The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Bend Over and Kiss Your Ass Goodbye: IPCC Report Version

Read, and weep.

Once more: Climate change is settled science. Climate change is past the point of no return. (If you believe that nations are even going to keep the Paris agreement targets, you’re such a fool you’ll be sold all the world’s bridges.)

These numbers are catastrophic, and the IPCC reports are always over-optimistic. Always.

There are quite a number of scenarios where this stuff happens faster. You’ll notice that this chart has straight line assumptions. That’s almost certainly wrong. What will actually happen is that we’ll get some feedback loop like arctic or permafrost methane release and that will lead to parabolic increases. When it breaks, it will break hard.

At that point, a lot of other problems could also blow up, the most serious of which would be the oceans losing their ability produce oxygen. If that happens, well, we’re dead.

Even if it doesn’t, things like the thermohaline currents flipping or shutting off are possible. Europe could, in the middle of everyone else getting hot, have a mini-ice age.

People don’t realize how far north Europe is. If it didn’t have warm currents, it would be like parts of Canada that are, well, almost uninhabited, and for damn good reasons.

This will also, certainly, screw with weather systems. Imagine Indian monsoons failing for even three years in a row. Can you say hundreds of millions of deaths. Move your lips.

And it isn’t that we are decelerating, Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro, who will likely win election, has essentially promised to chop down what remains of the Amazon jungle as fast as possible (and also, to commit genocide on the remaining indigenous tribes. No, don’t pretend, that’s what he means.)

We are so far up shit creek we are never seeing clear waters again.

Be very clear on this, and if you want to survive (deciding to not bother is a legitimate decision and if you’re old you may die before the worst of it) start doing what you can for yourself.

We are long past (a good ten years past, at a minimum) any possibility of stopping this.

This is triage time. Are you going to survive? Your family, friends, and loved ones?

The results of the work I do, like this article, are free, but food isn’t, so if you value my work, please DONATE or SUBSCRIBE.


Putin’s Control of Trump and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty


Shun the Climate Change Deniers


  1. V

    Oh, don’t worry.
    Klatu and Gort will land on the White House lawn and make everything okay.
    It’ll be the second coming…

  2. Herman

    At this point, I don’t even care that much. If things are going to be as bad as predicted then stockpiling food and water and guns probably won’t help you very much. And frankly I have been hearing stories about imminent collapse for so long that I am not sure who to believe. It doesn’t help that there is a strong millenarian strain to much of doomer culture. The end is near and the good elect will survive and the bad sheeple will get what they deserve. I am not talking about you, Ian, but others in the doomersphere.

    Maybe it is true, maybe we are only 10 or 20 years out from disaster. Or maybe it will take 50 years or 100. I don’t know and like my most people I cannot afford to change my entire life on the hunch that there will be a big collapse sometime soon. If that makes me a fool than so be it.

    On a more positive note, environmental disaster might save us from the cyberpunk, techno-fascist dystopia that seems likely to come about in the near future. It will be hard to maintain such a system if these predictions come true. That is another reason why I am not so worried about environmental disaster. It might end up saving us in the end.

  3. V

    We were warned well more than 50 years ago. Suzuki warned in the mid 80’s that if the spigot were turned off tomorrow, there’s 40+ years already in the pipeline.
    Stupid human tricks, compounded exponentially, cannot end well.
    Hope, carried too far, is a fools errand…

  4. Hugh

    I agree. This most recent IPCC report was a bombshell. Yet with the daily Trump grotesquerie, the US midterm elections, and the macabre murder of Khashoggi, it disappeared quickly from view. On the one hand, we have the current spectacle of the disintegration of the American political scene. On the other, we have this existential threat. The timeframe the IPCC of 2030 has adopted is one I have been using for some time. The problem is that even under the best of circumstances it would take us (in the developed world) 3 to 4 years to come up with a plan and another 8-10 years to implement it. But the anti-science, anti-sense chaos President Trump will be President until 2020. So minimum we in the US will waste another 2 years before we even begin a debate we should have had years ago. That debate and developing a political consensus on climate change would take at least another couple of years. And if we expand this consensus building to the rest of the developed world, we would need another couple of years. And to the rest of the world 2-4 years beyond that.

    What this means is that we are out of time. Large swathes of the world are already gone. They just don’t know it yet. Even a country like the US which should be the best positioned to act and lead on climate change is not only terribly behind the curve but suicidally marching in the wrong direction. And all the while we dither and delay, there lurks, as Ian notes, the possibility of tipping points where linear change shifts to exponential growth and/or cataclysmic events.

  5. You worry too much. Have a little faith, just as soon as the blood is as deep as a horse’s bridle Jesus is going to float down out of the sky on a flying rainbow unicorn with thousands upon thousands of “helpers” on flying rainbow unicorns to carry all the faithful dead and alive away to paradise.

    Seriously, what’s the point of being community minded if nobody listens till it’s too late?

    [Far the more likely thousands upon thousands of cavernous spacecraft, vast slaughter-houses piloted by ravenous vaguely reptilian creatures, replete with horns and folked tail, intent not as benevolent overseers of the demise of this world and our current iteration in human evolution and our children’s evolution onto the next iteration of humanity but as ravenous reptilian creatures… you know, hungry lizards.

    We did, afterall, invite them to “Come Eat!”]

  6. Billikin

    Does anybody see the much vaunted hiatus in that chart?

    Are we 10 – 20 years from disaster? No. The disaster has already begun. The permafrost has already started to melt. Since 2010 the US has experienced at least 24 so-called “500 year” storms. Have you seen the TV commercial about that? What the commercial does not say is that your insurance premiums are going to go up dramatically, if they have not done so already.

    As for a political consensus, we had a political consensus about the fact of global warming when Bush, Sr. was president. But the powers that be were unwilling to take timely action, as doing so would cut into profits, and manufactured a political backlash, generating uncertainty. The critical time to act was mostly under Clinton’s presidency.

    But we can still mitigate the damage. We have to “declare war” on climate change. When will we start to do that? Sooner or later Florida, Georgia, the Carolinas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas will get tired of hurricanes and come on board. Other states may get tired of tornadoes, or tired of the loss of fisheries, and come on, too. Sooner or later Greenland or Antarctic glaciers will slide into the sea. That might wake people up. Sooner or later we will take drastic action. Will we be too late? Quien sabe?

