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Forced Responses: Dec 2018

Filed under: — group @ 2 December 2018

A bimonthly thread for discussions on solutions and responses to climate change. For climate science topics, please comment on the Unforced Variations thread.

697 Responses to “Forced Responses: Dec 2018”

  1. 201
  2. 202
    Victor says:

    You know, I honestly, yes honestly I swear to God, I am NOT a conservative, NOT a Republican, NOT a libertarian, nor have I ever been a member of the John Birch Society or the NRA. (I’m actually pretty far to the left of even Bernie Sanders, honest I am.) But, sorry, I just can’t resist sharing this hilarious video with all my “fans” at RealClimate:

    Off-topic, yes, but not really, as most posting here could use a lesson in the perils of self-righteous group-think.

  3. 203
    CCHolley says:

    nigelj @193

    Thank you for the link to the Pew poll.

    Also of interest is the Yale Climate Project on Climate Communication’s poll on American’s engagement in the issue of climate change. I find it hopeful that 21% are alarmed and engaged in the issue while only 9% are dismissive and active in denialism. Another 30% are concerned, but not yet actively engaged. The rest are ambivalent and somewhere in between with the majority of those cautious of the issue. The trend appears to be currently moving in the right direction.

    As for Victor, meh.

  4. 204
    Ron R. says:

    A few more quotes to compare to my last set.

    The wetlands, forests, savannahs, estuaries, coastal fisheries and other habitats that recycle air, water and nutrients for all living creatures are being irretrievably damaged. In effect, one species is now a hazard to the other 10 million or so on the planet, and to itself. ‘Human activity is putting such a strain on the natural functions of Earth that the ability of the planet’s ecosystems to sustain future generations can no longer be taken for granted.’” ~ Tim Radford, science editor. Two-thirds of world’s resources ‘used up’. The Guardian, 29 March 2005, reporting on the Millennium Ecological Assessment.

    The flip side of urbanization is what we are leaving behind on our way to a world of hundred-story office buildings, high-rise residences and landscapes of glass, cement, artificial light and electronic interconnectivity. It’s no accident that as we celebrate the urbanization of the world, we are quickly approaching another historic watershed: the disappearance of the wild. Rising population; growing consumption of food, water and building materials; expanding road and rail transport; and urban sprawl continue to encroach on the remaining wild, pushing it to extinction.~ Jeremy Rifkin. Washington Post. Sunday, December 17, 2006. The Risks of Too Much City.

    We have always had reluctance to see a tract of land which is empty of men as anything but a void. The ‘waste howling wilderness’ of Deuteronomy is typical. The Oxford Dictionary defines wilderness as wild or uncultivated land which is occupied ‘only’ by wild animals. Places not used by us are ‘wastes.’ Areas not occupied by us are ‘desolate.’ Could the desolation be in the soul of man?” ~ John A. Livingston, in Borden Spears, ed., Wilderness Canada. 1970

    We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” ~ Thomas Fuller. Gnomologia. 1732

    Again, the World Scientists Warning To Humanity:

    Humanity is now being given a second notice, as illustrated by these alarming trends. We are jeopardizing our future by not reining in our intense but geographically and demographically uneven material consumption and by not perceiving continued rapid population growth as a primary driver behind many ecological and even societal threats (Crist et al. 2017). By failing to adequately limit population growth, reassess the role of an economy rooted in growth, reduce greenhouse gases, incentivize renewable energy, protect habitat, restore ecosystems, curb pollution, halt defaunation, and constrain invasive alien species, humanity is not taking the urgent steps needed to safeguard our imperilled biosphere.

    I believe we have the ability to overcome ourselves, our drives, and change our present trajectory. To use everything we’ve learned over the past 200,000 years to finally realize our ages long dream for “paradise”. We just need to believe it. But to keep our world at least livable we need to do it sooner rather than later.

  5. 205
    S.B. Ripman says:

    This is over at Tamino, among recent comments:

    “A bit over a week ago I stumbled on a whole vein of particularly clueless tweets about climate.
    “It struck me that this level of confusion was pretty much going unanswered, even as people with more or less a decent grasp of our predicament (some more than others) were being uniformly mocked as part of a conspiracy or even a dogma or a “religion”. Wouldn’t it make sense to find the most absurd of these and highlight them?
    “I asked for suggestions for names for the tweetstream, and a few suggestions were forthcoming, but I was immediately taken by the first suggestion, Gavin Schmidt’s idea, the “Ministry of Silly Squawks”. And so @sillysquawks was born.”

    This raises the question, “who are these people creating such rude and ignorant posts?”

    I have family members who evidence the same sort of thinking as is shown in such posts. Fortunately they rarely display their thoughts in a public setting; the embarrassment for the family is minimized.

    They seem to be drawn to every conspiracy theory that comes down the pike. Flat earth theories, the JFK assassination, “chemtrails,” fake moon landings, prophetic codes embedded in holy scripture, Deep State, you name it, they’ll buy into it.

