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Are we too late? Honest question. Can we identify concrete strategies to reverse climate change?  RSS feed

 
Merced Greens
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Are we too late? Honest question. Can we identify concrete strategies to reverse climate change?
 
Bill McGee
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My own take on this...get my own house in order:
-Apply permaculture tools where I can
- compost and build soil
- walk and use my bicycle as much as I can.
- burn local wood for heat
- get in touch with like minded neighbors. A discussion at work has 5 people who want help with hot composting. I plan to help them build pallet composters.

I'm interested in grid solar power. Grey water. Roof rainwater collection. Doing things I enjoy and that are within my reach. I need feedback from my projects and hope to keep learning. Maybe I have 30 more years of good living, maybe I'm gone tomorrow. We all can do the best we can. Hopefully we leave something for the young to carry on...
 
Landon Sunrich
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This is the kind of post bound to cause an ulcer.

My take

Climate change? No - We've been in the midst of that for a good little bit now - there will be more. Can we avert catastrophe? Well, We better seriously start working on it.
 
Bill McGee
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To me the demographics are daunting, exponential human population growth (from < 4 billion to > than 7 billion in my lifetime) habitat and species loss, global weirding/warming.

Their are prophets among us, Paul Wheaton, geoff lawton, Charles Ewing, and so many others. (sorry if I don't know the names of the innovators in China, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and the rest of our world)

I guess the ultimate carbon tax is a human population correction. No one wants the suffering that will accompany a global SHTF situation.

In the meantime push for the positive, have hope, fight for what we believe in.
 
Zach Muller
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Your question is honest, but it has a lot of assumptions built in. It's never too late for something to change until it's destroyed, so it seems like your asking are we too late to save ourselves?

This brings to mind the image that humanity could be locked on a path of self decided destruction. Since we did not invent ourselves and the earth, why do we assume that we are the soul commanders of the earth and even have the ability or cause or reverse our demise?

It would be ironic if humanity scaled back it's numbers, and went about balancing all the natural systems we've messed up all the while thinking about what great stewards we are and global warming still came about and made the planet uninhabitable for humans. Maybe us being late is inevitable.
 
Matu Collins
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I was thinking along the same lines last night when you posted this, I posted this in the Cider Press (this might be too political a topic for Meaningless Drivel, we shall see)

Is it too late to reverse climate change? Yes, I think there is widespread scientific agreement agreement that 350 parts per million is the threshold and we've passed it. Even if we stopped burning fossil fuels right now we'd have to do a lot of carbon sequestration fast to do any reversing. AND, there isn't even political consensus that we should reduce fossil fuel consumption, never mind stop. So yes, it's too late. My village, Matunuck, RI, is washing away visibly into the ocean with every storm


Are we too late to form a viable sustainable human community on earth that will be resilient despite the changes that climate change brings? No, but we'd better get cracking. The forums on permies have many small scale options for mitigating our impact but it is going to take macro solutions too. I believe it is going to take a big mental shift in the population and a massive political change. One main shift that could help is the change that my husband wrote about in this article. in the public and the media's understanding of the meaning of "economy"

Am I optimistic that a huge shift is going to happen any minute? No. Am I working like heck to make it happen? Heck yeah. I think that the thing that will cause a shift in public opinion will be economic. Hit people in their wallet and they will listen. I don't know what that will look like. I hope it isn't something terrible that kills many people that wakes us up but I suspect it might be.

The idea of massive earthworks to solve water problems is both awesome and terrifying. I would not want the backward awkward government we have here in the US to be in charge of such an operation! Vast plantings of trees sounds great though.

One of my favorite concrete solutions is what they call "Complete Streets" where communities are designed to be safe and pleasant for pedestrians, bicyclists, public transit riders as well as cars. I could do without the cars in theory, but including them is a sight more politically viable. Make it easy for people to use alternate transport and they will. The more people walk and bike, the healthier they are and the less healthcare resources they use and the happier they are- it's a snowball effect.

The article by John Michael Greer in this thread has some concrete solutions.

 
Jennifer Wadsworth
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Loving the answers you're getting so far.

For me, to identify an issue as "too late" is to negate my own individual power to address the issue with whatever means I can manage. By the time I think it's too late, I'll most likely be dead. But hey, that's just me and I don't go down without a fight. Most permies don't in my experience!

If even a small portion of humanity would focus on what they CAN do instead of feeling helpless in the face of something - well, we would be much farther down the path to solving some of our pressing issues than we are right now. AND if it weren't for all of us who are doing what we can right now - we would not be making the progress we are.

I think forums like permies.com and http://forums.permaculturenews.org/ give us a way to connect, concentrate and focus on the best ways we can effect and spread change where we are right now.

