Category Archives: sustainability

Will the End of Civilization Sneak Up On Us?


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

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The Problems of the Population Explosion Will Increasingly Overlap


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

How Fast Will Sea Levels Rise? No one Really Knows


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

Empty Subdivisions and Crumbling Infrastructure Could Follow the Population Explosion


With  the population over 7 billion people now, heading for 10 billion by 2050 or so, the earth’s resources will be insufficient, sooner or later, and there will be a period of problems that will result in population collapse.  After that decade (or three) of ever larger natural disasters, epidemics and wars we will be left with vast wildernesses of empty, decaying buildings.  The infrastructure will be, at best, worse than it is now, and nonexistent in some places.  The sprawling subdivisions of North America will be sparsely populated and most houses and buildings will be crumbling with nobody to keep them up, and no money or materials for the task, either.  Freeways will be useful for all kinds of traffic with very few or no cars left.  Fossil fuels will be scarce and too expensive for most people, and walking, cycling, and a revival of horse transportation will become the norm.  When the freeway overpasses crumble and fall people will just use the on and off ramps to go around them.

It is hard, from here, to imagine how the aftermath of the population explosion will play out, but times will certainly be hard.  And still there is no meaningful or constructive public discussion of how we can reduce the birthrate, and news media continue to trumpet big business’s line that growth is essential and that population decline is a thing to be avoided.  That is frightening.

Thanks for reading, and please help people understand how much more important overpopulation is than any of the problems we see daily, almost all of which result from it.  – Tim

Nation-scale Energy Sustainability May Be Closer Than It Appears


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

How Long Can We Afford Our Weather Disasters?


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

Agricultural Practices Can Mitigate Global Warming


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