    After a long time, and many frustrating encounters, it has become apparent that these folks are beset by a mild, undiagnosed paranoid delusional mental disorder. They can display lively intelligence at times, but something in their way of thinking makes certain parts of our complicated world — especially scientific processes — baffling and even threatening to them. When broadly exposed to ordinary, worldly points of view, they feel alienated, frightened and anxious. They desperately look for ways to make sense of it all and feel better. They are drawn to the psychological relief that comes from believing that they are special because they are among a privileged group that have a superior way of looking at the world.

    They aren’t much different from folks who get into drugs and/or alcohol as a way of self-medicating the effects of depression or learning disorders. Except their pain relief comes from communion with conspiracy theorists and engagement in conspiracy thinking.

    The number of people with this affliction has probably increased as the world has become the conflicted and polluted mess that it is now, but, still, they surely are a very small percentage of the population. Yet their visibility has been magnified by the internet. Where once they may have lived their lives in the shadows, they can now find other like-minded individuals and form mutual admiration societies. They join in small communities that reinforce each others’ beliefs to the point of arrogance. Encouraged by such positive feedback, they proudly post comments in public fora, even fora that are read by respected scientists and influential policy-makers.

    To most of us these folks may seem “silly,” but isn’t it better that we should feel compassion for them? Because the disorder they suffer from is an involuntary mental affliction? Not only do they not know how far off-base they are, they are beyond help. Attempting to engage them in rational debate is a waste of time: real-world facts are shrugged off as a false narrative put out by NASA and Freemasons and other conspiratorial groups. Their world view is drastically different from that of normal human beings. All other points of view are considered illusions and trickery. They consider that they and their little band of fellow believers are the only ones wise to the conspiracy.

    The internet makes them seem more important, and more prominent, than they really are. Sadly, they offer nothing of value. It’s a waste of time to spend time addressing their ramblings.

    Fortunately our world has multitudes of people who are sane and serious. Counting their blessings, including the blessing of mental health, they should focus on the challenging real-world work at hand: formulating policy responses to the global warming emergency.

    Ps. The foregoing does not account for the misdeeds of professional prevaricators in the employ of fossil fuel interests. The book “Merchants of Doubt” by Oreskes and Conway provides an excellent treatment of that subject.

  6. 206
    zebra says:

    A couple of numbers,

    I’m always trying to get people thinking quantitatively, partially because my pedagogical philosophy is that you better understand the significance of numbers if you work through the entire process yourself. (Never succeeded with most real students either…)

    So, anyway, I used the population calculator myself:

    Current Mormon Population: 6 million
    TFR: 3.4
    Mormon Population in 100 years: 38 million

    Current African-American population: 40 million
    TFR: 1.8
    African-American population in 100 years: 28.5 million

    Huh! Imagine that!

    Now, on the off chance that someone will be a good student, and do the fricken’ work themselves, I have not looked up median income for the two groups.

    But it would probably be useful to know, if someone were thinking about paying women not to have children, and trying to determine how much it would cost for that method to reduce the population.

    (Please feel free to check my numbers.)

  7. 207
    Ron R. says:

    I suspect this would help with a lot of entrenched attitudes. If only if were legal.

    ”A recent study found that most people treated with a single high dose of psilocybin, the active ingredient in psychoactive mushrooms, showed a long-lasting change in personality—namely, an increase in openness. One of five broad measures of temperament used by psychologists, this quality is generally defined as openness to new ideas or experiences, awareness of feelings in the self and others, and is strongly tied to creativity and aesthetic appreciation. This is one of the first studies to link a single treatment with a drug in a laboratory setting to a long-lasting change in personality.”

  8. 208
  9. 209
    Victor says:

    re Tamino’s screed, quoted at #205.

    This reminds me of an incident related in the autobiography of Hector Berlioz:

    I was in the pit of the Opera-house at the
    first representation of his Ali Baba. This work, as
    everyone agreed at the time, is one of Cherubini’s feeblest
    and most insignificant. Towards the end of the first act,
    tired of hearing nothing striking, I could not help saying,
    loudly enough to be heard by my neighbours : ” Twenty
    francs for an idea ! ” In the middle of the second act,
    still deceived by the same musical mirage, I added to my
    bid, saying : ” Forty francs for an idea ! ” The finale
    began: ” Eighty francs for an idea!” When the finale
    was ended I got up, exclaimed : ” Upon my word, I am
    not rich enough. I give it up,” and thereupon left.”

  10. 210
    nigelj says:

    Ron R @ 200 & 204,

    Interesting and largely compelling quotations. I want to be clear I think that although some indiginous peoples, and ancient cultures in general did cause species extinctions, modern humans are causing extinctions at a much more frightening pace, that is well documented, and we should know better, given our level of knowledge. However much of the problem is simple population numbers of course, but again we have to take responsibility for that.

    And yes North American indians did practice a conservation culture. Other indiginous peoples got many things wrong. Jared Diamonds Book Collopse documents some cases, Easter Island for example.