Keep on keepin' on, my friends!
 
Nick Herzing
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I'm no expert, but I'll give you what I think.

First of all, it depends on what your trying to avoid. Just because the world changes doesn't necessarily mean humanity will end. Humans will adapt just as we always have. However, if you mean are we to late to prevent any change than yes, because change has already happened. However, change isn't necessarily good or bad. The earth is really in constant change, and as I said we have/will adapt (I'm not talking natural evolutionary adaption, I mean we will adapt the way we live to fit the world). The serious problem comes in if a change happens faster than we can adapt. I will get to that in a second. Basically change happened no matter what and we have the ability to adapt to some (but not all) change.

Now the more pressing matter is the degree of the change and how responsible we are for it. That is harder because I don't believe it is possible to know for sure. However, I will make the argument that the majority of climate change is not caused by humans but by the natural cycle climate change that has been going on for hundreds of thosands of years. Take a look at this graph: http://www.aip.org/history/climate/images/Vostok-Petit1999-A.jpg
*See note at bottom about measurements of historical climate change

Notice that we are approaching a peak assuming that the cycle continues. Now there are a couple things to note here. First of all, just because there is a cycle that correlates with current events DOES NOT mean we haven't caused anything. We have obviously put more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and thus affected nature. However the degree of this is (to me) very unclear. Generally speaking you have two view points that are represented to the masses by popular media such as television shows and the news (both of which usually reflect the dumbest ideas and not the best or most innovative). First you have the train of thought that climate change is a myth and were all worried about nothing. On the other end of the spectrum we have the perspective that we a literally killing the earth all together and it's all our fault. In the limited research I have done, I have found no argument/evidence to convince me of either of these. I think it probably lands somewhere in the middle. Basically I assert that we are messing things up, but thing were also already changing. Regardless of what is happening, I still hold that humanity will not be destroyed by climate change.

One final note in response to your question, is you have said "reverse" climate change. There is a difference between "minimize further human affects on the climate" and "reverse climate change." Reversing climate change would involve some serious stuff like removing gases from the atmosphere. I suppose it might be possible but I honestly think that would be a bad idea. If we start reversing climate change we doing the same thing were doing now except in reverse. Were messing with nature. The design of the universe is pretty great (so great in fact that some have asserted is as an argument for the existence of God). Nature was doing a pretty great job doing it's thing up until one or two hundred years ago when humans started getting a little to cocky. My point is that by attempting to undo what we have already done, we could very easily do something wrong and make things worse than we started with. I think that smartest move at this point is to cut our loses, switch to a more "green" attitude as is practical, and pray for a better future.

While I am on this rant (this is way longer than I intended) I would like to touch on one other point. There are other problems than climate change. Now don't get me wrong, climate change is a big deal, but I think there are a lot of issues. We can't put so much emphasis on climate change that once we get it figured out we think that there is nothing left to fix. For example, I don't need to tell a permaculture fourm how bad some of our modern agriculture methods are. I mean I was reading not so long ago about the amount of arable land (land that can be used for agriculture) is left on earth. I also read how this was slowly dwindling because once land have been used for a long time it starts to lose it's potency. This kind of worried me because I realized that even if it doens't happen in my lifetime, someday people would literally run out of land to grow stuff on. Then I found out about permaculture, and I was like "hey, not only do we not have to run out of farm land, with there methods we can utilize land that isn't useful for conventional agriculture AND create more useable land. That is pretty neat." But then it occurred to me that just becuase we have the potential to do permaculture stuff doesn't means that most people will do it. And that applies to a lot of stuff these days. Agriculture, education, religion/ethics/morality, transportation, building stuff... and the list goes on. It seems like no matter where you look the common way of thinking is the wrong way of thinking. So am I worried about climate change? Sure. Am I worried about other stuff too? YES.

However, it doesn't have to be bad. There is still hope. They are hard to find, but there are nuggets of treasure if you search hard enough.

Let me end by saying, again, I am far from an expert. I make no claim of infallibility, and have simply presented information I have gathered with the conclusions I have formed from said information. I hope it can be helpful.

*NOTE: All of the information that we have about earths climate change history (I am taking hundreds of thousands of years here) we get from ice. I don't know all the details, but basically by measuring certain things in the ice and matching the depth with a time period they can estimate CO2, temps, etc. My point here is that we don't even know if this stuff is accurate for sure. For example I heard about a new discovery that there was ice that was forming on the BOTTOM of already existing ice. That is very unusual, but I suppose if the ice was cold enough it is possible. Anyway, if this is happening where ice samples come from then it could be a huge problem that would corrupt everything we know about climate change. However, this seems unlikely. My point is just that we don't know anything for sure.

 
bob day
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Geoff released the Gabions video today, he greened the desert in jordan too, one guy with a penknife got noticed from space because he was making the desert greener, recent figures have surfaced suggesting that desertification is the real big elephant in the room as far as carbon going into the atmosphere and there are lots of people taking bites out of it.

