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Things happening around the world in recent weeks have got this discussion about climate change between Bill Moyers and David Suzuki a couple of months ago haunting me:

(14:15 on)

(Y)oung kids often ask me, Mr. Suzuki how can I save the world? And I say to them, well, look, the world's not in trouble. We're in trouble, but the world's not in trouble....

The world, the planet is undergoing immense changes. Humans now are the major force shaping the properties and the functions within the biosphere. That's why scientists refer to this as the Anthropocene epoch, a period of time when human beings have become a geological force. We're altering the physical, chemical and biological features of the planet on a geological scale.

So there's no question the planet's undergoing change. But the planet is going to be here long after we're gone. The planet will continue to go on in this altered state. I have no doubt life will persist....

(A) lot of my colleagues have now said it's too late. Clive Hamilton, an eminent eco-philosopher in Australia wrote a book, “Requiem for a Species.” And we're the species it's a requiem for. I've read everything, the entire book, and there's nothing I disagree with there. James Lovelock, the man who invented this idea of Gaia, says 90 percent of humanity will be gone by the end of the century.

And Sir Martin Rees, the royal astronomer in Britain was asked what are the chances humans will be around by 2100, and he said 50/50. So there are a lot of my colleagues are saying we've passed too many tipping points to go back.

Dr. Suzuki is hopeful that Gaia has a few surprises up her sleeve that may yet save us from ourselves.

But what if she doesn't?

What would a 90 percent human extinction look like? Or anything close to that? It's unimaginable. But maybe we'd better start imagining what it might be like, and how something so terrible could be allowed to come to pass.

All it takes is seeing that the pool of resources is, in fact, finite. That those resources (land, water, energy, minerals) are essential to life, or at least to continue life more or less as it's been within recent memory, and that if I don't have them You will have them. And that You can be dehumanized, killed, pushed off your land, denied water, and so on, because it is, after all, a struggle to the death.

Think about:

- Rwanda, where existential conflict caused people to turn almost overnight on their own families, friends, and neighbors

- the US-Mexico border, where people advocate aiming guns at the heads of refugee children and telling them to turn back or else

- Gaza, where the liberal traditions and simple humanity of Israelis have been abandoned in favor of killing indiscriminately for what is believed to be the country's very existence

- global corporations that corrupt democratic governance in order to seize control of resources from out of the hands of local populations

- Detroit, a city in the heart of America that cut off water - water! - to hundreds of thousands of people

That's what it will look like, at least for those of us in the developed countries, not like something out of Mad Max.  It will be understandable. We will be prepared for it. Like Israelis or like the "53 percent of Americans (who) believe the United States has no moral obligation to offer asylum to people who escape violence or political persecution" (and 70 percent of Republicans).

All it takes is the need to win and the Other to lose. Sharing? What's that? If I don't win it all, I lose.

Dr. Suzuki points out how removed First Worlders are from realizing our utter dependence on nature for our very survival:

And in a big city it's easy to think, well, as long as we have parks out there somewhere where we can camp and fish and play, who needs nature? In...a city my most highest priority is my job. And you know, the average spends eight minutes a day outside and over six hours a day in front of a television, computer or a cell phone screen. So when you're living that way, who needs nature? Who even worries about the weather unless there's a tornado or some kind of a freak event?

And so we act as if these things are really not relevant to the way we live.

I wonder how long it will take those people to realize just how vulnerable they are when the shit hits the fan and the war for the necessities of life comes to them.

Probably not until there's no water coming out of their taps, or the water that does come out can be lit on fire, or is thick as pea soup with green algae.

That's when things will really get hot.

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Comment Preferences

  •  It's Really No Biggie (7+ / 0-)

    Sure, 6 or 7 billion humans will likely die in the next 150 years or so, maybe all of them, and they'll take a few million species with them, but many millions more will adapt to the new conditions, and they'll adapt into new niches, and populations will be isolated by new deserts and new bodies of water and new currents and in 4 or 7 or 23 million years there will be as many new species as we killed.

    And if any of them give a shit and care to look they will be able to find evidence we were here; some of our radioactive shit will still be unnaturally concentrated, some plastics might survive in unusual circumstances...

    Don't sweat the small stuff, and we're small stuff.

    Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government.

    by The Baculum King on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 11:21:01 PM PDT

  •  The planet is fine. The PEOPLE are fucked. (7+ / 0-)

    "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Mon Aug 04, 2014 at 11:59:41 PM PDT

  •  Thanks...I think. I always did love that man. (5+ / 0-)

    Watched him for years on The Nature of Things, and joined his Foundation, watched his daughter grow up to become a fine marine biologist.

    And he's right. We have no idea of the shit our children and grandchildren are going to have to deal with.

    I do have hope, though. Many young people have become interested in permaculture and the status of the worlds forests and oceans. They have learned what our grandparents knew with a twist. Our technology is enabling a rapid switch to renewable energy and electric transportation, despite the efforts of oil and gas barons, wars, radical groups and a general public more interested in what's on TV or on twitter.

