Dec 082016
 December 8, 2016  Posted by at 4:05 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Caters Extremely rare albino elephant, Kruger National Park in South Africa


Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact
But maybe everything that dies someday comes back …

Springsteen, Atlantic City

“Erwin Schrodinger (1945) has described life as a system in steady-state thermodynamic disequilibrium that maintains its constant distance from equilibrium (death) by feeding on low entropy from its environment – that is, by exchanging high-entropy outputs for low-entropy inputs. The same statement would hold verbatium as a physical description of our economic process. A corollary of this statement is that an organism cannot live in a medium of its own waste products.”
Herman Daly and Kenneth Townsend


What drives our economies is waste. Not need, or even demand. Waste. 2nd law of thermodynamics. It drives our lives, period.

First of all, don’t tell me you’re trying to stop the ongoing extinction of nature and wildlife on this planet, or the destruction of life in general. Don’t even tell me you’re trying. Don’t tell me it’s climate change that we should focus on (that’s just a small part of the story), and you’re driving an electric car and you’re separating your trash or things like that. That would only mean you’re attempting to willfully ignore your share of destruction, because if you do it, so will others, and the planet can’t take anymore of your behavior.

This is the big one. And the only ones amongst us who don’t think so are those who don’t want to. Who think it’s easier to argue that some problems are too big for them to tackle, that they should be left to others to solve. But why should we, why should anyone, worry about elections or even wars, when it becomes obvious we’re fast approaching a time when such things don’t matter much anymore?

The latest WWF Living Planet Report shows us that the planet is a whole lot less alive than it used to be. And that we killed that life. That we replaced it with metal, bricks, plastic and concrete. Mass consumption leads to mass extinction. And that is fully predictable, it always was; there’s nothing new there.

We killed 58% of all vertebrate wildlife just between 1970 and 2012, and at a rate of 2% per year we will have massacred close to 70% of it by 2020, just 4 years from now. So what does it matter who’s president of just one of the many countries we invented on this planet? Why don’t we address what’s really crucial to our very survival instead?



The latest report from the WWF should have us all abandon whatever it is we’re doing, and make acting to prevent further annihilation of our living world the key driver in our everyday lives, every hour of every day, every single one of us. Anything else is just not good enough, and anything else will see us, that self-nominated intelligent species, annihilated in the process.

Granted, there may be a few decrepit and probably halfway mutant specimens of our species left, living in conditions we couldn’t even begin, nor dare, to imagine, with what will be left of their intelligence wondering how our intelligence could have ever let this happen. You’d almost wish they’ll understand as little as we ever did; that some form of ignorance equal to ours will soften their pain.

It’s important to note that the report does not describe a stagnant situation, there’s no state of affairs, not something still, it describes an ongoing and deteriorating process. That is, we don’t get to choose to stop the ongoing wildlife annihilation at 70%; we are witnessing, and indeed we are actively involved in, raising that number by 2% every year that we ‘live’ (can we even call it that anymore, are you alive when you murder all life around you?) in this world.

This is our only home.



Without the natural world that we were born into, or rather that our species, our ancestors, were born into, we have zero chance of survival. Because it is the natural world that has allowed for, and created, the conditions that made it possible for mankind to emerge and develop in the first place. And we are nowhere near making an earth 2.0; the notion itself is preposterous. A few thousand years of man ‘understanding’ his world is no match for billions of years of evolution. That’s the worst insult to whatever intelligence it is that we do have.

Much has been made through the years of our ability to adapt to changing circumstances, and much of that is just as much hubris as so much of what we tell ourselves, but the big question should be WHY we would volunteer to find out to what extent we can adapt to a world that has sustained the losses we cause it to suffer. Even if we could to a degree adapt to that, why should we want to?

Two thirds of our world is gone, and it’s we who have murdered it, and what’s worse – judging from our lifestyles- we seem to have hardly noticed at all. If we don’t stop what we’ve been doing, this can lead to one outcome only: we will murder ourselves too. Our perhaps biggest problem (even if we have quite a few) in this regard is our ability and propensity to deny this, as we deny any and all -serious, consequential- wrongdoing.



There are allegedly serious and smart people working on, dreaming of, and getting billions in subsidies for, fantasies of human colonies on Mars. This is advertized as a sign of progress and intelligence. But that can only be true if we can acknowledge that our intelligence and our insanity are identical twins. Because it is insane to destroy the planet on which we depend one-on-one for everything that allows us to live, and at the same time dream of human life on another planet.

