This Too Shall Pass

roasty

Propaganda is subtle – at least effective propaganda is. The more hamfisted it is, the more skeptical even the most earnest of readers become. In his usual clear-eyed style Arthur Silber lays that out in his latest essay (which you should go read right now). Back? Angry yet?

I am. I’m angry. I’m angry that the impeccable avalanche of logic that Silber lays out, facts that roll down to more facts which roll down to inevitable conclusions burying us in a 10 foot wall of cold truth, just aren’t enough. As happenstance has it, I was listening to The Coup as I read his essay, and Boots Riley’s lyrics dovetailed in perfectly:

They got the TV, we got the truth
They own the judges and we got the proof

It’s all there for the taking. There’s no logic that can explain kids starving while we dump excess food in the…

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32 Responses to This Too Shall Pass

  1. No soy yo says:

    I agree with the anger, and appreciated that part of the post, but I’ve explained elsewhere that with climate change and the widespread and most likely extinction-level damage to come from it, I personally don’t think optimism is in order.

    Pessimism is also called for based on the reactions people are having to Trump that we’ve discussed here. There’s the liberal reaction that erases all the previous fascism, and there’s the safety pins, the registry, the ‘radical’ “this is from suppressed homosexuality,” etc. And there’s the fact that everyone seems to be empowering the racists:

    From “MEET THE WHITE NATIONALIST TRYING TO RIDE THE TRUMP TRAIN TO LASTING POWER” on Mother Jones. Annoying article, but this was what I had already been thinking about:

    “In August, Hillary Clinton declared in a speech that “the emerging racist ideology known as the alt-right” had through Trump “effectively taken over the Republican Party.” Watching that speech from a hotel room while on vacation in Tokyo, Spencer could hardly believe his good fortune. Suddenly his inbox was flooded with interview requests from national political reporters; in a hasty Skype call with Michelle Goldberg of Slate—a Jew, he figured, but “it’s hard not to be” in the media—he confidently asserted that he’d “made it.”

    We’ve now exploded this recognition. “A Nazi in the white house!”

    The guy at Slate Star Codex (in a mainstream “can’t we all get along”-type approach) claims that what is frightening people more than the racists is the talk about all the racists. I did think that part was true, and if fear were leading to action that would be fine, but it seems like it’s all part of a self-promoting hysteria leading to nothing except building up the confidence and the numbers of Nazi groups.

    So if there’s some sort of geoengineering trick that doesn’t kill us all even faster, and humans survive, who is going to be part of, much less lead, a non-safety-pin revolution?

    I’d love to be convinced that This Too Shall Pass, but I’m afraid that Roasty didn’t do it for me.

    • roastyagain says:

      I get where you’re coming from, and honestly I share your sentiment to a large degree- but I think that’s on the short term. On the long term I think humans can survive both capitalism and climate change. Probably nowhere near the number of people now, but I have hope in the sense that I’m not willing to cede the end of humanity to these fucking fascists – I think we’re more resilient than that.

      That being said, it won’t be in my lifetime that we end capitalism I’m sure – but maybe in my kids’.

      • Tarzie says:

        “Practically nowhere near the number now.” This is the most depressing vision ever. That we practically kill the planet and ourselves but not entirely and still survive. Seeing human survival as a happy ending to near-apocalypse looks like speciesism and religion to me. No thanks. If we get that close to the brink, it is my deepest wish that we go all the way over.

        It seems to me it’s this kind of blind faith in humanity that makes climate change a non-entity for a lot of people. Somehow we’ll just get through it. What is the empirical basis for this kind of faith when even getting people to stop eating animals is practically impossible?

      • No soy yo says:

        I don’t see any evidence that we’ll survive climate change; we seem to be accelerating towards it. And there are associated deadly consequences. I guess it’s fine to have optimism, as long as it is based on something beyond “humans are resilient,” since it’s humanism (humans are so great and so much better than other species) that I see as a big part of the problem; I don’t think capitalism works in a bubble. As a matter of fact, that is the excuse for continuing to emit so much carbon: we’re so smart and creative, we will find a way to suck it all back (and de-acidify the oceans while we’re at it) without causing more harm than good.

