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Despite mounting evidence of our grim reality, the world’s psychopathic leadership remains willfully deaf, dumb, and blind to the unfolding global ecocide and humanicide. A persistent sounding of the alarm by a tiny minority of the population only seems to have irritated and offended those in the elite class who are pressing the fossil-fueled industrial machine onward, full steam ahead. However, it’s not a cliff we are headed towards because surely the psychopaths would have hidden their parachutes underneath their business suits. There will be no Bottleneck for humans because we’re headed toward the black hole of extinction from which nobody gets out alive. Yes, they’ll be a few hangers-on for a brief period until there is only one lone straggler… and then darkness for the human species along with 99% of all other life. We’re doomed by a pathocracy:
…from Greek pathos, “feeling, pain, suffering”; and kratos, “rule”
A totalitarian form of government in which absolute political power is held by a psychopathic elite, and their effect on the people is such that the entire society is ruled and motivated by purely pathological values.
A pathocracy can take many forms and can insinuate itself covertly into any seemingly just system or ideology. As such it can masquerade under the guise of a democracy or theocracy as well as more openly oppressive regimes…
Kevin Moore, a frequent commenter on this site, has provided us with an excellent summation of current factors which clearly spell extinction for the “wise” ape. Certainly if a reasonable person in charge studies his list, they would want to turn this ill-fated ship around before it quite literally takes everyone down into a deep, watery grave. On the contrary, Kevin points out that they are “throwing the compass and fishing gear overboard” and “boring holes in the hull while distributing all the rations for immediate consumption.” I’m afraid those who have managed to work their way into political positions are forbidden from making any decisions jeopardizing business-as-usual; but as the memes go, there is no business on a dead planet nor is there a planet B. The least these politicians and corporate heads could do is be honest with their own children by telling them their future is not as important as the short-term profits to be had right now by ripping up the Earth’s last remaining resources and fouling the biosphere. If they cannot be truthful to their own offspring, how could we expect them to be forthright and unbiased with us?
At any rate and for posterity’s sake (however brief that may be), here is Kevin’s detailed and ‘hopium-free’ list:
Yesterday I sent out an email to a long list of people concerning the meeting I had with the local council’s climate change officer, during which I pointed out we are in the early stages of complete meltdown of planetary systems. And ‘nobody’ is at all bothered.
Here is what I sent as a summary of the meeting: .
I raised the following points with Colin Comber, New Plymouth District Council climate change officer, at our meeting on Friday, 29th November, 2013. On most points he had nothing to say.
1. The forcing factor for methane has been raised from 23 times CO2 to 34 times CO2. Even that multiplier understates the warming potential in the short term, and a figure of at least 100 times should be used for methane bursts.
2. Recent methane bursts in the East Siberian Sea have resulted in 2000ppb, which is equivalent to over 200ppm CO2 in the short-term, making the total global CO2 equivalence 600ppm (at least). The extraordinarily high concentration of greenhouse gases has resulted in rapid temperature increases in the Arctic (up around 1C since 2006, despite the huge amount of energy involved in melting ice.).
3. 2012 saw the lowest ever summer ice area.
4. The current Arctic ice area is hovering around two standard deviations below the historic average, but much of the ice is thin and new, making 2013 the lowest stable ice volume ever.
5. Atmospheric CO2 hit 400ppm earlier this year. It troughed at 393ppm (photosynthesis cycle) and is on its way up; it is anticipated to reach 403ppm April-May 2014.
6. The heat forcing of current atmospheric CO2 is equivalent to around 400,000 Hiroshima-sized bombs being exploded every day.
7. The present level of atmospheric CO2 is 40% above the pre-industrial level and corresponds to a sea level 23 meters above current; the reason we don’t have an immediate sea level rise is the thermal lag of warming deep oceans and converting ice into water. Such a level of CO2 has not been experienced any time in the evolution of humans over the past 2 million years. Indeed, for much of our recent history the CO2 level was around 180ppm and there were thick ice sheets as far south as central England.
8. The IEA has announced we are on track for a rise in average temperature of 3.5oC by 2035. Such a temperature rise puts temperatures beyond anything experienced in human history and most of the Earth into an uninhabitable zone. Interestingly, NZ governments quote the IEA as the best source of information when it comes to energy but completely ignore the IEA when it comes to unwelcome information about climate. The IEA is talking about a runaway greenhouse gas situation.
