Climate Change: We're Doomed

Alleviating worldly suffering along the way.

Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:49 am

Incidentally, if you want to listen to a good lecture by Joseph Tainter, see here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0R09YzyuCI

His anthropological study on the collapse of complex societies is worth reading, too.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Nov 05, 2013 3:08 am

Indrajala wrote:Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Such is the drama of civilization.

Drama indeed.

Of course a new source of cheap energy, no matter how clean, will invariably lead to more production and more consumption.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:24 am

dharmagoat wrote:
Indrajala wrote:Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Such is the drama of civilization.

Drama indeed.

Of course a new source of cheap energy, no matter how clean, will invariably lead to more production and more consumption.


The law of diminishing returns is in effect, and as far as we know there are no alternatives to fossil fuels which pack the same levels of portable energy.

People dream of orbital solar platforms or fusion, but these are just dreams and not actually being implemented.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby dharmagoat » Tue Nov 05, 2013 4:38 am

Indrajala wrote:The law of diminishing returns is in effect, and as far as we know there are no alternatives to fossil fuels which pack the same levels of portable energy.

I have just finished watching the Joseph Tainter video.

The law of diminishing returns seems the be the theme across all human endeavour. It seems that industrial society is simply in the process of playing itself out. I see a life process coming to completion, not a tragedy.

Am I insensitive or naïve in finding this reassuring?
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Kim O'Hara » Tue Nov 05, 2013 6:57 am

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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby padma norbu » Tue Nov 05, 2013 1:42 pm

Nemo wrote:Most of what I read about Fukushima is nonsense. Pulled in one piece from the left's equivalent of a Tea Partier's ass.

http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/series/fukushima is probably the best resource and for some variety http://www.geomar.de/en/

Today I saw some stromatolites. Remnants of a species that absolutely dominated the earth for 2.5 billion years. Then a billion years ago a vicious predator evolved many times their size and ruthlessly hunted them almost to extinction. Today we call these predators snails.


How do you decide what is nonsense and what is not nonsense?

The thing about Suzuki's statements is he is a well-respected guy. He's not an alarmist. We can presume that If he is concerned it Is for good reason. If he finds something "terrifying," well then it probably is. However, I am anticipating some future mockery of him as a "tinfoil hatter" since that seems to be what happens these days when someone says something everyone hasn't agreed to say publicly.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Indrajala » Tue Nov 05, 2013 2:35 pm

dharmagoat wrote:Am I insensitive or naïve in finding this reassuring?


Well, industrial civilization is adversely affecting the environment and ecology of the planet. Overpopulation in many places has arguably reduced the quality of life for many people, especially in Asia and Africa. Manual laborers continually working and living in toxic, crowded and dangerous urban conditions isn't really a better deal than being in rural villages with whole foods and clean air. One might argue Europe rose out of similar conditions, but Europe had a lot more space to expand, lower population levels at industrialization and different social arrangements. The Europeans and their diaspora in the New World also had the low hanging fruit of easily extracted fossil fuels.

In my mind it isn't all about human welfare either. I think the well-being of the oceans, forests and animal life is equally if not more important.

When industrial civilization fails, humanity will probably have to revert back to pre-industrial population levels, which is around a billion or so, though the damage of the industrial age might render a lot of places uninhabitable or have a much reduced carrying capacity (this is already evident by declining stocks of fish in the oceans and desertification in a lot of places, like China). That means seven billion humans will be eliminated. Such contractions, as have happened in the past (the fall of Rome decimated the population of western Europe, as the fall of the Han and subsequent disorder took a massive toll on the populations of northern China), will be unpleasant, but then the rebalancing process of nature is normally painful.

Maybe the worst problem is that modern humanity largely believes it is above and beyond nature, hence the inability to recognize its own extremes will be met with equally strong counterforces in time.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:30 am

dharmagoat wrote:Am I insensitive or naïve in finding this reassuring?

