Saturday, December 15, 2012

Recognizing Reality

Greetings Peaksters

       At some time we are forced to recognize reality.    I started this newsletter and blog with the goal of informing people about resource limits and climate change.   And the hope was, of course that this information would  assist in the enactment of policies which would address those problems before they became crises.

       At this point that goal seems a bit out of reach.

I recently stumbled upon the blog of a UK Glaciologist, Chris Vernon,  here who can speak with more authority:

As Chris Vernon says:

"The time for hope is over; it is simply illogical to continue believing that dangerous future climate projections can be mitigated through national and international agreements, or through pro-active action. We now have to consider life in a 4 °C warmer world, described here in a report for the World Bank [7]."

       It seems the best we can do at this point, is to be aware of the changes, and find constructive ways to adapt to the "new normal."

      My friend,  Doomer Dan, has a theory which I call "Resistance is worse than futile".  By which he means that, all too often, the only type of "resistance"  (to continuing to spew out CO2)  that humans are willing to adopt, is the "cosmetic resistance" - doing the same stuff as before - but giving the appearance of change.  Doing things like flying around the world, having meetings, publishing papers,  flying off to eco-tours, and generally buying new things (that are labelled green).

"As a scientist, I’m not supposed to use emotive words like disaster; however, that is what we are facing - an avoidable disaster of our own making. Reticence amongst the scientific community has probably contributed to our civilisation’s inaction. We know enough to say, and importantly to do more. As I write this, however, my office is quiet, half empty. My colleagues are attending a conference on the other side of the planet, elevating their carbon emissions to some of the highest in the world." 
       Nate Hagens   (    Psychological Roots of Resource Over Consumption)   suggests that there are  evolutionary and psychological reasons which underlie human behavior.   Essentially, we have strong instincts  and we are much more likely to follow them, even when it pointed out that they will cause problems.   And this resistance to logic is much stronger when "Everybody's doing it"

      Below Dave Cohen  here takes a look at Craig Dilworth's book "Too Smart For Our Good."  which puts our current situation into a larger context. He suggests that human behavior has followed a recognizable path, which he describes as the Vicious Circle Principle,   as follows:

"Humanity's development consists in an accelerating movement from situations of scarcity, to technological innnovation, to increased resource availability, to increased consumption, to population growth, to resource depletion, to scarcity once again, and so on."

          And so far that strategy has worked.   As to the future, we shall see...

Once again, Vernon:

"Our global civilisation appears to be facing a protracted period of decline. Most likely this will be due to the damaging impacts of climate change but if, against the odds, we are spared the worst climate impacts it will only be due to decline from crippling energy shortages or global economic collapse. There is no easy way down for our seven, going on nine billion population, not from the height we’ve now reached. The first half of the 21st century is likely to represent a new peak of human civilisation, the first truly global civilisation, eclipsing our species’ many previous peaks. From here, we can only now hope the cost of climbing so high won’t be so damaging as to deny our distant descendants their own future triumphs."


Dave Cohen'Decline of the Empire


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