9. Acidification of the oceans [due to absorption of anthropogenic CO2 from the atmosphere] is proceeding at an unprecedented rate, leading to stress of organisms dependent on bicarbonate cycle for shell formation. Industrial activity is altering the chemical and biological composition of the oceans at a rate faster than that of the great Permian Extinction Event which wiped out 95% of life on Earth. Continuation on the current path of burning fossil fuels will render the oceans uninhabitable to most existing marine species, and then wipe out most terrestrial species.
10. I was personally shocked to see millions of jellyfish on a local beach recently. Although my observation has no scientific significance it is indicative of the ‘death of the oceans’ I have been reading about; we are transforming the oceans back to some primeval form, similar to that of 600 million years ago, wiping out the species (turtles, sunfish etc.) that feed on jellyfish and loading the oceans with toxins. I had previously noted the paucity of sea life in rock pools compared to 30 years ago (this is presumably not from over-collection, since the beach has been designated a maritime protection zone).
11. Whereas the previous five mass extinction events (other than the one that wiped out dinosaurs) were due to natural volcanic activity, the present mass extinction event is due to industrial activity and emissions from industrial activity.
12. An unknown amount of radiation is leaking from the crippled Fukushima reactors into the Pacific Ocean. People on the west coast of the US are now extremely concerned, particularly since mass deaths of sea life are now being frequently reported.
13. Australia recently reported the highest ever October temperatures (corresponding with the earliest severe wildfires).
14. Typhoon Haiyan was the biggest storm ever to make landfall and resulted in unprecedented damage. This was due to extraordinarily hot sea water associated with ocean warming. An excellent essay on Nature Bats Last highlighted the fact that prior to the Second World War people in the region lived without the ‘benefits’ of civilization, and when storms smashed things up they just picked up the pieces and rebuilt their huts, got water from lakes and rivers, and went back to fishing from small boats: now they are unable to do any of that because all the natural, sustainable systems have been ruined or covered with concrete and asphalt, and industrial civilization resulted in a population explosion that resulted in far more victims than there would have been if development had not occurred.
15. If we imagine the Earth totally covered with industrial civilization (no land available for food production) it is clearly not sustainable. 90% covered by civilization is not sustainable. Nor is 80%. Not even 50% is sustainable. The current level of civilization utilises about 43% of the primary production of the Earth and has resulted in a 0.85C rise in average temperature. That 0.85C rise is already having catastrophic effects (meltdown of the Arctic, super-storms etc.)
16. The fact that we already have meltdown (lowest Arctic ice, extraordinary storms, death of corals etc.) at 0.85C above the long-term average indicates that we are already in overshoot with respect to population and resource consumption. Despite the fact that we have reached the meltdown stage, governments persist with policies predicated on increased population and increased resource use, which is completely insane. NPDC [New Plymouth District Council] advocates the same kind of insanity on a daily basis.
17. The previously proposed ‘safe’ level of temperature rise of 2C is not safe at all, and was only ever an arbitrary number. But climate specialists now admit that warming cannot be restricted to 2C anyway, and that we are on track for a 4C or 6C rise in average temperature, i.e. a largely uninhabitable planet in a matter of decades, probably by 2060, which would be within the normal lifespan of children living today. If the International Energy Agency is correct, the Earth will be largely uninhabitable by 2040.
18. Nothing whatsoever is being done to curtail emissions. International negotiations are a farce predicated on ‘kicking the can down the road’ for as long as possible. NPDC policy, mirroring that around the world, is geared to increasing CO2 emissions, via increased population, increased use of concrete, increased dependence on internal combustion engines, etc. I quoted the incident I had witnessed of two petrol-powered vehicles being used to deposit and level gravel on a path in Pukekura Park when one person with a wheelbarrow could have done the job (and 50 years ago that was how the job was done); meanwhile, the mulching machine in operation in the park prior to our meeting would have consumed more energy in a few hours than the electric bikes the council promotes would save in a year.
19. Extraction of conventional oil peaked over 2005 to 2008, and the economic system is now being propped up by desperation measures centered around fracking, deep-sea drilling, extraction from tar sands, etc. as well as consuming ever greater amounts of energy, such activities increase the emissions associated with fossil fuel extraction, thereby exacerbating the climate catastrophe.