    I think rather than idolise past cultures through rose coloured spectacles, we have to be quite rigorous and analytical, what did they get right and why? Some groups did practice conservation, but given they were totally reliant on the natural world they had to be. Once humans discovered mechanised farming things fundamentally changed because there appeared to be limitless land that could be farmed, and farmed to destruction. This lead to population growth and more destruction in a feedback loop.

    While we have solved some environmental problems, others are getting out of control. Smaller problems have been solved, only for huge onces to emerge like the climate issue.

    Likewise its been stated indiginous peoples had a sharing equal type of culture which I think is admirable, but you have to ask why? I doubt it was because of any great moral virtue or values system and simply reflected the fact they lived in small groups, and had few posessions for individuals to monopolise and hoard. It’s hard for me to see modern humans getting back to those values without also adopting a comparible primitive lifestyle and radically reduced population.

    However we could do something to reduce the economic inequality that is emerging through things like taxation policies so Im not excusing greed as such.

    The climate problem is a natural and insidious extention of our growth culture. Humanity simply has to retrench, slower population growth, less use of resources etcetera, slower economic growth but in a way that retains the best of modern society such as high technology medicine and communications. It’s going to have to mean less waste and status seeking through material displays, and that will be challenging.

  11. 211
    Killian says:

    Re over-predation:

    Fair enough to say there are cases of extinctions due to indigenous people. No doubt. And not all indigenous stayed simple. So none did? And all of them caused extinction of all animals/flora in their areas?

    C’mon, people.

    Finally, I had hoped to convey the differential between pre-White boy contact and post. Remove the White boy tribe, you remove the problem. Had we never “discovered” them, I suspect there would still be large sustainable societies.

    And, as said before, I am not speaking of the Inca, Aztec, etc. They were just as maladaptive as we are.

  12. 212
    Mr. Know It All says:

    202 – Victor
    That video was AWESOME! This comment got 1,777 likes:
    “It’s ALMOST like they are NPCs”

    I had no idea what it meant so I looked it up:

    Good stuff!

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone!

  13. 213
    zebra says:

    #177 Kevin McKinney,

    Yes, good examples. But, they rely on those…you know…Corporations! and Filthy Rich Capitalists!. And, they came about through the low-key policy efforts of Traitorous Neo-Liberal Democrats!

    While you and I may disagree on the pace at which reducing T is likely to happen, and the relationship, within H=f(T,P) of: T=f(P), you seem to recognize that mechanisms can/(have to?) operate within the existing socioeconomic and geopolitical paradigm.

    What I’m trying to look at is the psychology/motivation of those who aren’t willing/able to think pragmatically. In the current political climate, whether they are dupes of the FF interests or not, they can add to the impediments to achieving the goal of reducing H.

    Is it really just monkeys all the way down?

  14. 214
    MartinJB says:

    Victor, this was most obviously NOT an example of group-think as people came down on both sides of the issue. Nice try.

  15. 215

    #200, Ron R.–

    I don’t think this eco-consciousness was ubiquitous among all First Nations though.

    FWIW, I think eco-consciousness was pretty darn common among FN–not because of some special spiritual awareness, but because for most, success in feeding one’s community was highly dependent upon exact, comprehensive knowledge of the natural environment, and sensitive observation of what was happening in that environment. Finding prey means knowing where to look, and knowing where to look means deep understanding of their life ways–including what *they* eat, and what else might want to eat *them.* Growing crops means understanding the needs and preferences of the plants you cultivate, and the potentialities for nurturing them that exist around you.

    The spiritual awareness then grew from the root of that sensitive observation–that, and gratitude for what the world provided.

    Or so I think, anyway, based on various scraps I’ve seen, heard, or read.

  16. 216

    #213, zebra–

    …you seem to recognize that mechanisms can/(have to?) operate within the existing socioeconomic and geopolitical paradigm.

    Uh, yeah. Did I say something to indicate otherwise? That idea is at the root of a lot of the ‘friction’ between Killian and I which he (rather tactfully) mentioned recently; pragmatically, I think that social change is not, in general, a rapid, revolutionary matter. (Though you can find counterexamples of rapid social change of various types and in various places and times–were that not so, even the mitigation of harms I hope for would be a lot less believable (even?) to me.) Killian thinks that practicality/pragmatism will force adoption of simplicity. (I hope I am not mis-stating his position.)

    I wish, perhaps even hope, that there is truth in that, but when I try to think it through, I can only really imagine his simplified society emerging from the wreckage of the collapse of technological/mercantile civilization, and at a much lower population level than at present. So I conclude that we need to have massive change happen beginning with present realities, if we are to avoid (or minimize) a lot of premature mortality and cultural and ecological damage. In my mind at least, that could help the transition from current social structures to more sustainable ones.

    (I’d also advocate that the knowledge of permaculture/sustainability principles should be as widely dispersed as possible, also starting now–or preferably, yesterday (as in fact Killian and others have been doing.) They offer a lot of survival potential in the event of a crash, IMO, or even a ‘rocky’ transition. We also need economic models that incorporate physical realities–I’m currently reading Herman Daly, for example. We need to figure out what zero economic growth economies might mean in practice–and yes, before you point it out, a declining population could potentially do a lot to buffer the transition. Such models probably offer less concrete survival benefits, at least directly, but how we think about things like ‘human nature’, ‘trade’ and ‘community’ can have pervasive consequences, some of which can end up being quite practical.)