While I see no reason to address the likes of King of Subsidies Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking is different. Unfortunately, in Hawking’s case, with all his intelligence, it’s his philosophical capacity that goes missing.

Humanity Will Not Survive Another 1,000 Years If We Don’t Escape Our Planet

Professor Stephen Hawking has warned humanity will not survive another 1,000 years on Earth unless the human race finds another planet to live on. [..] Professor Hawking, 74, reflected on the understanding of the universe garnered from breakthroughs over the past five decades, describing 2016 as a “glorious time to be alive and doing research into theoretical physics”. “Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years and I am happy if I have made a small contribution,“ he went on.

”The fact that we humans, who are ourselves mere fundamental particles of nature, have been able to come this close to understanding the laws that govern us and the universe is certainly a triumph.” Highlighting “ambitious” experiments that will give an even more precise picture of the universe, he continued: “We will map the position of millions of galaxies with the help of [super] computers like Cosmos. We will better understand our place in the universe.”

“But we must also continue to go into space for the future of humanity. I don’t think we will survive another 1,000 years without escaping beyond our fragile planet.”

The tragedy is that we may have gained some knowledge of natural laws and the universe, but we are completely clueless when it comes to keeping ourselves from destroying our world. Mars is an easy cop-out. But Mars doesn’t solve a thing. Because it’s -obviously- not the ‘fragile planet’ earth that is a threat to mankind, it’s mankind itself. How then can escaping to another planet solve its problems?

What exactly is wrong with saying that we will have to make it here on planet earth? Is it that we’ve already broken and murdered so much? And if that’s the reason, what does that say about us, and what does it say about what we would do to a next planet, even provided we could settle on it (we can’t) ? Doesn’t it say that we are our own worst enemies? And doesn’t the very idea of settling the ‘next planet’ imply that we had better settle things right here first? Like sort of a first condition before we go to Mars, if we ever do?

In order to survive, we don’t need to escape our planet, we need to escape ourselves. Not nearly as easy. Much harder than escaping to Mars. Which already is nothing but a pipedream to begin with.

Moreover, if we can accept that settling things here first before going to Mars is a prerequisite for going there in the first place, we wouldn’t need to go anymore, right?



We treat this entire extinction episode as if it’s something we’re watching from the outside in, as if it’s something we’re not really a part of. I’ve seen various undoubtedly very well-intentioned ‘green people’, ‘sustainable people’, react to the WWF report by pointing to signs that there is still hope, pointing to projects that reverse some of the decline, chinook salmon on the North American Pacific coast, Malawi farmers that no longer use chemical fertilizers, a giant sanctuary in the Antarctic etc.

That, too, is a form of insanity. Because it serves to lull people into a state of complacency that is entirely unwarranted. And that can therefore only serve to make things worse. There is no reversal, there is no turnaround. It’s like saying if a body doesn’t fall straight down in a continuous line, it doesn’t fall down at all.

The role that green, sustainability, conservationist groups play in our societies has shifted dramatically, and we have failed completely to see this change (as have they). These groups have become integral parts of our societies, instead of a force on the outside warning about what happens within.

Conservationist groups today serve as apologists for the havoc mankind unleashes on its world: all people have to do is donate money at Christmas, and conservation will be taken care of. Recycle a few bottles and plastic wrappings and you’re doing your part to save the planet. It is utterly insane. It’s as insane as the destruction itself. It’s denial writ large, and in the flesh.

It’s not advertized that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not how it works. Saying that ‘it’s not too late’ is not a call to action as many people continue to believe. It’s just dirt poor psychology. It provides people with the impression, which rapidly turns into an excuse, that there is still time left. As almost 70% of all vertebrates, those animals that are closest to us, have disappeared. When would they say time is up? At 80%, 90%?



We do not understand why, or even that, we are such a tragically destructive species. And perhaps we can’t. Perhaps that is where our intelligence stops, at providing insight into ourselves. Even the most ‘aware’ amongst us will still tend to disparage their own roles in what goes on. Even they will make whatever it is they still do, and that they know is hurtful to the ecosystem, seem smaller than it is.

Even they will search for apologies for their own behavior, tell themselves they must do certain things in order to live in the society they were born in, drive kids to school, yada yada. We all do that. We soothe our consciences by telling ourselves we mean well, and then getting into our cars to go pick up a carton of milk. Or engage in an equally blind act. There’s too many to mention.

