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I write this for you youngsters for my future will not be very long.  I still am concerned about the coming years, but not in the way you need to be.   I was motivated to write this by another very recent diary: The retreat away from the US coastline is beginning.  Actually, by my standards, it is a bit late to be acting, but so many of us procrastinate for a variety of reasons.  We moved here to Mathews County Virginia in 1998 just before I retired from going to the University in Richmond every day.  We bought a waterfront Condo on Gwynn's Island facing Milford Haven  which separates the Island from the mainland.  I bought a canoe and fished and ate fish to my heart's content.  It was fun to be on the pier cleaning the usual large catch I got when the guys with the big power boats came in and cleaned their measly few.  Then came the storms and the handwriting on the wall that the repairs would be continuous from now on.  As a systems scientist I am a long time believer in the global warming evidence and also have been among those who thought the warnings were far too conservative.  Friends gave up their houses or elevated them some years back.  Flood insurance got outrageous if you could even get it.  This was all before the housing market went crashing down.  We sold the Condo and bought a house in the woods on higher ground.  It turns out that as the water levels go up it may not even be high enough.  The sale of the Condo made it clear that a big percentage of it's value was attributed to the scenic view.  The woods are pretty neat too and we got house for the money this time, the view being free.  I grow a garden that feeds us nicely all year round and we don't have any complaints.  Read on below for if I were younger, I would be feeling more insecure for sure.  I wonder what reasonable people will do in the future?

Just what are the future concerns we need to have?  Let me try a short list:

Water shortages.
Severe weather and climate changes.
The exhaustion of our soil.
The ecological changes that will come with global warming.
The changes in the oceans-salinity, acidity, pollution, etc.
The pile up of more and more waste.
The need for clean, sustainable energy.
The change in our ability to move around and ship things all over the globe.
The economic consequences of all this.
And more.
 What is being done to plan for what is coming?  I try to keep informed, but I really do not see that much.  Moneyed people believe they can buy their way out of any situation.  What about the 99%?

Am I being a "gloomy gus" or are we asleep?  Let me know what you think.  Electoral politics are like a computer game it seems.  The entertainment value seems to far exceed any meaningful outcome.  But then I have been saying this since the 1960s and no one much cares.  Do we really need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing?


planning for an uncertain future

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Comment Preferences

  •  "How do we realistically plan for the future?" (8+ / 0-)

    The word "realistically" is throwing me off.

    Denial is a drug.

    by Pluto on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:51:13 PM PST

  •  Facebook predicts future history (4+ / 0-)
    I Like Lex Luthor's Plan for Beachfront Property in Nevada

    Warning - some snark above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ "We're like a strip club with a million bouncers and no strippers." (HBO's Real Time, January 18, 2013)

    by annieli on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:55:00 PM PST

  •  In My Opinion the Present Response IS Moneyd Class (8+ / 0-)


    They clearly feel the best response is to keep driving the problem for their present gain, to be in the strongest position to protect their ecology through the coming breakdown of the system we've known that serves far too much of the people for their taste.

    The rest of us aren't responding better because we lack the information and authority.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 06:55:09 PM PST

    •  The resistance to sustainability comes (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, chimene, Justus, a2nite

      mostly from the energy industry. Most other industries are worried about warming, or our positioning themselves to make money by being on the front lines (like GE). CEOs are educated, and are worried for their children. I think that most of the denyers today are actually the less educated, the working class. They tend to be religious and they tend to be concerned with jobs (of course), so they have many reasons to resist the economic costs of going green. I think the moneyed classes are more educated and are more worried about what they could lose to global warming than what they would lose by us going green.  today's GOP voter is poorer and less educated than today's Democratic voter; that is telling.

    •  To what extent might this be true (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      don mikulecky, Hey338Too

      vs. being CT?

      One reason I question this is from having watched the documentary Inside Job. The people featured who were profiting from the financial bubble were focused on enjoying the present and were buying low-elevation properties in the Hamptons, hardly the strategy they would be following if they were actually seriously planning to ride out future storms and crises.  It would be interesting to write an evidence-based diary that would examine to what extent, if any, some members of the 1% were actually sequestering resources for their own survival vs. simply living hedonistically in the present.

      FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

      by IowaBiologist on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 06:48:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nothing will be done unless or until the (8+ / 0-)

    Repukes become more concerned with how the planet will effect our children than they are about how our deficit will effect them.

    Native American proverb: We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

  •  Here in the arid SW (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, too many people, chimene, Justus

    People are preparing for water shortage to varying degrees, from individual households to city wide planning. This includes training and funding for xeroscaping and installation of water harvesting systems.

    My personal long range plan is to move back to the Northwest where natural resources and gardening are more dependable, when temperatures and scarcity here become unbearable. I fix things for a living. I figure those skills will always be useful for trade or otherwise.

