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Member since: Sun Jun 4, 2017, 05:46 PM
Number of posts: 1,110

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Changes in the biosphere's composition in the last 12,000 years

Since 10,000 BCE, human biomass has gone up about 200x. Wild animal biomass has gone down by about 95% over the same time. Domesticated animal biomass has increased by 20x in the last century.

If that is not a sign of human overgrowth on the planet, nothing is. But hey, educating women is going to fix it all. GMAFB.

Posted by The_jackalope | Sun Apr 7, 2019, 11:31 AM (5 replies)

My Life in Collapse

I was recently asked to respond to a short email interview. My response seems like a nice summary of how I’ve spent the last decade and a half of my life, so I thought I would share it here.

1) What is collapsology and what role does a "collapsologist" play?

"Collapsology" isn't a formal field of scientific study. Instead, it's a way of describing the open-source research of individuals who are concerned that society or civilization may collapse at some point, possibly in the near future, due to the convergence of various internal and external pressures. These pressures include environmental, ecological, economic and structural problems, among others.

Chief among the environmental problems is climate change, closely followed by ocean acidification. The main way in which climate change could cause social collapse is believed to be food supply issues caused by extreme weather events such as droughts and floods.
Other problems are related to population and consumption overshoot, as described by William Catton Jr. in his exceptional book "Overshoot".
Economic problems are generally framed in terms of increasing debt loads and widening income disparity.
Structural problems include the rise of authoritarian governments, and various issues related to complexity. Joseph Tainter has written an excellent short book on the collapse of complex societies in which he speculates that collapse might result from the diminishing marginal return or utility of solutions to increasingly complex problems.

As all of these issues interact, collapse is usually seen as the result of the unexpected consequences of their interactions, rather than being ascribed to any single factor. Because of this, "collapsology" tends to be concerned with identifying these interactions. As a result, the field is highly speculative, and its practitioners tend to be prone to confirmation bias.

Collapsologists play the role of social "thought leaders." They identify and support the existence of large-scale issues that others may not have recognized. They also invite others to think deeply about the negative consequences of situations that most people take for granted and see as benign or positive - for example, the growth imperative of modern civilization. As a result collapsologists are often seen as modern Cassandras or Jeremiahs. This pejorative view has been fading as climate change has made its way into mainstream conversations.

2)What lead you to seek an answer in spiritual traditions?

One of the problems with collapsology is that it tends to cause despair in it practitioners. This can lead to deep personal psychological suffering, especially as one begins to accept how little chance there is that civilization will change in ways that would allow collapse to be avoided. The suffering caused by this despair can be intense, to the point of being life-threatening. At least one notable collapsologist, Michael C. Ruppert, committed suicide, and I thought about it regularly during my darkest times.

As I have outlined in my essay "Climbing the Ladder of Awareness", it seems to me that a collapsologist may reach a point where action becomes essential to alleviate this suffering. I have described one of the choices available at that point as an "outer path" which involves a focus on those aspects of the outer world that one can influence personally. Examples of this could include permaculture, off-grid living, local activism - any activity that permits one to see the effects of taking personal action. This helps to redirect one's attention away from problems that are too large for individual actions to affect - such as climate change in the large, ocean acidification or species extinctions - and toward those things that one can influence.

The other choice involves what I called the "inner path" which involves a focus on spirituality. Despite never having been spiritual, this is the one I was most drawn to. My first spiritual connection was with Buddhism, and I rapidly discovered why so many collapse-aware people are drawn to it. To put it succinctly, Buddhism teaches techniques that are directed specifically at alleviating suffering. The core teachings of Buddhism are described in The Three Universal Truths, the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

The Three Universal Truths:
1. Everything is impermanent and changing
2. Impermanence leads to suffering, making life imperfect
3. The self is not personal and unchanging.

The Four Noble Truths:
1. All life involves suffering (the Truth of Suffering)
2. Suffering is caused by desire and attachment (the Origin of Suffering)
3. Desire and attachment can be overcome (the Truth of Cessation)
4. The way to overcome them is by the Eightfold Path (the Truth of the Path).

