And also seabirds in Britain:
It's hard to imagine humans taking the corrective solution here. My gut says we either continue on this road and completely destroy the natural world a la Trantor in Foundation, just one huge mega-city that fabricates all of its needs, or we die out and the planet recovers on its own.
That makes it sound like there's some kind of natural 'ideal state' for the planet to recover to. Without us, the planet would just go on changing, without anything to judge the current environment at any point as good or bad to any particular standard.
Saving the environment is simply saving ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less.
Enough humans who feel and fear their impending mortality are selfish and vindictive enough to obstruct change because they want to conserve whatever material comforts they have now and do not care about what happens to other people after they're dead. I would go so far as to say that some of them take a perverse pleasure in the idea of everyone else being worse off, going by the number of facially specious arguments and overtly sadistic rhetoric deployed by many self-styled 'skeptics'.
We don't even have to look at arguments and rhetoric. Simply go outside and observe. You can immediately see people driving conspicuously huge vehicles, and some of them have modified their vehicles to increase dangerous and undesirable emissions (noise emissions, combustion emissions e.g. coal rolling) for no other purpose but than to antagonize the people around them and intentionally degrade the natural environment.
Nearly every street you drive down in residential America is lined from one end to the other with lawns that have chemicals pumped in to increase growth unnaturally, and simultaneously chemicals pumped in to control undesired weeds and insects. None of this serves any practical purpose at all.
Look carefully at the ground and you'll find it's full of fragments of the discarded plastic and metal containers of quick junk food and the so-called "energy drinks". Not only is it bad enough we have to produce these items to satisfy a temporary need at the cost of creating permanent* garbage, we have to go and toss them by the side of the road just to illustrate how utterly callous and thoughtless we are.
Hopeless. Sometimes it feels very hopeless.
I think part of the problem is we have become so hugely separated from the natural world. Nature and the environment isn't part of many people's lives, at all.
Go outside and look might reveal a few artificially manicured bits of monoculture grass, endless asphalt, concrete, poles, boxes and wires. Meat, milk, fruit, veg comes in plastic packs, and quite often ready cooked and prepared.
One of the things that stuck with me most reading The Uninhabitable Earth - the most strident and urgent call to action on climate and environment I ever came across, was in his preamble. [paraphrasing badly from memory here] He talks of being perfectly chilled at achieving growth by imposing a cost to nature, he's just not a "nature guy", and wouldn't dream of going near it for a holiday. It's OK to crow about being top of the food chain. Something about not caring about the cow so long as he can get the hamburger, not seeing an issue being a good city dweller, with completely separating ourselves from nature, from paving the planet in concrete and getting everything in packets. Sure, he goes on to say how he misunderstood, but FFS.
OK, now I start to appreciate the scale of the problem.
Hopeless? Feels that way, doesn't it?
The "disconnectedness" of people seems to be a big part of the issue. This applies to many cases where we might say that things are done wrong, but people don't seem to care.
For example, treatment of animals or other humans: When a person is given an opportunity to get close to, or get to know an animal or another person, their care for that animal (and animals in general) often increases - likewise for care for other humans, particularly ones of very different backgrounds.
So it is with nature as well. Give someone an opportunity to go feel the proven benefits of time in nature, and then show them a video of their "favorite" nature spot being clear cut, and they will have a negative reaction.
Economic actors all acting rationally in their own best interest, which automatically filters out any long term multi-generational outlook.
Capitalism is the root cause here.
>Capitalism is the root cause here.
That is not how capitalism works, it works by providing value to the greater whole of people, that's how it obtains money. If a business isn't doing something we like, we don't purchase products, services, advice, etc. or at least that's how it should work. The bigger problem is why do we value the wrong things? or why are we unable to develop better solutions?
I agree there are things we can improve about the environment (for example plastic in oceans, etc.) but saying capitalism is the root cause is foolish and unsubstantiated.
The entire large industry called "marketing" exists explicitly to subvert this process. Why make something people need, or like, when you can make them like it or feel like they need it through persistent psychological manipulation in form of advertising? Hell, why make them like it at all if you can make it addicting instead? They'll hate every minute of their lives but still come back to your product.
Then there are countless ways of making money by providing value to someone, while providing lots of negative value to other people - also known as externalizing costs.
Point being, capitalism is good at making money, period. That this implies providing value to society is not true in general; in fact, it turns out it isn't the most efficient way of making money in many cases. And capitalism is really good at making money efficiently.
