Environmentalism

On Being a 21st Century Peasant

Environmentalist Bill McKibben's new book on the coming global collapse.

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“Here’s all I’m trying to say: The planet on which our civilization evolved no longer exists,” asserts environmentalist Bill McKibben in his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. “The earth that we knewâ€"the only earth we ever knewâ€"is gone.” According to McKibben, we are about to find ourselves living on a much less friendly planet he calls “Eaarth.” Why? Because the climate is about to get really freaky due to man-made global warming and we’re also about to run out of oilâ€"the apocalypse, courtesy of Peak Temperature and Peak Oil combined. McKibben is no stranger to environmentalist jeremiads, having declared The End of Nature back in 1989 due to global warming and the rise of biotechnology. Twenty years later he’s declaring the end of civilization, at least, as we know it.

Eaarth follows the time-honored structure of environmentalist tracts, opening with a quick rehearsal of the science that allegedly seals our terrible fate, followed by a much longer disquisition outlining the author’s elaborate plan for salvation. But to give McKibben some credit; unlike many prior doomsters, such as Paul Ehrlich or climatologist Stephen Schneider, McKibben doesn’t argue for top-down centralized salvation. Instead he thinks that the situation is so dire that centralized solutions will fail and that we’ll have to return to living in villages and farmsâ€"to become 21st century peasants.

Melting arctic ice, expanding tropics, melting mountain glaciers, acidifying oceans, worse hurricanes, and rising seas are all cited as evidence of impending doom by McKibben. All of these things, with the exception of worse hurricanes, are happening. For example, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, for instance, the arctic ice cap has been melting away at a rate of about 3 percent per decade since 1978. New research does suggest that a lot of this melting can be attributed to wind shifts rather than directly to global warming. Interestingly, Arctic sea ice recovered this March to almost normal levels. But McKibben is right that global temperatures have been increasing. One set of satellite data shows that global average temperatures have been increasing at a rate of 0.13 degrees Celsius per decade since 1979. Overall, surface records suggest that average temperature has increased by about 0.7 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years.

So he's not wrong about everything. But so eager is he to make his case for doom, McKibben can't resist pushing data farther than it should go. To see how McKibben uses and abuses available data to construct a tale of climate doom, let's examine his treatment of hurricane data. McKibben asserts that “One hundred eleven hurricanes formed in the tropical Atlantic between 1995 and 2008, a rise of 75 percent over the previous thirteen years.” Fair enough. But what if one parses the data the way respected hurricane researchers at Florida State University do? Those researchers find globally that the number of major tropical cyclones during the 1980s was 149, in 1990s was 179, and in 2000s was 165. The overall trend is not significant during the past 30 years. The overall numbers for tropical storms: 1980s: 324, 1990s: 367, 2000s: 317. In addition, the actual total energy of tropical cyclones has been declining for the past 30 years. On the other hand, new research by climate modelers suggests that global warming will result in fewer but stronger hurricanes.

To prove that things are getting worse, McKibben cites a 2008 New York Times op-ed which claims that the last 30 years have yielded as many weather-related disasters as the first three quarters of the 20th century combined. The op-ed notes that the U.S. has suffered the most. Sounds bad, right? Sure, but a closer look reveals that annual global mortality from weather disasters has declined from nearly 500,000 per year in the 1920s to 22,000 annually in the early 21st century. The annual mortality rate has dropped from 242 per million in the 1920s to 3 per million. In the U.S., the amount of property damaged by weather events is indeed up, but almost entirely because there is more property to damage and because more people live in coastal areas subject to hurricanes.

With regard to rising seas, the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fourth Assessment report estimated that overall rise would likely be between 7 and 23 inches by 2100. In general, sea level has been rising at about 8 inches per century. As to how humanity might cope with rising seas, consider the case of Boston. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that sea level has been rising at Boston at a rate of 10 inches per century. Yet, the city has not been inundated. In fact, as the accompanying map shows, since 1775 the city has dramatically expanded into areas that were once covered by the sea. In other words, people don’t just stand there and drown as the rising waves break over their heads. They adapt and thrive.

Apparently concerned that apocalyptic claims about climate change weren't enough, McKibben dives into resource depletion as well. McKibben nostalgically looks back to The Limits to Growth, a 1972 report from the Club of Rome that describes just what the name suggests. As examples of reaching the predicted limits to growth McKibben cites declining fish catches since the 1990s and peaking per capita grain production in the 1980s. Looking behind these claims, one finds that wild-caught fish production has been falling, but aquaculture has been boosting overall supplies. The latest report from the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization finds in 1970 that per capita fish consumption was around 11 kilograms per person; in 2006, it had risen to around 17 kilograms per person, almost entirely due to aquaculture. And McKibben misses the point entirely that wild-caught fisheries are declining not because their limits were reached but because they have been plundered as open access commons.

With regard to global grain supplies, McKibben is right that per capita supplies peaked in the 1980s, but he fails to mention that overall global grain production has been steadily increasing since the 1970s. After reaching 376 kilograms of grain per person in 1986, even the alarmists at the Worldwatch Institute observed, “In recent decades, as growth in grain production has matched population growth, per capita production has hovered around 350 kilograms per person.” Just a note: About a third of all grain is fed to animals to produce meat.

So what to do in the face of all this doom and gloom? “We’ll need, chief among all things, to get smaller and less centralized, to focus not on growth but on maintenance, on a controlled decline from the perilous heights to which we’ve climbed,” asserts McKibben. Why? Because climate change will make it more difficult to raise food using modern agriculture and, even more importantly, because we’re about to run out of oil to drive our tractors and supply our fertilizers. Thus McKibben concludes that we will have to retreat to small towns and begin to raise food using more labor. He envisions the future on Eaarth as a kind of communitarian back-to-the-land agrarian utopia.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume he’s right about peak oil; does that mean the era of expansive global civilization and economic growth is over? Not necessarily. Surely one can imagine that transportation might become increasingly electrified, perhaps using new-fangled traveling wave nuclear reactors. This would reduce the demand for oil keeping its price relatively lower for farming uses. In addition, biotechnologists have developed crop varieties that use two-thirds less nitrogen fertilizer than conventional varieties do which would also reduce the demand for oil in farming. In other words, civilization could well save itself by means of technological fixes and economic growth.

McKibben cites a quotation from economist Larry Summers who is now President Barack Obama’s chief economics adviser. “There are no … limits to the carrying capacity of the earth that are likely to bind any time in the foreseeable future. There isn’t a risk of an apocalypse due to global warming or anything else,” said Summers in 1999. “The idea that we should put limits on growth because of some natural limit is a profound error.” Summers is expressing confidence in human creativity to innovate and to solve problems. In Eaarth, McKibben sees retreat from modernity as our only option because he believes that humanity has reached the limits of our creativity.

Ronald Bailey is Reason's science correspondent. His book Liberation Biology: The Scientific and Moral Case for the Biotech Revolution is available from Prometheus Books.

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  1. “Here’s all I’m trying to say: The planet on which our civilization evolved no longer exists,” asserts environmentalist Bill McKibben in his new book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. “The earth that we knew?the only earth we ever knew?is gone.”

    Hyperbolize much Bill?

    The predictions of the end of civilization by environmentalists have the exact same track record as the predictions for the end of humanity by Christian fundies.