The Eightfold Path is eight ways of behaving, relating to wisdom, morality and meditation. Each way depends on the others.

1. Right seeing and understanding – e.g. the Noble Truths
2. Right thought or intention – e.g. acting considerately
3. Right speech – e.g. avoiding lies or gossip; saying what you mean
4. Right action – e.g. honesty and not harming living things
5. Right work or livelihood – e.g. avoiding jobs that harm other beings
6. Right effort – e.g. seeking to overcome desire, selfishness and attachment
7. Right mindfulness – e.g. thinking before acting; meditation
8. Right concentration – e.g. freeing the mind of distractions before meditation

I quickly realized that the key to understanding the source of my misery lay in the second Universal Truth and the second Noble Truth. My suffering arose because I was attached or clinging to a static concept of the world that didn't change. Through my studies and research I had become intimately aware that the realization that the destruction (or at least the drastic change) of everything I was attached to was inevitable. This had created a profound dissonance in my psychology, one that I couldn't resolve on my own.

A likely way out of this hell-hole of despair seemed to be to overcome attachment, accept the impermanence of everything, and also to recognize the impersonal nature of the Self. I phrased the latter as "seeing that my sense of Self was just a story" and realizing that there was an unchanging True Self that underlay it and was not dependent on the story of my life and experiences. The Eightfold Path became my template for exploring this new worldview.
3)What are the most important insights in your experience that, you think, people and society needs?

Along the way I have had one major insight that made my view of the future more realistic. One of my previous collapse beliefs had been that there would come a point at which "the center could not hold" and there would be a monolithic, global collapse of the structures of civilization. This belief was rooted in my own fears of change and death, and could not possibly happen in real life for a variety of reasons. Instead, I came to understand the unraveling process as one of regional fragmentation, in which various parts of the world fell apart in their own ways and on their own timetables. Essentially it's the same effect that one sees today when comparing places like Haiti, Ukraine and Western Europe. Some regions have already experienced collapse, some are teetering on the brink, and others have some distance yet to go.

Another more recent insight is that we are not a broken species, bound by genetics an physical laws to a deterministic path of destruction. There appears to have been a cultural shift in Eurasia about 6000 years ago, that set us on this path. We are victims of culture, not physics. Unfortunately, that doesn't make much difference to the outcome. The shackles of the global culture of growth are now at least as strong as any chains made of DNA and thermodynamics.

Another crucial insight was that personal actions are most effective when directed toward personal outcomes. We are not all global statesmen, or even politicians on a large stage. However, we each have an influence within a smaller personal sphere, and it is from those actions that we derive the most meaning and satisfaction in life. It helps immeasurably not to take things personally, while at the same time focusing on the personal aspects of our interactions with the world.

4) Could you briefly describe life differences after having seen through the illusion of self?

I am still a work in progress, as are we all. However, I did see a profound change in myself when I realized that my view of monolithic collapse was a mistake. My despair and fear vanished, and I was able to move again, where I had previously been paralyzed.
As I worked on seeing through the illusion of the self, and understanding the operation of human belief systems better as a result, I stopped blaming people for the predicament we are in, and our inability to extricate ourselves. This has led to enormous peace of mind, as the residual hatreds that I harbored towards large corporations, capitalists, politicians and consumers began to wash away. We are all caught in the same web, and I see no reason to single out some people for special blame.

5) Any personal comments?

My advice to the world now amounts to this maxim: "Eat, drink and be mindful."
In more specific terms, my approach to living revolves around this set of precepts:

1. Stay awake to what's happening around us.
2. Don't get hung up by other people’s "shoulds and shouldn'ts".
3. Occasionally re-examine your personal values. If they aren't in alignment with what you think the world needs, change them.
4. Don't blame people. Others are as much victims of the situation as we are - even the CEOs and politicians.
5. Blame, anger and outrage are pointless. They waste precious energy that we need for more useful work.
6. Laugh a lot, at everything - including yourself.
7. Enjoy life. It may be the only one you get.
8. Hold all the world's various beliefs and "isms" lightly, including your own.
9. Forgive others. Forgive ourselves. For everything.
10. Love everything just as deeply as you can.

