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

Most Wealthy People Aren’t Going to Be Able to Avoid Climate Change

The great neoliberal compromise was, “We’ll make some of you rich, fuck the rest, and the bill will come due after you’re dead.” Tax rates were scrapped and policies deliberately inflated the prices of both real estate and stocks. If you already were well off, i.e., owned a house and some stocks, you did really well.

If you were old enough, well, you died before the bill came due for the lower end of this, in 2008. Those who weren’t liquid, were over-extended, or were living in unimportant cities or suburbs, got smashed. Those who hung on, and lived in or near cities like San Francisco, survived as home prices went back up and as stock prices were deliberately driven to even greater levels.

And now we have more wildfires in California. We have massive power outages, even in some very upscale areas. In the Pacific Northwest, we have fires that rage for so long that cities are filled with smoke for weeks on end.

We have more and more powerful hurricanes, and they’re hitting Category 6, which was said to be impossible.

We have the vast melting of glaciers and ice and the drying up of groundwater.

We have utilities like California’s PG&E which did their job: They gave out tons of money to make people rich and didn’t update their infrastructure, which is causing a lot of those California fires.

And, yeah, the really rich have off-grid power. But they don’t have immunity from fire, and almost none of them can survive when the water runs out.

Then there’s, oh, New Zealand, where the rich have bought houses and condos. But if things really go to hell and they go to New Zealand, what power will they really have in that level of civilization collapse? Their money won’t mean shit, and the New Zealanders, who are coming to hate them already, are unlikely to be kind.

The level of climate change and ecological collapse we’re going to hit is such that I think most of the wealthy, and probably a heck of a lot of the truly rich, are not going to avoid it.

There isn’t going to be an escape for most of them.

A silver lining.

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  1. Effem

    Very hard for me to understand why wealthy climate activists continue to spend $millions on oceanfront property (e.g., Obama). It strikes me that this does a major disservice to the movement (e.g., i have a conservative friend who is fond of saying “I’ll take global warming seriously when wealthy liberals stop buying up all the oceanfront property”).

  2. nihil obstet

    The rich still expect the government to make them whole in any situation. Obama did his part to make sure that the bankers kept their fraudulent gains and added bonuses to them. He will expect to be repaid with more government largess when the ocean takes his property, which meanwhile he can gloat over.

    We need the revolution now.

  3. Ralph Nader had the interesting, and I would say, good idea to get wealthy individuals on board with solving social issues. See his book, “Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us!”, though I take exception to the disempowering word “Only”.

    I sort of doubt that most rich people take “climate change”, in the sense of (climbing down the abstraction ladder) Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming, all that seriously. I’m sure they’d take it seriously if it was baked into, ahem, catastrophic increases in their insurance premiums.

    Now, if I wanted to recruit rich people into service of the greater good, based on common concerns with us “little people”, I’d look seriously into 5G irradiation. That is a shorter term risk than climate change, and unless they want to live their lives inside a Faraday cage, will affect them, greatly, if the most dire predictions come true. According to the following, one possible effect is melanomas in the eye. Not fun, no matter how many millions or billions you have in the bank!


  4. We are fleas, planet lice, agitating the hide of a far greater organisn …

    The last time carbon dioxide was this thick, we weren’t even human.

    As this thin layer of gases we live in enveloping the only rock we know of we can live on continue to grow ever more toxic the central to northern migrations will be unlike anything seen since the Neanderthal. It’s already happening in Eurasia, where the “civil” wars are as much about water as religious idiocy, or oil. It is happening here. It may be beyond our comprehension. We are distracted by the politics, bloodshed and War, but the migrations out of N Africa and the Middle East and Central America and the Islands are drought related.

    Agence France-Presse: Famine is on the rise in the Near East and North Africa with more than 52 million people undernourished, most of them in conflict zones, the UN food agency said Wednesday.

    “Conflicts and protracted crises have spread and worsened since 2011, threatening the region’s efforts” to eliminate hunger, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

    “Fifty-two million people in the region are suffering from chronic undernourishment” with two-thirds of them in conflict zones, the FAO said in a statement.

    Conflicts in the Near East and North Africa also had “long-lasting impacts on the food and nutrition security” of surrounding countries, said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, the FAO’s Cairo-based regional representative.

    “The impact of conflict has been disrupting food and livestock production in some countries and consequently affecting the availability of food across the region,” he said.