    People here are planning and acting. Our water bills and common sense don't give much other choice.

    “Corruption isn’t just people profiting from betraying the public interest. It’s also people being punished for upholding the public interest.”  ― MS

    by cosmic debris on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:20:06 PM PST

  •  We moved to WV from Florida in 1997. (6+ / 0-)

    Part of that was due to discussions I had with a colleague who worked on climate modeling. By the early 1990s it was obvious that sea level was eventually going to rise at least a couple of meters. The only thing that has changed since then is that the schedule has speeded up.

    There is information available to plan effectively. The problem is finding the right questions to ask and ignoring the extraneous ones. We have evolved to be very good at focusing on our immediate situation but not at all at thinking about the future. "When you are up to your ass in alligators it is hard to remember that your original plan was to drain the swamp."

    We also tend to focus on spectacular events and ignore the much more important risks of everyday activities. Jared Diamond apparently discusses this in his new book (which I have not yet read). He discusses why New Guinea natives won't sleep under a dead tree, which he considered silly until he did the math.

    •  Yes, Jared 's books are good. He and I (6+ / 0-)

      taught at the Biophysical Lab at Harvard but he was ahead of me.  Try our new book while you are at it.

      Global Insanity: How Homo sapiens Lost Touch with Reality while Transforming the World

      An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

      by don mikulecky on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:33:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  He gave a seminar when I was an undergrad (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        don mikulecky

        at Caltech in the 1970s. The first half hour was physiology, then he switched to New Guinea ornithology. I can't say that I have ever heard anything like it since.

      •  I did. (0+ / 0-)

        I just purchased the last one that was currently in stock.

        It was interesting to read Dorion Sagan's review of the book.  There, Sagan also mentions "warmongering ruling classes with disdain for the masses" who are making "survivalist cull their way out of the mess...." It would likewise be interesting to know on what evidence he bases that assertion.

        FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

        by IowaBiologist on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 08:20:46 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  To many of us the evidence is glaring. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          IowaBiologist, Hey338Too

          And it has been going on for longer than I have been alive.  There has been no other reason for war but oil greed and neocolonialism and other forms of filling the pockets of the rich.  I like to say that war is good for business....invest your children.

          The impending decay of civilization has them worried so they are arming themselves and the servants who will kill for them once again.

          I have been an activist ever since I served as a USMC officer.  I was a leader in the movement in the 1960s.  I really think asking for evidence at this point is wearing blinders!

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:55:55 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Clarifying my question (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            don mikulecky

            The question I'm asking is to what extent this is a well-organized conspiracy.  It's obvious that the rapacious rich have been filling their own pockets for a long time.  But specifically why?  To what extent does it involve:

            1) Hedonists who simply want to have lots of wealth to play with in the present, with relatively little concern about trying to survive in the future, vs.

            2) Power-seekers who want to control resources by promoting authoritarian institutions, which they think will stay intact and be readily exploitable by themselves as things get worse, vs.

            3) Actual survivalists who think that even the measures of the power seekers will be insufficient, and are thus actively purchasing land, building compounds, and laying up supplies to insure their own survival.

            and regarding 3): To what extent would people in the third group be acting independently as individuals or individual families as opposed to cooperating in some kind of larger, closely-knit coalition?

            I have recently heard several rather vague statements about a few particular wealthy families buying land in the western U.S. or in Paraguay, but by itself that doesn't really tell me that much about what might actually be going on. Other people, such as those who have been involved in farmland grabs in east Africa, clearly think they can continue to exploit the existing system, and so might be less inclined to think in the same terms as the survivalists.

            Similarly, I can see several motives for those who knowingly promote global climate change denial.  Such people could simply be concerned about preserving their own short-term profits, or they could be hoping their own wealth would insulate them from the worst effects, or the most evil of them could actually be wanting to precipitate the crisis and be actively planning to inherit the world after most of us presumably perish.

            My question therefore is, to what extent might each of these motives be coming into play?  And then what is the best way to research this question without falling into poorly-supported conspiracy theories?

            FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

            by IowaBiologist on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:24:01 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  This is clearly not the case (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              IowaBiologist, Hey338Too
              to what extent this is a well-organized conspiracy.
               This is the big fallacy in reductionist thought and why we wrote our book.  Systems theory makes it abundantly clear that conspiracies arise out of a misunderstanding of what the nature of complex systems is.

              Conspiracy theories are the natural way reductionists explain things for they can not think in terms of systems that are replete with interacting complex causes.

              Now take it a step further and that step should be obvious.  Read the diaries here and find any of them that see the government and politics as part of the system rather than in control of it.  That is a very big difference!

              An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

              by don mikulecky on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:44:20 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

  •  You have identified a deficiency in our (8+ / 0-)

    constitutional system that has been there from the start. In Federalist 10 James Madison warned us that factions were the greatest internal threat to our nation.

