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fishmahboi

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Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« on: July 20, 2013, 10:34:21 AM »
I have started up this thread for the purpose of debate and discussion over the various Worst Case Scenarios regarding Climate Change as it is affected by the various feedbacks like albedo loss, methane and perhaps something else. These Worst Case Scenarios are of the variety that are highly unlikely, for example the talks of apocalyptic methane releases, but cannot be ruled out. These Worst Case Scenarios would mostly consists of the standard ones as shown above or one's that are caused by extra terrestrial events, for example the Gamma Ray Burst originating from WR104 (http://www.forbes.com/sites/brucedorminey/2013/05/27/earth-may-still-lie-in-path-of-potential-gamma-ray-burst-grb-say-astronomers/).


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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2013, 04:17:00 PM »
The obvious note - there is no plausible link (whatsoever) between extraterrestial threats (gamma rays, space rocks) and climate change.

I don't think I have much new to add - I've stated my views on probable worst case numerous times - near future collapse of civilisation (including human factors, conflict and competition), long term methane catastrophe. Extinction not impossible but really rather unlikely. Dramatic population decline on a timescale tied to the fall of civilisation.

While I think still those worst case outcomes are possible, I still have to concede that civilisation might drag on quite a bit longer (I hesitate at the idea of another 50 years though, I think that's at the other end of the distribution curve of probable timescales) and that warming might stop short of that required for a mass extinction along end Permian lines (though with ocean acidification pretty much assured, we'd still have a serious mass extinction - just not necessarily as "bad" as the end Permian).

fishmahboi

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2013, 08:50:01 PM »
The obvious note - there is no plausible link (whatsoever) between extraterrestial threats (gamma rays, space rocks) and climate change.

I don't think I have much new to add - I've stated my views on probable worst case numerous times - near future collapse of civilisation (including human factors, conflict and competition), long term methane catastrophe. Extinction not impossible but really rather unlikely. Dramatic population decline on a timescale tied to the fall of civilisation.

While I think still those worst case outcomes are possible, I still have to concede that civilisation might drag on quite a bit longer (I hesitate at the idea of another 50 years though, I think that's at the other end of the distribution curve of probable timescales) and that warming might stop short of that required for a mass extinction along end Permian lines (though with ocean acidification pretty much assured, we'd still have a serious mass extinction - just not necessarily as "bad" as the end Permian).

The main reason I associate Extra-Terrestrial threats with Climate Change is that the one that I have noted has the potential to cause damage to the atmosphere and could altar the effect of Climate Change.

I am aware of your views, but I thought that this thread would be a good place for the discussion of the more disastrous Worst Case Scenarios that appear to be unlikely, but still possible.

ivica

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2013, 09:42:14 PM »
How about one from Extra-Terrestrial Inhofe specie runs for president and wins ? Oops. :-X

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #4 on: August 07, 2013, 12:57:32 PM »
I have started up this thread for the purpose of debate and discussion over the various Worst Case Scenarios regarding Climate Change as it is affected by the various feedbacks like albedo loss, methane and perhaps something else. These Worst Case Scenarios are of the variety that are highly unlikely, for example the talks of apocalyptic methane releases, but cannot be ruled out. ...
Back to the subject of this thread i go; have one for your consideration. In a nutshell, it's about "up to" getting most people on Earth, in very worst case _all_ people on Earth, killed - in a matter of few hours.

Bad enough, eh?

I don't see any theoretical objections to the case i am here presenting. The mechanism, very briefly, is via large penetration of Earth crust and unprecedentally strong global sequence of earthquakes following it. Which, yes, would be caused by climate change - in particular, gigaton-scale, abrupt (nearly instant) releases of methane (which, it seems, we can't completely rule out as impossible), forming explosive layers in the athmosphere (5%...15% local methane concentration), and then ignited by either natural causes (lightning), or man-made causes like passing aircraft (engines of which could ignite explosive mix in the air).

I elaborated more about this worst case scenario on this page: http://www.helpsurviveclimatechange.com/Content/Participate/Forums.aspx?ForumID=3&ForumTopicID=11 . Including some scientific details about how huge-scale nearly-instant methane releases could perhaps be possible in a warming world.

One major benefit of this worst-case scenario is that it'll be quick for most, if not all, of humans. Granted, couple minutes of suffering - but at least no months or even years of agony, which could be the case if some super-mega-duper-volcanic-area (like Yellow Stone on steroids) would erupt, thus creating global ash and particulate matter cover ("eternal night").

Which, i guess, is one more possible "worst case" scenario, too - and perhaps is also one which could be triggered (if not caused) by the climate change? I mean, much hotter surface temperatures, among other things, should with time definitely affect, at least a bit, temperatures of lower layers of the Earth crust - perhaps making it more prone to enourmous-scale penetration by magmas - leading to super-eruptions? I mean, one super-volcano is one thing, but if we'll get a _few_ of them popping alot of matherial out in the same time, well, might well be "eternal night" for quite a number of years in a row, globally, killing possibly pretty much everything alive (except, say, things like bacteria thermophilic and some mushrooms - like the kind currently evolved _inside_ reactor room of Chernobil reactor #4 - yep, the one reactor which popped out and is now covered by special shield; those mushrooms live where no other living being can stay even for a short time due to still very high radioactivity - apparently those mushrooms feed on radiation - now those are quite tough living beings, eh).

And, i hear, Earth didn't have any truly big ("super") volcano erupting full-time for "too" long now - one is quite expected, by geologists, in geologically very near future ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/supervolcano/article.shtml and such). So, it seems, the potential for a "big" one - or even, some few "big" ones, - is already there. If we get to some surface-average of +8 degrees C by, say, 2100 (which is what i, personally, expect to happen), then that's quite a difference if we speak about thermal equilibrium of the whole Earth crust, no?


So here are not just one, but two "worst case" scenarios for you. Just for a starter. I wonder, would they ever apply proper corporate-style risk assesment and prevention approach to such things. Would be interesting to read results of such a risk assesment and propsed solutions, yep. Shame it most likely wouldn't happen - at very least, not in public, i mean. Even if they'd do it, i bet they'd keep it rather secret - "need to know" eyes only. Which is indeed possibly the best thing to do with such a risk assesments, i guess. Public's definitely is likely to get much more butthurt out of such knowledge than any practical good, anyways. At least the public which is mainly made of "average Joes" of today, i mean.


As usual, all above is my personal opinion, and may be incorrect if i did some mistake(s). Please do point out to any mistake if you see one, but please do so with good argument and rational, logical approach. Thanks!


P.S. Oh, one more thing. Some people may think that current methane levels in the athmosphere - some 1900ppb, which is 1,9ppm, which is roughly 0,00019% - can never get as high as 5%...15%. Thing is, it doesn't have to be 5%...15% of methane around the globe, everywhere (and it can't be) - i merely meant 5%...15% _locally_; relatively few square kilometers would suffice (very very tiny part of Earth athmosphere). And if someone still thinks that so high methane concentrations can't still be achieved - well, here's one quote from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/vast-methane-plumes-seen-in-arctic-ocean-as-sea-ice-retreats-6276278.html , which tells us what exactly was directly _measured_ ~2 years ago in Arctic:
"We carried out checks at about 115 stationary points and discovered methane fields of a fantastic scale - I think on a scale not seen before. Some of the plumes were a kilometre or more wide and the emissions went directly into the atmosphere - the concentration was a hundred times higher than normal," he said. "
A _HUNDRED_ times higher than normal, no less. That's ~200000ppb, i.e. 200 ppm, i.e. 0.02%. Already there, 2 years ago. This year, it's even worse. But a few decades after June/July ice cover above main methane-clathrate deposits would be gone - thus allowing that huge polar day insolation to hit dark waters, and much of it - to hit the seafloor of shallow Arctic continental shelves, 24/7? I say we can't really be sure that local concentrations won't jump further up few more hundreds times - from already present (occasional, local) 0.02% to some 5%...15%, which is a further increase of a factor of 250...750 times, "only". So while it seems "impossible" for methane to be so high content on the first glimpse, - in the not-oh-so-distant-already future it stops to be such an impossible idea...
« Last Edit: August 07, 2013, 01:22:38 PM by F.Tnioli »

wili

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #5 on: August 07, 2013, 01:27:19 PM »
"...Climate Change as it is affected by the various feedbacks like albedo loss, methane and perhaps something else."

Ummm, this is not 'highly unlikely.' This is inevitable, and happening now, particularly albedo shifts.

Multiple feedbacks are in the process of kicking in. Perhaps you mean on time scales that are immediate, but it is essentially inevitable at this point that all the carbon in the terrestrial permafrost is going to be released over the next few centuries (see McDougal et al. 2012). Over longer (perhaps) time frames, all of the carbon in the sea bed permafrost, clathrates and free methane below will be released. Other soils and vegetation around the world are drying up, burning up, and releasing their carbon (and failing to be 'sinks'). Oceans will become both saturated with carbon and too hot to absorb more, so will stop being a 'sink'...

Then there are more subtle feedbacks like:

Quote
In any case, the hydroxyl radical is highly reactive, and it has sometimes been referred to as "scrubbing" the atmosphere of various pollutants. One of the products of this scrubbing includes reflective sulfate aerosols, thus increasing the amount of methane in the atmosphere can decrease the "masking" of warming by greenhouse gases, resulting in more global warming.

For something nontechnical discussion along these lines, please see the press release:
Interactions with Aerosols Boost Warming Potential of Some Gases (2009-10-29)
http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/aerosol_boost_prt.htm

The technical article it refers to is:
Shindell, D.T., G. Faluvegi, D.M. Koch, G.A. Schmidt, N. Unger, and S.E. Bauer, 2009: Improved attribution of climate forcing to emissions. Science, 326, 716-718, doi:10.1126/science.1174760.
http://www.see.ed.ac.uk/~shs/Climate%20change/Data%20sources/Shindell%20methane.pdf

Conflating and equating these essentially inevitable and well established multiple feedbacks with "highly unlikely" catastrophes like massive meteor impacts does not seem to me to be a valuable exercise (unless you want to diminish these inevitable effects of gw to tin-foil-hat status??). Am I missing something?
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #6 on: August 07, 2013, 03:39:08 PM »
...
Conflating and equating these essentially inevitable and well established multiple feedbacks with "highly unlikely" catastrophes like massive meteor impacts does not seem to me to be a valuable exercise (unless you want to diminish these inevitable effects of gw to tin-foil-hat status??). Am I missing something?
Surely doesn't indeed. But, for one, i am not sure whether the author of this topic meant "conflating" and "equating". In fact, i guess he did not. Hopefully he'll clarify himself.

Meanwhile, here's one more "worst case scenario". Which is: global tsunami, unprecedented scale and force, on-shore waves up to hundreds meters high, most or even all coastlines hundreds kilometers inland completely destroyed, more than half of mankind dead instantly, and if global industrial civilization would still be around, - survivors would probably be unable to keep it going on, with most/all ports, many ships, most of world megapolises and more than half human population - gone. So perhaps, survivors may end up even worse than those who'd be killed by the wave itself. Not a pretty picture.

Really nasty one, this is. So, where can it come from? Why, from a melt pond. See, as we speak, huge number of melt ponds exist in Arctic. Small ones. They don't grow big when it's on sea ice, - ice which is some 0.1....5 meters thick, give or take. However, Greenland and Antarctic ice sheet both have milometer-scale thick, thousands-kilometers-across masses of ice.

Now, what if with ongoing, accelerating warming melt ponds there would end up getting together, getting deeper, and deeper, possibly even reaching rock beds, - but still staying "on", or would i rather say "within", ice masses? What if one or two such "melt ponds" would eventually grow, as warming go on, to, say, some 5% or so (by mass) in compare to the mass of ice? And then, what if all that liquid water, eventually, would "break" the "wall" of ice, at some place, - the wall which separates this huge mass of liquid water from the ocean?

