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« Autumnal Equinox - 2018: On the way down | Main | Winter Solstice 2018 »

October 10, 2018


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Men will always make a mess of governance because it's all about power and competing for mates.

Roope Bill

I was surprised to see your new post. I always look forward to the ones on the solstices and equinoxes because they are basically the only occasions I celebrate.
The Automatic Earth had a good post on why the leaders in power do nothing yesterday.

Telling people they have to give up cars and flying in planes has no future for a leader.
Two things have struck me as important in the background of this report.
One is that these climate scientists have announced that we have an existential crisis and humanity has to make radical changes immediately to have any chance of avoiding the worst. But they still insist on flying around the world to conferences. To me anyway, a leader/expert/elder should lead by example.
The second thing is to blame Trump for refusing to sign on to these International Climate Agreements. (Disclaimer: I am not a Trump supporter.) The Paris Accords etc. are meaningless and will do nothing to slow the race toward climate chaos. Agreeing to something that is meaningless has no meaning.
The only difference between Trump and any other World Leader is appearance. It seems that in today's world what is important is not what you do but what you say.
As I wrote as a comment in another blog yesterday. At least the name of the predicament is changing.
Global warming -> climate change -> climate chaos


What about the global dimming supplied by the burning of fossil fuel? The theory as presented by Guy McPherson: If we stop burning fossil fuel, the particulates that reflect sunlight provided by burning fossil fuel will quickly dissipate and that will cause an increase in earth's temperature.
What is the probability of NTHE?


What about the nuclear power plants around the world that will begin to melt down with the coming collapse of the industrial civilization and the capitalistic financial system.
What is the probability of NTHE?


I'm not at all sure that women are - in the mass - any wiser: all the wives and girlfriends I've had seemed to focus on one thing -being 'comfy'.

What is 'comfy'? Nice job, house, perfect temperature within the house,regular jet holidays, nice car, etc.

Just look at the crap they buy collectively, the fashion consumption.....

The desires of the mass of women to feel safe, comfy and prosperous are world-destroyers.

And they do compete: against other women, intensely.

Molly Radke

Thank you for your TYPICALLY wise remarks. I see no hope for significant economic/policy changes coming in time to avert the coming catastrophe. I have long argued that the capitalist "argument" that more growth is always possible is an absurdity. Infinite growth in a finite system is a LOGICAL IMPOSSIBILITY.

I like the remote possibility of Elizabeth Warren in 2020, but frankly, even tho I'm a woman, I see NO reason to hope that more women in power will bring any lasting solution to the woes that beset us. Women are hardly turning their backs on our compulsive consumer economy. Alas.

George Mobus


As I understand the physics, particulates from, for example, coal burning, actually absorb solar energy. White ash from volcanoes may reflect if suspended high enough in the atmosphere. But I think it is mostly speculation at this point. We don't have sensors out in space capable of detecting the effects.

As for Guy's general thesis I personally think the probability is low, but not zero. We need more observations re: the rate and amount of CH4 emissions to have a sense of run away warming.

@Roope Bill,

I posted this because the IPCC report is the first real kick in the pants regarding something I have been trying to get people to pay attention to for a long time.

Thanks for the link. Wait till we see social chaos!

@Bev, Cantab, and Molly R,

As I survey the group of women who are stepping up to run for political office I am seeing (I hope) qualities that are much less contentious and power-hungry than among most men (or Nancy Pelosi for that matter) that currently hold office in the Congress. It is clear that those men have made a royal mess of things and need to be booted. Whether women could do a better job (is there a gender difference that matters?) I don't know. What I do know is that they couldn't do any worse. Time will tell. Or maybe not since according the the IPCC report we really don't have a lot of time!


Fred Magyar

"Personally I would prefer to see a Social Democrat (maybe not Bernie per se) run. But at least we should try to find someone with those leanings in the Democratic party and I completely support that person being a woman (just not Hillary!) The rumors about Elizabeth Warren are interesting."

I think I might support Andrew Yang.


