How much longer until we reach the day when our one-time window of opportunity to salvage the environment shuts forever?
Science calls this the tipping point. The very real day when natural feedback processes will have triggered and it will take man-made climate change out of our command, once and for all.
Once that day has passed, it won’t matter anymore what we do or don’t – our planet will plunge ever faster towards all-out global ecosystems collapse.
Recovery from it will take a good part of the remaining time this giant organism has left, if recovery is possible at all. Notable scientists such as Stephen Hawking think it conceivable that very powerful and reinforcing runaway processes could be triggered by, and feed right back into global warming, a spiraling, ever faster descent which will only come to a stop once physical thresholds are reached – meaning this planet’s climate will eventually shift into a state that exists on Venus today.
Global mean surface temperatures around 250°Celsius and sulphuric acid as rain. That aside, the shift from the current stable climatic state to another will likely be a, geologically speaking, extremely sudden, forceful and violent time of unseen mayhem, expected to last for several millennia.
And far beyond the tolerance of any species alive today.
Dante’s Inferno Reincarnate
Now, let us assume for a moment that the various religious communities believing in reincarnation are right: that we keep returning into this same physical world with linear time progressing as we know it. Should positive feedbacks really lead into such a runaway scenario, we are literally creating our own hell –– we will find ourselves in the slow yet unstoppable process of our very real inception of Dante’s Inferno. Each time you re-spawn into an ever more hostile world that is slowly but inexorably drowning ever deeper in deprivation, starvation, disease, pain, abominable suffering.
And death, naturally.
Only death is never the end, instead it all just starts again.
Your average life expectancy will decrease until it eventually hits the point where you instantly get burnt to a crisp as soon as you get thrown into the next cycle of life – or hell on Earth.
The pains of nativity immediately followed by instant, violent demise.
Purging, over and over.
Perdition, as catholic as it gets.
Ignorance & denial
But regardless of who is right in the big afterlife question, the gruesome fact remains. Staring at us silently that this is the one and only window of opportunity to address climate change that concerns each one of us alive today and countless generations after with maximum gravity, yet most people are either unaware of it, or in plain denial.
The latter frame of mind is perfectly normal, I fear – we essentially deal with this the same way most do when it comes to another, equally incomprehensible and thus overwhelming fact each one of us has to face everyday day of our lives: our own inevitable physical death ̶ we simply try not to think of it.
On the other hand, the startling fact that the majority of people in the developed nations still doubt that anthropogenic climate change is a real, immediate and now pivotal threat cannot be explained so easily, especially considering the fact that there is historically wide consensus among all fields of independent science.
However, this huge gap between scientific and popular view becomes more comprehensible when we look at past events with the same forces involved. Let me pick just one example out of a long chain of events in the past couple of decades that massively damaged the reputation and credibility of both science and politics: the Mad Cow Disease crisis, an absurdly ill-advised attempt to maximize profits by feeding cows to cows. This experiment went bad big time, including massive collateral damage, unsurprisingly so – it is very old news that cannibalism eventually has a very damaging effect on any species’ genetic make-up.
On a side note here: Not long ago, there was some hard to believe piece of news regarding this: eager to rake in the promised profits, Switzerland back then was quickest to adopt the English cow-feeds-cow policy – consequently, the nation had the second highest rate of Jacob Kreutzfeld disease (nvCJD) in the scandal’s aftermath.
In 2014, a mere two decades after this new and man-made, inheritable and untreatable human variant peaked with hundreds of deaths in half a dozen countries, the big chamber of the chronically right-wing dominated Swiss parliament, the representatives of the people, elected by the people, paid by the people, waved through a motion to again legalize the use of carcass meal, a.k.a meat and bone meal ̶ to resume forcing carnivorism (e.g. fish eats pig) and cannibalism (e.g. pig eats pig) upon other species.
Unsurprisingly, no media appearances of those puppet parliamentarians were to be found, the main stream media reported this scandal with little ten-line articles somewhere on page umpteen, out of context and without comment.
No big deal, apparently.