Because capitalism is based on exchange value, not use value. The exchange value of keeping CO2 out of the air is $0. The exchange value of keeping bees and birds alive is $0. Neither of those things have any exchange value, but they have a massive amount of use value. There is a huge disconnect there. Explore marxism / socialism to learn more about this stuff.
Why? Are you such a fool to think this would actually work? Forcing people to provide value NEVER works and it NEVER will. Give up and come up with an alternative solution
Capitalism is just a mental framework which helps to satisfy one's desires in a big way without the need to kill people.
Full socialism, while very interesting to many here, especially when it comes to the final happy picture, unfortunately involves killing lots and lots of people, as history shows us.
One is, "therefore let's get rid of capitalism and replace it with socialism/anarchy/whatever", which is generally a bad idea (and history proves that). Another is, "therefore let's focus on capitalism when looking for particular issues to fix, find those issues and fix them, without breaking the whole thing". Aka. not throwing out baby with the bathwater. I'm not sure if GP had the second thing in mind, but this would be the approach I think is best.
One can also have desires which are more complex than mere impulse. The behaviour of soldiers willingly putting themselves in extreme harm’s way is one such.
Businesses that act in a sustainable way will not be as competitive as businesses that don't. So, it's very hard to be sustainable in a capitalism system that doesn't "price in" the externalities of the natural world that we've been taking for granted.
You can use the same example for globalization and offshoring of jobs. If I'm a business owner who manufactures cheap things, it doesn't matter how much I care about keeping my factory in the US or Europe because other factories will go to where the labor is cheapest and out compete me. So, I'm forced to do it too just to compete.
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I think it is fair to say that complexity and variety is a objectively good thing and that humanity's action causing a mass extinction event is objectively bad.
That's not to say that mass extinctions or biome change will occur without us.
 for you
I disagree. I think nature has a value in itself, in all its complexity and beauty.
I think few people would argue that if the Louvre was destroyed it wouldn't be considered a loss for the world and for humankind, or that we don't still lament the loss of the library in Alexandria.
Of course, nothing of this matters from the perspective of the heath death of the universe. But that is a cynism that I consider juvenile.
You could say that saving the environment is just saving the current set of humans, or our modern way of life. It definitely sounds much less noble when put that way though.
Up to a point, you could artificially sustain small populations (climate-controlled greenhouses and habitation). But there's a limit. We are not able to recreate the whole biosphere yet.
> You could say that saving the environment is just saving the current set of humans, or our modern way of life. It definitely sounds much less noble when put that way though.
If you compare "our modern way of life" and the promises ahead to past millennia of humanity, it actually does sound very noble. I wouldn't wish medieval or ancestral life on my worst enemy.
I wonder, though... we know, for example, that bees pollinate plants, and that we need plants to be pollinated for our survival. But if the bees die out, we can figure out another technical way to pollinate plants - it might be a pain to carry out, and we might be kicking ourselves for not saving the bees before it got to that point, but it can be done. If it comes down to a matter of survival, humans a a species will figure out a way to get what needs to be done, done. You might say that saving the birds and the insects now is the "simpler" route than replacing them, but it's starting to look like you'd be wrong, and we're not going to have any choice but figure out how to keep the human race going without them.
Don’t count on it. Human civilization depends heavily on trust and cooperation, and a large number of complex systems functioning which nobody completely understands and most people barely notice. The whole endeavor is quite fragile.
Once basic systems start breaking down, people start starving and dying, and societies start to collapse, it can get real bad in a hurry.
There have been plenty of past examples of large-scale societies collapsing into ruin, with the survivors fleeing or dying out.
You're both correct, you're just talking past each other.
Given enough time, perhaps we would be able to work around the disappearance of bees, for example. But that assumes the structure of society can survive that long. Climate change can cause agricultural collapse (due to droughts, floods, blights, etc.), which will lead to food shortage leading to revolts and famine. How many bee pollination researchers will be able to work through that crisis? Governments tend not to survive so well through disasters on the scales we are talking about.
> The most essential staple food crops on the planet, like corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and sorghum, need no insect help at all; they are wind pollinated or self pollinating. Other staple food crops, like bananas and plantains, are sterile and propagated from cuttings, requiring no pollination of any form, ever. Further, foods such as root vegetables and salad crops will produce a useful food crop without pollination, though they may not set seed; and hybrids do not even require insect pollination to produce seeds for the next generation, because hybrid production is always human pollinated. Many of the most desirable and common non-hybrid crops, like heirloom tomatoes, are self pollinated, which is what makes their cultivars stable. 