Quite possibly, the breach would quickly (in a matter of seconds/minutes) suffer further large damage, similar to complete collapse of a man-made dam. And then, much of that huge mass of water would just go into the ocean, possibly at high speed (as it'd be going from quite high elevation).

Dropping some millions of billions of tons of water into an ocean could possibly create a tsunami which would dwarf any other seen so far, eh.

And, we know that large bodies of liquid water can exist "within" large masses of ice - what was the name of that under-ice Antarctic "lake" - "Vostok"?

P.S. Some say, great flood legend in Bible was in fact a reflection of real events of this type of "major de-glaciation waterp pulse" in Black Sea area. I can't know for sure, of course, but this is the only rational explanation of great flood legends (of many cultures - not just in the Bible) i heard of. Gives one pause, no?

Lennart van der Linde

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2013, 05:28:49 PM »
See this article on MacDougall et al. 2012 that wili refers to:
http://www.skepticalscience.com/Macdougall.html

It seems to imply that even if we stop emitting carbon by 2050 there's a good chance carbon concentrations will keep rising because of the carbon feedbacks from melting permafrost on land and under the sea.

Ned W

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2013, 06:29:11 PM »
Quote from: wili
it is essentially inevitable at this point that all the carbon in the terrestrial permafrost is going to be released over the next few centuries (see McDougal et al. 2012).

Where do they say that?  It looks to me like the loss is 4% to 30% (expected value 10%) by 2100, with relatively little after that.  Am I misreading?

They say this would result in an additional warming of 0.09C to 0.75C by 2100, and 0.13C to 1.69C by 2300.  Expected values are approx. 0.25C (2100) and approx. 0.5C (2300).

Quote
Over longer (perhaps) time frames, all of the carbon in the sea bed permafrost, clathrates and free methane below will be released.


All?  Seriously?  Do you include this in the category of "essentially inevitable and well established..."?

If so, that seems awfully pessimistic to me.

Lennart van der Linde

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2013, 09:04:33 PM »
They don't seem to say it is inevitable, but that it could happen, according to their supplementary info:
http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n10/extref/ngeo1573-s1.pdf

About 100-250 ppm extra CO2 by 2300 because of terrestrial permafrost feedback seems likely, if they're right.

Lennart van der Linde

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2013, 09:08:29 PM »
See their figures S5 and S6 in particular.

Ned W

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2013, 03:57:00 AM »
They're just talking about terrestrial permafrost, though ... not "all of the carbon in the sea bed permafrost, clathrates and free methane below".  Unless I'm missing something.

From what I've read and heard, I think there's a good chance we can avoid mobilizing most of the oceanic methane sources.  We are bound to lose some of the carbon in terrestrial permafrost, but I am optimistic that it will be far from "all" (and I think McDougal 2012 agrees with that).

Lennart van der Linde

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2013, 08:36:08 AM »
Yes, MacDougall et al only speak of terrestrial permafrost, not all the other carbon sources. Hopefully we can still prevent most of the oceanic methane from being released. But even part of it could add significantly to further/continued warming, as far as I understand.

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2013, 09:44:49 AM »
I wouldn't say that "we" can prevent it, though; truth is, much of methane clathrates and methane gas can't be released because of how and where those are. Such as, if it's some 1500+ meters deep in the ocean - yeah, sure, those ain't coming out any time soon as far as we can tell, perhaps those will be there all the way till Sun gets too scorching some bilion+ years in the future.

Another truth is, shallow (<100m) continental shelves in Arctic contain some 1500+ billions tons of methane clathrate. Another fact is, shallow waters like that are being mixed quite well, and significant part of sunlight reaches all the way to the seafloor in such locations (when there is no sea ice cover on the surface which would reflect it, that is - and Arctic sea ice is nowadays melting away extremely fast on geologic terms, if not to say "instantly"). Shakhova et al 2011 (iirc) says about ESAS that out of some ~1100 gigatons, ~50 gigatons is unstable enough to be released "at any moment".

Assuming ~105xCO2 GW potential for methane for 1 decade after its release, 50 gigatons of methane released over a matter of, say, 20 years - would create approximatly twice more greenhouse effect than all man-made CO2 emitted up to date (which is some ~2000 gigatons of CO2); and that additional greenhouse effect from this additional methane would be present for some ~25 years in total. During which time it'd definitely raise temperatures significantly (by another 1 degree C, give or take), especially in Arctic itself (by a couple degrees C, due to both polar amplification and higher methane concentrations average since Arctic is the origin of the release). Which, most likely, will destabilize few more dozens gigatons of methane clathrates, or even few more hundreds gigatons (higher temperature at a given pressure leads to destabilization - methane clathrate molecule breaks apart into water and methane gas). Which will lead to further (much more than just 50Gt) emissions - with rather catastrophic results.

In a way, talking about a hope to keep _some_ of that frozen methane underground, - is like talking about a hope that some person who's being executed by a hundred of riflemen - will not get _all_ the bullets hitting him, but only, say, half. Or quarter. Or 10%. How ridiculous could it be if you'd hear such a talk? How difficult it is to grasp that it really does NOT matter whether a person is hit by 10 bullets - or 100 bullets? The guy would be dead either way, as dead as he can be.

I hope you get my drift. Even 1 (single, one, uno, ein) gigaton of annual methane emissions is already too much. Can't be allowed to happen, really. Sad part is, it now seems inevitable gt-scale annual methane emissions will be there in Arctic for a number of decades at very least. And no, apparently, noone can do nothing about it.

Lennart van der Linde

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2013, 11:10:19 AM »
F. Tnioli,

Don't get me wrong: I think we're way past the point where we can prevent very bad things from happening. I just hope we can still prevent even worse scenario's from becoming reality.

To follow your analogy: humanity/civilization is being shot at right now by its own carbon emissions, but may hopefully still succeed in preventing itself from being killed. The more carbon we emit, the more likely extinction will be. Or do you think that's already inevitable?

So yes, some or a lot more methane will surely be released from the shallow sea floor, but hopefully we can still prevent most of that methane from being released.

wili

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2013, 01:32:46 PM »
Ned, I interpreted the dotted line in the left-hand graph of the third figure to mean that, with standard 3-degree-C-per-doubling sensitivity level, the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere will stay about where it is even if we stop all further emissions of CO2 this year. (If I am mis-interpreting, though, I would love to be corrected.)

But besides that completely unrealistic assumption, this study only looks at effects from CO2 (much in fact will come out in the more powerful CH4) from the top three and a half meters (some places have permafrost over a k deep) from terrestrial permafrost (there are many other feedbacks sure to or already starting to kick in) melting from the top down (not from being eroded at the coasts...).

So even this is quite an optimistic projection.

It may be that the very deepest ocean bottom clathrates will never emerge in spite of extreme ocean warming (though note that the Japanese are trying to mine some of these--which strikes me as poking an angry tiger with a sharp stick). But surely once multiple feedbacks kick in, there will be nothing to stop all the shallow hydrates from eventually being emitted, on whatever time scale.

To be clear, I think we should be ending all further C emissions as quickly as possible, or more quickly. And we can hope that McDougal and all are wrong. But it sure looks to me as if the clock is running out on when we can hope to avoid a (limited, of course) runaway GW scenario, where no matter how far we cut back, carbon concentrations will still increase in the atmosphere because of feedback tipping points having been crossed.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2013, 01:38:09 PM by wili »
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2013, 04:16:13 PM »
...
To follow your analogy: humanity/civilization is being shot at right now by its own carbon emissions, but may hopefully still succeed in preventing itself from being killed. The more carbon we emit, the more likely extinction will be. Or do you think that's already inevitable?
Excellent question, and i have a complete answer to it - been thinking about it for a long time already.

Short answer:

i think that "big" mankind - billion-scale population, - will inevitably perish, indeed. However, i do not know for sure if humans as a species will extinct, i.e. whether or not _all_ humans will perish. However, in order to increase chances of the survival of the "small" mankind - million-scale population, - through the thermal maximum of 21st/22nd century, it is much more efficient to spend efforts on preparation, adaptation and backup plans/systems than on large-scale and extremely expensive projects aimed to limit further carbon emissions, such as methane emissions from methane clathrates and land permafrosts.

Long answer:

First of all, it is required to understand the nature of mankind in a bit of detail. Mankind is not an "army" of exactly same clones. Quite the opposite, men and women who together form present day mankind - are very different. So what's in the mix?

1st, there are few who do care about global matters, who do understand that without caring about the whole, parts will inevitably fail sooner or later. Many people on this here forum are of this kind. Sadly, it's on the order of 1% of world population who are such people - possibly even less, on the order of 0.1%.

2nd, there are the opposite, in a sense: people who care only about themselves. Egoistic, lying, cruel, merciless. Unfortunately, "natural selection" favors such people in the corridors of powers that be. It's those people who can provide the largest investment returns. It's those people who have no doubts about exploiting environments, ruining ecosystems, cutting down forests and destroying local, self-sustaining agriculture. By doing so, they get very real additional profit - which only this kind of people can ever get. And so, they get promoted in corporate world, and in gevernments, often even in armies (not so muchi narmies though, though it's another subject), and they rule the world - and this will continue as long as there are indeed significant "externalities" - in other words, "free wealth" to mercilessly take away from nature and other people. Still, this kind is also quite few - perhaps also on the order of 1%. Still, due to the power they wield in modern economy, politic processes and corporate management, those are the ultimate force on Earth right now. Collectively, they and their decisions is what shapes the Earth itself now. Fighting the system which those folks steer - the system being modern global industrial and post-industrial civilization, - is suicidal.

3rd, there are "usual folks". Some are really nice and good people, others are jerks, yet some others are silly, and yet some others are just a petty scum. But more than all those, it's the "just the usual guy" people - who are busy working their job, raising their kids, loving their husband/wife, growing old and, if lucky, being happy raising grandkids. Those are vast majority. I group them together, though, because those did not, are not, and will not make any significant difference on the course of events, in terms of the fate of big mankind and following events. Still, this group is very important, because it is the engine of the economy - and since the economy is controlled by the group #2, this vast majority, this "7 billions of average Joes" - are the source of the ultimate power of the group #2. Another very important thing about this group is that it's this group which creates demands and pressures of 7-billion population; they all need food, water, shelter, and they all want VERY much to enjoy what they expect to enjoy - be it a good car, or simply a better hut. Desires and needs of 7 billions people already stretch Earth's renewable resources beyond 120% mark (so at present, the mankind is cutting into renewable resources main "capital", and this situation can't last long). Good example of this is ground water - i hope you're aware that mankind is depleting this renewable resource fast now, and i hope you know how important it is for modern agriculture to provide as much food as it did during last few decades.