Sure, the papers are already full of attempted mass murder stories. I can only guess that their decision was based on the hope that the incubation time of Jacob Kreutzfeld disease (nvCJD) outlasts their political career, the electorate’s memory, and the constitutional state under the rule of law. In the end, only the parliament’s small chamber averted this attempted return to madness with its veto. And no, this is not a bad dream, this is the tragic reality today in one of humanity’s most prosperous, least malfunctioning democracies.
And what sticks most is essentially as simple as: we were repeatedly lied to on matters of utmost gravity by the powers on whose integrity and accountability every civilization critically depends on. To add insult to injury, neither the designers nor the profiteers of this plot were ever held accountable. Nor were the bereaved compensated adequately, not least since junk food consumers were hit disproportionately, the burger-munching consumer group that is largely low-income, low-education and, above all, politically passive.
So why bother. Right? And why not make that profit again.
But such fundamental loss of trust and accountability takes years to rebuild, maybe generations. And where science loses its place in society, a dark hole opens that wants, needs to be filled. Such times have occurred before in history and are highly dangerous as this leads to a power vacuum that is easily filled by powers that have much, much bigger issues with corruption, conflicts of interests, accountability and, above all, rationality, dragging society as a whole down an old and very dark path.
Viewed from the high tower of social science, there are three more major players besides science that drive our civilization: economy, politics and society.
Sadly, in most democratic nation states today, economy and politics are tightly entwined to the extent that politicians are predominantly accountable to not the electorate but to big business. In my book, we’re talking high treason.
Profit maximising privatisation gone bad: disaster touring politicians making their best faces of concern after the inevitable happened, unfortunately in their term: Train wreck in Quebec, Canada, July 2013, of Rail World, Inc, a privately owned transport holding company, also specializing in railway investment, privatizations and restructurings.
On top of this, one of the most important guardians of political accountability, and thus democracy itself, the media, has utterly failed to warn or even adequately report of this growing power imbalance. A breach that has the potential to undo all social progress paid for by our ancestors with their sweat and their blood and their tears.
Yet that failure came not as a surprise.
What major news outlet wasn’t bought and muffled by vested interests in the past two, three decades has submitted to the laws of the free market and the flaws of the human psyche: Nobody pays to read the same old bad news. The price these newsrooms paid was the loss of both independence and integrity. Complete and utter failure. Total fiasco. There is no higher price journalism can be made to pay. Even more so considering the gravity of the consequences this deceitful, shrouded sell-out.
Fox News Science and its puppet master, Robert Murdoch
Today, only few small, independent media with a strong environmental focus continue to give real and coherent status updates, often through the internet only. And, while mostly freely available to anybody with uncensored access to the internet, their reach is minute in comparison to the dominating mass media now all controlled by big business. They simply drown in the endless sea of white noise created by Fox News Berlusconi style infotainment disinformation trash media.
And so even most elementary but all overarching and irrefutable hard facts have degraded to stale, boring and seemingly contested bits of old news that have quickly fallen way down in the stack of fears and worries among people, if they had ever made it there in the first place.
The result is that neither society nor politics even remotely fathom the sweeping changes under way. Yet it is so simple. Just to name the two main anthropogenic greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), while remarkably stable for a very long time, their atmospheric concentration levels have literally exploded in the past 150 years. In this geologically extremely short time-span, our exponentially growing use of external energy sources has, together with land change, caused a hike by 35 percent in CO2, and by over 150 percent in CH4.
And we know today that only around half of all the carbon that we unearthed and burned lingers in the planet’s paper thin atmosphere (if you reduced the entire planet to the size of an orange, that is) – the vast remainder had been absorbed by the oceans that cover 70 percent of this planet quite misleadingly called Earth. These titanic water bodies are home to over 90 percent of all life on Earth.
The surge in acidification resulting from this CO2 uptake has been equally sudden and alarming as the changes in the atmosphere: around 30 percent up since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. And we also know today that the CO2 we have blown into the atmosphere will take a few hundred thousand years to be removed again by natural processes, provided they remain operational. The oceans are expected to work 100 to 1000 times slower; regarding uptake as well as removal.
This massive time delay regarding cause and effect means that what changes we have experienced so far are only the very beginning, they’re merely the consequences of our ancestors’ misconduct ̶ generations ago.