So there you have it - a decade and more of search and research, distilled down into a few paragraphs. I hope reading it helps as much as writing it did!
Posted by The_jackalope | Thu Mar 28, 2019, 10:21 PM (7 replies)

New Zealand prime minister Jacinda Ardern has confirmed 40 have died in today's shooting

Posted by The_jackalope | Fri Mar 15, 2019, 02:28 AM (3 replies)

"Epistemological terrorism"

Here's my phrase of the day, justy heard on MSNBC. Think of Russia and the American Republicans as you say it...

"Epistemological terrorism"

How deeply cool is that?
Posted by The_jackalope | Fri Mar 1, 2019, 09:16 PM (1 replies)

Oh, THAT William P. Barr...

William Barr Supported Pardons In An Earlier D.C. 'Witch Hunt': Iran-Contra

Barr ran the Justice Department once before, under President George H.W. Bush.

Back then, the all-consuming, years-long scandal was called Iran-Contra. On Dec. 24, 1992, it ended when Bush pardoned six people who had been caught up in it.

Then-Attorney General Barr supported the president's decision in the Iran-Contra case, which gave clemency to people who had been officials in the administration of President Ronald Reagan, including former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger. He had been set to go on trial to face charges about lying to Congress.

"It demonstrates that powerful people with powerful allies can commit serious crimes in high office, deliberately abusing the public trust without consequences," said Lawrence Walsh, the independent prosecutor in the case, at the time of the pardons.

Well, would you look at that...
Posted by The_jackalope | Sat Feb 16, 2019, 12:03 AM (5 replies)

I never thought I could be so proud of the American half of my dual citizenship

Birthright, even!

Watching it all happen from Canada, i have to tell you - I'm so impressed by what you guys have done and are doing. You are literally (figuratively speaking) pulling back your country from the brink of the abyss, using sheer moral power. You're making the civilized world proud.

Posted by The_jackalope | Fri Jan 4, 2019, 12:06 AM (3 replies)

The pernicious secret at the heart of the Ecological Footprint

The concept of the Ecological footprint was developed in 1992 by William Rees and Mathis Wackernagel at UBC in Vancouver, Canada. Ecological footprint analysis is widely used around the Earth in support of sustainability assessments. It enables people to measure and manage the use of resources throughout the economy and explore the sustainability of individual lifestyles, goods and services, organizations, industry sectors, neighborhoods, cities, regions and nations.

The accepted global footprint situation is described like this:

The world-average ecological footprint in 2012 was 2.84 global hectares per person (22.1 billion in total). With a world-average biocapacity of 1.73 global hectares (gha) per person (9.2 billion in total), this leads to a global ecological deficit of 1.1 global hectares per person (7.8 billion in total).

However, in the Wikipedia article on Sustainability, we find this shocking little gem. I have emphasized the "pernicious secret" in bold.

The Ecological footprint measures human consumption in terms of the biologically productive land needed to provide the resources, and absorb the wastes of the average global citizen. In 2008 it required 2.7 global hectares per person, 30% more than the natural biological capacity of 2.1 global hectares (assuming no provision for other organisms). The resulting ecological deficit must be met from unsustainable extra sources and these are obtained in three ways: embedded in the goods and services of world trade; taken from the past (e.g. fossil fuels); or borrowed from the future as unsustainable resource usage (e.g. by over exploiting forests and fisheries).

This implies that if we allow any organisms not intended for human use to use this land, its biological capacity to serve human needs is reduced.

For example, if we assume that on average 25% of the biological capacity of land is used by other organisms, then the amount of land available for human use is effectively reduced by the same amount. The actual capacity used by other creatures is unknowable, but it seems to me as though 25% would be a conservative number as a global average.

Using this percentage for illustration, the per capita biocapacity of the planet is reduced from 1.73 to 1.3 global hectares. That in turn raises the deficit of the human footprint from 1.1 gha to 1.53 gha.

Because of the increased deficit, the degree of human overshoot not 52%, but a rather more worrying 73%. The more biocapacity we allow other creatures to use, the worse the human overshoot becomes.
Posted by The_jackalope | Sun Dec 30, 2018, 06:50 PM (2 replies)

Does anyone remember this suspicion about Flynn?

