Entry: Madeleine Jensen? Derrick Allbright? Monday, May 10, 2004

I realized that I'd screwed up the paragraph spacing in my last post, and as I fixed it I remembered something interesting about Jensen:

Jensen gives Madeleine Allbright (sic?) hell for her statement about the death of 500,000 Iraqi children being an acceptable price (I forget the exact quote and can't be bothered finding it). However, Jensen has no qualms advocating murder, destruction and violence, no matter that the unavoidable, "acceptable price" would be the death of most humans, non-humans and probably most plants on this planet.

So let me get this straight: 500,000 is unacceptable... but a few billion is, what, pocket change?

If the only plan afterculture advocates have is "kill 'em all let gaia sort 'em out", then they need to go back to the drawing board.


May 22, 2004   09:49 AM PDT
"I haven't got any time for the end of the world right now"... that's a great line!

I'm now home sweet home, so once I shake off the jetlag and have a shower, we'll see what inanities strikes me next...
May 20, 2004   07:07 PM PDT
Yeah. Sorry again about the absenteeism. Ant is right; I'm moving, doing Slam stuff, and helping my wife graduate from college. I haven't got any time for the end of the world right now. I'll throw the poem up here as soon as I get home.
May 20, 2004   07:41 AM PDT
National Poetry Slam?

That rules. Congrats, dude.

Would it be to much to ask to take a peak at the winning poem, since I think its fair to say I'll never get to see it read?

Anyway, again congratulations.
May 20, 2004   06:46 AM PDT
Sorry Pete, not dead, just about to leave Nepal to head home to Oregon. Have been instead spending quality time with my girl, who is off to Mongolia for a month.

More shit-talking and rabble-rousing soon, at least from this monkey. Dig has been too busy winning a spot in the national poetry slam, but I'm sure he'll be on once he's gotten over the hangover.
May 19, 2004   04:23 PM PDT
So - is everyone dead or what?

May 14, 2004   04:20 AM PDT
Production always figures in. If you hurt and kill an animal, you are creating a carcass. Spare me any diatribe about relationships or metaphysical underpinnings - for all we know there are CEOs saying prayers over the raw materials going into their products too. A dead animal is a carcass. Gathering fruits and nuts means taking potential plants and denying them a chance to become plants. TAking a step kills insects - or maybe we should all become Jains, and sweep the ground in front of us so we don't kill the bugs.

Again Dig, the whole "product is a carcass bit" is a sound byte. Nothing more. I think you just dislike that so many people have realized that we can produce for more than just the sake of survival, and for some reason, that bothers you.
May 11, 2004   07:53 PM PDT
Pete, despite the fact that we're in disagreement about a lot of points, I respect your willingness to express that dissenting viewpoint. It has certainly made things around here a hell of a lot more interesting. Keep it up, eh.
May 11, 2004   06:04 PM PDT
Well, Samuel - My name is Peter, I live in Boynton Beach, FL. I'm jobless at the moment, but have paper to show I'm a physicist. I know, I live in the wrong area, but my mom lives here. pbremel at hotmail.com if you want some semblance of private communication.

Anyway...I was spending one of the many hours a day I have to completely waste, and stumbled across your site on blogdrive, basically by accident. I couldn't even really tell you how, but I'm sure you understand how such a thing could happen. Started reading, and decided to throw a little dirt into the cogs to see what happened. If for no reason other than lending some sense of balance, or at least providing a good troll for a site which otherwise seemed a little one-sided.

Anyway...I'm off for a while....I'll get back to you tomorrow morning at some point....
May 11, 2004   05:28 PM PDT
Also, there's some consensus among respectable scientists that says that there's some cause for alarm at this point. Just as speculation might be a good thing, so might be alarm. If, in your view, people shouldn't speculate, and shouldn't become alarmed, than you're a pretty scary person. I figure you're just being hyperbolic, though. That's fine. There's room for hyperbole too.
May 11, 2004   05:25 PM PDT
My name is Samuel. I live in Olympia, WA but am soon to move back to Eugene, OR. I am a poet. I don't know whether or not I know you, but I'm curious how you found us.

Also, it bears mentioning that the previous comment posted by dig was really TaylorJane. She's my wife, and we share a machine.

