2017-01-30

A penny for your farts

I'd like to end the month with something weird (?) to ponder.
Whether our lives are predetermined or rather change their course according to our actions, is a question that has never been answered. The latter might trigger a chain of events, though, that is indistinguishable from deterministic fate. Like this:

Scientists have found out that carbon dioxide takes decades to have an impact on Earth's average temperature. Today's global average temperature is the result of carbon emissions back in the 20th century, and they already triggered seventy or more self-reinforcing feedback loops that increase temperatures further, without us having to push. A rise by 6C is already locked in and that means, our food base is as good as dead, and so are we.
Our worst onslaught against the previous climate equilibrium is yet to come, though -- the even higher carbon emissions of the last few decades, and we are still continuing the pollution.

The sum total of our actions has driven the planet far beyond the treshold of habitability for humans; extinction is a done deal. I can only hope that this is not a problem for anyone. We all got our daily lives to live, deals to make, appointments to take, and scrape up some money for paying the carbon tax on our farts. Near-term human extinction comes somehow inconvenient, which is why many Americans tend to deny climate change. Europeans, ever so energy-efficient, don't waste their time on denial; they just refrain from thinking the facts through to their very end, while the rest of the world truly doesn't know what is in store for us. But ignorance is no excuse. Cling together, swing together, and we are just dead men walking.


"All individual organisms die. When the last individual of a species dies, the species is extinct. All species go extinct. Although there is no reasonable counter to these obvious statements, most people refuse to believe humans will be extinct in the near future. In this death-denying, death-defying, omnicidal culture, the thought of our own death—much less our own extinction—is a bit too much for the typical citizen to bear." --Guy McPherson, Extinction dialogs

 
„So when people dismiss global warming as “doomsday” they are doubly wrong. Firstly, they ridicule those who see how serious this situation is (using language of the absurd to dismiss it). And secondly, they presume the collapse-of-the-future won’t happen — when in reality it already did.“ --Joe Brewer in Extra Newsfeed, 9.1.2017

2017-01-20

The inauguration of Donald Duck


The tragicomic nature of Empire politics must have been explained, emphasized, and mourned thousands of times already since the (s)election of The Klutz as the new whig-of-state. Twenty years ago I swore to stay out of politics and for most part I managed to do just that; I never went to elections again, and I rarely ever comment on them. So, basically, I got nothing to add to the collective uproar... apart from this:

Don't despair. The Klutz will be the last to pot us. Empire as we know it will cease to exist within his first and final term.

Contribute to Empire's dismantlement by denying it your servitude.
Direct your love towards nature, serve life, give unconditionally, help your neighbour, build community!

In the words of Günter Eich –
Make sure that your hearts are not empty, when
others calculate on the emptiness of your hearts!
Do the unprofitable, sing the songs that they don't expect from your mouth!
Be defiant, be as sand, not grease in the machinery of the world!”

2017-01-13

Love. Serve. Give. Help.

With regard to yesterday's sharing of an article that had a somewhat alarmist title (lol), people might think that I got a bit whiny recently: all this talk about grieving and crying and heartbreaking loss of life – isn't it making me feel just horribly sick? Are things really all that bad... and even if so, do I need to take other people's hope that somehow in some way everything is going to turn out quite fine? Life's still grand, isn't it?

Well, yes, life is great, absolutely. I couldn't agree more. I love being alive, I love having fun and laughing at silly pictures of little creatures trying to eat a treat three times their size, or just walking the dog through a snowstorm and enjoy it – and I can honestly do so because at the same time I am aware of the evanescence of it all.

Looking at everything that's coming up internally does not open up Pandora's box, it provides clarity on motivations and drives. Crying for one thing does not mean I cannot laugh about another; being sad has nothing to do with depressiveness, grief is not identical to despair.

