In a Bad Spot

Yes, thank goodness for Mark Cochrane's stellar work on the thread referenced above but agree that the achilles heel of PP is the failure to address the implications of climate change.
It rankles a bit.

Ad hominem attacks don't a sound argument make, but they do get you put on ignore lists quickly.

So, let's look at the cases:

  • Global Warming?
    • Not Warming - no worries
    • Warming - is it man made (anthropogenic)?
      • No - adapt since its most likely due to volcanic/solar/other non controllable events.
      • Yes
So now what do you do about it?  Assuming it's caused by burning of fossil fuels what can be done? Nothing - there is no way to reduce the use of fossil fuels without a substantial population decrease.  Of course that may happen naturally if the Crash Course/Peak Oil is correct.  So why discuss a topic that is still questionable, and even if proven to be true, you still can't do anything to substantially alter the course?  If your worried about it then add it to your list of items to prepare for, not sure you actually will do anything different other than not live in Florida.

I'm glad Chris relegates this divisive topic to the dungeon, where it should stay.  If you want to discuss AGW theory, there are plenty of sites available, or hey, start your own.

Rhare honey, didn't you know? Mr Martenson put Mark Cochrane's thread on Global Climate Change up from the dungeon into chapter 18!

Do you think maybe Chris is doing exactly what he said he "reserved the right" to do in 2008, at the end of chapter 1 of his Crash Course?

"Remember, these are simply my beliefs right now, and I reserve the right to change them if new information suggests that they are wrong."

Now why don't you go give Scribe a big hug and tell him you're sorry


Welcome to the latest incarnation of VF.   

[quote=ao]Welcome to the latest incarnation of VF. 
I wonder if the ignore list has a limit, at the rate he/she/it creates new id's there may be a problem.
Anyway, I still don't see Chris bringing up global warming for a reason, so scribe, if you want to discuss it I suggest going to the AGW forums on chapter 18, and you can discuss it all you want with the many reincarnations of Vanity Fair.  I still say, all it will ever be is talk since there is no way it's ever going to make a difference.  If you think it will then I would suggest learning Chinese and Hindi so you can explain to the 2.5B people that they will need to stop using fossil fuels and stop having children (FYI - I'm assuming you don't have any kids since population growth is clearly the leading cause and you wouldn't want to be contributing to the problem).

I’m certainly on the AGW side and I take this opportunity to thanks Mark and all the participants for the fantastic thread. For this reason and all the other reasons we discuss on this site I have reduce my energy consumption to a minimum.That being said, I also agree with Rhare that there is very little we can do about reducing the overall CO2 emissions. In a peak oil environment, energy used is limited by production rate not by consumption. Said another way my energy savings will be consumed by somebody else. Or my savings tend to lower the price of energy which will increase the consumption of others.  It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to reduce our consumption and be more energy efficient for all the good reasons we discuss on this site or from a moral standpoint if you believe in AGW.  But even if the whole world would agree to limit the production of fossil fuels, it seems to me that we’ll still eventually burn all the fossil fuel economically available to us, so it would just maybe delay a little bit the unavoidable.
Population growth is also a major piece in our overall environment disaster. On this topic in Tom Murphy last article When Science is a Conveyor of Bad News there was a link to this study: Current Demographics Suggest Future Energy Supplies Will Be Inadequate to Slow Human Population Growth. Worth reading I think, here is the abstract:

Influential demographic projections suggest that the global human population will stabilize at about 9–10 billion people by mid-century. These projections rest on two fundamental assumptions. The first is that the energy needed to fuel development and the associated decline in fertility will keep pace with energy demand far into the future. The second is that the demographic transition is irreversible such that once countries start down the path to lower fertility they cannot reverse to higher fertility. Both of these assumptions are problematic and may have an effect on population projections. Here we examine these assumptions explicitly. Specifically, given the theoretical and empirical relation between energy-use and population growth rates, we ask how the availability of energy is likely to affect population growth through 2050. Using a cross-country data set, we show that human population growth rates are negatively related to per-capita energy consumption, with zero growth occurring at ~13 kW, suggesting that the global human population will stop growing only if individuals have access to this amount of power. Further, we find that current projected future energy supply rates are far below the supply needed to fuel a global demographic transition to zero growth, suggesting that the predicted leveling-off of the global population by mid-century is unlikely to occur, in the absence of a transition to an alternative energy source. Direct consideration of the energetic constraints underlying the demographic transition results in a qualitatively different population projection than produced when the energetic constraints are ignored. We suggest that energetic constraints be incorporated into future population projections.

