Major disaster or creeping decay? A huge, amorphous disaster like an Extinction Event can last anywhere from minutes (asteroid impact) to 500 million years (volcanic eruptions). The current extinction event, thought to be the sixth, began at least a century or two ago and may continue for another century or two, though that period could be drastically shortened by a number of potential events such as nuclear war or climate change. Human events are rarely severe enough to cause drastic, lasting change unless they are supported by many other, seemingly less significant situations and events. For instance, a small change in the climate can favor some microorganisms over others, and result in sudden, unexpected die-offs of particular species such as starfish, with unpredictable environmental consequences. Terrible typhoons killed hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar and China, and the Sichuan earthquake killed tens of thousands, but these countries’ populations barely showed the difference a decade later. So how can we expect the next century to play out? Continue reading
Category Archives: economics
It’s 2019 and, still, nobody is paying attention to the population explosion. As 2018 was drawing to a close I happened to be at a dinner with a friend, University of Michigan professor emeritus in environmental studies, Jim Crowfoot, and when, as we often do, we spoke of overpopulation and climate change he leaned over to me and very quietly and seriously said “The house is on fire, but nobody’s paying attention.” He wasn’t kidding. Continue reading
Our problems from population overgrowth focus mostly on food, and are not decreasing. As I have suggested in past posts, famine will be a key element of the global collapse humanity is racing towards, and this article describes the current status of our global food infrastructure. This additional article provides even more detail. Unfortunately, it appears we are steadily losing ground and on a path to disaster. Continue reading
Messing up our climate with excessive CO2 emissions is taking huge risks. With the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere rising faster every year, and massive releases of stronger greenhouse gases like methane (natural gas), it is likely that sea levels will continue to rise worldwide. What people don’t remember is that small changes in sea level have happened all along, and that it wasn’t that long ago when, because we were still emerging from the last ice age, sea levels were several feet (or tens of feet) lower. Now humanity has built so heavily in areas near sea level that almost any rise is reflected in an increased frequency of damaging floods. In some areas the flooding already happens from a high tide, and no storm or other weather event is needed.
There is a lot more ice (and potential sea level rise) than most people realize. Another thing people don’t realize is that there is enough ice on land in just Greenland and Antarctica to increase sea levels by 200 FEET! If some portion of this increase happens quickly, in less than a month, for instance, humanity will be completely surprised and “caught with our pants down” as famine and pandemic result. So much of our food reaches us via container ships that, when the container ports are shut down by a sea level increase of a foot or two, shiploads of food will spoil at sea, grocery store shelves will get sparse, and there is a danger of people panicking and making runs on the grocery stores and banks.
I certainly hope humanity comes to its senses soon. Thanks for reading — Tim
Look at each of the world’s most threatening and pervasive problems and their cost projections. Would a subset of them be able to bankrupt a major national (or regional) economy? Will the coming population explosion cause major problems when those nations that still have funding for problem mitigation run out of money? Continue reading
2017 was a record year for the cost of weather disasters, and this article reviews them in detail. Infrastructure has become critically overdue for repairs during the last few years. Can we afford to fix the outcomes of weather disasters in the future? When will we no longer be able to afford to cope with weather disasters or fix our infrastructure? Can that time be far away?
I hope to stick around and watch, and hope that Americans will get smarter (and more principled) soon.
Thanks for reading — Tim
This article from the Weather Underground folks pulls together several study results to show how farmers around the world are finding new methods that reduce the negative effects of climate change and provide sustainable, productive agriculture. We need a LOT more of this kind of thinking, and hopefully it will help buy us time until we can see our way to controlling the population explosion. We will never be safe and our civilization will never be sustainable in the long run without that.
Thanks for reading — Tim