Yes, things look different from how I put them; they are way worse than the descriptions from my blog. By acknowledging the severity of the situation, letting it get through to me, and by consciously working my way through the response I come out not only heartbroken but deeply in love with the world. It is from this place that I receive the urge to act and the direction to work towards. Often this encompasses little things like listening to somebody's story, spending extra time with a disquieted animal, pondering the aptness of my behaviour or writing an essay like the one you are reading right now – all of which is so not world-shattering on a grand scale because it is not directly restructuring society. Yet these little things are all about the root causes: the blatant uncaring dissociation from the living world in and around us, and the mute conformity to an omnicidal system that tells us being angry about the uglification of our lives is 'bad'.

I am beyond hope because the situation is beyond hope.
To me, sitting there hoping is a greenwashed version of despair; I'd be waiting for a savior who will never come, instead of going out there myself, getting connected to others, helping them cope, and living the way I'd better had lived from day one.

Yesterday I listened to another brilliant episode of 'Extinction Radio' where I found vibrant encouragement for living with passion. Isn't it funny? Extinction Radio, and one Andrew Harvey has got the perfect words handy for all of us fragile beings who feel overwhelmed by the multitude of destructive forces of the machine:
„Don't despair! Love, serve, give, help!“

2017-01-12

Close to remoteness

When people refuse to face their emotions, when they deny them the right to come up by judging them as 'negative', that's when facts begin to matter no longer. You should think that emotionless measuring of things and cold-hearted piling up of facts create sort of an objective image of reality. Yet the opposite is the case. By excluding the humanity of the observer and his/her existence as a physical-psychological-spiritual creature that has a relationship with the world, 'objective' data becomes meaningless. The observer and his audience – including those who are supposed to judge the information with relation to the world of humans – win no useful understanding from research results because something is missing from the picture. You, as a receiver of news, feel like you are living in a surreal world of dreadful events of incredible dimensions, but nobody around is willing to respond timely, sufficiently, if at all – including yourself, because you don't trust your half way suppressed feelings enough to challenge authorities. That's when we literally sit there waiting till kingdom come.

"It's the end of the world - how do you feel?"

The thing that bothered me always with how science is being used is both this attitude of „the sustained loss of blood might potentially lead to a death-like situation within the next one hundred years“, and the way technocrats use the notion of objectivity to dismiss feelings as a source of information or as a proper response to a situation. What we call 'negative' emotions are actually healthy signs of alarm to a potential threat. Potentiality may become actuality if we do not respond. In the case of climate disruption, humanity has been robbing itself this way of the ability to do anything about the unfolding disaster. I think that, somewhere deep inside, we know this and we are ashamed of it.

Shame, though, is as detrimental as pure alarmism. Both keep us in a state of fright. Maybe it takes just a little courage, maybe it takes nothing else than healthy reasonableness to look at that feeling and take the next step.

Daring to cry for what we have done is a liberation because it releases the pressure of having to sustain the illusion of control over a situation that has completely escaped from our manipulative reach. It is only through liberation that right action can come about.
The other option consists of complete and utter panic the very moment our useless remote controls are taken from us. I don't know about you, but I sure know which choice to take for myself.

2017-01-07

Will Permaculture save the World?


Let me begin with a couple of uncomfortable questions.
Are you aware of the fact that, every day, 200 species are disappearing from the face of the Earth?
Are you also aware of the fact that, since the beginning of industrialization, the worldwide population of vertebrates has dropped by more than 90%?
If not, why are you not aware? Is it because in our lives as civilized people we are so much immersed in human affairs, so far removed from the natural sphere that we hardly notice what is going on around us, even when it happens on a grand scale? TV bombards us with music, films, news and other forms of entertainment, yet what is most important – because it lies at the foundation of our very survival – is never mentioned. Most of what we think we know is not experienced by ourselves, it is mediated knowledge.