        I wouldn’t even bring it up since I think the future is so bleak, and there’s no need to cause despair in others, but as I mentioned elsewhere, there is a deep pessimism in any case — especially on the part of young people. Something like 50% of children and teens in the US and Australia think “the world won’t be around when they grow up.”* I bet that number has gone up since Trump, not because of anything he’s said or done, but because of the hysteria (despite the fact that immediate annihilation by nuclear war is probably less likely now than with Hillary). So, if we are all so negative anyway, then we may as well at least go down fighting to see if we can create a miracle, or at least cause pain to those who’ve caused the destruction while we’re on the way down. Also, I think we’d all act differently if we had a cancer diagnosis, and maybe having the diagnosis is preferable.

        *I don’t have the quotes at my fingertips at the moment, but these are studies quoted in George Marshall’s book, Don’t Even Think About It: Why our Brains Are Wired to Ignore Climate Change. A fascinating book.

  2. roastyagain says:

    As I said, it’s hope for me – I don’t see the evidence either, or I would say it’s logic, not hope.

    But I’ve never understood completely misanthropic leftism. If you feel that way, then what’s the point? Why bother? Why bother trying to improve the lot of a species you don’t even remotely think has a chance (at best), or is categorically detrimental (at worst)?

    And for the record that’s fine if you feel that way, but it doesn’t do it for me. If you’re to the point where you think humanity will only ever be a cancer on the planet, then it seems to me the logical position is to eradicate that cancer, not fight to improve it’s well-being.

    I will make allowances, however, for purely spiteful causing of pain to fascists on the way down lol, I can understand that.

    • Tarzie says:

      But I’ve never understood completely misanthropic leftism. If you feel that way, then what’s the point? Why bother?

      I think you use hope where I use faith. For me, there is no hope without evidence. I have fought misanthropy for years, but I regret it’s won. I’m too much of an empiricist for hope.

      That said, I don’t think regarding human beings as a cancer is incompatible with harm minimization for individuals while we go down the toilet. Nonetheless, increasingly I think animals and the environment are more deserving of my attention than humans. My days of calling myself a leftist and hoping for revolution are close to single digits. I have no ambivalence about calling myself a vegan though and likely will until I die.

      With you on causing pain to fascists, though as popularly conceived, I’m starting to wonder why they are so much worse than every other piece of shit on earth profiting from cruelty and domination. Increasingly seems like an aesthetic thing to me. Disingenuous hairsplitting to make quotidian capitalist evil acceptable. Of course its observations like this that have earned me the scorn of proper leftists, which is why I have so little interest in fighting alongside them for any reason.

      Fuck humans, really. A species programmed to destroy everything including itself which should rightfully go the way of all useless mutants. Good riddance.

      • Hummus says:

        With you on causing pain to fascists, though as popularly conceived, I’m starting to wonder why they are so much worse than every other piece of shit on earth profiting from cruelty and domination. Seems like an aesthetic thing to me.

        Yeeeeeeep. “But I only starved you to death through a structural adjustment program!”

    • No soy yo says:

      Sorry, I just don’t buy it. How is being sure there will be a revolution, that capitalism will be defeated, but you don’t know how, or when, or why, anything but fatalistic?

      As Tarzie pointed out, your idea of “survival” is also pretty grim. In (the novel) The Road, there are “survivors,” but they envy the dead.

      There’s also a more practical way of looking at it. Number one, those who believe in the resilience of humans and that we are all going to join together and pull through are *less* likely to a) care about climate change, and b) do something about it (also in Marshall’s book). Because these people think everything will turn out ok, then it doesn’t really matter what we do — it’s almost a religious attitude towards humans, aka, humanism. So this “optimism,” or “hope” is actually destructive in this context.

