How likely is it that Global Warming will destroy human civilization within the next century?

Posted on

"How likely is it that Global Warming will destroy human civilization within the next century?"

I’d be interested in hearing your answer to this question in the comments.

How desperate is the conservative pollster Rasmussen to glom onto the climate issue and both trivialize and confuse the debate with hyperbole, unscientific polls, and inane, vaguely worded questions? Pretty damn desperate, to judge by their headline poll last Thursday:

23% Fear Global Warming Will End World – Soon

Nearly one-out-of-four voters (23%) say it is at least somewhat likely that global warming will destroy human civilization within the next century. Five percent (5%) say it’s very likely.

Uhh, what does this polling question mean anyway:

How likely is it that Global Warming will destroy human civilization within the next century?

I mean, even I don’t think I’d answer that “very likely” or “somewhat likely” — and I think we face Catastrophic 5-7°C warming by 2100 on current emissions path. This is the territory of James Lovelock (see “Lovelock: Malthus was right, and Climate Progress is way, way too optimistic” and “James Lovelock turns everyone into a climate optimist“).

Destroy human civilization? I doubt you’d find two people who could even agree on how to define that. Apparently it means “the end of the world” to Rasmussen. I hope that clarifies things.

Plus, I really, really dislike the phrase “within the next century.” The “next century” is technically the 22nd century, so “within the next century” technically means by 2200.

If they meant “this century” why didn’t they just say so? Yes, you may say that the connotation is clear to all lot of people, but all I can say is that Nature created a massive amount of confusion last year when they published an article that did not clearly define for the reader and the media what the phrase “next decade” meant — see Nature article on ‘cooling’ confuses media, deniers: Next decade may see rapid warming.

I would note that the NYT‘s Andy Revkin writes about Rasmussen polling:

The Times polling unit does not have confidence in the automated polling methods used by Rasmussen Reports.

The feeling is apparently mutual, Andy, since in its effort to over hype its unscientific climate poll from last week, Rasmussen ran another headline story the next day:

54% Say Media Hype Global Warming Dangers

More bad news for the media.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of U.S. voters say the news media make global warming appear worse than it really is. Only 21% say the media present an accurate picture…

Seventy-nine percent (79%) of GOP voters say the media paints a darker picture of global warming that the reality merits…. Democrats, however, are much more closely divided: 27% say the media make it look worse than it is, 22% better, and 34% say they present an accurate picture.

Again, all of these numbers are meaningless — even ignoring the unscientific nature of the polling — since the topline question is ill-defined again:

Does the media make global warming appear to be worse than it really is, better than it really is or do they present an accurate picture?

Who is “the media”? And what picture are they painting? Please, somebody, tell me.

GOP voters get much of their news from the conservative media, which underplays the danger of global warming but which constantly criticizes “the media” for overhyping it.

I think the bottom line from Rasmussen’s polling is still best summed up as Deniers are still mostly duping only GOP voters, but what do you expect from a party that wants to be more like Sarah Palin?

« »

56 Responses to How likely is it that Global Warming will destroy human civilization within the next century?

  1. hapa says:

    “0%. human civilization will succeed or fail in response to the crisis, not because of it.”

  2. Brendan says:

    Does the winner of this contest also get a blog post? (Post-tokens inherited by next-of-kin)

    [JR: Two!]

  3. GaryB says:

    Human civilization is a pretty broad category and I’m sure those on the coasts and in drought areas will experience hardships and a reduction in economic and technological function and would consider that a collapse of their civilization. Those in highly technological areas should fair better.

  4. paulm says:

    A 50-50 chance that climate change will destroy civilisation this century?
    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/richard_tyler/blog/2008/06/06/a_5050_chance_that_climate_change_will_destroy_civilisation_this_century

    …Nicholas Stern — the author of the Government’s Stern Report on the economic effects of climate change, and former chief economist at the World Bank — said we have a one in two chance of destroying civilization within the life-span of people already born, unless drastic action is taken to slow CO2 emissions….

  5. paulm says:

    I think we have passed a tipping point and are looking at at least 3+ and who knows what after that.

    Basically, its not going to be a comfortable life for the next generation and it will be a struggle there after.

    On top of this there is peak oil.

    Good bye cozy world were leaving you today.

  6. Joe says:

    I just don’t see how you destroy civilization by 2100 given our phenomenal wealth and science and technology.

    We will really, really, really piss off human civilization and they will curse our names for a thousand years. But destruction of human civilization ain’t easy.

  7. Aaron d says:

    I think there’s only a very small chance, that the WHOLE of human civilization will be destroyed during the next century because of global warming. Just as Gary said, I think some people will experience much more hardship than others…say Australia and California will be worse off than some other places around the world. I definitely don’t want to find out how bad that hardship will be. I do think that certain ecosystems around the world (coral reefs) will cease to exist in the way we know them today.

    With that said, if we make it to 1000ppm (which hopefully we won’t) I’d rethink my response and instead say, “…we screwed!”