This post makes little sense to me and seems like an excuse to field political frustration. There is absolutely no reason to suspect that a social democrat or any other left-wing candidate will be more effective in stopping anthropogenic global warming than a Republican. Why? Because no matter what ideology you are, you still consume resources and require energy. If you are left-wing, it will be your argument that more people should consume more resources- a natural consequence of wealth redistribution. No candidate will ever argue for a reduction in peoples' quality of life, and yet that is what it takes to really combat AGW. It is better to steam ahead toward the inevitable collapse so our pollution drops off sooner rather than later, because in the end all ideologies have to eat.

Antoinetta III

The only thing that could force a rapid and steep reduction in the use of fossil fuels would be a monster, permanent world-wide economic collapse. A monster depression that will actually be our new baseline reality.

As for electing Democrats, say what? The only difference between Democrats and Republicans is the flavour of their rhetoric. Worse, the Democrats seem to have become the serious war-monger party. Of course war itself consumes vast amounts of fossil fuels.

Indeed, part of the problem is the nature of elected "representative democracy." Imagine a dog with a collar, from which are attached dozens of leashes. And each leash is held by one of the political donors, the Super-PACS, the billionaire class, and numerous multi-national corporate entities. Any candidate running for office can't afford to piss these people off, lest they cut one off from contributions, and worse, start funding one's opponent.

And on the other side, needing to be constantly re-elected precludes any real long-term thinking, and also precludes any serious discussion between leaders and the general public. And the general public is not going to vote itself a reduced standard of living, so politicians are reduced to making promises of what it is perceived that people want.

Some decades ago it was, if I recall correctly some California congress-creature who stated "It is the purpose of government to give the people what they want."

This is as inane as saying "It is the purpose of parents to give their kids anything the kids want."

Antoinetta III


Dear Commentators,

I thought I was clear in the piece that there is no political solution. So focus on my comments about democrats seem unnecessary. My point about hoping democrats take more seats or the presidency in 2020 is simply because republicans (in general) have become so mean openly that they will further marginalize marginal peoples. I think they would cause more suffering than would be necessary. All of us are going to suffer a lot as it is.

The economic crash is coming. I've said as much before. And it will put a big dent in the carbon emissions. The financial system, the fuel system, the healthcare system, and the government "system" will all go down in flames. And probably sooner than later, judging by the acceleration of negative events (of which I will have more to say).

Karl Kolchak

George--normally I like your posts since they don't sugarcoat things, but you are WAY off base with the idea that any solution lies within the U.S. political system. Even most liberal Americans are unwilling to make the kinds of sacrifices that would be needed. Most seem to think that signing back on to the Paris Accords, driving an electric car and recycling their water plastic water bottles (instead of say, drinking out of the tap) will do the trick. Ask them to give up their cushy lifestyles and they will get cranky very quickly.

I personally know a semi-retired climate scientist who excoriates Trump every chance he gets, but owns a huge horse farm that just he and his wife live on when they aren't jetting off to some other exotic location on vacation. In short, they have by far the largest carbon footprint of anyone I know. This "do as I say, not as I do" mentality will ALWAYS doom opinion leaders of the left on this issue, since they too have really come to enjoy the trappings of wealth. Even Jerry Brown went from driving a tiny used car to work as governor of CA in the 1970s to becoming that state's oil & gas industry's best buddy in Sacramento.

All those aware of what's coming can do is prepare. The time for meaningful action that has any chance of actually happening is long since past.

Karl Kolchak

Oops--just read your last comment. I think the reason you're getting the harsh reaction your are getting is because the few remaining rational people in the U.S. recognize that the only difference between the Rethughs and the Dumbocrats is the latter prefer their politicians (Obama) blow sunshine up their shirts/skirts.

As for the Democrats being better for "marginal peoples," ask the citizens of Libya and Syria about that--or maybe the relatives of the thousands of civilians he killed via drone strikes. Obama was an inhuman monster--and Hillary was no better (witness her wicked witch cackle on live television when Gadaffi was dragged through the streets). Hillary's hubby starved over half a million Iraqi children to death in the 1990s while she was babbling on about it taking a village to raise children. Yet even today, most Democrats would take one of these sociopaths back in a heartbeat.

