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Friday 22 April 2016

Classic Rant: A bit late for Earth Day

About that Cave...

You know, I would tremble for someone whose only source of news was's Tangency. They would think they live in a world where there are rampant armies of tea partiers outside their door out to kill all black people, Christians are horrific monsters who want to force you to be raped over and over again if you're a woman and want you burned at the stake if you're a non-believer, 87% of the population are either gay or transgendered (and the Christians and the Tea Partiers want to Kill Them), and Atheists are all heroes and the Only Intelligent People On Earth (because anyone who believes in religion is clearly a bigoted mindless idiot out to Kill You), and all real scientists are atheists.

And, of course, that all those Real Atheist Scientists are predicting THE END OF THE WORLD. They have been in new and different ways every week in Tangency-land. Last week, it was that the oil spill in the Caribbean would lead to the extinction of all life as we know it because of methane bubble. This week, its that because worldwide Plankton population has been in a slow decline over the last 50 years, we are going to RUN OUT OF OXYGEN TOMORROW!

Of course, this last bit is not just Tangency. It ties in to a great deal of what politicized science is doing these days (on the Left, I won't even begin to describe the stupidity of politicized science on the Right). It seems that politicized science is all about screaming at us about how our way of life will destroy us in ever-more horrific ways. Last week it was a fireball of world-crushing proportions. This week the earth will literally die gasping for air. And this all goes part and parcel with the whole "Back to the Cave" movement I was talking about in my Reed Richards entry. We have (alleged) scientists going around saying that our way of life is going to inevitably fail, and the solution is to withdraw our whole civilization.

First, let me say this: if they were right, then fuck it. At this point, if you believe all the stories of imminent doom, there's no fucking way we're going to survive, so I might as well go out gas-guzzling electricity-using and emissions-causing because there's no fucking point to anything.
Of course, they're not right. They're not even honest.
We know that the politicized wing of modern science has been lying through their teeth about the situation with global warming, we know that the more extreme elements there have been grossly exaggerating the effects of what might happen. What could be argued is whether they're doing this because they foolishly think this is a good way to get people to listen and do things about it, or because they think this might be a good way for them to get more research grants. But in either case, they've lied.

What they don't realize is that every time they lie, they make things worse. More and more people will say "Oh fuck, methane bubble!? Well, screw it then!", and will simply STOP GIVING A FUCK because the scaremongering has worked too well. Many people I know are convinced that the "environmental damage" is so great now that there's absolutely no hope, and thus no motivation to take any measures.
Which is a serious fuckup, because of course there are REAL problems. There's real pollution, there's real environmental damage, the extinction of countless species is real, and yes climate change is pretty obviously real. Even the decline in plankton population is real! Its just not going to kill us next Tuesday; but that doesn't mean that there's not problems that need to be solved.

The problem is that Politicized Scientists (or should that be "Scientific" Politicians? In many cases, the scaremongers are NOT the real scientists, the ones actually doing the research) don't actually want to solve any problems anymore. This is a very big problem in and of itself. Back in other civilizations, one of the clear signs of the end was when the armies stopped wanting to conquer territory and fight barbarians and were more interested in playing politics and taking over the empire; you could argue that in our civilization, the equivalent problem is when the Scientists are less interested in progress and more interested in politics.
"Sustainability" is not a solution.

Let me repeat that to get it absolutely clear: "Sustainability" is not a solution. If someone asks you "what are the scientists doing about global warming" and you say "sustainability", that is not actually a meaningful answer. Because what does sustainability actually look like? It looks like us all collectively taking a huge step back toward that cave.

It would have to look like water rationing and food rationing, everyone riding bicycles, no plastics, no electricity except for government and the elites, and no meat except for the super-elites. Oh, and controlled and/or violent population reduction that would involve 5+billion people "disappearing". That would be what "sustainability" would look like.

Am I sounding like a tea bagger now? Not really; I'm not saying its a big evil socialist conspiracy or something like that, I'm saying that this is just the bare reality of the situation, that if the method we used to stop global warming and all these other man-made disasters required simply abstaining more and more from our existing technology, that's how things would look like. Even including the supposed "renewable" energy technology we have right now. You couldn't make enough fucking wind turbines to support us right now, so inevitably you'd have an energy grid restricted to the rich and/or powerful, and without a massive population die-off there is no way that we could reach anything you could call "sustainability" with a straight face based on our current way of doing things. Sustainability demands that 90+% of the population either die or be reduced to pre-industrial levels of technology (and thus, standard of living). No more running water, no more meat either because the large-scale agro industry is a major cause of environmental devastation.

That's the scenario if what you want to do is just "sustain": just stop where we are and eke out as best as one can. And even then, we aren't truly sustainable; over time precious metals and other non-renewable substances would run out, things would break down and slowly, slowly, we'd keep getting closer and closer to that fucking cave. That's the only future that this kind of thinking holds for us.

That's why I have zero faith in most environmentalists today. Not because I think their data is wrong, but because I can't agree at all with their conclusions or the agenda they propose. The reason people aren't listening to you isn't because you aren't scaring them enough (like I said, you're scaring them TOO much), its because the "answers" you offer aren't ever anything positive. They always involve the average person LOSING a great deal of their comfort and quality of life (and ultimately, if you were to really "solve" the problem that way, they'd lose a huge level of their actual standard of living). Ironically, the viewpoint is an utterly conservative mentality; it is reactionary and the very opposite of progressive. Its fucking Luddite.

You know, environmentalists like to point out the Maya culture as an example of a civilization that was "wiped out" because of their abuse of their environment. Let's ignore for the moment that we don't really know that's what happened, and that the fate of the Mayan civilization is still hotly debated among scholars. The fact is, the Mayans weren't "wiped out": They're still there. You can go today to the Yucatan and you will find that its chalk-full of Mayans, speaking Mayan, participating in Mayan culture. The Mayans didn't go extinct; what did happen is that their civilization, at the time the greatest civilization in all of the Americas, was just abandoned when they couldn't find a way to adapt to keep it going and overcome whatever problems they were facing at the time; and the Mayans went from having that greatest civilization of the Americas to having a stone-age culture once again in a remarkably short time. In other words, they chose "sustainability". The Mayan civilization's disappearance is actually a great example of what "sustainability" would look like; they didn't go extinct, but they may as well have, and people today tend to think they did. Sustainability means going back toward the cave; and it looks a lot like extinction.

So what's the other way? The other way is to say "yeah, this is the reality, now lets move FORWARD". Solvitur Ambulando. Find NEW technologies, new processes, new ways of generating energy, learning from the mistakes of how we did things in the past so that we create solutions using science that fix those problems we face today. Let's create artificial meat, bacteria that eat oil spills, elements that encourage plankton growth, and develop better ways of creating clean energy. And yes, the ultimate answer is to go out there, into space. As always, its to get bigger.

Because human beings have NEVER been "sustainers". We've always been explorers and we've always expanded. We are descended from men who found ways to live through an Ice Age, we've seen huts they've made out of mammoth bones. If our stone-age ancestors could do that, we can do this. All it requires is that the scaremongering stop, and the will to find real progressive solutions be found.


(July 31, 2010)

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