Yet, oceanic bioactivity already suffers greatly in these increasingly corrosive waters; for instance, shell- and skeleton-building rates of primary producers such as phyto- and zoo-plankton at the very bottom of the food chain have slowed down to the extent that substantial changes in the very basis of the global food chain are bound to happen.
This global bio production slowdown, eventually climaxing in complete cessation, will resound through the entire biosphere with the force of a super tsunami. Happening at the bottom, the fundament of the food chain, the breakdown of primary production is much the same as the collapse of a skyscraper’s ground floor.
The entire system comes tumbling down.
Ecocide all the way up.
Biology calls this the extinction vortex. It simply translates to malnutrition, starvation and disease blazing like hellfire around the globe and through every species alive today.
But there’s more.
So much more bad news no one wants to read.
And yet I should write forever.
The oceans, they are not just origin to all and home to most life, they also serve as the planet’s central heat and nutrients distribution system. A giant, underwater conveyor belt carrying water, energy and nutrients is circling the entire planet across all oceans.
The meridional thermohaline circulation, also called the ocean conveyor belt.
This mother of all water and air currents carries the sun’s energy from the equatorial regions towards the poles, thus balancing the global climate. It also works vertically, bringing up vital nutrients from the sea floors, dead biomass that had sunk, returning them into the cycle of life.
Now, for various reasons most likely all anthropogenic, and for the past few decades at least, this gigantic current is slowing down, both in force and in volume, and geometrically so in time. This critical energy balancing failure is a further step down into our dark age of extremes ̶ warm regions are thus getting warmer, cold ones colder. The moderate climate zones today in the mid-latitudes, stuck between ever sharper climatic contrasts ̶ well, they might just become the most turbulent, hostile ones; as the temperature differences increase, so will the extreme weather events with it.
Picking up in force and fury with exponentially increasing speed.
Droughts, floods, heatwaves and winter storms.
Ever more intense, ever more frequent.
And while these very few facts by themselves are already very dire and there is so much more, it is the time scale of this truly gothic tale that dwarves all else. It is no less than a global explosion of unseen force, velocity and magnitude – experienced by us short-lived humans alive today right at ground zero and as if in super slow motion.
It is the sixth and most likely biggest as well as final great extinction wave this planet suffers.
Now, substantial changes in atmospheric greenhouse gas levels similar to the ones described above did occur before on this planet. The so called ‘climate skeptics’ keep throwing this fact into every public discussion as loud and often they can afford.
However, the both routinely and deliberately omitted fact that changes everything is the time factor.
Example? The oceans’ CO2 uptake today is already taking place a hundred times faster than any change in acidity experienced by marine organisms for at least twenty million years.
Besides, if you follow the trail of money that allows these skeptics yelling their same half-truths and lies over and over and way louder and more often than anybody else, you end up nine out of ten times wading knee-deep in oil.
Bad karma, boys.
By and large, most so far detected anthropogenic ecosystems changes are happening three or more orders of magnitude faster than during all major events that have occurred in the past million, in most cases even billion years. And by major events I refer to the five mass extinction waves that took place since the planet began to support life. In each of those waves, some 95 percent of all species were wiped out.
Extinct. Lost. Never to return.
That’s dead and gone for good.
The sixth wave (of extinction), just rolling in now and undoubtedly triggered by us as recently as 200,000 years ago, has already reached a far higher extinction rate in a much, much shorter time than all previous ones. And it hasn’t really hit shallow water yet.
Put simply, we’re riding on a wave that is growing way, way faster than any other wave before.
This is big. Bigger not just than anything Homo Sapiens ever had to face, it is bigger than anything any species ever had to weather. It is bigger than the sum of all cataclysms that ever happened on this planet since it supports live. It is unparalleled.
Now, if the working class would for some unlikely reason pause and take a good look at the world outside its personal treadmill and its rat-race and fully understand the present situation and what the future thus holds – which couldn’t possibly be in starker contrast to people’s desires, hopes and ambitions – civilization would likely crumble into chaos in the blink of an eye.