Every species that finds a large amount of free energy reacts the same way: proliferation. The unconscious drive is to use up the energy as fast as possible. If only we could understand that. But understanding it would get in the way of the principle itself. The only thing we can do to stop the extinction is for all of us to use a lot less energy. But because energy consumption provides wealth and -more importantly- political power, we will not do that. We instead tell ourselves all we need to do is use different forms of energy.

Our inbuilt talent for denying and lying (to ourselves and others) makes it impossible for us to see that we have an inbuilt talent for denying and lying in the first place. Or, put another way, seeing that we haven’t been able to stop ourselves from putting the planet into the dismal shape it is in now, why should we keep on believing that we will be able to stop ourselves in the future?

Thing is, an apology for our own behavior is also an apology for everyone else’s. As long as you keep buying things wrapped in plastic, you have no right, you lose your right, to blame the industry that produces the plastic.



We see ourselves as highly intelligent, and -as a consequence- we see ourselves as a species driven by reason. But we are not. Which can be easily demonstrated by a ‘reverse question’: why, if we are so smart, do we find ourselves in the predicament of having destroyed two thirds of our planet?

Do we have a rational argument to execute that destruction? Of course not, we’ll say. But then why do we do it if rationality drives us? This is a question that should forever cure us of the idea that we are driven by reason. But we’re not listening to the answer to that question. We’re denying, we’re even denying the question itself.

It’s the same question, and the same answer, by the way, that will NOT have us ‘abandon whatever it is we do’ when we read today that 70% of all wildlife will be gone by 2020, that 58% was gone by 2012 and we destroy it at a rate of 2% per year. We’re much more likely to worry much more about some report that says returns on our retirement plans will be much lower than we thought. Or about the economic growth that is too low (as if that is possible with 70% of wildlife gone).

After all, if destroying 70% of wildlife is not enough for a call to action, what would be? 80%? 90? 99%? I bet you that would be too late. And no, relying on conservationist groups to take care of it for us is not a viable route. Because that same 70% number spells out loud and clear what miserable failures these groups have turned out to be.

We ‘assume’ we’re intelligent, because that makes us feel good. Well, it doesn’t make the planet feel good. What drives us is not reason. What drives us is the part of our brains that we share in common with amoeba and bacteria and all other more ‘primitive forms of life, that gobbles up excess energy as fast as possible, in order to restore a balance. Our ‘rational’, human, brain serves one function, and one only: to find ‘rational’ excuses for what our primitive brain has just made us do.

We’re all intelligent enough to understand that driving a hybrid car or an electric car does nothing to halt the havoc we do to our world, but there are still millions of these things being sold. So perhaps we could say that we’re at the same time intelligent enough, and we’re not.

We can see ourselves destroying our world, but we can not stop ourselves from continuing the destruction. Here’s something I wrote 5 years ago:

Most. Tragic. Species. Ever.

We have done exactly the same that any primitive life form would do when faced with a surplus, of food, energy, and in our case credit, cheap money. We spent it all as fast as we can. Lest less abundant times arrive. It’s an instinct, it comes from our more primitive brain segments, not our more “rational” frontal cortex. It’s not that we’re in principle, or talent, more devious or malicious than more primitive life forms. It’s that we use our more advanced brains to help us execute the same devastation our primitive brain drives us to, but much much worse.

That’s what makes us the most tragic species imaginable. We’ll fight each other, even our children, over the last few scraps falling off the table, and kill off everything in our path to get there. And when we’re done, we’ll find a way to rationalize to ourselves why we were right to do so. We can be aware of watching ourselves do what we do, but we can’t help ourselves from doing it. Most. Tragic. Species. Ever.

The greatest miracle you will ever see, that you could ever hope to see, is so miraculous you can’t even recognize it for what it is. We don’t know what the word beautiful means anymore. Or the word valuable. We’ve lost all of that, and are well on our way, well over 70% of it, to losing the rest too.




PS Please note I could not gather all sources for all pictures here, but I’d be more than happy to add them. It’s not that I don’t recognize the effort that goes into them; it’s an emotional thing.



Home Forums Mass Extinction and Mass Insanity

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    Caters Extremely rare albino elephant, Kruger National Park in South Africa   Everything dies, baby, that’s a fact But maybe everything that dies
    [See the full post at: Mass Extinction and Mass Insanity]


    It’s heart breaking. The first part of grief is denial. – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, And where do we go after Acceptance?

    Our species has made such a wallow of garbage, how do I help to get out of it? Bargain?