There's a second misconception that the number of domestic bees is declining. This also isn't true. I think people are confused because of the increase in Colony Collapse Disorder. The actual number of domestic bees has increased over the past decade.
If you want to know what the natural state for an area is, ask a native person from a population that has un uninterrupted culture, that is if you can find one.
A native person I know often describes a discorded ecosystem by saying: "The land is sick."
To equivocate and to claim all states are equally natural, is to deliberately miss the point.
A healthy ecosystem—and most of us haven't ever seen one—is obviously healthy when you see it.
It's a tautology to say that everything is natural. You could argue that plutonium and dioxin are natural, but without considering the concentration and distribution, it's meaningless semantics.
Idea of a "noble savage" is a myth that is about as racist as it's opposite.
My using the word 'native' was a proxy for a type of culture: a close to the land hunter gatherer lifestyle. You know one that would necessarily make them keen observers of their natural environment.
I could have said aboriginal, but maybe you'll take offence to that too?
Re: hunter-gatherer lifestyle, my understanding that people leading that are merely unlucky (or lucky) ones who didn't domesticate enough plants and animals to settle down and go through a population explosion. They certainly have a lot of knowledge about local ecosystems because they depend on that knowledge for survival.
But, a few successful domestications, some introduced species, few hundred years of nice weather and they will multiply and turn into the same kind of locusts the rest of humanity is. I think Maya or Aztec went through that. Hell, this was happening back when cyanobacteria was repeatedly wiping out life on earth before something figured out how to use oxygen. It is a general property of life -- consume and reproduce.
We might eventually grow out of it (I see a lot of promise in regenerative agriculture for example), but chances are not certain.
Didn't they interrupt their culture with extreme prejudice like fifty-odd years ago?
While thinking that "the planet is worse off because of humans" is a judgement, I think it's not unreasonable to assert that innocent life forms all over the world suffer by our actions (more than they probably would have if we weren't here), and they are powerless to prevent that. I think this is what people are intuitively feeling a sense of when they say things like "or we die out and the planet recovers on its own".
A group of humans do it and it’s unnatural?
It's just what the word means. It's fun as a philosophical exercise to consider humans as natural and so too their interventions but at the end of the day, "natural" is a word that in most cases means not caused or created by humans. It's relative to us.
That's without assessing the goodness or badness of it. Any interventions we pursue to correct climate change and restore biomes will be every bit as unnatural as the ones that caused those things but they can also be good.
If we cut down 1,000 acres of trees for wood, is that natural?
What about if a beetle infestation destroys a million acres? Still natural?
2) Were the trees killed made susceptible to the beetle because of heat stress, possibly caused by human driven climate change? (this is the case for some large scale infestations)
Overall, the point is; yes, where imbalances in nature are triggered by natural causes, there is no issue with that (earthquake, hurricane, long term climate oscillation).
Where imbalances in nature are triggered by humans, (IMHO) we should quite naturally regard that as a negative since a) we are intelligent enough to find ways of avoiding environmental degradation and b) Environmental degradation has both consequences to other forms of life as well as other humans.
I guess you're playing devils advocate here, but you're hardly adding to the conversation.
That premise doesn’t really hold up to rationale examination.
To continue the thought experiment, if the beetle infection was not due to any impact of humans, should we try and stop it to preserve the forests? By the above logic we shouldn’t because the destruction is “good and natural” and we would be interfering with nature.
On time scales relevant to evolution, human civilization is happening in an instant and nothing can adapt as fast.
The result is a gigantic loss of biodiversity.
Perhaps a better measure would be genetic diversity? A more diverse gene pool is more likely to survive the unexpected.
There may not be an ideal state, but maybe parent is talking about reverting the damage we are producing.
> Without us, the planet would just go on changing
That's true, but at the same time it is not a valid excuse to keep making damage. Someone could argue that killing you today is OK since you'll eventually die.
> Saving the environment is simply saving ourselves. Nothing more, nothing less.
You can also word it as 'destroying the environment is killing ourselves', that is more or less the same we hear every day.
Bats have had a massive population dip in several areas in the americas, up to and including to the point where places bats hibernate to have been forbidden in an effort to stop the spread of a fungus ('White Nose Syndrome') that causes the bat to wake during hibernation, speeding its metabolism and causing it to starve itself. Several species have gone from common to endangered/critically endangered because of this. There's ongoing research as to how bats became more vulnerable to this existant disease- is it higher temps? Toxins?