20. We cannot look to John Key* or Jonathan Young** or Andrew Little*** for leadership on environmental issues: they are simply opportunists acting as agents of global corporations and money-lenders; they implement policies favourable to global corporations and money-lenders which entail trashing the environment, generally as quickly as possible.
21. Currently, NPDC is fully committed to destroying the futures of the young people living in the district and elsewhere via resource depletion and environmental collapse, as indicated by the huge display in the council foyer which announces that NPDC spends 2c of every dollar collected promoting economic growth. (Economic growth equates to increased resource consumption and increased emissions.)
22. The present economy has no future because of energy depletion and because it is increasing the level of pollution, both locally and globally. Continuation on the present path of searching for and burning fossil fuels results in an uninhabitable planet within decades. Drastically reducing fuel consumption leading to total abandonment of fossil fuels is the only sane option. (It may be too late for that, but it is still the only sane option.)
23. This is not a matter of priorities. Surely there can be no priority higher than ensuring the next generation has a habitable planet to live on. The system ignores the most important priority of all, and therefore the system is INSANE.
24. Everyone within the system pretends nothing is wrong and that the system has a future even when a modicum of rational thought indicates it doesn’t (infinite growth on a finite planet is mathematically impossible.)
25. The composition of the new council give us no reason for optimism and many reasons for extreme pessimism.
26. The main reason the general populace of the district continues to ‘behave badly’ -purchase and use oversized vehicles, cover land with concrete and asphalt, consume at unsustainable levels etc.- is because they are encouraged to by NPDC. The only message they get from the council is that everything is rosy (when the reverse is the case and we are mightily close to collapse).
27. The overuse of internal combustion engines is causing severe health problems globally and within the district. Coupled with consumption of junk food, mechanized transport is causing obesity and other diseases. Consumerism is generating a freak society, and each week that passes the ‘freak show’ becomes more bizarre.
28. There is a culture of ‘spend, spend, spend’ amongst council officers, with utterly ridiculous projects being undertaken. Apart from being totally unnecessary, these concrete and steel projects put additional CO2 into the atmosphere and bring forward abrupt climate change and an uninhabitable planet, are financially crippling the district, and pushing those on low fixed incomes ‘off the cliff’.
29. I pointed out that I spoke with Gary Bedford, regional environment officer, prior to returning to NP in 2006, and raised the matters of Peak Oil and Abrupt Climate Change; he ‘did not want to know’ and has done nothing whatsoever to protect the district. Indeed, he is on record as making absurd statements such as: “Climate change will be good for Taranaki.” I wish to have a follow-up session with him.
30. I have been proven right on practically everything I said in 2006 and subsequently to variously composed councils since 2006. Council officers have been proven consistently wrong. But it makes no difference how often council officers are proven wrong, nothing in the system changes and the insanity continues.
31. NPDC has been provided with the most accurate data and analysis available over many years (particularly my submission to the draft plan 2013), and NPDC has ignored it all. Hence, everything that matters has gotten worse and will continue to get worse by the day.
32. As far as I can establish, Colin Comber is the only council officer in a position to challenge the nonsense churned out by the bulk of the administration, in so far as all the policies advocated by senior council officers result in increased emissions and an ever faster meltdown of the global and local environment. I pointed out to him that he has ‘sat on his hands’ since our first meeting (around 6 years ago) and everything has gotten worse as a consequence.
*John Key: NZ Prime Minister.
**Jonathan Young: MP for the city
***Andrew Little: List Labour MP for the city (MMP system).
Andre Judd: recently elected (October 2013) mayor of the city.
What is particularly interesting for me is that Jonathan Young, Andrew Little and Andrew Judd all have copies of my most recent book ‘The Easy Way’ (which details most of what is discussed on CoIC and NBL etc.) and that I had several sessions with Andrew Little on the content of TEW, and numerous sessions with Andrew Judd prior to his election.
Old habits die hard, but if you’re a smoker and you’ve got stage 3 cancer staring you in the face, the only two options are to radically change your behavior or die with your bad habits. We’ve already destroyed the Earth’s air conditioner which has altered the Jet Streams, unlocked the methane monster, and set off various other positive feedback loops ushering in a new normal of extreme weather. As a result, humans no longer enjoy a stable climate within which to cultivate food and can no longer depend on feshwater supply from seasonal snow melt. Yes, it’s rather a bit too late, but why keep digging when the hole you are in is already way too deep?