And when the people learn that this development has been foreseen by science since many decades now and governments failed to heed its ever more urgent and desperate warnings, fear will fuel violence and despair will fuel rage like never before in human history.
In the end though, science will be blamed.
Failure to sound the alarm bells loud enough.
And maybe deservedly so. What is the use of research if gained knowledge is not adequately passed on in ways comprehensible to all, to society, the electorate? Whose responsibility is it to break the bad news so that it gets not just heard but understood?
There is no one else left now and that is no secret, politics and media are dysfunctional since long enough now.
Major religions have never been much help, they seem plain too slow and stuck in time to keep up with the speed of change in the past centuries alone, not to mention the past fifty years. On top of that, most members routinely ignore their own laws anyway. Christianity’s performance here is about as impressive as when making a stand against fascism and dehumanizing entire ethnic groups in the past centuries: poor at best, collaborating at worst.
There was no one left but science to carry that light.
The lone keeper of the North Pole archive in the movie ‘The Age of Stupid’ beautifully wrapped it up: ‘We are in all probability the first species on this planet intellectually capable of understanding and even foreseeing the intricate web of change and damage it itself causes in its life-sustaining habitat, and completely and utterly failing to act on this knowledge.’
You may throw in the growing environmental movement here, but trust me, our response so far is nothing but a bad, sad joke, and the generations to come will nothing but curse us for it.
The Age of Stupid, 2009, written and directed by F. Armstrong
Far too little, far too late.
Life on the fast lane for a brief moment will have to be paid for by life in hell for a very long time.
Countless generations, billions of people are going to have to suffer the disastrous consequences of biologically impoverished life.
We broke our pact.
The pact that was in force for millions of years and that ensured our species’ continued survival.
It is the pact of responsibility, of solidarity and compassion ̶ among our own kind, for family, friends, all sisters and brothers.
For the unborn, for the weak, for the needy, for the less-fortunate.
For all life.
It is the ancient pact of the old taking care of the land in order to be able to inherit to the young a world worth living in. The young in turn look after the old when the time comes.
Now, that deal is off.
Voided. Unilateral breach of contract.
Because the world we will leave behind is plain trash, it’s broken and soiled, robbed and defaced, poisoned and infected, mutated and mutilated.
Blind with greed.
Truly debilitating greed.
Yet knowingly so.
We know. We all know.
We all knew. Always did.
We broke our pact.
Where we go now is another place.
We have become sensational in measuring this physical world of ours. For instance, our global satellite network in orbit currently counts over a thousand operational space probes. Of these, less than five percent are looking outwards in outer space science missions. And we can process the enormous amount of data we gather thereby with the help of supercomputers. The resulting models give us great insights into the state of our ecosystems and the changes occurring. And thus we are able to extrapolate rough but increasingly reliable scenarios about likely future developments.
And while we will never fully understand the infinitely complex interdependencies among the systems we impact, our influence on them is now more than sufficiently documented to justify all out intervention. Put simply, we ought to reroute all, all resources at our hands into changing our ways, there cannot be a more pressing and existential problem. And not just that, we ought to prepare for what’s to come; cause no matter what we do now, there’s a giant storm ahead. A blazing fire, our fire, it is merely a question of will we stop feeding it before it gets too big.
All this has repeatedly been communicated to at least all Western governments as well as its electorates for decades now. To anyone who would listen. And yet we still completely fail to acknowledge the wretched quagmire we’re in.
So then, what is it that makes us look in the eye of our own undoing and essentially do nothing about it?
How can the obvious so be ignored? What makes us stand by and watch that foreboding, fierce wind of change picking up, already turned gale in many regions, soon to develop into a full-blown, perfect storm raging across the entire planet? Where does this deeply irrational and self-destructive behavior so unworthy of our outstanding cognitive abilities have its roots? How come we haven’t rerouted all resources, all energy into saving our very base of existence, instead wasting them in a myriad of completely idiotic ways, both absurd and obscene?
The Life of Living Dangerously
We are young, very young, in infancy still.
Homo sapiens sapiens, the wise wise men, as we modestly like to call ourselves.
The Naked Apes, as behavioral scientist Desmond Morris quite aptly called us, roam and rape this planet on their hind legs since merely 200,000 years, displaying little wisdom, I might add.
