Archive for the category “Collapse”

Was Fukushima the worst environmental disaster in human history?

Whitney Webb reports: Fukushima continues to leak an astounding 300 tons of radioactive waste into the Pacific every day. It will continue do so indefinitely as the leak’s source is inaccessible to both humans and robots due to extremely high temperatures. In other words, Fukushima has contaminated the entire Pacific Ocean in just five years.
Read more…

Video: The Shit Hits The Fan discussion series at the Doomstead Diner

Doomstead Diner

Doomstead Diner Discussions on The Shit Hits The Fan (TSHTF) Three Recordings on Aug. 23, 2015. 

At the Doomstead Diner, we investigate, discuss and debate the ramifications of the Economic Collapse of Industrial Civilization.  Often referred to in shorthand as TEOTWAWKI.  The End of the World as We Know It.

Energy Discussion (Part 1)
With Gail Tverberg, Nicole Fosse, Steve Ludlum, Tom Lewis, Norman Pagett, Ugo Bardi, Reverse Engineer, and Monsta. Vist the Collapse Cafe discussions home page for more videos

News update

New coal plants most urgent threat to the planet, warns OECD head
The Guardian UK
Governments must rethink plans for new coal-fired power plants around the world, as these are now the “most urgent” threat to the future of the planet, the head of the OECD has warned. In unusually strong terms for the organisation – best known as a club of the world’s richest countries – its secretary general Angel Gurria, told governments to think “twice, or three, or four times” before allowing new coal-fired plants to go ahead.

Wars, Water Shortages & Heat Waves: Are You Prepared ?
Prachi Salve, IndiaSpend.com
Lives, properties and economies stand to be affected by climate change as we understand it. While debates on the significance and impact of climate change rage furiously, a new multi-nation study has argued that preparing for the risks of climate change is an imperative now. Particularly so for a country like India which is likely to have a greater economic impact as prosperity rises in the coming years.

Unnatural Disaster: How Global Warming Helped Cause India’s Catastrophic Flood
Daniel Grossman, Yale Environment 360
The flood that swept through the Indian state of Uttarakhand two years ago killed thousands of people and was one of the worst disasters in the nation’s recent history. Now researchers are saying that melting glaciers and shifting storm tracks played a major role in the catastrophe and should be a warning about how global warming could lead to more damaging floods in the future.

With One-Third of Largest Aquifers Highly Stressed, It’s Time to Explore and Assess the Planet’s Groundwater
National Geographic
One-third of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are highly stressed to over-stressed, according to a companion study published in the same issue of WRR. The eight most highly stressed aquifers receive almost no natural recharge to offset human use – including aquifers in Saudi Arabia, northwestern India and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabias solar-for-oil plan is a ray of hope
Damian Carrington, The Guardian UK
So what to make of the statement by Saudi Arabia’s oil minister that the world’s biggest oil exporter could stop using fossil fuels as soon as 2040 and become a “global power” in solar and wind energy? Ali Al-Naimi’s statement is striking as Saudi Arabia’s wealth and influence is entirely founded on its huge oil wealth and the nation has been one of the strongest voices against climate change action at UN summits.

Why a Leading Indian Politician Is Now an Environmental Hawk
Yale Environment 360
Former Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh believes the “cult” of unfettered economic growth has been ruinous for India’s environment. In an interview with Yale Environment 360, he talks about his vision of “green growth,” which he says is essential for his nation’s future.

The Limits to Growth and Greece: systemic or financial collapse?
Ugo Bardi
Could it be that all the financial circus that we are seeing dancing in and around Greece be just the effect of much deeper causes? The effect of something that gnaws at the very foundations not only of Greece, but of the whole Western World? Lets take a step back, and take a look at the 1972 study titled The Limits to Growth (LTG). Look at the base case scenario, the one which used as input the data that seemed to be the most reliable at the time. Here it is, in the 2004 version of the study, with updated data in input.

The Mystery of the Missing Carbon
Courtney White, A Carbon Pilgrim
It’s a whodunit with huge consequences for life on Earth. Somehow, a whole lot of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) has gone missing and it’s becoming a scientific detective story to figure out where it went and why. The Principle Investigator into this mystery is NASA, which launched a satellite called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) on July 2nd, 2014, into an orbit around the Earth in hopes of cracking the case.

The Multi-Trillion Dollar Oil Market Swindle
Leonard Brecken, Oilprice.com
In the past, I documented the overstatements by both the IEA and EIA in 2014 & 2015 in terms of supply, inventory and understatements of demand. Others also noticed these distortions and, whether intentional or not, they exist and they are very large in dollar terms. These distortions, which are affecting price through media hype and/or direct/indirect price manipulation, are quite possibly the largest in financial history.

If everyone lived in an ‘ecovillage’, the Earth would still be in trouble
Samuel Alexander, The Conversation
According to the most recent data from the Global Footprint Network, humanity as a whole is currently in ecological overshoot, demanding one and a half planet’s worth of Earth’s biocapacity. As the global population continues its trend toward 11 billion people, and while the growth fetish continues to shape the global economy, the extent of overshoot is only going to increase.

Three Leading Think-tanks Studying Global Crises

The Future of Humanity Institute, Oxford University
The Future of Humanity Institute is a leading research centre looking at big-picture questions for human civilization. The last few centuries have seen tremendous change, and this century might transform the human condition in even more fundamental ways.  Using the tools of mathematics, philosophy, and science, we explore the risks and opportunities that will arise from technological change, weigh ethical dilemmas, and evaluate global priorities.  Our goal is to clarify the choices that will shape humanity’s long-term future.


Visit the Future of Humanity Institute website
Learn about FHIs Global Priorities Project
Read Aeon magazines excellent profile of FHI


Centre for Study of Existential Risk, Cambridge University
An existential risk is one that threatens the existence of our entire species.  The Cambridge Centre for the Study of Existential Risk (CSER) — a joint initiative between a philosopher, a scientist, and a software entrepreneur — was founded on the conviction that these risks require a great deal more scientific investigation than they presently receive.  CSER is a multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the study and mitigation of risks that could lead to human extinction. It is led by astrophysicist Sir Martin Rees and its advisors include Stephen Hawking.

CSER LogoVisit the CSER website
Watch Earth in its final century? A TED talk by Sir Martin Rees, CSER head


Global Challenges Foundation
The Global Challenges Foundation works to raise awareness of the greatest threats facing humanity. In particular climate change, other environmental damage and political violence, and how these threats are linked to poverty and the rapid growth in global population. These problems appear insurmountable without an international body with decision-making mandate. The Foundation is therefore working to identify possible solutions and models as to how the United Nations can develop, and initiate new ideas on working global governance.

Visit the Global Challenges Foundation website
Read/download the GCF report: 12 Risks That Threaten Human Civilisation

News update

California Drought Tests History of Endless Growth
The New York Times
For more than a century, California has been the state where people flocked for a better life — 164,000 square miles of mountains, farmland and coastline, shimmering with ambition and dreams, money and beauty. It was the cutting-edge symbol of possibility: Hollywood, Silicon Valley, aerospace, agriculture and vineyards. But now a punishing drought is forcing a reconsideration of whether the aspiration of untrammeled growth that has for so long been this state’s driving engine has run against the limits of nature.

Global Energy Trends and Implications for India: The Need to Consume Less Oil
Tobias Engelmeier, The Energy Collective
Oil consumption will rise in India as the economy and the population grows. This is a major headache for the government, since India imports almost all of this fuel. Currently oil prices are fairly low, but if they rise again, they will drive inflation and open up a large trade deficit.

China’s Fuel Demand to Peak Sooner Than Oil Giants Expect
Bloomberg Business
China’s biggest oil refiner is signaling the nation is headed to its peak in diesel and gasoline consumption far sooner than most Western energy companies and analysts are forecasting. If correct, the projections by China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., or Sinopec, a state-controlled enterprise with public shareholders in Hong Kong, pose a big challenge to the world’s largest oil companies. They’re counting on demand from China and other developing countries to keep their businesses growing as energy consumption falls in more advanced economies.

How changing driving habits are changing the oil and gas industry
Omar Mouallem, Alberta Oil Magazine
For 100 years, the automotive and energy sectors were like two wheels on the same axle, continually spinning forward. Young North Americans are delaying getting their licenses, driving fewer kilometers and buying fewer cars. Given that transportation makes up two-thirds of refined petroleum consumption, the trend has some wondering if the biggest threat facing the oil industry is peak car, not peak oil.

How the climate change debate got hijacked by the wrong standard of proof
Kurt Cobb
The deniers in the fossil fuel industry and elsewhere are attempting by sleight-of-hand to get both the public and policymakers to abandon the preponderance of evidence standard used primarily in civil trialsand which is similar to evidence-based public policymakingin favor of another judicial standard designed for criminal trials, namely, beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Problem of Human Population
Javier, Peak Oil Barrel
Since the growth rate is declining naturally, if not intervene any new factor human population on Earth would peak slightly above the 10 billion people by 2062 according to the United Nations. This is the problem size. Political campaigns to reduce the growth of the human population are decreasing, not increasing. The question therefore is not to analyze whether the Earth is able to support 10 billion people, as it most likely can, but if it can do it indefinitely. (Note: Translated from Spanish by computer and contains grammatical errors.)

Eco-Socialism or Barbarism 11 Theses
Bruno Kern, Eco-Socialist Blog
(Message from Saral Sarkar, Eco-Socialist Blog: For those who do not have enough time to read the books and texts written by myself and Bruno Kern (of the Initiative Eco-Socialism) texts that thoroughly expound our fundamental argumentation and perspective for/on eco-socialism we now offer a very short text written by Bruno. In it, Bruno has summarized the essential points of our argumentation and perspective in 11 theses.)

Socialism, Capitalism and Anarchism in a collapsing world economy
Peter Goodchild, Survive Peak Oil
The irony is that the present world of global capitalism cannot be considered governed in any democratic sense. If we stretch the definition of democracy to equate it with legitimacy i.e., the sanction of the governed, the social contract then one could almost say that it is global capitalism that should be regarded as anarchism. The world is governed, but it has no government (an-archia) in any legitimate form.

Isaac Asimov: The Nightmare Life Without Fuel

Edward Burtynsky: The end of oil
In 1977, Time magazine asked science writer Isaac Asimov for his vision of an energy-poor society that might exist at the end of the 20th century. The following portrait, Asimov noted, need not prove to be accurate. It is a picture of the worst, of waste continuing, of oil running out, of nothing in its place, of world population continuing to rise. But then, that could happen, couldnt it?

So its 1997, and its raining, and youll have to walk to work again. The subways are crowded, and any given train breaks down one morning out of five. The buses are gone, and on a day like today the bicycles slosh and slide. Besides, you have only a mile and a half to go, and you have boots, raincoat and rain hat. And its not a very cold rain, so why not?

Lucky you have a job in demolition too. Its steady work.

Slow and dirty, but steady. The fading structures of a decaying city are the great mineral mines and hardware shops of the nation. Break them down and re-use the parts. Coal is too difficult to dig up and transport to give us energy in the amounts we need, nuclear fission is judged to be too dangerous, the technical breakthrough toward nuclear fusion that we hoped for never took place, and solar batteries are too expensive to maintain on the earths surface in sufficient quantity. Read more…

News update

What is Saudi Arabia not telling us about its oil future?
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
What if the Saudis are acting now to undermine U.S. and Canadian oil production because they realize that Saudi production will soon reach a peak? What if the Saudis fear that energy efficiency, fuel substitution (say, toward natural gas), and mandated greenhouse gas emission reductions will inevitably diminish their oil revenues beyond the next decade? What if this coming decade will therefore be the best time to maximize Saudi revenues per barrel?