      Also, imagine that a meteor is coming straight at earth and we know it will arrive in ten years. It will kill all of us, and there is no Hollywood hope of a miracle. In what ways might people act differently? In the US and high emitting countries, they may not worry about their pensions, 401-k’s, etc. They may not work (and emit) so much, they may not care about the next iPhone, they probably won’t procreate (I point this out but this is probably an issue for another time, since I know even here it’s controversial). Why would we fight a resource war (i.e., any war) if it’s lights out in ten years? Maybe some people will fly (and emit) more to go see friends and family, but I bet there will be a lot of hanging out at home, etc. Those with 10 years of savings would probably stop working altogether. We won’t fix roads to make it easier to drive (and emit); who cares? Now imagine it’s coming in 5 years, 1 year, etc. Which way of thinking actually would destroy capitalism (and imperialism) and actually reduce carbon emissions? a) hopey we’ll all be fine for centuries to come, though I dont know how and won’t be around for it; or b) we’re fucked, and very soon.

      Or, c), we are almost definitely fucked, but the same things we want to do/not do in the fucked or survive case, are exactly the same: stop producing, stop imperialism, stop wastefulness, stop working for capitalism, etc.

      There are other ways of looking at it: for example, as far as I can see, one requirement for our survival is widespread veganism. That is a positive. So, if I imagine us surviving (which I do, though I think the chances are extremely slim), I am imagining a better world.

      So frankly I am sure that I put more time and energy into thinking about and promoting the idea of humans surviving than you do. It sounds like you’re waiting for divine intervention. And, if you think “revolution” is the way, then you need to be able to say what that would entail, or it is just waiting for Zeuss to make everything all right. And ignoring the reality, or not speaking about it for fear of upsetting everyone is tempting, and something I’ve thought a lot about; in the end, I find it way too paternalistic for me, though I still usually don’t necessarily lay it all out unless a conversation progresses to that point.

      • roastyagain says:

        Ok, so there are some assumptions you’re making out of me saying very little that I think are worth addressing:

        “Sorry, I just don’t buy it. How is being sure there will be a revolution, that capitalism will be defeated, but you don’t know how, or when, or why, anything but fatalistic?

        As Tarzie pointed out, your idea of “survival” is also pretty grim. In (the novel) The Road, there are “survivors,” but they envy the dead.”

        Two assumptions here. First, you assume that I am sure there is a revolution, capitalism defeated, etc – I don’t assume any of those things. I have *hope*. Period. You all are reading a helluva lot into that. I am *hopeful* that things will turn around. I’m very aware that at the moment all signs point to them not, but I’m also not arrogant enough to believe that what the current facts dictate are by any means a fait accompli on a hugely longer timescale. No, I don’t have the facts that support my hope, I’m happy to admit that and have already; nor am I sitting on my ass doing nothing waiting for divine intervention – again, because I’m not saying through the word “hope” that it’s a certainty things will change (faith) or that I have no control (fatalism). I’m simply saying that I have hope that things will get better either based on the work that we do now, or changing situations in the future. If you think I’m misusing the word hope, then feel free to suggest a different word – I don’t really care – but ultimately all I’m saying is that while I’m realistic about where we’re probably headed, I have hope that something will change that.

        Two your second point in that quote – you assume I mean some small band of future post-apocalyptic survivors. Instead what I mean is that humanity will need to reach equilibrium with other species and the environment at some point in the future, or go extinct. I realize, again, the latter is the path we’re headed down – I spend a lot of my learning time on environmental shit – way more than I do on politics frankly. That being said, if we manage to avoid extinction it will likely be at much, much less populous levels, as demanded by natural equilibrium. So yes, less people, but not in some Mad Max type scenario by any means.