Indrajala wrote:When industrial civilization fails, humanity will probably have to revert back to pre-industrial population levels, which is around a billion or so, though the damage of the industrial age might render a lot of places uninhabitable or have a much reduced carrying capacity (this is already evident by declining stocks of fish in the oceans and desertification in a lot of places, like China). That means seven billion humans will be eliminated. Such contractions, as have happened in the past (the fall of Rome decimated the population of western Europe, as the fall of the Han and subsequent disorder took a massive toll on the populations of northern China), will be unpleasant, but then the rebalancing process of nature is normally painful.

While it is a nice idea that humanity will eventually return to a simpler (and probably happier) mode of living, it will not be without a great deal of death and suffering in the process. To welcome this change is also to welcome this suffering, something that a compassionate person would not do.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby anjali » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:13 am

[Seems like I'm a walking advertisement for the science news website Science Daily today--I posted a link from the site in another thread today.]

Posted Nov. 4: Civilizations Rise and Fall On the Quality of Their Soil

Great civilisations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate.

This is according to Professor Mary Scholes and Dr Bob Scholes who have published a paper in the journal, Science, which describes how the productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity, and nutrient depletion.
...
Soil fertility was a mystery to the ancients. Traditional farmers speak of soils becoming tired, sick, or cold; the solution was typically to move on until they recovered. By the mid-20th century, soils and plants could be routinely tested to diagnose deficiencies, and a global agrochemical industry set out to fix them. Soil came to be viewed as little more than an inert supportive matrix, to be flooded with a soup of nutrients.

This narrow approach led to an unprecedented increase in food production, but also contributed to global warming and the pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems. Activities associated with agriculture are currently responsible for just under one third of greenhouse gas emissions; more than half of these originate from the soil.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 5:54 am

dharmagoat wrote:An interesting post, Indrajala.
Indrajala wrote:As with all past civilizations, we'll reach our limits and thereafter face collapse as resource and ecological limits initiate 'de-growth'. Unless we voluntarily reduce complexity and return to earlier less energy-intensive models (which seldom ever happens in history), there's no avoiding this.

Has this ever happened in history?

Bypassing a few intervening posts because I haven't yet found time to look at links others have posted, your question, "Has this ever happened in history?" suggests a few other questions:
Have we ever had a global civilisation before?
Have we ever had reliable contraception before?
Have we ever had instantaneous worldwide communications before?
Have we ever had large-scale renewable energy before?
Have we ever had sophisticated computer modelling allowing us to play "what if" with the world without wrecking it?
Have we ever had a global history before, allowing us to see what didn't work?

My point, of course, is that things are so different this time around that the past will not repeat exactly and doom-saying based on what happened to the Incas and Easter Islanders is, in fact, thoughtless and misleading - as well as defeatist.

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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:00 am

anjali wrote:[Seems like I'm a walking advertisement for the science news website Science Daily today--I posted a link from the site in another thread today.]

Posted Nov. 4: Civilizations Rise and Fall On the Quality of Their Soil


Thanks for the link.

Rome was suffering soil depletion by the early 3rd century resulting in reduced crop yields and increasing money problems. They had mass absentee farms which could be comparable to factory farms today. It was all about maximum yield.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:02 am

anjali wrote:[Seems like I'm a walking advertisement for the science news website Science Daily today--I posted a link from the site in another thread today.]

Posted Nov. 4: Civilizations Rise and Fall On the Quality of Their Soil

Great civilisations have fallen because they failed to prevent the degradation of the soils on which they were founded. The modern world could suffer the same fate.

This is according to Professor Mary Scholes and Dr Bob Scholes who have published a paper in the journal, Science, which describes how the productivity of many lands has been dramatically reduced as a result of soil erosion, accumulation of salinity, and nutrient depletion.
...
Soil fertility was a mystery to the ancients. Traditional farmers speak of soils becoming tired, sick, or cold; the solution was typically to move on until they recovered. By the mid-20th century, soils and plants could be routinely tested to diagnose deficiencies, and a global agrochemical industry set out to fix them. Soil came to be viewed as little more than an inert supportive matrix, to be flooded with a soup of nutrients.