Just the technique of keyline plowing has the potential to sequester large amounts of carbon in relatively short time periods, and we could do that here in Buckingham VA, i don't have to fly to the sahara

my rocket stove has the potential to reduce lots of tree cutting here in the county

i can work a backhoe well enough to change the water retention on my own 30 acres, and with a demonstration site going full blast this whole county could be in a whole different mode within 10 years

Like anything, this didn't get this way overnight, it's not going to go away overnight, but it does seem like we have the tools, and if we all spread the word and lead by example how can we not succeed

Like Bill, i do believe we have lost the ice, can't wait to see the stargate on antartica, but the reality is we work because we are inspired to work, because we feel we can have a positive effect, and the work is a joyous righteous endeavor, not because we (or even our species) will live forever.

So if your question is looking for encouragement, be encouraged,, if your question is looking for an excuse to party till the cheap energy's all gone and the SHTF, you probably need to look somewhere else
 
Landon Sunrich
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I think that if we can't face up to the idea that Humans - releasing millions of years worth of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, pulverizing millions upon millions of hectares of land, paving over millions more, diverting and using most of the major world waterways, hunting and fishing all manor of keystone species into extinction - or ecological extinction (such as buffalo - who are not extinct, but who no longer fill their ecological nitch) dumping thousands upon thousands upon thousands of sewage into the oceans daily, destroying millions of more hectares of forest, radically altering the entire worlds ecology, dredging millions of hectares of oceans, et cetera et cetera et cetera is having a VERY REAL EXTREMELY CONSEQUENTIAL effect on our planet - then all hope really is lost.

Sure there may be natural forces at work too. In fact OF COURSE there are natural cycles at work - but CLEARLY man is the fundamental driver force in this. The vast majority of all I've listed above has basically happened in the last 75 years. One lifetime. It us folks. We better deal with it. and Leadership is defiantly needed.

Going back to the ulcerous nature of the question though - I think what is being asked is even if we did say - cease commuting to petty service jobs and turn off the lights of the worlds paper pushing office buildings - are the feedback to much to deal with. For instance after Sept 11th we got an amazing totally impromptu opportunity to conduct a study of what happens when all the planes are grounded. The temperature shot up over a degree C.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Contrail#September_11.2C_2001_climate_impact_study

See the Carbon is warming us up - but the particulate pollution is keeping us cool. I think the question might be asking - Are we damned if we do and damned if we don't? Major question, Major Ulcer.


 
Rufus Laggren
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So, Merced Green, the OP

Have any of the above ideas helped clarify things? Do you live in a space that worries you?


Rufus
 
Merced Greens
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I was thinking more along the lines of massive earthworks and restoration in the USA based on topography. A plan of the same stature to that of that one guy who rants and raves about windmills but is some tycoon. It could be the next WPA. I know that at the personal level I am also working to spread the word about permaculture and working to become a more knowledgeable permaculture practitioner. I would like to personally thank Mr. Wheaton for the information and knowledgeable guests he provides in his podcasts. I read somewhere last year about one of the most revolutionary things you can do is grow your own food. I thank all who have thusfar contributed and hope this thread will remain alive and at some point a plan could be developed.

MercedGreens
"Worker Self Directed Enterprises, Permaculture, Natural Building, Aikido, The Promethean Paradigm, and New Mutualism"
 
Landon Sunrich
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What would a massive earthworks project entail to you? Millions of people putting in hugelbeds? Diverting the columbia to feed Californias central valley?

I personally think that a massive aquaponics push in the land of swimming pools would be awesome. Jungles around pools all over the place. If enough people did it would almost certainly change weather patterns. Are we legit enough to have that sort of thing handled?
 
John Elliott
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Massive earthworks may be necessary to deal with the drying out of already dry areas, but I would put them in the category of adaptation, not strategies to reverse climate change.

The real way to reverse climate change is with biochar. The discovery of charcoal as an excellent soil amendment has come rather late in the history of science and technology. Had it come in the 1790s instead of the 1990s, and plowing charcoal under was established agricultural practice, we would not be in the predicament we are in. We could still pull gigatons of carbon out of the deep Earth to burn if we were applying the same number of gigatons to our cropland. And were we doing that, there would be less need for fertilizer and pesticides, two significant uses of fossil fuel inputs.

Is it too late to start burying biochar? Maybe, maybe not. On a personal note, I am going to have to stay home a lot more and cook more batches of biochar before I am a net carbon sequesterer and not a net carbon releaser.
 