Trantor required continuous supply from 20 agricultural worlds to survive. Pretty much all necessities of life for trantorian were externally sourced, with the possible exception of water.
Once that shut down after the 260 sack and the Imperial Family leaving for Neotrantor, population crashed from 40G to 100M.
If you cast a wider net you'll see that this mass extinction goes beyond birds and insects to all living creatures including plant life. Year after year we destroy more and more of the forests and other natural places while saturating the earth with more and more of our garbage and synthetic trash and plastic that will never decay but will serve to poison the ecosystem we all depend on to survive. The vast majority of public concern is focused on, "global warming" which is only a tiny part of the damage we are doing. Anyone who even attempts to raise the issue of our massive overpopulation, which causes and exacerbates all of our environmental issues (as well as many of our social ones) is instantly castigated and derided as a lunatic or a Malthusian, while we add another billion people to our already shattered ecosystem.
I pity the kids!
Bee populations are suffering greatly and we needs those bees to grow a lot of our food. It doesn't help that bees are shipped in to places like the Almond farms in California, putting them in a lot of stress and hurting their colonies. Even though worker bees only live 2 ~ 4 weeks, the stress of transport does affect these pollinators.
It would make sense the decline in insect populations affecting birds for sure. Pesticides aren't limited to areas around farms and most likely find their way far out into the environment.
So if pesticides are the problem the question is, how do deal with the agricultural industry that depends on them? Is it possible to get our population to stop consuming as much crop based product and prevent more of the pesticides from entering the environment? Or is there a way to limit their effects?
If I am not mistaken, Trantor relied on an external supply chain from other planets in the empire in order to survive. It struck me as enormously brittle at the time and indeed in the books.
> continue on this road and completely destroy the natural world
I'd generally agree with that dystopian line of thinking.
current administration is firmly behind even further decline:
Most of the insects in your area CAN NOT eat the plants in your yard.
That's one of the reasons they're planted - they look better and last longer.
However, if insects can't eat them then there are less birds.
HOAs will often fight you over this so you might need to educate them.
> In addition to habitat loss, pesticides may have taken a toll.
Which is also the main cause for insect population decline. I just cannot believe why governments still allow the use of pesticides, it is so damn wrong just for economic purpose.
I think all these scenarios are unrealistic. If at all, and that is still a big if, only the vast majority would die.
So hooray, I guess.
Plug for "Girl's Last Tour" anime/manga.
Like all those other planets without us, like Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus,...
Our success (humans/mammals) is the result of one of those extinctions. So yeah, life has a strong foot hold on earth and it will continue to do so long after we're gone.
I like to think that the point of humanity is to destroy as many genetic lines as possible, before going extinct ourselves. A trial by fire that weeds out all but the most resilient. Eventually evolving into new, even better intelligence.
> Grassland species have suffered the biggest declines by far, having lost 717 million birds. These birds have probably been decimated by modern agriculture and development.
This one I'm not totally sure is even related to climate change. I don't want to tell the person next to me to "stop trying to make a better life for yourself" so I'm not sure what the solution to this is right now.
Part of what I think we're seeing is that people are allowed to do whatever they want with their land without consideration for its wider impact on the environment. Just like we think that maybe destroying habitats by building dams, we should be cognizant of how and what we're doing to the environment with (especially) our farming practices.
It's not until the suburbs with trees that you start seeing squirrels and larger animals.
Predictions without deadlines are not useful because you can keep kicking the can down the road forever. That's exactly what Paul Ehrlich has done since all of his predictions didn't happen.
"To cover this contingency, I would like to propose an analogue to Pascal's famous wager… If I'm right, we will save the world. If I'm wrong, people will still be better fed, better housed, and happier,thanks to our efforts. Will anything be lost if it turns out later that we can support a much larger population than seems possible today? Suppose we move to stabilize the size of the human population after the "time of famines" at two billion people, and we achieve that goal by 2150. Suppose that in 2151 someone invents a machine that will produce nutritious food or anything else man wants in limitless quantities out of nothing. Assume also that in 2151 mankind decides that the Earth is underpopulated with just two billion people. Men decide that they want more company. Fortunately, people can be reproduced in vast quantities by unskilled labor who enjoy their work."
And this quote from an earlier chapter:
"What will be done with leisure time and money when all vacation spots are crowded beyond belief? Is it worth living in the Los Angeles smog for 50 weeks in order to spend two weeks in Yosemite Valley - when the Valley in the summer may be even more crowded than L.A. and twice as smoggy? What good is having the money for a fishing trip when fish are dead or poisonous because of pesticide pollution? Why own a fancy car in which to get asphyxiated in monster traffic jams?"