    Beyond conflicts, the FAO said rising hunger was also made worse in the region by rapid population growth, scarce and fragile natural resources and the growing threat of climate change.

    We’re not going to stop millions or tens of millions, perhaps even hundreds of millions, of people determined to leave someplace that has become uninhabitable by just saying “no”. We’re not going to stop it. We won’t stop it. It can’t be stopped. And it is playing out equally on both sides of the planet: When we look to the middle east and beyond the wars over oil and religious insanity we find drought. Mega-drought, rapid desertification, and the outright theft of one nation/state’s water by her neighbor to the south. And famine. That population is fleeing north. It can’t be stopped. It won’t be stopped.

    So too on our side of the pond, something I’ve been pointing to for several years but only recently catching the attention of the mainstream with the advent of drumpf uck’s ooga-booga caravan of Central American refugees, women and children fleeing not just crime and violence but drought. Mega-drought, rapid desertification and famine. That population is fleeing north. It can’t be stopped. It won’t be stopped. We can’t stop the migration. Ask the Neanderthal.

    Which isn’t to say we won’t try. We will need to grow thicker skin as it is but one factor in the equation seven billion, ten in ten years, people on a ball of mud that can barely sustain one.

    The atmosphere, climate change, does not recognize “nation/states”.

    It won’t necessarily be “the strong”, or the well-provisioned, that survive.

  5. Mike Barry

    “We’re not going to stop millions or tens of millions, perhaps even hundreds of millions, of people determined to leave someplace that has become uninhabitable by just saying “no”. We’re not going to stop it. We won’t stop it. It can’t be stopped. ” — tb


  6. different clue

    Most wealthy people aren’t going to avoid man-made global warming and its resultant climate d’chaos decay? We can at least take some small comfort in that.

    Though I would hope that not one single one of them avoids it.

    Those who think that global warming’s climate d’chaos decay is something to prepare for as best-as-possible should be prepared to withhold whatever assistance they can from those who think it doesn’t matter.
    Those silly sophists are among the enablers of opposition and obstruction to solving the problem. Every one of them who survives represents a defeat for humanity and a mortal threat to the future.

    And of course the global warmogenic rich are also heavily invested in the 5G conspiracy, so best of luck getting them to join the fight against it. Pray none of them install the Faraday Cages that they are rich enough to install for themselves.

  7. Ten Bears

    So what’s the plan Mike, kill ’em all before they get here? What are you, some kind of super fucking hero, magic underpants? Just cuz you say it isn’t so it isn’t so? Blow it out your ass bozo.

    When the shit hits the fan you’ll be amongst the first to go.

  8. Mike Barry

    You know me so well, tb.

    No, actually you don’t. You don’t know much of anything.

    And no, we don’t need to kill them, just stop them at the border.


  9. Ten Bears

    How? How will you stop them at the border? A wall (lol)? A force-field maybe? New-age heebee jeebee HooDoo voodoo doodoo?

    From the just released Pentagon report on climate change …

    Water scarcity will destabilize nations

    While sea level rise offers one specific type of risk, another comes from water scarcity due to climate change, population increase, and poor water management. The report describes water scarcity as a near-term risk driving civil unrest and political instability.

    By 2040, global demand for fresh water will exceed availability, and by 2030 one-third of the world population will inhabit the “water-stressed regions” of North Africa, Southern Africa, the Middle East, China, and the United States, the report notes.

    The decline in water availability over the next two decades will lead to an increase in “social disruption” in poor, vulnerable regions.

    Water scarcity is also a driver of possible global food system failure, which could trigger new “outbreaks of civil conflict and social unrest.”

    The report depicts a global food system increasingly disrupted by “rapid freeze-thaw cycles in spring and fall, soil degradation, depletion of fossil water aquifers, intensified spread of agricultural pests and diseases, and damage to shipping infrastructure as a consequence of flooding.”

    Such food system instability will result in “significant increases in mortality in vulnerable locations, which are those where DoD-supported humanitarian intervention is most likely.”

    When the army takes it seriously, maybe you should too.

    From the same report, same subsection …

    And the U.S. Army …

    But foreign military interventions, particularly in water scarce regions of the Middle East and North Africa, might not be viable unless the US Army invents or acquires radical new technologies to distribute adequate levels of water to soldiers.

    The problem is so bad and so expensive, the report says, that the Army “is precipitously close to mission failure concerning hydration of the force in a contested arid environment.”