Michael Cox
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There are many potential technological strategies to reverse the impact of climate change - trouble is they are expensive, controversial and have impacts on standard of living for massive numbers of people.

  • mirrors in space
  • give the earth a sun hat to deflect a small proportion of the light reaching us.
  • biochar
  • but to do it on the scale needed basically requires uniform adoption by all farmers, and currently the scientific evidence is neutral/weak positive for the other benefits beyond carbon sequestration - net result is we need to pay farmers to do it, so food is more expensive
  • seeding algal blooms in the ocean
  • - there is some evidence that suggests that adding key micronutrients to see water can trigger enormous algal blooms, a portion of which dies and sinks to the sea floor sequestering carbon. People are adverse to "tinkering with natural" (but don't see the hippocracy of our current agriculture based on fossil fuel fertilisers)

    There are more...

    As far as getting away from fossil fuels in the first place, a good spot to start reading is "sustainability - without the hot air". A rigorous look at how alternative energy systems could be implemented to replace fossil fuel dependence.
     
    Merced Greens
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    John Elliott wrote:Massive earthworks may be necessary to deal with the drying out of already dry areas, but I would put them in the category of adaptation, not strategies to reverse climate change.

    The real way to reverse climate change is with biochar. The discovery of charcoal as an excellent soil amendment has come rather late in the history of science and technology. Had it come in the 1790s instead of the 1990s, and plowing charcoal under was established agricultural practice, we would not be in the predicament we are in. We could still pull gigatons of carbon out of the deep Earth to burn if we were applying the same number of gigatons to our cropland. And were we doing that, there would be less need for fertilizer and pesticides, two significant uses of fossil fuel inputs.

    Is it too late to start burying biochar? Maybe, maybe not. On a personal note, I am going to have to stay home a lot more and cook more batches of biochar before I am a net carbon sequesterer and not a net carbon releaser.


    I too have looked into biochar. There is a video in particular which I felt clarified my understanding of biochar here it is www.youtube.com/watch?v=kX7vMAC2cSQ
     
    Dean Thompson
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    There are many valid and good points that people have made but if geoengineering continues they will all be pointless.
     
    Merced Greens
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    Dean Thompson wrote:There are many valid and good points that people have made but if geoengineering continues they will all be pointless.


    Please ellaborate.
     
    Dean Thompson
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    After decades of "Geoengineering" or spraying aluminum, barium, etc in to the atmosphere under the guise of protecting us from the sun's radiation also known as chemtrails the poisoning of the planet and side affects are going to be so devastating that our efforts in reducing our carbon footprints and the like will be meaningless.
    Many people still think that this is not happening even now when governments are openly admitting they are doing it. This needs to stop so the planet can recover.
     
    Heidi Hoff
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    So. I'm reaching for a little hope these days, as I vacillate between inner terror and suppressed tears. Maybe you all can help.

    I came upon Guy McPherson recently. For those who -- like me until about a week ago -- are blissfully ignorant of his existence, he's a climate scientist who used to be at the Univ. of Arizona and now lives on a homestead somewhere in Arizona. I have watched a couple of his talks. Major error for the psyche. I will not recommend that anyone watch or read his material, because -- in spite of what he claims his intention is -- I find myself somewhat paralyzed by the fatalistic position he takes.

    Do not read on if you don't want to feel as awful as I do right now. Seriously.



    Basically, McPherson has been watching the climate change literature and identifying phenomena that are creating a snowball effect toward "climate chaos". He is convinced that these "self-reinforcing feedback" mechanisms will pick up speed real soon (like 2014-2015) and cause such sweeping effects on global climate so quickly that ecological adaptation will not be able to keep up. In a word, he believes we are doomed. Yeah. As in extinction of humans. Within 50 years or less.

    So.

    I'm not too worked up about my personal survival. Really. But I can't abide the idea that the human story, all of it, stops here.

    In the last few days, I've been trying to take solace in what Geoff Lawton says and does, and all the efforts of everyone on Permies. I try to encourage myself to continue my own projects, in hopes of spreading the word locally. I'm looking into what we can do with my mother's 100 acres in Wisconsin, already mostly forest and meadows that have not been plowed in almost 30 years. But, but... I have the nagging feeling that it is all for naught.

    Yesterday I started telling myself that McPherson is rather psychopathic, or at least sociopathic, to be telling everyone who will listen that we, and all our children and grandchildren, are doomed. That the planet is doomed. That there is no hope. That hope is "hopium" for the masses. It seems so terribly cruel to deny us hope. What possible good could come of such a message? It seems almost like the preaching of "the end is near", without even the hope of divine salvation for believers. McPherson claims that it would be malpractice not to tell people what he "knows", the equivalent of a doctor not telling a terminal patient that he or she is going to die. Except his message is so much worse. He is telling me that not only am I going to die within 30 or 50 years, but every living soul on the planet and most of its lifeforms are also going to die.