    1. McKibben suffers from premature especulation.

      1. Hey, he looked really great on the street corner last night. Sandwich board with red letters “The World Ends Tomorrow!”
        But the best was his signboard on a stalk: “Women and Minorities Suffer Most!”
        Not much of a crowd, though. Most folks like the violinist better.

    2. The theology is settled!!!

    3. Someone only has to be right once.

      1. Let us know if that ever happens to you.

        1. Plus a buck three-eighty.

        2. +12

        3. Gobbler, I have never been so proud of you than I am right now.

        4. +100

        5. The trouble with comming late to this board is…everyone else has kicked Tony’s ass, but good.

      2. Funny Tony, but I bet Jim Jones was sure he was right too.

        1. He certainly was. He was right about what that Kool-aid would do.

      3. “Someone only has to be right once”

        Well, thats settled. Lets freak out about every little thing someone says we should be scared of.

      4. Red 6 – fuck yeah!

    4. We’re too dependent on domestic production of maize.We’re exceeding the carrying capacity of our environment.

      1. what happened to my other “a”?

        1. The same thing that happened to your civilization?

        2. Actually, they think at this point that most of the serious deforestation happened as a result of an incredibly wood intensive process for making red dye, which the Mayans put on all important buildings. Deforesting most of the Yucatan may have precipitated (see what I did here?) a major drought that caused people to leave the cities.

          1. Interesting, but remember the East Coast of the United States was heavily deforested after people started arriving there from Europe (the 2nd wave). Been there recently? Outside the big cities, its nothing but Democrats, trees and mosquitos.

            Maybe the Mayans had other problems like constant warfare from neighbors and stagnation in development? Lack of ‘the wheel’? Can’t travel very far on goat sucking.

            1. “Outside the big cities, its nothing but Democrats, trees and mosquitos.”
              Sounds like a great place…if it weren’t for the Democrats.

              1. It isn’t.

      2. What the hell is a Myan environmentalist?

        1. Coca farmer

    5. That’s because both groups believe in an apocolyptic religion.

    6. In a way he’s right about one thing: the planet on which we evolved no longer exists as it did millenia ago, but it has ALWAYS been thus. Religious fundamentalists, such as Greens, need to get it through their heads that there never was a perfect Garden of Eden that man came and changed from The One Way Things Are Supposed To Be.

  2. The predictions of the end of civilization by environmentalists have the exact same track record as the predictions for the end of humanity by Christian fundies.

    There’s that. But Christian nuts don’t have plans to end civilization.

    (Nothing that ends with “And then God will _______!” is a plan.)

  3. Jeebus, what a ‘tard.

    Resource depletion? Really? Didn’t we sort out that particular Malthusian eco-wet dream already?

    1. I LOOM LARGE!

      1. In your own mind, Paul.

  4. Ronald —

    I just met with the President, where I was proud to fill him in on all the great work that you’re doing to pass energy reform.

    We spoke about the calls you’ve made, the letters you’ve written, and the terrific events you’ve organized on the ground.

    And he asked me to pass along a message to you: All of your hard work is paying off. The conversations he’s been having with members of Congress in these days are far more productive because you’ve spoken up back home.

    The President is optimistic — and thinks we’re going to have a vote and pass reform very, very soon. But he also made it clear that he’s not letting up for a moment, and urged that all of us do the same…

    I’m grateful for all you’ve done. And today, the President reminded me that he is as well.

    Yours in Post Carbon,

    Phil McBibben

  5. McBibben probably needs to have a chat with Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford University, John McCarthy. He wrote one of the best fact-based examinations of human sustainability web pages available.

    PROGRESS AND ITS SUSTAINABILITY

    Whenever another Malthusian pops his head up to scream about the end of the world, it makes the baby jesus cry.

  6. That dude looks like a connoisseur of Swiss chard.

    1. You misspelled choad.

    2. I grow Swiss chard, Warty. Is there a problem with that? (I also grow red Russian kale, Persian garden cress, etc…)

      1. Possibly. Are you an ashen walking skeleton like this guy?

        1. Hell no. I enjoy it as a side dish to a mess of bacon and ham.

          1. Then we’re the same kind of people, you and I. I bet this guy doesn’t even cook his greens with bacon grease. What a fag.

      2. I grow Swiss chard, Warty. Is there a problem with that? (I also grow red Russian kale, Persian garden cress, etc…)

        Not after global warming you won’t.

    3. He looks like a guy who collects novelty backscratchers as his hobby, and doesn’t think that’s goofy at all.

      1. He looks like he gives out apples on Halloween.

        1. Nope. Dental dams floss. And pennies. Yeah, he’s that kinda guy.

          1. Looks more like he’s trying to trade candy with children for something improper. Kinda priestly.

  7. Poser.

  8. Because he argues that climate change combined with imminent resource depletion will lay the planet and the people on it low.

    I am always weary of anybody arguing from the premise that “resources will be depleted”. Only humans can say what a resource is, and that depends on each human’s perception. Before the 1800s, nobody thought petroleum was a resource. After 1950, a very recalcitrant few still think that whale oil is a resource. It all depends on value, which the subjectivists proved it resides on the eye of the beholder. What is a resource? Whatever we think is one. Not one single thing has such intrinsic feature. Most people will agree on a very few things, such as water and soil, as resources, but still, there can exist other more valuable items depending on their marginal utility.

    So an argument that stems from the premise that “resources will be depleted” is an exercise in futility.

    1. Agreed. I remember reading that sometime in the nineteenth century, there were people anguishing over the inevitable end of trees due to their being used as fuel by an ever increasing population.

    2. After 1950, a very recalcitrant few still think that whale oil is a resource.

      I actually saw whale oil for sale in a gun shop once, to keep your gun lubed in very low temperatures.

      Its been years (and years), but I seem to recall it was going for about $20/oz.

      So there’s that.

      1. I know you enjoy projecting a neanderthal persona, but seriously – whale oil for guns? Did the gunsmith have any of those new-fangled percussion locks?

        1. Actually its a very eco friendly gun product. Whale oil is one of the few things that allows our weapons to work properly when culling massively out-of-control polar bear populations.

          Nobody in the 90’s wanted to take my more humane solution of transporting them to Lilith Fair festivals where they could frolic and have plenty to eat.

        2. I’ve used sperm oil on flintlocks and percussion-cap locks.

          Works great, doesn’t dry out, doesn’t gum up. Good for moving parts that don’t see extended high temperatures in operation.

      2. ‘Ed’s Red’ Bore Cleaner is a copy of a pre WWII military bore cleaner.

        From the link –

        The original Hatcher formula called for equal parts of acetone, turpentine, Pratts Astral Oil and sperm oil, and optionally 200 grams of anhydrous lanolin added per liter.

        I thought this interesting:

        An inexpensive, effective substitute for sperm oil is Dexron (II, IIe or
        III) automatic transmission fluid. Prior to about 1950 that most ATF’s
        were sperm oil based, but during WWII a synthetic was developed for use in precision instruments. With the great demand for automatic
        transmission autos after WWII, sperm oil was no longer practical to
        produce ATF in the quantity demanded, so the synthetic material became
        the basis for the Dexron fluids we know today. The additives in ATFs
        which include organometallic antioxidants and surfactants, make it
        highly suitable for inclusion in an all-purpose
        cleaner-lubricant-preservative.

