Why read when you can watch?
…ok there’ll be some reading and thinking too.
Maybe we should strive to be virtuous instead of happy?
This guy is a canadian ecologist, and also something of a generalist – the smartest people and the rarest kind for the capitalist division of labor to generate.
It’s an extremely concise and accurate assessment, while lacking any real political economy or a systematic materialist ecology. Doesn’t matter – he nails the broad strokes in a 45m slideshow. Neoliberal econ is indeed just a hallucinatory pseudoscience. The social practice of capitalism is destroying the biospheric basis upon which it necessarily depends, locking in a terminal trajectory for ourselves and for the biosphere as we know it.
A planned economic contraction is necessary.
An unplanned one is happening already anyways.
We disagree with the hypothesis that overshoot behavior is primarily genetic. Human beings are actually relatively underdetermined by genetics, which explains the extraordinarily creative ways we are able to individuate and adapt, and allows for what we experience as freedom. Our genetics would, in this case, be a contingent adaptation to the MPP itself – insofar as we treat it as a physical law. Our socio-linguistic programming is another contingent adaptation to historical/material conditions. If you change it and the structure of social relations, you get different people – people who don’t necessarily conform to the MPP, or at least are resistant to it. (Maybe they even understand themselves with scientific theoretical terrains).
And of course – you just don’t get an infinitely expanding population without an infinitely expanding economic machine fueled by an energy surplus.
Humans need to be continually educated/educating each other. This is the point of the method of self-criticism/other-criticism. A public forum/structure for such interactions would necessarily be a part of any socialist project. Within capitalist relations/symbolic constructs everyone gets frozen into a kind of permanent adolescence after their schooling. Most don’t have the opportunity or the incentive to use their neocortex much – reptile and mammal brains are enough to get by. Wage labor is groundhog day no matter what you do. (A planned division of labor with rotating generalist positions would make us all competent and interesting outside of our specializations). Entertainment, hyperspecialization and commodified relations have ruined us all.
We built a lowest-common denominator civilization, so that’s what we got. Unfortunately, the environmental impact of our combined bestiality is far worse than any Euro-Enlightenment humanism (or antihumanism) could have understood.
Much of what we consider to be thought, identity, or agency happens after external stimuli. Thus, changes in conditions generally precede changes in consciousness. So ya, big population correction -> chaos -> adaptation to new conditions -> ??? Like Rees mentions, the hope is that our successors, if there are any, evolve to better use their neocortex.
Whatever social projects follow the Filter, they will be a lot smaller, more local and autonomous (yay!) so there will different variations and attempts. The projects that understand the necessity of building towards a thermodynamically conscious ecosocialism will stand the best shot. The more communists get through the bottleneck the better.
So we’re facing a population die off in the next few decdes back down to around where we were before fossil fuels – 2ish billion people.
This will be extremely good for the biosphere and very bad for us – at least initially. Perhaps the Filter will have turned out to have been a positive development – fewer humans will do far less damage and last longer. Maybe here there is hope. it will depend on how we choose to make our history with the conditions that have been given to us – if those conditions are navigable. And if there is any us left! The revolution will be the filter and after.
Nuclear and geoengineering get a shoutout here. ‘allowing a corporal’s guard of humanity to continue on and make more mistakes’. Huzzah! The vanguard. That’s exactly what we need – bottleneck vanguards. The green army. The guy who made this suggestion is definitely a humanist and a materialist of some kind. He gets it! Nuclear fission is primo shit compared to anything else we have, full stop.
And it’s not that scary – Chernobyl is currently our greatest rewilding success. Meltdowns – insofar as they might occur, which they definitely don’t have to – are quite local and relatively temporary. The radiation does all kinds of fucky things ya – but can do good or ill in contingent ways we can’t anticipate. Nature is nothing but mutations mutating, after all.
Only 1 person has died from Fukushima! And like – everybody knows that coal plants spew all kinds of radiation directly into the atmosphere, right? We just don’t hysterically handwring and catastrophize over the number of people killed by coal. or cars. or private healthcare. or commodified housing. or poverty.
All of which kill far more people than nuclear fission ever has, will, or could.
There’s only 667 of these things that have ever been built. There’s no blast radius to a meltdown, and the resulting radiation spread radius is heavily dependent on local weather and geography. Ecosystems love meltdowns, they keep humans out! Fission plants are way more valuable than they are risky and always have been – the popular demonization of them is just ignorance and propaganda. They’re expensive and not profitable, you see. FINALLY – 3rd and 4th generation plants have effective failsafe shutoffs. Which is to say – they can turn themselves off without human operators!
It’s not like there aren’t risks and GGE costs to nuclear power, it’s that we literally don’t have anything else in the same category.