Knowing this, it's then easy to see that the big mankind which we have now - 7 billions and growing, - will keep on track about destroying the planet. Indeed, who can prevent it? Group #1? Nope, we can't, since the destruction itself is a result of activities of other two groups, thus stopping it would mean, at least to a large extent, to also stop activities of other two groups. In case of group #2, if we'd SERIOUSLY try to stop their activities, then group #2 would see an enemy in us - and considering the amount of political and economic power group #2 have, it'd be very easy to crush and/or corrupt and/or stall us. Which indeed happens with any seriously big attempts to stop or even slow the industrial and post-industrial global civilization. For many years now we know about efforts of anti-globalists, for example; we know the narrative, we see why indeed much of what most intelligent anti-globalists say - would be good to do. However, results are still not achieved - globalization goes on, faster than ever. Next big bunch is Greenpeace. Holding a whale-killing vessel for a couple days does not cancel continuation of whale overkilling, sadly, - and the group #2 sues and convicts (in courts) even for such a desperate attempts. Plus, there are signs Greenpeace itself is much corrupted, nowadays... As for trying to "stop" group #3 - the average Joe - well, can be done to some extent, but would only be a delay before the inevitable. See, group #2 actively presses for increasing population - and had been for a long time, - because every additional citizen means additional taxes, additional power, additional security. If we manage, somehow, to dramatically reduce appetites of group #3, thus reducing its impact on Earth, - group #2 will just press for even higher population, and the end result will be the same, except people in group #3 will be living yet worse than their fathers and grandfathers, due to consuming less resources. One another thing of reality is that reducing consumption of group #3 is normally a long process - a matter of couple generations. People are quick to get used to better conditions, but to part with them are et to worse conditions? Difficult. Revolts, protests, even civil wars if you do any big reduction. So normally it'd take changes in culture and education, and couple generations, to achieve that ethically. But we don't have that much time, so we can't do that. Plus, group #2 is now massively influencing education and media systems, - consumer "culture", police states, "pacificatin" of masses, you name it.

Now, what can realistically be done?

Reducing emissions - forget about it. IPCC issued its 1st report 20+ years ago. Since then there is not a shadow of doubt that main powers-that-be are aware about the reality of global greenhouse effect, man-made. Did the knowledge help? A little bit, it did; few countries are trying things like industrial-scale so-called "renewable" power sources, some countries got smarter and are trying to limit population and/or "quality of life" growth (both are equally important in terms of how many resources big mankind uses, and how much waste itgenerates; 1 child in USA does as much load on planet's carrying capacity as do 50+ childs in poorest India regins, for example). However, it is now very clear that needs and appetites of group #3, and merciless pressure of group #2, are growing faster than any sane response to the situation. Not just CO2 emissions during last 2 decades, but also continuation of corporate power increase, resource wars, mainstream media hypocrisy and speculative activities indicate very well that we, group #1, do not wield sufficient power, and are not a sufficient force, to stop suicidal (in long-term) activities of the big mankind.

Interestingly, similar situation had already happened in Earth's distant past: our ancestors were in the situation where they were not able to rule or defeat or ignore other beings, and were very threatened by other beings. This was when dinosaurs walked the Earth, and small mammals - our ancestors, - had no chances to win against dinosaurs with teeth and claws. So, what our ancestors did? They ran away into the forest, they learned to hide from big reptiles, and they learned to survive on what little they could get after dinosaurs took the best part of available foods, waters, shelters.

The same thing seem to be as the only realistic survival strategy for our kids and grandkids. I expect CO2 emissions to keep growing. Kyoto was a fail, in terms of total emissions. Recent highest-level attempts to do any binding agreement on emissions - were complete fails as well. Darn, group #2 even became so impune they even felt free to agree not to try to make any legally binding agreement on emissions till 2020, you know that? Similarly, many other kinds of pollutions will go on, vast damage done to environments by modern industrial agriculture will go on, and the world will continue to become even unfriendlier place as years go by. In the same time, though, there are still palces which are not "best food" for the abomination of modern global industries. Boreal forests, subpolar tundras, certain mountain ranges and platous do not offer any industrially beneficial resources, and are left to be. It is there where "small" mankind will end up survivng, - if surviving at all. It is there where new, local, lower-tech, self-sufficient "oases" of civilization will be formed. It is there where we, people from group #1, may end up fleeing to. Group #2, like dinosaurs of the past, will not see us as a threat if we go to those remote, "unproductive" regions. Group #3 won't be willing to join us, as life in those remote regions will be tough due to initially difficult climate and soil and ecosystem conditions, and because there will be few, if any, conviniences of modern global civilization there.

And this is where the key understanding comes. It's difficult, as it is, for any locally-self-sufficient human settlement to survive in boreal forests, or tundras, or in mountains. Very difficult, and always had been so.

One of great siberian rivers, Ob, had such a settlement for 400+ years - called Surgut. Until the late 20th-century oil-boom, it was rather little settlement, few thousands people tops, living in wood-made houses. Despite all the benefits of a great river right next to it, despite rich, in its own way, ecosystems of the region, only that many people were able to live there - and there were no other human settlement of comparable size for hundreds kilometers around. However, it'll be even mcuh, much more difficult than that in the much more polluted (some pollution is indeed global, - can't hide from it), and certainly much more scorching world of the future.

I lived in said place - Surgut, - for 2 years in 1990s. Continental climate. Summer temperatures reaching 40+ degrees celcius. God only knows what will happen with siberian taiga if that gets some 5-10 degrees higher in the rather short, but quite arid and intense (loooong days) Siberian summer. Forests are already on massive increase of fires in 'em... Might well end up to having to survive without much forests around, which possibly means no or little wild berries, nuts, mushroms, game. And in the same time, winters there are long and cold. Very little insolation in winter months - even in much warmer world, it'll still likely be long periods of strong frost during winter. It's good for health in a way - various insects and bacteria which transfer many deadly diseases simply die off to frost, - but it definitely makes surviving the frost period itself to be quite demanding task, too.

Perhaps most important, though, is the social structure of those future "oases" of post-collapse civilization. It can't be capitalism - doesn't fit local self-sufficient society, and can't function for a truly long-term anyways (as we see it showing many signs of being in death spiral in today global system; when there is no room to grow, and to grow fast, capitalism just chokes and then dies). It can't be communism either, - thing is, group #2, which eventually will form up in those new "oases" of civilization, sooner or later corrupts communistic systems from inside, leading to collapse of society - just like it was in USSR. So it'll have to be neither of those two.

So, to me, the right thing to do is spending one's energy trying to figure out how those future "oases" of civilization would work, what technologies will be long-term operational (don't forget, it'll have to be self-sufficient, local endeavor - even if it's some relatively large region and couple millions people, it still can't do as good as combined efforts of 7 billions+ people do; for example, i am quite sure there won't be any much electronical, at least not during initial 50 years after big mankind dies out - too complex a technology, can't function without massive underlying industrial complex; pre-collapse devices will only function for some 10...25 years, tops, after which it's inevitable "death" of semi-conductors due to diffusion processes, renders electronics dead.

One other major problem to solve is physical and informational disconnectedness of majority of group #1 people: most are very lonely, and have no means whatsoever to communicate with any like-minded people. There are few communities which have many people being from group #1, like certain select (FAR from all!) small "eco-cities" there, but there is no "central", no readily visible large international, or at least natinal, centers for cooperation on required scale. And we, folks from group #1, definitely need to cooperate in order to achieve any significant result, and in order to indeed noticeably increase the chances that human species would ineed make it through incoming global crisis. Both this and previous problems seem to be large enough to occupy minds and hands of many for life, and lots of resources in practical implementations (it's better be more than just "plan A", too). We can spend those efforts and resources trying to halt the mighty power of modern industrial civilization and its adepts like fossil fuel companies (oh, some of them are SUCH a skilled artists and impersonators, sometimes it's very difficult not to percieve 'em as "good folks") - to limit further carbon emissions, to try and prevent the worst cases by, say, some seriously genious geo-engineering (gaia-engineering is the proper term though). I say, even if we spend ALL resources we can get doing either, - we still won't achieve any big difference. I say, it is now time to stop fighting the dinosaur and start doing what we can to survive consequences of the dinosaur's reigh. It'll die itself, crushed by a sum of internal and external stresses. We can't kill it ourselves, last two decades is a proof to it. We can't even any significantly hasten its demise - not any more than ancient tiny mammals could hasten the death of a tyranosaur. What we can do is to build us some "nests", to prepare us some methods and supplies, and to learn how to live together and cooperate and maintain at least minimal levels of civilized state. I am not positive we have enough time to do that well, even; but we gotta try, because i think it's the only thing we could do now to make a real difference to the chance of survival of our own grandkids and all the generations after them.

And, being quite smart folks, we, the group #1, can even find many ways of mutually beneficial cooperation with both group #2 and group #3, while preparing and adapting. We'll need quite alot of goods and services, and many, if not most, of those can be aquired for least effort and/or money through the ways of modern civilization and industrial complex. Electronics are to be used as long as possible, modern pharmacology is to be known and indeed efficient substances are to be at hand for as long as they are safe to store/use, modern firearms are definitely a big help in any settlement - both against whatever wild life there would be, if any, but also by local police and armed forces - against humans who endanger others in unacceptable (like, violent) ways. Etc etc. So, i think, we need to stop "opposing" global industrial civilization, and start to build the alternative to it. Won't be easy, won't be quick, and, perhaps the most sad for so many, won't be any profitable (in $ terms, that is) enterprise.

Conclusion:

So you see, i still hope that humans, as a species, - and much more importantly, as cultures (because there are many) - will not perish, will not extinct; but previse answer to your question would therefore be: no, i don't see it as inevitable, however, it is possible it is - and i just am unable to see enough to realize it; still, i hope it isn't.

Sorry for typos, man, i hope there are not too many. Please, consider seriously what i said. Oh, and may be read http://esotericonline.net/docs/library/Philosophy/Environmental%20philosophy/Environmental%20Issues/Lovelock%20-%20The%20Vanishing%20Face%20of%20Gaia.pdf , and may be read another free book online (just google it), called "Beyond Collapse: Surviving and Rebuilding Civilization From Scratch". Both books have many bits which are disputable, and some few which are perhaps highly doubtful - but much more than such bits, these two books also contain information which seem (to me) to be entirely correct and of utmost importance.

Best of luck!

wili

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2013, 06:46:14 PM »
Many thoughtful points, many of the basics of which I agree with.

But this all prompts the question: "Do humans, and even more human 'civilization,' deserve to survive, given what we have managed to do to the living planet during our short stay here so far?"

Most would want to brush past such a question, but I think it is partly because most aren't willing to ponder these kinds of fundamental questions deeply enough that we have managed to get ourselves and the planet into such a mess in the first place.

One point, though. I think you may be either underestimating many in group three or undersizing group one. Look at how many people around the world have taken part in "350" demonstrations. IIRC, a recent poll of Filipinos found that GW ranked first in peoples issues of concern, even though many in that country are suffering from dire poverty and other immediate problems.

It is really most in the middle and upper classes of developed countries, particularly in Anglophone countries, that make up your #3 group, imho.

Not that that makes the problem much more tractable.

As you say, as the science has become clearer and clearer, the world has been emitting more and more CO2. CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at all-time highs, and the rate at which it is increasing is at an all-time high as well.

Every year, it becomes ever more necessary to cut C emissions ever more drastically, yet trends continue to go the other way, with no real indication that that will change any time soon.