    More and more people are waking up to the fact that we are ruining our world and ruining our children's and grandchildren's hope for a future. I think within the next twenty years, we will manage to save our species from extinction.

    A fo ben, bid bont. - Welsh proverb. ( translation: If you want to be a leader, be a bridge.)

    by Gwennedd on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 12:13:35 AM PDT

  •  Reading this reminds me of Y2K. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    OooSillyMe, rat racer, PeterHug

    Made the good seven-layer bean dip, sprang for some party hats, waiting for the end to come, complete with Wolf Blitzer losing his mind on CNN as missiles flew from malfunctioning silos.

    Such a disappointment. Excellent dip, mind you, but a disappointing event overall.

    Things like this, though....they give me hope again.

    Thank you for a well-timed uplifting diary. Bit of a fluctuating evening, needed something to smile about.

    The abyss is gazing back. If you listen closely as your hope dies, you can hear it laughing.

    by Deleterious on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 12:53:24 AM PDT

    •  In other words (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      "nothing to see here."

      Pull one data point (Y2K) to dismiss a two-century trend...

      Which is how we got to 400+ppm with relatively little effort to stop the rate of increase.

      (This is also how we got back to the Gilded Age, which is directly related, but I digress.)

      The RW talking points feeding Neliberal "Democrat" attitudes, producing the gap between Village/Wall St./Corp America, i.e., "mainstream" thinking and the real world in which 90% have not "recovered" and Climate Change is escalating toward catastrophic impact levels.

      Thanks for (not) helping.

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 08:53:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well.... (0+ / 0-)

        I've got saving the world single-handedly penciled in for Friday. Does your comment mean I need to clear my schedule and move it up a bit?

        There's no hope? Keep fighting anyway. There's no point? Find one and embrace it. There's no reason to continue? Refuse to give up, keep going out of sheer gleeful spite regardless.

        by Deleterious on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 02:33:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Crap. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Words In Action

          Feeling the need to replace my usual smartass comment with an honest one. I know things have been going sideways for a long, long, long time. Hopelessness rears its ugly head and the coping mechanism comes out.

          Have been using the Y2K joke story for years when lack of hope gets on top of me.

          There's no hope? Keep fighting anyway. There's no point? Find one and embrace it. There's no reason to continue? Refuse to give up, keep going out of sheer gleeful spite regardless.

          by Deleterious on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 02:48:15 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ah, I understand. (0+ / 0-)

            Glad to hear that.

            I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

            Trust, but verify. - Reagan
            Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

            by Words In Action on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:07:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Good to hear. Sorry I posted comment below (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            before seeing this one...

            The despair can be impairing.

            As BOHICA notes in a current diary: war is the enemy.

            And yeah, Climate Change is a war, not between man and nature, but between the deniers and those who would like to save the world. Because future generations of all species deserve a shot.

            I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

            Trust, but verify. - Reagan
            Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

            by Words In Action on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:16:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Classic RW meme for "looking out for #1". (0+ / 0-)

          You're in the wrong tent.

          I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

          Trust, but verify. - Reagan
          Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

          by Words In Action on Wed Aug 06, 2014 at 07:05:28 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Y2K was a non-event because a lot of people (0+ / 0-)

      worked really hard to make it that way.

      I don't know if we're past some final tipping point that pushes us over the edge or not - but I do think that trying to mitigate what's happening is worth doing, and it's worth spending a lot of time and effort on.

    •  Speaking for my 300 person development team (0+ / 0-)

      for just ONE Fortune 500 company, that spent five years of my life working exclusively on bullet-proofing global communications systems against Y2K . . . you're welcome.

      What fresh hell is this? D. Parker

      by BetteNoir on Thu Aug 07, 2014 at 09:12:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  all these people pointing guns at each other... (7+ / 0-)

    ... and above all, those who are pointing the big gun of extinction risk at the collective heads of all of humanity.

    Question is, at what point does the right to defense of self and innocent others against threats to life and limb, extend to defending the human race against those who are acting to put us at risk of extinction?

    Would you have fought the Nazis in WW2?  

    Is extinction worse than genocide?

    So here's our nuclear deterrent, to be used against the omnicidal monsters of our time:

    The message has to be very clear and concise:  

    Surrender immediately or we will obliterate you.

    The omnicidal monsters eat, drink, and breathe money.  It's their food, it's their water, it's their air supply.  Cut it off and they will surrender.

    The vast majority of retail trade occurs during the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A significant dent in that trade will trigger a recession.

    Our nuclear deterrent is the threat of a general consumer strike.  The threat of a widespread boycott of just ONE Christmas can bring the monsters to their knees.

    To make this work it needs to have millions of Americans signed up and ready to go.  The leadership of the organization should be able to place a full page ad in the New York times along the following lines:

    Dear Mr./Madame President, Representatives, and Senators:

    I speak for fifty seven million (or however-many) Americans who have signed a simple pledge:  Unless comprehensive and effective climate legislation is signed into law by the second week of November, we will boycott the winter holiday shopping season.  We will not spend a cent for anything other than our routine household necessities.  

    You understand the effect this will have on the economy.

