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

Living in the Truth or Dying in Lies

One of the main reasons we are here, today, where we are, is that people confused their fears, their loyalties, their greed, and their partisan tribal identifications, for truth.

The world does not care if you didn’t (or don’t) believe in climate change. Carbon and methane have specific effects on the atmosphere, and your opinion that they don’t is as relevant as that of a flat earther’s about the rotation of the sun around the Earth–it has real world consequences, to be sure, but is simply wrong.


It is nice that you don’t think that racism and racists get stronger when times are bad, and that people who don’t see a pay raise in 40 years are likely to turn to nasty politics, and it is even important that you think so, since your sheer stupidity and blindness makes it harder to stop, but you are wrong. You are, in fact, part of the problem, because problems happen and we need to be able to fix them, and you and your type are making it harder to do anything by muddying the water.

The inability to separate partisanship from a clear understanding of the world is at the heart of why we are where we are today. Clear consequences of action and non-action are dismissed wholesale until it is too late to do anything about it.

Yeah, we’ve got sort of a consensus on climate change, but, it’s basically too late, and hey, even with a consensus we aren’t doing even close to enough. It is laughable to me that people are running around saying, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” because Trump was elected and he says he doesn’t believe in global warming. Obama “believes” in it and made it worse.

“Ooooh, he might pull out of the Paris accords.” You mean the accords that virtually no one is fulfilling their pledges to already?

Then there is this: “Trump promises to deport between two and three million immigrants!”

You mean, about the same amount as Obama did (2.4 million)?

Meanwhile, we have people screaming about Russia backing an international neo-fascist movement.

Oh? Well, they’ve supported some, yes. But who supported the neo-Nazis in the Ukraine until they got into power? Yes, that would be the US.

The fact is that elites are quite happy to do business with neo-Nazis. It is people like Corbyn they are scared of. Fascists get along great with corporations: The Nazis slashed wages, locked up union organizers, and gutted workers rights–even before they went to slavery (which the US already has, in its prisons).

The warnings on climate change and about the rise of the racist right go as far back as the 80s, in my memory. Why? Because the evidence was already there for people to see. By the late 80s, we could see that the inequality data was going in a radically bad direction, for example, and people were already saying, “This will lead to the rise of bad people, like fascists.”

This was not hard to predict. It was obvious. You did not need to be some sort of special genius, you just had to ask yourself “What happened last time?”

What you had to be “special” to do was to ignore it, to hand wave it away, to spend your life (and many, many lives were dedicated to the project) saying, “Oh, no, inequality is no big deal. They aren’t really poor, they have TVs!”

Every person who did that is culpable in what is coming down the line, just as everyone who cut a check for climate denials (usually to protect their own business, a.k.a. oil) is complicit in mass murder.

Social science is inexact, but there are some parts of social science that are pretty close to physics.

Let me give you two.

People who are treated badly become bad people. (As a group. Yes, you are a special flower and it didn’t happen to you, OR if you were one of them, you would be the exception. You’re special. I know.)

People are unhappy or happy with leadership based on whether they perceive things as getting better or getting worse. It is not based on absolute standards, it is based on what they expect the future to be like.

Right after the Versailles treaty, Keynes was able to predict the gross outlines of history right through to World War II. He said, “Well if you do this to the Germans, they aren’t going to put up with it forever, and it will enable the rise of really nasty people.”

You had to be a special sort of idiot, or a partisan fool, not to see it coming once someone like Keynes had explained it to you (and many others knew it as well).

If you will not live in something fairly close to reality, reality will clock you upside the head for it eventually. As individuals, we may dodge this, we often do, which is why individuals often live in denial.

As societies, no. The bill is always paid, and it is always paid in full. It’s just usually not paid by the people who wrote the checks based on other people’s bodies. Which is why, if you aren’t powerful (and you probably aren’t), you can’t afford to live in fantasy-land.

It is now too late to stop the rise of the nasty right. It was, in fact, too late in 2009 when Obama completely decided to continue the bail out of the rich. That was the last exit-ramp. But oh, people love Obama. He was the last person with the ability to stop this, and he made an affirmative choice to make sure it would happen.

And for many people, he’s a great man, a hero. Especially to people on the left, who, if the nasty right gets out of control, are the ones who are going to die and be tortured and raped and imprisoned.

This is what Americans have been voting for, and that includes Democrats, for over 40 years. This wasn’t just a few elites. No, as a group, Americans kept taking actions to make it happen. (Yes, you may be an exception, but among voters, you are an exception.)

And so what has happened, has happened. Americans let those in the rustbelt rot. They have rebelled, and you now have Trump. Democrats voted for Clinton (yes, the DNC had its thumbs on the scale, but all evidence I’ve seen is that registered Dems really did prefer Clinton to the man who was against Iraq).

Clinton lost (she would have been terrible too).

And here you are. And meanwhile, climate change is roaring down the pike, and while Trump may be worse, no, Clinton wouldn’t have done enough to stop it. No reason to bother, her donors don’t want real regulation, and heck, she’ll be dead, and her daughter can live somewhere it won’t effect her much.

Consequences are paid. Your opinion that they aren’t paid is irrelevant, and if you don’t have power, the check is being written on your body and those of the people you claim to care about.

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If Trump Is a Nazi


How Jefferson and Hamilton Designed the Republic for Labor


  1. Tony Wikrent

    Damn straight. I wish you were posting a bunch of other places, such as DailyKos.

  2. anonone

    Many of us are dying in the truth.

  3. markfromireland

    At the risk of sounding ungracious I’ve been waiting for you to post this for years.

  4. markfromireland

    Actually that wasn’t just risking sounding ungracious it was ungracious. This is a post I’ve been waiting for years. A long time ago you said to me that you believed collapse was inevitable and that your goal was to see to it that there was a set of ideas, or arguments for decency if you will, lying around the place for those survivors who would have to pick up the pieces. More like this please.

  5. Ghostwheel

    What would a real anti-global warming policy look like?

    It would, bare minimum, have at least five legs:

    1) Actual negative emissions to extract CO2 from the atmosphere.
    2) Scrap the debt-based money printing system that requires growth to pay off debt.
    3) Population control; we’ve known since the sixties that we were too many.
    4) Localization, not globalization.
    5) Deurbanization, desuburbanization, reruralization, and rewilding.

    No doubt we could come up with more. Proper care of the oceans, for example, if it’s not already too late. But without these five, no real progress.

  6. realitychecker

    Bravo!, Ian, just Bravo! Reality counts. 🙂

  7. Herman

    @Tony Wikrent,

    Yeah, I like to read Daily Kos just to see what mainstream liberals are thinking and there seems to be little soul-searching going on. Sure, you have a few Bernie supporters who write “we told you so” pieces that correctly point to the Democrats and their willingness to allow the decay to continue, but they are the minority. Most of the comments there seem to be about how dumb and evil those hillbillies who voted for Trump are, even though many of them probably voted for Obama in 2008 and 2012.

    The big reason why Americans let things get this bad is because enough of them were doing well enough to ignore the signs of distress all around them. As long as it was someone else doing the suffering, as long as it was someone else whose jobs were going overseas, somebody else’s union was being destroyed, somebody else’s town or neighborhood going to pot, it didn’t matter. As long as me and mine are going well, everything is fine.

    I remember in the 1980s and 1990s when educated, white-collar workers were supposed to be the future winners of the New Economy, many of these yuppies sneered at factory workers whose jobs were leaving the country. “Oh, well they should have gotten a better education it is their fault.” Now you have hundreds of sob pieces written about college debt burdens and H-1B visas and we are supposed to cry and gnash our teeth over that. Well, where were all these distressed white collar types twenty or thirty years ago when the factories were leaving? And it is not just blue collar vs white collar. I know plenty of blue-collar workers who sneer at the efforts of fast food and other service workers to unionize and get better pay, even though these same blue-collar workers benefit from being in some of the few remaining unions in the country.

    We need solidarity between workers of all types, white collar, blue collar, pink collar, public sector or private sector. But this seems to be almost impossible. The majority of Americans WANT the economy and the society be nasty. They feel that their lives are miserable and nasty so they want the same for others. The leadership class supports a nasty society because they are largely immune from the negatives of same. If you are rich you can avoid much of the nastiness or at least have a buffer to cushion you during the bad times. The Clintons, for example, will be fine.

  8. Ghostwheel, the other things you say are mostly ok, but this is false and malign:

    “3) Population control; we’ve known since the sixties that we were too many.”

    The fact is we know how to grow enough food for ourselves if we could overthrow corporate control of agriculture and food. Therefore there’s no such thing as “too many” in any absolute sense, and to say like Malthus that there is automatically sounds racist and plays into the hands of Big Ag’s lies.

    On the contrary, the people who are “too many” are middle class Westerners with their per capita environmental footprint. But there’s no such thing as “too many” people in the global South (which I assume is what you meant). On the contrary, all hunger and famine is caused by corporate control of agriculture and food.

  9. Shh

    To paraphrase Howard Zinn: The arc of history is progressive.But it ain’t a straight line.

    To quote Bob Dylan “I paid the price in blood.” As will we all.

    This time the cycle of history has new vectors: a destabilized thermal gradient in the thermal-halide cycle and associated biosphere impacts (dramatically declining fish, insect, plant and mammal populations), vast fresh water depletion and toxification combined with arable topsoil destruction, large swathes of population densities unable to survive without centralized agriculture, critical resource depletion (boron, copper, etc.).

