Thursday, April 25, 2013

Near Term Extinction: More Good News

I've not added to the blog for some time due to increased painting activity on my part--I paint in oils--and due to teaching English to college kids who are somewhat problematic. Also, a few good friends have died, leaving gaping holes in my heart. One other reason lurks and that is depression. I read about many disturbing things on the Internet, including peak oil, climate change, and the most disturbing refinement of climate change, Near Term Extinction (NTE). Those of you not familiar with NTE should watch Guy McPherson's lecture. To nutshell it, according to the Arctic Methane Emergency Group, the northern hemisphere is looking at the extinction of all life, THAT'S RIGHT--ALL LIFE, within eighteen years. The southern hemisphere follows in another ten years or so. Guy points out that this doesn't include the feedback loops that will accelerate this process. We may be wiped out in as little as ten years.

Wow. Ain't that a kick in the head? Of course, what they both don't mention is that the bad times will not occur all at once on some magical date ten or eighteen years in the future, but will manifest themselves relatively slowly (though you must remember that, in geological terms, this transition is an eye blink) then accelerate exponentially. For example, as I explain to my students, this will likely mean that chances are, in five years, no commercial crops will be grown in Kansas. This crop failure pattern will repeat itself all over the world particularly in the interiors of continents where most cereals are grown. (Global warming heats interior areas much more quickly.) These failures mean starvation, riots, war, disease, and chaos. And this comes before the accelerating exponential part.

When I tell this to my students, they, without fail, become bummed out. And so, for my entertainment, and because our youth culture puts youth above all else and nothing motivates the young like getting over on the old, I explain that I'm 54 and I've stupidly and wantonly and out of complete ignorance wallowed in huge towering gouts of energy use for such a very long time that I almost feel sorry for the fact that they will be thrust into an almost unimaginably energy constrained world. HA HA! I got mine!

"Oooo, Mr. Davies," they say, shaking their little fists at me.

At one point I was terribly sad for young people, but I've seen what passes for involvement in them. Ninety-five percent of them could care less. Mainly, they don't believe me. They grew up with the energy cornucopia, as I did, and they cannot see a life without it. Secondarily, they believe that some magical technology will save us, or at least enable them to continue with their lifestyle unabated, to allow them one more round of "Call of Duty," or to upload a video of a dog biting the gym teacher's crotch, or to write tweets about poor service at the coffee shop. The bad times will only come after they have gotten theirs.

So, to get back to my point, insomuch as I have a point, I've started to come out of my depression. I've achieved this by realizing, no, acknowledging, no--still not right--what I mean is, deeply internalizing the stark fact that we all die--some very young like the boy killed by the asshole bombers in Boston and others not so young, you can fill in the blank because death among the old is as common as comma misuse among my students.

I know I cannot stop the coming collapse of human society and its eventual extinction. I've taught about peak oil for eleven years and the NTE for one and half, and I've witnessed the complete lack of desire to change things. No one cares. And here is where I had my epiphany. (FINALLY! He reaches his point. Clearly a professor!) I realized that only one human will witness the extinction of humanity and that person will do so unknowingly. Until that last human dies, there is still a species. But, given the size of the planet, no one human can know that they are the last. Therefore, to most humans, it is inconceivable that extinction can occur. As long as they can wave at a neighbor, they cannot conceive of extinction.

I know what you're thinking: Won't they suspect the truth of extinction when ninety-nine percent of the people around them have died, when no electricity let alone television signals reach their propaganda box, when the radio is dead, when they must chase down rats for food, when the temperature at night is 110 degrees, when water must be collected during the occasional deluge such as to get them through until the next deluge, and when life during the 125 degree days are impossible aboveground. Won't they have an inkling? Let's hope so. Because then, maybe, just maybe, they will do what is necessary to stem this trend...................


As Derrick Jensen asks, "At what point will you act to save the oceans? When nine-seven percent of the fish are gone? Ninety-eight? Ninety-nine?"

At what point will people do the hard revolutionary work needed to stem the tide? We need to shut down the entire industrial economy today. Not a week from now, not a month, but now. Okay, let me ask you, and I want you to really think about this: "Will the people willingly let go of industrial society and all that entails?"

Now, the really hard question: "Will you?"