One of the things I love about this site is how you learn and grow. Becuase I came to the 3 Es from the standpoint of the Economy, I started out a global warming sceptic and even believed that volcanoes caused more CO2 than humans. I'm big enough to admit I was wrong.
Nevertheless, rhare is correct.

Assuming it's caused by burning of fossil fuels what can be done? Nothing - there is no way to reduce the use of fossil fuels without a substantial population decrease.  Of course that may happen naturally if the Crash Course/Peak Oil is correct.  So why discuss a topic (if) still can't do anything to substantially alter the course?

I would suggest learning Chinese and Hindi so you can explain to the 2.5B people that they will need to stop using fossil fuels and stop having children,

So while manmade global warming is a worthwhile thing to discuss, even a fighteningly necessary and survival-related one, what can any one person here do about it? We can do what we are already doing.

We are already advocating living simply with less CO2 emmissions. We drive less, or do not drive at all. We "buy local" to deal with rising "peak oil" shipping costs, which has the same effect as buying local to save the planet. Our members try to use less packaging, and who cares if our motivation is that we might have a SHTF situation with nowhere to throw our trash? The resulting reduction in factory-made (emmissions-producing) packaging in a landfill is the same. We try to grow our own food, raise chickens, and keep bees - without factory-made, emmsions-producing chemicals.  People who worry there will be no electricty and want to get off the grid as much as possible are making less emmisions. It's what we do.

Speaking for myself, all of the admonitions by some well-meaning people here for me to believe in climate change, stop emmiting CO2, and do what I can to save the planet from global warming are not so much falling on deaf or uncaring ears as they are really making me cranky. Very cranky.

What do you global warming advocates suggested I do differently? I quit a job that required extensive driving and work from home. I added screen windows, screen doors, a solar-powered attic fan, and Eco-foiled my attic for the warm weather, and I installed an EPA-approved airtight woodburing stove for the cold weather. I grow much of my own food and can it, and am getting chickens. I recycle religiously. I buy local. I live within my means and vote carefully to be a good environmental citizen.

It may not make much of a difference, but I try my damnedest. And it matters not a whit that my primary motivation is not a fear of global warming: it's the three E's. The results are the same.

I "get" the problem: the planet maybe dying. I "get" the amount of warming and the trends. I get the acidity of the oceans and what it means to coral reefs. I get it. I get it.

What certain people on this site do not seem to grasp is that we are all on the same side here. Reacting rationally to the realities of peak Energy, the globally frightening Economy, and limited resources like peak water will bring us to a healthier way of dealing with our Environment, naturally. As Dr Chris stated in his article, "Living standards are going to fall." "We're just going to do more things and produce less stuff." And those trends will be good for the environment, whether we like lower living standards and less stuff, or not.

Just a thought. At some point the discussion may chamge from reducing CO2 emissions and slowing climate change to simply focusing on how to keep our species from becoming extinct. A global economic collapse might slow our march toward extinction. The subject is too scary for people to discuss or contemplate so most won’t take an indepth view of the future. How about you?
Ak GrannyWGrit

It's obvious why your a professional writer.    Thank you.


Aside from each of us doing what we can to reduce our own use of fossil fuels, there is a great deal that can be done.  Get political.  If the US is to join the rest of the planet's nations in accepting the science first, and reducing it's own production of CO2 and CH4 second, then there must be the political will to do so.  Right now climate change is probably more of a 3rd rail of politics than Social Security.  Have you heard either presidential candidate discuss it beyond mentioning it in passing?  Where is the press in "press"ing the candidates to state their positions and advocate courses of action?  None of that will change in the absence of public pressure to do so.
I have read of studies that show that we could essentially fix peak oil and go a long way toward reducing emissions by conservation alone.  The assertion that we are on some kind of unstoppable train toward using all economically retrievable fossil fuel is not well examined as far as I can tell.  But, even if it is true, serious conservation measures could slow emissions to the point that the build up of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere could also be slowed and perhaps reversed, perticularly in the case of CH4 as it has a much shorter half-life in the atmosphere.  Slowing climate change is progress.

