Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Civilization Is Now On Suicide Watch

Truth is never the fault of the Messenger
Yesterday, I presented the "optimistic" view in the debate about "Near Term Human Extinction" (NTHE) compared and contrasted with "Long Term Human Extinction" (LTHE).

That "optimistic" view favors the long term LTHE, as if that is "optimistic" in and of itself, rather than just being the better of two terrible potentials.

LTHE is something like "humanity won't go extinct in your lifetime" but will go extinct circa 2100.

The NTHE is the "pessimistic" view that "humanity will go extinct in your lifetime" by about 2050, soooo, there is only about a 50 year, or five decades, difference in the two models (which both seem "pessimistic" to me).

However, neither "pessimistic" nor "optimistic" are relevant, rather, what is relevant is that both NTHE and LTHE are pointing out human extinction in a relatively short time frame.

If either one of them happens to be reality,  then your kids and mine will go extinct along with the rest of humanity in their lifetimes, which is anywhere from circa 2050 to circa 2100 !!!

Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has repeatedly posted about civilization going down, but that was not intended to say that the human species would go down too:
There is a tendency to think that the catastrophe of global warming is an extinction threat to the human species.

The threat however, in the sequence of events, is the extinction of human civilization, not the human species.

Civilization can go down with a billion or so human survivors still remaining, yet only being taken back into the dark ages by a "time machine" built by the civilization that erased itself from the face of the earth.
World civilization means the nations of the world interconnected by trade, travel, treaties, and international commerce.

So, when climate change scientists talk about dangers to the existence of civilization they do not mean that the population of human beings as a species is going to become extinct.

In other words, the human species would live on even if civilization ended.
(Confusing "Civilization" With "Species"). So, all you readers who thought I have been "pessimistic" now must blush at how "optimistic" I may have been.

In either NTHE or LTHE speak, we are driven by "hopium" when we are optimistic without reason (or driven by "doomium" if we are pessimistic without reason).

But as I said, neither pessimism nor optimism are relevant or useful terms, rather, what is relevant and useful is the scientific reality.

That is what we want to determine, whether it makes us cry because humanity has no chance, or on the other hand makes us shout for joy because there is still a chance for our species.

We have to face it, because it is not going away until we face up and get it right.

Today's post is about civilization being on "suicide" watch, but, of course the proper word to describe when a civilization kills itself is omnicide ("human extinction caused by human action").

Historically, self-destruction is the common denominator for past human civilization, culture, and society:
"In other words, a society does not ever die 'from natural causes', but always dies from suicide or murder --- and nearly always from the former, as this chapter has shown."
(A Study of History, by Arnold J. Toynbee). As regular readers know, I have posted Sigmund Freud's writings where he indicated that psychoanalysis of groups, including civilization itself, would not prove unproductive:
If the evolution of civilization has such a far reaching similarity with the development of an individual, and if the same methods are employed in both, would not the diagnosis be justified that many systems of civilization——or epochs of it——possibly even the whole of humanity——have become neurotic under the pressure of the civilizing trends? To analytic dissection of these neuroses, therapeutic recommendations might follow which could claim a great practical interest. I would not say that such an attempt to apply psychoanalysis to civilized society would be fanciful or doomed to fruitlessness. But it behooves us to be very careful, not to forget that after all we are dealing only with analogies, and that it is dangerous, not only with men but also with concepts, to drag them out of the region where they originated and have matured. The diagnosis of collective neuroses, moreover, will be confronted by a special difficulty. In the neurosis of an individual we can use as a starting point the contrast presented to us between the patient and his environment which we assume to be normal. No such background as this would be available for any society similarly affected; it would have to be supplied in some other way. And with regard to any therapeutic application of our knowledge, what would be the use of the most acute analysis of social neuroses, since no one possesses power to compel the community to adopt the therapy? In spite of all these difficulties, we may expect that one day someone will venture upon this research into the pathology of civilized communities. [p. 39]
Men have brought their powers of subduing the forces of nature
to such a pitch that by using them they could now very easily exterminate one another to the last man. They know this——hence arises a great part of their current unrest, their dejection, their mood of apprehension. [p. 40]
(MOMCOM's Mass Suicide & Murder Pact - 5, "Civilization and Its Discontents"). As to individuals, those who have a habit of trying to kill themselves are at greater risk than those who tried it once, failed, and never tried again.