  17. 217
    zebra says:

    “Spiritual Awareness”,

    We observe that groups of humans in the past– absent modern science and technology– had cultures (in the comprehensive anthropological sense) that in some cases appear to have “spiritual” norms that promoted restrained interaction with nature, and in others, practices involving slavery, human sacrifice, and cannibalism.

    Given that, what exactly can one learn from studying them? What do people think caused the difference? Is it genetic?

    It seems far more plausible that cultures (again, the broad term) were influenced by environment. People have a tendency to prefer referencing Diamond’s (less important) Collapse, and forget Guns Germs and Steel, which developed some very significant concepts.

    So, how about putting aside pointless speculation and engaging in some relevant speculation. Much of what we call science fiction has involved increasing our understanding of ourselves (collectively), however uncomfortable it might make us, by imagining what would happen if some variable were different. (Much of not-fictional science works that way too, if you think about it.)

    So, what if the world population were a stable 300 million, given modern culture?

    I think lots of people are uncomfortable thinking about this, because, obviously, all the trite concepts have to be discarded, and we have to start afresh.

    Would it be OK to eat meat? (That’s just one example of the questions raised.)

  18. 218
    Ron R. says:

    Nigel, #210. Right. The only thing I’d disagree with is,

    It’s hard for me to see modern humans getting back to those values without also adopting a comparible primitive lifestyle…”

    With a much lower and thus sustainable population coupled with intelligent love for the planet, I believe people could retain our non-destructive technological advances. But it would have to be well thought out and executed. Modern minds would not likely be satisfied returning to cave living (some exaggeration implied). But there is debate over which path to take, discarding the worst while keeping the best, which could also retain the risk of future technological destruction at the hands of bad actors, or doing a complete 180 and beginning again, which would merely restart the cycle, and probably lead to a Mad Max style existence. And anyway, I don’t see us making such a huge reversal voluntarily. Better then to plan now for a careful transition.

    Kevin McKinney, #215. I agree, FN peoples had to learn the ways of the earth to survive. But I’d dispute that that equals eco-consciousness. Learning facts is not the same as actually caring or wisely planning for the future.

    This is not to say that indigenous populations don’t have plenty of people who care, and being closer to the earth their proportion is probably higher than the general population, but again, people are people, driven by “selfish genes”. At some point I suspect that Native Americans came to terms with their unsavory past and consciously decided to chart a new course.

  19. 219
    Mr. Know It All says:

    208 – James
    Did you run it by the folks at Poker Flats Research Range? I think they’ve been doing similar stuff for decades. This link has some good email addresses – shoot ’em one – let us know what they say.

    206 – zebra
    “I’m always trying to get people thinking quantitatively, partially because my pedagogical philosophy is that you better understand the significance of numbers if you work through the entire process yourself. (Never succeeded with most real students either…)”

    Your “real” students were probably ROFL at your numbers – worrying about a population of 6 million and ignoring the elephant in the room:

  20. 220
    Mary potter says:

    #178 nigelj
    I’m wondering about the point at which human culture can truly be considered indigenous in a place here. Were the Maori truly indigenous at the point when moa were made extinct by the ‘Maori indigenes’ activities, or were these people at this point better described as Polynesian first colonist exploiters of the new land we now call New Zealand. Maybe a culture is more accurately represented by the indigenous term only after it has passed through the phase of exploitation causing elevated levels of extinctions and transitions to a point where people are living in ‘harmony’ or even a kind of symbiosis with the newly shaped ecology of the land where the cultural behaviours remaining unchanged for so long have actually shaped evolution of the ecosystems to a point where there are no further extinctions, or are even dependent on those behaviours to avoid further extinction. Here im thinking australian first people’s who also arguably caused waves of extinction multiple times as multiple waves of Asian sourced colonists arrived bringing new cultural aspects like the Dingo. But now the ecology of mpst of the country is missing both the digging stick and the firestick farming.

    I am at least 8 generations australian over more than 200 yrs but I wouldn’t dare call myself indigenous (much as I would like to) given my genetics is 100 percent from British isles (not to mention my culture is very much still exploitative and causing a rapid rate of extinction). The moa may have gone extinct in a shorter time frame than this following polynesian colonisation.

    Anyway just shootin the breeze with semantics.

  21. 221
    Killian says:

    Re # 210

    Your ignorance is boundless. Please, Dear Readers, do your own research. The commenter at 210 gets it almost completely wrong. There was and still is nothing accidental about the way our past and current cousins managed their environments.

    No, they did not have satellites and the internet and telephones to collate data over their entire ranges or ecosystems or bio-regions, and certainly not continents nor inter-continentally. So, yes, extinctions occurred, but few of them were solely hunting. Typically there is a climate component so that pressures from hunting contribute to extinctions rather than being the sole, or even primary, cause.