    It may well be the fascists are the least of our worries.

  10. Ghostwheel


    I take my position on overpopulation from biologists like Paul Ehrlich and the late Garret Harding, among other sources.

    Yes, we are too many, and yes, we’ve known this for a long time.

  11. I think this post is right in pegging corporate liberals as the most destructive force on Earth. Just like in the Spanish Civil War, they would prefer right wing authoritarianism or fascism to a truly egalitarian outcome; that’s how indelible the hierarchical authoritarian mindset is – liberals have more in common with fascists than with true anarchists.

    I wish I could sympathize with the minority groups who fear some special persecution from a Trump administration, but I can’t get past the sense that anyone who claimed to want “progressivism” had their chance to have Bernie Sanders (and, in 2010, single payer), and they aggressively chose against Sanders, and against single payer. (My understanding is that minority voters went for Clinton.) So they got exactly what they wanted.

    As for my anti-corporate wedge campaign, I already gave up on “leftism” long ago and am trying to find a new way to think and speak. I think this can persist even under nastier pseudo-fascist” conditions, though I doubt it’ll get like that, as opposed to intensifying corporate domination, since so far no one’s serious about fighting corporate rule.

  12. Ghostwheel, you better go look at the other thread about authoritarian cultism.

    Garret Harding, really? The clown who perpetrated such a Hobbesian fraud that he himself had to admit he was talking about a purely artificial, maximally adverse condition?

    I think you better ask yourself who you’re such a misanthrope, and why you’re so attracted to notions which would exonerate elite criminals.

  13. Ché Pasa

    The US has always had crypto fascist inclinations; despite all the hooey about “freedom” and “liberty” it is and has always been a highly authoritarian society, especially for the lower orders. I’ve long asked, “Liberty for whom to do what?” It has never been for everyone to do as they please. Far from it.

    European fascists and Nazis took some of their inspiration from the US genocide of the Natives, the reservation system, the various neo-colonial and neo-imperial operations the US engaged in, and they took more than a little inspiration from the Progressive movement — its eugenics elements in particular.

    And of course there’s always been White Supremacy. Always.

    We got away from it for a time and gingerly tip toed toward a more refined and inclusive vision of America the Better, if not America the Best, starting in the ’50s and accelerating in the ’60s. Even during some of the worst recent times (such as the Bush2 era) there was a conscious effort by those in power keep the trend going (well, some of them; shouldn’t really say Cheney gave a bucket of spit about that.) Cautious efforts continued toward addressing the problems of climate change, regardless of the deniers, and efforts were made to “help” the downtrodden improve their lot. Until the economic collapse, when for some unspoken reason, the banks and the rich were hoisted into the lifeboat while everyone else was left to drown.

    This was as true under Bush as under Obama. All of the rescue went to those who caused the calamity. It could easily have gone the other way, toward the people who were falling into the abyss — I remember making the recommendation that instead of giving all the money to the banks and the already obscenely rich, provide $80-$100,000 to every household (this in lieu of a debt jubilee) and watch the economy recover almost overnight. Oh, the savagery of so-called liberals! “Moral hazard! Moral hazard! Moral hazard!” They might use it to buy drugs or throw a big party!!!!! You can’t do that!

    Right, as if giving gargantuan sums of money to those who caused the collapse wasn’t hazard enough.

    Most of those millions who were forced into poverty due to the collapse are still there, and they will likely be there for the rest of their shortened lives. As that situation was unlikely to change under Hillary, it was just one more reason not to vote for her.

    Now we have another set of problems to address and there’s even less hope that things will get better for the many. How that plays out is anybody’s guess. But if the Revolution is to come, watch it come from the right.

    Ah well. Nobody promised us a rose garden…

  14. XFR

    So far, President-Elect Trump has been no scarier than Candidate Trump…overall, much less so, really, and Candidate Trump fared proportionally better in the NYT exit poll among women and ethnic minorities than Romney in 2012. Most of that gain is due to low turnout on the Dem side, but turnout also fell, though not as much, on the Republican side, and one might reasonably expect people facing an existential threat to turn out en masse. Nothing has changed since the election to make Trump particularly scarier, so I don’t buy the panicked attitude of the mainstream press and hard-core Dem partisans.

    What I see in them is not fear, but hysteria. The feeling I get is not 1933, but 2003, when Saddam Hussein’s balsa wood anthrax drones were 40 minutes away from wiping out civilization as we know it.

    In that case, the hysteria was directed toward ginning up a phony threat to provide cover for Bush launching what was in reality a war of aggression, in complete and utter violation of the U.N. charter. The insanely stupid drone idea was the only way that the U.S. could allege that broken, bombed-out, and starving Iraq posed an existential threat to the greatest military power on Earth.

    Here the goal looks to be to provide cover for an 11th-hour coup against Trump in the Electoral College, in complete and utter violation of democratic tradition. The insanely stupid idea that a horrific despot just spent two years campaigning without any sector of general public really seeming to notice is the only way to allege an existential threat to American democracy that could possibly justify throwing out the result of a democratic election.

    (To any smartasses who are now rearing to point out that, on paper, the EC can throw out an election result–I’d just like to point out that the Canadian Senate and British House of Lords can, on paper, refuse to pass legislation approved by the House of Commons, and that the British Monarch can, on paper, refuse to sign legislation passed by Parliament into law. Everyone knows those powers are vestiges of a pre-democratic era, and that to exercise them now would be every bit as intolerable and outrageous as a breach of the written constitution.)

  15. Ghostwheel

    A few more points about overpopulation, since, as always, it’s a thorny issue:


    Paul Ehrlich repeatedly gets objections to his work from people along the lines of: “It’s not an overpopulation problem, it’s an X problem.” For “X” insert anything you like: racism, sexism, the corporate system, the banking cartel, whatever. Ehrlich’s response is that when he and other biologists evaluate the question of overpopulation, they take the data as they find it. To say that there’s no overpopulation problem because if society followed a particular fantasy blueprint of how things ought to be, or could be—or might be if the fantasy blueprint were not only followed but actually worked out exactly as imagined—is not evaluating the actually existing data.


    When we discuss overpopulation, we encounter conflicting views are freedom. Some people seem to view the earth as an expansive frontier, and from this flows a particular view of freedom. Obviously, if you believe we’re going to colonize other worlds, from this you take a particular view of growth, of human freedom, of overpopulation. The other view is seeing the earth as a lifeboat, from which a different conception of human freedom arises. Everything I have ever studied of science and technology tells me that the first view is false and the second view is true.

  16. XFR

    So far, Trump looks pretty bad (though not totally so–a federal mandate for paid maternity leave is looking likely now), but Clinton would have been infinitely worse. The TPP, which was being set up to be rammed through the lame-duck Congress and the Japanese Diet in the weeks following Clinton’s “inevitable” election (which would have made it a fait accompli), would have crushed any hope of meaningful progressive economic reform for a generation and possibly for much longer. Every sign seemed to be pointing to a conflagration with Russia that could easily have blown up into a full-on nuclear exchange.

    Right now the idea being floated among the pearl-clutchers seems to be to either reverse the election result or else have the EC install a “normal” Republican who wouldn’t “existentially threaten” women and ethnic minorities–the same women and ethnic minorities who inexplicably somehow failed to perceive any exceptional threat from Trump on election day–or “existentially threaten” American democracy–the way throwing out an election result most certainly wouldn’t.

    Far all practical purposes, Clinton is a “normal” Republican already, so installing one rather than her would be a distinction without a difference.

    I’m noticing three separate strands being hammered on by the mass media in the wake of the election result–

    1. Trump is an evil maniac despot who will overthrow the system and plunge us all into a totalitarian Dark Age

    2. Trump is an idiot and a buffoon and totally incompetent to run a hot-dog stand much less a government

    3. Trump is just the same-old-same-old…the people who voted for him hoping for any significant change were sadly duped.

    1 is basically irreconcilable with 2 and totally irreconcilable with 3 so this obviously isn’t a real political stance but rather a propaganda strategy. All three go to delegitimizing the Trump victorry among some sector of the public. 1 & 2, while contradictory, both could provide cover for an EC coup, so they may have both been thrown out in the hopes of seeing which one is more likely to stick (or hell, maybe just go with both, logical consistency is overrated anyway.)

    In short, it is a really, REALLY, bad idea to play along with the “Trumpocalypse” narrative. So please don’t.

  17. DMC


    The only pertinent questions are “How do we feed, house, clothe and employ them and how do we deal with their waste”. Everything else is a semi-trailer full of red herrings. In theory, these are problems but problems amenable to technological solutions. This notion that there’s some magic number of people that will exceed the ability to feed itself before other population limiting factors(social breakdown, epidemic, war) kick in is, let us say, yet to be proven. The Erhlich stuff is panic from the fading of the “Green revolution” of mechanized agriculture, petrol-chemical fertilizers and elementary irrigation reform. Once we’re off the carbon based energy, industrial scale hydroponics becomes feasible with the arrival of CHEAP energy. Housing and clothing and waste, ditto. Employing them is going to take some rethinking(to say the least) in how we allocate labor and reward but there should be no shortage of things that need doing. So really, it all depends on getting off the carbon and on to renewables. To that end, eliminate subsidies for carbon at all levels. Economic factors alone should take care of the transition from there. When renewables are not just cheaper but significantly cheaper than coal, we’ll stop burning coal. So for oil, so for natural gas.