Live in Los Angeles, can confirm.
Thanks to our efforts...how arrogant to claim future responsiblity for our success at feeding and housing 8 billion people. Of course our present ability to do that has nothing to do with The Population Bomb or the mania it encouraged.
I read this comment re: Silent Spring on Thursday and it kept coming to mind hearing everything about the climate strikes Friday. I think this is profoundly, frighteningly correct.
(mostly feral cats... but your lil furball ain't helping)
Maybe that noise level is just normal? I've only been doing meaningful hiking for the past ~10 years. Does anyone older than I am remember birds being much louder in the past?
I think we need to reference more recent crimes if we want to write off entire companies.
What would be interesting is to determine what's within range and what isn't. I'll go out on a limb and say WW2 is beyond that horizon.
It’s hard to know whats true and what isnt with all the misinformation being spread around.
So the poor then?
And of course I wouldn't sacrifice my own life first, since from my perspective that's obviously the most important thing and everything else is secondary. But once my life is preserved, I look at the bigger picture and see that we (I) would obviously be better off if we killed off 50% of the remaining population.
Why is that so hard to wrap your head around? I'm fairly sure you would see it the same way (if you would just admit it to yourself).
Go look at how many people died in WWII. Was it a lot? In absolute numbers, sure. As a percentage of the human race? No, not really. It barely made a dent in the worldwide population. You can look at population graphs over time, and it barely registers, if at all. Remember, WWI also killed a lot of people, but more people died from the Spanish Flu pandemic.
I'm sorry, but war just isn't a very good form of population control any more. Maybe it was in Medieval times, but it isn't now. Even with the horrific numbers of dead, it's just not that much of the overall population, and the amount of destruction it wreaks on everything is insane: cities leveled, resources wasted on building war materiel, and of course the ridiculous amount of oil burned (which just makes the global warming problem that much worse). Modern militaries are huge consumers of oil when they're deployed.
That's because war isn't a form of population control. It's a form of conflict resolution.
Is pretty obvious that herbicides kill insects indirectly. They are killing its sources of food (wildflowers and weeds). They have a deep impact over insects.
I feed the birds in my backyard every day, it's a joy to observe the variety that live in just a small grove of trees.
I have a tendency to always look up in the sky and take note of soaring birds of prey, they are awe-spiring to say the least.
What are the chances that we will get our act together or be able to engineer ourselves out of all of these problems?
Bird conservation efforts in the last few decades mainly focused on wetlands. See DDT, national wildlife refuges, and the duck stamp.
So, it's not like the decline is inexorable. But it's not going to fix itself.
They interpret it to only prohibit intentionally killing protected birds. So, if you wanted to, say, drain a wetland that migratory birds depended on to build a parking lot, which would wipe out nesting grounds and lead to a lot of bird deaths--that would be fine under the Trump interpretation as long as you aren't building the parking lot to intentionally kill the birds.
This has already started having an effect. The US Fish and Wildlife Service, for instance, no longer stops loggers from cutting down trees with nests of protected birds in them, killing eggs or chicks.
I took regional agricultural production and soil quality, active regional environmentalism, presence of higher education (Cornell), water sources, historical wildfires, and more into account. I'm hopeful that I picked a place that will give my children a less frightening future than the rest of the country, at least for a while longer.
I'm working on buying some land now to start working on some basic agricultural production and building a home designed around "edge case" risks being less edge than normal such as extreme weather, temperature, vermin, and unreliable utilities.
Engineering is what got us into this problem. Foolish to hope it can get us out.
Things like biodiversity loss may not.
What means that you made a clear point, that I don't think anybody misunderstood, with a clear optimistic message. Still I think it's more pessimist than the reality.
With a future of climate-induced migrations, we will likely face these problems anyway as people leave areas and never come back (or simply die) after "edge case" disasters strike.
"Furthermore although Africa’s total fertility rate (TFR) is falling if only moderately, it is still high, at around 5.0. This means that alongside promoting economic development in Africa, it will be prudent to strengthen support for expanding RH services there, including family planning. A source of concern for Africa’s fertility rates from now on, however, is that the reactivation by the Trump Administration ofthe Mexico City Policyis an obstacle to any such strengthening. This decision taken by the U.S. will have a major impact on Africa’s population issues, and policies will be needed to counter that."