I challenge anyone here to come up with a remotely plausible scenario (or even an implausible one) whereby we rapidly go to zero C emission in the next very few years. Only such a trajectory has the remotest chance of averting or even ameliorating near-universal extinction (various bacteria will doubtless survive just about anything we throw at them).
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2013, 07:39:51 PM »
Wili
Thought I agree with you, we may not deserve to live...(?)
Living in a world where the ice is everywhere above the 45° of latitude is not easy, that is 3/4 of the time (no ?). So let's imagine the humans arrive to pass through that dangerous path (with some fairly good amount of other species, of course). Then we would be in position where we can regulate the climate for us but also for all living being also. A good threshold is when we have at least around 2000 km3 of ice in the arctic in summer !

ivica

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2013, 08:48:41 PM »
 F.Tnioli, I like what you wrote 8), let me summarize using one your sentence:
Quote
I say, it is now time to stop fighting the dinosaur and start doing what we can to survive consequences of the dinosaur's reigh.

wili

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #20 on: August 08, 2013, 10:51:23 PM »
Laurent, I can only paraphrase Lovelock--Leaving humans to care for the maintenance of the earth's living systems/climate is like leaving a goat in charge of a garden.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #21 on: August 08, 2013, 11:13:11 PM »
A goat would do better ! ;D :'(

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #22 on: August 09, 2013, 09:43:27 AM »
Laurent, I can only paraphrase Lovelock--Leaving humans to care for the maintenance of the earth's living systems/climate is like leaving a goat in charge of a garden.
This understanding is incomplete. Term "humans" here is true ONLY if it means "typical humans". In terms of my previous post - humans of group #2 and #3. But, group #1 is exactly those few folks around who would do very GOOD at allowing earth's living systems and Earth climate to continue functioning naturally, - and with time (long time, centuries at least!) - may be even learn enough to become able to indeed maintain the biosphere and climate, which would include jentle, small adjustments in key elements of those systems, which would successfully prevent most harmful natural fluctuations of those extremely very complex systems of Earth - so complex that even now, nobody yet knows in sufficient detail how both work, nor everything about how those two systems interact with each other and change each other. With time (centuries or even many millenia), sufficient effort and smart information storage and transmission technologies (not nesessarily electronic) the complete understanding could be achieved - it's just tremendous work, but nothing impossible. Then, long-term sustainable management of Gaia itself may well begin. This is something goats could never do _in principle_, - not without evolving into fully sapient creatures 1st, at least.

F.Tnioli, I like what you wrote 8), let me summarize using one your sentence:
Quote
I say, it is now time to stop fighting the dinosaur and start doing what we can to survive consequences of the dinosaur's reigh.
Ivica, this is proper summarization indeed, well done! Yet, if i'd post only that one sentense, nobody would probably understand what i meant, eh. THere's a typo there, too; i meant "reign", not "reigh". Sigh. Sorry.


... But this all prompts the question: "Do humans, and even more human 'civilization,' deserve to survive, given what we have managed to do to the living planet during our short stay here so far?" ...
This one i was thinking about alot, too. It also puzzled me at some point. I saw many reasons for and against it. Confused, i started to investigate why so many reasons both for and against "whether man is worth living" do exist. I have found that just like humans themselves, "civilization" is not a same thing every time and every place. There were and still are places and communities who live in harmony with their environment, stable for thousand+ of years in some cases - despite being civilized enough to have professions, writing, complex social structures, sophisticated small-scale manufacturing. So you see, civilization itself does not nesessarily kill the planet. What it provides, though, is tremendous amplification of man's powers. If powers are destructive to environments (which they are among people from group #2), - then such an amplification is disastrous. If powers are non-destructive, though (group #1) - then such an amplification is very desirable to whole Gaia, to all life on Earth! Here's excellent example: asteroids. Sufficiently big asteroids to cause very huge extinctions of life on Earth - fall down once in a while (once in some 60-100 millions of years, give or take). Without civilization, humans could do nothing about it. Once next one arrives, BOOM, next extinction of all larger-than-mouse land species, and most species in the ocean too. Within modern civilization, there are astronomical observations and technologies to alter the trajectory of any possible threat of such an asteroid long enough before the impact to avoid the impact entirely. NASA keeps track of many thousands of potentially dangerous ones, and there are ways to alter their trajectory, and even ways to simply evaporate them shortly before an impact (precise enough launch of a heavy ICBM up to few hundreds kilometers - into the space, - and then detonating all its warheads in the precise moment when incoming asteroid would be very close to the ICBM).

From just this one example, your question can be re-phrazed as: do we humans - the only species on this planet during ~4 billions years of evolution of organic matter who are actually able to stop regular onslaught and vast reductions of biodiversity, both of which is made rather regularly by large asteroid hits, - do we humans deserve to survive?

The correct answer to this - both this form and your original question - is neither "yes" or "no". Correct answer is: majority of now existing humans do not deserve to survive, but some people do more than deserve it - in fact, they, together, are to be saved at all costs, because only they can rebuild and nurture and restore what majority of mankind so quickly screwed up (and as of now continues to ruin); and similarly, mainstream consumer and "popular" culture - does not deserve to survive, it's too much an abomination, but some other cultures - among which some indigenous ones, and some just-born and yet-forming truly sustainable ones, and some properly scientific ones, - do more than deserve survival, and are also to be saved if at all possible. I guess. Would you agree with this, i wonder?

...
Most would want to brush past such a question, but I think it is partly because most aren't willing to ponder these kinds of fundamental questions deeply enough that we have managed to get ourselves and the planet into such a mess in the first place. ...
True. Most would. Some would even get hostile about it - many religious people, i guess, among others. But, look ahead. Those who fail to get responsible about such matters will end up dead - their cultures, their beliefs, and their families and bloodlines in most cases as well. We need to care and tihnk about those few people and cultures who _do_ have any realistic chances of long-term survival, - not about those who are obviously going hed-on to wiping themselves out of existance by their own inability (for whatever reason it be) to address all critically important questions, - this one (whether mankind is worth to survive or not) included. I know i sound harsh. Yet, as far as i can tell, that's what reality of today is. Weather is not "evil" nor "good"; increasingly erratic weather and climate is still not "evil"; but it definitely can be very harsh to us humans, and to most other lifeforms as well. Harsh and difficult to deal with. Some of my messages are just like that, i know it, but, it can't be helped. Still, i feel sorry writing this... I wish there would be a prettier alternative, but there is none.

...
One point, though. I think you may be either underestimating many in group three or undersizing group one. Look at how many people around the world have taken part in "350" demonstrations. IIRC, a recent poll of Filipinos found that GW ranked first in peoples issues of concern, even though many in that country are suffering from dire poverty and other immediate problems. ...
I see. Perhaps i was too general in defining group #1, though. The key phraze there - is this one: "few who do care about global matters". Perhaps i said it in a way which allows multiple understnadings. Sorry for that. By this phraze i meant people who act and achieve significant results in adressing critically important global matters, and keep doing it as one of top-priority activities of their life. As a result, such people "do" things which help larger (than just one's family or one's farm) systems to remain functional and within reasonably healthy parameters (up to global, planetary systems) - such a help, materialized, is what i described as "care". So you see, group #1 "do care", and results of their doing are significant and real (existing in physical world).

Most of the people who vote in polls, take part in demonstrations, buy "eco-friendly" goods (from recycled bags to electric cars) - do not do any much practical care. This statement seems to contradict itself, doesn't it? :) But, there is no contradiction. We should never underestimate amount of scum and "trickery" existing in modern world.

Did you know that electric cars of today, while being believed by so many to be the solution of cars' CO2 emissions, - are in fact making more CO2 emissions than a car of the same size and mass which has fuel-efficient internal combustion engine? Surprise, surprise. World still gets 80%+ of its electricity from fossil fuels. Then, this electricity suffer noticeable losses while it travels through long-range transmissions lines from power stations to the charging stations for electric cars. Then there are further significant losses of power upon charging betteries. Then more losses when discharging matteries. All those losses are not present for internal combustion engines - well, except tiny fraction of gasoline which is lost to evaporation while transporting it and fueling cars' tank. The nail in the coffin, though, is the mass ratio. Energy density of gasoline/petrol is many times higher, per unit of mass, than energy density in even best li-ion batteries used to pwoer electric vehicles. That's why electric cars have such a shorter range "on one charge" in compare to gasoline cars "on one tank" - and that's why there is much more weight in the electric car being it's "fuel" - i.e. its batteries. And, batteries are not "removed" gradually as electric car goes on on one charge - while gasoline cars, the fuel's mass goes away gradually, towards a completely empty tank (zero mass), as the car goes on. This all together result in some 120....200% higher CO2 emissions for a mile travelled in modern electric car in compare to just usual ford focus or such - and even times higher difference for state-of-the-art gasoline-based cars, like that small series of VW cars which spend under 1 liter of fuel for 100 kilometers travelled.

"Recycled" bags is a simpler case; they simply suffer from utter insignificance, and often hypocrisy (i couldn't believe when i found in one of large local super-markets that paper-made bags were sold, having writings on them saying that they are made from "renewable" resource, - wood; man, in a world in which more than half of naturally existed forests are gone, and with a price times higher than synthetic ones, what is it if not a hypocrisy?).

Examples go on and on, general thing is, however, that majority of humans who participate in "green" mass movements - do not have any really good clue what they are talking about, and about what their money and time is _actually_ invested to. For two examples just above,
 - thousands of people who bought electric or hybrid cars are honestly thinking that high price they paid - is serving to help the well-being of Nature, of Earth, helps the future of mankind, etc - while in reality, high price they paid actually HARM those, and helps only capitalists behind corresponding industries (battery industry, modern mettalurgy, plastics, retailers, etc);
 - millions of people buying those paper "renewable" bags in supermarkets are paying high price thinking they are acting responsibly, - but if anything, this simply leads to a further, if very small, increase of man-made deforestation.

That's why those people are in group #3. They may have best intentions, they may be trying to help, to act, to do good; and despite examples above, quite often they do some good care about Earth indeed. But their inability and/or lack of willing effort spent to understand things properly, - quite often in large extent caused by all sorts of "brainwashing" which not only mainstream culture and education, but also corrupted "green" movements themselves do, - that lack of sufficient udnerstanding renders net total of their efforts to be close to zero, sometimes even net negative despite their best intentions. Those people, despite my huge sympathy to them, are also going to extinct; Nature does not transform directly by intentions or wishes of men - but only by physical changes made by men. If between wishes an intentions and actual actions there is a major corrupting force - well, end result will not be good.

One more factor is weaknesses. Physical, emotional, societal. Many people do not even suspect how weak they actually are. As long as they are comfortable in their homes, offices, molls, - they talk big about helping the Earth, importance of stopping global warming (although it's a wrong idea as i explained above, with what we know today - better get busy preparing to survive the big warming which will happen anyways), about stopping pollution. They even go demonstrations - having a drink they just bought in nearby supermarket, clothed in things made in some poor country by "cheap labor force", and carrying a mobile phone which is made without much consideration about how safe it'll be to dispose of it, which was made without any much desire to make it durable - able to function not just for 1-2 years until "new model" comes out, but for some 10+ years, and which was made from matherials extracted from Earth without any much consideration whether it's safe for the planet to extract and use them.

Tell to those folks: come, leave your comfortable places, join me living in some miserable shack, possibly made by your own hands and effort, in a place with harsh climate to begin with, - strong frost in winter, short, arid and very hot summer. What you think most of them will _do_? Will majority of them indeed go and join us? Nope. Some of them will straight say: sorry, we can't; we're too much city dwellers now; we won't make it, we are too weak for it. Some others will say: heck, there are other ways, better ways, we wont' go - instead, (for example), we'll keep on fighting for reductions of CO2 emissions, this is EXTREMELY important, and we can do that best right here, in cities! In their _beliefs_ - much intentionally "implanted" by corresponding propaganda (can we call 350.org a propaganda device, i wonder?), - they won't be able to go, which is also a form of weakness - not good enough intellect to distinct between facts of reality and skilfully crafted propaganda, designed to indeed mislead the masses. Few will agree to leave big cities - or to leave their quite comfortable, with many modern industrial goods and entertainments, farms and villages, - and will try to exactly "stop fighting the dinosaur and start doing what we can to survive consequences of the dinosaur's reigh" in a practically sound, realistic way. Few. And many of those few will find themselves too weak in practice. They will find that their expectations of good things was too high, and expectations of difficult and painful things, - too low; they'll find they can't bear it "anymore". Those will get back to modern industrial civilization, at least partially. Can't blame them, too; modern life shapes men very much, making many very dependable on the big system for very survival - even if they think they could live without it, it's not the case in reality.