There are going to be wars faught over the control of fission plants after collapse. A loop of nuclear capable of building more nuclear – civilization’s got a shot! socialism could do it!
working class WoC putting the pieces together on incoming food crisis. stock up!
To the undead youth – we have failed you.
Remember fusion? A less than 1:1 ERoEI after half a century of research. That’s right – it’s a power sink. womp. Never got the resources it needed. long term research? Not profitable.
Sorry science. Sorry civilization. Sorry kids. Capitalism: no long term plan. Seems like a good idea.
Steve Keen, Ye Tao, Henrik Nordborg, Sally Goerner, Carey King and Chris Cook in an incredible roundtable discussion on #collapse.
Economics was a mistake.
How to enjoy the end of the world? We can only get to the light by going through the dark night.
A fascinating look at ERoEI ratios throughout history and a comprehensive overview of the energy cliff. Really slams home how badly we screwed fossil fuels up. We should have immediately throttled the shit out of that stuff and rationed it very carefully while we shunted as many resources as possible towards finding better long term energy sources. Instead, we had a party and destroyed the biosphere while fusion research got completely shafted. God, capitalism is so incredibly terrible at resource distribution. We should be throttling energy usage now. It’s outside of any active political window, but the necessity persists. It’s starting to happen in some places. If civilization lasts long enough, energy rations will eventually be universal.
Simple, slow, pretty take on a thermodynamic theory of history. Limited by bio-reductive metaphors, but one of the better ‘big picture’ summations I’ve ever seen.
A social project running entirely on ‘renewable’ energy would already entail massive downsizing – and liberal green activism is totally co-opted by capital.
Lotsa libs buttmad about the PotH docu – here’s a critique of it from the just ‘ave a think dude. I like this guy – he thinks!
…but he doesn’t get it. Like, at all. While ‘renewable’ energy sources have demonstrably less of a GGE impact than any fossil-fuel type setup (duh), that impact is still non-zero. They also generate far less energy, and the raw materials are finite too. (Doing a HAHA GOTCHA over a difference between gigawatts instead of megawatts shows me this guy isn’t a systemic thinker: any power production that isn’t in terawatts is a rounding error – see chart below).
In addition, those ‘massive gains’ in solar efficiency since some of this footage was filmed have a very expensive soft cap. They’re also far more intensive resource and GGE wise when you include the batteries necessary for them to operate as any kind of baseload – insofar as they can (I’ve seen sims and isolated reports that claim they can and are – but this possibility is geographically limited, and will change with the climate). And a 20-30 year lifespan is a joke (with decreasing efficiency the entire time to boot – these fuckers start sucking when they get dusty!)
To top things off – under capitalist relations ‘renewables’ don’t actually reduce fossil fuel usage.
The more energy we generate, the more we use!
Weeeee! Wind and solar do absolutely nothing, as long as we continue to reproduce capitalist social relations. We have to throttle energy usage!
Awww yeah look at that ‘free market’ go lmao. Really putting a dent in our fossil fuel junkie deathpact. Just ‘ave a think duder is still locked into atavistic ‘progress’ historical coordinates. He’s also taking a bunch of corporate propaganda at face value – corporations lie, my dude. It’s what they do.
But insofar as you still believe ‘renewables’ can keep our insane ‘lifestyles’ going:
…you’re gonna want a matrix of social relations that can actually somewhat deliberately plan capital/labour/resource allocation, for starters.
So the gibbs docu is edited in a way to make ‘renewables’ seem worse than they are – but only slightly. It’s still more right than ‘ave a think bloke – who lacks a systematic political economy or ecology, and thinks that corporations tell the truth. Everything is propaganda, there is no neutral perspective, and facts always come pre-interpreted.
And actually, come to think of it – given the appalling ERoEI’s of wind and especially solar, the horrendous raw material requirements, and the intermittency issues that can only be mitigated by throwing more raw materials and energy at them, FURTHER reducing ERoEI – they’re actually worse than PotH is able to grok. Sorry hippies – its fission or bust. Or maybe a last-second fusion miracle.
But wait! What about cutting edge perovskite photovoltaics?
This video is an excellent example of how obscurantist and idealist the bright green, techno-optimist (liberal) worldview horizon is.
We start with: the sun is renewable (is it?), so solar panels must be too! They are magic, after all.
Then it quotes our Main Man Musk as a source for claiming that it would only take 100 sq. miles of solar PVs to power the entire united states. Yeah, with those same PVs that have between a 1:1 and 2:1 ERoEI when hooked up to the only thing that can begin to make them baseload effective – batteries. (For the record: our civilization’s reproduction requires a 11-14:1 ERoEI from the total mix in order to maintain a bare minimum of functionality – so like, solar just ain’t it).