  18. Around and around it goes, political positioning costuming itself as scientific morality : in full hue and cry denying natural climate change to accuse others of \’denying\’ man\’s ability to screw the pooch. Desmedoma Despair ( a blog ) is merely an extreme case of being so in love with disaster scenarios as to refuse to consider the awful idea that others are not stupid and uninformed merely to hold differing ideas. Is there any greater vanity than to hold one\’s ears and chant \” I don\’t care what you say, you are a miserable liar !\’\”
    Look up the principles of scientific method some time. One must consider the variety of possibilities from varying sources to consider we approach an appreciation of truth. Else the legal system is also worse than a sham, but based on insanity of proof over prejudice ( literally : to \’know\’ the answer before all the fact are in ).
    This is a list of a number of articles I thought important enough to note as thought provoking. Even so, I must retire some occasionally, even when they contain enough real meat for the mill of the mind never to really go out of date.

  19. Ok ghostwheel, now I see what a criminal you are.

    Here’s a telegram from reality: Earth is home, dumbass. There will be no rapture. Any version of the rapture, religious or secular (I’m aware that Ian is a fundamentalist of this lunacy) is an evil, sociopathic, anti-environmental notion. And the people you see on Earth are the people you have to live with. I can imagine how loathesome you find that idea.

    Therefore, you must want for middle class Westerners to be exterminated, or at least to stop reproducing, no? After all, it’s these who have the ecological and moral footprint.

    Does anyone actually ~like~ planet Earth, which indisputably is our home?

  20. Some Guy

    Pretty much on point Ian, although I would characterize our choices as ‘dying in truth’ vs ‘dying in lies’. Regardless, still prefer the truth.

  21. Ché Pasa

    For those who don’t understand the fear, let me try to explain it to you. On the other hand, if you like the fact that a goodly percentage of your fellow citizens are fearful of the future, this might not be a useful discussion for you.

    First thing, note that Our Betters — no matter their race/ethnic origin, gender, orientation or political affiliation– are not afraid at all. Some of them are positively giddy on both sides of the aisle. Why shouldn’t they be? No matter who is in the White House, they’re going to be fine. The tumbrels haven’t assembled yet, and none, so far, have rolled, so it’s party-on for them.

    The lower down the ladder you go, however, the greater the fear levels rise. Why should that be? What could the untermenschen possibly be afraid of? Their lives will get better, no? Hasn’t Trump promised?

    Why did blacks live in fear for their lives for most of the history of this country? Why do so many still live in fear of the police? Simple: random, arbitrary, unpunished acts of violence against them with no recourse for the victims induces the fear that at any minute someone with authority over them will act out their violent nature. That is a very useful fear for authority to induce.

    Why have Native Americans lived in fear for their lives for most of the history of this country, and why are some of them so fearful for the future now? Simple: a history of dislocation, relocation, and genocide will do that to just about any survivors there might be. The fact that Native Americans are asserting themselves and their Native interests where authority wishes them harm (for disobedience if nothing else) means that they are literally risking their lives given the history they know all too well. They’re brave to do it, and they know full well the consequences which may result. Brave as they are, the fear of what might happen to them and their families when they challenge dominant authority doesn’t go away. Obama has been ostensibly a friend; Trump has indicated he won’t be. Not unless they submit.

    Why have women been afraid if not for their lives, at least for their well-being for most of the history of this country? Why are so many women fearful of the future now? Unless she were the chattel of a man — who basically could do anything he wanted to and with her — it was difficult or impossible for a woman to get by on her own account in this country until quite recently. I was raised by a single mother in the 1950s, and I know very well how difficult it was for her. She was the victim of attempted rape and assault more than once, and nothing was done about it by authorities, because… “she was asking for it,” unmarried working woman that she was and all. But all that’s changed, hasn’t it? There are no impediments for women now, are there? The threats to end a woman’s access to abortion and reproductive health have been around for decades, and restrictions have been proliferating. Trump’s promise to overturn Roe v Wade may not come to pass, but it is more likely now than in the recent past. Efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and further restrict a woman’s access to reproductive health are means of control of women’s bodies and their lives. That’s just one aspect of constraints on women’s freedom that are only slated to increase in the New (Old)America about to be set in motion.

    Why are Latin American and Mexican immigrants and American citizens of Latin American origin fearful when only the criminals among them will be rounded up and sent to the camps before their expeditious deportation over The Wall? For most of the history of the territory seized from Mexico after the 1846-7 US war of aggression, the non-Anglo residents were treated as inferiors subject to any sort of theft and abuse the Americanos chose to practice. Conditions for some improved gradually over a century and a half since the American conquest, but for many, including particularly vulnerable recent immigrants driven north by the effects of NAFTA, they never have. Many have pointed out that conditions for farm workers in California — mostly of Latin American origin, and an unknown number undocumented — are worse now than they were before César started his marches and hunger strikes. And by what means is Authority going to tell who among them is the “deportable criminal?” It’s been bad enough under Obama’s deportation operations (quite bad indeed), and it’s about to get an order of magnitude worse. People who have been living in fear of a knock on the door for years, can now fear being out in public at all. They fear for their children perhaps more than for their own safety. It’s come to the point where any person who might be suspect/”deportable” (ie: brown) has to fear that knock or armored raid, because you never know when it might come.

    On and on, one group after another targeted. That’s how nations of fear work. And that’s how this nation has worked for much of its history. Many justly fear a reversion to what used to be, when America was “Great.”


  22. VietnamVet

    There is reality. There is truth. People are imperfect. There is earth and the sun. Science is a systematic way human beings developed to observe and record reality. We are born. We die.

    In between we should try to what is best for ourselves and our extended family. All the rest is an interplay between our biology, the environment and the culture we live in.

    Today, basically, 20% of the population is exploiting the other 80%. As long as this continues human society will be unstable cursed by plagues, famines and wars.

  23. nihil obstet

    We earthlings are not Vulcans, ruled by logic and truth. We’re cooperative creatures seeking to agree with the others in our community. That makes us very susceptible to propaganda, especially the propaganda that binds us to our own group. And that means we can be whipped up into a destructive partisanship too easily.

    We also learn how to deal with situations by watching others and imitating others. That’s what underlies the concept of the “role model”.

    For the past 35 years, every presidential campaign has been the most important campaign ever! The other party is evil and will destroy our way of life and everything moral in it. What’s important is not whether it’s true, but whether it’s effective — we know because every pundit has become a theater critic of the great campaign show, and we smart people display our smarts through the same kind of analysis. The dumb people spend all their time doing dumb things instead of having our exquisite insights.

    This is why I’m reluctant to blame most people for what has happened. I keep trying to remember that as I’ve been absolutely furious at the self-righteous blindness of the liberals. It’s been a long failure of leadership. I just hope this breakdown has opened a space for cooperativeness based on an accurate realism.

  24. S Brennan

    From today’s FBook entry:

    If this is true [see link], there should be hard evidence presented at the time of such an incredible accusation that would be used to justify WWIII.

    The USA has been involved in far too many wars where the NSA/CIA had “SLAM DUNK” evidence…only for citizens to find out later that millions died for lies. Lies published without a shred of evidence…I’m sick of the needless deaths and mayhem…put up HARD evidence of this act of war Admiral or shut up.

  25. V. Arnold

    Indeed, we are too many. Many times too many.
    We live on an island; this Island Earth.
    Its resources are not infinite, as any idiot should know.
    Anybody who thinks we are not too many already is a bloody fool.
    If one does nothing else, find out what sustainability is; understand sustainability and what it means in the context of living on an island.
    It has been said that the “sustainable” population of North America is 50 million, 50 million; think about that…

  26. V. Arnold

    I think it was Einstein who said: “The only thing more infinite than the universe is human stupidity.”
    Our ability to construct twisted philosophies to justify and rationalize our belief systems, are just stunning; if not fatally dangerous.
    Ian’s thread is a pretty good start on the way to clarity and reality…

  27. Hairhead

    I’m 59 and I’ve been a political junkie since eleven years old; and I have watched this happen, depressingly, over and over again.

    The latest example was just yesterday, when I posted on a politically-liberal blog. First, I said, the Trumpkins now have the ability to: , and I listed 13 horrible things. Second, I said, Hillary Clinton lost because she was just not a very good politician. She had known she was running since 2008; she was already rich, she didn’t need to make those $100,000+ speeches to Wall Street thugs, but she did anyway, much to her detriment. And after she had defeated Sanders, she openly sneered at Sanders’ supporters and alienated millions of potential voters, instead of gracefully lying and accepting their upcoming votes, which any competent candidate would have done. That sort of stuff, I pointed out, was just not being very good at being a politician.

    So a Clinton partisan posted immediately after, accusing me of whining, of supporting Trump, and demanding that I shut the fuck up.

    In other words, “Don’t bother me with reality, I want to go on doing the same thing, because I am RIGHT even though I continue to lose.”

  28. Hairhead

    I am also reminded of the H.L. Mencken quote: “Democracy is the idea that the Common People know what they want and ought to get it — good and hard.”

    And that is certainly going to happen.