Now, the average lifespan of a species on this planet has been around ten to twenty times longer.
So far, anyway. But we’re working on that.
So we’ve only just started.
We haven’t even hit puberty yet.
Yet, like no other species before, we have successfully conquered every corner and subdued every cohabitant in this world in a blink of time. And conquer we did.
Slash and burn.
Loot and pillage.
Taking no prisoners.
Hardcore blitzkrieg conquistadores.
Operating with the cold and brutal inconsiderateness of deprived and depraved children:
We want it all, we want it now, and we don’t care how.
And if you’ve got something we want, you’re dead.
And if you’re in our way, you’re dead.
Not just in mindless hostility, but also in striking indifference.
Most species that we ran over and pushed into extinction we don’t even know.
Roadkill. Bugs smashed to pulp in the radiator grille.
Step aside or pay the price.
Too bad there is no space left to move aside to.
We are the fire species as good as it gets, it is our core, our root ̶ almost nothing anthropogenic would exist if we had not conquered fire.
Look around you.
But our fire burns so hot and bright that it scorches everything around us.
And it also scorches us.
Some half a million years ago, our ancestors slowly started shifting from nomadic to sedentary lifestyles. Like all mammals, they set off as hunters and gatherers that would move about, following herds of other animals and seeking new, fertile lands ̶̶ thus effectively avoiding resource overuse and depletion. But that was simply not good enough.
Never was, never will be.
But can we be blamed? After all, we were merely trying to alleviate our suffering and ease our angst in this merciless world of ‘big fish eat little fish’.
But in stark contrast to all other species, our driving force is not opportunism, with us, a new force was born: greed.
And so we added another lame game to the existing: ‘dog eat dog’.
Cruel and shameful, somehow the very antipode.
We are blessed and cursed to be never content with our situation, there is always room for improvement.
A little more safety, comfort, luxury.
Bigger, better, faster, higher, safer, lighter, newer, more productive, more profitable.
Never good enough.
Always striving for new, more. Just more.
This is the force that drove us off the trees into the treacherous but promising plains of Africa, out of the caves we were hiding in, out of the safety of known lands and ways, towards the unknown. It is the essence of human progress, the driver of our biological and, more importantly, our much more drastic and momentous cultural evolution.
And so we learned how to tame fire and make tools and weapons. We developed agriculture, irrigation and livestock farming, allowing and necessitating permanent settlement.
And that’s when our game changed fundamentally, when our clock started counting.
Our population numbers exploded. While on a very, very slowly rising curve for millions of years, the advent of basic technology allowed human evolution to pull the nose up to assume a near-vertical trajectory almost instantly.
For a very long time and until around 70,000 BCE the global human population counted no more than some 15,000 individuals.
By 10,000 BCE we had reached one million.
Two hundred million by the time Jesus Christ allegedly promised that God’s reign was imminent and our suffering would end once and for all.
Instead, the global proliferation of agriculture and permanent settlement allowed for greed and thus injustice, man-made suffering, to go through the roof.
Before, as nomads continually roaming the lands, each one of us would possess no more than one could carry. Mostly the bare necessities. Thus, if you had surplus of any kind, food, drink, tools, weapons, anything more than you could lug around, you’d simply give it away to those less fortunate, or just leave it behind. It just did not make sense to not do so, to not share ̶ food would spoil and everything else was excess weight being a potentially dangerous burden when on the move, or run.
Paleolithic societies thus must have been inherently egalitarian, without much social ranking and any coercive institutions (or, indeed, any institutions) of the kind needed in stratified societies to store, tax, and redistribute goods.
But once we started settling, that natural balancing influence was lost.
We started building storage houses, granaries, soon fortified warehouses, next castles, then palaces. It was the advent of aristocracy and oligarchy, the leisure classes ̶ the social parasites who grow fat on essentially seizing food from others and senselessly hoarding riches.
Injustice, manipulation, disrespect, debasement, suppression, war and a lot more was the cost to keep this unnatural imbalance alive. And the few profiting from it, well, they never hesitated to make the rest pay that price.