    And, yes, First Nations sure as goddamned #$@% did and do have values, beliefs, etc., and, of those I have some knowledge of, lived far more moral, ethical, and community-centered lives than we do.

    The noble savage existed and exists, though not as an ideal, but as a reality in which things were believed and done that don’t make sense to us, but did to them at the time and in their circumstances. On the other hand, virtually nothing we do improves on them, and pales in comparison, if anything.

    They lived and do live within the principles of Nature because Nature was their home. They knew and know it intimately. But they did not and do not have perfect knowledge and did not and do not always act perfectly. But we are far, far worse.

    We are causing the extinction of the vast majority of biota on this planet, most likely. I believe, absolutely, had the ability to monitor changes in the ecosystem we have today existed 10k years ago, we would have never left Nature behind.

    Helga Ingaborg Vierich on Facebook is an amazing resource. Tell her I sent you.

    Do not listen to ignorance. Please. Your futures depend on it.

  22. 222
    Killian says:

    Killian thinks that practicality/pragmatism will force adoption of simplicity. (I hope I am not mis-stating his position.)

    Not quite. First, replace will with can, but also not practicality or pragmatism, but knowing the risks, understanding there are solutions and further understanding we seem to have waited too long to have more than a rather narrow pathway left to us. But practicality is not the metric, it’s just all you’re left with when the options are down to one.

    I wish, perhaps even hope, that there is truth in that, but when I try to think it through, I can only really imagine his simplified society emerging from the wreckage of the collapse of technological/mercantile civilization

    And this is where I shake my head at people’s logic. This is exactly where practicality does fit: IMO, without simplification, there is zero hope of staying under 3C, and I have no expectation of 3C not leading to 4C and on and on. As I have said many times, yet I find is never mentioned, there is little or no hysteresis in the system.

    I’d also advocate that the knowledge of permaculture/sustainability principles should be as widely dispersed as possible, also starting now–or preferably, yesterday (as in fact Killian and others have been doing.) They offer a lot of survival potential in the event of a crash

    3C, 4C, 6C? Wishful thinking, imo.

    We also need economic models that incorporate physical realities–I’m currently reading Herman Daly, for example.

    I was introduced to Daly, et al., via The Oil Drum beginning in 2006. It was that sort of thinking that formed my early thinking on sustainable economics. But as my understanding of the ecosystem, climate, rapid change, resource limits, collapse potentialities, etc., grew, I realized even steady-state/donut economics are flawed wherein they retain ownership and profit, both of which lead to hoarding, waste and imbalance, none of which are found in regenerative systems.

    We need to figure out what zero economic growth economies might mean in practice

    What do we not know?

    Grow soil. Decide together. Share.

  23. 223
    Killian says:


    I am getting angry now. The ignorance amongst you is incredible. Ron, can you not figure out without being led by the nose the hunting involved in your link was driven by economics of the *current paradigm* and NOT by the actions of **intact** indigenous cultures meeting their own needs?

    Why this need among you all to so strongly believe simple is ignorant? These are your own biases, Ron, et al., and are extremely ignorant of facts.

  24. 224
    Al Bundy says:

    It isn’t just increased numbers of deer but also grazing habits. With predators around grazers nibble and move, encouraging thick growth. Without predators deer don’t bother moving so much. Why waste energy when there’s a yummy plant to kill right here?

    And autocorrect should flash an alternate color for a second

  25. 225
    Al Bundy says:

    Your source said “It’s a no brainer”. Well, that’s only if you turn your brain off after the first move… Which is why chess players try to see many moves ahead.

    Reduce absolute fossil production (and consumption) and the most expensive production (and consumption) drop off, leaving a market that is cheaper both because of lower costs and also because oil that will never be pumped is worthless. (Same concept applies to that shiny new SUV.)

    The floor for seriously fatal levels of fossil fuel use is probably (guessing) $22.37USD. So get renewables below that and THEN it’s a no-brainer.

  26. 226
    Al Bundy says:

    No, it’s monkeys all the way UP. So the top monkeys, being no different, try to differentiate themselves by slinging carbon.


    And on fossil v renewable pricing:

    Renewables are competitive ONLY because fossil suppliers and consumers are still assuming a profitable return on sunk costs (rigs, refineries, power plants, vehicles, stoves, hot water heaters, furnaces…) Then there’s the economic collapse that might accompany a write-off of fossil reserves…

    But when the alternative is zero gross income coupled to albatrosses that are in serious need of ecological restoration (that comes due when the plant, mine, or whatever closes…

    Well, it’s obviously a Good Capitalist Decision to “Drill baby, drill” if your net income is less negative than the present value change in the cost of remediation incurred by closing the facility.

    Yeah, as if fossils will lay down and die. They haven’t been winning because they’re crappy players, and right now they own several of the largest relevant governments on Earth.

    Fossils will drop in price in lockstep with renewables because costs are negligible compared to sunk costs, royalties, and profit.

    And since even seriously considering writing off reserves would likely set off a meltdown that most Good Capitalists would consider far worse than the transformation of the planet into a globe that’s too hot and hydrogen sufidey for humans to survive outdoors some time after the Good Capitalist dies, well, get out the popcorn ‘cuz it’s gonna be a good show.