    I’ve come to accept that this world will be viciously hard on my grandson. Nothing I can do will really change this tragic out come for our world. Our little transition towns will suffer along with the rest of the planet.

    But still I Stand with Standing Rock sending out my unanswered prayers.

    Perhaps she will answer: “It’s not nice to fuck with Mother Nature” and we can get a massive collapse of the economy and more “extreme weather events”. And more chaos and war to thin our population. Then perhaps nature and species other than humans can start to recover.

    Stone Lodge

    Have you read Derrick Jensen, Raul? Your essay very much echoes his recent book, The Myth of Human Supremacy, particularly your astute observations of the Elon Musk stupidity. But even you, in my opinion, do not go far enough in describing where we presently are. There are a number of observers, scientists and analysts who now accept that we cannot recover, regardless of what we do. There are too many feedback loops already in play, and there are lag times between when we have created a fatal problem, and when we first perceive its effects. What we are experiencing now, in terms of climate change (particularly the Arctic sea ice extent), in terms of biodiversity collapse, et al, was “caused” 10 to 20 years ago. In the intervening 10-20 years, we have continued our exponential devastation, and so our extinction is already baked into the cake. Guy McPherson thinks, and I am persuaded he is correct, is that we likely only have about three years left, and that there will not be a human on the planet within ten years. This is something the Greenies will disparage reflexively, because their very subsidized existence is threatened by these truths. There is better data out there than what the WWF presents.


    we do not refer to GuyMcP here in any way, ever. even that’s already way too much


    thing is, problem is, glennda, that it is indeed not too late. but only if we all drop whatever we’re doing, right now. other thing is, we don’t want to do that, we want to save the planet while continuing to do enough of what we’e used to doing that it doesn’t disturb our lives too much. and we’re constantly being led to believe that this is an option. talk about fake news!


    >>What drives our economies is waste. Not need, or even demand. Waste. 2nd law of thermodynamics. It drives our lives, period.<<

    You believe an effect drives the economy and don’t even bother to mention the ROOT CAUSE?
    Oh, that’s right, as Krugman said, NEVER TOUCH THE MONEY SYSTEM! Gotta follow the rules, right Ilargi?

    Krugman to Lietaer: “Never touch the money system!”

    No, the greed and mindlessness that results in all this waste is NOT THE ROOT CAUSE, AS ILARGI WOULD INCORRECTLY TRY AND CONVINCE YOU.

    Are the starving peasants in Africa wasteful? Oh, there must be a difference, A ROOT CAUSE.

    The answer is MONEY AND ITS ISSUANCE INTO SOCIETY. Without money, there won’t be very much waste at all. With a plethora of money, there will be tons of waste.

    The funny thing is, I know Ilargie knows this – THIS IS THE VERY PREMISE OF THIS WEBSITE TO A LARGE DEGREE. Notice how avoiding THE ROOT CAUSE results in such absurd cognitive dissonance?

    The Debt-Money Monopolists blew a massive debt-money bubble. This is a criminal act as it breaks Section 2A of the Federal Reserve Act that says monetary and credit aggregates can’t grow exponential to GDP. It has and it is. The only exception going back 45 years is the 2008/2009 collapse.

    Here’s the crime scene with proof beyond all doubt the Federal Reserve broke the black letter law of Section 2A of the Federal Reserve Act…

    GDP / Debt Growth

    Ilargi, if you do suffer from the curse of modern times (monetary illiteracy), then go to work on that blind spot. Hacking at leaves will do nothing but EMPOWER the WICKEDNESS you claim you are against.

    All debt-money monetary systems are fraudulent. Period. Now, you don’t need to trust me on that. You can apply some 5th grade mathematics and figure it out yourself. Amazingly, most people refuse to do this. The rely on Orwellian Crimestop to avoid dealing with this reality.

    If you lend $20 into society @ 5%, in one year society will owe you $21 (could be billions, trillions, magnitude doesn’t matter, the quality of this system is a fraud from the start) due to a double-entry bookkeeping adjustment that adds $1 interest liability to society’s balance sheet and $1 interest asset to your balance sheets.

    Note that the entire system still balances out at $21 in assets ($20 in society and $1 in your account) and $21 in liabilities ($21 owed by society to you). The eCONomists that are paid to CONCEAL THE FRAUD use MACHIAVELLIAN RHETORIC AND APPEAL TO AUTHORITY LOGICAL FALLACY to convince the gullible that the specific debt and money allocations don’t matter.