What provides us with safety and comfort is also our nemesis.
Because it was not just our game that changed crucially. Once we settled down, fertile lands, flora and fauna would not get a break from us again. Not long and we were everywhere and not going anywhere anymore. Already around the time of the last Ice Age, some 12,000 years ago, we had caused the extinction of numerous large-bodied animals due to overhunting. We simply ate them all up. No more megafauna.
As hunters and gatherers, we had then hit our environment’s carrying capacity the first time. Put simply, we had become too successful. We had become too many. We had fought our way up the food chain past everyone else with unseen force, determination and speed.
So we hit the ceiling, the global carrying capacity.
This has happened to a number of overly successful species before, and the outcome was always a massive downward correction in their population numbers until balance was reestablished.
But thanks to our ingenuity and technology, we had ways of breaking the laws of nature and go far beyond – instead of slowing down, we accelerated.
The price of success, population pressure, essentially forced us to change from food-collecting to food-producing. From hunting and gathering to livestock farming and horticulture – the latter could support but also required many, many more people for endless, mindless field work.
And by this, we traded quality with quantity in every aspect.
Breaking the laws of nature was never a good idea, it’s always been a ‘short term gain – long term pain’ deal. That’s a truth that hits everyone doing so sooner or later. Our recorded history is littered with it ̶ many great empires fell as a consequence of ignoring this primary set of laws.
Paleopathology shows clearly how the miseries of poor diet, malnutrition and epidemic disease then arose and multiplied. Chicken pox, cholera, and the bubonic plague, just to name a few, were animal diseases which had the chance to break the species barrier due to the newfound proximity of humans and animals which comes with domestication. Others, such as malaria, were spread by agricultural practices (malaria only became so virulent when slash-and-burn agriculture pushed mosquitoes to human population centers). And as most stable wheats were ripe for harvest around the same time of the year, a crop failure did have very grave consequences to food security: malnutrition, famine, disease, migration and, of course, war. Only very large and safe storage capacities would be able to weaken such blows, especially when occurring repeatedly.
And thus our body size sharply dropped, by over ten percent, hitting bottom sometime around the late middle ages. Today, modern humans have still not regained the average height of their distant, pre-agricultural ancestors.
Our use of external energy started growing exponentially. First we conquered fire and made others work for us, then, then we shifted from wood to fossil fuels, and finally came the petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides – the sum of which was as big a boost as a fighter jet gets when firing its afterburner.
And about as costly.
But by God, we did take off. Like no one ever before.
Think of squeezing our species’ lifetime of so far 200,000 years into one hour. By the time of Jesus, we were around 200 million. The industrial revolution comes in at around 1750 CE, global human population then is estimated to be around 500 million. Now, within that hour, we’re now at 59 minutes and 55 seconds. One second or some 75 years later, we had already exceeded one billion, we had doubled. Another three seconds later, by 2009, we had multiplied almost sevenfold.
And – hypothetically, if not all exponential population growth would inevitably have to meet its sudden end in what biosciences rather misleadingly call ‘positive check’ – another second later, around 2050, we’d hit maybe ten billion.
But our odds of getting there are next to zero. Below if we have to fix this mess alone.
We are the dead men walking.
Ignorant and arrogant Icarus, flying ever higher, ever closer to the sun, about to get singed, to crash and burn.
But feel free to fill in any number if we are not alone. If the God that is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient, with infinite capacity to love, forgive and heal, if that God that lives and seems to just sit and watch will one day show mercy and deliver us from our fate, our dying world, then the madness and destruction will stop and we will not die.
Instead we maybe get more time, to learn.
Only not alone this time.
But should religion be nothing but dirty lies, disgusting, manipulative politics of fear designed to keep the suffering and superstitious, the scared, gullible and guidance-seeking peasants in their place, to stop the poor from despairing and rising against the ruling, exploiting classes, to strip the enslaved of their very last freedom by making self-determined death a mortal sin and capital crime, and God either never lived or gave a flying fuck about any of this, us… well, then, there is really nothing left to say but sorry and nothing left to do but take our hats, bow in all directions, and bid farewell.
Middle finger in the air.