I wonder whatever happened to it?


Russian treason arrests stemmed from intel official helping US catch criminal hackers

Three current and former Russian intelligence agents and a Russian cybersecurity firm employee arrested on charges of treason had been feeding the U.S. information on criminal hackers, a Russian news station reported Wednesday.

Sergei Mikhailov and Dmitry Dokuchaev, who at the time were employed by Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, were arrested along with former FSB agent George Fomchenkov and Kaspersky Lab employee Ruslan Stoyanov in connection with data they passed along to the CIA, according to Rain TV.

The arrests, which were made public in late January, caused speculation that the four had been informants for the investigation into Russian hacking in the 2016 U.S. elections.

According to the Rain report, they had actually been tipping off the CIA about Russian criminal hackers, including accused credit card thief Roman Seleznev and alleged LinkedIn hacker Yevgeniy Nikulin.

My suspicion at the time was that they were probably shopped to the FSB by Flynn when he found out about them in one of his early security briefings. The timing was right.

This appears to have fallen off the radar. I wonder now if he gave the whole mess to Mueller, and it's in the third redaction. I guess we'll find out.
Posted by The_jackalope | Thu Dec 6, 2018, 11:18 PM (1 replies)

On this November 11

On this November 11 I would like to observe that the development of military capability appears to have been the singular event that marked the beginning of modern civilization 6,000 years ago. Before then we apparently never needed it. Afterward we were never without it.

Update on Saharasia, New Findings Since the First Printing

by Dr. James DeMeo

In 1992, I was invited to Vienna, Austria, to give lectures on my research, and while there visited the Natural History Museum, which at the time had a large collection of East European artifacts organized chronologically. The display cabinets lined a pathway, which allowed one to see recovered artifacts and scenes reconstructing daily life, starting with the most ancient downto modern times. I made my way through the earliest collections of primitive stone tools, through Neanderthal times, and into the epoch of early Homo sapiens.Simple villages were shown in the reconstructed scenes,along with agriculture and animal domestication, some early types of pottery, fabrics and copper implements formed into decorative shapes. Settlements slowly grew in size, naturalistic artwork developed along with what I call “mother-dolls” (clay figures of women, what some have interpreted — wrongly I believe — as a “mother-goddess”). Artifacts of simple clay, stone, ceramic,copper, and even woven fabrics appeared, along with simple, yet elegant architecture, and the technology associated with agriculture, animal herding and hunting progressively improved in sophistication. All in all, it basically recorded an ordinary, though certainly vital and exciting existence of hunting, farming, dancing, and peaceful human relationships.

When the collection arrived at the middle of the fourth millennium BC (c.3500 BCE, or Before the Current Era) a broad white stripe, interrupting the path,had been painted on the walls and floor of the Museum gallery, bearing bold dark letters “CIVILIZATION BEGINS”. Upon walking over that line, the display very dramatically included all kinds of war-weapons, battleaxes, shields and helmets. Artifacts related to horse-riding warriors appeared, as did crowns, coins and tombs for kings and other big-man leaders. Fortifications, palaces and temples then appeared, with all the evidence for war-making, despotic, and murderous "Homo normalis", as discussed in Wilhelm Reich’s monumental clinical discovery of human armoring, the biophysical source of neurotic behavior and impulses towards sadism and brutality, and the wellspring for virtually every authoritarian social structure which exists, or which has ever existed.

This example from the Museum depicts “civilization” in a manner quite unflattering as compared to the usual definitions, and implies that warfare and social violence is a relatively recent invention by our species,of only around 6000 years duration. It also implies that we have become so accustomed to warfare and violence as the “norm” that we have difficulty even conceptualizing there might be, or might have been in our mostancient past, another mode of social existence free of the horrors of warfare and all but the most uncommon examples of interpersonal violence. This point of view,however unrecognized or unpopular, has much evidence to support it.
Posted by The_jackalope | Sun Nov 11, 2018, 08:42 AM (0 replies)

No Fox News tweets for 54 hours now???


Posted by The_jackalope | Sat Nov 10, 2018, 06:20 PM (11 replies)
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