  29. Hugh

    Excellent. Or as I say, never bet against the math and never take Mother Nature for granted.

    Trump is just the latest self-indulgent bus driver too important to notice the cliff he is piloting us toward. The only difference between him and his predecessors is that he is just that much closer to it than they were and he’s driving even faster.

    It is interesting that while we do not seem to have any climate change deniers here, we have been visited by overpopulation deniers. If you go to the international data at the US Census, you might find, for example, that a country like Nigeria had a population of 32 million in 1950 and is expected to have a population of 391 million in 2050. Or that Uganda over this same timeframe will go from 5.5 million to 93.5 million. Or that Mexico will go from 28.5 million to 150.5 million. You can assemble the data by country, region, and continent and its message is always the same: Uncontrolled and unsustainable growth. The idea that well, if we just had more equitable government and better planning everything would be honky-dory is just another example of the refusal to entertain inconvenient truths. First, even if we could do this worldwide, it would only delay the inevitable. Energy, water, arable land are finite resources. Habitats are fragile and damaged by both technological societies and developing economies. Population growth puts increasing pressure on all of these. Second, we in the US live overall in the largest, richest, and most powerful country on the planet and yet we see our society fraying and pulling apart. If we can’t get our act together, given the narrow window of some 15 years we are now in, how realistic is it to expect countries in the developing world to do what we aren’t. We have the capacity but not the will. They have neither the capacity nor the will.

    On a different but still mathematical subject, has anyone seen the outline of one of Trump’s most ballyhooed populist planks, infrastructure spending? It turns out it is a really, really lame public-private partnership scam. The idea would be for the federal government to put up 80% or $800 billion of a one trillion dollar plan, financed by borrowing, not taxes. The private sector would put up 20% or $200 billion. For this, they would get 82% in tax rebates, meaning that they would get a 20% share for an ultimate outlay of 3.6% or $36 billion. All this money would be for highways and bridges and get paid back by tolls and fees. Now if you look at tolls and fees as taxes by other means, it is real easy to see that these Trump taxes are all regressive. It is not just the ordinary Americans/users who would be hit directly by the tolls, but tolls on trucking would get passed along to consumers in general as a hidden sales tax. Further, a profit would be needed for the private side. So there would be a first rentier tax on the spending and then there is the second rentier tax of the interest on the money the government borrows. In other words, the financing of Trump’s infrastructure projects represents a transfer of wealth from the lower 80% to the top 5%. Oh, and Trump maintains the fiction that this spending would NOT increase the federal debt because it is “paid for”. As rigged for the rich as this program is the joke is that the private side is largely steering clear of it. When you have a tremendous casino like Wall Street running full blast, the rich can make a lot more money playing there than in some project that might tie up their funds for decades and at a much lower rate of return. That is there are still much better scams out there than the one Trump is offering them. But hey, Trump, populist, yeh!

  30. I gave links proving the facts. Agroecological science is proven. And I expressly said that the likes of VArnold and probably all internet commenter types are indeed overpopulated and need to go away. (He himself brags about having quit and run away, but he won’t then STFU as logically he should if he really attained the peace he claims. Sounds like bad faith and lack of self-confidence to me.)

    But white Westerners who want to take the focus off capitalism by fraudulently blaming brown people will never give up until their system collapses completely.

  31. V. Arnold

    November 17, 2016

    I’m not going anywhere.
    The last refuge of scoundrels, when losing arguments is ad hom and insults.
    You are a troll; go away…

  32. different clue

    The aphorism Ian Welsh offers us about living in truth or dying in lies reminds me of something economic historian ( or maybe historical economist) John L. King once wrote. ” He who is not surprised when the future comes, lives very close to the truth.”

    False hope is a death-courting lie to live in, for the reasons explained to us here. But premature despair is also a death-courting lie to live in because it depresses us from even bothering to try doing things which could be done to good collective survival effect. Is despair over our too-lateness to reverse the course of Big Heat Rising still premature? I think it may be. I guess I’d better explain my thinking in high-compression briefest.

    We know that water dissolves CO2 and that CO2 dissolves in water. I don’t know for a fact that water falling through air picks up some CO2 from the air it falls through, but it seems logical to me that it should. ( If someone can show me scientific proof that it does not, then my line of thinking is worthless. But I am waiting for someone to show me that.) And if it does, then re-condensing water vapor is cheaply ( for free) stripping CO2 out of the air with every falling raindrop or snowflake.

    So we have to do two things. We have to lower our rate of carbon skydumping below the rate at which falling precipitation does its carbon sky-stripping. And all the dissolved CO2 brought back to earth by falling rain/snow/fog/dew has to be captured by plant growth and kept stored either in plant-mass or in soil between all the plant roots. If organized mankind all over the earth can accelerate the rate of plant-growth and soil recarbonization over millions of square miles of land, then we can re-fill the soil-carbon-pool with the plant-trapped and plant-held sky carbon washed down out of the sky for free every time it rains. And as we do that, if we can lower our rate of carbon skydumping below the rate of land-and-soil bio-sequestration of carbon through managed-accelerated plant growth, we can re-reduce the skycarbon load and de-warm the global.

    I believe we still “can” do these things. The barriers are human/social/political/etc., not scientific or technological or eco-systemic. But I accept that if the human barriers are too much to overcome, then acceptance of Runaway Big Heat Rising will be living in reality. But accepting that as being “too late to change” means accepting a future where a hundred million mexicans and 200 million americans all move north to beat the heat. Some will stop at the northern tier of the US, but most will keep moving into Canada. It will be just like the Volkswanderungs of the Late Roman Empire days. Is it really too late change that future “if all the right things are done”, even in theory?

  33. different clue

    and as to commenter Russ . . .

    Pwog , Weft and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

  34. Hugh

    Problem is different clue that a lot of this CO2 is washing into the oceans and acidifying them.

  35. V. Arnold

    @ DC
    “Is it really too late change that future “if all the right things are done”, even in theory?”

    Yes. There is just too damn much already “in the pipeline” (so-to-speak). David Suzuki said that directly in the late 80’s; and look at where we are today; still playing climate games and doing nothing, in fact, to mitigate the problem.
    This fits perfectly with Ian’s thread title; Living in the Truth Or Dying In Lies.
    Those of us living in truth accept the inevitable and find meaningful things to fill our lives; enjoying every day we get.
    I very much liked your John L. King quote. ” He who is not surprised when the future comes, lives very close to the truth.”
    Despair over an election outcome exhibited by so many is ample evidence of a society gone off the rails. I want and take no part in such a society; and geography has nothing to do with it; it’s a state of being.

  36. I’m going to dissent from this post and suggest that the thinking, well-intentioned as it is, is precisely the thing that has made progressives (or whatever you want to call them) maximally ineffective and self-defeating, particularly in the modern world with global problems.

    No one expects international agreements like the Paris accords literally to be kept, in the sense that very few accords which are intended to impose costs on nation-states are intended to be literally kept, or ever are, except when they match the parochial interests of particularly important nation states. That is because nation-states are still, despite everything, sovereign — they retain the monopoly of violence, and there is no real international enforcement of anything except the individual acts of nation-states, which are always conditioned on the national interest.

    In a world of sovereign nation-states, international politics on things of global import proceed by nods of acknowledgement, and those nods of acknowledgement often take the form of statements about aspirational goals. Only through repeated assertion of these nods of acknowledgement is (slow) progress ever made on any global issue, as national interests can only be subtly nudged in the direction of the political impetus. The material response is always going to lag the political impetus by a few hundred kilometers. That lag itself is going to be very fragile to forces that would cancel or retract that political impetus. Consequently, even if the targets are fictional, maintain that fiction is essential to any progress being made at all.

    The only resolution to this is effectively global governance and the abolition of sovereign nation-states. Because that’s the only way to enforce a target on regions for global goals. This is where the statist-nationalist-racist right and the libertarian right dovetail: right on the issue of climate change and the global environment. This is why global warming skepticism is strongest in these movements, and how these political movements combined to give Trump power, and how anti-environmentalists are going to dismantle the Trump EPA. This is why retracting the Paris accords is of a very high priority for them, because the nod of acknowledgement is the political impetus in the long game of aligning the interests of nation-states, and if you believe that nation-states are natural kinds, and that tribal predation is the main mode of collective human interaction, then that will be your first priority.

    Now I know what you’re going to say: if mostly-aspirational unkept Paris targets are all we’ve got, then billions are going to die anyway. And that’s probably right. So it’s a choice of what and how much we’re going to salvage, barring an Earth-to-Venus conversion scenario. And that is going to depend either on the eventual abolition of the nation-state (so that environmentalism can be enforced worldwide) or through slow, messy, seemingly-hypocritical international nod-of-acknowledgement politics like the Paris accords.

    That is why the retraction of the Paris accords is going to be a disaster on its own, unless it galvanizes a counter-reaction in the rest of the world, which is our only hope. The way you handle “lies” and “truth” in this post, and the way many of your commenters relate to the concepts, unfortunately leads to a conclusion entirely opposite to the place you started from: either live in lies, or die in truth.

  37. V. Arnold

    November 17, 2016

    Ah, the Sophist Mandos, is going to set all aright.
    The Paris Accord is a sham, a bad feel good joke.