But of course, Musk is a billionaire, so he obviously can’t be wrong, right?
‘Renewables’ could only be renewable if they were able to power their own reproduction cycle. The only way they could really, actually do this is if we had energy-mass conversion technology. (We don’t). Barring that, at least being able to supply all the power for their existing reproduction cycle would be a step in the right direction. (They can’t). This would still have to be combined with a social mode that could downregulate its own thermodynamic metabolism, otherwise any energy surplus we generate gets immediately used. (lol)
Contra Musk: A bunch of one-time solar panels thrown up in a desert somewhere do absolutely nothing.
Our narrator here thinks the main disadvantage of silicon PVs is that they’re resource intensive, emit GGE through their production process, and are complex to manufacture. This is all true – but it’s their terrible ERoEI and intermittency that are the real kickers here. Perovskite cells seem like they could better in most ways – except their durability. That’s a pretty big disadvantage, no doubt. He asserts that serious scientists understand these technologies ‘objectively’. What does he mean by this? ‘Increased efficiency’, ‘Reduced materials usage’, ‘Reduced manufacturing complexity’, and ‘Cost’.
Every single one of these metrics is relative and contextually dependent. Efficiency is still soft-capped by the shockley-queisser limit – which is 31% for perovskite cells, roughly equivalent to that of standard single-junction silicon PVs. Reduced materials usage and manufacturing complexity is definitely good – but the comparison point here is still silicon PVs – not a high bar in either aspect.
And which kind of cost? Absolute monetary cost is physically meaningless – the only even remotely objective economic measurement here is the profit margin, something that is (or should be) completely irrelevant when the future of civilization is at stake. How about ERoEI, the only objective measurement that matters?
Well – the answer is we don’t know yet, and we won’t know until mass production lines are up and running. The most fundamental thermodynamic metric isn’t even mentioned in this vid, and is measurable only retroactively. Womp. Solar will never be as energy dense as fossil fuels – because fossil fuels themselves are solar batteries, charged over billions of years. Nothing else will ever be that energy dense!
the situation’s over.
Science was really cool.
This docu obscures the production layer, focusing only on distribution.
It is also obscurantist in that it obfuscates the antagonism of interests, trying to make it appear as if it’s filmed from a neutral perspective. The workers know that higher wages are good – but management insists that low labor costs are necessary for the supply chain matrix to function. (The docu allows the workers to speak, but is itself still aligned with capital). It’s not functioning very well anymore post-covid, and there’s no immediate way to fix it. The world system as we knew it is breaking down, and its segments are necessarily becoming more autonomous. It is a thermodynamic guarantee that these supply chains will collapse eventually.
agriculture in the post-holocene. the only problem? capitalism will never do this shit at scale.
23:59 on the ol’ doomsday clock.
Truth hurts, and happiness is for idiots.
Poor Peter Carter. Dude used to be on the ipcc, now he looks like a walking heart attack. Update your cognitive apparatus comrade carter, and face to extinction! 1.5c is catastrophic post-holocene phase shift, which is already happening right now, and 2c is ‘way worse than nuclear winter’. We are full steam ahead, and drastically underestimating the consequences of where we’re already at.
Nothing is certain. Even math is based on contradiction. All our knowledge is historically contingent.
Kanada’s tar sands – one of the most brutal and devastating nodes in the global extinction project.
The liberal imperialist project is failing – and this dude doesn’t even marx!
Lacan vs jung. Jung forgot to do his homework.
The economist is a liberal propaganda rag, so they leave the ‘drastic measures’ required to prevent this unstated (god, aliens, revolution, or collapse).
They also forget to mention why a 3rd of the world’s population lives in slums (hint: it starts with a C). And this vid focuses on our peripheral ‘others’ as the primary victims, while not really dealing with the impact to the cores – which depend on the peripheries in order to continue the extraction/accumulation/extinction process.
They also rather muchly underestimate how devastating a 3c world will actually be – this is world-system collapse territory, not ‘oh some coastlines will be underwater and it might be too hot for us to continue to exploit tropical populations anymore’. These guys have an embarassingly impoverished conceptual apparatus – because they’re billionaire stooges, telling a willing audience what it wants to hear.
We had just started to understand stuff too!
We have always been terraformers – but we never had to be the bad kind. This guy knew!
If you want to be a thinker today, you have to be able to face to lacan.
This film is from 2010 and tries to spell it out simply and gently. We have just accelerated since then. Destroyers of worlds!
Johnston is some of the hottest shit on the planet right now fwiw.
Nothing we ever did is worth what we have done.
The universe was only just beginning when we killed ourselves.
We were just a blip – but the universe could not see its own end except through us.
What if we had acted like we were worth saving?
What if we had acted like our existing was the point of existence?