      • roastyagain says:

        I realized after I wrote that last one that you were referring to my “believe that wholeheartedly” in the post – I guess I should clarify it… those things will go away eventually, my hope is it’s before we’re extinct. I’m going to add an addendum to the post to that effect, because I see where that causes the confusion and I don’t mean it too.

      • No soy yo says:

        I wasn’t making assumptions, I was going by your own words (as you noticed in second post you were sure of it in your blog post). And that was my main reaction and what got us all started — saying you’re sure that capitalism will die, and humans will survive, and even suggested it may be centuries. That was the part I particularly objected to since I don’t see how industrial capitalism can continue for centuries and that humans will survive that.
        And you repeated it here, “I think we’re more resilient than that.” So that was the reaction from several of us that it sounded like faith and not hope.
        But what you say today that you think it will be bad and we’re heading down the path towards annihilation (my words) but hope that we don’t, is something I definitely agree with.

  3. Amish Rake Fight says:

    “Why bother trying to improve the lot of a species you don’t even remotely think has a chance (at best), or is categorically detrimental (at worst)?”

    “I think you use hope where I use faith. For me, there is no hope without evidence.”

    One of the most shattering aspects of capitalism-induced climate change and environmental ruin, for me, is the historical evidence that humans can live in harmony with the natural world. Indigenous people lived for thousands of years prior to the industrial age without ruining the climate or causing widespread species extinction. Someone please correct me if my portrayal of Indigenous people here is inaccurate or ahistorical, I am not an expert on human history. To be fair, some groups did cause species extinction, and deforestation in the name of agriculture also predates the industrial revolution by many centuries. But it seems to me that humans are fully capable of being stewards of the natural world, healing some of our past destruction, and meeting our basic needs without overly competing with other species.

    The problem is not humans. The problem is humans practicing capitalism, and specifically industrial capitalism. That is what has caused climate change, industrial agriculture, factory farms, widespread pollution, nuclear contamination, over-fished oceans, species extinction etc.

    I simultaneously feel hope and despair, knowing that a different world could be possible – for all species – but also seeing that we are so, so far away from realizing that world; it almost seems like a fairy-tale. There are multiple barriers to attaining that world, but I am not convinced that the human species is physiologically programmed to be incapable of it.

    • Tarzie says:

      Yes, of course, humans have lived more lightly on the planet. But clearly those humans lose. Ergo…

      And you know what else? In the Americas, at least, they were happily shitting on each other when the crackers arrived — before capitalism’s official start date btw — and showed them how it’s really done. Show me a pre-capitalist civilization I’d want to live next door to without weapons and I’ll show you a pre-capitalist society that didn’t last very long.

      The technology genie is out of the bottle. Going to space and being attacked by aliens seems more likely than humans returning en masse to hunting, gathering and light agriculture. Most of them can’t even lose five pounds or give up meat one day a week. Yeah, perhaps we can mend our ways in time. Considering how much damage we’ve already done — and sorry you can’t just blame the ruling class — it’s hard for me to give a shit. If there’s a way you can root for the earth and humans at the same time, no one’s shown it to me.

    • poob says:

      Yes, your portrayal of indigenous people is ahistorical and innaccurate, although I agree with you that humans could hypothetically be stewards (if they were all vegan environmentalist minimalists). Indigenous people wiped out a huge number of species per capita. Balanced ecosystems take millions of years to develop. Humans only left Africa 100 000 years ago. No ecosystem is designed to be hunted, however “sustainably”, by humans.

      “Factory farming” is not a unique problem and “intensive agriculture” is definitely not the problem. Intensive agriculture produces more food per unit of land, which means it is better for the environment per unit of food. Grass fed, free range animal products and hunting (including fishing) of wild animals are the worst practices for the environment, because they are the least efficient.

      The problem is that humans consume as much environmentally costly luxuries and shitty products (animal products being the main example) as they can, and humans are a new species, and our population (along with the much larger livestock population) has grown exponentially as a result of more efficient food production methods.