After all above and some other matters, very few people who are able to actually _do_ any significant care about Gaia, and about increasing long-term (50+ years) chances of survival of human species and of good parts of present civilization - are some 0.1%...1% of total population. This is actually an optimistic estimate, even. Still, even 0.01% of current population is 700.000 people; and we know from genetics that in the past, there was a moment when total human population of Earth was ~2000 souls. 700.000 people is still much higher than 2000. So it's not that we don't have enough people who actually can care about Earth properly (so they wouldn't deteriorate their own life support to the point of failure, which modern big mankind does, heading right to collapse) - it's that currently, we have such people - the group #1, - spread around, thinned, disconnected from each other, and often even not giving any thought about finding others who're truly alike, and starting to cooperate with them in practice.

P.S. I have a cell phone. It's Motorola c113a. It's some 9 or 10 years old, and it still works. Charger failed few years ago, i had to by another (universal), thankfully, works well. And ~2 years ago, key "7" on the phone became quirky, but pressing it from bottom-left corner of the button gets "7" typed in not too few attempts. How many people around would keep using same mobile phone for a decade? More than 1%? Probably not. Meanwhile, anyone who does not do this - finding reliable, durable phone is not TOO difficult even despite most of them are "paper-made" - prone to fail after very few years of service, - is probably not group #1. In the same time, of course, the phone thing is just one of many possible "signs"; it does not guarantee that the person who sticks to it - and to things in general, not doing any avoidable replacements, - is one of group #1; many other things are needed to in fact be one of the few who are actually both able and willing to be responsible, sustainable long-term, resisting all the temptations of easy life and massive power of industries, man. As for me, i'd like to think i am one of those who are group #1 - but i am not completely sure. May be i am one of those who are too weak in some or other way - i had quite more of experience surviving on land and surviving elements of nature than average Joe has, but even this is far from enough to be sure i got all it takes; may be i'll end up not doing any significant care to Earth even while i am thinking i do. So while i say "we" when i mean people of group #1, in fact it's merely a hope of mine that i am among; not a complete certainty. Yet, i guess, my understnading of these matters and my desire to belong to this group #1 - is enough for me to keep saying "we".
« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 12:39:57 PM by F.Tnioli »

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #23 on: August 09, 2013, 12:40:43 PM »
Can't append previous one - max length limit reached. Well, here the rest is.

...
It is really most in the middle and upper classes of developed countries, particularly in Anglophone countries, that make up your #3 group, imho.
...
Not only. Billions of poor farmers (in total) of India, China (at least until recently), in many poor countries of Africa are also group #3 - majority of those folks are group #3. If they would be group #1, then they wouldn't, in ANY case, have families of 3+ children. Why? Because it's important to pass the knowledge, to pass the understanding, to as many as possible - to those few who got enough brain power and enough interest to learn and become part of group #1; yet by having many children, one is spending oh so much time to simply feed them, to provide for them on the most basic level. For humans, genes define a significant part of what we are, but only a LESSER part; the majority of our behaviour, actions, decisions and production - is defined by our culture (non-genetic knowledge). And our mainstream - in other words, dominating at the moment, - culture - is fatally flawed, killing the life on which it itself depends, and unable to stop doing so. Do poor farmers know those facts? Why, some few possibly do. But most of those with large families didn't even hear that there is some problem with increasing CO2 content, you know? Quite obvious, most of them is group #3, and will remain so: even until now, mere physical individual/family survival there was difficult; in deteriorating world, they'll have even less desire, time and energy to spend it on anything else but keeping their stomachs at least a quarter-full.

Lower classes are mostly group #3 as well. Yes, i based general description on a typical city-dwelling family (more than half of people alive live in cities nowadays) - but it was to give an idea of "usualness", so to say, and not to exclude poor workers, homeless, dwellers of slums and other "got little money if any" people out there. In fact, most of those actually do raise kids and grandkids, as far as i can tell - and in fact, they are very busy and quite often very happy doing it. Yes, poorer people do have significantly high empathy, and they often know much more about global problems created by modern industries and technologies. This is, sadly, balanced back by a disabling factor: they are, well, quite poor in terms of money - which means they can do really really less than middle and upper classes. After all, in modern world, money _do_ give power to make things happen - you probably noticed that yourself, i guess. Yep. Probably, you did. :D

...
As you say, as the science has become clearer and clearer, the world has been emitting more and more CO2. CO2 levels in the atmosphere are at all-time highs, and the rate at which it is increasing is at an all-time high as well. ...
In fact, science knew about grennhouse effects of CO2 even in 19th century. And science also knew that burning coal emits lots of CO2. This knowledge didn't stop coal revolution. You can easily find names and dates of related discoveries in the net.

Another fact is, completely definite experiments in laboratory, confirming without a doubt detailed mechanism of greenhouse effect of CO2, were done in 1970s. And, in 1970s, science was already very clear about amounts of CO2 in the athmosphere, amount of fossil fuel reserves (in terms of orders of magnitude, at least), - and thus it was very clear that by burning even a quarter of fossil fuels down there, the greenhouse effect will become planetary problem of catastrophic proportions. Perhaps, this knowledge and consequent attempt to act about it - was the true, unspoken to the public cause of the huge oil price increase in 1970s ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Crude_oil_prices_since_1861.png ), in an attempt to force the system to reduce oil consumption and extraction levels (higher prices = less consumption, quite naturally). If it was such an attempt indeed, then it failed: after a few years, prices fell back to traditionally low values.

...
I challenge anyone here to come up with a remotely plausible scenario (or even an implausible one) whereby we rapidly go to zero C emission in the next very few years. Only such a trajectory has the remotest chance of averting or even ameliorating near-universal extinction (various bacteria will doubtless survive just about anything we throw at them).
Gee, this is an easy one. Scenario is: dropping a couple hundreds nuclear warheads into world's key centers of industry and population. Is it nice? Nope, definitely it isn't. I've seen that UK movie made in 1980 about nuclear war - what was the name of it, "Threads"? Yep, that: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Threads . Very simple to grasp what nuclear war is in reality, and how pityful will be little remains of mainkind after it. Especially the very last moment... Poor girl. To literally EVERYONE who didn't see it, i highly recommend to go and watch it ASAP. Here it is, even embeddes nicely:

But. You didn't say "nice". You said "plausible". With large stockpiles of nuclear weapons existing in several countries, and systems like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-135_anti-ballistic_missile_system , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dead_Hand_%28nuclear_war%29 and similar ones which, i do not doubt, our american "friends" are using, - it's quite plausible scenario. You can get some basic idea how close we were to it in the past if you'd read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanislav_Petrov , http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasili_Arkhipov , and even after USSR collapse - still same thing, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norwegian_rocket_incident . I heard americans had quite a few close calls, too.

Anyhows, large-scale (potentially global bar Antarctica) nuclear exchange, despite all its horrors, would indeed stop nearly all man-made CO2 emissions. It'd kill most of humans, and create nuclear winter which would kill most of plants too - and by extension, most of animals as well, though. Not to mention the radiation... It's not acceptable. Still, it is 1) plausible scenario even if we do not like it, - if only by some too unfortunate series of mistakes and malfunctions within aging nuclear armament and deterrent systems, - and 2) able to stop CO2 emissions.

So, here we go, good question - good answer, i say...

There is (probably is - still alive, not sure) professor Eric Pianka. He was considering Ebola. It kills relatively quite fast. Lethality is high (sokme 90% or higher). It affects only humans, if i remember correctly. But, unlike the professor, i do not think it's a plausible ones. There won't be people with enough guts and courage and madness all mixed together to prepare, organize and execute world-wide Ebola epidemy - nor it's any easy to ensure that _all_ major population masses a hit by it. Quite rather difficult to infect most of humans alive - those "bastards" are worse than roaches, they'll hide, they'll run away, they'll get underground for a long time and they'll be darn very inventive about staying alive and not infected. So this probably won't work even if tried. Despite all that, good professor Pianka had some audiences making some standing applauds to some of statements of his related to this. May be there was some point i didn't get? Not sure. Still, i don't think this or similar - any genocidal, - solutions would work. Plus, it'd be, by itself, a largest crime in the history of mankind, and it'd be an abandonment of all hopes for a "miracle" which somehow would still save most or all of humans now alive.

Anyone knows any advanced species from other stars who can get in in time and fix our problems with a few button presses? Call 'em if you do, please, tell 'em we need their kind and althruistic help. ... Joking, of course, with this. But you know - hope, it dies last. Who knows. May be. No theoretic principal obstacles. We got unlucky with so much fossil fuels and oxygen athmosphere which is so good at making lots of energy outta them. How about we get really lucky and get some good-hearted, god-like aliens arriving and fixing our problems? In terms of Michio Kaku (i mean the bit in which he speaks about other possible civilizations out there), even level 2 civ would suffice - one which is not hostile, that is (and we simply do not know whether they'd be, so there's a hope they wouldn't be hostile).

I wouldn't call this exactly "plausible", of course... But, again, hope dies last. People's wisdom says that while ones is indeed to hope for the best, - one is also to be preparing for the worst, though. So here we are talking about what's what, exactly for this reason.

Thanks for listening to me. I hope i did help a bit. Cheers!
« Last Edit: August 09, 2013, 01:08:51 PM by F.Tnioli »

retiredbill

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #24 on: August 10, 2013, 12:06:02 AM »

I'm glad my casual interest in Arctic and Antarctic sea ice brought me to this blog. The
other threads have got me to focus my thinking on the future effects of climate change.

It makes no difference whether Sen. Inhofe is a CC change denier or a CC believer. It makes
no difference whether the XL Pipeline is built or disapproved. It makes no difference
whether someone drills for oil in the Arctic or doesn't.

The standard of living as defined by most Americans is in for a catastrophic decline and
nothing is going to change it. Theoretically people could do something to mitigate
the destruction. But no one will because no one has started to take effective action to
reduce CO2 emissions. If a concerted effort had been undertaken 20 years ago, or even
10 years ago, then we would not be in the predicament we are in today.

It's true that 7, or 8, or 9 billion people will die of starvation or illness or destruction in the next 50
years. Or 100 years. Or 150 years.

Now that the long, broad future is clear, we can get back to discussing the short, narrow future.
How many thousands of electric cars will sell in the next 10 years. How many mega-watts of
solar electricity will be generated in the next 20 years.

I've been composing my thoughts over the past several days. Yesterday, Tnioli posted his take
on what will happen in the immediate future. It joins other postings with a common theme:
the destruction of everyday life as we know it.

Now that I've had my say, I feel better. Back to our regularly scheduled programming. Let some
optimistic people continue searching for answers.

wili

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #25 on: August 10, 2013, 01:30:00 AM »
FT, I just got a head injury that will keep me from responding fully to your thoughtful prose as fully as I would wish right now. Suffice it to say for now that you seem to be conflating "civilization" with "culture." I would agree that there are many human cultures that have found sustainable ways of living on the earth. In fact, one might claim that pretty much every culture (except the ones that fairly quickly extinguished themselves) has been sustainable, except our now-global modern industrial consumerist capitalist culture.

"Once next one arrives, BOOM, next extinction of all larger-than-mouse land species, and most species in the ocean too."

I would say that we are the BOOM that is in the process of driving an extinction event that may end up even more thorough than the one you describe.

More later (I hope).
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

TerryM

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #26 on: August 10, 2013, 04:56:40 AM »
Wili


Duck first - then punch[size=78%]
Terry[/size]

wili

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #27 on: August 10, 2013, 06:27:10 PM »
LOL. It's too embarrassing to go into in detail, but it was in the line of duty!--my head was stove in by my very full recycling cart! Talk about "Very Unlikely Worst Case Scenarios"! Feeling a bit better today, though.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

ccgwebmaster

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #28 on: August 10, 2013, 07:38:45 PM »
LOL. It's too embarrassing to go into in detail, but it was in the line of duty!--my head was stove in by my very full recycling cart! Talk about "Very Unlikely Worst Case Scenarios"! Feeling a bit better today, though.

