Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Saturday, April 15, 2017

End of an Era

We are at the end of the hydrocarbon era. The end of cheap and plentiful energy. Curiously, the imperial elite seem not to have noticed. A few may have and are keeping the information to themselves in hope of profiting from a chaotic transition. A risky gamble. Yet, the information available from elite gatherings (Bilderberg, etc) and elite Think Tanks (The Council on Foreign Relations, etc) suggests that making the necessary adaptive changes to go from a high energy usage society to a radical conservationist low energy usage society is too disruptive to existing power relations, hence, isn't even under consideration. This, even though failure to successfully transition constitutes an existential threat to the survivability of humans. In fact, current efforts to create fragile global interdependencies are a huge step in the wrong direction, making local autonomy and sustainability increasingly rare, virtually guaranteeing massive global systemic failure in the near future, perhaps leading to nuclear war.

The unprecedented rapid increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide from a benchmark high of 280 ppm to 405 ppm and climbing has set in motion climate changes which will likely overwhelm global plant life's ability to adapt, including our agricultural system. Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels remain in dynamic equilibrium for centuries, recent anthropogenic global warming merely a sample of what is to come. Additionally, the warming of the oceans, particularly the shallower waters of the Arctic, have begun to cause increased methane emissions. There are fears that global warming could soon result in a large methane burp which would have catastrophic effects. Although methane doesn't stay in the atmosphere nearly as long as CO2, it initially is about 80 times more potent at trapping solar energy making it a powerful accelerant to global warming. This could likely overwhelm the adaptive capabilities of our food plants resulting in massive global famines and warfare.

Climatologists have tended to error on the conservative side in their estimates of climate change impacts. As a consequence, their reports, claimed to be "alarmist" by our elites, have in fact understated the problem. It wasn't long ago that environmentalists were calling for actions to limit atmospheric CO2 to 350 ppm. We are now at 405 ppm and climbing. The current increases in the global mean temperature are just the beginning of the eventual warming which will occur. Increased concentrations of CO2 trap additional solar energy. Period. My best guess is that we have entered the tipping point at which time climate changes will become mutually reinforcing. Less Arctic sea ice will cause increased Arctic warming which will cause increased methane emissions, etc. At this stage, it appears virtually inevitable that we will soon enter into runaway global warming. What are we doing to prevent this? Very little. What are we doing to make it worse? A lot.

It is not simply a question of reducing CO2 emissions, or even eliminating CO2 emissions, the 405 ppm level of CO2 currently in the atmosphere is too high and needs to be reduced. Simply waiting for nature to reduce the CO2 levels to around 280 ppm will take centuries and result in significant increased global warming. Even with aggressive efforts to extract carbon from the atmosphere, the time required to reduce CO2 to acceptable levels will still result in significant warming, hopefully not catastrophic. Is that what we are doing? No, we are continuing to emit massive amounts of CO2 causing further increases above the current wildly excessive 405 ppm. Higher concentrations will increase warming and take longer to reduce, hence, catastrophe is virtually inevitable. The only question is how much can be salvaged, if any?

Is this being asked? Has this reality penetrated the popular media, the culture, the educational system, etc. What are we doing besides pursuing business as usual, even as we condemn our grandchildren? Humanity is facing the greatest existential threat to life on planet earth, yet our rulers are primarily concerned with striving for power. The American empire relies upon myths and propaganda to function smoothly, and seems incapable of rationally dealing with the reality insofar as doing so would impinge upon existing power and privilege. We can send men to the moon, but are incapable of changing society to preclude destroying the ecosystem. We are doomed.