We are stumbling — seemingly oblivious — into the bared teeth of the Anthropocene, a new geological epoch driven by humanity itself. We are walking straight into it and pretending it’s not here
I pay to subscribe to you, Robert Reich, Michael Moore, Chris Hedges, Talking Points Memo, and Heather Cox Richardson and follow what you and the others of your ilk have to say, noting that you all come from the same understandings but are just popular gadflies flailing away at this unworkable world. What you/we lack for is a concerted voice. Without any great leader speaking for us, how can we get any real power for the good? How about posing that question?
Thom your work is excellent as always, though I have a couple of tiny quibbles. It's more likely that people came to America through the Bering Strait than the Barents Sea, though it's possible they arrived by both ways. And groups that died out left no descendants, not ancestors. But those are minor points. Your information is quite correct, and it's frustrating, to say the least.
And you're right about the politics! I'm finishing a US Fire Academy course on how a shifting environment has to be planned for...but never once does it mention climate change.
Basically the problem is that most people don't connect the dots and apply the big scale events to their own lives. It's understandable as they don't have the knowledge, the habitual viewpoint, or the time to worry about things that they feel are beyond their control. The same seems true at all levels of society and perhaps at all times. Who wants to live in such a depressing situation? For example, as the Roman Empire slowly fell apart the writers of the day, far more informed than the ordinary citizens, generally said that the state had been through bad times before and had come out of them. A few seem to have worried more, but they were ignored. And anyone in today’s American government who says we're on the down slope will have a very short political career. Obama labeled such people “declinists” and while some in the national government might know better, they certainly aren’t talking.
I will say what gives me hope is the younger generation. I'm teaching environmental science at the college level and my students--and actually some of them are middle aged--are quite aware about many environmental issues. And they are certainly not alone. Now it's quite likely that the current generation of top level politicians will be gone in a few years; many are in their 70s and 80s and we might well get a shift comparable to the "torch is passed" time from Eisenhower to Kennedy. Together these factors could move the paradigm. And certainly what’s happening to the world can’t be ignored forever. If anything the pandemic work people up to the fact that we don't control nature. I don’t know whether all this will be enough to turn things around. But it could be a start.
You have a lot on your mind Thom; this report was some excellent reporting. We can't say that we haven't been forewarned. Thank you for at least trying to wake us up to what's going on.
I'd like to say that it's only our leadership failing to respond, and of course ONLY our leadership can, but in this case the problem is the citizens. Fooled by propaganda, yes, but it's voluntary to avoid taking responsibility for their own actions.
Great article, full of information. I realized at 7 years old that humanity was doomed, when environmentalists pointed out that without IMMEDIATE and SERIOUS dedication to change, humans far would exceed the ability of the planet to support, and wipe out all mammals.
Instead, we agreed to study a few of the symptoms of the problem, and ignore the problem until the food riots start. Well we are almost there, the good migrations are well under way.
Our solution - somehow reverse the damage while paving forest faster than ever.
We can fix the soil, but not the temperature. Most crops require a range of temperature and water and hours of sunlight to thrive. Yellowknife may be warm enough to grow wheat, but wheat won't grow well because the sun is wrong.
Livestock doesn't NEED grain. Grain is used to increase profits, and feeding grain to cattle is a relatively new idea. One small problem - livestock is nutrition-free dining - we can't survive on it.
Our only hope is quickly knocking back population AND - well I'll stop there. Human IQ is negatively correlated with the human population. No way are humans going to stop over breeding.
Like it or not, we are going extinct.
The solution has long been known, in detail, just waiting for technology to catch up.
Everything I'm about to say is now technically possible, though many political road blocks still exist. Billionaires are pouring cash into affordably reaching space. Those vehicles are working today. We can send materials from the asteroid belt to earth orbit NOW, just need to build the spacecraft. Building the initial spacecraft will require affordable means to sent food and materials up from earth. An orbital or lunar habitat will be needed, but it won't need to be self sufficient for a while; for now it's sufficient to send up a Prime orbital delivery.