        I mixed up a batch back in the day but frankly wasn’t impressed. It was cheap but there are a lot of modern proprietary products that work a whole lot better, IMHO.

        1. It’s not a bad condom lube for your little pistol either. Of course cats follow you around for days after.

        2. The tiny vial of special additive for Dana-Spicer limited-slip differentials (marketed until recently by the General Motors Corporation) contains actual, real whale oil. It is still available: the sperm whale outlived GM. I use half a pint per decade in my Studebaker. Works like a pip!

  9. But so eager is he to make his case for doom, McKibben can’t resist pushing data farther than it should go.

    Which is another way of saying he’s being expedient.

    1. Which is another way of saying he’s being expedient a propagandist.

      1. Thats better.

    2. Old Mexican|4.13.10 @ 5:33PM|#
      “Which is another way of saying he’s being expedient.”

      *Entirely* too kind. He’s a lying asshole with an agenda.

  10. Rabid environomentalists typically belong to one of two categories: technophobes who want us to return to Stone Age lifestyles and nihilists who believe mankind should be exterminated because we are evil parasites infesting Mother Earth. McKibbens primarily is a technophobe environmentalist, but to live as he describes requires a huge reduction in population, so he’s a bit of a nihilist, too.

    We should relocate all these “environmentalists” to a remote area of the Siberian tundra, give them six months of food, some appropriate seeds, and a Stone Age survival manual. We’ll see how the survivors (if any) feel about their proposed solutions five years later.

    1. “nihilists who believe mankind should be exterminated ”

      I thought they believed in nothing?

        1. Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.

          1. supurb quote

    2. how would you classify chris martenson?

  11. I want to know the secret of how people can repeatedly make stupid prognostications that prove woefully wrong and STILL get paid to do it again?

    Is it something they teach at Harvard?

    1. Well, yes, it’s a phenomena that seems fairly routine in government and academia. Doesn’t happen as much in, say, business, where stupidity and being consistent wrong about things costs money.

      1. I approve this quote!

    2. Tony already told you. “you only have to be right once.”

  12. I think an important disinction should be made between growth and development.

    Growth can be defined as greater use of resources, more population etc.

    Development is better use of resources, increases in knowledge etc.

    Growth does have finite limits. For example, a fishery or a forest has a limit on how much you can use of that resource each year without reducing future years.

    Development on the other hand doesn’t have a limit. We can always come up with better ways to use stuff etc.

    So on one hand he’s right, there are physical limits to how much oil etc we have, and to pretend there isn’t is fairly stupid.

    On the other hand though, there should/could be solutions to those problems as long as we work towards them. (although that’s not a certainty of course).

    IMO, our enviornmenal problems are very much like our debt problems, solvable as long as we live within our means, but they will cause big problems if we don’t. IE, take out sustainable amounts of fish etc.

    1. I agree, Kroneborge. I have heard a number of intelligent people starting to emphasize this distinction, and I think it is important. We are bumping into the limits for growth, and to the degree that we will grow, that “we” will mostly be in other parts of the world. The rich nations need to focus more heavily on development – doing more with the same, or even less.

      1. Chad|4.13.10 @ 8:37PM|#
        “We are bumping into the limits for growth, and to the degree that we will grow, that “we” will mostly be in other parts of the world.”
        Cite please.

        “The rich nations need to focus more heavily on development – doing more with the same, or even less.”
        The rich nations need to do nothing more than pay what things cost.
        Remember the ‘horrible food riots’ of a couple of years ago? Well, we now have a glut of cereal.
        If the ignoramuses running the governments hadn’t subsidized ‘food for fuel’, it would have never happened at all.

        1. Cite please

          Where do you want to start?

          Minerals? Reserves on most metals are now down to a few decades, and shrinking. By mid-century, we will be stuck with expensive recycling or the mining of very low-grade ores, or both.

          Fossil fuels? We likely peaked in 2007. If we didn’t, we will peak sometime this decade. After that, it gets tough quickly. All the alternatives will be expensive.

          Water? Aquifers are dropping just about everywhere, quickly. Climate change will only make it worse.

          Soil? Disappearing rapidly in most places. Climate change will only make it worse.

          Baah, let’s forget about all this stuff. After all, it is safe to play Russian Roulette, because the market will invent some solution to the problem, if the wrong chamber happens to be loaded, right?

          1. Minerals? Reserves on most metals are now down to a few decades, and shrinking.

            We’ve never had more than a few decades of reserves, because there is no point in looking for more when we already have enough for decades. We’ve had about 20 years of oil reserves for the last 40 years.

            Fossil fuels? We likely peaked in 2007. If we didn’t, we will peak sometime this decade. After that, it gets tough quickly. All the alternatives will be expensive.

            We have enough tar sands, natural gas, and coal to last hundreds of years, and long before that, either solor or fusion power will be our main source of energy. Energy usage will keep going up throughout our lifetimes. The idea that we are running out is leftist propaganda.

            Water? Aquifers are dropping just about everywhere, quickly. Climate change will only make it worse.

            3/4 of the Earth’s surface is water. No problems here. You’re a chemist. Distill some.

            Soil? Disappearing rapidly in most places. Climate change will only make it worse.

            I call BS on this one. Climate change will make things better. More CO2 is good for plant growth, and unusable tundra will become good farmland.

            Baah, let’s forget about all this stuff. After all, it is safe to play Russian Roulette, because the market will invent some solution to the problem

            Now you’re getting it!

            1. the problem with tar sands is not the volume of oil, but the ease of extraction. Petrochemical deposits like that require more and more energy to extract the oil… Ultimately all these factors result in a bell-curve like shape to the oil availability profile. Chad’s a douche, but it’s true that peak oil is a statistical/mathemathical phenomenon, and the data look like we’ve hit the peak.

              “Peak temperature”, however, is just fucking stupid rhetoric.

          2. Chad|4.13.10 @ 11:08PM|#
            “Cite please
            Where do you want to start?
            Minerals? Reserves on most metals are now down to a few decades, and shrinking. By mid-century, we will be stuck with expensive recycling or the mining of very low-grade ores, or both.”

            I’d like to start with something other than your brain-dead claims.
            Let me repeat: CITE PLEASE!
            Are you familiar with the term? Do you have the least concept of what it means? Are you a kindergarten drop-out?
            It means: “Prove it, asshole”. Your stupid opinions carry no weight.

          3. To which Chony adds, in ignorance of all of human history:

            “Baah, let’s forget about all this stuff. After all, it is safe to play Russian Roulette,…”

            Nope, we played Russian Roulette for 70 years to find out if government did a better job than the market.
            But some assholes seem to find that lesson hard to grasp, right?

          4. Chad revels in his stupidity.

          5. Ummm, I am not sure if you are aware of this, but there are a whole lot of other rocks in the solar system that are filled with minerals. There is even a moon out there that is covered in hydrocarbon oceans. Aquifers dropping? Umm, you do realize most of the planet surface is water and that it isn’t terribly difficult to remove the salt? The soil damage is a bit tricky, but if push comes to shove, it isn’t like we can’t solve that one.

            Lack of imagination is the only thing that can doom us.