Now, briefly, who are you Pete?
May 11, 2004   01:18 PM PDT
BTW - I mean clear cutting in the U.S.

Clearly elsewhere it is still a large problem, that too can be helped by the right sort of intervention.
May 11, 2004   01:17 PM PDT
I don't think anyone made the claim we should kill off every member of a species.

Clear cutting has lost favor in recent times.

Salmon have problems, caused by dams, but the problems are acknowledged and steps are being taken to rehabilitate their populations where possible.

Wolves are also well respected now, and have even been re-introduced into yellowstone.

Cell phone towers don't kill all the birds, anymore than windows do.

Don't be so alarmist. You must realize how you sound, right?
May 11, 2004   12:59 PM PDT
<i>Ever heard of the circle of life? Life is turning living matter into dead matter, and then eventually that life turns into dead matter itself. And new life springs up. </i>

EXACTLY. Unfortunately, if you cut down an entire forest of cedar trees, there are no trees left to act as nurse logs to young cedars, no shade to protect the voung trees, no living root sysytem to prevent erosion, and so on. New grasses and small shrubs might spring up, and there will always be wild rhododendrons, but a clear cut does not really actively promote the natural cycle of life.
Likewise, if we kill off a salmon species a new one won't just spring up to take its place.
If we kill off wolves, new wolves won't be there to help with the balance (The wolf eats the deer, the leftover deer decomposes, the grass grows in this fertilized area, the young dear eats it, eventually the young deer is eaten by a wolf....).
If we take all the coal out of the earth for our use, new coal won't just appear to filter impurities out of the water. (I love that coal does that...like a liver).
If we kill all the songbirds with cell phone towers, the bug population will be out of control, and if we kill all the bugs with poison, the spider population will die.
This is VASTLY different than living matter dying and that dying matter eventually becoming living matter. A pencil will never grow into a new tree.
May 11, 2004   12:43 PM PDT
Who are you, Dig?
May 11, 2004   12:37 PM PDT
Who are you, Pete?
May 11, 2004   05:52 AM PDT
Production is not a euphemism for turning living matter into dead matter, no matter what Derrick Jensen happens to believe.

Ever heard of the circle of life? Life is turning living matter into dead matter, and then eventually that life turns into dead matter itself. And new life springs ups. Some products, like livestock for instance, have incredible inflated populations that would have never existed if they hadn't been raised specifically for their purpose - so it's unlikely we'll run out of them anytime soon. Hell, cows weren't even an animal until we made them.

As for supporting our population, which it has been asserted is impossible; why is it that we now have a larger population in the world than we ever had, and also a smaller amount of starving people? Sure there might be less space "per person" but it also requires less space to support a person. Why is that?

Technology - new types of fertilizer, new farming techniques with higher yield per area, and more efficient transportation methods. All tools and techniques developed by "civilization" in an effort to prevent as much human suffering as possible. Certainly there could be even less starvation and suffering if countries would get their shit together, but we're not doing a terrible job. (Excluding unneccesary wars - which of course have happened throughout history.)

So ultimately it comes down to the decision of whether or not you think technology will continue to work for us in the future. Maybe it will, maybe it won't. It has so far, and that of course is no indication it will continue to. But humans are an amazingly adaptable species, and I'm going to put my money on it working out. There have simply been too many doomsday scenerios floated over the past 40 years to no be skeptical of a new one - especially when the scenerio is basically inspired by one mans desperate hatred and guilt, and not so much by scientific reasoning and logic.

Humans "do" technology. It's our thing. We don't have big teeth, sharp claws, or a nice warm camoflaged coat. If changes in the future make us less suited to adaptation, and we all die off, so be it. In such a case there really was nothing to be done about it. But there are more than enough resources (even undiscovered ones) and more than enough brilliant people thinking about it, that I really doubt one day the taps are just going to run dry and every is going to look at each other and say "oh shit, we'll thats it! The limits of human intelligence have just been reached!"

Even if we were to "run out" of oil, it wouldn't be an immediate process. As the amount of available oil started to decline, market forces would dictate it's price would start to rise (most likely well in advance), spurring development of alternative fuels as well as conservation of current reserves. But even the oil-crisis isn't expected by anyone respectable anytime in the next 60 years - again why is that? Technology. New forms of drilling, shale, oil-sands, and the ability to drill deeper at less of an energy penalty. Not mention the evidence that depleted oil wells seem to slowly re-fill over time, leading to speculation that the dead-dino theory of where oil comes from could be wrong. It could just be created as a natural process in the earth the same way lava is.