Don't just assume this. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usdJgEwMinM
Worse, the logic of the "climate action now" position is that we can't wait for 2050. That will be too late. Well, if you want to reduce the population by 2050, what concrete steps do you propose? (I know, you didn't say 2050. I think "action now" is inherent in the logic of your position, though.)
You cannot fix overpopulation while still keeping your empathy and "everyone has a right to life" hats on. There needs to be a decrease and it will have to be ugly and unpleasant. No way around that. It's either survival of the species or the death of humanity. You have to take off the civilized glasses if you actually want to fix the global problem (which is the number of humans inhabiting the planet beyond its sustainable limits).
Just so you know, there isn't too many people for the planet. The planet can handle a lot more. What it can't handle is this many people at the US's level of consumption. But not consumption of food of medicine, but of banal shit like driving huge trucks with 10 MPG everywhere instead of using public transport, or overnight shipping for new iphone every year.
The simple solution is to stop consuming like crazy, which can be easily achieved by adding the planet-destroying externalities to price of everything.
Instead of, you know, genocide.
So no proposal, just a dim view of our possible outcome if the overpopulation is not solved. The problem lies in how we view the earth as a personal resource instead of a shared habitat.
he's calling for basically this elsewhere in the thread.
If your focus is "survival of a given individual", then I agree it's probably not a solution.
But if your focus is "survival of the human species in the long term", then it very much is a part of the solution space.
Even if you march everyone in Africa and India do death camp (and it's always Africa and India with people like this), the US is more than capable of destroying the people by itself.
> "The Crisis for Birds Is a Crisis for Us All": https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=21018850
This has been known for a while. I remember hearing a piece on NPR about this maybe a decade ago. The problem is actually that we have been working hard to reforest, and haven't left grassland. Everything is either forest, or developed, with very little in-between. One of the proposed solutions was to simply not mow 100% of your yard. Leave some bit of it unkempt. There's a local monastery that does this, and there are birds there that I haven't seen anywhere else in the area, so I think there's something to the strategy.
We don't like religion (or in many cases, even spirituality), and the modern scientific metaphysics has no space for "miracles," so we don't have a coherent framework in which to talk about or even remind ourselves of this profound truth. Each of us is left to cobble something together for ourselves (and for the few people around us that we trust not to think we're crazy).
I do think that psychedelics seem like one promising avenue. Perhaps they will help give us the inspiration to fill in this tragic blindspot.
Edit: If the votes are any indication, then I was too hasty in calling this opinion unpopular. Perhaps more of us suspect this than are willing to say it out loud.
Edit 2: On that note, I've been scared to share my own crazy take on this, but I'll just leave this here: https://www.lifeismiraculous.org
I'm not sure that this is true. As my understanding of the world has increased, my appreciation of it has also increased, as has my sense of wonder. The term 'miracle' implies some supernatural cause, but I don't need something supernatural to understand the preciousness of the world I find myself in. Nor do I struggle finding a way to talk about this.
My own hypothesis is that the world is simply too complicated for any one person to comprehend on large scales any more, and when it comes to environmental concerns, the problem of the commons completely kicks our ass.
Engineering solutions to combat or circumvent Climate Change is our ONLY way forward. But first we need to get a critical mass of our American citizenry to be convinced we have an actual problem. Especially, in fact, a large segment of the electorate that's VERY religious and continually refuses to accept the facts about AGW.
I say Americans here because a disproportionate percentage was/is being caused by us, and because we also play a unique place in world affairs.
I also agree that engineering will be required. When I said "merely engineer," I meant that engineering cannot be a replacement for our awakening to the "miracle," but must be used in service of it.
I think that this perspective ignores the environmental problems inherent in a capitalist mode of production, and in fact plays into them.
I think that a political revolution could be imminent, and I would urge those concerned about the future of life on this planet to consider alternative modes of economics.
the private ownership of the means of production
Is there any reason you're using marxist terminology?
People have measurably shorter lifespans due to coal emissions. We aren’t doing anything about that, so why do you think property will be treated any differently?
I'm not sure why you say it's Marxist terminology. It's more or less what Wikipedia uses. Is there another definition that you'd prefer?
If you assume that capitalism requires unchecked growth harmful to the environment, it doesn't follow that some specific alternatives to capitalism are automatically healthy for the environment. The only conclusion you can draw (if the initial proposition is true) is that if there is a healthy alternative, it's not capitalism.
By the way, some people believe China is currently practicing a form of "state capitalism" (regardless of what they call it, which by the way seems to be "socialist market economy").