            1. All good points. But the economics of each one is questionable.

              For example desal is still awefully expenseive (although coming down) and space travel even more out there.

              Our biggest constraint IMO, is the need for cheap energy, cheap energy makes just about everything else possible.

              If we can crack that then we are good. If not there will be no end of problems.

  13. Instead he thinks that the situation is so dire that centralized solutions will fail and that we’ll have to return to living in villages and farms?to become 21st century peasants.

    Only if Al Gore goes first.

  14. Get a science degree, Bailey, you ignorant cock sucker.

    1. Like Bill McKibben?

      1. Doesn’t seem like his degree is in any field of science, as his bio notes nothing but gigs writing. I’m thinking journalism school, although regular old English major is a possibility.

        1. Exactly. Big bank takes little bank, and it appears that Ron Bailey has a more impressive degree than McKibben. Ha!

  15. I’ll never forget the time I sat in on an environmental “science” class. The goal that day was to find creative ways to praise the muslims for their love and protection of the environment, and demonize the US for its opposite stance. The whole time I’m thinking about how Sadam burned his oil fields during the Gulf War.

    Another time, I was dating the daughter of the head of the Biology department @ WFU. This idiot, a member of Greenpeace, told me the secret to acquiring funding is to try to work the negative consequences of human carbon emissions into your research. Fool that he is, he did not even realize that he basically told me that scientists were being bought off by the federal government to propagate this Malthusian nonsense.

    Coincidence that environmental disasters are a convenient excuse for increased federal power? I think not.

    1. “Another time, I was dating the daughter of the head of the Biology department @ WFU.”

      I’ve heard daughters of Biology Dept. heads fuck like minks but can’t give a blowjob worth a shit. Any truth to that?

    2. Hmm, the ones I took at UCSB (while going for my economics degree) were pretty good, and overall reflected basic economcs pretty well. Maybe you just went to a bad school?

  16. Hey Bailey, if you like traveling wave reactors for electrons on the ground, check out this nuclear motorboat for space, the Saltwater Rocket:

    http://www.npl.washington.edu/av/altvw56.html

    Mars in a week on that hot-rod.

    1. Man, when I read something cool like that it makes me want to strangle a luddite.

  17. “The planet on which our civilization evolved no longer exists,”

    Yeah, the western countries most of us grew up in no longer exist culturally thanks to libtards such as yourself.

    I think you guys call it “progress”.

    1. And in case he doesn’t get it, the ‘planet on which we lived this morning’ doesn’t exist.

    2. And, yes, it’s progress, regardless of brain-dead lefty atavism.

  18. I look forward to Ronald Bailey’s debunking of Austrian economists for their history of failed doomsday predictions. For example:

    Good Profits from Bad Times

    http://www.time.com/time/magaz…..z0g0vUDxpe

    You’ll get on this right away, won’t you, Ron?

    Ron?

    1. Pretty funny article there. The doomsday assumptions they were making then anticipated easy Fed money forever, which of course was all dried up within twelve months of the article being published. Oops.

      One thing that is always the best indicator of a bubble is when the flacks start holding seminar-getaway-retreat things – they’re always last to the party, usually when the party is just about over. Look at the “NASDAQ 10,000” crew of 1999, or the late-night real-estate “seminar” hucksters of late night infomercials circa 2007.

      When the Ivory Tower (no matter the tower, many towers are in the Ivory Castle) starts coming down to see what all the fuss is about, take your money and run…they are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine.

      Also, I see a similar pseudo-bubble in gold prices with all the hucksters trying to sell me overpriced gold trinkets and such on the TV. Gold I think is pretty accurately priced right now, its not going terrible up or down this year barring crazy developments.

      The money to make there I think is in silver. Its not as fashionable with the Randian fanboys, and the spread between gold and silver prices is way out of whack from the historical trend. Silver’s cheap…I bet its good for at least $25/oz by end of summer, get in on that before its a Glenn Beck fad like gold.

      1. How is gold in a bubble? look at the charts. I have never seen a bubble look like that. If you want to see a bubble in the process of inflating, look at platinum or palladium. Funny thing is exactly the same thing happenened four years ago. Damn, people are stupid.

        1. Palladium and platinum bubbles I think were driven by the opposite crowd – the grapenuts – because those metals are critical for hydrogen PEM cells which as we all know will save the earth when we figure out the whole source-of-free-hydrogen problem…which at the time was pitched as a nuisance in the details to figure out “later” but of course that’s not really possible.

          And you’re right, gold doesn’t look like a bubble; but if you compare its price (especially the spread vs. historical averages) with other liquid commodities like silver, oil, copper etc. there is definitely irrational valuation creeping in there.

          You see that irrationality as a developing fad to own gold amongst the Tea Party set for lack of a better a pigeonhole. Glenn Beck, G. Gordon Liddy of all people (defender of fiat-inflicting Nixon to the bitter end), they all hawk gold these days, and not as a commodity, but some kind of replacement for cash or as talismans of protest against evil Uncle Obama.

          Gold is worth its price in dollars, but I think that has more to do with dollars being cheap than gold naturally appreciating.

          Look at gold’s pricing in straight barter: It would be worth it to buy an ounce of gold for ~$1,000, but I don’t think an ounce of gold is worth sixty ounces of silver for instance, far too pricey. There’s a bubble in there somewheres.

          1. Gold’s inflation has had more to do with the weakening Dollar more than anything else. If the Chinks revalue the Yuan and the Greeks pull down the Euro, look for gold to tank.

            1. Finally get to comment on my area of expertise. Come, examine my chubby.

            2. It’s them chinks that have been the ages-long value sink for gold. They just can’t stop buying it. That’s not me talking, that’s leftist anti-goldbug Peter Bernstein. A real gold crash would ruin your chinks. And your chubby.

              Don’t be fooled by watching a lot of Liddy ads in his home market. Try tracking what those shopping-mall brokers are actually moving. Ayn Rand and I buy our gold from Blanchards of New Orleans.

              1. Understand too, a small factor in gold’s rise has been due to the big wealthy, and their intermitable fear of becomming the little wealthy, in uncertain political times.
                The government may know when you withdraw $10k, but they don’t have to know you purchased gold and stashed it in your lock box. If they can’t find it, they can’t take it.
                Hopenchange is responsible for many recent purchases of portable gold.

          2. Actually gold prices have really been pretty steady for several thousand years I believe (when you compare it to say buying loaves of bread). So yes gold goes up and down some around the mean (and where you buy in the valuation process is important)

            But as an asset class golds main claim to faim is that it isn’t fiat money.

  19. McGiblethead has been spending entirely far too much time reading science fiction alone in his bedroom laying on his bed under the poster of Thomas Malthus tacked to the ceiling above.

  20. Wow. This may mark the first time Ron Bailey actually gives credence to the possibility that fossil fuels are finite.

    1. I’ll put it this way: betting on technology whose economic feasibility relies on government say-so is not necessarily a good idea.

      1. Actually the latest research is starting to lean towards the possibility that denser fuels like petroleum are a result of the immense heart and pressure on natural gas at deep levels.

        If it keeps going that way – talk about a total spank and mind f@ck for hippies. No more finite resource doomsday predictions, the race would be on to see who could manufacture it first and cheapest.

        Maybe those idiotic pigs Ben & Jerry could then get real jobs then and stop trying to ascribe mystical progressive powers to f@ckin’ ice cream.