This narrow approach led to an unprecedented increase in food production, but also contributed to global warming and the pollution of aquifers, rivers, lakes, and coastal ecosystems. Activities associated with agriculture are currently responsible for just under one third of greenhouse gas emissions; more than half of these originate from the soil.

Very relevant, thanks, but see my previous post: things will be different this time round.
Actually, the title is still correct if we just add a bit to it, e.g.
Civilizations Rise and Fall On the Quality of Their Soil Unless They Strike More Critical Limits First
This time round, we may well fall on the effects of extreme weather, which is already bringing social disruption and food shortages. They could go critical before soil depletion becomes a major concern.

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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Indrajala » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:03 am

Kim O'Hara wrote:My point, of course, is that things are so different this time around that the past will not repeat exactly and doom-saying based on what happened to the Incas and Easter Islanders is, in fact, thoughtless and misleading - as well as defeatist.

:namaste:
Kim


A lot of scientists are well aware what is happening to the environment, soil, animal life, ice shelves, and so forth, and repeatedly tell us and our governments to take heed, but there is little political will to seriously act despite the strong messages that we should.

We're well past the carrying capacity of the land and survive at these population and consumption levels because of fossil fuels, which are finite and becoming increasingly costly in an economy which is founded on cheap energy.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Lindama » Wed Nov 06, 2013 6:46 am

dharmagoat wrote:While it is a nice idea that humanity will eventually return to a simpler (and probably happier) mode of living, it will not be without a great deal of death and suffering in the process. To welcome this change is also to welcome this suffering, something that a compassionate person would not do.


All that we can do is see what is happening with an open heart and do whatever we can to help. Global warming is not the only issue... It could be that there will be death and suffering, unimaginable. We are past a return to simpler times, the problems are too big... the farmlands, the water supply, the GMOs, etc. Fukushima is more serious than we know and it appears to be poisoning the pacific ocean. I recently read an account of someone who sailed across the pacific... the ocean was still, not the usual birds, no fish to catch where they were readily available on other trips. The radiation levels in Hawaii have risen significantly in the last week or two. If another catastrophe happens in Japan, the effects can be global. How can we stay grounded in the midst of conflicting information? How do we greet what is in front of us... How do we welcome this suffering, how can we help? How can we be of service to others who may not have the resource of spiritual practice? The endgame is awakening beyond the self.... in how we can serve others, where the rubber hits the road, so to speak. How do we greet that inconceivable? Great love, great compassion, great service. Perhaps that is the ultimate practice for those of us in western cultures in lay life.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:19 am

padma norbu wrote:
Nemo wrote:Most of what I read about Fukushima is nonsense. Pulled in one piece from the left's equivalent of a Tea Partier's ass.

http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/series/fukushima is probably the best resource and for some variety http://www.geomar.de/en/

Today I saw some stromatolites. Remnants of a species that absolutely dominated the earth for 2.5 billion years. Then a billion years ago a vicious predator evolved many times their size and ruthlessly hunted them almost to extinction. Today we call these predators snails.


How do you decide what is nonsense and what is not nonsense?

That's actually a really good question, Padma Norbu.
Ask yourself ...
Does this source have qualifications in the subject he's talking about?
Was his statement carefully considered or off-the-cuff?
Was it published somewhere reputable, somewhere that articles are checked before publication and editors are expected to stand by the accuracy of what they publish?
Does it agree with common sense?
Does it agree with other expert knowledge?

If too many of the answers are "no" or "maybe not", doubt the source and check. Google is your friend: it is ridiculously easy to research anything these days if you have a small amount of knowledge of your subject plus a computer and a decent internet connection.