The basics are enough: unchecked greed is bad, regardless of the society / system of capital allocation and thought.
I remember as a kid that going camping was considered an "escape from reality", which made no sense to me because of course Nature is reality and our cities are the artificial "escape".
Geoff Lawton has a quote, "You can solve all the world's problems in a garden."
It's pretty literal: food, recycling poop and pee, medicine, building materials, not to mention the peace and happiness you have caring for other living things and accepting gratefully their care of you.
It is fun and easy!
- - - -
For practical advice on what to do I recommend Toby Hemenway's videos in re: Permaculture
Especially "How Permaculture Can Save Humanity and the Planet – But Not Civilization" and the sequel "Redesigning Civilization with Permaculture".
Permaculture is a school of applied ecology (the word itself is a portmanteau of PERMAnent agriCULTURE) that has adherents and practitioners world-wide. It's not the only form of regenerative agriculture either.
See also https://www.greenwave.org/our-work Oceanic 3D farms! And now they are building reefs?
You just need to go out to nature or a park, on a nice day, and realize you really want things like birds and (if you still have them) butterflies. And food, and air, and clean water, and not being underwater, and not having large swaths of continents be broiled to uninhabitable.
And the author gets to a similar point:
” And so I come to this point, and I ask myself: what, at this moment in history, would not be a waste of my time? And I arrive at five tentative answers.
Four: Insisting that nature has a value beyond utility. And telling everyone. Remember that you are one lifeform among many and understand that everything has intrinsic value. If you want to call this ‘ecocentrism’ or ‘deep ecology’, do it. If you want to call it something else, do that. If you want to look to tribal societies for your inspiration, do it. If that seems too gooey, just look up into the sky. Sit on the grass, and touch a tree trunk, walk into the hills, dig the garden, look at what you find in the soil, marvel at what the hell this thing called life could possibly be. Value it for what it is, try to understand what it is, and have nothing but pity or contempt for people who tell you that its only value is in what they can extract from it.”
I mean that seriously. It’s a profound awakening to love and beauty we are surrounded by.
Ayahuasca is almost an alien-like technology.
Every "epiphany" that someone has told me they had while on psychedelics has been something that easily could have been come up with a bit of quite time and thought.
I have never heard a single story that blew me away or offered anything but mundane "insights" that easily could be gotten other ways.
Its time for the "psychedelics" people to come clean and just admit they are simply getting high.
Your second half just reinforces my original point. Its an "experience" ie just getting high.
I have no issues with experiencing things. I just don't like that people try to sell it like it is anything more than that.
However, this puzzles me:
> Psychedelics seem like one promising avenue. Perhaps they will help give us the inspiration to fill in this tragic blindspot.
Why? What do psychedelics have to do with anything? I'm not religious and I'm not about to try psychedelics either, and still I'm filled with awe at the world and want nature to continue existing. I find a lot of natural places breathtaking. I stare at a starry night's sky -- something increasingly difficult because of light pollution -- and I'm awed at the vastness and beauty of the cosmos. It's hard to describe the feeling, but anyone who's felt it knows what I'm talking about.
I still don't believe in any gods or need any kind of psychedelics.
Wonderful! Psychedelics may not be relevant to your path.
For some, "magic" mushrooms (for example) a first glimpse, or a reminder, that this place is "magical" in a way that most of us curiously overlook constantly. That epiphany can have a lasting effect on a person.
I updated my post above with a link to a first draft of a site where I go into a little more detail.
I don't think the problem is that people are unaware per se of the miraculousness/improbability of life, but rather that said awareness is deeply frightening and most people would prefer to sublimate it. The fact that we've all already cheated the infinite oblivion of never existing is incredibly lucky (to non-pessimists), but deeply meditating on this fact is psychologically similar to having a near death experience. So we narrativize to reassure ourselves that our existence isn't just dumb luck, in any manner of ways, both mystical and pseudo scientific: our lives are preordained by God, or by a purely deterministic set of physical laws, or by the operators of our universal simulation, or by the anthropic principle.
All of these belief systems are roughly analogous to saying "Everything happens for a reason", which is something you hear even intelligent people parrot in times of distress. But as Quentin Meillassoux argues in "After Finitude", the only truly universal law of metaphysics is in fact the negation of that platitude: "Things could be as they are, or they could be otherwise."
What would our behavior look like if everyone realized that the point of their life was to work to improve the level and quality of their awareness and consciousness to the point that they also realize the point of their life is to become infinitely loving and utterly selfless?