Now, what, do you think, causes such gross deterioration of the biosphere? It is human activity: resources extraction, settlement, food production, pollution, all of them on a global-industrial scale. Mankind is literally consuming the whole world and turning it into human biomass and facilities.
Agriculture's contribution to the problem are the 7.5 billion people on the planet, a multiplication by seven since 1750, the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. It is for the food we eat that we do exist. This flesh around my bones is food, it is plants and animals consumed by me.

Our human population explosion has only been possible due to ruthless depletion of the soil, killing of currently 70 billion domestic animals and 170+ million tons of fish per year for meat, as well as growing expansion of fields at the expense of ecosystems. All of this is driven by petroleum products, from herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and pesticides to chemical fertilizer and plastic packaging and cool storage and long-distance transportation.
While the numbers are ever growing, we only have one finite planet at our disposal, and dispose of it we do. For there is no infinite growth possible in a limited system.
We know this for a long time already, so why don't we stop this madness?

The thing that is in our way is called 'Western world view', Utilitarianism, to be precise, and it basically says that we are separate individuals competing for survival in an indifferent world of inert masses that have neither meaning nor intrinsic value. In other words, everything around us is just 'our resources' and we can use it as we please.
What Utilitarianism overlooks is that we do depend on the functioning of the planetary system for our lives. Like with a brick building, we may break holes here and there for creating space for human activities, but if we take out too many bricks the building will just collapse on us, and collapse suddenly.

Organic farming and small-footprint lifestyles, if everyone actually agreed upon applying them, would in fact reduce the damage added each day, but neither is civilization willing to reduce its greedy utilization of Earth's bounties by the slightest amount, nor would it change the fact that increasing damage is done every day by an ever growing human population. Who are we to snortingly look down on the breeding habits of rabbits, goats and locusts?

I do work on an organic farm and I do live a low-impact lifestyle, yet those are not means of “saving the planet” or just “saving myself”. They are not means to soothe my conscience either; for I know that the normal healthy impact that I would have as a member of the global ant population, the elephant population or a stone age human tribe at the end of the Paleolithic, amplifies into horrific destruction in my current existence as a member of our blown-up global civilization. Nothing that we do can make a difference to our predicament – that humanity is likely to go extinct within a few years because we are inches away from a biosphere collapse we brought about by reckless extraction.

Permaculture farms, like gift economies and intentional communities, can be an expression of a deeper understanding rather than a means to achieve a goal. We don't want to make a buck by helping an old lady across the street. It is not our intention to achieve world domination by feeding our children. We don't seek to trade potato chips for the lemonade we bring to a barbecue. We do all these things for the joy of doing them, and the joy comes from the joy it brings to those who “benefit” from our actions. If “the World” is “saved” it is going to happen due to the understanding that existence is about more than this little me that wants to survive. A global awakening to this understanding may well trigger forces that curb or reverse the damage done, but to think of it this way is an attempt in instrumentalizing Awakening for the utilitarian exploitation of those Forces. Awakening then evades us while those Forces evaporate into a fog of wishful thinking. It just doesn't work like this.

To take this current moment, to hold it precious, and to live it with a sense of excellence so that we do the right thing, according to this understanding and without expectation for a specific outcome – this is reward and redemption in itself. The World, it doesn't need saving.

2017-01-01

Deep into the spiral


Welcome to 2017, a year that is going to be different from what we are expecting for it. We all know that our hopes and fears rarely stand the test of time and that the future is a place unlike anything we have imagined. But what if the world was already a different place from what we perceive it to be? What if we are missing some vital information, like, there is a price tag attached to the way we live which we have overlooked – or rather blinked at – all the time? Won't the creditor show up at some point to collect the debt we have piled up so recklessly? Is 2017 our last chance to save our face by stepping forward to mend our ways?

With all the busy-ness around the xmas season, have you had an eye on the news? What were the headlines in the past few days? Did you get the following one?