  7. John

    Two weeks before he died of abdominal cancer, a childhood friend age 68 went to the emergency room with pain in his stomach. I think he suspected months earlier that something was wrong, but denial is a powerful drug. The cancer had probably been there for years. Those last two weeks were pretty bad, but they didn’t use fentanyl type drugs until the last three days.
    Suicide takes many forms. Suicide

  8. bob mcmanus

    Well, many or most of us will eventually get death sentences, or at least enough info to confirm probable remaining lifespan as 5-10 years instead of 30. And I guess everybody reacts differently, some fighting the dying of light with chemo, some partying and traveling, some getting closer to or helping people, some withdrawing to die in peace alone. Some I suppose dwell on oncoming death, gathering and sharing whatever lessons. There are options at the end of the world.

    I am worried for the world over climate change, but I believe most of us won’t be around to see the bad effects. The rich and evil aren’t as dumb as you think, they see it coming, and have resources to prepare. Of course they deny it in the meantime, they don’t want the plebs getting interested. When climate gets deadly, they want a much smaller population to adapt.

    There is no real conspiracy, just a bunch of bad actors trying to protect their dynasties. They will compete as well as cooperate.

    When a 30 year mortgage or corporate bond evokes uncontrollable laughter will be when it really hits. At that point expect the worst global depression, wars, and massive population reductions. I think 5-10 years.

  9. bob mcmanus

    The above was kinda a reply to Herman at 2

    Facing a death sentence of 5-10 years, it is an option to go survivalist and experience as little of the group sufferings as possible for those five years. I dream of Montana.

  10. atcooper

    Maybe now is the time to think on what skills will be useful for future generations, and to learn those, and promote them among those you love.

    Also, as a source of purpose, decisions made in times of chaos like this have much larger effects than those made during times of stasis.

  11. anonone

    The nuclear reactors are the final poison pill ensuring the complete and utter destruction of the planet’s environment for all DNA-based life. Once they start to go, and they will, the planet will be too toxic for any life above ground to survive and reproduce.

  12. Will

    Maybe it could have been different if:

    A) A coherent case was made from the start by people who are trusted. Science has no toes left after all of the foot shooting parties we’ve held over the past few decades.

    B) People were convinced that the cost and pain of adjusting to a much lower carbon based lifestyle would be broadly shared between the haves and have-nots. Don’t pretend that this is even close to what ANY of the organizations trying to raise awareness have proposed.

    Both of these involve having trust between the powerful and the numerous. Living in a society where that trust has broken down has its consequences. One of them is an inability to make painful decisions. Even when your own survival is at stake.


  13. ian’s remarks about how straight line extrapolations may not accurately predict the future remind me of what a hemingway character said about how he went bankrupt – “two ways – gradually, and then suddenly”

    stuff will happen, and will be dealt with, one way or another

    as someone who has already exceeded his life expectancy at birth, who has no significant resources that will be inherited, and no descendants to inherit any, i pretty much have to take it as it comes

    someone in a different position has different choices

    today i read the following article – it’s about 2000 words – in it jon kabat-zinn expresses faith in the long-term good of teaching the dharma, even to professional killers (i.e. the military) – is he a fool, or an enlightened being? or something in between?

  14. Heliopause

    While there is still a great deal of uncertainty about the ultimate trajectory and how damaging it will be, the key point is that there is almost certainly nothing that can be done to stop it, whatever it ends up being. The argument for that conclusion is not climatological, it’s sociological; human societies, absent military invasion, simply don’t make the kinds of draconian, en masse changes in lifestyle that would be required, they just don’t. Look at our own society; we think that recycling Coke bottles and driving a Prius makes a difference. Oh, and don’t forget the massive sacrifice of our plastic straws.

    While here in the US we quadrennially decide between a leader who loves the fossil fuel industry or one who loves it even more, up in Canada they are led by the friendly face of the kind of centrist liberalism that will surely reverse the inexorable trends. You know, Trudeau, who never met a pipeline or LNG project he didn’t like.

    That’s the reality of it, folks. Leaders who are either gung-ho for fossil fuel projects or gung-ho for fossil fuel projects but have nice hair.

    So yes, as Ian suggests, be thinking about your mitigation plan right now.

  15. different clue

    Granted, this is not the most visited blog in Blogistan. But I gather it is one of the more respected blogs. And things that show up here sometimes get referred to, or moved over to, widerly read blogs.

    Assuming that is correct, one wonders if Ian Welsh might decide to create a regular ( though not too often) feature , perhaps to be called something like Mitigation Report or Mitigation Update Watch or Mitigation And Survival or some such thing.

    It might be an opportunity for hopefully-informed readers to offer links, sites, titles, books, groups, etc. which contain or offer mitigation information, survival information, etc. And any readers who are actually doing any of these things can describe what they are doing, and where, and why . . . in case other readers may find it useful.

    For now, the internet and computers still exist, and they can be used for gathering useful information and offering it to people who might take it back to the analog reality meat-space and put it to analog-meatspace-realisphere use.

  16. different clue


    I suspect the skills which would be useful are the skills which existed before computers and which don’t need a chip or transistor or any such thing to be able to practice and perform.

    The Future Is Analog.


    I agree. The baked-in-ness is at the political, social, cultural, etc. level. In a perfect world of beautiful caring politics, it would still be possible to switch over millions of square miles of agriculture to air-carbon-suckdown soil-carbon-buildup methods, which are known to exist and which are being practiced today by one out of every 50,000 or so farmers. It would be possible to put a steadily-rising-to-punitive-levels tax on fossil carbon fuels and use the money to restore our missing train/trolley/streetcar travel systems, to super-insulate every humanly-used structure there is, to force down the grand net total demand for electricity down to what renewable sources can realistically provide, to re-flood and restore all the drained wetlands of the earth so they could go back to their job of sucking down the air-carbon and storing it under water as peat. International trade could be mostly abolished and the oil-burning ships carrying that trade could be mostly retired from service. Etc.

    But we don’t live in that world. We live in this one.

    Perhaps some of we-the-little-people can figure out how to get some measure of revenge on the Merchants Of Fossil on the way down.

  17. different clue

    If there are any Tibetan, Andino or Ethiopian Highlander intellectuals reading these threads . . . I have read that each of your peoples possesses certain genetically-programmed suites of adaptations to coping with a lower atmospheric oxygen level than what the rest of lowlanders possess.