    2. Rob McMillin: Just for the record, see my article “Political Peak Oil” which explains what I fear will happen. Hint – governments “own” 82% of the world’s known oil reserves.

      1. Hey, Ronald Bailey, I sure as hell don’t know of any reason why governments around the world are obligated to sell their oil to you & the American consumer.

        When you say “governments “own” 82% of the world’s known oil reserves” you seem to imply that you consider yourself the owner of these oil reserves … did God hide your oil under the Muslim’s sand dunes?

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  26. 3000x more relevant than anything Chad ever posted.

  27. It seems his logic is “we are quickly running out of resources and the damage we are doing is going to dramatically effect how we live (eventually to subsistence), sooo…. we should dramatically change how we live (subsistence) to counteract it”.

    If we are going to collapse as a civilization, the only dog I have in that hunt is the collapse going to be immediate in that it will bring great unrest along with it (and my ability to survive it). A slow collapse such as the “modernity” of the ancients to dislocation of the “dark ages” wasn’t immediate, just as the ramping up the renaissance wasn’t on a dime either.

    Of course these folk prove the religiosity of their POV by supposing that it will be an immediate collapse unleashing a Hell upon mankind. You can’t set up a circular loop of logic that entails using Offensive Force against others without the obligatory Hellhound on your tail.

    1. I’m for snuffing the bastard to make more room for me.

    2. Hello Brad,

      * “If we are going to collapse as a civilization, the only dog I have … ”

      I didn’t know that you are the center of the Universe. Perhaps you are the center of your own Universe.

      This planet is going to have 9 billion humans within fifty years. The United States of America is bankrupt and insolvent.

      Given that 300 million bankrupt and insolvent people cannot afford to maintain a lifestyle which consumes 25% of the planet’s resources it is very likely that the collapse which you will experience will be sudden, catastrophic and deadly for many Americans.

      Impoverished humans who know how to live on nearly nothing will survive for quite a bit longer than the capitalist consumer class.

  28. All the global warming/climate change doom and gloom being spouted and the “solutions” reminds me of Ayn Rands The Anti Industrial Revolution!

  29. ITS THE END OF THE WORLD…..again.I’m sure the fuedal lords will make the right decisions for the dumb peasants who have put their trust in them….UGH!!!

  30. FYI, nitrogen fertilizers are made from natrural gas, not oil. Also, ethelene, the base compound for most “petrochemicals” is also made from natural gas.

  31. McKibben is an ass. He ought to paint himself blue and call himself Bill Na’vi. Or hold his breath (ah withholding that deadly pollutant, CO2) until he turns blue and passes out.

  32. We luddites are widely misunderstood. What’s so terrible about villages and farms? Y’all should visit one, oncet. Those big brokers and CEO’s and researchers and politicians: when they retire, where do they move? Thassright.

    Like many others, I did well in a civil career, invested conservatively, and retired early–to a little farm, where, without slaving, I can feed my family and a few others on rainwater and less than 50 gals of fuel a year, tractor included. I’m a net producer of topsoil. In the future, when energy is easier to transmit and we don’t have to import food to the rat-hole ghetto cities, everyone will live like this. I also have a capped oil well I’m saving for Teotwawki Sundays.

    We have books, music, movies, TV, yon intraw3bz and good beer. Are you city gurlz willing to die on the rock of live Broadway musicals? That’s what you’ve got that we ain’t. Have at ’em.

    Yes, I am a green hippie, and even I think this fruitcake is an asshole.

  33. How the human population will stabilize itself a huge issue in the near future. It is inevitable, many benefits accrue from population growth, but if it continues indefinitely, then we’re looking at some ridiculous figures, like 100 billion people within 200 years (I’m making that up, but it wouldn’t be too far off the mark). A stable population will have many negatives, aging population for a couple generation, loss of innovation, etc. but seems to be inevitable.

  34. Eaarth to McKibben… hellooooo

  35. Is the Earth warming? Yes, it’s rebounding from the previous cooling, which is enitirely natural. See the data Ron; it’s not human CO2 that causes the climate changes:

    http://www.c3headlines.com/tem…..oxies.html

  36. Ronald Bailey is a liar. He claims that there are no problems in this world when anyone with two eyes would know that our civilization is crumbling to dust right under your own two feet.

    For example, there was a story recently in the New York Times about New York City filling its 2 millionth pothole but still not keeping up with all the new potholes which are forming.

    As it turns out, the government is running out of money, energy and resources sufficient to maintain the civilization which presently exist, much less build a civilization suitable for a population of 400 million Americans within fifty years.

    Secondarily, many people claimed that walking on the moon was a stepping stone to Americans colonizing the moon and walking on Mars. We’re three Space Shuttle flights from the end of the American astronaut era without a replacement on the horizon.

    Thirdly, I wonder if Ronald Bailey has noticed that gasoline has climbed back up to $3 a gallon. Perhaps this might provide a clue as to the future of gasoline prices.

    Finally, the United States of America has amassed a national debt measured in the trillions of dollars and it is skyrocketing. Libertarians have said many doomerish things about the national debt and the future of the US Dollar, does Ronald Bailey disagree with the libertarian doomers?

  37. In my earlier post I was hopeful that the world would somehow voluntarily stabilize its population. I’ve been reading some more. I suspect the trends towards population stabilization are way overhyped. Even China’s unfortunate experiment is only slowing its growth rate, not stopping it. Well the human population has been increasing since the dawn of civilization why should it stop now?

    Its not going to stop until the entire perpetual growth machine flies apart and we collapse into a new permanent dark age, with no cheap fossil fuels to dig our way out.

  38. I can’t help but snicker when I read McKibben’s name, remembering his proud declaration, last year, that he was prepared (desperately wanting?) to be arrested at a global warming demonstration in Washington last year.

    Instead, the cops sat in their cars while the protesters shivered in an unusually severe snowstorm.

    1. Poor Clownfish … unable to comprehend the complexity of climate within the context of winter weather.

      If libertarians were scientifically literate they could avoid sounding like Foxbots.

      1. Ah, but I can comprehend the smug mantle of assumption of an alarmist (two wrong assumptions: I am neither libertarian, nor scientifically illiterate).

        What the humourless apparatchiks of the neo-Luddite movement can’t seem to comprehend is the irony of a tiny crowd of activists chanting, “it’s getting warm in here” while they huddle against an *unseasonably* (you might want to note that) severe snowstorm.

        It may or may not mean anything scientifically, but it IS damn funny.

        1. Clownfish may not be a libertarian but certainly you are scientifically illiterate.

          Really … does it seem funny to you that it is cold in the wintertime?

          Ronald Bailey has a bunch of idiots for followers. Only the most ignorant fools are amused by the thought that it is cold and snows in the wintertime.

          You need to stop listening to Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. These people are exploiting your ignorance and lying to you mercilessly.

          1. Scientifically illiterate? On what basis? Have I said *anything* about science?

            It *does* seem hilariously funny to me that a tiny rent-a-crowd of Alarmists chants “it’s getting warm in here”, while an unseasonably (repeat, unseasonably) severe snowstorm drives everyone else indoors, including the police that McKibben wanted so badly to be arrested by.

            Oh, and technically, this happened in the American spring.