  27. 227
    zebra says:

    #219 KIA,

    Even my students, who were mostly at the bottom of the ratings, would know the difference between apples and oranges.

    Ron is talking about paying women in the USA not to have children, unless he’s actually crazy enough to suggest that it would be possible for us to do it for other countries. So my comparison is apt, in terms of arriving at costs and consequences for his method.

    Also, your reference is in itself a useless mixture of different variables. Iran has a relatively low TFR, while Egypt is on a par with the high rate of US Mormons. So, it is meaningless to talk about “Muslims” as a global category.

  28. 228
    Ray Ladbury says:

    Killian: “I am getting angry now.”

    Ooh! World-famous Internet tough guy Killian is getting angry, and “We wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.”

    Then again, no one likes him even at his best, so WTF.

  29. 229

    #218, Ron R–

    I agree, FN peoples had to learn the ways of the earth to survive. But I’d dispute that that equals eco-consciousness. Learning facts is not the same as actually caring or wisely planning for the future.

    Not just ‘facts’–relationships. That means intuitive, operationalized understanding of natural systems–which seems to me to be a reasonable description of anything one might call ‘eco-consciousness.’ Remember, ecology is most fundamentally about food chains–which means eating, which in turn means predation for many species. Ecology is often seen as ‘warm and fuzzy’, but that is fundamentally incorrect.

    I’d contend that they *had* to ‘care’, because if they didn’t, they’d starve. Ditto on the ‘planning for the future’, in more ways than I have time to go into just now, but can perhaps suggest with a few words: trade, mobility technology (canoe/kayak), seasonal migration, food storage techniques, agriculture. Planning was a lot more important to them than it is for most of us today. That there were sometimes failures of planning on their part, as on ours, shouldn’t be a surprise.

  30. 230

    K 223: I am getting angry now.

    BPL: We’d better all watch out!

  31. 231

    Al, #226–

    …fossil suppliers and consumers are still assuming a profitable return on sunk costs…

    Hell, lots of ’em still seem to assume a profitable return on new developments, *even in areas (like the Arctic) that are economically uncompetitive now!*

  32. 232
    zebra says:

    #216 Kevin McKinney,

    Well, again, we are pretty much in agreement, about the path to a minimal H.

    But the question I am raising, and Killian is not alone in being the subject of this, is why is it necessary to invoke “morality” and “good and evil” and “spirituality” when what happens will be driven by circumstance.

    Your #215, and the very nicely articulated #220 from Mary potter, echo what I have said in the past: After the deluge (after killing off the megafauna, and recognizing that you can’t drink water that you’ve pooped in, and so on), humans adapted…by necessity. Did they then, as you suggest, create some societal norms to reinforce the practices? Sure; that stuff works to constrain behaviors.

    However, as I point out in #217, we are not them. We are blessed/cursed with our science and technology and reason. When I used to catch fish, I did indeed feel appreciation of the interaction and how it provided me sustenance. But no, I didn’t think: “Oooh, the spirit of the fish is in me now and I am one with the Eternal Gaia.” Being a good steward of nature— taking care to get the not-keepers off the hook and back into the water– is like brushing your teeth, not a sign of nobility.

    So I’m back to the question of #217, not because we are likely to achieve that population any time soon, but because, as with boundary or initial-value problems in physics, it offers some insight into the mechanisms that will operate when our current paradigm changes.

  33. 233
    Ron R. says:

    Killian, # 223. Please see my original comments re: hunting. From #135, 139:

    “Roy Sesana mentions that he’s been told that his people have been hunting too many animals, but he thinks they’re wrong. Hunting is something that his people have always done, it’s embedded in their genes, and therefore is as unquestioned and unquestionable as western cultures find the Bible to be. My guess, though, is that there’s truth in the accusation. As others have pointed out here, Africa is slated to grow the fastest of all continents. That won’t give wildlife much of a chance in the future if the practice of hunting continues unabated. Already, lots of species are dropping away into the black night of eternity. Like humanity’s deep seated drive to fill the world with us, I believe that hunting is an obsolete practice based on continuing to do what we’ve always done, which in the prehistoric past, because our numbers were much much less, had small effects, but that don’t now and especially won’t in the future.” “Oh, before I’m misunderstood, I realize that hunting is the primary means of eating for indigenous populations around the world. I’m just saying that if the practice continues, and even increases as the population grows, an already dwindling fauna could well be pushed over the edge. Thus, as the World’s Scientists Warning states, we need to “remedy defaunation”. Now how to do that is another question.”

    As the papers I offered demonstrate, human population numbers are having a large negative impact on biodiversity via hunting for food. Note that I am not differentiating between people who live in the bush vs city dwellers. Except for foreigners, all native peoples in cities are either former bush people or descendants of bush people. But as the blog posts you link to say, that natural dynamic in bushmen often changes when economics/greed comes into the picture. As the population rises, people begin to order and rank themselves and some begin to assume themselves over others and take control of resources. This is a sadly common theme in human history. Anyway, the point I was making, which is indisputable, is that the total human population, both of bush and city dwellers cumulatively, are having existential effects on wildlife. Rising populations, and their demands for meat, minus a conscious change of course by all, will not stop bushmen doing what they’ve always done. And when push comes to shove, it’s the non-humans who will pay.