    So.

    Is there anyone out there who can thoroughly debunk McPherson? Who can restore some hope and make it possible for me to gather strength and purpose again? Because right now, I'm sort of holding on by a thread.

    Thanks.

     
    John Elliott
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    Heidi Hoff wrote:
    Is there anyone out there who can thoroughly debunk McPherson? Who can restore some hope and make it possible for me to gather strength and purpose again? Because right now, I'm sort of holding on by a thread.



    You can't "thoroughly debunk" him, because he has his facts 100% correct. His interpretation of those facts and how he arrives at his conclusions and how those influence his predictions, those are subject to discussion. His predictions are the most pessimistic out there and it is difficult to see how things could go so bad so fast. But then again he is a biologist (not a climate scientist, by the way), and his area of expertise is population dynamics -- how animal populations crash when the environment turns against them. He's probably using some of those dynamics to postulate how the human population could undergo such a crash.

    I'll give a simple example of how he might be overstating things. There are many who point out that CO2 dissolving in the ocean is lowering the pH to the point that shell forming animals are having difficulty making shells. They extrapolate that this could mean the end of all things like clams, oysters and scallops. Well, brachiopods (bivalves with one shell larger than the other) have been around since the Cambrian era. Their fossils go back as far as fossils can be found. They have managed to survive each mass extinction in some form or another. Even those ones where CO2 was much higher than is currently being talked about. So they do have ways of adapting, but we have not been able to observe it, so we don't understand it -- yet.

    His emphasis on population crashes should be tempered by a geologist's definition of "sudden" -- something that happens over decades instead of millenia. When geologists say that the Greenland ice sheet could "suddenly" melt and raise sea level by 20 feet, they mean over the course of a couple centuries.

    But the bottom line is that the world in 2214 is going to be a lot different than the world in 2014. How different really depends on how the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere develops. If humanity is able to get control of that chemical process, before other factors snatch control out of our hands, then a manageable future exists. I think he has given up on that possibility. To have hope, your strength and purpose has to be tied to getting off the fossil fuel bandwagon and making the switch to renewable energy.
     
    Dean Thompson
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    Well Heidi, I would say there is always hope. Many times throughout history there has been "hopeless" situations. Everyone has an opinion but no one can really predict what is going to happen. So this doom and gloom scenario is only Guy's opinion. I personally feel that geoengineering is very bad for the planet and
    humans as a species but also think that if this was stopped it would allow the planet to recover. I cannot help thinking that this Guy is probably trying to work people up to a state where they think that geoengineering is the only way we are going to survive. Carry on with the good work you are doing and think positive.
     
    Heidi Hoff
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    I stand corrected regarding his credentials. I admit that I found his message so toxic, I did not pursue my research too far.

    Your point about brachiopods is in line with some of my desperate thinking. I am a biologist and veterinarian by training, so I have a certain understanding of the complexity of biological systems. And I have been trying to tell myself that it is not possible to predict the long-term outcome of trends in a system as complex as the entire planet. As he reels off one "self-reinforcing feedbacks" after another, however, the fear takes form that the system is tilting so far that its natural capacity to self-regulate is being overwhelmed.

    It is clear that we need to get off fossil fuels, and yet as I have been working this morning, I have heard that approval has come through to reverse the flow of a pipeline across Ontario to Quebec in order to get oil-sands oil to refineries in Montreal and Lévis. We are in election mode in Quebec this week, and the party that is shortly going to gain a majority is promoting the exploitation of petroleum reserves under Anticosti Island, a heretofore fairly pristine landscape.

    So no matter how hard I try to change my lifestyle and help heal the planet (and I am, truly, making a lot of changes), greater forces are at work and show no sign of weakening. I am feeling as if my most optimistic visions for what all the permies people can do in the coming decade or so will all be too little, too late. And that political and economic forces will thwart our efforts every step of the way.
     
    Heidi Hoff
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    Dean, thanks for the perspective. I do feel that pessimism is toxic and debilitating, and feeling debilitated is the last thing we need right now.

    So another way I am trying to think positive is by telling myself that change is difficult, even for individuals. Most people don't make the changes they need to make until they hit some sort of crisis, whether in their health, their personal life or their working life. If they are lucky, they will make the changes in time to be able to move on, older and wiser. I'd like to think that society as a whole is similarly slow to change, but that it can indeed change when up against a bad enough crisis. For some of us, that crisis is here and has been ongoing for decades. Anyone here at permies has figured out that change is needed and we're all changing as much as we can, as fast as we can, to try to make a difference. But we're a tiny minority. I'm just hoping that the crisis that induces general change comes soon enough to avert the crisis that leads to total disaster.