  8. lgcarey says:

    Well, the Rasmussen article clarifies that the question means “before 2100″, but the survey responses (even allowing for very poorly worded questions) are puzzling: 64% believe that global warming is a serious problem, 23% believe that global warming might actually destroy human civilization by 2100 . . . and only 41% say that maybe we should do something about it sometime soon? So put down my response as “very, very likely” to the question “will scientific illiteracy & lack of rational thinking destroy human civilization by 2100?”

  9. Tim Ream says:

    A better question might be: In how many locations currently supporting civilization, will that civilization disappear? Answer: everywhere under water and most places desertified. Are war zones civilized? Is an area filled with homeless beggars eating garbage civilized?

    One hundred years from now there will still be rich people living comfortable lives. So what?

    And remember, civilizations can rise again, but the extinction of biodiversity is forever.

  10. DavidONE says:

    That’s the question: what is meant by ‘human civilisation’? And is that the measure we should be looking at first and foremost? How about considering biodiversity? How many species should we exterminate before the majority say “that’s enough”?

    Humans will be the last species left on the planet, along with cockroaches, rats and algae. We’ll be protected by our technology until the bitter end – if we allow it to get that bad.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction_event

  11. Brewster says:

    I used to feel that humanity WOULD respond, once we all realized how bad it could be…

    But I’m very pessimistic lately, and am coming to believe we’ll throw ourselves back almost to the stone age…. But by 2100? Hmmm…

    Possibly. The West may be advanced enough to survive almost anything, but when the hungry billions come looking for their share of what we have, it could lead to very difficult times…

  12. Greg says:

    I’m a bit confused about your motives for asking this, Joe.

    As a scientist you know that single-factor explanations are always too simplistic.

    Humanity faces many challenges in the next hundred years: declining per-capita fresh water availability; declining per-capita (and aggregate) food due to soiil fertility loss and area loss, and loss of wild fish; huge demographically based tensions, especially in Eurasia and North Africa; the increasing capacity of small groups to wreak devastation, for example by using artificial bio-weapons; and tensions due to the increasing gap between rich and poor, both internationally and intranationally. Global warming exacerbates some of these problems, possibly greatly.

    I think that the reason the illiberal media have fastened on the AGW issue is that they have seen that, by portraying the issue as one of simple scientific fact and by creating a great fuss about that, they distract people from thinking about the other issues above.

  13. Recently it has been suggested that the Titanic went down because cheap rivets were used. If top quality rivets had been used, the iceberg would have damaged the ship but it would not necessarily have sunk.

    If Louisianans had been Dutch with their 10,000-year-event flood planning, New Orleans would have survived Katrina just fine.

    The Pentagon study on extreme climate change of several years back speculated on famine-driven nuclear war on the Indian subcontinent.

    It’s the combination of global warming, general decay of ecosystems and weaknesses in human social-economic organization that worries me most, especially in the context of feedback loops.

    Mad Max future? Dunno, but I think we underestimate the cumulative effects of the “cheap rivets.”

  14. Pilot says:

    In a few short years people will point back at this debate and other debates like it and remark on how stupid the whole global warming farago had become. The wheels are coming off the AGW bandwagon. Real people with real lives are moving on and concentrating on what is true and important.

    The AGW fanatics who disregard the total lack of any credible evidence that man-made CO2 is responsible for the slight (0.7 deg C) warming will cling to their hockey sticks no matter what. Believing that switching the lights off and driving a tiny car that runs on batteries and carrot juice will save the world is too silly for words. Meanwhile, in the real world, the real people are trying to cope with the economic meltdown and all the other real worries that affect them.

    [JR: Well argued, at least for someone suffering from anti-scientific syndrome. In fact, in a few short years, the whole planet will be desperately devoting more and more of its resources in a frantic effort to escape the consequences of its at my myopic greed. But hey, at least you can tell your kids, you were championing the destruction of a livable climate.]

  15. Dano says:

    I don’t think it will.

    It will reorder human societies. And there will be some sort of drop-off – either via hard landing or soft landing (depending upon numerous factors, too many to list here).

    Unless the definition of destroy means “abandon society as is practiced in 2009″ and then it likely will (back to my reordering) destroy many aspects of society.

    But who is to say the new ordering won’t be better? Humans might even learn something.

    Best,

    D

  16. Jim Eager says:

    For an interesting view on this very subject you might want to listen to Gwynne Dyer’s 3-part CBC radio adaptation of his book Climate Wars. All three parts can currently be downloaded as podcasts at http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/podcast.html

  17. JCH says:

    We’re in the 21st century. Isn’t the next century the 22nd century?

  18. Jim Eager says:

    Pilot, you mistake your ignorance of the databases, libraries, warehouses and walk-in freezers full of credible evidence for there being none.

    But I do agree that In a few short years people will indeed point back at this so-called “debate” and know just how stupid it was. Unfortunately, real word consequences of the inaction that will have flowed from the “debate” will make that knowledge most painful indeed.

  19. Anthony, rabid doomsayer says:

    In 100 years the world will be a very different place.

    A world with 6 billion humans, no chance. Do we want a gentle reduction or a very deep nasty one.