As for "many people" surviving, as dig mentioned in the little chat box thing, it's a load of bollocks. Certainly there will some people who survive, most likely those people that survive this imagined calamity will be people who already live at or near the level that the rest of the world is supposedly going to be plunged too. But I would expect virtually no one in america to survive ten years past "the downfall". In such a case I imagine that everyone would panic, start fighting over whatever resources were left, and the general murderous chaos in the wake would take care of most people, whether or not they new it was coming and actually new how to raise livestock, fish, farm or scavange.

Anyway, I'm kinda running low on steam here....time for a cup of coffee and a cancer stick I think....
May 10, 2004   10:15 PM PDT
It will, eventually, fall. Why? Because it is a system based on production. Production is a euphamism for turning living matter into 'products' (dead matter). There is a limited amount of living matter. Therefore, eventually it will all be gone. That's not speculation.

I believe that it will probably fall soon. That is speculation. I like speculating. I think that speculating is a really worthwhile thing to do. That is, after all, what this whole thing is about.
May 10, 2004   09:12 PM PDT
Perhps civilization won't actually collapse. That is entirely true. We should be (and many, many people...possibly even including Dig) are working for a more sustainable future. However, I was looking at a demographic history book the other day (currently in my profesors office, or esle I would appropriately cite it...I'll get the book title and exact numbers next week) and it was really shocking. In 1878 there was something to the tune of 20 acres per citizen (and we didn't have all the states yet). Today there is less than 1. Scary. There is not enought land in the United States to support the population. What if the international transportation infrastructure fails - even temporarily - and we have to make do with what we grow and make here?
There is no way to say if a fall is going to happen in our lifetimes. There is no way to accurately predict whether or not the citziens of this complex culture will turn themselves around. There is also no way to say that a collapse won't happen - or that we aren't living in the midst of the beginning. We can't find those probabilities. There are far too many independent variables.
Is there an answer? Perhaps. Live NOW, in this culture and appreciate the many gifts it has (an open internationally avaliable forum comes to mind...), and hope that someday it will improve. Prepare for the reality that it might not, and that a lot of innocent people (probably myself and any of you included) will die.
Thanks for sparking some great discussion
May 10, 2004   10:30 AM PDT
That's pure speculation, Dig. Nothing is inevitable until it actually happens. Acting as though it is inevitable is a choice.

However, simply writing this doomsday scenerio off as inevitable convieniently absolves you of any responsibility for working towards a sustainable future.

And we're not really that jaded are we?

You've still never shown even an ounce of proof as to WHY this civilization isn't sustainable - it certainly has sustained millions and millions of people for quite some time now. It's a very dynamic civilization, and if we run into problems, we will come up with solutions. Certainly there may be problems that not everyone agrees on yet, but you can bet that when the things get right down to it, we'll come up with something. Or we'll all die, who knows? But I'm not going to waste my time fretting over it. I'm going to do what I think is right, and work to affect changes in that direction.

You see, you can take one of two positions. You can be proactive, and actually work to fix problems that you see, in whatever way you can. Or you can simply say doomsday is inevitable, and walk around with a chip on your shoulder waiting for the apocalypse...or you can write a big 900 page screed blaming America for all of the worlds problems..

But making the claim that "civilization" is not sustainable, no matter what the people that make up that civilization do is not only unprovable, but also a self-fulfilling prophecy. You cant work to make civilization better if you've resigned yourself to the "fact" that everything is terrible and armaggeddon is around the corner. Not only that, by why would you want to try to provent it, and the massive death toll that would accompany it, if everything is shit anyway?

It's a defeatist attitude. It's a way of rationalizing your belief that you are unable to change things. And it's self loathing of the highest order.
May 10, 2004   09:19 AM PDT
I'm working on a better thought out response than this, but I have fifteen minutes before I have to be at work. The big point here is that it's inevitable. Civilization will fall, because it isn't sustainable. It's only a question of when and how. Sanctioning Iraq wasn't inevitable, it was a choice.

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