    If that is true, perhaps you might consider taking the following idea back to the formal or informal leadership-elites of your three peoples. The Three Hypoxic-Adapted Peoples might think of setting up three-way meet-and-greet social-mixers and dating services. The descendants of three-way hybridization between Tibetans , Andinos and Ethiopian Highlanders might combine all three of these sets of low-oxygen-atmosphere adaptations into one group of eventual descendants.

    If the atmosphere becomes too low-oxygen for lowlanders to survive, it might yet still have enough oxygen for three-way-descendants of the Three Highland Peoples to survive at low altitudes. A level of oxygen which would not be enough for us might still be enough for you.

    Could the future be TibetoAndinoEthiopian? Could be.

  18. Willy

    I foresee that after significant death, carnage and complete fossil fuel depletion, energy giants will switch to massive carbon capture machines, after which their PTB will try to sell the remaining masses a global cooling hoax. But by then, with all the individualist and mammon-evangelical zombies dead, they’ll try a ‘science will save the day (but we control the science)’ tactic.

    In the meantime I’m enjoying the exposing of PTB shills like Charlie Kirk and his ilk who need to be mocked into oblivion. Feel free to have some fun of your own. It may not change the world, but it’s cathartic.

  19. Eric Blair

    Things are looking bleak as fcuk indeed. And our strategy here in the lands of science, reason and “Enlightenment values” is….”Problem? What problem? Green tech and alternative energy will save us …don’t be so negative!” On the BBC’s “discussion” about the IPCC report they had a guy on who cheerfully spewed the most cliche corporate PR speak imaginable, repeating “this is a great deal!” “this is a great deal!” because humans are responsible for climate change, and that means humans can fix the problem….no need to worry! Of course they also had, as a guest, the obligatory denier moron from the Trump administration, thus proving how superior their non-plan is to his non-plan.

    It’s almost like we are caught up in a civilzation-wide psychosis. Very interesting from a social psychology point of view.

    Great blog, btw!

  20. ” if you want to survive start doing what you can for yourself.”

    Like what?

  21. Serious question. Like, what can I do? Any suggestions or places to find suggestions would be appreciated.

  22. Ven

    Ian, I find it bizarre that you recommend “start doing what you can for yourself . . . triage . . .”, on 3 counts:

    1. ‘Doing what you can for yourself’ is what got us in this mess in the first place. And now you are recommending that people pick up this survivalist mentality, with guns et al, and further up the ante ???

    2. How does this in any way fit with your previous buddhist musings on we are all inter-connected?

    3. What kind of world will be left? If temperature goes in that direction, food production will collapse, supply chains will follow, there will be mass starvation everywhere, and civil society will collapse, as will therefore all the nuclear power stations. What do you imagine will be left after all of that? Do you really want to slug it out “to protect you family, friends and loved ones”. Death is inevitable. Why not got with dignity, compassion and decency.

  23. Bill Hicks

    It’s pretty clear that the choice has become “destroy the environment” or “destroy the economy.” Either way, billions will die since the fragility of the current “just-in-time-delivery” systems that provide most of humanity with what it needs to survive will rapidly break down if there is a major disruption such as a region-wide Middle East war that cuts off all oil exports from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq and the Gulf States.

  24. Eric Blair

    I find it interesting that the insufferably smug, self-styled defenders of reason and science who mock post-modernism and critical theory for being irrational and pretentious BS (which it largely is) never mention the spectre of resource depletion, the overheating climate and the madness of an economics that relies on a supply of infinite resources.

    There is plenty of “evidence-based science” that shows we are all in a car speeding toward a brick wall, yet these fools believe that science and technology will provide a magic solution that will let us continue living our unsustainable lifestyles forever. They sneer at religion and spirituality but their belief in science, progress and “western liberal values”as a panacea is based on blind faith and self-delusion and blatantly contradicts their party line.

    It’s like they’ve never heard of cognitive biases and humans’ susceptibility to groupthink (or perhaps they’ve convinced themselves their brilliance inoculates them against self-deception). Are they really this stupid? Or are they charlatans who never believed their own rhetoric to begin with? I just don’t get it…

  25. Eric Blair

    @different clue

    “Granted, this is not the most visited blog in Blogistan. But I gather it is one of the more respected blogs. And things that show up here sometimes get referred to, or moved over to, widerly read blogs.”

    I agree. I’ve been lurking here on and off for only a few weeks but compared to many other blogs there is a noticeable, and refreshing, absence of imposed dogma here. And I have come across very few discussion forums take seriously the predicament we are in.

    “Assuming that is correct, one wonders if Ian Welsh might decide to create a regular ( though not too often) feature , perhaps to be called something like Mitigation Report or Mitigation Update Watch or Mitigation And Survival or some such thing.
    It might be an opportunity for hopefully-informed readers to offer links, sites, titles, books, groups, etc. which contain or offer mitigation information, survival information, etc. And any readers who are actually doing any of these things can describe what they are doing, and where, and why . . . in case other readers may find it useful.”

    More information is always useful, but the biggest challenge, at least for me, is bridging the divide between information gathering and taking action in the physical world. On the internet “doing something” often begins and ends on the internet.

    I live in a coastal city and am completely reliant on the urban infrastructure around me. Very soon this will be the worst possible spot to be in. But what hell can I realistically do? I don’t consume a lot, I don’t own a vehicle and generally have a small resource footprint…but that is meaningless at this point. Practically speaking, I am no better off than the hypothetical guy who flies across the continent five times a year, drives a V8 sedan to work every day and makes conspicuous consumption his life’s purpose.

    So what can someone like me do?

  26. Spring Texan

    Thanks, Ven. Your reaction was mine too . . . if it’s the end let us end with as much kindness as we can muster.

  27. 10 years ago, I saw the writing on the wall (though my interpretation was a little different then), uprooted from the heavily populated area near Seattle, and headed to the midwest where farmland is affordable and productive. I figured that economic collapse was imminent, and that prepping (learning to farm with horses, garden, orchard, blacksmithing, hand-tool woodworking, hide tannng, leatherwork, etc) was a great idea that would help my family prosper in the times to come.