      Some claim we therefore need to actively work towards reducing the human population, even though veganism and general bans on all socially unnecessary products would work to protect the environment much more quickly.

      Funnily enough, some people who claim to care about the environment say that the best thing for the environment is to destroy humanity by destroying the environment. Apart from being obviously self-contradictory, I think it is also unrealistic. Humans don’t have an interest in destroying ALL humans, and are unlikely to do so. Humans have shown a tendency to eat each other rather than starve, and whatever happens we will leave enough environment for the survivors to live off. Even those methods of reducing the human population that do not increase the rate of environmental harm have a much smaller impact and take a longer period of time compared to stopping the unnecessary environmental harm done by unnecessary corpse, junk and luxury production.

      The best we can hope for is (1) those who are most to blame for leading the destructive practices get the pitchfork in the face they deserve; and/or (2) the necessary restrictions on luxury consumption including a total ban on non-veganism spread quickly enough to mitigate species extinction and leave a decent habitable world for animal survivors where all human survivors are vegan minimalists.

      There may not be evidence that either of these things is happening MUCH, but it’s no more unrealistic than the idea that environmental destruction will kill ALL humans and that environmental destruction is therefore good for the environment.

      • Tarzie says:

        some people who claim to care about the environment say that the best thing for the environment is to destroy humanity by destroying the environment.

        Can you provide an example of “some people.” Otherwise, this looks like a straw man.

        There may not be evidence that either of these things is happening MUCH, but it’s no more unrealistic than the idea that environmental destruction will kill ALL humans and that environmental destruction is therefore good for the environment.

        This presupposes that that which kills off humans kills off everything else. Where’s the evidence for this? What do fish care if the east coast of the United States is flooded, for instance? The more human beings die off, the more room there is for everything else to migrate to decent conditions and for their ecosystems to bounce back. Is there any indispensable part of the food chain that’s dependent on us?

        This conversation started when a smattering of humans surviving an apocalypse was postulated as a reason for hope. If you can show me that there is some correspondence between number of humans surviving and other species surviving, please do so. That sure doesn’t seem to be the way of the world so far.

      • No soy yo says:

        This presupposes that that which kills off humans kills off everything else. Where’s the evidence for this?”

        Over 400 nuclear reactors will melt down simultaneously (we won’t be around to cool them), causing a nuclear winter beyond any imagined nuclear war scenario. There will be years of nuclear winter, all plants will die, all animals will die, 99%+ of life on earth will die. This is the cancer we are. We can’t even go extinct without bringing along everyone else for the ride.

        (as I pointed out elsewhere, the prospect for multiple meltdowns is also greatly increased because of climate change and the related problems it will bring)

      • Tarzie says:

        Uh ok. I’ll shut up. Not a topic one should be winging it on.

      • No soy yo says:

        Re. humans, read The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert. Homo sapiens sapiens (so wise we deserve two wise‘s!) have been responsible for lots of extinctions, including our occasional mates, the Neanderthals. But that was before we had fossil fuels to help our efficiency!

        Re veganism vs. non-procreation, there’s always both! Rapidly de-populating the planet, especially in higher-emitting areas is crucial.

        The problem, if we want to be more pessimistic, is that if we stop our high emitting activities, we will also stop the “global dimming” that comes from the pollution in the short-term (this accounts for at least 2 degrees C and would be immediate — practically overnight if we stopped industry overnight). So what we want to do is cut out those activities, and also do things that make a huge difference in the very short-term, which is veganism, since methane is incredibly powerful, but shorter-lived than CO2. So we do have a shot with veganism + de-population + stopping wars (highest emitting activity) + stopping flying. At the same time, we would need to spend a lot of our very limited carbon budget on decommissioning nuclear power plants, which takes 10-20 years (when there’s no accident. At Fukushima, they still don’t know how they’re going to deal with it).