    As the human population grows and increasingly encroaches on remaining wildlife habitat, hunting threatens many species.

    For sustainable subsistence hunting in rainforests, human densities cannot exceed about one person per km2 (Robinson and Bennett 2004). With 46 people per km2 in the Neotropics, 99 in Africa, and 522 in Asia, average population densities are already one to two orders of magnitude too high for a sustainable protein supply that depends to any substantial degree on bushmeat (Bennett 2002).

    From 1970 to 1998, the biomass of 41 species of mammals in nature reserves in Ghana declined by 76% (Fig. 3), and 16 to 45% of these species became locally extinct (17). Similarly, trawl surveys conducted in the Gulf of Guinea since 1977 and other regional stock assessments estimate that fish biomass in nearshore and offshore waters has declined by at least 50% (Fig. 3). At the same time, a threefold increase in human populations in the region since 1970 has resulted in per capita declines in fish supply, despite steady increases in regional fish harvests (11, 14). These sharp declines in terrestrial wildlife and marine fish suggest that stocks in this region may face imminent collapse (9, 18). The consequences of collapse of either fish or terrestrial wildlife are daunting and may be felt immediately as widespread human poverty and food insecurity in the region (14)

  34. 234
    Al Bundy says:

    A UN resolution or a treaty that stipulates that reserves will be denied based on a simple formula considering discovery date and CO2 per Joule would be a way to save all of that wasted effort on finding even more fossils that can never be burned.

    I love you, guy. But in Killian’s defense, assholes are shaped, not born. I know this because I became an asshole via a thin whiplike belt wielded by a very strong and incoherently enraged man.

    It takes decades or centuries of dedicated effort to mitigate the damage – and people don’t live so long, eh?

  35. 235
    Ron R. says:

    Al Buddy, #224. My autocorrect doesn’t flash or give any indication of a change of words. It’s frustrating if I don’t closely reread my comments before posting. I need to look up how to just turn it off.

  36. 236
    Ron R. says:

    Zebra, #232. Your #215, and the very nicely articulated #220 from Mary potter, echo what I have said in the past: After the deluge (after killing off the megafauna, and recognizing that you can’t drink water that you’ve pooped in, and so on), humans adapted…by necessity. Did they then, as you suggest, create some societal norms to reinforce the practices? Sure; that stuff works to constrain behaviors.

    The trick is to see if we can reach this level on eco-consciousness before we kill off the megafauna and pollute the world.

  37. 237
    Al Bundy says:

    I lost my noughts and teens to direct abuse, my twenties to asshole coasting, and my thirties, forties, and fifties to trying to become human (a worthy if shoulda been standard issue). So here I am, 60 years old. I’m finally (I think) ready to start life.

    Don’t hate assholes. Empathize. Trust me, being an ass is worse than death. It’s the spread of death. Republineocons said it best, “Greed is good”. (OK, warp and massage to tune…)

  38. 238
    nigelj says:

    Killian @221

    I didn’t say indigenous peoples didn’t have values systems. I said that their efforts at conservation and a sharing culture are probably result of their circumstances, size of their groups, stage of technology, and I would add physical environment. At least partly so. Any values systems (and spirituality) would be an emerging property of this, and I notice a couple of people above more or less pointing out the same sort of thing.

    The noble savage is a myth. I have already shown you a list of published research on how war like many indigenous peoples were, and their efforts at conservation were variable at best. I repeat some of that list below. That’s not to say we cannot learn something important from the best of these cultures, but I like to get to the bottom of what really happened in the past. I didn’t dismiss all indigenous culture.

    I’m tired of you rubbishing modern humans and technology, while you appear happy yourself to type away on a computer, often off topic.

  39. 239
    nigelj says:

    Al Bundy

    “No, it’s monkeys all the way UP. So the top monkeys, being no different, try to differentiate themselves by slinging carbon.”

    Ha ha so true but a few forward thinking top monkeys are slinging Tesla’s. Might buy one myself (not that I’m a top monkey)

  40. 240
    nigelj says:

    Mary Potter @220

    I like to stay with the conventional definition of indigenous peoples, but I think theres something in what you say about the way indigenous cultures might evolve over time and learn from mistakes.All I was really saying is that its easy to get carried away with the idea that indigenous culture is fantastic, the whole noble savage thing, when the reality is more mixed.

  41. 241
    Ron R. says:

    Kevin McKinney, #129. I’d contend that they *had* to ‘care’, because if they didn’t, they’d starve.

    In general I agree. Still, indigenous civilizations have been known to collapse from over-exploitation. Example:

    Again, I want to emphasize that I too believe that, as a rule, native peoples are better than moderns in understanding and caring about their local environments.