    A decade on now, the appearance is that climate change has caught up quickly, and has the likely potential to render most of my newfound skills (growing food in particular) moot. My best guess is maybe 5 years of continued semi “normal” existence, and human extinction taking hold in perhaps another decade. I’d been expecting to see the rest of humanity get a clue and make some changes, but finally realized that they’re just going crazy instead (i.e. Trump, Bolsonaro, etc).

    When I finally arrived at this conclusion, my first thought was, “screw it, I’m going to have fun and go back to my favorite activity (sailing a boat around the pacific northwest) while I still can.” Lately though, I’ve thought that doing what I’m already doing is probably as good as anything. The knowledge that none of the beauty I see around me in the natural world will last much longer has heightened my appreciation for it, and enriched my existence.

  28. Synoia

    that will lead to parabolic increases

    The correct graph is an exponential growth vurve.

  29. bruce wilder

    I think people still have big, big problems just wrapping their heads around a set of phenomena so global and pervasive, moving very fast in geologic terms and somewhat slowly relative to human lifetime.

    IPCC itself has struggled with the straight-jacket of focusing on atmospheric temperature change as the marker and ur-cause of what is happening. One of the bombshells in this latest report is how very close we are to killing all the ocean coral. But, where are micro-plastics or the threat to bees or the decline in insect populations?

    Ian says, “Climate change is settled science.” That may be, but does it help?

    It seems to me that we are in this situation and helpless because of bad economics, perhaps because economics is no science at all. In this situation because economics did not forewarn us of the consequences of the industrial revolution, and helpless because economics provides no guidance for organizing the political economy to cope.

    People have been criticizing mainstream economics without either changing it or learning anything as long as I have been alive. Politics at a high level is in the grips of “neoliberal economics”, an ideology seemingly impervious to criticism or displacement.

    Much of the dithering about on the looming catastrophe which is the “success” of the human species that people do is based on intuitions drawn from mainstream economics. Put a price on carbon, the economists say and let the magic market god solve the problem. Idiots. Substitute “renewable” “green” energy for dirty energy. Idiots again.

    Mainstream economics gets a few things right: one is that economic activity and effort is specialized and distributed, which sets us all up to have both a common interest in cooperation and opposing interests in our local spheres of control and ambition. The dominant strain of economic ideology — neoliberal economics — is based on totally screwing with anyone’s ability to think about political economy, making mainstream economics into a Big Lie, in Goebbels’ sense.

    Infinite growth on a finite planet? Not possible, it turns out. Whocoodenode?

    It is hard to imagine now, I suppose, but at the mid-point of the 20th century, quite a few people were inspired by the potential of collective, centralized planning to make the system of political economy work better. Mass-industrialization, aside from the minor matter of efficiently killing tens of millions in world war, was raising millions into the promise of a good life. The social welfare state — egalitarian and empowering for the individual.

    Neoliberal economics was all about destroying the possibility of the social welfare state — disable the state and enable wealthy “private” actors to divert the proceeds of dismantling it upward.

    So, now when we desperately need a strong and capable state alongside broad-based community cooperatives, we have neither and barely any concept of how the planning of a political economy that consumed radically less energy might be structured in such a way that large numbers of people can continue to live well.

    It is a common enough insight that we need a “WWII-style” massive effort, and I agree, but where is the political capacity to even imagine such a thing.

    It would be a huge undertaking to come up with even an “architectural outline” for the infrastructure of a political economy that could could work in 2050 or 2100 and allow the planet’s natural ecologies to stabilize with most species still extant.

    If not exactly a utopia, I can imagine a global political economy that still allowed for scientific industry, a deep specialization of production (with high productivity) and a decent life with scope for individual ambition and aspiration. We might not have automobiles or airplanes, but we might still travel far and wide by rail. We would use constraints everywhere to reduce the use of energy and its consequent waste. A lot of fairly useless work we do now simply would not be done. Probably it would be a darker world at night and a less sprawling world perhaps at least for urban dwellers. Would anyone eat meat? I have no real idea. Would there be an internet? I expect so — properly constrained in its profligate use of energy, it is cheaper than travelling to cooperate.

    Will anything like that happen? It might, but realistically, a whole lot of worse will have to loom up and slap us long and hard. Right now, I think the billionaire class is thinking it can do without at leave five or six billion of us. Skynet can drive their fully automated taxi’s for them real soon now. Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Peter Thiel are a poor substitute for seriously thinking thru how to devise a political economy that can work and leave the living earth alive.

    By its nature, the political economy we have, periodically crashes. This is no simple design defect. Pretty much any system of political economy will decay and de-stabilize in time. We just do not know enough. Uncertainty does us in. We learn. We move on. The problem with socialism as a political program is the desire it contains for an automatic self-regulating politics. That impulse is what the neoliberals use to sell their new, improved self-regulating market economy to the rubes.

    More than anything, we need a politics that can respond to the feedback we are receiving. Right now, and for half-a-century past honestly, we have been getting feedback telling us that the world’s natural ecologies may collapse under the weight of human economic activity and now that collapse is well-underway. And, we apparently cannot get it thru our puny brains what is happening, that we are doing it, and we could respond to avert catastrophe just as we have acted to cause catastrophe.

    It seems like volatility of weather (not climate) and the instability of the capitalist political economy could create a catalytic crisis. Like other commenters, I am inclined to imagine bleak responses from such a moment of panic: war or designer plagues to eliminate “excess” human population does not seem implausible to me.

    Then what? The Archdruid preached a 300-year bobsled ride down Seneca’s cliff for Western Civilization toward a dark age retrotopia. Assuming that ecological collapse leaves us with enough oxygen.

  30. different clue

    @Eric Blair,

    I live in a 140,000 thousand person University City in the Midwest. While we are away from the coast, we will be subject to whatever weather-changes and eco-shifts and etc. begin bloating up out of the landscape all around us. I also don’t have a car, live semi-modestly, etc. So . . . what can guys like us do? Considering that we live in a carefully designed-with-malice-aforethought waste-based civilization which makes conservation-living very difficult?

    The first thing we could do is to “lay down this burden” of induced-from-above self-sabotaging crippling guilt over not being able to fix things we did not break to begin with. If we can do that, then we can free our minds and perception-systems and energy to see and learn what we can do about what, and then do that. If you are car-free and you live a smallish-footprint life, you may not be “better off” in survival terms than Mr. V-8 Jet Setter who lives to consume . . .
    but you are much less a cause of our problems than he is, and so am I. So we can start from there with a free-and-clear mind.