It reminds me of something I read suggesting that wind power is actually surprisingly dangerous if you take the appropriate statistical measurement - due to deaths from falling from turbines...

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #29 on: August 12, 2013, 11:39:59 AM »
I don't know if to congratulate you, or be sorry, so i guess i'll just nod to the fact that significant head trauma you mentioned, Wili, did not kill you, nor made you crazey (nuts, bonkers, silly - that sort of thing).

Better luck next time - either dodging it or getting out by it (no idea which one you'd prefer). Heck, no idea which one i'd prefer, even.

P.S. Heh, guess there is a song for you, Wili. Be sure to listen in entirety; only then cadenza becomes truly magical.


Survival Acres

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #30 on: August 13, 2013, 05:24:20 AM »
I think the worst case scenarios are far more likely then not. The runaway effect is clearly occurring now. I also think that failing to grasp the likelihood of 'worst case scenarios' will ensure the untimely death of billions. They'll die anyway, but they're going to die far sooner then most people seem to expect.

I've spent nearly two decades on this topic. Does not make me an expert. Two forums (extinct) and a blog of some length now discussing this. Connecting the dots has been the primary focus. I don't give us 50 years before catastrophic / non-survivable effects kill billions. It begins right now. Last year, 30 million climate refugees were reported.

Industrialized civilization / capitalism will be the source. It will also be among the last 'survivors' due to the sociopathic behavior exhibited by it's adherants. Only the most ruthless among the industrialized capitalist will "survive".

I've often used the analogy of a empty, barren hilltop, surrounded by .50 caliber shells and empty bean cans to point to who will survive and who will not. I think the ruthlessness to come will be beyond imagination.

One of the things I tried to do over the past 20 years was build an international network from people who were interested in group survival. After much effort and expense, I gave up. What I learned was that people are not really that interested. They could not grasp the essence of how real it could or would "be" and what they needed to do right now in order to adapt.

This disconnect is understandable, but it's also fatal. We live in the here and now. Life goes on, and seems like it will continue indefinitely (at times!). But not always. We get a wake up call once in a while and we start to ponder what it could really mean. I think it means what I've shared above.

Today's Climate News Network publication release indicates that runaway greenhouse warming is far more likely then not. They fall short of showing just how soon this could actually happen (imo). But I note that every scientists has had to revise their models and predictions constantly, as they are always off the mark (adjusted sooner / worse).

The unprecedented amount of ice melting globally is a clanging alarm, among multiple others. It's not like we can just replace this ice, or reverse the already worsening climate, or slow down the latent effects we've released. The lag times exceed our planning capabilities it seems.

I'm persuaded civilization as we know it will not survive, period. There is a small, but dwindling chance humans will survive, but I personally believe extinction is far more possible then is currently being accepted. The entire global culture has to change in order for us to survive the next 100 years. This cannot, does not happen quickly. We're asking mutliple generations to do something that we are not even remotely equipped for, culturally or spiritually. The complete failure of the modern world to connect "life" to "planet" is unforgivable. Instead, we're browbeaten with fantasies and fairytales.

There is exceedingly little support for real change. There is no political will.  There is just business as usual, and "drill baby drill" sort of acceptance everywhere. Even in the face of self-extermination, which is not widely accepted, we insist on business as usual.

The time to heed warnings is not when the disaster strikes, but before. In the case of climate, it must begin over 100 years in advance.  We have grossly overshot this window of climate opportunity and continue to do so to this day.

The failure to overcome these cultural objections is a moral failing of the highest order. No species has the right to extinguish every other life form (for all practical purposes) on the planet, but that is exactly what we are doing, faster and faster and faster.

Therefore, I give humanity very little hope for survival. We cannot live here if other life cannot live here. Our dependency upon a habitable climate is but a small part of the total equation of our existence, there is much more then this at stake. But the progress required to put a stop to the global destruction is pitifully small. A fair assessment would report "Zero progress" in reality (when the number are not fudged).

So whatever "worst case scenarios" anyone could envision, it's irrelevant. We're going to self-exterminate in all likelihood anyway, even under the "best case scenario" because we are literally killing the planet and the life that sustains us within it.

The only real hope, as horrifying as it sounds, is total collapse, sooner the better, as a preservation of what may then remain.  Even collapse will destroy a great deal more, but it will also lower populations dramatically and destroy industrialized civilization.

It is widely known that a "zero carbon emission" is the absolutely essential response by humanity now. No other "solution" to zero carbon emissions actually exist other then total collapse. Nobody talks about this because it's a pretty drastic future to envision.

Adaption and mitigation in the interim is possible for some small number. But it is not possible for our current population, nor will it resolve the long term effects already unleashed (with more to come). Even so, it will be the primary effort and focus by groups that grasp the terrifying reality the lies ahead. Meanwhile the rest of the world fully intends to remain blissfully ignorant which will ensure that all efforts at adaption will ultimately fail.

The world does not run in a vaccuum, isolated from what other countries, nations are doing. Not anymore. The failure to gain global acceptance and meaningful changes in time means extinction for all. It's that simple.

Shared Humanity

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #31 on: August 13, 2013, 06:35:01 AM »
Survival Acres........You are a real downer.

(Goes to kitchen. Grabs Wild Turkey and shot glass.)

F.Tnioli

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #32 on: August 13, 2013, 12:25:04 PM »
...
The world does not run in a vaccuum, isolated from what other countries, nations are doing. Not anymore. The failure to gain global acceptance and meaningful changes in time means extinction for all. It's that simple.
It ain't that simple.

You say, "extinction for all". Well, this must then include the extinction of, say, Nenets people ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nenets_people ). All 41000+ of them.

Now tell me, what, exactly, will kill them?

Higher temperatures? Not likely. As Arctic becomes ice-free, average humidity, especially during summers, rises up in their lands. The area is expected to have higher precipitation annual average as global warming goes on (Dai et al, projecting PDSI for all regions of the world for temperature climbs of up to +4C). This effectively counters temperature climb of maximum highs during summer - and, given the place, those highs were very modest, too, so there is still very much room before 35C wetbulb would be seen there, too. As for winters, i don't think Nenets people will be killed by a rise of averages for winter months from some -30 to some -15. It'll still stay well below 0 no matter how hotter world gets, due to polar night every winter.

Perhaps, extinction of other species? Not likely. Grass and other plants in tundras are very resilient. Their seeds survive extremely low air temperatures in winter (as low as -60 celcius). Grass itself also had to survive through arid periods during summer, too. More water would make it bloom, in fact. Ergo, reindeers and other fauna will still have ample food (quite possibly, more ample than ever before).

May be collapse of global civilization would kill them? I doubt. While partially "civilized" as of now, still many of them are nomads, like they were for centuries before. Yes, nowadays, they use modern guns for hunting, and lots of industrially produced things, from knives to cloth. However, these are still only conviniences for them - i recon they are still so close to the old ways they would easily manage to gradually get used to once again go without any modern industrially-made thing. Gradually, because even when global IC shuts down - things Nenets have - guns, clothes, knives, whatever else - won't disappear overnight. Those things will break/fail/become_useless one after another in a matter of a couple decades, give or take.

May be radioactive pollution from failing nuclear power plants worldwide will kill Nenets people? I don't think so. They don't have much, if any, nuclear matherials piled up all around their pastures, and remote (hundred+, more like thousands miles away) outbursts of radioactive matherial won't kill them.

May be sea level rise will kill them? Nope. Their land, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nenets_Autonomous_Okrug , is made out of some mountains and the rest being plains, and about 90% of those plains are 100+ meters above sea level. Complete melt of Greenland and Antarcctica will raise sea levels some 76...82 meters or so (uncertainty is because we don't know exactly how much total thermal expansion of ocean water there will be by the time said land-based ice-caps melt).

May be the mega-tsunami i mentioned above would kill Nenets people? Well, if you'd look on the map i just linked, you'll notice how Nenets okrug is kind of "shielded" by Scandinavia from the west; a mega-wave from Greenland will arrive mightily weakened, and perhaps won't go through all those 100+ meters above-sea plains of the Nenets okrug. Antarctica is on the other side of the globe, even - Nenets okrug would be among the least affected places of the world, if Antarctica burst some insanely powerful melt-water tsunami to the world, at some point. Still, if big enough discharge, plains of Nenets okrug could possibly be hit in entirety. But Few thousands Nenets would possibly survive in mountains there, and populate same plains after a couple of decades after the mega-wave.

May be increasingly erratic weather will kill Nenets people? Well, again, amount of precipitation is projected to increase in the area. Heavier downpurs? Sure, but, the region has good natural drainage into the Arctic ocean. Occasional draughts? Sure possible, but there are TONS of big rivers, lakes, swamps, and underground water tables there are not exhausted by modern industrial farming and irrigation. There most likely still will be large harm done by fires and heatwaves in terms of fires, death of green plants which are far from any big water source (on- or under-ground one), reflected by increasing troubles to find good pasture for reindeers; however, much of pasture will still remain, surviving on water in the system (said sources), - and from which, areas which were devastated by draught will keep recovering.

So tell me, did i miss something? Well, apart from indeed "not really inevitable in observable future" events like huge asteroid hit. And please tell me, indeed, how exactly you tihnk Nenets people will end up "extinct"?


Because at the moment, my humble opinion is: people like Nenets and some other small nations in "remote areas", which are still much old-ways societies - might even barely notice that big, modern, industrial civilization went belly up; they'll go on and live. It'll be more difficult even for them, but extinction? Can't see how.

Gray-Wolf

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #33 on: August 13, 2013, 03:09:20 PM »
Worse case scenario is that Mother N. acts as she always has? Last time we had this size carbon system ( with the atmospheric concentrations we see today) mother N. kept it there from the expanded carbon cycle now resting beneath 2/3rds of Greenland and all of West Antarctica.

 By the time we hit 450ppm we cross the line that started East Antarctica's glaciation but, prior to that drop, Mother N. had an even bigger carbon cycle that is now resting under the ice sheet there.

Never mind what we amass from our permafrosts (terrestrialal and submerged ) we have a dormant portion of the carbon cycle awaiting re-animation buried beneath the ice sheets.

Mother N.'s 'balance point was around 280ppm for the ice cover we had so we have expanded things by 120ppm. surely mother N. will now balance the equation by melting back the ice cover to the levels that go with 400ppm but that would unleash her 'dormant' 120ppm carbon cycle emissions from below West Antarctica and 2/3rds Greenland?

 This pushes us way beyond the GHG  level needed to have East Antarcta in the deep freeze so surely then East Antarctica is doomed to melt out?

As far as the consequences of our near instant plumping of GHG levels we appear ( to me ) to be dead men walking the green mile?

We do not see such a rapid introduction of GHG's in the paleo record. We see 10ppm per thousand years and a planet near keeping up with that forcing ( temp/ice level wise) ?

For me to imagine that we should expect forcings to 'instantly' produce impacts is sheer loonacy ( yet some folk demand we see such 'instant change' to prove GHG's have impacts???) .

Mother N. will not be rushed but I fear neither will she be disuaded from her 'balancing act' with temps., GHG levels and ice cover.

If you want 'instant' change then alter the albedo and see what impacts that drives.......oh wait! , we are on with that one.......
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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #34 on: August 13, 2013, 03:11:44 PM »
I've spent nearly two decades on this topic. Does not make me an expert. Two forums (extinct) and a blog of some length now discussing this. Connecting the dots has been the primary focus. I don't give us 50 years before catastrophic / non-survivable effects kill billions. It begins right now. Last year, 30 million climate refugees were reported.