    Well, how can society pay you pay if 1. you, the Debt-Money Monopolist, don’t create any more money and 2. you don’t divest yourself of the $1 (bringing your monetary wealth to absolute $0!!!).

    The obvious truth is society can’t pay you back. You would simply steal the collateral on the $20 in debt (or billion or trillion!!!) through fraud and the ignorant people would be completely witless, like a Native American “selling” Staten Island for some beads (or whatever the story was).

    But you don’t want $20 is looted goods, so what do you do? YOU INFLATE BY CREATING ANOTHER $20. This inflations does two things. First, it makes the first $20 debt theoretically payable if the first borrower can siphon off $1 extra from the new debtor in time to pay the first loan. Second, it creates an exponential debt-growth system, WHICH IS EXACTLY WHAT WE SEE IN THE WILD.

    $2 in INEXTINGUSHABLE DEBT will be owed to you, the Debt-Money Monopolist who rigged this fraudulent INEXTINGUISHABLE DEBT system.

    Was all that 5th grade math too technical for you? It wasn’t. If you don’t “get it” it is because you don’t want to “get it.” All that virtue signaling is as fraudulent as this WICKED monetary system IF YOU DON’T STOP HACKING AT LEAVES AND START HACKING AT THE ROOT SYSTEM OF THIS EVIL.

    No, “we” don’t owed the debt to “ourselves.” Individuals owe debts to DEBT-MONEY MONOPOLIST MEGA-CORPORATIONS AND GOVERNMENTS… AND INDIVIDUAL ASSETS WILL BE SEIZED BY THE $10s OF TRILLIONS as billions are bankrupted and/or when this CRIMINAL EXPONENTIAL DEBT-BUBBLE POPS.

    But, hey, Ilargi will give the people the name of a politicians to revile… EXACTLY AS THE DEBT-MONEY MONOPOLISTS PLANNED IT.

    Stone Lodge

    “we do not refer to GuyMcP here in any way, ever. even that’s already way too much”

    Perhaps I haven’t been as diligent about reading you as I thought. May I ask why?


    “we can hand out four million potatoes when there are only two million in warehouses.”



    >>thing is, problem is, glennda, that it is indeed not too late. but only if we all drop whatever we’re doing, right now.<<

    It will always be too late because people like you are busy focusing on effects under the delusion they are root causes.



    We live in a Debt-Money Monopolist Mega-Corporate Fascist Empire system… both Europe and America and the same “club” runs both systems as one Empire system. They are currently trying to topple Syria, and Iran in order to set up their debt-money central bank systems in those countries to enslave those people to INEXTINGUISHABLE DEBT. Russia looks to be targeted as well, but this isn’t quite as clear as the Debt-Money Monopolists might control Putin as well.


    The primary exponential function that drives all others is MONEY, MONEY, MONEY.

    If you think pollution is bad, it FOLLOWS the growth of debt-money. If you think waste is bad (or even a root cause like Ilargi), it FOLLOWS the growth in debt-money. If you think population growth is bad, it FOLLOWS the growth of money.

    Since it is based on INEXTINGUISHABLE DEBT from the perspective of the borrowers (servants), the lenders (masters) have to create more debts or they massively bankrupt existing debtors. This is the REAL REASON FOR INFLATION. The others are PROPAGANDA used to dupe the debt-money illiterate.

    This is 2+2=4 stuff here, Ilargi.

    It is amazing to me how they get people to believe 2+2=5, and they didn’t even resort to torture as they did against Winston Smith.

    “It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this, that we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy, who have always existed and presumably always will exist, to get people actually to love their servitude. This seems to me the ultimate malevolent revolution… This is a problem which has interested me for many years and about which I wrote, 30 years ago, a fable Brave New World which is essentially the account of a society making use of all the devices at that time available and some of the devices which I imagined to be possible, making use of them in order to, first of all, to standardize the population, to iron out inconvenient human differences, to create, so to say, mass produced models of human beings arranged in some kind of a scientific caste system. Since then I have continued to be extremely interested in this problem and I have noticed with increasing dismay that a number of the predictions which were purely fantastic when I made them 30 years ago have come true or seem in process of coming true. A number of techniques about which I talked seem to be here already, and that there seems to be a general movement in the direction of this kind of ultimate revolution, this method of control by which people can be made to enjoy a state of affairs which by any decent standard they ought not to enjoy. I mean the enjoyment of servitude.”
    ~Aldous Huxley


    I stopped heating the house. Mostly.