The worlds energy information duopoly comes to an end
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Until now most energy price and supply forecasts and analyses were based predominately on information from the globes two leading energy information agencies: the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), and the International Energy Agency (IEA). Recent developments are beginning to undermine the supremacy of the worlds long-running energy information duopoly and its perennially optimistic narrative.

The Year the Dam of Denial Breaks on Climate Change
Paul Gilding, Cockatoo Chronicles
This is the year the “dam of denial” will break and the momentum for climate action will become an unstoppable flood. It will be messy, confusing and endlessly debated but with historical hindsight, 2015 will be the year. The year the world turned, primarily because the market woke up to the economic threat posed by climate change and the economic opportunity in the inevitable decline of fossil fuels.

A clash of epistemologies: why the debate on climate change is going nowhere
Ugo Bardi, Resource Crisis
Scientists know how much work and study is needed to understand climate science and resent what they saw as superficiality and approximation in the debate. The result is the kind of clash we saw on the SCI blog. It was, if you like, a clash of epistemologies: rhetoric against the scientific method.

William Cattons warning
Kurt Cobb, Resource Insights
Overshoot
 may stand as the central text of the 20th century about the ecological fate of humankind. The book represents a missed opportunity in that so few people were able to hear what Catton had to say in 1980, and so few want to hear it noweven as the headlines are filled with the very precursors of the bottleneck he laments in his last major piece of writing.

Extinct—Extincter—Extinctest
Dmitry Orlov
The current low prices are not high enough to sustain this new, expensive production for much longer, and the current glut is starting to look like a feast to be followed by famine. The direct cause of this famine will not be energy but debt, but it can still be traced back to energy.

Utopians are ruining everything
Leaving Babylon
Utopian memes have misled people into thinking that top-down design of ideal societies is the right strategy for creating a better world. Even permaculture has been infected, imposing top-down landscaping designs upon the land with predictably disappointing results. (Also see the follow-up post: Generating a future that works)

A Moral Code For The Post-Collapse World
Zero Hedge
Popular media today, including television and cinema, are rife with examples of what is often referred to as moral relativism — the use of false and fictional moral dilemmas designed to promote the rationalization of an “ends justify the means” narrative.

Obituary: William R. Catton Jr. (Jan 15, 1926 Jan 5, 2015)

When William R. Catton Jr., American sociologist and author of Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change, passed away on January 5th, it went unnoticed by the mainstream media, or even the alternative press. This was expected, too. His work shaped the views of many activists and writers on issues like Peak Oil, resource depletion etc, but remain largely unknown outside these circles.

Catton’s primary contribution is the trailblazing articulation of an environmental sociological framework that challenged existing sociological theories in general from a completely different tack: by synthesizing sociological and ecological theory. He argued that a prevalent idea of human control over nature, instead of being a great achievement, might be only be a reflection of exploitation of natural resources that were actually finite.
Read more…

Planetary Boundaries: A fourth danger line crossed

The Planetary Boundaries framework was first introduced in 2009, when a group of 28 internationally renowned scientists identified and quantified the first set of nine planetary boundaries within which humanity can continue to develop and thrive for generations to come. A Jan 2015 update by the researchers say a fourth of these boundaries forests have been breached.

According to a report on the update in the Scientific American (Humans Cross Another Danger Line for the Planet):

Five years go an impressive, international group of scientists unveiled nine biological and environmental “boundaries” that humankind should not cross in order to keep the earth a livable place. To its peril, the world had already crossed three of those safe limits: too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, too rapid a rate of species loss and too much pouring of nitrogen into rivers and oceans—primarily in the form of fertilizer runoff.

Now we have succeeded in transgressing a fourth limit: the amount of forestland being bulldozed or burned out of existence (see map below). Less and less forest reduces the planet’s ability to absorb some of that carbon dioxide and to produce water vapor, crucial to plant life. And the ongoing loss alters how much of the sun’s energy is absorbed or reflected across wide regions, which itself can modify climate.