    The world has already well proved that a one world government is not possible at this time.
    This (the world) is going to end badly because of a world gone insane with globalism that just cannot work; not now and certainly not tomorrow.
    We’re already skirting around WWIII with Russia; and that danger is not past.
    Presidents no longer determine events; people we do not know, make decisions way beyond their pay grade.
    And we ultimately pay the consequences with our lives.
    Allegiance to a government, any government, is the first step to enslavement…

  38. The Paris Accord is a sham, a bad feel good joke.

    Emotions have material effects. “The feel good jokes” are all we’ve got.

    The world has already well proved that a one world government is not possible at this time.

    Yes, that was my point. Therefore, nod-of-acknowledgement politics is the topmost form of cooperation we have. It’s not a satisfying thread, but it’s the thread there is, and it’s not nothing.

    This (the world) is going to end badly because of a world gone insane with globalism that just cannot work; not now and certainly not tomorrow.

    Globalism cannot be retracted, now that we know how to build nuclear weapons and coal-fired power plants. We have a choice between different flavours of globalization. Even if 90% of the world retracted into some form of idyllic localism after a 3-billion human dieoff, if even 10% of the world decides to dig coal to give themselves a better short-term life, it’s game over all over again.

    Humans have what we might call now a “globalization instinct”, which is what I’m going to name the countervailing force against what people claim is a “tribal instinct”. Finding the right emotional combination of “globalization instinct” and “tribal instinct” is the key to human survival. Epistemology is still important — in its proper place.

    We’re already skirting around WWIII with Russia; and that danger is not past.
    Presidents no longer determine events; people we do not know, make decisions way beyond their pay grade.

    I thought Trump was supposed to solve this problem.

    Allegiance to a government, any government, is the first step to enslavement…

    I agree. Then the nation-state (including the small city-state version) cannot survive, because it depends on governmental allegiance.

  39. Mandos makes some interesting points … which dovetails with another analysis.
    Many are not aware of the secret military alliance which survives WW II. Basically, intel sharing with specific areas of responsibility was carrved up between Britain, the USA, and Canada. They and the Commonwealth and now NATO are in effect a bloc controlling the UN on terms inherited from the Potsdam Conference where FDR set the terms for control of the postwar world as a condition of Lend Lease.
    The IPCC – a UN bureaucracy – says on its website that it collates scientific papers. This is done under the assumption that man has wrecked the climate and leads directly to position papers which set government policies. The \’science\’ is limited by lack of research outside parameters, directly giving rise to \’consensus\’ as nothing else is financed. In fact, dissent is punished : scholars and scientists need funding like everyone else. Media control simplifies the job of biased reporting. The BBC even had censorship of any reports indicating lack of certainty.
    That\’s a pretty good job of obscuring the fact that there has not been any progress from the shaman reading entrails when it comes to forecasting the future. It has not happened. There is no data to report.
    Meteorologists and weathermen noting this in their TV programs were censored. The originator of the Weather Network continues his open scorn, as do senior and retired NASA scientists and groupings of disagreeing PhDs.
    Education has long been affected by Julian Huxley\’s UNESCO, which sets \’standards\’ for educational programs globally. That means content is circumscribed. If you think global governance means progress in reining in corporate control ( rather than expediting it ) then you might have a look at YouTube videos describing the hatchet job made to the \’education\’ system in a series around \’The Dumbing Down\’ reports by Charlotte Iserbyt : institutional punishment of students to discourage learning and dysfunctional techniques being curricula to drive home the message.
    Military propaganda cannot ignore the potential for driving panic as a method of controlling the energy markets. It isn\’t just the tax that is as stake, but removing national and local opposition to control of land use by making it subject to international control. The culprits ? Those who control the military.
    Conspiracy theory ? Go to Transcend Media and read the sickening report on the NPT TRAP which illustrates perfectly the depths of cynical deception and institutional murder ( such as the Secret Behind the Sanctions ) current in our world.
    Reflect on the idea that the perpetrators of war support this initiative – a greater destroyer of numbers of humanity and the planetary ecology should not be imagined. The UN Security Council is, after all, controlled by nuclear armed nations. Such public servants and altruists are a horror far outmatching \’what ifs\’ of climate.
    Do they lie as a matter of policy ? The US and UK are masters of propaganda. Look up \”Leading to War\’ for an education in deception.

  40. Hugh

    The first yearly meeting of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (The treaty for the UNFCCC was negotiated in Rio in 1992.) took place in 1995 in Berlin. It is referred to as COP1 (Conference of the Parties). The Kyoto Protocol was COP3 in 1997. COP11 took place in Montreal in 2005. It is also designated as CMP1, that is the first conference of the Meeting of the Parties since Kyoto. COP15/CMP5 you will remember was the meeting in Copenhagen in 2009 whose agreement the newly minted American President Barack Obama spiked. The Paris Agreement from COP21/CMP11 came into force a few days ago on November 4, 2016. It pledges to keep the increase in global average temperature to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius and below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. It does this, by get this, letting each country in the world determine on its own its contribution toward this goal. I mean seriously what could go wrong? Other than UNEP (the UN Environment Program) estimates that the Paris framework will result in a temperature rise of 3 degrees Celsius. By the way, this year’s (2016) conference will wind up tomorrow on November 18, 2016 in Marrakech. It is designated as COP22/CMP12/CMA1 with CMA equaling “Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Paris Agreement”.

    So let’s be real clear, this is a very unserious process which has already been going on 24 years and aside from some impressively impenetrable bureaucratic gobbledygook has accomplished virtually nothing. Meanwhile 15 of the 16 hottest years have occurred since 2000 with 2016 shaping up to being the hottest to date. And as I keep saying we have only until 2030 before it is game over if we don’t have a sustainable societal model up and running in the US with regard to both climate change and population. As for large parts of Africa and Asia, I am afraid it is already too late.

  41. someofparts

    I believe Ian has sometimes noted that what is moral often lines up with what works, in a practical sense.

    When people fret about population control it always reminds me that making sure women have the power to control our own fertility is the best way to do that.

  42. V. Arnoldmv

    @ Hugh

    2030? Wrong as two left shoes!
    It’s over, done, finished. Finished today; now!
    You consistantly ignore my comments and I find that curious. But not unexpected given your agenda.
    By all means, contiue to do so. But you are misinformed re: climate time line by people who have been following tis far longer than you.

  43. V. Arnold

    Ugh, my above comment was from my mobile, which is shit, so my posting wrought with errors, but my message is to the point.. The internet here is shit, but all I’ve got.
    But Hugh is operating from lala land and far to reasonable given the circumstances.
    But then he reflects the status quo, who fancy themselves as uber informed and ahead of the pack.
    Well, they’ll be sucking hind tit very soon…

  44. @varnold, the self-confessed nihilist sociopath:

    Yes indeed, from your point of view I am a troll, just as you are from mine.

    And although I probably will gratify you by detaching from this blog, I will leave you with the parting advice that humanity isn’t going to listen to elitist racists like you when you tell them that they need to check their reproduction on account of the concerns of white Western squatters like you. It’s your system which assaults them and tries to destroy their minds by telling them there’s no alternative.

    Fuck you, and I wish you a good rotting in the rathole you ran off too. Jesus gave me a mission, so I don’t have your options, asshole.

  45. @different clue,

    Are you ever going to get a clue different from what the corporate media tells you? News flash, it’s all lies.

  46. It isn’t Trump who frightens me. His cabinet appointments; the petit bourgeois ideologues whom the appointed bring into America’s bureaucracy; the judges and teachers and endowments to ‘christian’ universities; and the general encouragement to similar right-wing movements which Trump’s ‘victory’ provides — these frighten me.

    On a planet experiencing climate change with more impact each season, limited resources and rising global population growth, Trump’s rise in in America (with the LePens, Straches and Petrys anxious to have their turn) makes more serious development of nationalistic and fascist governments possible.

    Trump and people like him aren’t the last stop; they’re the Prologue, and that is what frightens me.

  47. Peter


    Guru Ian offered some therapy earlier to help the pants-wetting snowflakes through these troubling times. You don’t even have a Nader to pillory this time and the voting machines were mostly controlled by Warren Buffet. Add to that that most of the republican party was openly anti-Trump and your conspiracy leaks like a sieve.

    You might decorate yourself with safety-pins and walk through a nearby minority area to show those good folks that Clintonite Whitey is still protecting them from the bad white folks.

  48. Lisa

    Amazing how the hostility comes out “pants-wetting snowflakes”…really, how childish?

    But we are seeing a lot of that. Naturally it is (US after all) bullying types of behaviour, against Asians, pick on a small Asian girl. Hate Muslims, pick on Muslim women. Hate gay men, pick on a 75 year old (these are all real stories by the way).

    Brave white ‘men’ doing this. The doors have been opened to those bullies, cowards, full of hostility. Full of anger at whatever and whoever looking for an excuse, any excuse, to lash out…not at anyone that can fight back of course, that would be too dangerous.

  49. MojaveWolf

    @Ghostwheel, VArnold & Hugh — Thank you all for pointing out that overpopulation not only goes hand in hand with climate change but is a problem all on its own (more on this later).