    They threatened to evict us. Apparently it’s not socially acceptable to have a cold house. The letting agent complained that it was uncomfortable to visit. I am under explicit instruction to keep the heating on *all the time*. They tell me this is going to be cheaper than never putting the heating on at all, because the house won’t cool down and then I won’t have to pay for the energy to warm it up again.

    (Now they’re evicting us anyway. We’re not the kind of tenant they want. I guess I get to find out whether this is universal behaviour or if I was unlucky.)

    We’re not allowed to grow salad in windowboxes either.

    I chose not to have a car, and to live within cycling distance of work. That traps you in a competitive housing market where landlords and agents can over-rule your life choices. I think you’re fucked every which way. I don’t think I’m going to be able to afford independent living before TSHTF. Land values are too high.


    I hold no pretense of purity in these matters. I’ve accumulated less stuff than many but have some energy wasteful hobbies and habits. It was in a somewhat different context that I rejected full on austerity in the mid 70’s as I saw the let’s call it naive hippie dreams that included a simpler way was not going to happen on any scale at all not even small. Hedonism and materialism barely took a breather in the ‘counter culture’ 60’s really.

    The crash that now looms was not so apparent then in timing and shape but I made as I look back on it a conscious decision to live in the world I found myself in, but also consciously never to be a company man or a party man or such. 1 million or 10 million saints for a simpler life wouldn’t have meant a thing in the big picture.

    In an examined life I maintain that it is a sound moral decision to live in the world as it is.


    >>In an examined life I maintain that it is a sound moral decision to live in the world as it is.<<
    We don’t have much choice when a small cartel of people have monopoly control over the “operating system,” to use Nicole’s analogy, of society. The create a demand for money whether one works or not (property tax) and then they force you into their debt-money “trap door” system that few people are honest enough to admit exists… and that few goes to ZERO when it comes to anyone with a media presence.

    One can’t change effects if one refuses to admit the root cause of those effects.

    We have to live in there engineered Debt-Money Matrix system but, like Neo and the rest of his bad of resisters, we can learn the Debt-Money Matrix and withdraw some levels of support for it. For example, people of conscience shouldn’t work for the Debt-Money Monopolist Empire Military Empire Complex. Just say “No!” Also, buy local, pay cash, and absolutely minimize business dealing with any Mega-Corporation.


    “all drop whatever we’re doing, right now” is virtually by definition The Great Collapse or as I like to refer to it, the only shot that the species has of not going extinct in the near term – is it not?

    Some technologies can be scaled up which over time has provided for the ability to exploit more energy and to increasingly despoil the biosphere. I have little faith that the successful technologies have an equal ability to scale down. Besides, you know damn well that a growth-based global economy must grow to survive, that the only alternative to growth is death, final and complete.

    I concur with your “bemusement” with that odd guy – trolling for quitters and pocketing the proceeds is how I describe his mission.

    and as usual, I express only my opinions – I could be wrong



    Stone Lodge … there was a bit of a tiff a few years back. A schism of sorts, one might say.


    It seems certain that, one way or another, humans will undergo massive population reduction in an eyeblink of long time. And that is not a bad or new thing. Hopefully if we have descendants it will be because they have evolved not to make the same “mistakes” that we have. The history of life on Earth has been one of cyclic increase in species variety, followed by mass extinction. Following mass extinctions, there have always been rapid increases in populations of new forms to fill the ecologic energy spaces that have been freed of competitors. We seem to be about halfway through the time frame available for our Sun to provide Earth with the energy required to sustain life as we know/understand it. So there is still plenty of time for the experiment to continue. After that, as our Sun becomes an expanding aging red giant, Earth will be engulfed and the experiment will be finished.
    Much of our destructive behavior is derived from the ultimate madness of cognition and myths that we have invented to block out the insanity and give “meaning” to our lives. We only live once and perhaps the best meaning we can give ourselves is to daily relish the joy of the miracle of life itself and by showing love and respect to ourselves and other forms of life on the planet. My favorite time of the day in my dotage, is in the late afternoon, when I feed and study my blackbuck antelopes, white tail and axis deer, squirrels and local dove populations. They are not so different from us. We must always remember that life as we know it can only be constructed from certain atoms which are constantly recirculated the the cycle of life and death. Have you ever reflected upon the possibility that you could have in your body atoms that once were part of dinosaurs, great tree ferns or Julius Caesar? It is only in this way that we all become immortal as life goes on.