I don't see this as a partisan issue as politicians of all stripes (except some of those 3rd party candidates) are avoiding the subject like the plague.  The same happens to be true of peak oil and, to a limited extent, economic sanity.  The idea that any of these predicaments can be adequately addressed without political action is naive.  If politicians are to be persuaded to change their own behaviors and rein in their global corporate running mates, we must act like responsible members of society and apply the pressure.  Constantly avoiding touchy subjects is democratic cowardice.  We need action.


Thank you, safewrite.  +1 from me: eschew wandering.  I'm new here but gleaning the essence is mostly awareness on the nature of impending change and secondly, steps for self/family/community preservation.
I suspect many or most who visit/join PP live lightly.  Our lifestyle examples may be the most powerful means to press positive change.  As I suggest above, the "kickers and screamers" will only respond to pain.  We have little recourse (or time) to force their evolution.  

My first responsibility to take care of myself requires I not burden any sentient being or resource beyond that needed to sustain a simple life.  Anything beyond daily bread and a dry bed is luxury.  What cost luxury ?  Isn't the ascetic most revered even for his dispassion.   A life lived in hamony shines and light attracts.  

So when I encourage us (myself mostly) to "Rush the Horizon", I mean let's get on with it.  The PP site may be best used as a prompt to action.  Nearly everyone knows intuitively we are passengers on a slow motion train wreck.  

Get about the business of saving yourself and others will begin to follow.  Post practical actions.

The wind is from the North, now.  There's a store just a few blocks East that sells wool hats.  The rain has let up.  Time to go.




[quote=Doug]I have read of studies that show that we could essentially fix peak oil and go a long way toward reducing emissions by conservation alone.  The assertion that we are on some kind of unstoppable train toward using all economically retrievable fossil fuel is not well examined as far as I can tell.  But, even if it is true, serious conservation measures could slow emissions to the point that the build up of CO2 and CH4 in the atmosphere could also be slowed and perhaps reversed, perticularly in the case of CH4 as it has a
It would have to be extreme conservation measures to overcome all the forces towards more CO2/CH4 emissions:
Population growth comes with increasing energy demand especially in the developing countries.
Peak Oil effects resulting in increasing consumption of coal (more CO2 emissions) and natural gas cleaner to burn from a CO2 standpoint but possibly worse overall if you include the methane emissions when produced.
Decreasing EROEI meaning that we have to burn over time increasing amount energy for decreasing amount of net energy available to society.
So the idea that we could reach a worldwide political consensus for extreme conservation measures resulting in the immediate collapse of the whole system seems extremely unlikely to me.  It’s tragic I agree.


Do it yourself.  Change youself.  Use the energy and time right now right where you are.

Sacrifice something.  Your neighbors will notice.  And follow.




Don't disagree with anything you say SailAway until the last paragraph.  Are you suggesting the frog in a pan of water approach?  All the forces you mention will just hasten the day of reckoniing if no forethought or actions are taken to ameliorate climate change.  Let's be clear.  Economic disasters happen with some frequency, people live through them and adapt.  We continue to have overpopulation problems, though they tend to be localized, not global.  Lots of people die and the survivors move on.  Fossil fuel gets expensive, we adapt somehow, hopefully with less use.  We will not run out of fossil fuels before the climate is changed, perhaps radically, certainly on a global scale.  All of these phenomena are happening now and have time horizons measured in decades if not sooner.  Where do you put your priorities? 
This is all I will write about this subject as I'm pretty sure I'm close to some editorial line.  There are other forums made for this subject:
Although, the last link is perilously close to the subject of the second half of this article.

Rather it is a way to keep a clear head about where the real and important issues lie. 
Thank you Safewrite for your take on the issue of AGW. We are indeed preaching to the choir here in that most PP regulars 'get it' and are making changes in our lives to be less energy dependent, more resilient and sustainable.

I might add though that we can also 'help' by clearly and consistently communicating our understanding of our finite world to those around us. We may be able to influence others who are dealing with the uncertainties of our changing world. 