    From that starting point we can then decide what we can live without and still have an okay life. And we can decide what things we still feel we need to have or need to be able to do in order to still have an okay life. And we try to do those things in the most efficient way possible, especially the least energy-consuming way. And we try to find other people doing the same things, either in person or through mutual-get-in-touch media reachout-reachback platforms to see if we can evolve a culture of conservation which could support a conservation movement which could conquer various political jurisdictions and engineer more anti-waste based mini-civilizations within those jurisdictions. Perhaps clusters of such retro-engineered retro-fitted localities devoted to anti-waste based co-collective shared survival could come together in stronger movements able to conquer larger jurisdictions and de-waste-ify those jurisdictions in turn.

    We could also try to gain an amateur science-buff level of understanding of energy flows and matter-cycles . . . the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle, etc. And then we could figure out how to change the WAY we do certain things that we will keep doing regardless, in such a WAY as to exert a small improving force on the direction of one or more of those cycles.
    For example, if we decide that we WILL keep buying food in order to keep eating it in order to keep avoiding starvation, then we can decide whether we will buy net carbon emissions food or whether we will buy net carbon capture food . . . . if there is a difference and if we can learn what that difference is.

    All that is not what to do or how to do it. It is just the start of how to approach it so as to be able to learn how to do something effective about survival-enhancement and bad-events mitigation.

    The details of what and how-to and why-to can be shared by the readership with eachother over time if Ian Welsh decides that permitting such sharing of detailed information in print in a place where people can come here and find it . . . could be considered to fit in with the larger long-term purposes of his blog. In which case, a periodic or even aperiodic ” Survival And Mitigation Report” theme of posts might well begin showing up here on occasion. If it does, that would be our signal to bring all kinds of survival and mitigation information here.

  31. different clue

    @David Veale,

    I don’t know what part of the Midwest you are living in. There is a successful farmer living in his own corner of the Midwest ( near Fargo , North Dakota) who has been making presentations to groups about what he is doing and etc. He is claiming ongoing farming-business success with steady soil-improvement, soil-carbon-storage buildup, etc. Some of his talks are recorded and are available on you tube. One of his talks is titled ” Sustainable Farming and Ranching In A Hotter Drier Climate. Since “hotter drier” is one of the future threats predicted for all over the Midwest as the Big Heat rises, perhaps this may interest you.

    There is another farmer named Mark Shephard who is making money on a smallish modified permaculture-based farm in Wisconsin who has been paying very careful attention to how to lead flowing-water around to where he wants it to sink into the soil at. He also has a few talks on you tube by now. Here is a talk of his which is much longer and less succinct and I don’t know how much value it contains per watchable minute. I know the first few minutes are personal life story anecdotes whereas farmer Brown immediately starts in on the material.
    Here is the link.

    Yet another hotter-drier-relevant person: Gary Paul Nabhan, founder of NativeSeed Search in Arizona which he then turned over to others so he could do other things. He recently wrote a book called Farming In A Hotter Drier Land , going over the various methods already worked out and existing for traditional and sometimes modern agricultures in semi-arid and desert-margin areas . . . . which more and more areas will become.

    Now, I am not a farmer of any kind, to be sure. I am a tiniest-scale back yard gardener. I try to read and understand somewhat about these things.

    I think these references I have offered may be interesting and useful. If you were to watch them ( or read the Nabhan book) you could apply your knowledge to answering the question of whether they really ARE interesting and useful.

  32. “the IPCC reports are always over-optimistic. Always.”

    Compared to what? Reports from previous IPCC reports? Or compared to their track records?

    Dr. Patrick Michaels’ made a claim, within the last week, that a Russian model is more accurate than (other?) IPCC models. And less alarmist than all of them. I’m no longer interested enough to go tracking this down, but maybe somebody else is.

    I think Michaels must have meant GCM models. About 10 years ago, Nir Shaviv developed a non-GCM model, using the oceans as a “calorimeter”, that he similarly claimed was more accurate, and less alarmist, than IPCC models.

    On Nir Shaviv’s blog, he mentions that he was in a Cambridge Union debate re climate change in , in or around Jan of this year. I haven’t listened to it, but his comments are interesting, depressing, and not unexpected….

    “I should add that the debate was a real eye opener. By living in Israel, I have had the luxury of experiencing a mostly diverse society, open to a wide range of scientific (and other) opinions. This has allowed me to carry out research without having to care about what other people think. It stands however in stark contrast to the body of Cambridge students I addressed. They are well intentioned but unfortunately completely brainwashed. They cite the 97% polemic about most scientists believing in anthropogenic global warming without stopping for a second to think about it, or the evidence that supposedly supports it. They want to think of themselves as liberals, but in fact, they have the most conservative mindset unable to even attempt objective thinking. “

  33. Not optimistic, conservative, in the “let’s not panic the public” sense.

  34. Joan

    I read the book “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush” and started collapsing my lifestyle years ago. I realized a major factor for women is perception of safety. For example, I kept my car for two years after I stopped driving it, paying for insurance and parking every month, because I was afraid of dating a stalker and not having a car when I really needed one. This fear was based on the experience of a friend of mine, who had to get a restraining order on her ex, and bounce around staying with friends because he kept showing up at her apartment (even after she broke a lease and moved to avoid him). I still keep my cell phone for the same reason. The most minimal plan I could find. I wish I could get rid of it, but again, the fear is that I won’t have access to a pay phone or a nice stranger if I really needed help.

    I witnessed my Boomer parents painfully slide out of the middle class, which allowed me to sidestep a lot of the optimistic expectations that get Millennials in trouble. I entered adulthood knowing a mortgage and financially secure lifestyle were not on the table for me. I instead have prioritized staying out of debt and keeping enough savings to allow me to get out of a bad situation fast. I protect this savings by needing less. I make and mend my own clothes, garden, and am starting to do canning/jamming/preserves. I’m looking into the more durable technologies my great grandparents used.

    We’re not religious, but my husband is a Freemason, and I am involved in Rotary and Toastmasters. This is our attempt to be connected locally and have a group of people who care about our survival. I am also planning to not have children, because it feels like to guarantee their survival, I would have to do the human equivalent of raising a pit bull to cage fight. I do not think the future will be apocalyptic, but I think it will be worse than people imagine, especially when those people tell me I should have kids.