    To everyone re: climate change time table–I honestly don’t know when we reach which tipping point or how many have been reached already, and I get how most of us can’t do anything adequate day to day, but as long as we’re still breathing we have to put pressure on those people WITH the power to do something to at least try. As I said in a discussion on a somewhat right wing site when someone thought I believed we were already doomed:

    “even if all the models showed we WERE past a tipping point we have to try and do something. I mean, if you’re trapped in a room with no weapon and three crazy cannibals are coming down the hall with a chainsaw, and all three are bigger, faster and stronger than you and very proficient in the art of chainsaw fighting, and all available models showed a less than one in ten million chance of survival, what do you? (or, heck, let’s say they are superhuman cannibals with no known weaknesses, and all models, show a zero % chance of survival) I don’t want to get eaten, so I fight. If you try, something good might happen. If you don’t, you get to be cannibal fodder. Same with global warming. I don’t want everything I love about this world to die, so even if we get past whatever I think the tipping point is, that doesn’t really change how I approach it. (for examples of when this approach actually worked, see the limping Kurt Schilling hit a homer for the Dodgers against the A’s back in–80-something; two out, two strikes, 9th inning, could barely walk, fouled the ball off again and again and finally knocked it out of the park; the 2004 miracle comeback for the Red Sox, that was 9th inning, two outs, two strikes, down 3-0 in the series and we all know how that went; greatest game I’ve ever seen–it looked like there was no point in trying because not only did they appear beaten, but even if they pulled off this game they had to win 3 more in a row and no one had ever done it, and most recently, google “phil healy michelle flynn depths of hell”. It was an Irish women’s 4×400 race, and healy wasn’t even in the picture at the final handoff, I think over 100 meterss behind w/400 to go; she still wasn’t even in the picture as the top four runners entered the final turn w/200 to go, and one of those top 4 was Flynn, who had already qualified for the Irish Olympic team, and didn’t show up on camera until they turned for home. Since I’m writing about this, you can probably guess how it ends up; “from the depths of hell” was how the announcer described Healy’s first appearance as possibly in striking distance of the top 4). So yeah, we’re in a death spiral at the moment, but what the heck. Let’s get out of it.”

    To everyone who thinks acknowledging human overpopulation as a threat to the biosphere is somehow racist:

    I cannot tell you how frustrated I get with all the people on the left who keep insisting that all environmental problems are caused purely by modern Western lifestyles, and if we could just go back to the good old days of when far fewer humans managed to wipe out species and ecosystems in their locale, everyone alive today–or even a few billion more!–could all live just fine in an area the size of India, Indonesia, or Texas (I’ve seen all three of these mentioned), and the world could hold twice as many people as present day just fine. I will spare you my prolonged scream at the all the many, many different levels of wrong here.

    Have you been to or even studied SE Asia from afar? It is overpopulated and overcrowded NOW. Environmental devastation from human overpopulation goes on there NOW. Ask people in India or Indonesia if they think they’d be just dandy with the whole rest of the world moving there. Ask people in Texas, for that matter.

    Have you ever noticed all the extra violence and unhappiness that too many people crowded together seem to lead to? Have you noticed the sinkholes from depletion of water tables that are opening up all over the place even in the US now, or wondered what happens to the world food supply when it’s no longer possible to deplete various already-depleted sources for California agriculture (most people have no idea how much food comes from here, or how unsustainable current practices are(yes, hydroponics and vat grown fungus yay! but … ), or how we’re supposed to replenish ocean stocks with all the extra people, or what we’re supposed to do with all the garbage, or …. none of these problems will be solved simply by lower carbon footprint. And unless we transition our energy grid and transportation system off fossil fuels, you still need a carbon footprint to grow and transport food water, etc. for the people here now, and adding more will not make it easier.

    Yes, there’s stuff we can do to mitigate ALL of this, but please read either of a couple of books entitled The Sixth Extinction. You will notice how many of the extinctions caused by humans did not require modern day western lifestyles, or even predated their existence. (lots of good sources for this, but both these books are well-written and relatively quick reads). More of us will not help matters. Check out the state of lemurs in Madagascar now, for one really prime example of this.

  50. MojaveWolf

    @XFR, someofparts & nihil obstet — To your very different points–yes!

  51. V. Arnold

    November 18, 2016

    Imo, based on the people I trust (David Suzuki for one) we passed a major tipping point decades ago.
    The planet can heal itself, but not with us as a dominate species, behaving as we are. I very much like the Gaia Hypothesis by James Lovelock and co-developed by the microbiologist Lynn Margulis.
    And remember the 50 million population as the sustainable population of North America. The importance of that figure is to give scale to our present realities world wide.
    I have no advice to offer; it’s up to each to self educate and with information comes answers and solutions. Unfortuneately the solutions have not been put in place, so; all that remains, Imo, is/are solutions for each individual or family.
    I’m afraid that’s the best I can offer.

  52. Ché Pasa

    @V. Arnold, et al.

    1) I agree that the climate change tipping point was long ago reached (probably in the ’80’s) and there is no stalling or reversing it.

    2) It is simply false that “nothing has been done” about it. What has been done, what is being done, and what will be done cannot stall or reverse what is to come, but it may have a cumulative mitigating effect somewhere down the road — essentially the best we could hope for under the circumstances.

    3) White people have been freaking out about the overpopulation problem — due to “those people’s constant breeding” — for my entire (longish) lifetime, they were doing it long before I was born, and they continue to do so. It’s ALWAYS about “those people” (brown and black) breeding “too much,” never is it about white folks hogging too many resources and polluting with abandon.

    This is obvious as sin, and it’s repeated right here in this thread. Is it any wonder people on the other side of this freak out think the Euro-Americans are full of self-serving crap? And those on the other side of the freak out won’t do what they are being commanded to do by the overpopulation gurus.

    Which is not to say they are doing nothing. They are doing what they can under very difficult circumstances. But as the Chinese discovered long ago, controlling population growth is a complex and almost intractable problem even with draconian policies to limit breeding. The best way to do it, barring the reimposition of slaughters and famines which were the favored tactics of the western colonial era, is to raise overall living standards and to provide women with the tools and tactics to control their own reproduction. It’s not some mystery yet to be solved.

  53. V. Arnold

    @ Ché Pasa
    November 18, 2016

    When I speak about population growth; I have never used perjoratives about “those People”, ever.
    Population is all encompassing and that is precisely who/what I’m addressing.
    There are too fucking many people on this island earth for sustainability regardless of advancements in climate change mitigation.
    That is meaningless with out a drastically reduced population of humans; all humans, regardless of color, religion, or ethnicity.
    Hell, I’m not married to a Caucasian or living in a “white” country, the gods be thanked.
    And, I did not think you were accusing me; I just wanted to be unmistakably clear about that.
    While I agree with your solution (raising living standards) that is obviously not even on the table.
    These are precisely the reasons I’m so pessimistic. Population reduction will occur, one way or the other; choices will not be available.
    I feel for you; the U.S. is a particularly fucked up country and culture, which I long ago shunned.

  54. Ron Showalter

    I love how the snarky crap of fascist fanbois is soon overtaken by the news from the Trump admin:

    Jeffrey Session as AG. (Clue: really hates black people)

    Flynn as NSA (Clue: really hates Muslims)

    Hahah, what a funny joke, huh? I guess we should have taken the Trumpistas at their word when they told us that it wasn’t going to be a big deal since white folks are just sooo enlightened and they weren’t really racist nutters, huh?


    My question is how long will sites that purport themselves to be savvy and “kewel” keep clinging to their Trump love until they realize they look like a bunch of knuckle-dragging idiots?

    MoA? 100% Trump normalization
    Naked Capitalism: 100% Trump normalization
    The Saker: 100% Trump normalization

    I was wondering if Ian or someone might write a little post about how the post-Bernie nihilistic support for Trump on the “left” someone got so completely morphed into legitimate Trump-love?

    I thought the “left’s” support for Trump was so that the “system/Empire could burn down” but all I see now is Trump-love as far as the eye can see.

    Funny how that worked, huh? It’s almost like people were played, huh?

  55. V. Arnold

    Ron Showalter
    November 18, 2016

    Calm down; you’re way out of bounds.
    MoA is not a pro-Trump site; just anti Clinton fascisti-economic hegemony oligarchs.
    Naked Capitalism? Who cares what they think. They’re a mere ink-stain on the blotter of the internet.
    The Saker? Well, he’s Russia; what the hell do you expect? Clinton was a rabid Russophobe; Trump looks pretty good by comparison, no?
    Calm down, you’re unhinged and that’s not good for your health…

  56. Ron Showalter

    Way out of bounds?

    Spoken like a true defender of the new Trump campaign “STFU!”.

    What you and all of the others seem to be missing – not that it’s much of a surprise coming from the fake left – is that being against HRC does NOT mean that you have to give Trump or anyone who tries to normalize him a freaking chance or is that concept to difficult for you and others to understand?

    If we want to end/change the system then you have to NOT allow the soft-soap of propaganda to ameliorate your positions – e.g., NC, MoA, the Saker, etc etc.

    If we are going to change things then that means not accepting HRC et al AND ALSO not accepting Trump. Understand?

    Probably not.

  57. Ron Showalter

    Again, for the slow:

    Normalizing Trump IS INDEED being pro-Trump b/c you are implicitly allowing the system to regain its footing and carry on.

    Call to “wait and see” and other such rubbish only give TPTB breathing space to create the new narratives that they are going to pour into your ears.

    Get it?