      • poob says:

        I might come back to this later when I have the energy. All I will say for now is that I wasn’t even taking the predicted future meltdowns into account. I was however talking about all forms of environmental destruction that have occurred so far, which global warming still hasn’t caught up to yet. I was taking as evidence the historical fact that humans have already wiped out huge numbers of species as the human population has been succeeding and expanding, so the burden of proof is on whoever wants to claim the opposite will happen in the future, although, like most people, I’m not specifically concerned with the future.

        Fish are a good example of humans destroying other ecosystems as the human population thrives. Marine ecosystems have been getting worse since humans started fishing them millennia ago, but this has accelerated exponentially, and without a mass movement towards becoming a vegan species, scientists predict empty oceans fair soon, before humans are forced to stop fishing, so the question is how would rising oceans stop fishing? They don’t. Only veganism stops fishing. Some land species are already going extinct due to the first half-degree of global warming (for example, at least one species of reptile can only give birth to a single gender at higher temperatures, leading to extinction within a generation without intervention by conservationists). But the number of animals and plants that have already gone extinct due to the more direct environmental harm of non-veganism and luxury production is much higher. Global warming will make life even more difficult, but the burden off proof as far as I can see is on those claiming that human extinction is likely or even possible. Agricultural systems may collapse without sufficient reform, but even then, why would *everybody* starve? Why would the ruling class allow a nuclear disaster to happen if it were going to destroy themselves? Most humans don’t care about the harm they do because they believe *they * will be fine, and don’t care about others who are already suffering. The burden of proof from their position and mine is on those that want to claim otherwise.

        I’m sorry if I haven’t been able to adequately address your points. I might come back and try again another time.

      • Tarzie says:

        This is helpful. Henceforth I shall wish for the survival of the species through mass veganism, less for our sake, than for everything else.

      • No soy yo says:

        Humans are very short-sighted, even and especially the ruling class. They also are working to be able to leave the earth if and when disaster hits as Arthur mentioned, and I mentioned elsewhere that I’m sure they think that their bunkers outlasting nuclear winter.

        You say you’re not taking nuclear reactors into account, yet you claim it’s not likely we will go extinct and want evidence, so I didn’t quite understand that part.

        I’m not sure why you think humans are immune to extinction. We have been babied, most of us need technology to survive, others are sociopaths or just evil, etc. Also, we are a relatively large mammal, which means more susceptible, not less, to extinction. We’ve also created systems that are deadly yet vulnerable. We are also creating an environment we’ve never had before. We’ve gone from abundance of flora and fauna to relative paucity. We’re going to go into completely unknown areas — no fish, an acidified ocean, a changed climate, etc. We’ve thrived while decimating fish, as you say (and anyone interested should watch a Jeremy Jackson lecture on Youtube), but there’s still more to take, and that will change within 15 years.

        In the meantime, I agree 100%, be vegan and try to limit our ongoing destruction, though even if species loss up to now is greater because of use of animals, that will change within decades no matter what. But there are lists of good reasons to be vegan.

        I’ll post links in a separate comment that will get stuck in moderation since there are numerous. You’re free to read or not. You would need to take it all as a whole and read between the lines. This is in addition to legitimate fears about nuclear war, etc. There are also fears about nano tech and AI etc. that I don’t know enough about to know if they’re legitimate (talked about by the group discussed here http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/03/were-underestimating-the-risk-of-human-extinction/253821/)

        If anyone genuinely doesn’t believe that things are that bad, or doesn’t want to believe, I’m not that interested in pushing anyone. Maybe I’d be happier not knowing myself. I do think though that any chance of survival means facing up to the problems. I’ve tried to find data on surveys of whether people would want to know about a cancer diagnosis, etc., and can’t find the info. Of course this goes beyond that.