    Water is currently 30-40 percent of the costs required to sustain a US military force operating abroad, according to the new Army report. A huge infrastructure is needed to transport bottled water for Army units. So the report recommends major new investments in technology to collect water from the atmosphere locally, without which US military operations abroad could become impossible. The biggest obstacle is that this is currently way outside the Pentagon’s current funding priorities.

    An earlier sub-section …

    A new era of endless war …

    The new report is especially significant given the Trump administration’s climate science denial. Commissioned by General Mark Milley, now the highest ranking military officer in the United States, the report not only concludes that climate change is real, but that it is on track to create an unprecedented catastrophe that could lead to the total collapse of US society without serious investments in new technology and infrastructure. However, while focusing on projected climate impacts, the report does not discuss the causes of climate change in human fossil fuel emissions.

    The report was written by an interdisciplinary team active across several US government agencies, including the White House’s Office of American Innovation, the Secretary of Defense’s Protecting Critical Technology Task Force, NASA’s Harvest Consortium, the US Air Force Headquarters’ Directorate of Weather, the US Army’s National Guard, and the US State Department. The US Army War College did not respond to a request for comment.

    Their report not only describes the need for massive permanent military infrastructure on US soil to stave off climate collapse, but portends new foreign interventions due to climate change.

    The authors argue that the Syrian civil war could be a taste of future international conflicts triggered by climate-induced unrest. There is “no question that the conflict erupted coincident with a major drought in the region which forced rural people into Syrian cities as large numbers of Iraqi refugees arrived.”

    Just because you say it isn’t so doesn’t mean it isn’t so.

  10. BlizzardOfOzzz

    Ten Bears can go down in the Big Book of Boomer Wisdom, right next to “Imagine”.

  11. Ten Bears

    Hey Blizz! How are ya’!? You still haven’t answered my question, after all these years: is it still your contention, as you have declared in the past, the Sandy Hook school shooting was a false flag? And that the dead children and teachers and grieving parents, the first responders and Sandy Hook community-at-large are crisis actors, and those dead children and teachers are not dead?

  12. Mike Barry

    “Just because you say it isn’t so doesn’t mean it isn’t so.” — tb

    Words for all of us to live by. No one knows for sure how this will all play out. In the mean time, here’s a song that shows just how bad it’s going down in California just now:

  13. bruce wilder

    the popularity of NZ is a tell, isn’t it?

  14. Hugh

    The world is changing, but our thinking, and especially the thinking of the powers that be, isn’t. Winters, summers, rainfall, droughts, storms, wildfires, desertification, the Arctic, the Antarctic, the oceans, all of these are significantly different from what they were 60 years ago. World population was 3 billion in 1960. It’s now 7.7 billion, an increase of more than 2 and half times. The number of failed and permanently failing states keeps growing. At the same time, broad swaths of the world: North Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, Central America, Amazonia are showing cracks and destabilizing. But the tendency is to ignore, minimize, or treat as one-offs these ongoing, compounding, and accelerating changes.

  15. nihil obstet

    The human population grew so slowly until the last hundred years or so not because people used not to like sex but because most people born didn’t live long enough to have children themselves. The pain of the survivors wasn’t less than what we feel about our losses today.

    We shouldn’t underplay the stresses that are probably in store, but we should also remember that the species routinely survived horrors in the past and the species can do so again. I’m afraid that too much fear can urge us to bring about an unnecessary Armegeddon. Cooperation will still beat a competition of fear and loathing.

  16. There’s an interview somewhere (of course I can’t find it now) in which an academic talks about how he was hired to go to a conference of billionaires who had questions about the future. Among the questions was “so I have my hideaway in New Zealand, but how am I going to maintain control of my household (security guys) after the apocalypse?”.

    With mild shocks we basically will live like Cubans, fixing up old stuff to keep it working. With severe shocks, it will be like Naples & Sicily.

  17. S Brennan

    The folks on the Palatine Hill also thought they could outrun their society’s collapse…

    Not one of them won that bet, but, this time it’ll be different…yes, I am sure.

  18. Mark Pontin

    Re. Jack Parson’s comment: the person who was consulted by certain rich folks about how they might survive an imminent Jackpot in sites like New Zealand or elsewhere was Douglas Rushkoff, who’s not exactly an academic. Here’s the piece: –

    ‘Survival of the Richest: The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind’

    Re. Ten Bears’s comment: “We’re not going to stop millions or tens of millions, perhaps even hundreds of millions, of people determined to leave someplace that has become uninhabitable by just saying “no”. We’re not going to stop it. We won’t stop it. It can’t be stopped. ”

    For better or worse, that’s naive.