Ripple effects are real. Not everyone has the time, inclination or resources to develop positive and appropriate responses to change. We can lead in this area both by our example of how we conduct our lives and through consistent, clear, verbal communication about our reasons for doing so.

How would the world be able to cut carbon emissions in half? Maybe if families with incomes above $10,000 per year can reduce their carbon footprints by 80% while the poor (who never had much of a foorprint anyway, and are just on the brink) keep their emissions the same. Will that happen? No.
Even if the world human population stabilized at 9 billion and started going down to 6 billion within 50 years - the carbon consumption (if oil becomes expensive, the people will turn to coal, wood, and peat) of 9 or 8 or 7 or 6 billion) people every year is still unsustainable.

Our resident climate scientist, Mark Cochrane said he once did some calculations back in the 1990s that at the then-current rates of carbon emissions, the world would have to plant and grow the equivalent of 1 new Amazon rainforest every 10 years to offset the emissions of our industrial society. It's almost 20 years now, and the rate of global carbon (and other green-house gas emissions) have increased while the size of the Amazon rainforest has decreased.

A massive pandemic might work. A massive tidal wave from a comet might work. A major super-volcano that brings 3 years of bad harvests might work. A nuclear war might work - perhaps even provide a reprieve for animals that are shorter-lived because they can reproduce faster than cancers can develop, whereas humans need close to two decades and have long gestation periods. But voluntary actions? No. It's the tragedy of the commons, like they say.


Mother Nature has her ways, and the ways of Man cannot undo what has already begun, and that isn't to imply that we have done anything to cause a tipping point. Look, this beautiful planet that we now grace has cycles itself, and even if we did nothing at all to harm it some celestial body could just change things in a blink of an eye as it pierces our atmosphere. This is a fate issue that frankly we will never get ahead of so by natural selection we will be trimmed to the just right population numbers. Better to enjoy life, let your conscious be your guide and live accordingly. I am a conservationist, I recycle, my carbon footprint is responsible, and I do what I can to give back all that I have taken. That's the best I can do, so in the meantime I ready for game two of the World Series hoping the game concludes before the end of times and my team wins.
Respectfully Given


Was this supposed to be cute?  Why belittle others in this manner?  Did it make you feel good?  For someone that's new (but I'm pretty sure you're not new), not the best way to introduce yourself.
No matter what type of asshole you are, you still stink.

Doug Hamel & Chris,

Thank you for such rewarding comments following this original post. What a pity the conversation has to be diverted. Seems we can't sit in an uncomfortable spot for very long at all …

In my long history on this planet I have bounced back and forth between the inner journey and outer action.  In my younger years back in the 70's I was determined to change the world by becoming an Architect and building solar homes.  Years later, frustrated by the external world I turned to Yoga and became a certified instructor in a belief that without inner change outer rational action is impossible.  This is of course a great simplification of a long life, but the balance between inner work and outer action have always been at the core of my thoughts. I do believe the greatest impediment effective outward action is an inability to deal with the darkness within.  The projection of our evil apon the "other" may in the end get us all killed in the end as you noted.Identification with ones emotions, country, political party, thoughts and nationality can lead one badly astray and into ineffectiveness and violence.  If ones own house is not in order, even with the best information and intentions, we will only spread the internal disorder without.  I agree with your assement that being present to  a problem without judgement is critical to develop understanding.  When we arive at an answer awareness comes to an end and the learning process stops.  Truth is a pathless land, the truth is percieved and not reasoned, if you are thinking, you are already confused.   If you see the truth, no explination is necessary, if you don't see the truth, no explanation is possible.  Despite this predicament human evolution does stumble along.  The organ of perception is misidentified and claimed by ego but continues to function non the less.
The divsion between the precieved and the perceiver is perhaps both the greatest power and downfall of western thought.  There is great violence inherent in this dualism, but this is the sea that we swim in. This site is materialistic in its focus, but the intensions speak to a greater inner awareness that is implicit rather than explicitly expressed.  Is anything else possible?  In hatha yoga we approach the control of the body because direct control of the mind is so difficult.  Is not this site a hatha yoga where the external expressions of the human predicament are worked at so balance of the heart and mind can be acheived?