Still on Track for the Collapse of Modern Civilization

15 10 2014

Originally posted on Collapse of Industrial Civilization:


Two recent pieces of scientific evidence really hammer home the predicament of modern industrial civilization, and they have to do with the fact that our globalized, just-in-time economic model is hopelessly wed to carbon-based energy. Once one understands this, then there can be no delusions about why we are on such a catastrophic trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions. As was explained in a previous post, GDP is fundamentally and directly linked to CO2 emissions. Below, two graphs(click to go to source) illustrate this fact:

C02 emissions since 1850 (red); exponential growth (blue); cuts to hit climate target (dashed).


It’s not really about evil fossil fuel companies, although they do certainly exert enormous political clout and do conspire to protect their business model by doing such things as spreading doubt on climate change science, but as with all corporations, externalizing social and environmental costs is endemic to the profit system and the coercive forces of competition in capitalist markets.

Firstly, there is the graph submitted by…

View original 1,746 more words



4 responses

15 10 2014

If you had copy-pasted another paragraph and the next chart from the article, you would see from the chart that the 116 scenarios based on RCP2.6 result in temperature increases of 0.9 – 2.3°C. As I have said before, RCP2.6 was reverse-engineered to give a result of +2.0°C peak-and decline, but it is based on burning far more fossil fuels than we as peakists believe is possible. So peakists believe we cannot exceed +2.0°C, and we will actually have a good deal less than that, even if industrial civilisation holds together for that long.

If you had copy-pasted one more paragraph you would read, “This clearly shows we are firmly on track for hitting 3.2-5.4°C warming by the end of the century or sooner.” Which isn’t true, because that is only the range for the highest forecast of RCP8.5 and the forecasts for fossil fuel burning under that forecast are absurdly unrealistic.

The rest of the article goes on to demonstrate how awful RCP8.5 is going to be, as if it was real. But it’s based on a forecast which is impossible.

15 10 2014
Chris Harries

It’s a nice thought that peak oil and coal could end up being a hard limit to climate change, but as one who has engaged in the peak oil debate for a while, the way I see it the more difficult hydrocarbons are to get at the dirtier they tend to be. Then there’s the methane problem, if that’s real. So I wouldn’t relax on climate change on supply grounds.

Getting back to the article, lately I’ve seen a number of media and Facebook comments that ‘renewable energy may be the world’s dominant energy source by 2050’. Now I know these sort of headlines are designed to make people feel hopeful, but the graph in the article certainly doesn’t indicate that this prospect is remotely possible. And even if it was achievable, the input fossil fuel energy would have to be accounted for.

15 10 2014

yep well we the masses are so divided, we have no hope of coming together to stop moguls and bad government destroying our home the planet.

15 10 2014
Dr Bob Rich

Thanks, this is exactly spot on. But it’s all right: when the students burn this school down, we’ll find that there are billions of other schools in the universe.

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