This could easily be the most alarming piece of information in all history of mankind so far.
Why?
Because the sun over the North Pole has set three months ago, yet temperatures are rising both in water and air and have locally been crossing the melting point of ice – for the second time in two months, and it is happening within the second consecutive winter.
Average air temperatures on higher latitudes, while still below freezing point, are way above any reasonable deviation from standard.

red line shows 2016's average temperature north of 80° latitude;
green line shows 1958-2002 average temperature north of 80° latitude.
This is not just freakish weather. Last time the red line roughly followed average records was in 2004, so we are looking at a long-term heating trend here. 
--click to enlarge--


This means, instead of building up, winter sea ice is stagnating slightly above already-reduced summer extents and volumes. Thin, broken-up and slushy ice is going to be very vulnerable to the return of spring. The Blue-Ocean Event, an ice-free Arctic Ocean, becomes quite likely in 2017, and it would not be mistaken for a blue-lagoon event.

 [source: Polar Science Center/APL]

The Arctic ice shield is being battered since decades already, and its volume and extent reduced so much that scientists are talking about a death spiral.

--click to enlarge--
 [source: Polar Science Center/PIOMAS]

The loss of albedo along with reduced cooling of the surface water and its direct exposure to sunlight will rapidly heat the sea surface, and an increased mixing of surface and deep waters thanks to wind-driven movement subsequently allows for the heat to reach the methane clathrates in shallow places like the East Siberian shelf. It is to be noted that minimal increases in water temperature may allow for a burp of 50 gigatons of methane from that area alone, with thousands of gigatons more distributed all over the Arctic.



[interview with Russian Arctic researcher Natalia Shakhova]

Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas of which there are currently 5 Gt in the atmosphere. The amount likely to be released would increase atmospheric levels from currently 250% above pre-industrial standards to significantly higher levels, resulting in an increase of global average temperature by another 1.1°C or more within weeks. Thanks to about 70 self-reinforcing feedback loops that have already been kicked off, runaway heating as calculated by the next graph seems guaranteed.

--click to enlarge--
 [conservatively adding up a few sources of heating]

All of which affects our ability to grow food due to heat waves, water shortages, more severe storms, erratic weather patterns, and the outpacing of crop plants', bees', and soil micro organisms' ability to adapt.

The consequences of impaired food production are all too obvious.
Wars over water, arable land, and other resources would destroy even more habitats and bring down civilization for sure. Once we enter the slippery slope of a downward population curve, through wars or through starvation alone, there is no turning back; humanity's estimate lifetime from there on is numbered in months. 

The prolongation of our lives is depending on an exceptionally cold arctic spring and summer 2017 to allow for fresh ice to be built up which would postpone Blue Ocean for another year or two, but I wouldn't bet a lousy penny on that one. It is not that I don't like to live and see this planet thrive in turn, but industrial civilization has consumed Earth's life forms to the point where our own demise has become due, and overdue, already. Climate change is just one of a myriad of destructive forces unleashed by our culture, from social disparity to plastic pollution to structural violence to frankenfood to endless wars to animals' habitat loss; we cannot drive hundreds of species extinct each single day and expect our own survival to stay unquestioned. At one point it is going to be our own food chain that is collapsing.

Notwithstanding probable effects of a Blue Ocean Event, few people seem to know that the current level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, according to paleoclimatic records, already subsribes us to a 6°C rise in global average temperature.
They don't know that current temperatures are the result of pollution from decades ago, and that, since then, we have significantly increased emissions again, the consequences of which are yet to manifest, and that's unstoppable. 6°C. You cannot go back to undo it.
Carbon dioxide, followed by Methane, followed by Temperatures; graph covers last 420,000 years and establishes close link between greenhouse gases and global average temperatures
--click to enlarge--