    But the threat of uncontrolled climate change is agreed by scientists to pose a threat of driving the human race extinct.  

    Compared to that, giving up one year's worth of holiday gift-giving is hardly a sacrifice.  In fact it is a far more worthy present for our children and grandchildren.

    This is not a threat, this is not a joke, it is a prediction and a certainty.  The future of our species' very existence is in your hands, and we are bringing it home to you in the form of the immediate future of our national economy.

    That is all.

    Signed (name).

    And the best part is, not only is it wholly nonviolent, it's not even the slightest bit illegal: there is no law that requires you to go Christmas shopping.

    It's also a hell of a lot better than food and water riots in major urban areas, and the total breakdown of law, order, justice, and civilization itself, along the blood-drenched road to human extinction.  

    We got the future back. Uh-oh.

    by G2geek on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 02:07:21 AM PDT

  •  That's precisely where desert Southwest is. (8+ / 0-)

    The writing's on the wall. Levels of aquifers and reservoirs are dropping like a stone, the population continues to rise, new suburban subdivisions are still being built in the middle of the desert, people are still watering their lawns (!?#% WTF) and absolutely nothing is being done at the policy or governmental level to put the brakes on.

    Within 10 years, the kitchen faucets from Tucson to Las Vegas are going to run dry. The deep wells supplying produce fields in the middle of the desert will be tapped out. The dust storms and brush fires will be apocalyptic.

    And yet our 'leaders' still act like nothing is happening.

  •  "A Canticle for Leibowitz", minus the Flame Deluge (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Words In Action

    Not with a bang, but a whimper.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war. ♥ ♥ ♥ Forget Neo — The One is Minori Urakawa

    by lotlizard on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 04:44:43 AM PDT

    •  Well, with all the (0+ / 0-)

      guns, there will no doubt be some bangs. But your is still well taken...

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 06:51:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  telling in the excerpt; (6+ / 0-)

    Suzuki ticks off a number of dire predictions based on the research of respected scientists.
    Then, out of nowhere, he blithely 'hopes' the planet has some magical healing ability that none of the scientists know about.
    I get it; even a hard headed scientist needs to be able to sleep at night, but that pivot undermines the seriousness of the situation even more that the typical overcautious wording of each and every climate report I've ever read. As long as the fanciful idea of a dramatic rescue from our own bad behavior is out there it is fine and dandy to keep on coal rolling and everything else.
    As a culture we are fatally addicted to neat happy endings. we desperately need to grow the hell up and realize, truly grok, that we are on a suicide mission.

    Last full month in which the average daily temperature did not exceed twentieth-century norms: 2/1985 - Harper's Index, 2/2013

    by kamarvt on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 04:57:31 AM PDT

  •  It's Too Bad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SanFernandoValleyMom, CJB2012

    that a diary with the words "Eat My Shorts" in it's title gets a lot more attention than this important diary about the probable future of all living things on this planet.  

    And, despite the growing evidence of the climate we will all too soon be dealing with, most people won't/don't acknowledge it - why?  I don't get it.  

    •  Well, the cavalier attitude toward egregious human (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      behavior toward which that diary is directed is CENTRAL to the problem covered in this diary.

      There is a VIOLENCE toward people and the environment that sustains them inherent in the mainstream neoliberal culture, one which is blithely embraced. This is the problem with neoliberalism. It accepts this violence and its economic and environmental impacts as normal, acceptable, inevitable, even desirable collateral damage for pursuing the standard of living we are told is best.

      The attitude that holding people accountable for torture is sanctimonious is hard-wired the attitude behind creating inescapable, catastrophic climate change.

      I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

      Trust, but verify. - Reagan
      Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

      by Words In Action on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 07:37:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It's really time for the Left to step (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bbctooman, George3

    aside from the mainstream culture and lead. I'm blanking at the moment, but someone pointed out that change of this magnitude does not occur by people reforming the current way of life, but by the development, in parallel, of a new way that ultimately replaces, supplants the old.

    People need to commit to making a break from the mainstream culture, to seek out and/or develop communities that are committed to sustainable living, which includes sustainable economies designed for people's (and the people sustaining environment's) needs first, capital and profits second. With the reverse, as we have today, goods and services are being created to generate profits without consideration of what we really need and what a human-supporting environment can sustain.

    We can't bash the Right or the Neoliberal "Democrats" into reforming the system to a degree that scales to the need.

    We can only create the new culture to which we will all ultimately be forced to adopt once the disruptions become so great that current illusions can no longer be sustained.

    The problem is that young people are focused on establishing cash flow to provide security if not comfort and older people are doing the same to provide for the same in retirement. It seems impossible to break from this dominant pursuit of earning and consuming to establish one of living sustainably. Indeed, to a great extent, it is when we try to do it alone. It takes communities of people to do it, collectively.

    And we have, what, five, maybe ten years to do it before the released gases are so great the damage over the future decades is irreversibly catastrophic? At best? Optimistically speaking?

    In fact, we may simply be talking about creating the way of life that the 10% that survives is using when all is said and done.

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Tue Aug 05, 2014 at 07:27:00 AM PDT

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