Hey, now I'm in a slightly less profound minority pitching for a considerably nearer future onset of collapse. I have a sneaking feeling most people will gradually adjust their estimates downwards in time and duration the longer they study this area - can anyone on the forum say the reverse so far?

Industrialized civilization / capitalism will be the source. It will also be among the last 'survivors' due to the sociopathic behavior exhibited by it's adherants. Only the most ruthless among the industrialized capitalist will "survive".

And yet - as it is the problem in itself, it will die. I'm not even sure it will make it to the "last survivors" - the complexity of global resource consumption and mass manufacturing nicely creates a global network of interdependence. Cut off the global interconnections and it becomes strangely pitiful and vulnerable set against communities that are still largely self reliant (such as there are).

By the time you have your .50 cal shells and bean cans littering the place up - the level of violence and conflict internally will be incompatible with the operation of a complex globally interdependent society (minor note, I can't say I think a .50 cal would be a weapon of choice for most purposes - they're very expensive and good at limited things).

One of the things I tried to do over the past 20 years was build an international network from people who were interested in group survival. After much effort and expense, I gave up. What I learned was that people are not really that interested. They could not grasp the essence of how real it could or would "be" and what they needed to do right now in order to adapt.

They still aren't very interested on the whole (though I could list several people who have at least some interest now, and it might be just about viable to start the glimmerings of something). That's the sort of direction I've gone in - though I'm pretty relaxed about finding people who are interested or not (and have little time or expense to put into it - I know you've seen the CCG site). Taking a cynical view, we just don't need that many people - and volunteers are likely to be extremely numerous when collapse arrives in earnest (while one might prefer people with good foresight and a higher ideal than just surviving).

Today's Climate News Network publication release indicates that runaway greenhouse warming is far more likely then not. They fall short of showing just how soon this could actually happen (imo). But I note that every scientists has had to revise their models and predictions constantly, as they are always off the mark (adjusted sooner / worse).

My interpretation of paleoclimate is that the earth system frequently moves in abrupt transitions. The models don't appear to be capable of modelling this yet. Except for rate of change under observation we accordingly have little idea exactly when we undergo such a transition. I personally think we're on the edge of several, one of them fairly visibly advanced (Arctic sea ice) - but nobody can say anything for sure. That's one of the great obstacles to motivating people - uncertainty is taken as a psychological analog for setting the problem aside. If we knew with certainty that a rock was hurtling towards us out of space and would impact and destroy most of us - I am sure it would alter behaviour as people would have a specific date and time in their mind.

I'm persuaded civilization as we know it will not survive, period. There is a small, but dwindling chance humans will survive, but I personally believe extinction is far more possible then is currently being accepted. The entire global culture has to change in order for us to survive the next 100 years. This cannot, does not happen quickly. We're asking mutliple generations to do something that we are not even remotely equipped for, culturally or spiritually. The complete failure of the modern world to connect "life" to "planet" is unforgivable. Instead, we're browbeaten with fantasies and fairytales.

I have extinction down as an outlier possibility - certainly not near future. Becomes more ultimately likely if we see a major methane release but still far from certain.

F.Tnioli gave a good example but another way of looking at it is to ask oneself what will kill you. In my case, every time I think about that - the answer is not the climate. The answer is other people.

As population density diminishes and modern technologies drop off the table, it becomes ever harder to keep killing each other. Once population has dropped well below carrying capacity, there is no longer any incentive to keep killing each other - it's generally as easy to co-operate and trade for resources etc at that point. For us to all die by the hands of another person is obviously mathematically impossible, and in any event humans are tribal creatures and will usually not kill each other within their immediate tribe (however small that might become).

There is exceedingly little support for real change. There is no political will.  There is just business as usual, and "drill baby drill" sort of acceptance everywhere. Even in the face of self-extermination, which is not widely accepted, we insist on business as usual.

On the plus side, from a moral point of view - this situation is a choice for most people. Later, if trying to come to terms with the loss of massive amounts of life (and I presume it will have psychological effects no matter how much one has thought about it in advance), I think that's important. By refusing to listen or act and dogmatically pursuing the path of destruction - most people chose it.

The failure to overcome these cultural objections is a moral failing of the highest order. No species has the right to extinguish every other life form (for all practical purposes) on the planet, but that is exactly what we are doing, faster and faster and faster.

I think only humans worry about rights? The university doesn't care, the earth doesn't care, much as most lifeforms want to live - they don't think in terms of rights. Nor does humanity, when it comes down to it. Our population curve is comparable to that of yeast in a bottle consuming all the available sugar, or bacteria thoughtlessly expanding. There is no evidence that people represent a higher or more moral form of life at this time. It seems odd to me to hold people to a higher standard than yeast on the basis of their behaviour thus far.

It is widely known that a "zero carbon emission" is the absolutely essential response by humanity now. No other "solution" to zero carbon emissions actually exist other then total collapse. Nobody talks about this because it's a pretty drastic future to envision.

It's important to note that shutting down carbon emissions (whether by choice or not) will lead (within a few years) to the precipitation of sulphate aerosols from the atmosphere and a consequent significant uptick in warming rate for a while. As close to the thresholds of abrupt changes as we may be, we might actually accelerate them by doing so.

We have got ourselves addicted to this drug so thoroughly as a species that withdrawal might just kill us faster now.

Adaption and mitigation in the interim is possible for some small number. But it is not possible for our current population, nor will it resolve the long term effects already unleashed (with more to come). Even so, it will be the primary effort and focus by groups that grasp the terrifying reality the lies ahead. Meanwhile the rest of the world fully intends to remain blissfully ignorant which will ensure that all efforts at adaption will ultimately fail.

For the vast majority of human history, human population has not been counted in billions.

All we are looking at is a return to normality in that sense, albeit with climatic parameters that may be beyond our evolutionary experience. As an adaptable and well distributed species we stand a much better chance than lots of other species for at least survival - worst case in niche habitats.

The world does not run in a vaccuum, isolated from what other countries, nations are doing. Not anymore. The failure to gain global acceptance and meaningful changes in time means extinction for all. It's that simple.

Extinction for all still comes back to that ultimate question - what will kill you? And what can you do about it?

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #35 on: August 13, 2013, 03:20:22 PM »
Because at the moment, my humble opinion is: people like Nenets and some other small nations in "remote areas", which are still much old-ways societies - might even barely notice that big, modern, industrial civilization went belly up; they'll go on and live. It'll be more difficult even for them, but extinction? Can't see how.

It bears noting that our species has weathered abrupt climate shifts and major events before.

We're old enough to have seen several glacial cycles (albeit not an ice free planet), supervolcanic eruptions (eg Toba), abrupt transitions (eg Younger Dryas). sometimes our species has gone regionally extinct in large areas. Sometimes we've flirted with extinction, even.

Expecting modern complex civilisation to weather such events seems inherently flawed given numerous historical precedents of more resilient and less complex civilisations going under due to much milder climatic factors - but the species is a very different thing from civilisation.

We are fairly unique in land species for our ability to relocate our range and to compensate for variation in terms of the parameters that usually kill individual organisms. Hot, cold, dry, wet - just look at the sorts of places where people manage to live. Ask yourself what it would take for all such places to fall off the top of a warming planet?

Even the end Permian extinction didn't appear to do that.

Armed essentially with just fire and pointy sticks for much of our tool using history, we have colonised the world. We're a difficult infection to eradicate.

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #36 on: August 13, 2013, 04:18:49 PM »
Finally! A person who understands. Ccgwebmaster, your message is one i completely agree with.

I did make further considerations from facts you mentioned, and concluded that
 - while humans are indeed hard to get rid of as a species, - Gaia almost managed to do it couple dozens thousands years ago, when human population of Earth was as low as ~2000 souls, living in just one small area IIRC (at least that's what geneticists tell us). So, in your terms, we better have - means, maintain locally after global IC collapse, from local matherials, using only local knowledge and locally-rebuildable infrastructure, - more technology than just fire and pointy sticks. If we are seriously about to increase chances of the species to survive through incoming thermal maximum big mankind have triggered, and which - also worth noting, - is faster than any similar (at its scale) event humans may have endured before, many times faster - like 10...40 times faster i guess;
 - whatever social structure and form of civilization we end up living with after global IC shutdown, - it will have to be truly sustainable. Can't repeat mistakes of killing our environments - mistakes which are characteristic not only for present global IC, but also for so many regional civilizations of the past. Egypt was not always such a huge desert, nor Greece was always so scarce with forests and other green things, nor middle east; even in Bible, mentions of forests are - for places which are little more than barren sand nowadays;
 - since we humans will need rather substantial levels of technologies, and the highest possible level of understanding how to live without compromising the environment, - it's much needed to do some serious R&D for what those small "oases" of civilization will be. We'll need to have them not too complex, obviously, in the same time. It's also much needed to start preparing working "nodes" which after shutdown of global IC will turn into those oases; preparations such as introducing much desired, locally-maintainable technologies; much needed ideas, social agreements, knowledge; required local infrastructure; security; personnel.

That's what i was talking about above, using other words and discussing more general things. What you'd think about all this? Dreams? Can't be done? Nobody will do? But, is there any other way?

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #37 on: August 21, 2013, 09:42:25 PM »
Possible nuclear winter like scenario?

http://rt.com/news/fukushima-apocalypse-fuel-removal-598/

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #38 on: August 22, 2013, 06:35:37 AM »
Possible nuclear winter like scenario?

http://rt.com/news/fukushima-apocalypse-fuel-removal-598/

Very unlikely. If you look into how nuclear bombs are designed (which I find interesting, but that's probably just me) it becomes clear how much engineering it takes to achieve a proper nuclear explosion (key is to contain the explosion and maintain a high enough density of fissile material for long enough to achieve fission in a useful portion of the fuel - this is typically done by using conventional high explosives to compress the fissile core). I can't see the scope for much more than criticality accidents from Fukushima.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticality_accident

Plenty of people running around claiming Fukushima can wipe out various portions of the northern hemisphere, but I have yet to see any solid evidence or rational science based argument for more than a local (to Japan) hazard with some scope for contamination (nothing new here...) and potentially some bioaccumulation of unhelpful isotopes in some species.

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #39 on: August 22, 2013, 06:42:02 AM »
So you don't think, if the wind was blowing strongly in the other direction, that there could have been (and still could be) considerable radioactive material falling on Korea and some very heavily parts of China? If so, I would call that regional rather than local. But I do agree that the global threat from any one such incident is relatively small.

Not to get too far off topic, but since we're talking Fukushima, there have been some recent developments on that front:

Fukushima apocalypse: Years of ‘duct tape fixes’ could result in ‘millions of deaths’


Quote
Even the tiniest mistake during an operation to extract over 1,300 fuel rods at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan could lead to a series of cascading failures with an apocalyptic outcome, fallout researcher Christina Consolo told RT.

Fukushima operator TEPCO wants to extract 400 tons worth of spent fuel rods stored in a pool at the plant’s damaged Reactor No. 4. The removal would have to be done manually from the top store of the damaged building in the radiation-contaminated environment.

In the worst-case scenario, a mishandled rod may go critical, resulting in an above-ground meltdown releasing radioactive fallout with no way to stop it, said Consolo, who is the founder and host of Nuked Radio. But leaving the things as they are is not an option, because statistical risk of a similarly bad outcome increases every day, she said.

http://rt.com/news/fukushima-apocalypse-fuel-removal-598/

Disturbing thyroid cancer rise in Fukushima minors

Quote
Six minors in Fukushima Prefecture who were 18 or younger at the time of the March 2011 nuclear disaster have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer since June. Ten other children are believed to have developed the same form of cancer in that time period.