The figures are public, their relation to real-life consequences established and in its first stages already visible as predicted -- just way earlier than expected (haven't you noticed how often this phrase pops up recently?). Yet we don't hear about the polar situation on TV; they missed it three times in a row already. Nor are politicians setting out to doing something -- and they never will, like they never did. As a matter of fact, the opposite is happening: economic growth (and therefore pollution) is being fostered and promoted while the climate debate is being trifled. Apart from very few counter examples, scientists are afraid to speak up, while IPCC and COP conferences are playing down the issue: outdated figures that are conservative to begin with are being fed into inadequate climate models which do not consider powerful feedback loops like methane and water vapor; those models therefore soften probable effects and postpone them into a distant future. On top of all that, draft reports have to pass through a lengthy consensus-making process including both scientists and politicians. This has consequences of its own:

First, the scientific goal of 1°C maximum temperature rise has been changed into the political goal of 2°C.
Then, pre-industrial baseline has been shifted from 1750 to 1880, a date when most of Europe and America were heavily industrialized already; this removed 0.3°C temperature rise from the IPCC's calculation, yet the 2°C goal has not been corrected to 1.7°C.
Baseline has been shifted again, this time to the average of 1951-1980, and we can see already attempts to shift baseline yet another time, to the average of 1979-2000, from the date when satellites allowed for gapless observation of Earth's surface. The upper limit for warming, 2°C, has once more not been adjusted accordingly for the temperature rise that has happened between 1750 and the new baseline dates. In other words, public debate is engaged in window dressing.
In truth, we are talking about an already-reached 1.6 (Carana) to 1.95°C (Mann/Beckwith) temperature rise since 1750, a good proportion of which has happened within the last three years (roughly 0.5°C in 2016 alone).

Neglecting the discussion about precise figures, it still remains a fact that, with the relatively small rise in temperature so far, we are experiencing a massively increased amount of droughts, wildfires, superstorms, floodings, temperature anomalies, monsoon failures, crop failures, algy blooms, ocean acidification, landslides, animal die-offs, ice-sheets melt-offs, methane releases from permafrost and see floor, etc. In such a situation, not the slightest temperature rise is desirable, yet it happens -- and it happens quicker than expected.

graph shows a doubling in catastrophic events since ~2000, a quadrupling since 1980.
[Source: © 2016 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE. As of July 2016]
--click to enlarge--

Following political and economic leaders, many ordinary people are in denial, though most are simply ignorant of the data and its meaning.
If you are one of them -- that's fine; Godspeed, and may you enjoy a long and happy life. Sorry I bothered you. Be free to proceed business as usual.

This summary of current events is based on the work of some of the foremost scientists and journalists, crosschecked with my personal observation of weather patterns as well as my understanding of the World, and it is meant as a warning to those who do have a basic understanding themselves; people like my mother of 65 who immediately got the point and who wanted to know more. She said she had guessed we were in trouble because she had sensed something was wrong with the World, and that the TV was feeding her lies instead of explanations on the disquieting things she had seen. "I'm not stupid!", she grumbled.

Bottom line is, Time is short; it always was. Our lives have always been limited in extent, yet we are wasting so much time on fighting for peanuts. Extreme events, though, reveal extreme evil. If abrupt climate disruption, if collapse of civilization is a reality you share with me, it makes a lot of sense to prepare for near-term impact so that we get through the turbulence with as little violence and with as much dignity as possible. Each of us can, and should, work to direct public outrage into constructive channels, withdraw our support from war preparation and management, share knowledge and resources, and do our best to reduce suffering for others -- humans as well as other beings. This requires us to stay calm ourselves. It can only get achieved through acceptance of our predicament. If, thus far, you haven't grieved for the Earth and what humans have done to it, this is your place to start.



It have been those rare scientists who did speak up and preceded me in concluding that abrupt climate change leads to near-term human extinction who made this blog possible, first and foremost professor Guy McPherson, but also Sam Carana, Peter Wadhams, Paul Beckwith, and a host of great writers and speakers like Dahr Jamail, Carolyn Baker, Robin Westenra, Jennifer Hynes, Kevin Hester, Deb Ozarko, Derrick Jensen, and Mike Ruppert, as well as courageous news anchors like Thom Hartmann and Paul Henry.