    Stephen Maturin

    A passionate post which has stirred up the comments. I fully concur with the sentiments expressed in this heartsick blog. But I don’t see how it is in the power of most people to stop destroying nature as Ilargi angrily insists. One would have to begin living as indigenous peoples have lived, hunting, fishing and gathering with the support of a tribe of others, using no industrial products such as a rifle.

    I grow food for myself and others and live close to town so rarely use my car. Even so one day I was horrified to find dead wildlife among my things. A mouse had drowned in a glass jar holding rainwater because it couldn’t get a grip to get itself out. A lizard had gotten stuck on a piece of adhesive tape attached to some cardboard I was saving for garden mulch. They had died horribly and I was responsible. So don’t have glass jars or recycle cardboard?

    Things were different when human population was smaller and dwarfed by Nature. Now my only comfort is knowing there will be a human die-back. Still inwardly I rebel against the bumper-sticker directive: “Save the Planet Kill Yourself” We were born here and belong here too. We’ll either learn how to live here or die off like our co-inhabitants.

    E. Swanson

    I’ve been part of the environmental “movement” since I found in the 1960’s that I could not function in the northern California air pollution of the day. I met Herman Daily back in ’77 and followed him as he started The International Society for Ecological Economics. This blog presents the situation much the same way as I see things, but fails to mention the population problem.

    As a species, we, like all other species, have the capacity to procreate faster than our population dies. Our intelligence has allowed us to survive much easier than previously and thus our national population(s) are growing exponentially. To survive, each of us must gather energy from our surroundings, that is, we must consume that energy, all of which originates as solar energy captured by plants and delivered to us via agricultural methods and processing and distribution networks. As we have moved to densely populated cities looking for survival as agriculture has become mechanized, most of us can no longer be directly engaged in the production of the basic materials which we all use, so we become engaged in “work”, that is, some activity which we can trade for that which we need/want. The trading is facilitated by our financial systems, that is, money.

    Most of us have become consumers in a very real sense, ie, we are consuming the Earth. But, living in cities, we don’t directly sense the effects of our consumption, instead living in manmade environments which are isolated from nature. It’s no wonder that the natural world is declining and species are disappearing as the habitats into which each species has evolved are destroyed by mankind’s “economic development”. Along the way, human populations continue to grow, even as many people chose to move away from decimated areas and strife associated with it. The migrants appearing in southern Europe and along the US/Mexico border are just symptoms of the larger problem. We are taking too much from the natural world, with many billions living in abject poverty, people who have no choice but to continue the destruction.

    McPherson is just one of many who see the situation as nearly hopeless. Another is Craig Dilworth, who wrote “Too Smart for Own Good”, which presents his world view in great (though repetitious) detail, giving about 1700 references. Not to forget recent events, which have convinced me that population crash is inevitable because we can’t stop the train we are riding.

    V. Arnold

    A tour de force Ilargi. No quibbles, not one.
    The planet is well past its carrying capacity of humans.
    We’re a pathological species first and foremost; exacerbated by out of control population growth.
    IMO, it’s too late for us; Gaia will be fine once we’re gone; her self healing powers cannot be destroyed by the likes of us..
    The most beautiful thing in this world is; the world itself…


    i love the animals and I think everything should be done to save them but you Can not stop the world from working its wonders things die off because the world is alwaychanging its evolution. about 250 when we were a single person content called pangea a volcanoe the size of Europe erupted for almost a million years which killed off 95% of all animals it took to the world 10 million years

    Dr. Diablo

    As I often point out, we’re nowhere near the carrying capacity of the earth. All the humans would fit into a space the size of Texas. Even in Japan–arguably massively overpopulated–animals come down to the streets from the nearby land.

    If everyone lives like Al Gore, then yes, there won’t be enough. But if everyone lives like a Zen monk, then there would be more, far more than enough, and plenty of love to restore the land and animals as well. This is a mental illness human have, never having enough, but it’s more complicated than that: for 500,000 years, we lived without — and without wanting to — consume everything. Even if you claim only modern man, all of North America was a verifiable paradise, where literal birds came down for the taking and literal fish jumped into boats. The shores were black with seals, the forest unending from Maine to Ohio. This is not a “man” thing. It isn’t “humans”, it isn’t even “oil”, as the resources were there then to exploit, but they didn’t exploit even the first of them. All that is nonsense, meant to make us hate and kill each other for the greater good, as “it’s only logical” to kill a couple, maybe 4 billion of us, and live a little lighter. Rot. Stuff and nonsense meant to keep us away from the real cause.

