with courage and wisdom, supplied by us, not the oligarchs, we could maintain for couple more centuries, or conceivably a lot longer.
 
 
+1 # A_Har 2015-08-05 07:38
Within the century makes some people feel like it won't apply to them. Some scientists are saying more like 10-20 years. That is much closer than saying "within the century."

Hell, it may effect ME, and I am in my late 60s. If it did happen in that short a time frame, it would mean ALL children born today would have been born on the deck of the Titanic as it was going down.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-08-09 08:54
Quoting janie1893:
We are merely a short-lived form of animal life on a young planet in an ever- growing universe.


Then the purpose of life would be life? But without God life has no purpose.
 
 
+1 # Farafalla 2015-08-04 14:54
The embedded video is quite good (82 mins)
https://youtu.be/pMgOTQ7D_lk
 
 
+3 # Wally Jasper 2015-08-04 15:14
Thank you, Nafeez, for expanding on Atwood's article. This is an important addition.
 
 
+1 # Dust 2015-08-04 18:21
Actually, I'll ask this here; I'd be very interested in hearing people's input.

I've been struggling with the issue of simplicity and reduced consumption for a while now, specifically as a musician. A while back I decided not to sell CDs any more, and simply give everything away for free over the website. We have too much "stuff", and the disks themselves ultimately end up in the landfill. I also decided not to charge for downloads or streaming as a deliberate move away from only valuing things that produce money, which is obscene.

The issue is that in doing so, I've removed the primary source of funding that makes the music self-sustaining ; most musicians make far more from CD sales than concert tickets and such. Not only that, but lots of folks haven't reached the point of being comfortable with downloads and such; I've discovered that people *really* want the hard CD to take home with them.

So in the same way that we artificially promote green energy sources and other green processes to remove the initial market controls that would crush them, it makes sense that the same sort of thing is necessary to return music to a gathering of people and the human community, as opposed to a purely monetary venture, until a new equilibrium is reached.

But if I want to be able to spend all my time writing new music and new books, I have to make a living at it. My struggle is finding a way do it without making a ton of garbage along the way. What do you folks think?
 
 
0 # Vegan_Girl 2015-08-04 20:29
I think what you are doing is wonderful. My suggestion would be to put all your stuff online for all to enjoy and ask people for donations to sustain yourself and your art.
 
 
+1 # Dust 2015-08-04 21:03
Thanks! We'll see how it all turns out. Everything is online, and I do have a donation button, but not many folks use it. But in the same vein, I play a lot of house concerts with no set ticket price, and people are always extremely generous.

Plus if there are any babies there, I get to hold them and fuss over them. :-p
 
 
+1 # economagic 2015-08-04 21:11
Ms. Atwood, in her article cited above, points out that to the extent that we live in any particular era, we are constrained by its energy myths (not exactly the way she puts it). Living as we are at the end of the era in which fossil fuels dominate and dictate everything we do, we cannot escape making some garbage. How much garbage for what good is a balance each of us is constrained to strike for him- or herself.
 
 
0 # A_Har 2015-08-05 08:50
economagic, I sent you a PM.
 
 
0 # reiverpacific 2015-08-04 19:17
Quoting Old4Poor:
Neither a space station nor an underground bunker could provide sufficient potable water and growing food to keep this going for very long.

I was thinking of "2001 -A Space Odyssey", or a certain faction of Carl Sagan's "Contact".
But they were just supporting one or two people.
Who knows?
 
 
+1 # Dust 2015-08-04 21:07
Silent Running!!
 
 
+2 # ChrisCurrie 2015-08-05 14:27
Extinction
This article makes many points which definitely need to be considered, but it fails to point out one of the most important driving factors behind these horrifying trends. In the EU, US and many other countries throughout the world, they are using debt-based monetary systems which are essentially “Ponzi Schemes” which are designed to handsomely enrich bankers at the expense of everyone else (by using the MONOPOLITIC POWER that they have been granted to “create money out of thin air”). And like any Ponzi scheme, these debt-based monetary systems are well on the way toward collapsing which is already wreaking great havoc and impoverishing large portions of the citizens of those countries. Those countries can easily resolve such problems by modifying their monetary systems accordingly, but unfortunately for their citizens, the people who run those countries include “the best politician bankers’ money can buy” which is preventing this from occurring.
 
 
+1 # Radscal 2015-08-05 20:39
Nafeez talks about debt currency in the video. It's crazy that more people don't realize that system is designed to fail (and does so regularly in what they call "the business cycle" as if it were some law of nature instead of a planned theft).

Sanders wants to bust up the banks, separate the gambling from the savings and loan industries and regulate them all far more. That's a start.

But somehow, we have to nationalize the Federal Reserve and then end the "reserve" part of all banking.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-08-07 18:26
Good suggestions Rad, and Sanders is good on many issues too.

About your Fed Reserve "somehow" comment, simply transfer it to the Treasury?
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-08-10 02:28
yes, ChrisCurrie 2015-08-05 14:27

We fear the banks must close, the grid will go down and cities riot. It all appears unstoppable now. We here have water, food and enough ammunition for three months. After that, who knows. War can be expected too. The “Ponzi Schemes” are conditions of revolution, Napoleon for example. When trusting government fails people panic.

[sorry, administration denies me thumbs]
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-08-06 20:29
According to NASA data, the world has warmed onlly .36 degrees over the last 35 years. Most of it was between 1979 and 1998 . Now we haven't seen a temp increase for 17 Years. It is even a degree cooler than in 1998, while in more that ten years northern icecaps expanded in size; ocean temperatures fluctuated less than 1 degree. Real data does not support man made warming much at all.
To say that 97% of scientists believe that climate change is a man-made urgent problem is weird when a mere 1% of scientists believe human activity is causing most of the climate change. (A petition by more than 31,000 scientists refutes the warming scare.)
The question is why the push while data says no way. It is likely a money game.
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-08-06 21:14
Re: Dust 2015-08-04 18:21
Actually, I'll ask this here; I'd be very interested in hearing people's input. (the issue of simplicity and reduced consumption)

We here grew up living close to your simple life: No running water; wood for heat and cooking; growing much of our food and canning. (Have you ever canned venison?) No freezer or fridge, we still call the fridge the "ice box", (Lake ice saw cut and packed in sawdust.) There was lots of food and wood. Trees really are a renewable resource. The hours were daylight to dark and the women wore out quickly. It was healthy living if you didn't get sick.

We were young and went to the big city for work.

good luck
 
 
0 # Depressionborn 2015-08-07 07:53
Re: climate change: Beckwith's graph

Paul Beckwith's graph on Arctic methane indicates that temp might be rising first, after which we get more C02 & CH4? Interesting that the graphs are remarkable in being cyclical

So what causes climate change if not the usual carbon suspects? God help us if our climate is sun spot driven and sun spots go minimum. [we are likely to try taxing a sun spot you bet???]

[Hint; And lately it has not been getting much warmer!]
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN