Earth Day: April 22, 2017
This year Earth Day is especially meaningful I think. The reason for this is not simply because the Earth is beautiful and universal to all living things but because we have signifticant threats to both the beauty of Earth, and to its living organisms.
This year has seen a number of bad trends getting worse and seemingly coming to a climax. But all the while there is this dellusion of grandeur and the air of invincibility among the ruling powers that spells the almost certain destruction of our planet(at least as far as human life is concerned-though the Earth itself would go on fine no matter what we did. It could easily recover in a few hundred million years…a blink of an eye for her, unimaginable for us.)
There are three issues which I feel are most important to note, even if we should instead be celebrating the beauty of this planet only on this day-and not complaining about it all, still some serious warnings need to be aired.
World War III is in the Air
The first of these must be the present state of strategic affairs around the globe. We are seeing today a rising danger among the world’s super powers as they begin to confront each other in earnest. The issues of Ukraine, of Syria, of Africa and Asia where the United States and Europe are finding themselves pitted against the powers of Russia and China are quite alarming. There is little doubt that the situation is getting worse and should be addressed soon if we are to avoid all out conflict. Yet there are delusions on all sides that somehow the game can be played because we have developed weapons systems that allow for potential winners and losers.
We hear now of missile defense systems and the like, and how even if there were a nuclear war, it would be uncomfortable, quick, but survivable. The delusion of invincibility at its very worst.
There is no chance of surviving an all out confrontation, there is really no chance of preventing nuclear strikes in general except in a very limited capacity in a very limited theatre of war with a very limited range of weapons. What I mean is that maybe we can prevent a North Korea from completely obliterating one of its neighbors through some form of anti-missle system, but this is not going to be the case if a nation like Russia or China is fully involved. These systems have very limited capabilities inherently, no matter how they may be marketed. Worse yet, the demons of war once unleashed always create uncertainties and these uncertainties almost always defeat whatever strategy was estabished before the start of battles. Therefore we can say that what looks good on paper, or in a computer simulation is not likely to hold up in the broil of a real war. Yet the delusions go on…as if there were a way to come out on top.
This mindset is a danger to not only to the combatants but to the entire world community. The entire planet’s eco system. The end result of such a war involving Nuclear weapons would be the likely end of our species-and many others to boot. It would result in massive radiation sickness and disease and the complete collapse of all but the most primitive, most disfigured social systems and then only for a very short while. Life under such circumstances might not be worth living for anyone who is unlucky enough to survive.
What few people want to believe is how truly vulnerable our civilization is to sudden shocks and instability. I believe that in general, the more complex the society, the more vulnerable it is to instability of any kind. Whether it is societal instability, or climatic change, or Geological. Even a relatively minor confrontation could be enough to destabilize our society to a terminal level.
Much of the earth would probably become uninhabitable considering the spread of radioactivity into the food and water resources. Unless we were to evolve quickly into mutant ninja turtles, the outlook would be bleak, even after a very limited war involving nukes.
Let’s all go “Green”, then Blue, then Red, Purple, and Black
There is also another great delusion which threatens our world today. This one is more closely related to the original concept of Earth Day. We have all heard of going “green” and it seems to imply that there is some way for all of us to create an alternative to our present way of fueling the world community and economy. But in reality this notion of a clean energy alternative is little more than self-deception, and grand illusion.
The reasons for this are many and have been discussed before. We say for example that the climate is changing. But in reality we do not know its natural limits to begin with. There are claims of meteorological records going back hundreds and sometimes thousands of years. But what we are not told is that these records were shoddy, spurious at best. Measurements of sea temperature and land temperature were really not reliable until a few decades ago, and even then minimally available. We simply did not have the technological ability to measure temperatures around the world until very recently. Even the sophisticated technique of ice core sampling of the paleo climate is in the end only an approximate reading of very general conditions.
So we often hear of records being broken or set in recent times, and these are paraded around as if fact. But they are very probably much less than that.
The point is that we really cannot even be certain that the changes we are seeing now are valid beyond our small scale time-and yes these particular changes of our particular time do seem significant-to us, a delicate species with a very limited vision of Time, there is some kind of change in temperature and vehemence of storm activity. But we do not know that these are in any way out of the normal for our meteorological epoch. They may be, but we cannot really be certain. This because we exist on a tiny timescale, and no matter how clever we get, it is hard for us to truly understand the Titanic time scales of Geology and Climate.
Now we will not go into the climate change argument again, we’ve done that before but we should understand that even if we have changed our climate in reality which frankly is quite possible to be quite honest, we cannot know exactly how, or what the outcome will actually be. We do not for example know if the Earth’s climate will continue warming, or if some virulent and destructive antithetical oscillation occurs instead.
The fact is that even if the climate were steadily warming we could probably survive. If the change is slow. But one little known truth that is rarely mentioned if ever is that as the climate becomes warmer, the Earth will attempt to dissipate this heat with extreme climatic violence. That is to say each time a storm forms, it tends to dissipate heat and to radiate it into space. Therefore the warmer the climate gets, the more unstable, and violent violent the climate it gets. This instability may not merely be evident for a few days as in the duration of a particular storm, but may last for decades and even centuries. Therefore the climate may warm violently, then cool violently as well as produce violent destructive storms within these larger cyclical variations. Kind of like the volotility one sees in the stock market when a particular economic event creates uncertainty. The volotility itself is one of the chief mechanisms by which the climate would disperse infrared radiation into space, and thus allow for cooling.
We should never assume that we know when or wherefore the great changes will arise. The Little Ice Age proves that climate can change for long periods on the human scale. One hundred two hundred years cycles may well be the norm. We have little science that instruct us as the actual historical dynamics of such relatively long term changes in temperature. There will be those who attribute the Little Ice Age to sunspot activity, but once again, the science back then was for intent and purpose non-existent. We really dont know what caused it, but we cannot guarantee that it will not happen again, or for that matter that a similarly long term warming trend instead. The great ice ages, and warming trends probably come in much smaller waves… just like the tide, and like everything else in the universe as far as we can see.
Still we are polluting at a reprehensible, truly irresponsible pace. So in the end we really dont know exactly what the long term outcome of all this pollution will be. How this man made pollution will interact with the Earth’s natural order. The only thing we can be certain of is that it will create instability and uncertainty and make it harder for us to predict the climate. I think there is just about enough evidence to conclude this outcome at least.
Our knowledge of the Earth’s systems are limited. We cannot really predict what the Earth will do, especially if it is agitated short term by human activity. And therein lies the danger of delusion.
What we do not know can hurt us. Yet, there is almost no policy change anywhere to be found that even dares mention conservation. All we hear is that we need growth, but of course we are never told that this “growth” is going to cause monstrous amounts of pollution. Only that if we go “Green” alas we can our cake and eat it too!
We have the Solutions..Really?
We have crossed into the delusion that we “have an answer” to all this climate change. This delusion by itself is even more dangerous than our lack of knowledge concerning the climate.
We assume here that we know what the Earth’s climate is really doing, and in fact we do not. We assume we know what the Earth’s climate is going to do, and we almost definitely do not. But then we assume that there are specific “solutions” to this problem, but in reality there probably are not.
We are constantly bombarded with the idea that going “Green” will save the day. That we can substitute new forms of “Alternative” energy to power our world, and that by so doing we might be able to reduce the carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere, and that once done things will begin to return to normal. That we can save our world only by polluting it in a less intense manner. But this is nowhere near as simple as all that. It is not an accurate expectation.
Aside from the economic impact of trying to go “Green”, which would be quite substantial, there will also be environmental damage. Significant in many cases, and even then we cannot know the full extent. We dont know what happens to the Earth’s climate if we begin to capture large volumes of solar energy, or begin to disturb wind flows, or tidal flows. We do not know what sort of possible damage this can do if we really used these alternative energy sources to the degree that we are using oil and gas today. There could be significant damage done to the environment anyway. We dont know what happens if we start building nuclear reactors all over the planet. Fukushima should warn us of potential environmental damage that at least rivals any from the supposed human induced Climate Change we are seeing today.
Maybe “Green” Means Nuclear?
There is today this nascent idea that maybe Nuclear power can be a reasonable alternative to our present problems. However the fundamental problem of Nuclear waste is the same as it was fifty years ago. There is no place to put the reactor waste that is actually going to be safe in the long run. And the more we use this form of power the greater the risks will be for absolute catastrophe making even global climate change seem not so bad. We dont even want to know what would happen if a major disposal site began to leak into the water table.
We have seen with Fukushima an unusual set of circumstances. After all Tsunamis dont happen everyday, and besides we can work around the particular failure of the Fukushima reactor. At great expense of course, but still we might manage it. The problem still remains however. Tons of nuclear waste will have to sit somewhere, and if for any reason those should leak, even if terrorism for example were involved, the outcome would be catastrophic. There is no solution to the problem of Nuclear waste. And a significant leak of radioactive material would make all our efforts a horrific failure. I cannot say with certainty, I am not an expert here, but from what I have heard it is only a matter of time before such dumps begin to leak.
Going “Green” in this way, might lead to going blue.
Moreover, no matter what we did with energy, agriculture would still be a massive contributor to green house emissions.
Recently there has been an increased awareness of how much pollution we produce merely to feed ourselves. We are destroying vast swaths of forest all over the world simply to clear the land for harvest. Those trees which we destroy moderate both CO2 emissions, as well as water vapor and heat emissions. As we continue to devour our forests we contribute mightily to the green house problem. There are some who are quietly convinced that this agricultural pollution may well be the real culprit behind the observed changes in climate. There is also the release of Methane, another virulent by product of Agriculture. Methane is many times more potent a Green House gas than is CO2.
But what to do? Seven billion people need to be fed. Oh yeah, Im sure we can theoretically feed them all soy beans, and cut the production of cattle, but would we really do it? Does anyone see the Earth’s population as becoming fully reliant on soy beans and Lima Beans and peas?
In the end the agricultural raping of the Earth’s forest will continue no matter what we dream. Tell some people they will not be able to eat steak, or pork sausage and they could actually become homicidal.
So even if we did manage to lower our carbon footprint as they say, unless we found “green” ways to feed ourselves, it really would not much matter. We would still emit a great amount of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. And the general release of heat through industrial combustion which all civilization causes would also continue to cause CO2 gas build up in the atmosphere anyway, as well as water vapor.
The reality is that probably the greatest contributor to green house gases is simple water vapor. Every engine we use will emit water vapor, a green house gas many times more powerful than CO2. There is no way that I know of to avoid this. Even wind mills will at some point warm up the air around them and this will increase water vapor; and the increase in water vapor will add to the greenhouse effect, especially if heavily used. Any machine that generates heat in any way will of necessity add to the green house effect. Any city that warms the atmosphere will add to the green house effect(which the reason that New York City is usually an average of five to the ten degrees warmer than the surrounding area.)
All of this says absolutely nothing about the tremendous increase in fossil fuel required to actually go “Green”. Building wind mills, and solar panels, and electric generators and batteries will require an immense increase in the use of fossil fuels to begin with. By the time we have a substantial “Green” energy industry we will have increased our use of fossil fuels by a significant amount.
The great deception : More “Green” means even more “Black”
Nor is it likely that oil and natural gas would simply be done away with. And this is the greatest of all delusions, and the biggest of all lies. Should we manage to go green, there is absolutely no reason to believe that we would in reality stop using oil and gas since that would by its nature be the cheaper quicker fuel to burn. And if we continue to expand world consumption, there would be nothing to indicate that we would not use an available fuel. This is very critical to note. Those who say that alternative energy would decrease our use of oil and gas are wrong, or disingenuous. Rather the larger the economy the more likely would require greater amounts of oil and gas(at least as long as those last.) And when the easy wells begin to run dry, we would probably start going after the more remote sources, which would of course require even greater up front expenditures, and cause even more pollution and harm to the environment.