    I spent time hanging out with former Soviet bioweaponeers during a period when I did journalism about global risk issues. The USSR ran a Manhattan Project-sized bioweapons project for almost twenty years with approximately 100,000 workers, of whom about 40,000 had scientific expertise. They had very primitive technology compared to what we possess now, of course, but some of them were gifted people who did interesting things, which might have some bearing on this discussion.

    Short version: if you just want to kill large numbers of people rapidly, nuclear weapons are much quicker and more reliable than pathogens, while on the pathogen side of things what they call classical agents — smallpox, typhus, anything evolved by Nature over millenia to have a high mortality rate — are usually much more effective than designer pathogens. (Though there are some striking ways that you could enhance the lethality of classical agents, as in an ebola/flu binary inoculary.)

    Nevertheless, designer pathogens can do things that Nature cannot, inasmuch as in principle anything you can do with a drug or a chemical you can do with a pathogen. In principle, designer pathogens can be created to induce temporary or permanent amnesia, schizophrenia, permanent fear, catatonia, and so on — any mental state that incapacitates or changes the behavior of the infected population.

    So with such an agent you could infect a population of millions, tens of millions, or hundreds of millions heading northwards . They’re just incapacitated, no longer able to plan or function adequately so as to continue their migration — maybe they die where they’re at because they can’t function, but you didn’t kill them.

  19. Eric Anderson

    Faaaaaaaaack’n read the Mars Trilogy people. That’s our near future. Bank on it.

    Now: For all the blah (no action) blah (no action) blah in this thread?

    Maybe it’s time to throw this back into the mix:

    Take some action that could make a cumulative difference.
    Four of my family members have changed their positions since that post.
    Change what you can … the people nearest and dearest to you.

  20. Eric Anderson

    You want to know who HAS read the Mars Trilogy and are working their asses off to make it a reality, hmmmm? Any guesses, hmmmm?

    A hint: Some obscenely wealthy people who are doing everything in their power to make those books reality, while making further obscene profits in the meantime.

    Musk? Bezos? Branson, anyone?

    They’re the Hill, Jay, Gould, Vanderbilt, Harriman, and Huntington’s of our age.

    And they’re in a race.

    If they can harness the capital that comes from mining asteroids necessary to pull it off, they’ll build their own space colonies and laugh their way into history while the world burns.

    Unless we turn on them first, because, they know sooner or later we’re coming for them.

  21. Phil in KC

    A few months ago the Institute for Naval Studies released a global assessment of climate change predictions and how best to respond to the various effects. One retired admiral noted that mass migrations from arid areas in the middle east would bring millions of climate refugees to SE Europe–which would mean NATO. He pondered the wisdom of building walls ala Trump, and said if if came to walls, then there should be machine gun nests at close intervals along the top.

    It should be recognized that throughout human history people who are in need of water and food don\’t just sit down and die–they hit the road and move. The Dust Bowel migrants of the 1930\’s serve as an example US citizens would do well to remember and understand. California State Police were posted at the state line on the highways and frequently turned back the Okies.

    Hard times and some hard decisions a-comin\’.

  22. Eric Anderson

    And for those of you who went on about waa waa waa, but *feelings?

    Sanguinity doesn’t mean f@ck all when you’re killing the very thing that lets you live.

    God I hate hypocrites.

  23. @different clue

    “And of course the global warmogenic rich are also heavily invested in the 5G conspiracy, so best of luck getting them to join the fight against it.”

    You don’t know this, and it seems as meaningful a statement as saying “the MIC rich are also heavily invested in the MIC, so best of luck getting them to join the fight against it”.

    You are exhibiting the sort of stereotypical “thinking” that makes any USEFUL political discussion impossible. I don’t what percentage of rich people really don’t believe in CAGW, much less have investments in either fossil fuels, alternatives, or both; nor do I know what percentage of rich people have investments in 5G related technology companies; nor do I know what percentage of rich people have investments in military companies.

    And you don’t, either.