(The hard part is that everything you think you are has to die, you can see why dogmatic/skeptic will resist)
That is not really the case here. I woke up already long ago, but there is no way I can stop the idiots. Only governments can take action by law, not me.
France and Germany will not allow for Facebooks' Libra coin. It shows how fast they can act if their economy is at stake. But for decades already they allow pesticides for agriculture. They could and should know about allowing for mass extermination of entire insect species. So tell me what I can or should do if they let this sick economy prevail?
Here is an attempt at a framework to think about this: we have no proof that life exists anywhere else in the Universe. There is a possibility that life itself arose only once and that we are the only intelligent beings around. We have a sort of grand astronomical duty to not fuck it up and expand to the stars and keep the fire going.
Consequently, our rapid development which is undoubtedly causing harm to Earth is likely also, equally without doubt, the very thing that may ultimately enable humanity to survive in the longrun. We already have all the resources we need to become a space faring civilization, except for one - public will. People of course want it, but also simultaneously think space is a fantasy, much like at one time crossing the ocean was seen as. And so it's put on the side burner while we focus on much more pressing matters, like what some politician or celebrity said on Twitter. If a tenth of the energy we spend on social media or trying to shove ads at each other was focused on space, we'd already have set foot on Mars.
Humanity is currently on a path to destroy the earth's capability to sustain us, on a timescale that is laughably small compared to geological timescales.
If we behaved better, humanity could conceivably exist for hundreds of thousands, or millions of years without being obliterated by an asteroid or colossal volcanic eruption(s).
At the rate we're going, we won't last another few hundred years before we create an environment so toxic and unlivable that we extinguish ourselves.
Luckily a few rich crap heads will get even richer before that happens, bless their cotton socks, so it will all have been worth it.
The problem, by contrast, with the natural disasters is not only their effect but how incredibly rapid it happens. For instance we nearly caused a very gradual catastrophe with CFCs by gradually depleting the ozone layer over many decades. Something similar has been suggested as the cause for the Ordovician extinction. Except there what caused the destruction of the atmospheric layer was a gamma ray burst, and it only would have taken a few seconds. This is even more apparent with things like asteroid impacts. We've had an increasingly large number (or probably more accurately we can now actually 'see' them a bit more accurately) whiz by us at a tiny fraction of the distance to the moon. If a single one of these made impact you're looking at the equivalent of millions of WW2 scale nuclear weapons going off, at once. And of course it's not just the immediate impact, but then the massive cooling and darkening of Earth that would follow. If this happened over decades to centuries we could probably survive through technological means, but we wouldn't have that luxury. It would happen over a matter of seconds, and then days as the fallout embraced the Earth with its tainted touch.
I'd rather say that ~random variation plus selection is gobsmackingly impressive. But the results aren't as perfect as you might expect stuff that's designed and created to be. They're amazing, but not elegant.
I agree. I would argue the majority of people in developed countries share this view. However, it should be pointed out that it's also a luxury to have this view. If you're currently in, come from, or ever visited a developing country; you'd realize that for many other people a major primary concern is to get enough income for basic needs. They just don't have the bandwidth to fully appreciate the world as we do.
It might be that the purpose of humans, mammals, multicellular organisms, whatever.....in the holistic sense, is no greater than theirs.
Religion certainly isn't going to help anyone appreciate nature. American Christians in particular think God gave the world to them to do whatever they want, even if that means driving around gas-guzzling SUVs and polluting as much as they want. Most other religions don't have a very good track record with environmentalism either.
Modern science, however, tells us exactly why we're having problems, and what things are likely to look like if they keep going this way. What more do you need for inspiration, other than "if you don't make some big changes, you're going to have massive flooding of port cities, and a lot more extreme weather, storms, desertification, etc., which will cause shortages of freshwater and food." If that isn't enough inspiration, I don't know what is. The problem is that too many people simply don't believe this, just like there's people who think vaccines cause autism.
Then again, since I'm a believer in science and I'm not religious, I can't speak for people who are, so maybe you're onto something with the psychedelics thing. Perhaps we should try a scientific study, giving religious anti-environment people psychedelics and seeing if it makes them appreciate nature more.
I’m trying to recall which post from yesterday used this word which we probably both read.
But FYI I believe the word is merely a noun; one cannot ennui oneself.
- (verb, transitive) To make bored or listless; to weary.
But it doesn't quite capture what I mean. It's not merely that we're boring ourselves by some particular activity, but by deciding that reality itself is boring.