  58. realitychecker

    @ Ron Showalter

    Ah, poor Ron. Your words might ring so much truer if you had not always been so rabidly pro-Clinton and so devoted to Democrap talking points.

    Maybe this: Trump ain’t ideal, but he was the only one allowed to get to the point where we could vote for someone who would derail the crazy train the PC and neo-lib types have been pushing in recent decades.

    Some pushback was required for the sake of all our sanity–we will have to wait and see how this imperfect lever back toward balance works out. It will look messy, because such a dynamic can never be effected with scalpel-like precision.

    And I say this as someone who has always been a strong progressive left supporter, but even so, I can see where we allowed too much crazy into our rhetoric. Thinking persons can only tolerate so much cognitive dissonance, no matter in which direction those biases are pushing. At some point, one must insist on accuracy.

    Accuracy rules.

  59. Ron Showalter

    Shorter reality checker:

    I love Trump. Let’s normalize him for the sake of (insert pabulum here).

  60. Ché Pasa

    @V. Arnold

    I’ve never thought your population statements aligned with the white-folk freak out over it. I expect you’re close to right about the “natural” carrying capacity of North America, and we could extrapolate that to the rest of the globe and come up with a maximum carrying capacity of about a billion, give or take. But surprisingly enough, there are 7 plus billion of us and still growing, and but for a widespread deterioration of living standards for the masses and isolated famines (like in Yemen) caused by imperialist interference, 7 billion + seems to be a manageable number. Anyone care for 8?

    Despite deteriorating living standards for many, by the way, in much of the world current living standards are vast improvements over those imposed on the common people by the British Empire, as one example.

    As for “getting out” I lived in California for most of my life, and as soon as I had the opportunity I got out of there for the wide open spaces of New Mexico, often considered a “foreign country” by other Americans. For me, leaving the US was never an option. New Mexico is about as close to “not US” as I could get.

  61. Ron Showalter

    And I was never a pro-HRC supporter but don’t let the Donald’s Sphincter-Colored glasses color your perceptions.

    Oh, that’s right, you’re one of those who took my criticism of Bernie-bros to heart, huh?

    Or was it that I – and every single other pollster – was incorrect in my election predictions due to the theft of yet another election?

    Because I believed – correctly – that not every pollster/Vegas oddsman could be wrong, I was basing my comments on those data.

    Oh well, the Spectacle lives on.

  62. BlizzardOfOz

    Heads buried deep in the sand:

    * Progs are still babbling about not wanting to “normalize” Trump. He’s the President-elect.
    * Progs want to ban “fake news”. Republicans control the entire government and (soon) SCOTUS.

    Some good articles putting the prog/media psychic break into context:

    * Jared Taylor explains how the prog media tried to meme a fake reality into existence, and somehow convinced only themselves.
    * Scott Alexander makes the case that Trump is entirely conventional on [insert CultMarx litany of -ists and -phobias].

  63. Ron Showalter

    Yeah, Trump’s new AG was denied a judgeship b/c he was deemed too racist.

    But I guess that’s just people making sh!te up, right?

    Or is this fake new meme meant to even FURTHER insulate the new Trump-fanbois from any discernment of reality.

    BTW, the new CIA head and NSA both just HATE themselves some Iran deal.

    Why, which groups in the US also really hate Iran? I thought Trump his foreign policy was going to be sensible?

    I’m sure antagonizing/destabilizing Iran will make us fast friends w/ the Russians, huh?

    Luckily we narrowly missed living in the T2 post-apocalyptic world that HRC was guaranteed to bring, right? Talk about bedwetters. I seem to remember a sonic-tsunami of bedwetting fear mewling about how HRC was about to drop the bomb on Russia.

    Pwotect us fwom the scawy wady, Poppa Twump!! Pwease!!!!

    Tell us some more stories, Uncle Bootlicker!!

  64. nihil obstet

    Let’s verbally abuse each other a little more. That’ll teach Donald Trump a lesson!

  65. realitychecker


    Ron Showalter, who has always been an idiot, is still an idiot.

    (But at least he is sure that he is not part of the problem.)

    As to Sessions, remember, Ron, everyone who is not black is automatically a racist, whereas no black person can ever be a racist. So, if we want a non-racist AG, it has to be a black person, right? (See where the crazy rhetoric gets you?)

    LMAO at your distress and hysterics.

  66. Ron Showalter

    Man, that is some fast-acting kool-aid!!!

    Why, it’s only been just a little over a week since Trump stole the election yet we’ve already been treated to a plethora of instances displaying this ingenious line of reasoning:

    If you’re white, you now somehow can no longer be a racist b/c (fill in some instance of puke-worthy buffoonery here).

    And, boy and girls, it doesn’t end with racism as the the sexist/sexual predator-in-Chief has ably demonstrated!!!!

    Yup, that’s right, now if you have a demonstrated/recorded past of being racist, being sexist or guilty of sexual assault you are miraculously absolved of said behavior b/c (Trump?)

    Holy eff.

  67. different clue


    The KKK ( Klinton Koolaid Kult) has tens of millions of members. They will never self-analyse.
    They will never learn . . . anything. They will keep searching for a path to The Clinton Restoration.

    If such a Clinton voter accuses a non-Clinton voter of this or that, all one can really reply is
    ” If the Democrats had wanted my vote, they would have given me a candidate who deserved it.”

  68. MojaveWolf

    @Che Pasa: The best way to (stop or reverse population growth) is to raise overall living standards and to provide women with the tools and tactics to control their own reproduction.

    On this we agree. I have said this before, in many different places.

    But I only got to this part (or the part about moving to New Mexico, which is awesome, because beautiful state!) because I like to see what different people think, even those I don’t take seriously (on this, I agree w/Mark from Ireland’s comment above). And I’m not taking you seriously anymore.

    Because the following statement is just garbage, and I’ve gotten so sick of people throwing either gross delusion or deliberate lies like this around that I’m done giving them extra chances once they say it:

    It’s ALWAYS about “those people” (brown and black) breeding “too much,” never is it about white folks hogging too many resources and polluting with abandon.

    I’ve seen a LOT of people talk about this in recent years, almost all of them on the left and almost none of them in the slightest racist; pretty much all of them want fewer people *period* and don’t care where the fewer people come from.

    We do need to work on both, population and resource consumption, and again, I haven’t seen anyone saying we’re overpopulated or in danger of being overpopulated even suggest that we aren’t also overconsuming our resources.

    Nothing about “those people” is in the text, the subtext, or has anything to do with the text, nor is such reasonably inferrable.

    I’ve also seen a LOT of people on the left make the same assertion that you just did, in complete ignorance and/or delusional blindness to the world around them. I’m sorry, but if you think we don’t have too many people in the world and efforts to slow down population growth are due to evil white racism, then you are just as much as threat to the world’s continued existence as the dumbasses who wanted a contained war with Russia.

    At this point, I’m done giving a good faith benefit of the doubt to people who make statements like yours. You know it’s not what anyone was even contemplating in this thread so bringing it up is either some sort of pointless virtue signalling or an effort to distract from the issue .

    Either you haven’t investigated this issue at all or you are too blind to look around if you think 7 billion is working out reasonably well. We are using up the planet’s resources at an unsustainable rate.Species are going extinct everywhere from a multiplicity of causes. I happen to like all the birds and the bees and the flowers and the trees and the beasts of the land and all the little fishies in the deep blue see, and I would like to see the lot of them survive. Even if you are the sort of scumbag (and I’m not saying you are, but there are plenty such) who just cares about humans, it’s kind of unpredictable what the decimation of our food change and the entire web of our ecosystem will do to our continued survival.

  69. MojaveWolf

    @VArnold — Yeah, I take your point, and agree with you. As far as climate catastrophe goes, that’s already beyond stopping.

    For that matter, I would argue it has already started–see coral reefs as an obvious example of what’s already happening; from the point of view of the reefs, the end is nigh, if not already here.

    I just want to stop the entire world from going the way of the great barrier reefs.

    Fully on board w/having read Lovelock and the Gaia hypothesis, even if I disagree w/his proposed solutions (I think he’s unfair to wind and doesn’t even seriously consider solar, and have wondered if he’s on the nuclear payroll or if he’s just *that* (understandably, coz it is a tragedy) upset about all the birds killed by the wind turbines.

    Wish very much to avoid the heat death of the planet, those flammable methane atmosphere scenarios, or simply a world with an ocean populated primarily by jellyfish (and if that happened, what would the jellyfish eat?). So whatever the tipping points look like, don’t want the world to go gentle into that good night, but successfully rage against the dying of the light (and all the nocturnal animals too!)

  70. MojaveWolf

    @Che Pasa one more time: You said: I expect you’re close to right about the “natural” carrying capacity of North America, and we could extrapolate that to the rest of the globe and come up with a maximum carrying capacity of about a billion, give or take.

    If you think the various comments about overpopulation are correct, then why did your previous post on the subject talk about how it was all white bigots saying this? I thought about your second comment a second, went back and looked, and now I’m wondering if you just like insulting people for the hell of it. Or just doing your part to help build the identity politics coffin?