    There: I wrote "I'm just hoping". That's a good sign in itself, I suppose.

     
    Landon Sunrich
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    I'd like to agree with everyone here who has stated that debilitating pessimism is NOT what we need right now - but I find I must add neither can we continue to blithly ignore the facts or hope they go away. Do I get depressed about this sort of thing? Of course. But mostly I get ANGRY. I think we as a society would do ourselves a favor to start getting right pissed about what is being done to the future of our planet. I've heard enough arguments by the 'wait and see' and 'lets not go changing anything, its going to adversely effect the economy!' crowd. The number of 100 year weather events has been astronomical. The droughts, the floods, these have real human costs. At this point the cost are mounting to be more than the currant economic system can deal with anyway.

    I think its past time we as a society look at ourselves and make serious changes. I'm sorry but the weekend warrior crap isn't going to cut it anymore. The total lack of leadership on this issue and the stonewalling of any sensible progress in business is bordering on insane. Its all drill baby drill followed by spill baby spill - with NO ACCOUNTABILITY

    Right, sorry I'm ranting - I'll try and come back to this thread later this evening but at the moment I'm off to court to tell the banks where they can stick it.

    And I'm taking THE BUS
     
    Landon Sunrich
    pollinator
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    Oh, and on the subject of the post and in keeping with my above rant -

    I think a GENERAL STRIKE and boycott of a slew of stupidly easily identifiable business and companies would be a strategy with a chance of working. But it'd have to go viral.
     
    Johnny Niamert
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    Heidi Hoff wrote:I vacillate between inner terror and suppressed tears.
    ... I find myself somewhat paralyzed by the fatalistic position he takes.
    ... you don't want to feel as awful as I do right now. Seriously.


    I would recommend not listening to this guy anymore. Seriously.

    Listen to Yoda. "Fear is the path to the dark side. "



    Heidi Hoff wrote:And I have been trying to tell myself that it is not possible to predict the outcome of trends in a system as complex as the entire planet.


    That's better! Some people like to pretend they know everything.
    And they usually sell it with fear.
     
    Heidi Hoff
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    Thanks Johnny and Landon. Getting angry about things can work if it then leads me to action, Landon, but staying angry eats me up inside. And I will never listen or read another word from McPherson, Johnny, don't worry. Incredibly toxic person, and making money off his brand of doom to boot.

    I reached out to a friend and permaculture mentor this morning, seeking wisdom. He pointed me to John Michael Greer. I will point you all there, for historical perspective and clear-sighted analysis of the possible futures.

    Greer says of McPherson that "he should know better," pointing out that McPherson collects all the positive feedback loops (self-reinforcing feedback) and ignores all the negative feedback that also is in play in ecosystems and climate systems. Greer still thinks we will be up against it in the relatively near term, but he somehow manages to make it all seem doable as our civilization slowly collapses in on itself.

    Anyway, I knew that the permies community would help me regain my equilibrium and I'm putting together my tree order this weekend.

    Thanks, sincerely.

     
    Matu Collins
    Posts: 1976
    Location: Southern New England, seaside, avg yearly rainfall 41.91 in, zone 6b
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    As a child, probably around the age of 9 I began to be alarmed by two things. One, the idea that dead people kept getting buried in cemeteries. Cemeteries near my home were getting filled up. I worried that eventually all the land would be filled with dead people, that there would be no place for the living. The other alarming thing was the realization that when we threw trash "away" that it was really just carried to a pile and left there. Every week, barrels of trash up and down my street and every other street as far as I could tell, all going into the pile. My conclusion was that the piles of trash would eventually cover the land and there would be no room for anything but trash.

    It turns out that the cemetery problem is not too worrisome. Cremation is a popular option I had not considered and in fact I quite like cemeteries. They are generally nice parks and keep a place green and free from the scourge of ugly suburban overdevelopment.

    The trash thing is a bit more alarming. The landfill in my state, Rhode Island, is the state's highest point. Mount Garbage. Sigh. It will be filled to capacity relatively soon and what then? The plastic throwaway habits of our culture are firmly entrenched. I supposed we will ship our garbage elsewhere. Still, waste disposal is not the biggest concern I have these days.

    A few years later I learned of the plan for disposal of radioactive waste from power plants- "Bury it somewhere far away" seems as dumb a plan to me today as it did when I was a teen. As the Fukushima dosaster continues to spew trouble into the seas, the "I told you so" feeling gives me no solace.