            Also, being Australian, I’ve never watched, listened to, or read either Fox News, Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck.

            Now, stop making foolish assumptions.

            1. Clownfish argues like a creationist. “Where’s the missing links!” they demand with a laugh and are impressed by their own anti-science joke.

              Poor clownfish doesn’t comprehend the implications of the unseasonable severe snowstorm. Poor clownfish cannot possibly comprehend the complexity of the climate.

              There’s a reason why scientists must study the climate, clownfish, it is something not easily understood by uneducated conservative idiots.

              If you are a resident of Australia and still deny climate change you are well beyond idiot stage and must live in your own little delusional fantasy world. Bad things are happening to Australia’s climate … haven’t you noticed?

              I only ask that question rhetorically because it is quite obvious that you cannot see beyond the end of your nose, if that far.

              1. Assumptions, assumptions … or just an ass?

                Have I argued anything? Have I said anything about science? Have I denied climate change? Have I said anything about my political leanings, apart from not being a libertarian?

                With his determined ad-hominem attack (as sadly typical of Warmists as that other anti-science pseudo-religion mentioned, Creationism), David Mathews just digs himself deeper and deeper.

                Still, it’s good to see that he finally admits the snowstorm in question was unseasonable, even if he remains resolutely po-faced about its comedic implications.

                Bad things are happening to Australia’s climate? Do you mean the steady increase in rainfall over the past century? Tsk, tsk, how awful. There’s bushfires, of course, but there always have been, and much, much worse ones a century ago than we have ever seen in recent years.

                Certainly, there are periodic droughts too, but such decades-long cycles are a feature of Australia’s ecology. At least we haven’t had drought or bushfire anywhere near the terrible scale of those of the 1890s.

                “I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains,
                Of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains.
                I love her far horizons, I love her jewel-sea,
                Her beauty and her terror- the wide brown land for me!

                Core of my heart, my country! Her pitiless blue sky,
                When, sick at heart, around us we see the cattle die –
                But then the grey clouds gather, and we can bless again
                The drumming of an army, the steady soaking rain.

                Core of my heart, my country! Land of the rainbow gold,
                For flood and fire and famine she pays us back threefold.
                Over the thirsty paddocks, watch, after many days,
                The filmy veil of greenness that thickens as we gaze.”

                – “My Country”, 1904, Dorothea McKellar

                1. Hello Clownfish,

                  * “With his determined ad-hominem attack (as sadly typical of Warmists … ”

                  Oh my, a mindless drone code word! You get a Fox News cupcake … don’t ask about the frosting, though, because it ain’t chocolate!

                  * “Still, it’s good to see that he finally admits the snowstorm in question was unseasonable … ”

                  Are you really so stupid? Don’t bother answering since you have already revealed the answer.

                  * “Bad things are happening to Australia’s climate? Do you mean the steady increase in rainfall over the past century? ”

                  Your lack of knowledge is quite typical of a science denying conservative. Your lack of awareness is likewise typical of people who get all their news from college dropouts.

                  * “Certainly, there are periodic droughts too, but such decades-long cycles are a feature of Australia’s ecology. ”

                  Steadily increasing rainfall with typical decades long droughts … contradiction alert!

                  Clownfish, you are not intelligent enough to merit any further argument. Ronald Bailey has a bunch of idiot followers. He should be ashamed of himself but it must be easy to lie to such a small population of uneducated Fox News watching libertarian fools.

                  1. Still making a fool of yourself, I see.

                    According to Australian Bureau of Meteorology records, Australia’s average rainfall has steadily increased over the 20th century. Rainfall in the heavily populated south-east peaked in the 60s & 70s, but the overall trend has been steadily up.

                    Awareness fail for you, Dave.

                    You’ve (possibly deliberately) misread my sentence about drought: the *cycles* are decades-long, not the droughts themselves. The drought of the early 21st century has been severe, but nowhere near as severe as the worst on record – the drought of the 1890s. There are no official rainfall records for that period, but records do show that the 1900s was the driest period in Australia’s recorded history. The 1890s were probably even worse.

                    Similarly with bushfire: there seems to be a cycle of massive fires in the south-east of Australia on a multi-decade scale. The recent fires in Victoria, while notable for the large loss of life (due mostly to a “tree-change” increase of population in some rural areas), were actually much smaller and less devastating than Ash Wednesday in 1983, and especially Black Thursday in 1851 – the worst fires in Australia’s history.

                    Finally, once again – and I cannot emphasise this enough – I do not watch Fox News. Never seen it. Wouldn’t know Glenn Beck if I fell over him because I was running in disgust from Rush Limbaugh’s porcine visage.

                    Dave, you’ve not once tried to answer me with fact or reason: from the get-go, your sole approach has been to personally attack and insult me on the basis of nothing more than your (completely wrong) assumptions.

                    1. Hello Clownfish,

                      * “Rainfall in the heavily populated south-east peaked in the 60s & 70s, but the overall trend has been steadily up. ”

                      You seem to describe a quite dramatic change in Australia’s clinate which appears to threaten the livelihood of the heavily populated region of Australia.

                      Rain which was falling where it was needed is now falling somewhere else. Civilizations have collapsed in the past under such circumstances.

                      Too bad for Australia …

                      * “The drought of the early 21st century has been severe, but nowhere near as severe as the worst on record – the drought of the 1890s. There are no official rainfall records for that period, but records do show that the 1900s was the driest period in Australia’s recorded history. The 1890s were probably even worse. ”

                      What a horrendously self contradicting and confusing paragraph. Perhaps you don’t know what you are talking about … well, of course!

                      * “Similarly with bushfire: there seems to be … ”

                      Given the unscientific nature of your posts I’ll take your “seems to be” with a grain of dry Australian sand.

                      * “Finally, once again – and I cannot emphasise this enough – I do not watch Fox News. Never seen it. Wouldn’t know Glenn Beck if I fell over him because I was running in disgust from Rush Limbaugh’s porcine visage. ”

                      You aren’t being honest but it just doesn’t matter. There are plenty of anti-science idiots in Australia who peddle the same sort of ignorance and lies that you are peddling. They are featured on Fox News and parrot the same old party line.

                      * “Dave, you’ve not once tried to answer me with fact or reason: from the get-go, your sole approach has been to personally attack and insult me on the basis of nothing more than your (completely wrong) assumptions. ”

                      Don’t blame me for your lack of education and level of idiocy. You should have educated yourself if schools in Australia failed to teach you science.

                      Babbling on such nonsense as you are you would fit right in with Ronald Bailey’s idiot audience. You’d fit right in with the teabaggers and the creationists, too.

                    2. Insults, insults, and not a cogent argument to be seen. You’re doing yourself proud.

                      True alarmist that you are, you take a century-long shift in rainfall patterns, and construe it to mean IMMINENT DOOM! No effort to look at whether the changes are detrimental, beneficial or even significant, just OMG! CHANGE! YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE!

                      No wonder you’re such a fan of Bill McKibben.

                      I guess the paragraph on drought was a bit high-falutin’ for you: let me put in simpler form: Australia has droughts. They seem to be cyclical. The worst ones were long before industrialisation. But overall, the continent has more rain than it had a century ago.