A separate paper published by the group in Anthropocene Review, titled The trajectory of the Anthropocene: The Great Acceleration, updates a striking set of 24 graphs that show that almost all the damage to earth by humans has occurred since 1950, in lock step with rapid economic growth worldwide. This Great Acceleration of social, economic and environmental drivers basically says that although growing population adds stress to the earth’s systems, greater consumption through rising living standards is responsible for even more of the burden.

Read more about Planetary Boundaries research at the Stockholm Resilience Centre website.

News update

Climate change inaction pushes doomsday clock closer to midnight
The Guardian, UK
The symbolic doomsday clock moved to three minutes before midnight on Thursday because of the gathering dangers of climate change and nuclear proliferation, signalling the gravest threat to humanity since the throes of the cold war. It was the closest the clock has come to midnight since 1984, when arms-control negotiations stalled and virtually all channels of communication between the US and the former Soviet Union closed down.

Mapping The Worlds Greatest Risks (According To Davos)
Zero Hedge
The Global Risks Landscape, a map of the most likely and impactful global risks, puts forward that, 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, “interstate conflict” is once again a foremost concern. As The World Economic Forum notes, these multiple cross-cutting challenges can threaten social stability, perceived to be the issue most interconnected with other risks in 2015, and additionally aggravated by the legacy of the global economic crisis in the form of strained public finances and persistent unemployment.

Brazils Biggest Oil Company Is Headed For Disaster
Matt Badiali, Wolf Street
Of all the companies hurting from lower oil prices, few are in more danger than Brazilian oil giant Petrobras. The state-owned oil company owns some of the largest untapped oilfields in the world; so it’s a darling of emerging-market investors. But it isn’t. The company’s spending is out of control, its profit margins are shrinking, and its debt is soaring. In short, Petrobras is a study in how not to run an oil company.

Peak Oil Pulled a Fast One on Me
Allan S. Christensen, From Filmers to Farmers
What we might be about to find out is how vulnerable the United States’ shale boom is to low prices, and how profitable fracking actually is. Here’s Terry Lynn Karl in a recent conversation with Andrew Nikiforuk: “We are in a situation where oil supply limits can cause recessions, and oil supply gluts can cause stock market failures.” The reasons to get off oil seem to be piling up.

How Wall Street Drove the Oil & Gas Drilling Boom That’s Turning into a Disaster
Wolf Richter, Wolf Street
Wall Street made money off the entire spectrum of companies associated directly or indirectly with oil and gas. It was one heck of a party. Here are the top 10 banks that in 2014 extracted the most investment-banking revenues from the oil and gas sector, or rather from its investors. Together, the ten skimmed off $3.52 billion last year.

Off-Grid Energy in India: Identifying Early Adopter Markets
Sanjoy Sanyal and Pamli Deka, The Energy Collective
The potential market for off-grid electricity in India is large, with more than 300 million people living without access to electricity. With such an expansive market, how do enterprises decide where and how to focus? Is the market selection based on a robust methodology or something more akin to a blindfolded dart game? Should companies focus on a small niche market or is there a need for diversification from day one of operations?

Whiplash!
Dmitry Orlov, Club Orlov
The fix for low oil prices is low oil prices. Past some point high-priced producers will naturally stop producing, the excess inventory will get burned up, and the price will recover. Not only will it recover, but it will probably spike, because a country littered with the corpses of bankrupt oil companies is not one that is likely to jump right back into producing lots of oil.

What Will 2015 Do For Peak Oil?
Ron Patterson, Peak Oil Barrel
The Cornucopians are exuberant, they believe that collapsing of oil prices dealt the death knell for peak oil. An oil glut, they say, is what we have, not peak oil. But an oil glut is exactly what we would expect at the very peak. After all, that is what peak oil is, that is the point in time when the world produces more oil than ever in history… and the most it ever will produce.

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