That is because the data show that 54% of individuals who try suicide more than once have "comorbid mental disorders" (Suicide Attempt Self-Injury Interview, SASII, PDF).

Since civilizations, empires, nations, and societies that were studied by Toynbee had a much higher "suicide success" rate than individuals tend to have, there is a proclivity toward omnicide that merits pessimism for civilization today.

Since we looked at LTHE yesterday, let's be aware of other concepts by taking a look at some of the work of the NTHE folk to ascertain what propels them toward an expectation of near term omnicide:
There are such massive reserves of methane in the subsea Arctic methane hydrates, that if only a few percent of them are released, they will lead to a jump in the average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere of 10 degrees C and produce a "Permian" style major extinction event which will kill us all.

The whole northern hemisphere is now covered by a thickening atmospheric methane veil that is spreading southwards at about 1 km a day and it already totally envelopes the United States.

A giant hole in the equatorial ozone layer has also been discovered in the west Pacific, which acts like an elevator transferring methane from lower altitudes to the stratosphere, where it already forms a dense equatorial global warming stratospheric band that is spreading into the Polar regions.

The spreading atmospheric methane global warming veil is raising the temperature of the lower atmosphere many times faster than carbon dioxide does, causing the extreme summer temperatures in Australia and the US.

During the last winter, the high Arctic winter temperatures and pressures displaced the normal freezing Arctic air south into Canada and the United States, producing never before seen, freezing winter storms and massive power failures.

When the Arctic ice cap finally melts towards the end of next year, the Arctic sea will be aggressively heated by the sun and the Gulf Stream. The cold Arctic air will then be confined to the Greenland Ice cap and the hot Arctic air with its methane will flow south to the United States to further heat up the Gulf Stream, setting up an anticlockwise circulation around Greenland.

Under these circumstances Great Britain and Europe must expect even more catastrophic storm systems, hurricane force winds and massive flooding after the end of next year, due to a further acceleration in the energy transport of the Gulf Stream. If this process continues unchecked the mean temperature of the atmosphere will rise a further 8 degrees centigrade and we will be facing global deglaciation, a more than 200 feet rise in sea level rise and a major terminal extinction event by the 2050s.
(Focus on Methane, emphasis added). Regular readers know that Dredd Blog has also focused on the methane tipping point in times past (e.g The Bubbling Up To Rude Awakening, New Climate Catastrophe Policy: Triage - 5).

And, in the interest of comprehensive coverage, we have also taken a look at the dynamics of denial in the past (Convergence - Fear of Death Syndrome), and have posted two videos of Dr. Guy McPherson who expounds upon NTHE (A Cure For Congress & The Supreme Five: Fickle Fecal Transplants).

In future posts in this series we will take an even closer look at the dynamics of denial dementia.

The next post in this series is here.

This large crater/hole (unknown depth, ~80m / ~263 ft diameter) in the Siberian permafrost may be related to methane gas release (Confirmed here) caused by thawing over a high pressure area:


  1. Hope you don't mind me posting this over on NBL. Would you consider writing an guest essay for that site? I try to read yours every day and enjoy your opinions elsewhere (like CoIC).


    1. Tom,

      Your posting at NBL is fine. If they want an essay from me that is fine too.

      Take care.

  2. The NBL blog is owned by Dr. McPherson. If you would submit to him an essay for his consideration with double posting to both blogs, that would be great. And it will drive off some of the riff-raff there.

  3. George W. Bush on suicide: "Suiciders are willing to kill innocent life in order to send the projection that this is an impossible mission."—Washington, D.C., April 3, 2007

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