As the global economy grows, it will use whatever fuel sources are available. Oh yeah we would go green, but this would only add to the consumption! Those who say that “Green” energy would be a replacement for oil and gas either do not understand the economy, or are not, frankly, being honest. The increase in industrial production would of necessity involve an increase in the use of all available fuels. It is not a matter of “Green Energy” or “Black Energy”, it is, and always was a case of “Green Energy” plus “Black Energy”! It would only make it worse! And that’s the pun here. That’s the joke. And this is perhaps the greatest of all deceptions in the Alternative Energy saga. There is absolutely no intent of doing away with oil and gas, and coal. Anyone who understands the economy would very quickly see, that is an absolute impossibility! The larger the economy the more dependent it would become on the cheaper energy source, and that is going to continue being fossil fuel. Those are the dynamics of the economy and they will not change no matter what anyone says.
We are given the illusion that somehow going green is going to save us from our ultimate fate, but in reality this is the biggest lie of all. Going green would only increase consumption, increase energy use, and increase global pollution.
The only step we can take to avoid our fate is Conservation. It is to stop wasting, stop expending so much energy. Control our numbers, control ourselves! Yet no one is talking about that. Indeed our third major delusion is just that…that we can create a Global Economy that is actually sustainable! This is the greatest of all present delusions, and is the chief cause of the two above!
Our Known Limitations have been Replaced with Delusions
Back in the seventies it was clear to anyone who might want to look that both the right and left political wings were actually far more conservative than they are today. An odd truth, but true nonetheless.
The Left back then was deeply concerned about the impact of human “rules” on the natural order. There was deep concern over just how much we could do to the natural world before it reacted destructively. Before it killed us. The Left seemed to be aware that there was some reason to pull back, some reason to re-consider the basic biblical assumptions made by the right. Therefore that God gave man dominion over the Earth, so to speak. To the Left, influenced to some degree by communist dialectic no doubt, questioned very seriously the wisdom of assuming our divine authority over the Earth and its creatures. It was in many ways conservationism of sorts. That is there was an inclination to conserve our interactions with nature, and to conserve our actions upon the general environment because we might not really know the consequences. This same concern was often to do with social order as well. There was concern over the assumptions of the superiority and authority of one group of people over another.
The Right on the other hand felt that Ideological conservation was necessary. They in their own turn argued that the society that we lived in was founded upon certain principles, and that disregarding those principles, be they pretty or ugly could return us to a degenerative social order. They were not fond of Hippie love ins, or racial integration, or power struggles or socialist doctrines of re-distribution, but mostly they were not fond of overly liberal changes to their basic society as they had come to build it. Religion was still deeply embedded in their views, and so were the Ideological foundations of Capitalism. They may have been given dominion over the earth, but they were not necessarily given total dominion over their own existence. They may have been capitalists, but they adhered as much as possible to the limiting Darwinist principles underlying their views. They believed firmly that the strong will survive, and the weak must either die, or accept guidance, and a lower standard of living. Harsh, no doubt, but it was a form of conservation. They also believed in some austerity, and self-preservation. They tended to conserve their doctrines, and if changes were to happen, they would happen very slowly and only when proven to be necessary in the rigor of the Ideological process.
Their own authority, had at least some built in limits.
Both of these movements had exception, distortions, and corruption, and both were deeply entwined to the power structure. However, in the end both were relatively careful(compared at least to the present world-view.) Their objectives were almost always limited. They were both aware of their limitations. This perhaps was nescessitated due to the “balance of power” between the Soviets and the West. One mistake, and poof…it could all be gone, and both sides understood this and to a large degree respected this one great limitation to their dreaming, and/or their greed.
With the fall of the Soviet Union all that changed forever.
When we look today at either side, Left or Right, West or East, what we see are liberal delusions on a grand scale. Both the progressive liberals and the Neoconservatives have begun to assume that there are no limits to their objectives. There are no potential obstacles save but the opposing side. The West, convinced of its victory over the dark powers of Communism assumed that there were no longer any limits, anything was possible, nothing was beyond accomplishment. This was of course, absurd.