    He defined a faction as a group of citizens who, if given the chance, will implement policies that are “adversed to the rights of other citizens or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.” I have always taken his phrase, “aggregate interests of the community” to mean the common good. But Madison and the other Framers failed to provide us with a mechanism that would enable us, the community, to define what our aggregate interests are. In other words, we don’t have a way to define the common good, which would encompass planning for the things you have mentioned.

    Madison mentioned this problem again in Federalist 10 when he said that our republican form of government differed from democracy by the fact that our system, actually Madison’s system, gives all the power of the People to a few men who meet in person to administer the government. He said that this system of delegating power could have two outcomes. In the first instance he said that we might have representatives who are a

    ...body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations. Under such a regulation, it may well happen that the public voice, pronounced by the representatives of the people, will be more consonant to the public good than if pronounced by the people themselves, convened for the purpose.  
    In this case we would have a government that worked for the common good. But, and this is a really big but, Madison, the political pragmatist that he was, had to tell us the bad news. He said
    On the other hand, the effect may be inverted. Men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs, may, by intrigue, by corruption, or by other means, first obtain the suffrages, and then betray the interests, of the people.
    We have been suffering under the “on the other hand” scenario for most of the past two centuries. And right now we are seeing it every day. We are governed by many men of “factious tempers, of local prejudices, etc.”
    So if in your question you mean someone other than the government when you say "we" then we can start planning tonight. But "we" have to do it, because our government will never do it. The system is not built to handle it.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 07:51:17 PM PST

  •  Seem like we asked the same questions in the 70's (6+ / 0-)

    for a while there, educated Americans felt that we were doomed by pollution, overpopulation, famine and Peak Oil.

    There was a lot of pessimism, but we got results too: a new national regulatory regime for clear air and water, the Endangered Species Act, smaller cars (tho' still inferior to the imports), Interest in "solar homes", recycling, and water conservation became fashionable. The "Population Bomb" was defused for another generation by pouring megatons of fossil energy into agriculture, and a powerful anti-nuke movement took shape.

    During the same decade, less educated Americans were concerned with only one thing: getting away from all the brown Americans who had just been admitted to their public schools, their workplaces and their neighborhoods. All they wanted was a home in the suburbs, with cheaper gas and wider freeways to get there.

    Industry got its act together on how to resist and oppose environmentalism, right around the time that Saint Ronald started preaching the gospel of "Morning in America". He won over a generation of resentful white racist voters and delivered them to the corporate interests that controlled his party.

    The popularity of conservation took a hit in the 80's, and population control was squashed by the Republicans on behalf of their allies on the religious right. Industry stooges were appointed to EPA and Interior.

    But we still inflicted major defeats on Big Tobacco, got the Superfund Bill passed, stopped the damage to the ozone layer from accelerating, prohibited ocean dumping, clamped down on acid rain and got the first global whaling ban organized.

    Hell, in 1992 President Bush I actually attended the Earth Summit (despite having just waged a war to insure access to Persian Gulf oil). He wouldn't commit to anything, but he was there. The U.S. signed the first U.N. Framework on Global Warming that same year.

    Then the right-wing took over Congress. Clinton signed Kyoto, but it was never ratified. About the only other thing he accomplished was to protect 58 million acres of wilderness. Yet, environmentalism became popular enough to become part of corporate "branding" schemes. ("Greenwashing" is a MUCH better problem to deal with than stopping Industry from dumping Dioxin in the river).

    It feels like we are REALLY doomed this time... but experience shows that the next generation will be as resourceful as we were. But there's one thing I believe with complete conviction: To save the Earth, we must defeat the Republican Party and remain vigilant against corporate influence within the Democratic Party.

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Wed Jan 30, 2013 at 10:21:19 PM PST

    •  Congress is the problem (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Justus, a2nite, wordwraith, don mikulecky

      on many levels, as are legislative bodies worldwide. They have been bought and paid for by the wealthy industrialists who have no fixed abode and can afford to let their beachfront property slide into the ocean because they can fall back on Aspen in the winter and someplace nice in London in the summer. If you are lucky enough to get elected to Congress, I suspect your greatest ambition is to go and do likewise.
      If the rest of us want to survive, it means taking all this into account, raising our own kids and grandkids to have critical thinking skills, a flexible attitude, and the ability to grow tomatoes if necessary. Then it will be necessary to reach out in our communities, taking into account that a lot of the people in them could care less, and educate them to the best of our ability, without being patronising, through networks, clubs, neighbourhood associations, any non-political gathering.
      The movers and shakers want us to be politically polarised at about a 50/50 ratio. It turns the population into combatants and makes change almost impossible. Fighting that should be our first priority. I follow Green Mother on Kos because she understands this and is going about doing something about it. Seems like the Oklahoma Kossaks, like GM, Noddy, and Twigg, probably because they are in such a minority where they live, have a lot of good ideas about getting along with people who are very different from themselves.