    Not having children might mean that our survival skills do not get passed on. I might get wiped out by an epidemic and take all of my collapse knowledge with me. I am in my early thirties, so surely I will live to see things, many of them sad. That is why I am getting involved in different groups, hopefully to pass on to younger people what I’ve learned.

  35. bob mcmanus

    1) Not my thing, but Gar Alperowitz was an eye-opener for me. There is always a ton of interesting useful progressive local resources and activity around you if you look for it and are into that kind of thing.

    2) Hear progressives talk about “civil war.” Read one say California would be pretty tough cause of all the minorities. Just read the jaw-dropper that the Air Force Academy in Col Springs just ended immersion baptism as a graduation requirement.

    Civil War? Bout a fourth way into Beevor’s History of the Spanish Civil War. The beginning of the war is key. That’s what it can look like, how it can be done if Trump and Republicans want it and have the solidarity in the cops and soldiers. Although Spain shows that the solidarity rises exponentially with complicity. Once it starts it snowballs.

    Pretty simple, really. Picture two cops in a squad car. Trump gets on tv, declares civil war, says Repubs, I got your back, Go forth and kill them all. White cop drops his burrito, pulls his piece, and shoots his black Democratic partner before his partner shoots him. A secret service agent does Obama. Cruz shoots ten Dems on Senate floor. MSNBC is awash in blood.

    With all the guns in this country, mostly owned by the right, it would be over in a week. California? Serious assholes know they have a Navy and Airforce. They will use them. Oh no, populating the coasts weren’t the smartest play.

    Democratic and feminist “resistance” is a joke.

  36. bob mcmanus

    But this lack of priority for climate change — and fear of a right-wing backlash toward such legislation — is emblematic of a Democratic party that doesn’t seem remotely prepared to meet the rapidly approaching threat of climate breakdown.

    Democrats are largely avoiding talking about climate change in advance of the midterms, as it’s “divisive.”

    “Divisive” is necessary. Complicity breeds solidarity, in discourse as well as action. The Revolution vs Reform thing is about, even if you show no signs of doing it, “Republican heads on a pike” is the only sane negotiating position.

  37. Will

    Joan: What an interesting comment. I read it through twice to make sure I had the high points. I’m sure you are not alone in your feelings on the matter. And I’m sure that the world as we know it is going to change a good bit from its present form.

    The point about raising a pit bull… well I have to say that my assessment is entirely different. I think the people who are immersed in a well knit community and are valued contributing members are the ones who will do well in the next couple generations. Pit bulls get put down (speaking allegorically of course) in tight knit communities.

    If you think you can raise a Carpathian Shepherd or a Pyrenees Mountain dog instead…


    PS: Tell your husband hello from a fellow traveler.

  38. Stirling Newberry

    I am working on the economics. It will take 10 years.

    Sorry, the world is filled with people trying to better themselves by screw over others.

  39. Willy

    The elites once rationalized their power by believing that democracy had to be managed. But this is transitioning, into elites knowing they’re outright lying to everyone who is not them, so they can maintain/grow their power. And that culture is trickling down, since the “not thems” aren’t as stupid as elites think they are. It’d be a lot easier to change this if so many of the “not thems” didn’t have an unconscious impulse to be controlled by ‘their’ sanctioned elites.

    I guess that’s why I’d rather trust elites without ulterior motives – the ones who try best to scientifically describe reality for what it really is.

  40. marku52

    An economist meets a physicist at a dinner party. Hilarity ensues.
    Q: Do think think our energy usage growth will continue more or less unchanged?
    Economist: Oh sure, we’ll transition to something beyond fossil fuels, but yes.

    “The upshot is that at a 2.3% growth rate (conveniently chosen to represent a 10× increase every century), we would reach boiling temperature in about 400 years. [Pained expression from economist.] And this statement is independent of technology. Even if we don’t have a name for the energy source yet, as long as it obeys thermodynamics, we cook ourselves with perpetual energy increase.”

    The whole thing is pretty good. Kenneth Boulding was right, “Anyone who believes in infinite growth on a finite planet is either a madman or an economist”

    And Mark Twain pipes up “But I repeat myself….”

  41. Forecasting Intelligence

    Good article.

    I wrote about climate change in my blog and how the 2030’s like a dark decade when key trigger points will arrive to destablise the global system.

    We are entering, as I have written a few years ago when discussing resource scarcity, a looming “winter is coming” era.

    You can kiss your progressive politics goodbye. Brazil is glimpse into our collective futures…

    Truth hurts boys.

  42. admittedly, it looks like the situation will continue to develop not necessarily to our advantage

    on the other hand, let’s remember the lawrence berra uncertainty principle: you never know when something surprising might happen

    in the twentieth century most people made it through the hellish ordeal of world war ii (admittedly many didn’t) and my guess is that many (maybe not most) will persist through the eras of climate change

    how many will make it through depends on how well systems of production and communication and control adapt – no doubt, like in war, [and i expect even more war than we’ve got right now] there will be a lot of coercive coordination required of people

    but will the human race become extinct?

    probably not – but i have no idea whether a few centuries from now there will be a few stone-age remnants in a few remaining habitable areas [assuming oxygen concentration in the atmosphere hasn’t fallen too low – now there’s a doomsday scenario],

    or a thriving interconnected technologically sophisticated global system, sadder but wiser, supporting hundreds of millions or more of happy, healthy, potentially sentient beings,

    or something in between

    the big picture – life, the universe, and everything

    back in the previous millennium, i met someone who explained the basics of the mystical worldview to me in a way that has stuck with me – the foundational assumptions are

    1)the universe is here on purpose
    2)humankind has, or could have, some connection with that purpose
    3)it is possible to improve your ability to perceive and act on this connection

    to me, it still seems possible that these assumptions might be true, even if our terrestrial goose is cooked and we have to be written off as a failed experiment –

    because this planet is one of billions and billions of possible geese, some of whom may survive similar situations – and maybe that will even happen here on our own planet – you never know when something surprising might happen

  43. different clue

    @mista charley ph.d.

    If atmospheric oxygen goes all the way to zero, no people will survive. If atmospheric oxygen at sea level to 1,000 feet above sea level ( the lowlands) goes down to effectively-as-low as what the oxygen level at a human lung’s-eye-view is at 12,000 to 17,000 feet, the ultra-highland physio-adapted people might survive at near sea level altitudes.