What a lame game.
We really just tried what every species ever tries – ensure survival and ease our suffering and our mortal fear ourselves.
Only way harder and far more unrestrained and overpowering than everyone else.
End our suffering ourselves.
The sooner, the better, as it just gets harder and uglier now.
Oh What A Scandal, Or Not?
Hell, what an infinitely unfortunate, plain mad mal-development, what a deplorable dysplasia, what a sick, sad, stupendous train wreck.
What a tragic waste.
Or is it.
Looking back and reflecting, trying to understand, I start to wonder.
The miraculous complexity and perfection of everything Nature around us, the infinitely intricate web of interdependencies all playing together in this masterpiece composition called life. Inconceivably old and evolved, stunningly complex, yet tuned to a perfect and ravishing balance ̶ at least until very recently.
It seems to all fall together, all, including our own story. At the right time, at the right place. Like everything, every event, every change, every development just had to lead to the next, an unpreventable, perfectly logical domino effect unfolding, a flawlessly programmed, all-encompassing chain reaction, meticulously planned and executed without fault.
And thus it may seem pointless, plain out of context and unfair to try and judge here, even more so considering the very limited ground zero perspective in which all this is happening to us.
But what is it that the near future has in store for us, what will happen once the food chain skyscraper starts giving in to our overwhelming pressure?
Well maybe, for a little while longer, the rich will continue to eat behind walls while the masses outside will starve and die by the millions. Malnutrition, disease and violence will take a heavy toll. What will remain of society will, in its desperate attempts at reestablishing food security, maybe devolve into some sort of all-out recycling hi-tech nightmare as shown in the movie ‘Soylent Green’. Bad idea, again. Resorting to cannibalism will be the finishing blow to our species as it exists today – the resulting DNA damage will make us more prone to disease, or at least fundamentally transform us beyond recognition, and in all likelihood our chosen name ‘wise wise man’ will become even more absurd and presumptuous than today.
Since a preventive check approach seems by now quite impossible ̶ we really made the point often enough by now that we are not willing to slow down, besides, really, the time is about up ̶ the best-case scenario is that we hit the ceiling at full throttle.
Positive check: Sustained human population overshoots and resource overuse globally climaxes in the buckling of all vital, long overloaded ecosystems, one by one at first, in ever more rapid sequence, triggering a giant chain reaction spreading in all directions. Expanding, exploding, gaining force and speed with every system breaking apart, much like a nuclear fission bomb.
Naturally, our towering house of cards called modern civilization rests on top of these systems.
Together with our natural as well as man-made infrastructure, our population numbers collapse, to eventually level out at the planet’s natural carrying capacity of an estimated 250 million, globally.
Cut back right down again to hunting and gathering.
This unfortunately is rather unlikely to happen.
The planet’s carrying and healing capacity is likely to be greatly and possibly permanently diminished due to our species’ positive check phase ̶ which will be highly turbulent and destructive in all likelihood. Looking back at our history and seeing how individuals and societies alike in almost all times of critical resource shortage chose to react makes it highly probable that we will engage in all-out war before going down.
A war, that thanks to our ingenuity, our technologies such as genetic modification, robotics and artificial intelligence, will be beyond imagination and comprehension.
Essential resource shortage of any nature eventually brings hunger, malnutrition and consequently, disease. Humans, just like all beings with teeth in this world, become rather urgent, hasty and nasty neighbors when getting really hungry and desperate. Our body, our brain, and our psyche is critically dependent on energy acquired by food.
We require energy to control fear, evolution’s oldest, most hard wired and ready emotion.
Fear is the mother violence.
We thus require energy to suppress anger and aggression.
Irritatingly, all these emotions are strongly arising in the slow, cruel, powerless, frustrating and debilitating process of prolonged malnutrition and starvation.
We require energy to exert self-control, restraint.
We require energy to think on top of our primal instincts.
If that energy is insufficiently available, civilization gets underpowered and quickly and abruptly starves to death. Civilization is essentially at best a few days, maybe weeks strong once it gets deprived of adequate food and drink, warmth and protection – creature comforts.
After that, it’s back down to primal instincts.