    The real cause is the incentive system. All systems engineers know this: you get more of what you incentivize. You can fix, or destroy, any system with faulty incentives. Why did the ’08 crash happen? Why after 2-400 years of lending, did they suddenly forget how to lend? Because the incentive system was hijacked, with offloading risk, money-printing, no enforcement, and the Greenspan put. So where did this earth-consuming cancer start? Ohio? Zaire? Mongolia? Germany? No, the middle east, in Babylon, best we can tell. Seeing that, what part of it was establishing the earth-eating destruction? Far as we can tell, the monetary system, reinforcing the political power system; they devour their enemies and expand, and like any cancer or empire, they must always find and consume more, or die.

    So refining what’s said above that may not be heard in the fullness it deserves. Not humans. Not too late. Humans don’t WANT to consume the earth, that’s totally, painfully, slanderously false. Most people HATE the present system with furious abandon, as it’s un-human. As you can see lately, they are taking another pitch at breaking it even if it harms them, even though there is terrible risk in halting it suddenly.

    All you have to do is change the system incentives and human life will return to being human, with animals and the earth part of us again.

    V. Arnold

    @ Dr. Diablo
    You’re a bloody moron.


    We are all morons.
    Feeling good is feeling nothing

    Joe Clarkson

    One would have to begin living as indigenous peoples have lived, hunting, fishing and gathering with the support of a tribe of others, using no industrial products such as a rifle.

    Very true, but even that is impossible, even if people wanted to do so. Not only is there virtually no wild commons left, nor legal structure that would allow living off the land, but even if there were, can you imagine 7.5 billion people out hunting and gathering all over the earth?

    So we will just live in the world we were born into and carry on until our population is reduced greatly by resource depletion, forces of nature and war. The few remaining human survivors will then be ‘free’ to do what they must to continue their lives. Other species will experience the benefit of having fewer of us around. Life will go on.


    This is all quite simple, so simple that my seven year old can explain it in a single sentence.

    I was explaining to her why I hate buying stuff that comes with a lot of packaging: because of all the trash. I was explaining why it is virtuous to try to live simply and not try to consume as much as possible. I asked her “Where do you think all that trash goes?” She immediately grasped the lesson but then asked: “Yeah, but what about all the other people–how can you stop them from making trash?”

    And that, dear friends, sums up our predicament. That is why we will never solve these problems. That’s why we as a species will kill the planet.

    V. Arnold


    Out of the mouths of babies…
    She hasn’t been corrupted…yet.
    But then, you get it.


    For those who feel the desperate urgency of stopping the destruction ASAP, I highly recommend the Deep Green Resistance book. I haven’t seen any other strategies to head off ecological collapse based on a realistic assessment of the time we have left, or the political and popular will to make serious change.


    It’s sad that we can describe the extinction of other species, and see the pattern of destructive behaviours in those other species… but we seem to be blind to our own situation and follow, like the pied piper’s child victims, along the path of a new kind of mutual assured destruction. We live in interesting times.


    Long after the original post, so I doubt anyone will read it. But it has to be said: the core analysis here is dead on. Humans, like other creatures, will always consume cheap energy as fast as they can. The notion that “indigenous peoples” have always “lived in harmony with the land” is contradicted by the evidence: as humans spread across the earth, they always and everywhere wiped out nearly all the animals larger than 44 kg. This took place with such speed that some scholars refer to the advent of humans in North America as a “blitzkrieg.”

    Paul Martin’s seminal book, “Twilight of the Mammoths,” was greeted with lots of skepticism when it was first published in 2005, but research since then has increasingly supported his “blitzkrieg hypothesis.” (Get on Google Scholar and look for “pleistocene extinction.” You’ll find hundreds of references, many from the past few years. It’s a hot topic.)

    What most non-ecologists don’t realize is that the big animals, the apex consumers (both herbivores and carnivores) are ecosystem engineers – they control the structure of the biotic environment. When the big animals were wiped out, ecosystems started to collapse into simpler arrangements. What we think of now as “pristine nature” (of which precious little remains) is actually a much simpler system than what preceded it. Energy and nutrient flows are drastically reduced from their pre-human maximums; net primary production is far lower as well. Which translates into far fewer animals.

    What this means is that WWF and others set the baseline far lower than it ought to be. If we were to take into account the ecological impacts of human-caused extinctions in the last 100,000 years we’d come up with a much higher percentage of total wild animal populations lost. Not that that would change anyone’s behavior, of course.

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