    Any three-way-hybrid descendants of Tibetans, Andean Indians and Ethiopian highlanders may even have a better chance of surviving highland levels of lower-oxygen than unhybridised members of any one of those groups alone. Hence my suggestion ( upthread above) to the Three Ultra-Mountain Peoples to begin breeding up three-way hybrid offspring in order to inhabit the lowlands and thereby Inherit The Earth. The future of species human may well be in their strong hands.

    @Eric Blair,

    You and I may already be doing a very small fraction of what fellow commenter Joan is already doing. If future posts and threads were set up and designed to invite the sharing in detail of information and/or especially sources that Joan and others might well share if oVERTly invited to do so, then Joan and others might well decide to share that information and those sources here.

    About the problem of transferring information from here on blogspace to there in meatspace, perhaps one could start with something which seems inherently interesting and might be pursued in meatspace out of curiosity to see how it turns out. And if the process is more fun than trouble, it could be extended to less fun things , one thing at a time, till a habit strong enough to get one to accept doing the boring chores is established. And the trick is to be acceptably warm at a fraction of the normally-accepted energy input, not to freeze in the dark. Anyone can freeze in the dark. That requires no information and no intelligence. That is what I would call Virtue Hair-shirting. Let those who take pride in their Virtue Hair-shirting go ahead and freeze in the dark.

    Here’s a tiny little example of how to do something with less energy input than the average bear thinks is needed. Hard boiled eggs. Totally submerged in water which is brought to a boil all around them and kept boiling for some set number of minutes till the eggs are considered to be hardboiled. But the word “hard boiled” itself is confusing and disleading. It isn’t necessary to hard “boil” the eggs in order to hard COOK them. I found that by putting about 1/5th inch or so water in the bottom of the lidded pot with the eggs, and bringing the water to a steam-release boil, putting the lid down tight (maybe mildly sealing it with a little oil around the rim of the pot just under the lid-edge) and then turning down the heat until the lid just barely tries rising under a very slight steam pressure inside the pot . . . that the steam is delivering heat into the eggs many times faster and harder than the boiling water would and did. So I let the eggs jusssst steam for a few minutes and then turned the gas flame off and let the eggs stay in the pot to stay cooking under their own stored heat.
    It took only a tiny fraction of the gas. If you try it, you will see. And you may take encouragement to analyze other household survival functions you perform to keep surviving . . . breaking them down into their subsystem elements and seeing where less energy may be spent to achieve the same results.

    If a hundred million hard-boiled-egg eaters hard-steamed their eggs instead, how much natural gas would go thereby unused? Nothing I do will make a difference on its own, but if a hundred million or a billion other people decide to do the same thing, a difference will be made. Enough of a difference to make a difference? Let a billion people try it and we will find out.

  44. Some Guy

    Was watching the movie ‘The Box Trolls’ a while back, it had a couple of unusual characters, a pair of henchmen who spend the movie pondering the inconsistency between their initial belief that they are the good guys and the actions they are asked to take and the way people respond to them.

    In the end, they realize they are the bad guys, and switch sides to no longer serve as henchmen.

    I see a similar disconnect in the stories we tell about ourselves as a species and our behaviour. Is part of the muted reaction to climate change simply that people know deep down that we are the bad guys, and that fighting and sacrificing so that we can defeat this particular enemy (climate change) so that we (humanity) can go on to ever greater acts of destruction (e.g. in space – think how many planets we could f up!) is basically just being a henchman for humanity?

    I wonder how many people are at least partly #rootingforcrake

  45. Hugh

    Nir Shaviv is another goof who thinks that climate change is tied to cosmic rays or variability in solar output despite there being no evidence of this.

    Patrick Michaels is climate change denier and senior fellow at the Koch founded and funded libertarian Cato Institute.

  46. Bill Hicks

    So better they vote for politicians like Obama who CLAIM to care about climate change but take actions that are merely symbolic?

    Better not cut yourself off from your family. When the civilizational collapse comes in the next couple of decades, you and your son are going to need the strongest support structure you can get if you hope to even have a chance to survive.

  47. nihil obstet

    I’ve been trying to decide if I had anything to say on this subject that wouldn’t just annoy everybody else. That’s counterproductive. But three posts now are swirling around together: “A Single Death Is a Tragedy. . . “, this one, and “Shun the Climate Deniers.” It’s about what we spend our time, energy, and moral indignation about.

    The earth is about 4.5 billion years old. Homo sapiens arrived about 65 thousand years ago. Millions of creatures have been born, suffered or prospered, and died. In fact, millions of human beings have done so, with great or little impact on the rest of us. If I suffer a painful, hopeless end of life and then death because of climate change, how will it differ from an individual in Yemen suffering a painful, hopeless life because developed world armaments manufacturers want the profits? If homo sapiens goes extinct, how does it differ from the fate of the dinosaurs? Actually, there’s an unregenerate part of my mind that likes contemplating our descendants being birds. If all life goes extinct, it may or may not rise again. Lots can happen in the billion years the sun will continue being benign. What difference will it make to us dead? And to our beloved dogs, of course?

    I think we all have a responsibility to do what we can to make life worthwhile for the living and those who come after us. When we discuss climate change, we focus on how awful it would be for the world not to continue in the way that has made us comfortable and let us believe that we are superior to all the rest of creation. That’s not more crucial than stopping cruelty to our fellow humans today.

    As for our own lives, I’m with Ven and Spring Texan on this. Let’s live with kindness, decency, and dignity.

  48. Joan

    Dear Will,

    Thank you for your reply. Raising a Carpathian Shepherd or a Great Pyrenees is a very good point. When I read it, I noticed that some friends had been trying to make the same point with me, in different words. I am only thirty-two, so there is still time to consider things. If we wait too long, we are also not against adoption in theory, but from what I’ve heard the legal fees are too exorbitant for us to handle.

    I will pass along your greeting! Thank you again.

  49. Todd Cory

    unfortunately, no one cares if caring means changing non-negotiable lifestyles… so please enjoy these remaining good days. this story does not end well for us.

  50. Beware of easy solutions. This IPCC report is a nice setup for geoengineering solutions and an effort to get the last $ out of whatever carbon-tax plan can be pushed for the US.