  42. 242
    Ron R. says:

    Nigel, #238. Another for you.

    But to reiterate my comments from #167: Note that I’m not trying to apply moral blame to indigenous cultures here. They are only doing what they’ve always done (though I do assign it to sport and trophy hunters). I’ll also toss in those who subsistence hunt where it’s unnecessary.

  43. 243
    nigelj says:

    Ron R @242

    “Note that I’m not trying to apply moral blame to indigenous cultures here. They are only doing what they’ve always done (though I do assign it to sport and trophy hunters).”

    Agreed. I do not blame indigenous people for anything. Blame is not terribly helpful in any area of life.Its more a case of admitting somethings wrong and what is a fair resolution.


    Regarding hunting by indigenous peoples this might interest you!

    On another issue, to clarify something I mentioned earlier, I think the communal ownership and sharing nature of indigenous tribes is more related to the small size and limited resources so this was a natural outcome, not a moral choice and it will be much tougher to achieve in modern society if we were to want it. Private ownership seems embedded to me, and experiments to the contrary have not been convincing. But we do have a problem with inequality that could be fixed at least in theory, and within the current economic paradigm.

  44. 244
    Al Bundy says:

    Yeah, AFAIK nobody’s autocorrect flashes to show that it has taken command of your keyboard. My comment was an invention, given freely to the world.

    It’s weird living in a world where essentially everything is designed to be as difficult to use and as least effective and efficient as can be rationalized. All this crap about 1.5C being impossible… Geez, just leave the deliberate stupidity (aka capitalism, which wastes far more via advertising and fighting than it produces – seriously, what percentage of your bandwidth (that you pay for) goes to ads – 50%? – which means you pay more for internet for the “perk” of being force fed ads – and suddenly 1.5C will seem like a reasonable goal.

    Think about it. In the 1950s 40 hours a week was plenty to support a family of four in comfort. Since then productivity has risen by more than a factor of four. So tell me, where are the families of four living comfortably on 10 hours per week?

    Capitalism has taken essentially all increases in productivity (given to humanity by inventors, NOT capitalists) and either consumed it (the churn in selecting insurance, wars, retirement, etc, you know, stuff that was simply automatic in the 50s -everybody got retirement, not just those who gambled on the “right” lucky offering) or shoved the increase up to the top monkeys.

    If you want to save the planet, castrate capitalism.

  45. 245
    Mary potter says:

    Nigel @240
    Totally. Hard to argue that cannibalising ones enemy for revenge is noble…much as that may conserve natural resources one way and another!

  46. 246
    Al Bundy says:

    Modernity is about specialization. Thus, you’d expect most modern humans to know less about “X” than a primitive, but also that a few modern humans will know vastly more.

    The same goes for caring for the environment. The specialists can wax poetic and build systems. The modern guy just wants to be to be given a painless and easy way to do the right thing. But capitalism avoids efficiency like the plague because efficiency is about maximizing benefits to consumers and society and capitalism is about extracting value from the system and giving it to those who do not work. (Of course, capitalists crow about Laborists who build a business, which has nothing to do with capitalism, capitalism is what the dude does after he sells the business and retires.)

    Note that almost all advancements and job creation is done via taxation (universities, NASA, et al) or loans. Almost no jobs are created through the stock market. Thus, investing in the stock market, and increases in the value of the stock market are counterproductive to increases in the economy. If the same funds were deposited in banks and loaned out to small busineses instead of wasted on the stock market the economy would soar. It’s amazing how many axioms are 180 degrees off, eh?

  47. 247
    Killian says:


    you keep raising this “nobel savage” horseshit. It’s a Straw Man. Who has ever made a noble savage claim on these fora?

    Please stop lying. It is a chickenshit attempt to discredit simplicity, and is disgusting both in its dishonesty and its denigration of indigenous cultures.

  48. 248
    Al Bundy says:

    It might not be before you acquire that Tesla, but if my dream materializes I’m going to park a totally safe 200mpge supercar in your driveway.

    My engine is currently snagged on paperwork. My attorney is sub-brilliant.

    My engine combines opposites. It’s a two stroke and a four stroke. It’s big and it’s small. It burns ultrarich and ultralean.

    And it simultaneously does a combined cycle in lieu of external cooling (yeah, my engine is insulated)

    It sounds impossible, which is a special thrill to me, to state absolute facts in a fashion that sounds ludicrously impossible, but if zebra, hank, Ron, kevin, nigel, ray, Barton, or any of the mods want a sneak preview, let me know.

    Interesting whose names were autocapitaized…

  49. 249
    Al Bundy says:

    Of course cannibalism is incredibly noble, so noble that Christians are devoutly dedicated to ritualistic cannibalism.

    Seriously, would eating the flesh of a feared and respected enemy be more or less a spiritual boon than eating an idiot? Studies have shown that cannibalism is way more about respect and assimilation than jeering and gloating.

  50. 250
    Al Bundy says:

    Dang it. MAR, you, too of course. And I’m sure I’m forgetting someone. So if I treat you with respect and you want a sneak peek at the future of internal combustion, give me a shout.