Thomas H. Cook wrote in his novel Sandrine’s Case, ‘The sad thing in life is that for most people, the cavalry never arrived.’
Maybe that’s it for us, too; we keep hoping that it will arrive. We’re gullible that way. We think we’re the exception, that if we live the good life, do the right things, have the right friends, support our government… all the usual bunk that keeps us going, that everything will turn out alright. Little knowing that the world isn’t built that way, that in truth no one’s going to save our ass. No one!
When the drift of stars sounds our moment of silence, when all the great oceans conveyor belts stop circulating, the rains stop, the rivers dry up, the crops fail, the livestock die, and the plagues once more roam the planet; maybe then we’ll realize… too late, that once upon a time humanity had a chance to change things… but that chance is long gone!
Sometimes when I hear someone say we should save the earth I want to ask: For whom? For those rich bastards? For the bastards that caused it all to begin with? For my own fucking countrymen, these corporate greed mongers who are buying up property all over the planet, pushing the indigenous people farther and farther away from their own beaches, their own mountains, their own waterways to make room for what? The fucking elite to spend their pirated blood money on luxury resorts?
Watching Anthony Bourdain tonight… not that he’s all that great, but he tries to show the bullshit that is happening in these various tourist holes, and the native peoples living just the other side of the gated paradises… it’s sick. makes you want to puke, to just end it now, end it all… WTF … here we are seeing all the politicos publishing their crap over and over in repetitive edition and reiteration while the real world sinks… makes you want to blow up every library in the world, make people go back into the streets and look at the world for the first time… to see things at street level…
Sometimes I think a vast great depression in the First World might actually force people to enter that dark stage of time, a transitional phase space of pain and suffering that would either make them collectively work together to truly change things… or, just end it. Knowing as we do that within the next century that climate change is actually going to collapse upon us what do we have to lose? Our chains, perhaps? Our lives, our cultures, out cities, our earth? Maybe its time to do something rather than talk or write?
Sorry, just had crappy feeling about all the death and pain coming toward us out of that future… a nasty almost unihabitable place where what’s left of us is mean and hateful… a bitter end to a civilization that destroyed the planet.
Ok… enough of the pessimism already…
Not Morality but rather Ethical Decisions:
Sometimes I’m amazed how people confuse morality with ethics; the two should not always be equated. Spinoza wrote his Ethics against moralism, not for it. Many follow an ethics without being moralists. What’s the difference? For Nietzsche it came down to the distinction between good and evil, and good and bad. Morality places things in a network of relations based on a hierarchy of Law and legalisms based on good and evil which are guided by external support systems of authority, religious or secular. While an ethics can be beyond good and evil, lacking both a secular or religious external support or inferential system of traces, etc., a system based on natural processes of good or bad decisions having nothing to do with morality and everything to do with stupidity.
I’m not a moralist. That has to do with good or evil. As a radical atheist I have no external support system religious or secular. I gave all that shit up a long while back. Why label one’s self if one has no self to label. To realize that humans are blindly allowing .01% of the world to monetize and destroy the planet at the expense of both the planet and its inhabitants is to accept not a faith in any secular religion (communism) or moral vision (monotheism, paganism, New Ageism… etc. etc.), but to affirm that the (plural) sciences (which are not a system of belief) but a heuristic tool based on habitual trial and test, etc. – or, at least our best supplemental tool of know-how and consensus of empirical evidence about what lies ahead of us if we continue down the path we are going as a multi-polar civilization.
That along with the various truth of historical evidence that the collapse of other civilizations brought about by the complex overuse of land and resources has occurred in more localized system/environmental impacts in the past; along with natural and human impacts, etc. This is to accept certain historical, archaeological, and other data related to the past occurrence of such collapses. The major difference between our possible planetary civilization collapsing and the past localized one’s is that we are now bound to processes of planetary scales rather than localized.
My pessimism comes at the point of accepting that as some scientists affirm, and certain other cross-disciplinary systems support we may have already tipped the balance (Anthropocene) of planetary collapse through the various introduction of human processes that have started chain-reactions across the globe from Ice-Sheet depletion, to oceanic conveyor belt slowing, to gases being released from the ocean’s floors due to heating…. etc. etc. that cannot now be stopped in time. This is not a morality issue, but rather a survival issue which is alas beyond all moral issues whatsoever. My pessimism is in realizing that this is happening and that there is not much that can be done because humans who are habitual creatures of desire and blindness are in a state of denialism for the most part. Governments talk of doing something, but do nothing. Singular groups and individuals have little power to shape change due to the kinds of irrational decisions being perpetrated not by scientific know-how, but rather by ideologues in various governments across the planet that promote reality-as-usual whether of the secular or religious type of denial. Those who deny Climate Change exists seem to rule the planet at the moment, and most of the people that are governed by such idiocy allow it to continue. So simply put we will continue till the actuality of this situation becomes truly apparent in a few generations down the pipe when it is too late.