    So- I have always had a doomed feeling. Our culture has never seemed sustainable to me, for good reason. I did not grow up with a feeling like I would certainly live to be thirty, but here I am thirty-six and my outlook has more hope! I look at it this way: How remarkable a time we live in. I see the wastefulness in a system where I can eat avocados and coconut milk in New England in March and I am grateful. Using fresh potable water to flush poop "away" is unthinkably ridiculous, and yet I do appreciate the low level of cholera in my neighborhood (I can do composting toilet well but there is no guarantee about my neighbors...)

    Climate change, or "global weirding" and social upheaval are real and present enough for me to plan for. I foresee a day when food and leisure are not so easy to come by, and I appreciate our beautiful horrible culture while it lasts. It feels like the end of an empire, and who knows how long it will last? The work I do here on my little farm, the connections I make in my community, and the activism I bring in my state are all about surviving and thriving come what may.

    Yes, we're too late, but maybe we can make something work. Do not despair, friends!

    On the topic of earthworks... I have been imagining massive projects and it's fun! Imagine the inland sea?! Imagine building islands and aquaculture and water based shipping in the center of what is now the US? The army of trackhoes it would take would use an awful lot of fossil fuel of course, but we're just brainstorming anyway.
     
    Landon Sunrich
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    Matu Collins wrote:
    The trash thing is a bit more alarming. The landfill in my state, Rhode Island, is the state's highest point. Mount Garbage.



    Wow. The way I understand it Seattle trucks most of its trash to Oregon where it is burned in a gassifier for electricity.

    I love mental gaming the future. I wonder what its going to look like when we have a vast navigable polar sea which many major Russian rivers empty into. Russia is big and the continental warming there has been pretty significant. I hope everyone stays on relatively good terms - I'd love to sail the polar sea some day.
     
    nancy sutton
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    Heidi, do yourself a great big favor and check out some more information... you can start with these sites ....

    http://planet3.org/2014/03/13/mcphersons-evidence-that-doom-doom-doom/

    http://www.ecoshock.info/2013/06/will-humans-go-extinct-soon.html

    I have encountered 'near term extinction' (NTE) believers recently and decided to 'expand the picture' and found the above info... and there are more ..... here's toby hemenway's comment on another blog:

    " In the immortal words of Larry Santoyo:

    "Then, let's just die."

    I don't think saving the planet or the human species or civilization are goals worth contemplating--no more achievable or worth wasting resources on than keeping the sun from burning out in a few billion years. But what is quite achievable is saving myself and any friends who want to play with me--and creating models for others to do that--and that's what I'm focused on. And I am having a wonderful time doing it, rather than wrecking my spine and getting a terrible taste in my mouth by trying to master auto-ass-kissing.

    I think "it's too late to do anything" is a harmful and false message. It's illogical: if it's true, then it's pointless to waste time talking about it, and if it's not true, then you're spreading fear and despair unnecessarily. Since you can never, ever know if it's true, given all the other choices of message we could have, it's unethical to spread it. The inaction, despair, and fear that it breeds are the worst frameworks for decision-making. It's the dumbest kind of dead-end street to waste time on! And it sure ain't permaculture.

    Human extinction would take centuries at the least, and more likely millennia, and will be avoided by lots of tiny, local decisions rather than giant global plans. The loudest advocate of near-term human extinction is Guy McPherson, and he's had to utterly distort the scientific evidence to make his case:

    http://fractalplanet.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/how-guy-mcpherson-gets-it-wrong/

    Guy and his ilk are unfortunate cases of confirmation bias, only hearing evidence that supports their theory.

    The most common cause of whole-species extinctions, speaking as a former geneticist with a shelf-full of books and papers on the subject, is not resource depletion, but climate change. The most common cause of extinctions of local populations (rather than widespread species) is competition for resources by more fit variant populations (think Neanderthal vs us), and the next is predation to extinction. Resource depletion runs a far third (or maybe 4th, after epidemic), and usually affects small sub-populations only (think rabbits on a small island). And climate change, for local populations (emphasis on local), can be dealt with.

    Like the joke says, I don't have to outrun the bear--I just need to outrun you (okay, not you, but the fools who refuse to do anything because they think nothing can be done; which is the point of the joke).

    If I were being truly selfish, I'd encourage others to do nothing; it would better my own chances to get their stuff when they die off. Hey, maybe that's the point of that message!

    But most extinctions are an artifact of evolution--the species drift and shift over time into a different species, rather than get wiped out. At our distance in the fossil record, it just looks like they died without offspring, but they had offspring who were subtly different, generation after generation. E.g., the dinosaurs are still with us; they just are smaller and have feathers now. Humans will probably do something like it, as we already have over the last two million years.