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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Kim O'Hara » Wed Nov 06, 2013 11:38 am

Indrajala wrote:
Kim O'Hara wrote:My point, of course, is that things are so different this time around that the past will not repeat exactly and doom-saying based on what happened to the Incas and Easter Islanders is, in fact, thoughtless and misleading - as well as defeatist.

:namaste:
Kim


A lot of scientists are well aware what is happening to the environment, soil, animal life, ice shelves, and so forth, and repeatedly tell us and our governments to take heed, but there is little political will to seriously act despite the strong messages that we should.
We're well past the carrying capacity of the land and survive at these population and consumption levels because of fossil fuels, which are finite and becoming increasingly costly in an economy which is founded on cheap energy.

Indrajala,
This is exactly the line you have been pushing for nearly two years - ever since you (under the name of Huseng) started the thread http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=6973#p83686 - without having been able to substantiate your doomy claims in any meaningful way.
You have been talking down the chances of meaningful action for nearly two years: http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=6973&start=40#p137981 and http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=6973&start=60#p138035 and http://www.dharmawheel.net/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=6973&start=60#p138696.
I showed why and how your position was unreasonably negative but you still chose to see only the negative.
I showed why and how your position was incompatible with the dhamma and you ignored the cognitive dissonance.
Sweeping generalisations can hardly help being partially true but they are also partially false. By continuing to put them forward, you are lying. I'm reaching a point at which I am going to call you on every untrue or half-true statement you make, just so that others are not unnecessarily misled by them.

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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Nov 06, 2013 2:53 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:My point, of course, is that things are so different this time around that the past will not repeat exactly and doom-saying based on what happened to the Incas and Easter Islanders is, in fact, thoughtless and misleading - as well as defeatist.

So the fact is that we simply don't know how this will turn out.

Therefore, would not the best strategy be to prepare for the worst (acceptance) while hoping for the best (positive action)?

I agree that defeatism is not an option, it serves no useful purpose either way.
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby Malcolm » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:17 pm

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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby dharmagoat » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:28 pm

Malcolm wrote:http://www.realnews24.com/gray-whale-dies-bringing-us-a-message-with-stomach-full-of-plastic-trash/

Grim reading. This is very depressing.

We can all do our part by limiting our use of plastic products such as shopping bags, party balloons, straws, and plastic bottles. Be a frugal shopper and recycle!

Is that really all we can do?
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Re: Climate Change: We're Doomed

Postby anjali » Wed Nov 06, 2013 4:29 pm

Kim O'Hara wrote:Very relevant, thanks, but see my previous post: things will be different this time round.
Actually, the title is still correct if we just add a bit to it, e.g.
Civilizations Rise and Fall On the Quality of Their Soil Unless They Strike More Critical Limits First
This time round, we may well fall on the effects of extreme weather, which is already bringing social disruption and food shortages. They could go critical before soil depletion becomes a major concern.

:namaste:
Kim

Hi Kim,

Granted, soil depletion is just one of many critical factors that affect the rise and fall of civilizations. Degraded soil means degraded food production. Attempts to overcome that degradation have created a host of other problems (pointed out in the article). If a civilization can't feed its people, for whatever reason, that civilization collapses.

A few years ago, I was reading that salinated soil in California--a major food producer--was becoming more of a problem, and that researchers were trying to develop plants with higher tolerances to salt. Not sure how all that is playing out in California these days as I haven't kept up with it.

I think most people would agree that we are destroying our soil and the environment using modern, industrial agricultural methods. Our current agricultural processes are not sustainable and a reckoning is coming if necessary measures are not enacted before it's too late. We aren't being good stewards of this world and it's going to bite us eventually.

Of course, like you say, we may be running up against other critical limits before we completely collapse from poor soil management. It does look like we are quickly reaching a point where we become overwhelmed with the number of critical problems to be solved. Just like people can have cognitive and task overload, I believe civilizations can have overload to--with too many critical issues/problems to collectively keep track of and successfully deal with. Eventually something fails to get addressed in a timely manner then resulting in system breakdown.
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