      "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

      by northsylvania on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 05:23:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Re: the ratio of political polarization (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I read Green Mother's excellent diary this morning, and highly recommend it.  I think it will also help me keep me centered and grounded when I'm arguing with someone of the opposite persuasion.

        I have an open discussion question about your statement

        The movers and shakers want us to be politically polarised at about a 50/50 ratio. It turns the population into combatants and makes change almost impossible. Fighting that should be our first priority.
        which is:

        What would the "movers and shakers" actually prefer - for us to be politically polarized at this ratio, or instead for a large majority of us - perhaps > 80% - to uncritically support their right-wing agenda?  The first option does keep us polarized and distracted, but also allows organized opposition to their agenda, including Occupy and many other progressive movements, to arise and persist. Whereas the second option would give them a huge coalition of so-called 'useful idiots' through which they could overwhelm the public discourse and take all branches of government, and thus effectively silence nearly all opposition.

        Perhaps the "movers and shakers" know that their propaganda is only so effective, and that they cannot hope to capture the allegiance of the majority. If so, their next best strategy probably would be to keep us polarized.

        Thoughts on this?

        FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

        by IowaBiologist on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:02:13 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  The Tea Party (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          is their achilles heel. While TPers have a lot of aspects that appall us, such as racism and anti-feminism, a lot of them are also anti-bank, anti-establishment, and populist. As people on here have noted, they will fight Republicans, so we make useful straw men for the mainstream Repubs to knock down. We're basically running interference for them.
          I suspect the mainstream Democrats feel the same way about Occupy.

          "We are monkeys with money and guns". Tom Waits

          by northsylvania on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:30:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  The 50/50 split stabilizes the system. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It gives the illusion of choice.  If it ever goes too far one way it will be a disaster for them.  Do you really believe they were unhappy with this last election?  I think it gave them security.  Obama is no threat to their interests.

          An idea is not responsible for who happens to be carrying it at the moment. It stands or falls on its own merits.

          by don mikulecky on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:58:45 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I moved north, for one. (4+ / 0-)

    I picked a nice blue state in the upper Midwest with a great big water supply that I thought would maintain a familiar climate for a while longer. Boy I was wrong! Crazy shit going down around here, but I've got my head above water, I'm not suffering from storms any worse than the were before (weirder - 60s in January followed by four inches of snow the next day, what?) and I'm not in the new American desert.

    Practically - as a member of the richest country in the world with a military more powerful than our next twenty rivals combined, I'm not worried about food or supplies. For the survival of most of our species though, I hope we start making changes in policy soon.

  •  We don't; that's why I don't have children (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky
  •  I think about this a lot now (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    with two young daughters who will be confronting the inevitability of climate change and dwindling fossil fuel energy supplies.  These two issues together will force us to change our way of life radically.  I believe climate change denial is the only strategem left to the transnational corporations (and the people who control them) who believe they can somehow hold on to their markets, their wealth, and their power by "keep on keepin' on", by continuing to promote the notion that we will still be able to keep using fossil fuels to power our lifestyle and their profits.  

    I hope my daughters will see a transition to a different kind of life, with a locally-focused economy, food and energy supply.  Any other result will be a dire situation for the human race.

    For at least another hundred years we must pretend to ourselves and to everyone that fair is foul and foul is fair; for foul is useful and fair is not. Avarice and usury and precaution must be our gods for a little longer still. --John Maynard Keynes

    by Kurt from CMH on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 09:51:03 AM PST

  •  Eventually, the moneyed class is screwed the worst (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    don mikulecky

    The planet's entire financial system is hung on a pair of doorhinges; of artificial wealth known as cash and credit, and the whole door of wealth swings on those

    The hinge-pins are the two absolute necessities needed by all:  Food and water.  People have slept under the stars, gone without clothing, survived without the trappings of convenience --- but food and water is something they cannot go without.

    It is entirely possible; indeed, it is entirely probable that a day shall come when the wealthiest of the hyperwealthy will discover that "all the King's currency baskets and all the King's stock portfolios" will not be able to buy so much as a loaf of bread.  The farmer, the miller, and the baker will not sit back and watch their own children starve so the moneyed class can continue to exist.

    Our tiny little postage-stamp of a city lot, coupled with biointensive gardening practices, can grow enough food in a pinch to feed my family.  Maybe the rich could bite into a CDO sandwich --- if they were but something other than "bytes" of data in a software program....

    Proponents of gun violence own guns. Opponents of gun violence do not own guns. What part of this do you not understand?

    by Liberal Panzer on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 10:43:22 AM PST

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