                      You can accuse me of lying as much as you want, but I will swear in a court of law that I’ve never seen Fox News. I don’t think it’s even available in Australia (except perhaps on cable, but I don’t bother with cable).

                      You can accuse me of a “lack of education and level of idiocy”, but so far I’m the only one of us who has used fact or reason (Hell, I’ve even quoted one of our literary treasures, the late poet Dorothea McKellar), as opposed to insult and ad-hominem – THOSE are the hallmarks of teabaggers and creationists.

                    3. Hello Clownfish,

                      * “Insults, insults, and not a cogent argument to be seen.”

                      Did you expect praise for your anti-science ignorance, misinformation and lies? Either you are an idiot who believes everything you hear — no matter how self-contradictory — or you are a propagandist spreading lies to an audience of idiots who believe everything they hear.

                      * “True alarmist that you are, you take a century-long shift in rainfall patterns, and construe it to mean IMMINENT DOOM! No effort to look at whether the changes are detrimental, beneficial or even significant, just OMG! CHANGE! YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE! ”

                      This is just plain stupidity on parade. You do happen to know that really bad things have a tendency of happening on the Earth, don’t you? There is a very long history — 12,000 years of recorded history and prehistory — in which civilizations have collapsed under environmental pressure.

                      Australia’s circumstances are equivalent to all those other civilizations who imagined that they would exist forever but did not.

                      It is you who refuses to live in reality. In the real world shifting rainfall patterns mean the end of civilizations.

                      * “No wonder you’re such a fan of Bill McKibben. ”

                      Bill McKibben is hated by ignorant uneducated people specifically because he speaks the truth about how dangerous a planet humankind happens to inhabit and how it is impossible for humankind to keep up with the changes which are coming quickly and shall soon overwhelm civilization.

                      Of course, churches are filled by people who would rather believe that they will live forever.

                      * “I guess the paragraph on drought was a bit high-falutin’ for you: let me put in simpler form: Australia has droughts. They seem to be cyclical. The worst ones were long before industrialisation. But overall, the continent has more rain than it had a century ago. ”

                      You think that you are presenting an argument but you aren’t educated enough and scientifically literate enough to realize that you are not.

                      The increasing rainfall and its shifting from where it was needed to where it is not available for human use is consistent with climate change.

                      * “You can accuse me of lying as much as you want, but I will swear in a court of law that I’ve never seen Fox News. I don’t think it’s even available in Australia (except perhaps on cable, but I don’t bother with cable).”

                      Funny that your talking points are exactly the same as that found on Fox News and Talk Radio. Must be a coincidence that American idiots and Australian idiots agree on nearly everything, including lies.

                      * “You can accuse me of a “lack of education and level of idiocy”, but so far I’m the only one of us who has used fact or reason …. ”

                      Like hell you’ve actually used facts and reason. You wouldn;t know facts & reasoning if they came up to you and slapped you in the face.

                      You are spreading anti-science propaganda of the sort which is routinely directed at Americans who lack a high school diploma.

                    4. Y’know, on the one hand this is almost amusing, inasmuch as there’s humour to be found in watching a dogmatist dunce take one intellectual pratfall after another; on the other, it’s almost as tiresome as arguing with creationists.

                      Where have I “spread anti-science propaganda”? One instance, please – from my own words, not your pinheaded assumptions. The only science I have argued is that of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. Please, call them anti-science, to their face. That would be priceless.

                      Where have I lied? Please list actual points where I have demonstrably lied.

                      What talking points have I used that are exactly the same as Fox News? I had no idea Fox News was so interested in rainfall patterns in Australia, or the poetry of Dorothea MacKellar!

                      I also like your implication that I’m a church-goer. I happen to be an atheist. Once again, you assume and you fail, you dolt.

                      Yes, *some* civilizations have collapsed under ecological pressure – but not all civilizations, and those that did were almost invariably of very poor technology, all of them pre-industrial, and usually situated in already precarious environments. How are they relevant to a modern, technological society? Take some time out from masturbating over your copy of “Collapse” (which I rather enjoyed, actually) and try developing a cogent answer: I’m rather tired of the digital spittle spraying from your ranting, flailing posts.

                      You seem to think that Australia is imminently doomed because rainfall patterns have altered slightly over the past 100 years; but you don’t actually have any idea how they have altered, or what the consequences might or might not be. Instead, you simply rush to the Alarmist’s usual judgement that change=DISASTER!

                      You are a fool – the worst kind of fool, the fool who imagines himself a sage. You’ve not used a single piece of fact, not one reasoned argument, indeed you’ve presumed to pass judgement on situations you clearly know nothing about.

                      Unless you’re prepared to answer me with some facts, or at least a reasoned argument, I’m afraid I’ll have to be done with you: I get bored rather quickly with internet monkeys throwing poo.

                    5. Hello Clownfish,

                      * “Where have I “spread anti-science propaganda”? ”

                      When you tried to make a joke out of snowfall in the wintertime. This is the same sort of joke as creationists boasting about the lack of transitional fossils.

                      * “Where have I “spread anti-science propaganda”? One instance, please – from my own words, not your pinheaded assumptions. The only science I have argued is that of the Australian Bureau of Meteorology. ”

                      You think that you are offering an argument when you are not. You are misinterpreting the evidence and reaching a conclusion quite contrary to the conclusions of science.

                      * “What talking points have I used that are exactly the same as Fox News? ”

                      When you use a term such as “Warmists” you are using language identical to that found on Fox News and Talk Radio.

                      * “I also like your implication that I’m a church-goer. I happen to be an atheist. ”

                      Are you like a doggie who needs someone to pat your head and say “good boy!” when they hear that you are an atheist? I am not a person impressed by atheists or atheism. So you won’t get any sort of compliment from me.

                      * “Yes, *some* civilizations have collapsed under ecological pressure – but not all civilizations, and those that did were almost invariably of very poor technology, all of them pre-industrial, and usually situated in already precarious environments. How are they relevant to a modern, technological society? ”

                      This is pure plain stupidity on your part, similar to the argument: “It happened to them but it cannot happen to us!”

                      Technological civilization is more precarious than any of the pre-technological civilizations. During the pre-technology era unsustainable civilizations could always invade the lands of sustainable civilizations, commit genocide and steal their resources. See the history of the New World and Australia if you need any confirmation of this story.

                      But today the Earth is filled with humans and machines and there isn’t any other planet available for humans to invade and pillage in order to maintain an unsustainable planet destroying lifestyle.

                      Technological civilization is a dead end.

                      * ” Take some time out from masturbating over your copy of “Collapse” (which I rather enjoyed, actually) and try developing a cogent answer: I’m rather tired of the digital spittle spraying from your ranting, flailing posts. ”

                      Are you one of those people who iamgine that medical technology will allow you to live forever? You are making the same sort of fantasyland argument in regard to your civilization.

                      But there is plenty of evidence that this civilization is already crumbling to dust. If you cannot see it that is only because you delude your own self.

                      * “You seem to think that Australia is imminently doomed because rainfall patterns have altered slightly over the past 100 years; but you don’t actually have any idea how they have altered, or what the consequences might or might not be. Instead, you simply rush to the Alarmist’s usual judgement that change=DISASTER! ”

                      There was no rush to judgment involved. When you have millions of humans living like Americans on a Continent which cannot possibly sustain that sort of lifestyle there is no doubt whatsoever that the end result is a civilization which collapses and ceases to exist.