The latest figures released by regional authorities brings the total number of children who have been diagnosed with or suspected of having cancer to 44, up from 28 as of June, The Asahi Shimbun national daily reports.  Of the 44, 18 have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer

The incidence rate of thyroid cancer in Japanese children is said to be one in hundreds of thousands. In Japan, 46 people under 20 were diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2006, Japan Broadcasting Corporation reports.


http://rt.com/news/fukushima-children-thyroid-cancer-783/
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #40 on: August 22, 2013, 06:57:19 AM »
So you don't think, if the wind was blowing strongly in the other direction, that there could have been (and still could be) considerable radioactive material falling on Korea and some very heavily parts of China? If so, I would call that regional rather than local. But I do agree that the global threat from any one such incident is relatively small.

To assess threat - you'd need to indicate which isotopes, being dispersed how and in what amounts? That information would allow one to look at half life, radioactivity and scope for bioaccumulation in order to determine the potential for harm. That's an example of my key objection to people who get all excited and doomish on nuclear stuff - it's never backed up with good information, and a lot of people simply don't seem to understand nuclear threats very well. The word "nuclear" is often used as a magic doomsday word...

Not to get too far off topic, but since we're talking Fukushima, there have been some recent developments on that front:

Well, I wouldn't want to say it was trivial - or that it should be ignored. It's one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history, after all - right up there with Chernobyl.

However, even if it did kill millions ultimately (and the figures mentioned for increased cancer are tiny so far), I'd like to put that in context:
- 1 famine can kill millions
- 1 war can kill millions
- 1 flu pandemic can kill millions

In the last century, we've got multiple examples from each category doing precisely that.

In short, in a bigger picture view - it would still be a pretty little thing, hardly worth all the attention focused on it - especially if that attention distracts from threats capable of killing billions of people (ie abrupt climate change).

Dipping back into the topic (highly unlikely worst case scenarios), while I don't think it is an automatic doomsday scenario - I do think it prudent to note that as civilisation collapses there is scope for a lot of local or regional hazards to arise from nuclear or chemical processes that are not operated or managed to a suitable standard, or that are abruptly shut down or disrupted by reason of forces beyond the ability of the operators to cope with. It is highly unlikely modern civilisation will behave responsibly in this respect.

Worse - few people will have either the education/knowledge or the resources to respond appropriately to such hazards.

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #41 on: August 22, 2013, 07:21:02 AM »
Quote
as civilisation collapses there is scope for a lot of local or regional hazards to arise from nuclear or chemical processes that are not operated or managed to a suitable standard, or that are abruptly shut down or disrupted by reason of forces beyond the ability of the operators to cope with. It is highly unlikely modern civilisation will behave responsibly in this respect.

Glad to see someone else make this point that I try to bring up regularly.

Even given the normal vicissitudes of history, it would seem quite likely that every nuclear (and, as you say, chemical) plant would at some point be subject to: war, greed, incompetence, terrorism, malfeasance, accident, earthquake, tsunami...or some combination of these.

Given that the near-term future is likely to be even more disruptive in most places than most previous history, I would say that local (at least) catastrophe is essentially certain for each such plant. Even collectively, these may not kill as many people as the results of GW (especially if we somehow miraculously all wake up at once and stop putting more C in the air). But there are an awful lot of people within the distance of a future plume. And those areas will be dangerous to live in for quite a while (again, as you say, depending on the isotopes involved and the distance of the spread...).
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #42 on: August 22, 2013, 10:51:27 AM »
I appreciate the input and I apologize is the topic I brought up derailed the focus of the thread somewhat as I thought it would be a good addition to the worst case scenarios which does have a small portion of relevance to Climate Change typically because of the scenario of the apocalypse that is usually presented by the people that CGS describes.

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #43 on: August 26, 2013, 01:06:42 PM »

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #44 on: September 12, 2013, 12:18:38 PM »

Glad to see someone else make this point that I try to bring up regularly.

Even given the normal vicissitudes of history, it would seem quite likely that every nuclear (and, as you say, chemical) plant would at some point be subject to: war, greed, incompetence, terrorism, malfeasance, accident, earthquake, tsunami...or some combination of these.

... But there are an awful lot of people within the distance of a future plume. And those areas will be dangerous to live in for quite a while (again, as you say, depending on the isotopes involved and the distance of the spread...).
Excellent summary. I agree with it.

I forgot if i mentioned it before, but this is exactly one of major reasons why i say so much about running far away. Alaska, forests of Canada, Siberia, remote areas of southern parts of South America (its most cool parts in terms of climate), Tibet, some high platous in Africa may be, etc - basically, regions which have little to none fission matherials nor complex chemical production (something as simple as fractioning oil would hopefully not produce highly toxic things).

It'll be too late to start packing up and running away when hundreds of nuclear and chemical industrial objects will start to pop up - especially since very reasons for them to pop up, named in the quote, - are also very much reasons of huge difficulties in travel and security.

Note, by "packing up" i mean more than just personal of family survival (this too, of course, but not just it). For me, "packing up and settling some place far away" primarily means whole societies doing so. Indeed, to survive for any long (more than a generation) and in any civilized manner, at least couple dozens thousands of humans, - i.e. society of some kind, - is to be. Now imagine how darn difficult it'll be for whole society to pack up, go far away, and settle down in some safer place, if the process of such a migration is started when obvious problems are already happening - i mean indeed some combination of war, greed, incompetence, terrorism, malfeasance, accident, earthquake, tsunami. Even if most powerful entities would make their main goal to set up some remote-and-safer-place societies in hope to survive in them, - i'd say it will be close to impossible to do it by then.

Since we know that sooner or later global tech civ will indeed ram itself into this sort of trouble, and since we do not know when exactly it'll happen, and since there is no indication it couldn't happen next month or next year, - i say the time to pack up and move (again, whole societies!) - is NOW. And of course i don't mean taking some existing city and moving whole of it out there; it won't work. Instead, most likely, the new places will have to be filled with people from all corners of the globe, most likely ones who are able to live without ruining their local and regional life support systems, too (this is about culture, religions, traditions, education, laws and government systems, all together). Infrastructure for such settlements will have to be made nearly from scratch, using only regionally-sustainable (without extrernal industrial nor informational support) things and technologies (much lower-tech inevitably). Huge work, probably taking many years at least (if not decades). Still, for our species, it's either this, or pretty much die (as a civilization at least - i'm not convinced physical extinction is very likely).

Any flaw in my logic? Dam i'd be glad if there's one... And grateful if someone would show one to me. Can't see one myself.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2013, 12:27:01 PM by F.Tnioli »

ivica

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #45 on: September 12, 2013, 02:24:06 PM »
What is supposed to happen to 'Romans' in that scenario ?
They are, by definition, heavily armed and they could want their 'share' in those new societies.

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #46 on: September 12, 2013, 06:44:42 PM »
Since we know that sooner or later global tech civ will indeed ram itself into this sort of trouble, and since we do not know when exactly it'll happen, and since there is no indication it couldn't happen next month or next year, - i say the time to pack up and move (again, whole societies!) - is NOW.

I'd agree it's certainly a good time to be preparing, given the extensive efforts and timescales and resource requirements of serious plans. It ought to also be noted that the human environment of existing societies is very hostile (albeit in some measure unintentionally so) to any serious planning for continuity by minor (ie average person or citizen) actors. Most people are bound by laws that will essentially seriously degrade their prospects if they comply.

Given that is the case, I'm not sure it's really time to start moving on such a scale - one could spend the extra time before collapse refining preparation and improving ones prospects, whereas as soon as you start to move you will add extensive drag to your operations - even if you somehow have the means to obtain a location to move to and to support yourself there. It is of course very hard to select any single location that will be empirically viable, and hence I prefer the idea of being mobile (at least initially).

When collapse arrives by whatever mechanism, it will only seem sudden (ie a month or a year) to those who haven't been paying attention. There will be plenty of warning indicators and trends leading up to it and it will not occur simultaneously globally (although I believe the later stages will accelerate dramatically as there are elements of positive feedback in the dynamic). Right now there are several things going on that could lead to an accelerated stage of collapse (above and beyond that already occurring at the fringes), but nothing definite enough to confidently predict collapse in very short time frames.

I think the global harvest cycle is well worth watching as one indicator - if the wrong combination of weather sets up and enough damage to yield is done, that will likely push things further along. Similarly the slimy politics of nation states jockeying for resource control, and the risks of large scale conflict.

It'll be too late to start packing up and running away when hundreds of nuclear and chemical industrial objects will start to pop up - especially since very reasons for them to pop up, named in the quote, - are also very much reasons of huge difficulties in travel and security.

Much depends how you travel? Overland, I would imagine travel will become virtually impossible over any distance during the worst stages of collapse (unless you have your own army and can manage the logistics to operate it).

Much also depends on your situation. If you live in, say, rural Scotland - I question if you would want to move far at all. If you live in low lying Bangladesh, you should want to move already.

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #47 on: September 12, 2013, 06:56:50 PM »
What is supposed to happen to 'Romans' in that scenario ?
They are, by definition, heavily armed and they could want their 'share' in those new societies.

It's contentious I'm sure, potentially offending to western "sensibilities", but such societies will need some capacity to fight. In my view (not being able to afford an army or particularly impressive hardware) being unknown and invisible has a lot going for it, but you still need to be able to fight as an option of last resort.

I'm not sure tiny societies (and right now there is so little interest in the idea, they'd be very tiny) planning for the future would register as strategic objectives for much larger more powerful groups as you suggest - by definition if a hostile group is much larger you represent a target of opportunity rather than a primary objective (if you're sufficiently isolated that it takes special effort to get to you). Your risk comes more from smaller hostile groups to whom you represent a major windfall.

When collapse arrives, I think most people who can't make it will die pretty fast (over years). Of those who don't - longer term - anyone who can't make it on their own initiative and effort will also die out. You can't sustain a civilisation on conquest alone as it's essentially parasitic requiring others to produce all the items you need.

To that extent your 'romans' might want to seize power and be the ruling class. Looking at things cynically though, that is exactly how civilisation has almost always worked! (whether your 'romans' come from inside or outside)

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #48 on: September 12, 2013, 07:18:23 PM »
It's contentious I'm sure, potentially offending to western "sensibilities"...
What we Mediterraneans should say then? By 'Romans' I mean:
Mindset where evolution stopped a long time ago, Vogons if you like.
Those who learned nothing from debacle of the real Romans.

Quote
To that extent your 'romans' might want to seize power and be the ruling class. Looking at things cynically though, that is exactly how civilisation has almost always worked!

Isn't it time to admit that as failure?

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Re: Highly unlikely Worst Case Scenarios
« Reply #49 on: September 12, 2013, 07:45:12 PM »
It's contentious I'm sure, potentially offending to western "sensibilities"...
What we Mediterraneans should say then? By 'Romans' I mean:
Mindset where evolution stopped a long time ago, Vogons if you like.
Those who learned nothing from debacle of the real Romans.

Hmm - what do you mean? The real Romans were rather successful for quite a long time by many measures?

Quote
To that extent your 'romans' might want to seize power and be the ruling class. Looking at things cynically though, that is exactly how civilisation has almost always worked!

Isn't it time to admit that as failure?

Isn't there always a ruling class in any society of any size? People are tribal animals and conform to a social hierarchy. Sometimes other people come in from outside and displace the top of the hierarchy.

We aren't much different from tribal monkeys really. Is that not our basic nature and normal behaviour?

As I see it our single biggest problem is inability to predicate civilisation on a sustainable basis driven by truly long term thinking. While conflict and the repressive nature of typical human governance may be objectionable (and areas to strive for improvement in), they are also normal - and not the primary problem facing us as a species, except insofar as they undermine scope to tackle said primary problem.