    What I do know (or, more precisely, reason) is that EVEN IF a rich person was profiting from 5G, as his/her family members get their DNA cooked, and go blind from developing melanomas in their eyes, they will become more interested in ending 5G, even if it’s been temporarily increasing their net wealth. (The caveat here is that I don’t know a lot about 5G. However, my sources tell me that proper safety studies have not been done.)

    If you hate the rich so much that you would reject any cooperation with any of them, then you are part of the problem.

    John Perkins, author of “Confessions of an Economic Hitman”, tell the story of him sitting in a hot tub with some big wig executive who did the right thing (I don’t remember the particulars). This executive was RELIEVED at being somewhat coerced to do the right thing.

    Denis Rancourt, a lefty physicist, who rejects catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, has pointed out that real pollution problems get ignored/short-changed because energy is wasted on what is basically a non-existent problem. If your greatest contribution to solving the 5G problem is hoping that the rich die outside Faraday cages, your contribution is an emotional indulgence that, insofar as it is shared with millions of others, makes further disintegration and chaos more likely.

  24. Ten Bears

    Thank you Mike, that is a great early-morning blog-post.

  25. Tom

    Food for thought on how this mess goes back decades and the cost people pay to stand up to the elites. Most will never get justice, and the fight is a long hard slog. At some point you have to ask yourself if peaceful change is possible at all and make the decision to turn to violence.

  26. I don\'t like giving my email either

    1) Life isn\’t science fiction. Earth, in its most anthropogenically ravaged form, will be immensely more hospitable to life than Mars (as well as not at the top of a deep gravity well). It\’s a diverting fantasy and an outlet for tourism, but as a serious colonization option on timelines that aren\’t significantly longer than those required for terran climate remediation, forget it.

    2) Before postulating serious trans-continental (Old World – New World) population movements in the tens and hundreds of millions, one should perhaps peruse the strategic literature on the moderating effect of oceans. Movements in the tens and hundreds of thousands (maybe into the low millions in surges over shorter distances) sure. Larger scale, those distances – nope. Even mass terrestrial movements on multiple millions scales are unlikely. Unsupported, mass movements of that size denude the landscape and they start dying off. There\’s a reason why so few of the tales of mass population movements are musical comedy…

  27. bruce wilder

    Focusing on the fantasy lives of the sort of mega-rich who think they will hole up in NZ or send their grandchildren to terraformed Mars distracts from really examining the delusions of the merely rich — which is most of the class that actually runs things. Not the kind of people most of us commenting here are — the thoughtful, marginally employed, retired; the people who think of politics as a protest waiting to happen or an earnest argument boring thru “hard boards” for decades. The kind of people who go to work everyday dominating subordinates or making and enforcing “policy” with an eye on cash coming in the door and the implications of that cash! for financing a lifestyle of giant houses and luxury vacations and gadjets.
    Those people will not be able to avoid the consequences of climate change. Of course, neither will I. But, are they expecting to?

    If they think much about it, I imagine they think they will find ways to cope, to repair the damage, go on. That is what wealth and power of the human-scale variety — contrasted with billionaire level craziness — does for you: buys many comforts and a lot of do-overs. Things go badly at times, but most are fixable.

    These are the people who think they will respond to higher tempersture climate by turning up the ac. They are the producers and the audience for clever ideas for climate engineering. And, not just “right-wing” ideas about injecting sulfer particles into the atmosphere, but “left-wing” notions that we can just plant more trees or drive an electric car.

    The problem is not that they will not be able to avoid climate change by their usual and characteristic ways of coping — the problem is that their way of coping is driving climate change!

    Their numbers make their impact as a class and as a driver of elite leadership ideas very powerful.

    In a paradoxical way, the isolation of the billionaire class make them potentially benign in some respects on climate change. They can see the global picture. Only global effects really envelop them. And, they can choose to push policy chosen “objectively” with the sure knowledge they themselves do not have to suffer at all — some “compromises” are not even considered by people who never have to compromise or budget in their daily, personal lives.

    The exposure of the merely wealthy to climate change and the immediate effects of policy to respond make them a very untrustworthy leadership class. They want to believe there is a way that they avoid most of the consequences, too, just like their billionaire heroes. They are accustomed to cope by fixing, by redoubled effort, by symbolic gestures, by muddling thru.

    And, as Ian acutely observes, the current generation of this class has accustomed itself to make money by dismantling and predation — something many of them are in denial about.