As raw as it gets in this world.
The law of the most ruthless, wily, violent.
Today though, such brutal deprivation and hardship still hasn’t even come close to the walled shores of the fearful western world. Yet, intolerance, xenophobia, nationalism, racism, fanaticism and fascism are on the rise like never before.
Highly contagious vices spreading fast and far.
That really is remarkable as it is merely one lifetime ago that these same forces killed and maimed hundreds of millions human beings, caused immeasurable suffering and destruction across the entire globe.
And thus, and in consideration of recent technical developments in the global arms race, it seems unavoidable that we’re just going to disappear, foaming at the mouth, dragging down so much with us.
So, let us all drink before the War.
It’ll be the final one.
So when will we reach that tipping point? God knows. The day of no return may have passed already. Unless trumpets are announcing the release of the four horsemen, we will never know that fateful day. Our science is plain not good enough yet to forecast the apocalypse that accurately, besides, it’s only its beginning.
Forecasting disaster is mostly like the ‘Big One’ in California; it could be tomorrow, it could be in decades…maybe.
Considering the great methane release from the warming permafrost and sea floor grounds seems to have already begun, we must be very close around that day, though.
So yet again: what a sad, bitter fiasco. An epic, heart-wrenching tragedy.
Or is it?
What is the nature of this world we are ruining?
What is this tirelessly spinning cycle of life that we are ravaging with such breathtaking contempt and arrogance, such determined ignorance?
Viewed from outside, this planet is a hermetically sealed system in the endless, black void of outer space that is perfectly hostile to all known life. Within this tiny, mostly self-sustaining complex, all higher lifeforms must feed on life, have no choice but to consume other life to live a little longer.
Kill to live.
Destroy to exist.
Now, perceiving, interpreting one’s environment and reacting and adapting to it is crucial to the survival of any species in the unforgiving rate race competition called evolution.
It is physical pain that triggers some evasive reaction to a life threatening situation, to danger.
It is fear, the recollection of pain and danger that helps avoid pain in a similar situation next time.
Thus it seems safe to assume that basic sensations such as physical pain are deeply entwined with the universal survival instinct, the urge to live a.k.a. mortal fear.
So, assuming that even simplest life form on this planet has the capacity for at least basic sensations and emotions such as pain and fear, and quite likely – when all creature comforts are met – joy, this world’s construction plan seems cut savagely cruel and inconsolably bleak. A game with uncountable losers and one winner that barely stands, half naked, bruised and bleeding, wrapped in skins and on its hind legs, screaming and swinging a blood dripping poleaxe, throning on a pile of massacred cohabitants for a little while before it too collapses and silence returns.
Just ugly. Nothing else.
A bottomless, unspeakably gruesome war over limited and diminishing resources, a free-for-all rat race of soul crushing cruelty where not just everybody loses in the end anyway, but where everyone becomes perpetrator before winding up as victim.
The world as a coliseum providing for an infernal play.
Would I create such a world? Would I put myself or even my child there?
Would I put my signature under such a game plan?
Do I want any part of this? At all?
Would I want such a world to prevail?
To my complete dismay, my response comes instantly and at the top of my voice gone silent:
No. Never. Never ever.
And so I ask one last time, is our undoing the world as we know it a tragedy? Or could it perhaps be our painful fate, our dark duty to wreck everything, everyone, and ourselves, to burn everything down with this raging fire of ours, to make place for change, for something new, something better?
What the hell do do I know apart from that it hurts and scares and alienates to the extent that I just want to get out of here, but apparently in this physical world, everything changes, and nothing lasts.
Our planet’s rotational speed decreases.
Our moon on its journey around Earth drifts away further and further to eventually fall away.
Our sun will explode and sterilize the entire planetary system.
Our solar system will break apart.
Our galaxy will heavily collide with its far larger neighbor and will get torn up and absorbed.
Everything changes, nothing lasts, and everything changes.
And let go.
It’s all there is.
This is an excerpt from the book ‘dEvolution of depression’ by phil pando.
The meridional thermohaline circulation, also called the ocean conveyor belt from: http://www.grida.no/publications/rr/in-dead-water/page/1249.aspx