  71. Ché Pasa

    @M. Wolf

    I appreciate your dispute with my point of view, thanks. Views do differ on these matters. However, I can only guess you didn’t read, say, Hugh’s post above. Here let me quote it for you:

    It is interesting that while we do not seem to have any climate change deniers here, we have been visited by overpopulation deniers. If you go to the international data at the US Census, you might find, for example, that a country like Nigeria had a population of 32 million in 1950 and is expected to have a population of 391 million in 2050. Or that Uganda over this same timeframe will go from 5.5 million to 93.5 million. Or that Mexico will go from 28.5 million to 150.5 million. You can assemble the data by country, region, and continent and its message is always the same: Uncontrolled and unsustainable growth.

    Notice, every one of his cited countries is populated largely by black or brown folks. Limiting discussion to the failure of black/brown people to control their population is extremely common among those who freak out about overpopulation, and if you’re not aware of it, I can’t take you seriously.

    It’s simply false that “those people” are doing nothing to control population growth, and the fact is if the living standards in those and many other countries were raised sufficiently, population growth would decline. But various factors, including the extractions of the IMF and global capitalists, civil wars often engineered and conducted by mercenaries for profit, and endemic corruption among others ensure that living standards for the masses cannot rise sufficiently or at all.

    Yet typically it is all on them to reduce their population because there are just too, too many of them.

    So tell me, Wolf, how do you want them to do this? What exactly do you think they should do? And how quickly?

    The “natural carrying capacity” argument has to do with maximum population likely without the availability of advanced technology. V. Arnold may well see it differently, but that’s the foundation of the argument I’ve seen for decades.

    It’s too bad if your feelings were hurt. If you spent even a moment considering how those who are being told over and over again that there are too many of them something they’ve been hearing for centuries, you’d understand why they think those who say so are full of crap.

    Kindest regards…


  72. Peter


    The US population has increased by more than 50% since 1970, 125 million people. while the Americas have mirrored Africa in population and growth during that time. The problem is that there is a divergence predicted that will take the Africa’s population to 4 billion by 2100 equaling Asia’s population at the same time that the America’s population will have stabilized near where it is today at about one billion and Asia’s has started to fall.

    A lot can happen in 85 years and this predicted African growth will cause extreme problems there that technology won’t be able to address. This is predicted but today US consumers use about five times the resources as much of the world’s population use and we generated most of the GW causing carbon now in the atmosphere so we, western civilization, are the problem.

  73. MojaveWolf

    @CP– Okay then. You basically agree that we have too many people in the world, but because it is possible to willfully misconstrue something someone said in order to support an accusation of bigotry, you feel compelled to do so. And on top of that you want to try and start a pointless insult battle in which you can make further willful misconstructions, or maybe just get attention for yourself. Got it.

    I apologize to the entire world for responding to your first comment, and to everyone who wasted their time reading what followed.

  74. Ché Pasa

    @MW and P

    You make my point for me. Thanks.

    Both of you appear to lack something called empathy, as you appear to be unable to see things from the point of view of the Other. In the context of the question it is a matter of placing pretty much the entire burden of population control (like climate change mitigation) on those least able to do much about it in the short term.

    Is it bigotry? That’s your word MW, not mine. I’d say it’s essentially denial and an offloading of responsibility. The history of this sort of thing is a big reason why progress on these issues and many others is so often stalled. The burden cannot be placed solely or primarily on those least able to carry the load, but that’s what many population control and climate change mitigation advocates have wanted and tried to do. Because there are just too many of “them.” And they chop down forests and burn the wood and their poop pollutes the rivers, and they’ve got to be made to stop it. By force if they won’t do it voluntarily.

    The Malthusian population growth projections were long ago discredited, btw. Population growth is never a straight line.

    The best way to deal with population growth and climate change mitigation is through raising living standards and by providing women with the tools and tactics to control their own reproduction. Both are tried and true and successful methods, and they can work fairly quickly if they aren’t abandoned mid-stream, which is essentially what happened with the ideological victories of neoliberalism and neoconservativism — which rely on “growth”, exploitation of people and resources, and use of force to control inevitable rebellions for their temporary success.

  75. Ché Pasa

    @MW and P

    You make my point for me. Thanks.

    Both of you appear to lack something called empathy, as you appear to be unable to see things from the point of view of the Other. In the context of the question it is a matter of placing pretty much the entire burden of population control (like climate change mitigation) on those least able to do much about it in the short term.

    Is it bigotry? That’s your word MW, not mine. I’d say it’s essentially denial and an offloading of responsibility. The history of this sort of thing is a big reason why progress on these issues and many others is so often stalled. The burden cannot be placed solely or primarily on those least able to carry the load, but that’s what many population control and climate change mitigation advocates have wanted and tried to do. Because there are just too many of “them.” And they chop down forests and burn the wood and their poop pollutes the rivers, and they’ve got to be made to stop it. By force if they won’t do it voluntarily.

    The Malthusian population growth projections were long ago discredited, btw. Population growth is never a straight line.

    The best way to deal with population growth and climate change mitigation is through raising living standards and by providing women with the tools and tactics to control their own reproduction. Both are tried and true and successful methods, and they can work fairly quickly if they aren’t abandoned mid-stream, which is essentially what happened with the ideological victories of neoliberalism and neoconservativism — which rely on “growth”, exploitation of people and resources, and use of force to control inevitable rebellions for their temporary success.

  76. V. Arnold

    @ Ché Pasa
    November 19, 2016

    Very good and point on post.
    Empathy, the missing link to understanding other, as you say.
    Without empathy all reason towards life is lost.
    I’ll leave it there…

  77. MojaveWolf

    @CP — The best way to deal with population growth and climate change mitigation is through raising living standards and by providing women with the tools and tactics to control their own reproduction. Both are tried and true and successful methods

    I and probably everyone discussing the subject here agrees with you on this and many of us have been saying it for years. It’s been said above in the comment thread, and I agreed w/the person saying it. Let me agree with you again, now.

    Otherwise, you seem to be determined to have an imaginary argument with things other people are not saying or thinking, and to throw around insults (most recent being “lack of empathy” and yes, that’s an insult). I have no idea why, but with all the things out there to have arguments about, but since we agree on the basic topic, I don’t see the point in disputing what you think is going on in my and other people’s heads. You wanna know what keeps progress from being done? This kind of crap.

    May you have the life you deserve.

  78. Ché Pasa


    And you also.

  79. \”I don’t see the point in disputing what you think is going on in my and other people’s heads.\”
    Neither does anyone else with a lick of sense. Doing so is a rhetorical trick known as Strawman Argumentation – a classic Logical Fallacy relying on lack of feedback.
    As a person with a history of having a lack of respect for those flogging scaremongering fantasy about the future, I blogged the link to this post and my impressions of it.
    The basic point. \” …. there has not been any progress from the shaman reading entrails when it comes to forecasting the future. It has not happened. There is no data to report.\”

  80. different clue

    International Co-operation is where good intentions go to die. In a “perfect world”, a National Protectionist survival-mode America could force the pace of skycarbon drawdown, all within the laws of physical and ecological possibility. It would be a multi-year commitment and effort in the teeth of international opposition and obstruction and subversion.

    Here is how it would work. First we in the US would figure out how much carbon is released per unit of physical production of things. Then we would figure out which countries emit more per unit of thing-production then we do. We would ban imports from these countries. We would re-patriate our industries-held-hostage in foreign-captivity in these countries and rebuild those industries here, where we would produce at less-carbon-per-item those things which we currently import at more-carbon-per-item.

    Second, we would institute the Fee and Dividend on all carbon-containing fossil fuels at the mine-mouth or well-head. The imposed extra price would follow these products downstream all the way through the economy, punishing their use and rewarding things-production and service-performance achieved with LESS carbon output as opposed to MORE carbon output. Once we have imposed the Hansen Fee and Dividend plan against fossil carbon withIN our National Economic borders, we would ban imports from any country which fails to impose the same exact plan within its own country-state borders.

    These two steps would reduce carbon output in two ways. First, they would reduce production in the MORE carbon-intensive production areas and bring it back to our American LESS carbon-intensive production area. Second, they would reduce the overall amount of trade in the world. And international trade is in itself a major cause of global warming all by itself. I have read that one ultra super-ginormous container ship emits as much carbon as a hundred million average cars. If we shrank international trade enough to retire 10 super container ships from service, we would reduce carbon output by as much as if we took a billion cars off the road.

    Then, we could make our own use of things and energy more efficient than it now is. And becasue we wouldn’t be subject to predatory undercutting by forced imports from carbon inferior places working the differential-conditions-arbitrage rackets, we would be able to achieve these higher efficiencies without having the higher-efficient domestic producer-performer driven bankrupt by the lower efficiency foreign producer-performer.

    And at the same time as we are shrinking our carbon output within our Belligerent Militant Protectionist borders, we can increase our skycarbon-suckdown and biosequestration within those same borders. We could re-flood all the marshland and swampland that we have spent 200 years draining for agriculture, and let all these restored wetlands resume their role of sucking carbon out of the air through plant growth, and packing that carbon down under the water in the form of re-growing peat beds and muck layers. We could apply everything we are learning about skycarbon-capture farming and capture skycarbon over every square foot of America’s million square miles of farm/pasture/rangeland. We could encourage the return of the beaver to its pre-settlement numbers and let the beavers rebuild their dams all over America. Four Hundred Million beaver ponds would be four hundred million MORE sites of skycarbon suckdown and underwater carbon storage.

    There. Problem on the way to solution without any bullshit delay due to wasting time on bullshit International Co-operation bullshit.

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