The East now ressurgent, sees only the sky, but not as a limit, just as the new frontier. Forgetting at times I think that to leap into the sky, we must first pounce on the Earth.
Worse yet both sides seem keen to usurp the economy to get what they want. Both sides are willing to take liberalities with the underlying economic system, and with whatever ideological system they loosely profess to be bound to. To be sure back in the seventies the economic argument was front and center, but there was an understanding that only certain very specific limited steps could be taken. There was in general an understanding of the limitations of human ingenuity, and human being. They were aware of the tragedies of history.
But today no such understanding exists, and if the Democrats and Republicans, for example, agree on one thing, its how easy it is for them to print money as needed in promoting their own modus operandi. Truth be told they are both on massive welfare funded by nearly infinite amounts of credit, and endless unrestricted promises. Promises that are highly unlikely to ever be kept.
The one thing both sides can agree on is the massive amounts of debt we have, and the general dissatisfaction of the world’s public. And to blame the other exclusively.
Yet, in general they are both convinced that one day, very soon, we will all learn the secrets of “Black Hole” technology and live forever even if far apart. There’s not even an intellectual conservation it seems at times.
Extinction : A New Virtual Reality Game
As we have seen over the past year, as with any bad idea reality will eventually catch up with it. And so we have the present global reality to deal with. World War 3 is waiting on our front porch. Even a minor incident can start the end of our world. The only way to pay back our existing debt is to borrow more, and every year we go through the same drama, the same theater that always has the same tragic ending, just borrow more.
All the while divisions are becoming ever greater, and fundamental anger and frustration is rising on all sides. If everything were just fine, why then are we seeing the same tragic play year after year? Do we even care anymore how this tragedy plays out? The makers of “Fallout Four” have had a hit in the game industry for a decade…and every time they put out a new version of this tragic game of a post apocalyptic nuclear holocaust their sales rise ever higher! Its clear that the Millenials have all but become resigned to the end of the world, and total human failure. Just how prophetic is that?
Our only hope is to come back down to Earth. Respect those limitations which define our lives, and begin to realize that our options really are limited.
We cannot continue to pollute the Earth in the way we have done over the past forty years. Notice that the global climate began warming around the late seventies as industrialization began to make its way all over the world. It actually became worse during the late eighties and early nineties with the fall of the soviet union, the rise of the internet, and massive economic expansion all over the world. Could the increase of industrial output account for the sudden warming of the climate? Could this sudden global industrial expansion account for the sudden warming trend? There’s a good chance it did.
But it may also be temporary. If we begin to limit this expansion, it may well result in a cooling trend as less combustion, less agriculture and less pollution give the Earth a chance to clean up our mess.
If we fail to heed these warnings, I believe that the Earth will react, and its reaction will probably be in the form of terminating a rather troublesome , rather delicate species that seems to have an overabundance of audacity and and a severe tendency to extreme delusions of grandeur. Not everything is possible under the given set of circumstances. Yet it seems like this age old truth no longer applies to our way of thinking these days.
Biologists tell us that there is now a mass extinction under way because of human activity and its associated pollution. How long will it be before we join the trend?
It should be noted that in our presently overpopulated wasteful state that even a relatively minor Volcanic eruption, say a little larger than the 1815 eruption of Tambora would put so much pressure on our food and water resources as to probably cause a severe societal degeneration which might easily become interminable.
We need to become more efficient economically, more politically stable, and choose to honor the sovereign nature of nations so as to promote local stability and efficiency. Our present Neo-colonial expansionism will only lead to ever greater waste of resources, greater overpopulation, greater economic inefficiency, greater political instability and greater social instability the result of all these is likely to be highly destructive, and terribly disfiguring to our earthly environment. We must begin an earnest attempt to conserve our resources so that we can create a sustainable civilization that is in harmony with our natural environment-if we hope to go on much longer.
We must conserve our Earthly environment or face possible extinction…so much is clear on this Earth day in the year two thousand and seventeen.