      • poob says:

        Before I dig into these, I’ll just clarify what exactly I haven’t seen evidence for: mainly, it’s that the ruling class are incompetent enough to allow a disaster that would drastically shorten their own lives. I agree they are short-sighted, but mainly in the sense that they are selfish, sociopathic, usually even self-destructively hedonistic, but not so stupid when in comes to protecting their their freedom to consume, which relies on not allowing such a disaster to occur in their lifetimes. The systems for preventing such disaster will hardly be the first area where funding is cut, more likely among last. It’s totally possibly that funding cuts could lead to a greater rate of meltdowns like Fukushima and Chernobyl, but these are reported to only cause eventually a few thousand slightly premature deaths due to cancer. If there were total chaos, with all governments breaking down, that would be a different story, but I woild till need evidence that this is likely AND that the meltdowns would occur AND that they would be bad enough to cause a nuclear winter. I educate myself now on these by having a look at the links you have provided. Thanks.

      • Vommunist says:

        Honestly, nothing here has effected my expectations much. I still believe that kind of destruction that has been accelerating may continue to accelerate or may not; it may even deccelerate; but I can’t imagine it accelerating fast enough to destroy the whole species. I think when the funding no longer exists to safely maintain reactors, they could meltdown, but they could also be shut down safely before they get to that point, due to safety concern combined with the fact renewables like wind are already cheaper to run and are becoming increasingly cheaper to build. Even if they all melted down at once (which I’m still unconvinced is likely) and even if they each killed millions very quickly (as opposed to the thousands of slightly premature deaths that mainstream reports claim for Fukishima and Chernobyl) that wouldn’t be a nuclear winter. We have come close to nuclear war in the past (I only know Chomsky and MacNamaras versions of events and some of the JFK tapes), but it seems the ruling class now realise that is a stupid idea. Their control systems on it may not be strict enough, and the fact the weapons still exist is a worry, but I’m still not convinced it’s likely. I do think what non-veganism and “middle” and upper class consumer freedom are already collectively doing is horrific enough and needs to be stopped immediately not only because it otherwise could get even worse, which is somewhat irrelevant because I want it to top regardless.

      • No soy yo says:

        One issue is shutting down a nuclear reactor (there may or may not be time depending on what happens, the automatic systems may or may not work, and all nuclear sites in the world don’t have the same safety standards even for shutting it down). A separate issue is cooling the spent fuel rods, which must continue for years, and which are set up to only withstand a relatively short period without power.

        Half a million people worked on the clean-up at Chernobyl which remains uninhabitable for miles. I don’t know about Fukishimi but also thousands, or tens if not also hundreds of thousands of people, and robots, and massive amounts of water and electricity to contain the damage and to continue to cool the rods and they still don’t know what they’re going to do with the water or the rods.

        In a Carrington event (for example; there are others — it doesn’t take much to take the grid down and with increased natural disasters it becomes more likely) there is no electricity. No pumps for water. The workers’ cars don’t work. Their cell phones don’t work to be called in. No public transportation. No working radios or tv’s to call for temporary crews of tens of thousands.

        Anyway, that is one scenario of extinction, and there are others, but we each take the same info and process it differently.

  4. Thanks for the kind words, roasty. Thanks, too, to Tarzie for reblogging my post, and to the other commenters who had nice things to say about it. I hope the analysis proved useful, because I must confess that, especially as I was completing the essay, I thought (more than once): “I can’t believe I’m spending all this time on an article from the New York Fucking Times.” But I thought the (sorta kinda) new contortions media has to engage in after Trump’s election merited some attention.
    As for what might happen to the non-lovely human race: as we know, some of our leading billionaires are making plans to start off-planet settlements. And Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit (or, as I fondly call it, Instafuck — after all the man is one of the leading fascist-“libertarians” online, and deserves an appropriate name for his blog) goes on and on about how “we” need to go off-planet if the human race is to survive long-term.
    Imagine that: the unlovely human race spreading its unloveliness into space. At that point, I think aliens might well put in an appearance. A good zap, and the human race is no more. And even the fascist-libertarians wouldn’t be able to complain. They’re big on self-defense, and the aliens would only be protecting themselves and other life forms that populate the greater universe.
    I assume that if aliens are around, they’ve survived far, far longer than humans have thus far, and are also far more advanced. I also assume that, even given their predilection towards peace — as demonstrated by how long they’ve survived — they know seriously bad trouble when they see it. While they may have a small pang of regret that they must resort to violence in this particular case, they would conclude they had no choice.
    So…buh-bye, humans. You had some glorious moments here and there, glimmers of what might have been had you chosen a radically different course. But in the end (and at the beginning, and in between as well), you insisted on shitting on EVERYTHING.
    ZAP!!!