    Toby
    http://patternliteracy.com
    "

    Whew!! ;)
     
    Heidi Hoff
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    Thanks for the links, Nancy. To be honest, I had put the Guy-McPherson-induced crisis behind me -- with help from everyone who posted here -- and gone back to getting things done.

    Those links offer wise counsel to anyone else who comes looking for an antidote to McPherson, however.

     
    Shane McKee
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    Fantastic discussion folks, and I like a lot of what is being said. There are a couple of issues (I feel): firstly, the *planet* will be fine; the big question is whether civilisation (or even humans) will be able to stick it. Another issue that people get hot under the collar over is whether human activity is the *cause* of climate change. I have to say I'm pretty convinced that it is, but that is really neither here nor there. There are things we have to do *anyway*, and apportioning blame without pointing to a better set of decision outcomes is never that helpful (much as we love it).

    So what do we do? If we are too late to correct climate change (and it could be argued that climate stability is a bit of a mirage anyway), we can at least learn to stabilise and make use of the microclimates we have available, and indeed create more. And (I think it was Matu) the comment above about desertification is (in my non-expert view) *spot on*. Desertification is THE main enemy here.

    But it's also potentially a massive part of the solution, as Geoff Lawton has demonstrated, and indeed as John D Liu's documentary on the Loess Plateau in China seems to indicate. IF we can get off our arses and reclaim large tracts of desert (much of which, at least in the Sahara, was formerly savannah), we do two Very Big Things. One, we produce prosperity and food security for local people; Two, we capture VAST amounts of carbon into the soil, and get it actually working for us. So the consequences are: we create edge, erode desert, change microclimates, empower people, capture carbon, reclaim land area, get carbon and water back into a *cycle*, and make this place cooler in more ways than one.

    Now maybe this is a lot more difficult than I am anticipating, but it seems pretty cheap to get a potentially great outcome, and certainly a lot cheaper than simply trying to ride the storm while making it worse. That's why, although I am as hard-nosed an empirical scientist as you are likely to meet, I think the principles of permaculture really are the way to secure our civilisation on this planet, while we look for other homes to bring it to, in this solar system and beyond
     
    nancy sutton
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    Hopefully I'm being redundant here, but re: desertification, Alan Savory may have the best answer... he spoke at PV1 and his TED talk has been seen by bazillions! Some of the few objections I have seen are from vegetarians, but Alan replies that we could just not eat the cattle, just them die a natural death and return their carbon to the soil..... their 'processing' of the landscape is the key to reversing desertification. (btw, McPherson dismisses Savory's plan out of hand, due to some soil scientists' demand for the typical 'peer reviewed', etc. 'proof'..... another one of the reasons that GM seems to be a 'fundamentalist-type cherry picker'... at least as far as I've seen.)
     
    Ernest Smith
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    Hi guys - just registered and this topic is a litmus test for me for forums, thought I'd chime in with my own take on the topic . . .

    Are we too late?

    Well, West Antarctica has entered irreversible collapse, and parts of Greenland and East Antarctica will be lost . . . around 100 ft of sea level probably is unavoidable now. We're too late to save the majority of coastal cities sometime mid- to late-century.

    The Arctic has entered a "tipping" mechanism sometimes called "albedo flip." Reflective snow and ice cover is being lost. The dark surfaces that get exposed generate their own heat (solar energy absorption). Once that process starts (it has) I'm not optimistic it can be stopped. The resultant thaw and rotting of organic matter releases massive carbon gas stores, either as CO2 (bad) or methane (extra bad). So we're *probably* too late for that.

    Atmospheric CO2 now, plus unavoidable releases alluded to above will acidify the ocean into a marine mass extinction . . . as though it's not already headed there from various reasons. So, too late again.

    Atmospheric CO2 probably will warm the planet more than 7 C in time (100-200 years). That is a significant number because about that global warming you start to get large regions that are lethally hot for most mammals that don't burrow. (Look up a PNAS paper from 2010, "An adaptability limit to climate change due to heat stress" for more on that.)

    Now, the ice that is in collapse will go, regardless, but CO2 concentration controls the rest. The short version is, it's too high. We're headed for the Eocene with all releases that now are probably going to go (natural ones).

    BUT . . . IF we can draw down CO2 in a few decades, we can undo that Garden of Eden story before it gets going. There is a lag of a few decades before the oceans warm and catch up with most of the greenhouse effect. We can leverage that to get us out of (much of) the trouble we're in. Otherwise we're done. Maybe not "extinct" done, but it will totally overwhelm us. Leave the jacked-up CO2 in the air and it's over.

    Okay, so that's my version of "Hi there." Enjoying the site so far. It seems like what I've been looking for.
     
    I agree. Here's the link: http://stoves2.com
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