Murray G

Thanks George. You may well be preaching to the converterati, but we need our dose from time to time.
I'm at the stage where I think that networking with a group of usefully-skilled friends is about as far as one can prepare. The interesting question is whether to advise young folk not to stick their heads out financially - whether the banks will stagger on just long enough to re-posess (which outside the US means being still in debt.
Interesting to ask how long the internet survives a financial crash, too. Lotta people are going to be a bit lost, staring at unresponsive screens.

Godofredo Aravena

Hi George
I totally agree with you, we and our children and grandchildren have to begin to think in leaving behind this culture, while at the same get prepared (as a mind set) to live in another world.

If you seriously evaluate the whole system as it works, its basic principles, it comes clear as a conclusion that the changes required are not possible. Not within this system and these rules. All the changes required to effectively change the trend in the atmosphere and the environment, cannot be achieved in a system as current, given the freedom it offers, the promises of happiness it offers and the so many (impossible) rights which are important pillars of it. Even the democracy is a factor acting against the solution. The problem goes beyond politics and politicians as they are meant to operate.
It is easy to conclude and say “stop burning fossil fuels period”, another (impossible) thing is to put this conclusion into practice.

I have gone through the analysis (probably as you have done too), and the conclusion is always the same and simple, there is no way to get into the “right way” to fully tackle with the situation without dismantling the current system. Something which is impossible, not from within.
On top of this, it is the issue about what to be saved (or be kept)? Why we have to try to save the system? This need (or obsession) seems to me more an issue related with our personal benefit or selfishness than a serious interest for saving the Biosphere.
Certainly the whole human system is built around us. It is a matter of “me “ being “happy” (or OK). Seeing the systems as it crumbles and falls apart is a question about ourselves, our lives. Definitely not about the other humans. Not even about our beloved children and the future generations. It is all about “me today”.
Then, what to do today? Well, the only option which makes sense to me (besides changing our mind set), is to seriously begin to develop the basis of a new system, at least as a preliminary concept. And this is not easy, it is not about veganism, or degrowth, or going back 300 years in our life style, those are partial solutions only, which will face the same problems again in the future (and/or others). Certainly, growth is a concept which cannot be part of any sustainable system.
From a very objective point of view, I have concluded that the only sustainable way for humans to thrive in balance is by changing the center or focus of the system from ourselves, to the sustaining system (the Biosphere). Quite possible and sustainable, almost forever. But that concept of system cannot be put to practice with the current one still in full force. The basic concepts are so radically different, that they cannot coexist.

Some five years ago I wrote about the role of the United States in the Climate Change problem, where I was saying that if the US does nothing, nobody is going to do it. The US has been the leading country in the world for the last 100 years, and for the same reason, it has the responsibility to take the decisive actions regarding climate change. But also because it is the biggest contributor per capita, and adding the offsets, the biggest absolute contributor. For both reasons, the rest of the world is looking into the US to take action. Without the USA as an active participant in any action to deal with Climate change, nothing is going to make a difference.
My country has only 18 million people, and now I live in a country of only 300 000 people. These 18.3 million of people (two full countries) are responsible for less than 0.3% of the total CO2 emitted yearly. And certainly there are dozens of other countries with even smaller contribution.
I can buy in my country a US made 300 HP pick-up truck, just to go the office, something reckless given the current times, but more a non-sense if I can do the same thing, in a 100 hp vehicle. But why should I own and drive the small car if in the USA are sold annually more than a 600.000 of these big pick-up trucks?. Add to this some 50 million already being used. Why should I “sacrifice” (in any way)?. Or, why should I ride a bike to my work, if in the USA, there are more than 180 million cars being driven everyday? Or, why should I use less the planes, if these two countries are less that 2 % of the USA total number of passengers. The conflicts regarding the responsibility of the USA in the problem compared to other countries goes on and on.

Conclusion, as I see things, is:
The problem has no solution, but, in the remote (but not impossible) scenario of a possible solution, that solution must be led or decisively supported by the people from the USA. Note, I am not saying “by the USA”, I am saying “by the people from the USA”, the real responsible behind the position of the USA as the biggest contributor to the problem.

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