    The capital fact of any practical policy to stop runaway warming and ecological collapse is that it will require radical conservation of all energy use. And, building an infrastructure that uses radically less energy. Doing both these things at the same time would be challenging. But, I think this class is not capable of really understanding the necessity of either. Just at the conceptual level, their life experience prevents it.

    And, these are the people with political power in our society — hell, they ARE political power in our society.

  28. ponderer

    I’ve been trying to get the local homeless to be more interested in Climate Change but they all seem to be Deniers. Using disposable plastic products, eating fast food. Some of them even drive big gas guzzlers. I tried to tell them as hot as the summers were now they would only get hotter, but they laughed because Dale lost 2 fingers to frost bite last winter. They agreed to consume less of the planets resources as long as I provided the meth, so at least we got something there. /s

    Seriously. There are upstream problems and downstream problems. Climate is very much a downstream problem. You need comfortable, stable, hopeful people to work on that. Look at the efforts in Europe and the lifestyles of the people there that push for them. Then look at India and China. As those European countries fragment from excessive immigration you’ll see what I mean. When you push downstream problems to the top of the ‘OMG’ pile you actually prevent them from being solved instead of helping the situation. It’s not an accident, and that’s why the Democrats are so on board as long as they don’t have to actually do anything.

  29. Hugh

    From a psychiatric point of view, billionaires are a pathology. These are people who are terminally disconnected from reality and yet at the same time have enormous power over our economy and politics. So Soros pursues his neoliberal globalism. The Epsteins and Trumps, their egocentric appetites. Gates and De Vos push charter schools and the privatization of education. Elon Musk and Richard Branson their space fantasies. Steyer and Bloomberg wonder if they should buy the Presidency. And on and on.

    Does Trump know very much about anything? Of course not. Do Gates and De Vos know anything about education? You’re kidding me, right? People like Soros and Buffett are investors. They know pretty much jack about economics. Does Elon Musk have any idea about manufacturing cars? He can’t even get the paint on them right. There is this notion perpetuated by the rich that their wealth is evidence of intelligence and knowledge, instead of incredible luck, and this possession of great wealth gives them special insight into subjects they know nothing about. It doesn’t. What it gives them is the power to intervene and screw things up even more, and be essentially immune from the consequences of their actions.

  30. Hugh

    I should add that I agree with Ian that climate change (and overpopulation) are the two cases where their immunity to the real world will fall apart. But this doesn’t change the fact that they will continue to act as if this isn’t the case. They are special anointed, special. Reality is for little people. It can have no purchase on them.

  31. Eric Anderson

    I don\’t like giving my email either:
    “Earth, in its most anthropogenically ravaged form, will be immensely more hospitable to life than Mars.”

    Do you really think these people care about hospitability? You’re naive. They care about two things: fame and money.

    I was referring to the conditions on earth and the intent of our modern day Robber Barons. If you haven’t read the books, stick a sock in it. The gravity well problem is “well” addressed and the tech/theory is already advancing far enough for the modern day Robber Barons to be making plans:

    Hugh: We’re basically on the same page. Will the modern day robber barons (MDRB) succeed? Probably not. But like I stated in my Precautionary Principle post a while back, they’ll tear it all down trying.

    Unless, again, we stop them first.

  32. Eric Anderson

    And, again:
    What’s the best way to stop them?
    I ain’t seen no better idea than these yet:

    I’d totally love to be proven wrong by better ideas though.

  33. Mike Barry

    You’re welcome, Ten Bears .

    Sometimes I have to remind myself (or get reminded) not to be unnecessarily disagreeable when strenuously disagreeing.

  34. Mike Barry

    Hugh is right about the rich and their disconnect from reality. But it’s not just the reich, it’s all of us. The lyrics to California’s Burning hint at that.


    California’s burning, you can smell it in the air.
    California’s burning, you can smell it in the air.
    You may be rich or poor, but you know that fire don’t care.

    No rain for four years, and the hills are dry and brown.
    Yeah, no rain for four years, and the hills are dry and brown.
    Yeah, well where you gonna run to, when the whole wide world burns down?

    Black clouds are risin’, and they’re blockin’ out the sun.
    Black clouds are risin’, and they’re blockin’ out the sun.
    Some folks are sayin’, the judgement day has come.

    California’s burning, no one knows when it will end.
    California’s burning, no one knows when this will end.
    What that fire burns down boys, we’ll just build it back again.”

    Sure we will.

  35. different clue

    Here is an article about present-day Karuk Nation efforts to revive multi-thousand-years-old traditions of land management through applied fire.

