Enjoy Life while you can…

23 02 2015


James Lovelock

‘Enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warming will hit the fan’, or so says James Lovelock……  I’ve enjoyed Lovelock’s Gaia books for over 20 years now, and they were largely instrumental in reshaping the way I see most things these days.  His recent interview published in The Guardian written by  inspired me to compile this post.

88 year old Lovelock has been dispensing predictions like “It’s just too late for it [climate change]” and “Perhaps if we’d gone along routes like that in 1967, it might have helped. But we don’t have time. All these standard green things, like sustainable development, I think these are just words that mean nothing. I get an awful lot of people coming to me saying you can’t say that, because it gives us nothing to do. I say on the contrary, it gives us an immense amount to do. Just not the kinds of things you want to do.” from his laboratory in an old mill in Cornwall since I was knee high to a grasshopper; and the consistent accuracy of these predictions have earned him the reputation as Britain’s most respected independent scientists.

Working on his own since he was 40, he has invented a device that detected CFCs, thus enabling the growing hole in the ozone layer to be detected.  He also introduced the Gaia hypothesis, a theory that the Earth behaves like a self-regulating super-organism. Initially ridiculed by many scientists, that theory today pretty well forms the basis of most climate science, not least modelling…..

Lovelock is an odd mixture.  On the one hand, he ‘gets it’, but his insistence on developing nuclear power further has enraged many (including myself).  “You’re never going to get enough energy from wind to run a society such as ours,” he says. “Windmills! Oh no. No way of doing it. You can cover the whole country with the blasted things, millions of them. Waste of time.”  We agree on that…  however, when he goes on to say “I see it with everybody. People just want to go on doing what they’re doing. They want business as usual. They say, “there’s going to be a problem up ahead, but they don’t want to change anything.”  So why have nuclear energy unless you want business as usual continuing?  Why criticise people who champion wind energy for wanting BAU to continue, when he’s doing exactly the same thing but this time using nuclear power? To my way of thinking, this is fence sitting on his part.  From the Guardian..:

He dismisses eco ideas briskly, one by one. “Carbon offsetting? I wouldn’t dream of it. It’s just a joke. To pay money to plant trees, to think you’re offsetting the carbon? You’re probably making matters worse. You’re far better off giving to the charity Cool Earth, which gives the money to the native peoples to not take down their forests.”

Do he and his wife try to limit the number of flights they take? “No we don’t. Because we can’t.” And recycling, he adds, is “almost certainly a waste of time and energy”, while having a “green lifestyle” amounts to little more than “ostentatious grand gestures”. He distrusts the notion of ethical consumption. “Because always, in the end, it turns out to be a scam … or if it wasn’t one in the beginning, it becomes one.”

He can’t limit his flights?  Why NOT?  Then, reports that Lovelock was “a socialist as a young man, [but] he now favours market forces”.  The very market forces that got us into this mess…?  I think Lovelock is good at the science, but not economics.  He needs to meet Nicole Foss!

Lovelock fears we won’t invent the necessary technologies in time, and expects “about 80%” of the world’s population to be wiped out by 2100.  “Prophets have been foretelling Armageddon since time began”, he says. “But this is the real thing.”

Humanity is in a period exactly like 1938-9, he explains, when “we all knew something terrible was going to happen, but didn’t know what to do about it”. But once the second world war was under way, “everyone got excited, they loved the things they could do, it was one long holiday … so when I think of the impending crisis now, I think in those terms. A sense of purpose – that’s what people want.”  I can’t see too many people thinking WWII was “one long holiday”, but I hope he’s right about that sense of purpose…..

What would Lovelock do now,  asks……. He smiles and says: “Enjoy life while you can. Because if you’re lucky it’s going to be 20 years before it hits the fan.”

The latest sport: Charting Collapseniks

10 02 2014

It appears I am far from the only “End of Civilisation as we know it” blogger to be fascinated by other bloggers’ positions on how the Matrix will affect “Civilisation as we know it”…..  It seems that David Holmgren’s shift in strategy from peaceful change by calling for restraint on overconsumption and gradual adoption of the degrowth economic paradigm to ‘Terra-ism’ by calling for “Crash on Demand” – or a strategic decoupling by masses of youth (and elders) from the economic system that is crashing the planet’s ecological equilibrium by simply walking away….  has thrown the cat in among the pigeons.  Are we no allowed a change of heart?

Another interesting side of this debate has been the way I have discovered (or rather been pointed to) Collapseniks I wasn’t aware of.  Like David Cohen… which means I now have a whole lot more reading to do.  How many of us are there?  All the high profile ones are mentioned in this interesting analysis by Albert Bates, another newcomer to my list that I was led to by my friend Kate from Tasmania.  And just to prove we can’t all know them all, nor even think about all of them, quite a few did not make the list (I don’t count – with just 300 followers, I’m hardly ‘high profile’!)  Like Dave Pollard, John Michael Greer gets a mention, but is not on the chart, XRayMike misses out, as do Ran Prieur and Paul Gilding.Collapsenik

Pollard, one of my favourites, left a comment at ‘The Great Change’…:

Thanks Albert. This is somewhat along the lines of a chart I posted last year reviewing David Graeber’s book, which is a bit more complex.

I would say the right side of the chart should be “Active Resistance” not “Violent Revolution”. In the lower right quadrant, that active resistance is holding actions, done to lessen but not with any hope of preventing collapse. With that clarification, I’d put James Hansen, Nicole Foss and Naomi Klein in the lower right, and shift Lovelock in the lower left. Those above the line are not Collapsniks but what I have called Salvationists.

I’d sometimes put myself close to the lower right corner (when I’m angry) and sometimes in the lower left corner (when I’m more at peace with the inevitability of collapse). With time, ‘gravity’ will, I think, move everyone down in your chart until it only has one dimension left.

At any rate, Albert Bates has come up with the chart above, to which I have cheekily added my own name…  Where do you the reader stand?  Does it matter..?

Bates readily admits himself that “the map is not the territory, and this is especially true of mind maps. I am just an impulsive doodler.”  I personally would have put Guy McPherson in the extreme right hand bottom corner, and when trying to place myself even struggled with the fact deep down I am a Green Anarchist.

The other thing I could not help thinking about is how little impact any of us, even the widely read names like Heinberg and Kunstler, Foss and McKibben, and even Chris Martenson have had on the masses.  we read each other’s work, maybe, but in the end, the sheeples are still heading for the cliff at, if anything, an accelerating rate.  You only need to see the way they voted at the recent by-election in the Federal seat of Griffith formerly held by past Prime Minister Kevin Rudd….  If you can stand it, here’s a video of what the candidates had to say..

As usual, the two main contenders repeated the same old boring party lines and platitudes.  And as often happens with by-elections, the field of candidates was a football team’s worth of independents and radical parties, and I have to say I was really impressed with more than one of them…..  there is NO WAY I would have (or could have) voted  for either of the two main parties (I haven’t done so since voting for Gough Whitlam in the 1970’s!).

The Greens got 10% of the vote……  and ALL the other small parties combined garnered 7.4% of the vote between them….  all eight of them, averaging under 1% each.  If that doesn’t demonstrate the electorate’s lack of imagination, I don’t know what does.  What a missed opportunity to vote for the Pirate Party, or the Stable Population Party, or either of the two independents……  anybody but the laborals…..  I don’t know who said it, but if voting made a difference, they’d make it illegal.