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: energy infrastructure
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
More and more often I am seeing articles like this one, describing how wind, solar, and hydropower are making fossil fuel-powered energy plants increasingly obsolete. The long term survival of humanity and all life on the planet may hinge on how many humans we load onto the planet, how much energy we each use, and how much pollution is associated with that energy. Sustainable sources have a lot less pollution associated with them than traditional sources, and this is largely a result of manufacturing processes rather than operating outcomes. When whole countries start becoming self-sufficient on alternative, cleaner power sources, everyone benefits. Our long term future depends on achieving complete, long term sustainability, and every country will have to invest in sustainable power if they are to support a clean (survivable) environment.
Thanks for reading — Tim
As the planet warms, and as scientists have predicted for decades, weather events have become more severe, more quick to develop, and the costs have skyrocketed. This past hurricane season included two with over a billion dollars in damage. Our infrastructure is already in bad shape generally, and rising sea levels are compromising more and more of that infrastructure in the most populated areas of the planet. What next? Continue reading
The adoption of digital communications technology keeps accelerating, but brings risk. The crash phase of the global population explosion may not start with food shortages, global pandemic, or world war, but with a widespread shutdown of the internet. The disruption to our shipping, energy, and food systems would be catastrophic. But isn’t the internet too resilient from its diversity, complexity, and vast extent to be at risk of a global shutdown? How might this come about? Continue reading
Every species of life has evolved and is here because they successfully adapted to change and had more offspring. The human population explosion presents risks we’d all like to avoid, such as global economic collapse, famine, and epidemics, but it is caused by having more offspring, exactly the success pattern that got us here in the first place. We can’t evolve or adapt our way out of this – we will run out of energy and food sooner or later – so we need to reduce our birth rate to a sustainable level by using our brains and being creative – instinct won’t do it for us. More advanced technologies, conservation, and everything else we are doing today will unfortunately only enable people to have more children, worsening our problems. Politicians and the media won’t talk about this problem, so we need to. It is the toughest problem we’ve ever face, and millions or possibly billions of lives hang in the balance. Here are some more in-depth thoughts on this most important topic. Continue reading