    If you want to buy-in to geoengineering — go plant a tree or better some bamboo.

  51. Governments won’t save us. Technology won’t save us. Energy efficiency won’t save us. Masses of people will never voluntarily transform to a sane and sustainable way of living, much less fight for widespread implementation of such.

    The best chance for mitigating catastrophe is to proactively stop fossil fuels. Surprisingly few people could pull it off if they used the right strategy and tactics—look at the actions of Ruby Montoya & Jessica Reznicek, the Valve Turners, and against the Metcalf electric substation in 2013.

  52. @hugh

    You would have been better off shunning my comments.

    “Nir Shaviv is another goof who thinks that climate change is tied to cosmic rays or variability in solar output despite there being no evidence of this.”

    This is a lie. Did you even bother reading his paper? Are you even capable of understanding anything in a scientific paper? I have a degree in physics and math, and IQ over 140. (Well, 40 years ago. I suspect it’s declined since then.) Maybe you should avoid commenting on things you either haven’t studied, or don’t understand.

    “Patrick Michaels is climate change denier and senior fellow at the Koch founded and funded libertarian Cato Institute.”

    Patrick Michaels probably not only knows more about climate science than you will ever know, he also appears to know about what I’ll call ‘meta science’ than you will ever know – or at least admit to.

    By ‘meta science’, I mean the culture, sociology, funding flows and power structure that scientists operate under. Michaels has lectured on “positive results corruption”, and doubtless knows about the replication crisis in science.

    Even if Michaels hasn’t read “The Trouble with Physics”, “Not Even Wrong”, and various articles on the subject on Denis Rancourt’s blogs, as I have, it’s still clear that he’s on the knowledgeable side of ‘meta science’. And not on the BS side, like you clearly are on.

  53. “goof” Nir Shaviv has co-authored a recent paper with Svensmark, another real scientist hero of mine.

    “The fact that the ocean sea level changes with solar activity (see Box 1 above) clearly demonstrates that there is a link between solar activity climate, but it can be used to quantify the solar climate link and show that it is very large. In fact, this “calorimetric” measurement of the solar radiative forcing is about 1 to 1.5 W/m2 over the solar cycle, compared with the 0.1-0.2 W/m2 change expected from just changes in the solar irradiance. This means that a mechanism amplifying solar activity should be operating—the sun has a much larger effect on climate than can be naively expected from just changes in the solar output. ”

    (see )

    IMNSHO, these guys deserve a Nobel prize.

    As for anybody who would pass judgement on Naviv, who, e.g., doesn’t even know what solar irradiance is, they deserve an (empty) Cheerio Box award.

  54. If anyone is wondering how a relatively simple analysis, like Shaviv does, could be more accurate than a very complex GCM, the answer is: omitted variable fraud. (Or, more politely, omitted variable bias).


    “The one thing we can say is that whatever the warming effect of CO2, it is not detectable in the raw CO2 vs. temperature data.

    This is in glaring contrast to solar activity, which lights up like a neon sign in the raw data. Literally dozens of studies finding .5 to .8 degrees of correlation with temperature. So how is it that the IPCC’s current generation of general circulation models start with the assumption that CO2 has done 40 times as much to warm the planet as solar activity since 1750? This is the ratio of AR5’s radiative forcing estimates for variation in CO2 and variation in total solar effects between 1750 and 2010, as listed in [the table of RF estimates in the chapter on human and natural temperature forcing factors]. RF for CO2 is entered as ___ W/m^2 while RF for total solar effects is entered as ___ W/m^2. [I’m not going to quote the actual numbers, but yeah, the ratio is an astounding 40 to 1, up from 14 to 1 in AR4, which listed total solar forcing as 0.12 W/m^2, vs. 1.66 for CO2.]

    So the 50% driver of global temperature according to mountains of temperature correlation data is assumed to have 1/40th the warming effect of something whose warming effect is not even discernable in the temperature record. This is on the input side of the GCM’s. The models aren’t using gigaflops of computing power to find that CO2 has that much larger a warming effect. The warming ratio is fixed at the outset. Garbage in, garbage out.

    The “how” is very simple. The 40 times greater warming effect of CO2 is achieved by blatant omitted variable fraud. As I will fully document, all of the evidence for a strong solar magnetic driver of climate is simply left out of AR5.”


    BTW, the beginning part of the paper, where he points to both CO2 and solar effects correlating with temperature during 1750-2010, seems to contradict the first sentence I am quoting. I think his argument for doing so (referring to the lag in ice core data, between temperature rise, followed by CO2 rise 100’s of years later) is a bad argument. There was a hemispheric phasing of the warming during the time span elucidated by the ice core data. So, you could have had some of that warming due to green house gases released earlier, especially from the ‘first’ hemisphere that heated up.

    Indeed, the author concedes the belief of most of the ‘famous’ climate skeptics that green house gas sensitivity is about 1 deg c per doubling of CO2.

    I needed to quote that line to make what follows make sense. The key point is that the IPCC report was ignoring/downplaying solar/magnetic drivers. This isn’t justified, scientifically. It is fraud – or, if you want to be less abrasive, you can call it bias.

    Ah, but what do you expect from a process which is ultimately controlled by politicians and ideologues?

    What Svensmark and Shaviv have been doing is nailing down the physical MECHANISMS, involving cloud nucleation, by which solar magnetic effects are driving global temperature changes. Since they aren’t burdened by omitting variables involving a first order effect, like the IPCC’s “holy models” do, they can surpass them with relative, analytical and computational ease.


    As a side note, does anybody think that Exxon DOESN’T “know” about Shaviv and Svensmark?

    So, I’ll say again what I’ve said before. I’d be happy to see Exxon Mobil sued by shareholders, to reveal everything they “knew”, during a legal discovery process.

    If Naomi Oreskes and her ilk actually believed that Exxon is following climate science (which they’d be negligent not to); and furthermore have no serious plan to transition from the ‘grease’; and furthermore that her CO2 catastrophist worldview is correct, then she’d be happy to sue them, as a shareholder. She could pay for it via crowd-funding. She would prove – if she’s correct – that Exxon knows that their business is killing the planet. The bastards! Worse than Nazis!

    I suspect she knows a lot more than she pretends. Thus, she can anticipate that suing Exxon Mobil to reveal all would be catastrophic for her tribe.

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