If I sound alarmist its not my own singular madness or irrationalism, but rather a very rational and scientific estimation of many singular beings across time and our planet that have been showing the facts for years (at least since the beginning of the environmental movement). So to deny all this data is to me the irrational side, not the side of the sciences. Those who speak against the sciences are the one’s in power who seek to maintain their power and monetary systems, and are willing to sacrifice our children’s futures for their own immediate goals and satisfactions. This to me is the false world that is leading us toward extinction. A new study that’s generated so much conversation estimates that as many as three-quarters of animal species could be extinct within several human lifetimes, which sounds incredibly alarming. Also a conversation with Elizabeth Kolbert author of The Sixth Extinction on National Geographic. Asked if we’re impacting this, she says,
Well, that is the $64 trillion question. If we were doing just one of these things, we could precipitate a mass extinction. It turns out we’re doing several at the same time. We’re not just warming the world, we’re cutting down the rain forest. We’re not just cutting down the rain forest, we’re moving invasive species into the rain forest. So you just add these all up, and you say, that’s a lot, and that’s how you get to saying: We are the asteroid now. The asteroid also had a lot of different effects, and it didn’t end too well.
Way back in 1981, Hansen led a team of NASA scientists in a seminal article in Science, “Climate Impact of Increasing Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide.”
They warned: “Potential effects on climate in the 21st century include the creation of drought-prone regions in North America and central Asia as part of a shifting of climatic zones, erosion of the West Antarctic ice sheet with a consequent worldwide rise in sea level, and opening of the fabled Northwest Passage.”
As Hansen and his group of scientists warn the “sea level rise of several meters in 50, 100 or 200 years,” which means as early as this century but in any case, sooner than expected. They also warn that even with the less than 1°C of warming we already have, ice sheet melt appears to be putting sea level rise on an exponential growth path that would bring 10 feet of sea level rise sooner, rather than later — even if we stabilize at 2°C total warming.
Why does this matter? The authors explain, “The economic and social cost of losing functionality of all coastal cities is practically incalculable.” Heck, even the New York Times reported last year on the news of the accelerating collapse of the West Antarctic ice sheet that “The heat-trapping gases could destabilize other parts of Antarctica as well as the Greenland ice sheet, potentially causing enough sea-level rise that many of the world’s coastal cities would eventually have to be abandoned.”
As one of my commenters asked below:
“I guess that when I read about the end of us (humans) – because as you said, that is what the end of the world is about – My question now is “Who promised that it was going to be different?”. Another question is “Why is the end of us necessarily so unassimilable?”.”
Not that it’s the end of humans, but that the world that the few humans who survive the coming apocalypse of natural collapse will live in a world that may take hundreds of thousands of years (if not millions) to recover the biodiversity and quality of life we are now living in. No one promised anything. The universe is devoid of promises, as it is devoid of gods… the universe is impersonal force(s) that have nothing to do with morality or humans. The notion of the end, of the use of hyperbolic language, is nothing more than a provocation, a bit of poetry like anything else in linguistic use… I could just as easily have marshalled charts, diagrams, facts, etc. without all the metaphoric tropes of language, but most people would probably have just drawn a blank at all the factual details… we create narratives, spin the tunes and songs, the stories we tell not to bash with facts, but to awaken those powers of the mind and imagination that facts reveal, to attest a sympathy with that ancient primate who first walked out of the forests of Africa long ago and saw that the earth was beautiful. Where do we get aesthetic appreciation from? Who knows… we can make educated guesses’? Isn’t that what our computational functionalists do when that put all those data facts into a modeling program that charts the vectors of our future in their abstract machines? The machines that reveal in codified detail the progression of climate change across time? That tell us a new type of narrative, one that feeds into our computational age? One that clarifies and ontologizes the hard facts through mathematical diagrams, charts, algorithms to reveal the underlying processes at work? Yes.
Another expert Chris Clarke when asked if humans might go extinct, offers us a summation:
Will we go extinct? There’s some thought that humans have already passed through a near-extinction event, related to the Toba eruption about 70,000 years ago, that may have reduced our total global population down to 15,000 people or fewer in southern Africa. That theory is questioned by some who cite the possibility of other survivng bands of humans. Either interpretation offers us hope for our species: humans can survive horrible catastrophes and rebuild.
Which means the question may not be so much “will we die out” as “will we wish we had.” If humans were to go extinct, the earth would at least have a chance to repair itself, evolve new biodiversity, and move on. But having the globe sprinkled with scattered bands of a few hundred survivors, each desperately scraping whatever sustenance might come from the planet their ancestors ruined? That’s a much more frightening prospect for both the planet and our great great grandchildren.
In the end that’s my concern: What is the legacy for my grandchildren and their children’s children, etc. What is the legacy our civilization will leave them? We laugh about this now? We can deny it all we want… tell ourselves we’re just being alarmists, being irrational, etc. Yet, the best of sciences are telling us that something is happening, an event of such magnitude is in process that all the forecasting and mathematical modeling of the data portends planet wide repercussions. Can we know for sure? Of course not… but the best of minds, the best of tools should not so lightly be dismissed as our present political and corporate global capitalist system seems bent on doing. We live in times when the temperatures are indeed rising. I could go into all the stats, show charts, scholarly papers, etc. But I doubt a barrage of data would convince those who are in denial, and the others like me are already convinced. So I’ll only point to the obvious places to follow the trail … see below.
A list of informational sites:
- Global killer… Air pollution. http://climate.nasa.gov/news/2435/
- Climate Change… the Facts: http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/
- Climate Change… the Causes: http://climate.nasa.gov/causes/
- Climate Change… the Effects: http://climate.nasa.gov/effects/
- Climate Change… the Consensus: http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus/
- Climate Change… Sixth Extinction: http://www.livescience.com/51281-sixth-mass-extinction-is-here.html
- More on Sixth Extinction: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150623-sixth-extinction-kolbert-animals-conservation-science-world/