                      A similar cycle of collapse is occurring in the American Southwestern desert right now. Too many people + not enough water = civilization gone to dust.

                      * “Unless you’re prepared to answer me with some facts, or at least a reasoned argument, I’m afraid I’ll have to be done with you: I get bored rather quickly with internet monkeys throwing poo. ”

                      Too bad you describe yourself.

                      The future isn’t going to treat you well. You will live long enough to witness the end of your own civilization.

                    6. The snowfall was in spring. It was unusually severe. It froze out an anti-warming protest.

                      There may or may not be humour in that, but there’s nothing about science, and I didn’t say anything about science.

                      Once again, you’ve made a fool out of yourself by inferring much from nothing.

                      The only science I offered was straight from the BOM. I made no conclusion from it other than the bleeding obvious: rainfall has generally increased on the Australian continent in the past century.

                      You were the one who chose to interpret that as meaning the imminent collapse of civilization in Australia, although you offered no evidence *why*. You don’t even know *how* the rainfall has shifted, in fact you obviously know next-to-nothing about Australia, it’s climate or ecology at all.

                      Finally, I don’t care what judgement you make of me as an atheist; I merely pointed out that, once again, you made a wild assumption and were completely wrong.

                      Well, seeing as your argument has descended to “I know you are, but what am I?”, I see no further point in continuing this conversation.

                    7. Hello Clownfish,

                      * “The snowfall was in spring. It was unusually severe. It froze out an anti-warming protest. ”

                      You mention these things as if they are relevent … they are only relevant to ignorant uneducated dittohead drones and like-minded conservative dupes.

                      * “There may or may not be humour in that, but there’s nothing about science, and I didn’t say anything about science. ”

                      What could an uneducated person such as yourself ever say about science? Nothing. So you say nothing.

                      * “There may or may not be humour in that, but there’s nothing about science, and I didn’t say anything about science. ”

                      Again, you illustrate why science is done by scientists. Ignorant idiots such as yourself aren’t equipped to even begin to comprehend what that single data point indicates.

                      Unless you want to provide your profound analysis of this little bit of evidence …

                      * “You were the one who chose to interpret that as meaning the imminent collapse of civilization in Australia, although you offered no evidence *why*. You don’t even know *how* the rainfall has shifted, in fact you obviously know next-to-nothing about Australia, it’s climate or ecology at all. ”

                      Civilizations have a long history of collapsing under environmental pressure. If you are unaware of the history of civilization you’ll just have to wait around and wonder why your world has come to an end.

                      Leave the educated to talk about subjects which require context. You can listen to talk radio idiots spout their gibberish.

                      * “Finally, I don’t care what judgement you make of me as an atheist; I merely pointed out that, once again, you made a wild assumption and were completely wrong. ”

                      Atheists don’t impress me. You don’t impress me. You are just an uneducated scientifically illiterate fool who spouts all sorts of nonsense.

                      * “Well, seeing as your argument has descended to “I know you are, but what am I?”, I see no further point in continuing this conversation. ”

                      That’s too bad because it was jusr beginning to get intereating. Perhaps you could provide some more data points on behalf of your non-argument.

                      Did a drop of rain fall on Australia today?

                    8. Dammit, I’m a glutton for tomfoolery, so let’s keep this going …

                      So, I didn’t say anything about science, nonetheless your magic mind powers correctly deduced that I am “anti-science”? Wow, I’m impressed.

                      “Civilizations have a long history of collapsing under environmental pressure.”

                      What, ALL of them?

                      You still haven’t shown one iota of evidence that you actually know anything about Australia … but you magically “know” we’re on the verge of DISASTER. (This is true of course – it’s a little known fact that the Mad Max trilogy was actually a documentary series. All Australians are gay bikers living in a radioactive wasteland … oh, wait, that’s just the western suburbs of Sydney.)

                      Oh, and it bucketed down tonight, actually.

  39. I love this thread, I finally took a look at some of the statements in the article:

    “it had risen to around 17 kilograms per person, almost entirely due to aquaculture.”
    Farmed fish are normally fed using caught fish, am I right? Or just maybe using a lot of grain (which is very energy inefficient). Either way a lot of petroleum is required.

    “overall global grain production has been steadily increasing since the 1970s”…..
    By burning up a steadily increasing amount of petroleum and natural gas.

  40. “For the sake of argument, let’s assume he’s right about peak oil; does that mean the era of expansive global civilization and economic growth is over?…Surely one can imagine that transportation might become increasingly electrified, perhaps using new-fangled traveling wave nuclear reactors.”

    Oh this is a good one too. Economic growth is exponential. Transmitted electricity is less efficient than petroleum/gas. You’d have to build a lot of nuclear plants, very quickly. And keep building them non-stop to keep up with growth.

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  42. It’s really great post. I would like to appreciate your work and would like to tell to my friends.

  43. Oh this is a good one too. Economic growth is exponential. Transmitted electricity is less efficient than petroleum/gas. You’d have to build a lot of nuclear plants, very quickly. And keep building them non-stop to keep up with growth.

  44. You’re all missing the point! Climate doom is pretty unlikely…Oil doom will happen but we CAN get around it with new technology. The problem is infinite growth that can’t be sustained. Look at population; in the last century it has shown no signs of slowing down or even slowing down the rate at which it’s speeding up. Believing that technology can save us from everything is just naive. What if the rate of human population growth never stops? Well presumably we couldn’t feed all those people. At some point, no matter how advanced our technology becomes, we will NOT be able to produce enough food. I don’t pretend to know when it will happen; could be a hundred, maybe a thousand years. But surely nobody could argue that it will NEVER happen, that’s just stupid. And no, I don’t believe we should all go back to the dark ages, but we should prepare for the day that we will no longer be able to sustain our population. Our growth has to stabilize at some point, it’s not kooky, it’s simple logic. There have to be limits.

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  46. I am working on a paper for school, and while I am very interested in them, I am still very confused.

    Your blog looks like it has so many great articles on here, I cant wait to read your article about government pills 🙂

  47. The oil is gone and so will we very soon if we don’t adapt. The ones that can do something about it are the ones that think money are more important than the future.
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  48. Let us know if that ever happens to you.

  49. So, I didn’t say anything about science, nonetheless your magic mind powers correctly deduced that I am “anti-science”? Wow, I’m impressed.

  50. You’re all missing the point! Well, seeing as your argument has descended to “I know you are, but what am I?”, I see no further point in continuing this conversation.Too bad for Australia …

  51. so so happy to read this

  52. “So what to do in the face of all this doom and gloom?”

    We look for a brighter forward to a brighter future 🙂 very informative post was a good read!

  53. very informative post was a good read!

  54. The problem is infinite growth that can’t be sustained. Look at population; in the last century it has shown no signs of slowing down or even slowing down the rate at which it’s speeding up. | ran ??? |

  55. so do i take it “the end is nigh”

  56. How true. Wonder how we’ll be judged by the future generations…

  57. humans are not taking care of their environment, a future collapse of our actual world is not a crazy theory…

  58. thanks for this article. nice share!

  59. thanks for this article

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  61. very good article, i didn’t know about it

  62. 21th century, could be very good in my opinion, but we have to remember about our history and destination

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