  5. “Liberal interventionist aliens…” hahaha Thanks for that.

    Scifi scenarios aside, I agree with those who conclude that, although the human race could save itself and the planet (maybe), the necessary changes are so profound and would require so much time, that it just isn’t going to happen. And now, there are *so many* ways the end could come: nuclear war; some mutant or designed killer virus; climate change catastrophe; and on and on and on. Some of the doomsday causes could be brought about by non-state actors, as well as by states. It may simply be that there are now too many ways to disaster … one of them is bound to happen, sooner or later.

    But probably/maybe not in our lifetimes. If you have children, I’d be much more anxious about them, and still more anxious about their children. And as things stand now, there are too many humans who find pleasure in violence and killing. Until that number is reduced to close to zero, a non-disastrous outcome seems highly unlikely.

    But again, it may not occur in the near-term. So we try to find what happiness we can, as we try not to let the overall picture drive us batshit crazy. Easier said than done…

  6. Rob Payne says:

    I’ve read a number of books on “science” (I use scare quotes because I now feel science is just another form of religion) and have come to the conclusion that since science is just another manifestation of religion in the sense of the faith people have that science will fix everything is just that– blind faith, especially if we don’t have the scientific training and mathematics to understand why scientists make the claims they make. Scientists are not all in agreement on many things and it seems that theories have become confused with factual evidence. The so-called science tv shows like those shown on PBS (emphasis on BS) are so dumbed down that they are ridiculous, mostly pretty pictures and over dramatic narrations. Almost every one of these begins with an asteroid or comet hitting the earth and killing all the dinosaurs. Astronomers love this because it makes them seem more important than they are. Paleontologists, or many of them, don’t agree with the asteroid scenario. They point out that almost all species of dinosaurs were already gone when the asteroid struck. So despite that it’s an unproven theory that the asteroid or comet caused the dinosaur extinction it is presented to the public as fact. The reality is these programs are a way for scientists to get more money to support their research projects, that is to say it’s a lot of propaganda to convince people that it’s important to support science. If science is correct then extinction is common and part of the natural world so why shouldn’t humans go extinct? Frankly I think humans are mostly insane, especially the West. Perhaps the price of having large brains is an accompanying insanity. As for human nature, just get in your car and drive down the freeway for a while and you’ll easily see the true nature of humanity, self absorbed, self important, stupid and selfish beyond belief for the most part though there are the rare exceptions where occasionally you’ll see someone actually being courteous to another driver. Again, if science is correct the Earth has already gone through several ice ages and we are still coming out of the most recent of these, perhaps accelerated by human activity. Life seems to have survived these ice ages with some species going extinct and others benefitting. I’m far from convinced that the present warming is going to cause humanity to become extinct. That it’s going to cause havoc I have little doubt but the end of all things? Please. Having lived with Americans for sixty five years I think Americans deserve everything that’s coming our way. Indeed, if there was such a thing as karma then there ought to be a huge three thousand mile wide smoking black hole where the USA now resides. I would not cry over this except for the destruction of wildlife and what’s left of the natural world here in the United States of Assholes. Since the worst usually happens I suspect that humans will survive for quite some time to come.

  7. Pingback: This Too Shall Pass – roasty

  8. No soy yo says:

    I normally can’t stand Aaron Sorkin but I really like this clip from “The Newsroom”

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