Once the solar system ships are built, we can send teams to the asteroid belt. Building them in space, we can tie anything anywhere, so we can protect the crews with the ice/drinking water and food. We have the math tools to sling asteroids to earth for almost zero cost, the cost is getting to the asteroids. Asteroids will move slowly, but essentially free. As raw materials arrive, tugs can place them in orbit and we can build habitats for the long term. At first they will require regular "shopping trips" to earth to bring up whatever isn't available in space, but that will taper off over time.
This will save humanity, if we can accomplish it. I suspect we don't have time, and instead will end up with struggling space pirates and a world blaming them for extinction, but I could be wrong.
The Age of Human Die-offs---you say that like it's a bad thing. I am only half-kidding.
Just the fact that there are 8 billion of us should tell you, where there is a will, there is a way. Despite famine and war, people still have sex and try to raise the resulting children. We are truly unstoppable.
The result of the climate crisis is well underway, and it is normal to dread all the dying and misery that is going to happen. I get the stumbling part of your statement, but I don't see oblivious. This information is on every cell phone in the world. Some kind of horrible weather situation has reached every country and almost every community.
Isn't that the way it always goes? A lot of people wait till it's on their doorstep to react, especially conservatives. Or maybe, they wait till their grandchildren confront them. I wonder if that's what happened to Senator Manchin. I know President Biden listens to his grand-kids.
Necessity is the mother of invention. It's possible in 2122 there will be less people, and they will be living different lifestyles; some of those changes will be good, and some will be bad. Soylent green might be a fertilizer. Have you heard what can be done with urine?
Prevail and reinvent has my vote.
It is all so unnecessary. But then, my best friend, Mushin, always said, "The masses will always be the masses." I consider the corporate types, from PE and hedge fund types, to upper crust corporate managers down to mid, even low level, plus CORPORATE FARMERS! My proposals, therefore would meet stiff resistance.
First of all, population growth. The United Nations has had a long-standing world-wide service, to which the U.S. has been a main contributor, excepting the Reagan regime and the Trump whatever-you-want-to-call-that-mess. But even before Trump, world-wide funding had stalled out, in part because the pandemic made operating the clinics difficult. As soon as possible, as soon as it is safe, these programs need to be ramped up to the limit: family planning, sexual and reproductive health, and the United Nations Population Fund. I'm not sure what to do about the two major religions and one major group who believe they must reproduce as rapidly as possible to add more warriors or donors to their resources. They are a formidable force for growth, where otherwise the national populations might have been desiring, and staying, well under the limits of growth in food supplies. The major group I mention, of course, is the White Nationalist group - world-wide. If birth control is banned, even for married couples, they will have gained a significant boost in meeting their goal.
Next is the food supply. This will only work if the population does not grow significantly above 8 billion, but even then, it could, if enthusiastically applied, save us from global warming-induced annihilation.
The solution has been present since the 19th Century as well, and it is called Regenerative Agriculture. Even the badly abused land of the chemical farmers can be repaired with a few years of prescribed cover crops, which act like probiotics for the soil. It produces its own fertilizer, makes minerals more available, and produces new top soil where it meets hard pan, and does so very quickly. Once the top soil is down five or six feet, crops will henceforward require two-thirds or less water than current practices, no fertilizer, no herbicides or pesticides, and in seven years or so will produce two to three times the yield of chemical farming, and the nutritional value will have multiplied. Use of tractors is minimal, easing damage from soil compaction. There is only harrowing, seeding and harvesting. With the microbes from regenerative cover crops, there is no need for tilling. In fact, tilling is very counter-productive. Best of all is the massive amount of carbon that is sequestered in the soil; far, far more than all the technological plans that are quite iffy in terms of being incredibly expensive and dangerous results.
I have researched the objections to Regenerative Farming, and they sound like flim flam. Yes, land that has been abused will be more expensive to heal. No tilling is good, but not enough. There are still far too many who are not using cover crops, something that all farmers did not so long ago. I can still remember it happening.
If 2/3rds of all arable land in the world were regeneratively farmed, even if nothing were done about the oil barons, within ten years, the air would revert back to where it was in the late '50s, and the Earth could finally heal.