    Perhaps part of how California makes itself more fire-tolerant will be to carefully “walk the land back” to an earlier state of less-violent-burnability through periodic cool-fire deployment. Perhaps other California Indian Nations might still remember . . . and feel like giving . . . their advice on how to reduce the explosive megafire fuel load through careful micro-burns adding up to excess-fuel-relief and eco-restoration for other parts of California.

  36. Ten Bears

    Where you gonna run to, when the whole wide world burns down?

  37. I don't like giving my email either

    Eric / Webstir: Read the trilogy several times, from when they first came out (including the earlier novella) to a few years ago. You’ll note that the story arc relies on megastructures, materials science, longevity research, and even forms of social organization that are as yet almost entirely theoretical. Having been promised jetpacks for some years now, I’ll maintain a health skepticism on the timeline of delivery.

    Little rule of thumb based on a lifetime of hard sci-fi consumption: when it comes to energy and manipulation of matter, science fiction always over promises and under delivers. With social and cultural permutations related to seemingly moderate technological developments (e.g., smartphones, machine learning, etc.), the reverse is true. Martian colonization is at its basest level about energy and mass.

  38. Eric Anderson

    Yes, yes. You’re actually making my technological myth argument that I’ve been making on here for years now. But, please do continue, while completely ignoring the overpopulation, social unrest, consolidation of corporate power, warnings from scientists going unheeded, privatization of space exploration, coastal inundation, etc. etc. etc.

    Surely, that’s the most effective means of argumentation.
    And it has a name.

  39. Synoia

    6.5 Billion people will die, the remainder will be hunter gatherers, and the biosphere will settle to another unstable equilibrium.

  40. I don’t like giving my email either

    You asserted that the Mars trilogy was our near future and that it was being actively pursued by the uber-rich. I expressed and continue to express skepticism. Where exactly is the straw man?

  41. Eric Anderson


    “You’ll note that the story arc relies on megastructures, materials science, longevity research, and even forms of social organization that are as yet almost entirely theoretical”

    Right there.
    I’m not arguing the technical myth. Neither is Ian. For some reason, you are.

    What is being argued is whether the rich will perish. Ian doesn’t include the uber-wealthy in his argument. I explain (or, rather, KSR explains) what the uber-wealthy will do instead of perish. Namely, accelerate the problem in their megalomaniacal quest.

    But, do go on. Beat that straw man up. Next, you’ll be tilting at windmills.

  42. I don't like giving my email either

    So this:

    You want to know who HAS read the Mars Trilogy and are working their asses off to make it a reality, hmmmm? Any guesses, hmmmm?

    A hint: Some obscenely wealthy people who are doing everything in their power to make those books reality, while making further obscene profits in the meantime.

    Musk? Bezos? Branson, anyone?

    They’re the Hill, Jay, Gould, Vanderbilt, Harriman, and Huntington’s of our age.
    And they’re in a race.

    If they can harness the capital that comes from mining asteroids necessary to pull it off, they’ll build their own space colonies and laugh their way into history while the world burns.

    isn’t arguing the technological myth?

  43. Eric Anderson

    Quite the opposite.
    The technological myth is that technology will always swoop in and save us from all our problems. See: endless references to the green revolution for an example, but others abound.

    Maybe it was the word “colonies” that threw you. But lets be clear. There won’t be any proles on whatever escape mechanism they’re seeking to construct. Again, you’re naive if you think the MDRBs are engaging in a space race just to increase their bank accounts.

    And in general, I do think you’re just plain wrong about Sci-fi being off the mark. The “predictors” are always off. See: Malthus and Ehrlich (ps. not defending either as a human being — so don’t go there). The naysayers are picking nits. But from a geologic timeframe? They’ll have the last laugh.

    Art precedes reality.

  44. I don’t like giving my email either

    You’re fundamentally missing what they’re doing here. It’s not an escape mechanism – it’s a epic vanity project. What one does when faced with the inescapable question of what to do with that giant pile of money and a deep seated need to recapture the high and demonstrate that it wasn’t luck. High end tourism, not colonization. At best it’s an incredibly expensive and misguided attempt to mitigate risk that actually does the opposite.

  45. Eric Anderson

    Oh, for christ sake:

    You’re just bloviating.

  46. Eric Anderson

    And this:

    You’re just plain naive. Climb out from under your rock and take a look around.

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