  20. Greg Robie says:

    I commend the BBC docudrama “After The Warming” for gaining an insight into the efficacy of the polling question. That production, though now dated in some of its content, introduced a model for understanding the rise and fall of civilizations that I found to be of particular value. Climate change is far more causal in the human drama of our history than we have been taught (wars, generals, etc.). Perhaps it is my experience homesteading in the ’70s that affords me the experiential understanding I have of just how interdependent we are in our social dynamics. When you live off the land you gain a sense of ones place in the natural order that the supermarket and the local deli can never teach you. The lost lesson is enough to make one pretty unintelligent; quite lost to motivated reasoning relative to problem solving; quite unable to think outside the box.

    One of the ways this plays out in the media coverage I follow–and seems to inform the conclusion in the above comment by GaryB, is that those of us “in highly technological area should fair better.” Really!!! The “hope” such thinking represents is fundamentally flawed by the motivated reasoning it represents.

    In 1973 I went to the “Towards Tomorrow” fair in Amherst, Mass. On of the factoids I have retained from that event is that at that time Massachusetts had four days of food supplies within the state relative to what its population consumed. While Mormon and survivalist residents of that state will have a year or more of food in their homes, most will not. Has anything structurally shifted in the food distribution business model since the ’70s that has us in “highly technological areas” better situated relative to food security?

    The labels I read on my high tech stuff suggests most of it is highly toxic, and except for the character Jaws, in one of the James Bond movies, sustenance we depend on to live in our highly specialized and interdependent economy is organic, and requires the climate and arable land the planet now has. Back in the ’70s there was a huge global–and mostly national–grain surplus. Now grain and food stuff production is mirroring the just-in-time supply chains models of manufacturing. The poor are used to starving to death and will feel right at home in the realities of climate change. It is those of us who reside in urban/suburban sprawl who are going to really suffer even with the earliest climate change caused shifts in food production.

    To compound our vulnerability is peak oil (which you have also blogged about today). Systemically, the US hegemony (and the US dollar as the reserve currency of the planet) has, since 1973 hinged on the world’s exponentially growing demand for OPEC oil. It was President Nixon’s deal with the Saudis in that year that has given the US (and its version of global capitalism), its capacity to get to a place of relative absolute power (which it has used to mess things up absolutely). It is what you call the staid IEA, then (in the mid-’70s) a secret organization headquartered in Finland (and on which US chartered oil company executives served, exempted from our anti-trust laws) that also set us/US up for our fall from power.

    All those of us in “high tech areas” are going to suffer far grater than the poor in the unfolding economic collapse than the poor. They have been used to being treated unjustly for, well, ever since colonialism was the dominate economic model. The same is true with the environmental collapse climate change entails. The devolution from a specialized civilization to a subsistence clan or tribe will not go well for those of us who are the “effete corps of impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals” Spiro Agnew identified as an adversary of the advance of civilization.

    If ones thinking does not incorporate a knowledge of the systemic role climate has played in human history and the rise and fall of civilizations check out (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6514270139930450081). It will be a well spent hour and three quarters. Given human sociology and psychology and the fact that there is not a climate bill on Obama’s desk today I am among the 5% that would project as the most likely scenario to be the collapse of civilization before the end of this century. This video and what has not happened since its production is a major factor influencing my judgment.

  21. Dana says:

    I couldn’t even answer that question because it’s too vague. I take “within the next century” to mean within the next 100 years, but how do you define “destroy human civilization”? We’ll almost certainly have some semblance of a civilization 100 years in the future, but it likely won’t be as convenient or comfortable as our current civilization due to climate change.

    I hate vague questions.

  22. Gail says:

    Greg Robie, I have not watched the video yet but I will. I have to join you in the 5% anyway, because of what I see going on in my New Jersey backyard. And also from Rhode Island to Virginia, where I have traveled recently – and quite possibly much further.

    All the trees I see are dying, and fast. I first got concerned last summer when the deciduous trees had shriveled leaves – but I thought the coniferous trees were okay. Starting in November however, they have been dropping their needles at a breathtaking pace. Of course, the deciduous trees are supposed to be leafless this time of year but guess what, if they aren’t falling over, they dropping limbs, have gaping holes, and a shedding bark and covered with black fungus or grey lichens. And to top it off, in just that last two weeks, the shrubs are giving evidence of decay. Rhododendron leaves are hanging straight down, and boxwood are turning yellower by the day.

    So okay what is causing this precipitous decline? No doubt it has been going on for decades, but what has pushed the ecosystem to collapse?

    And what does it mean for annual food crops? I’m not sure, but I’m surely not sanguine.

    That’s why I’m in the 5%. Nobody is going to be insulated from a lack of food.

    Here’s my logic, which is all I have, since I’m not a scientist who can do experiments. SOMETHING is killing the trees and shrubs. I don’t know yet about grasses, vines and annuals. So let’s stick with the trees and shrubs.

    The culprits could be:

    1. Climate change induced drying and warming.

    2. Acid rain depleting essential nutrients in the soil.

    3. Ozone depletion at high levels of the atmosphere allowing excessive amounts of UV radiation which is destructive to plants.

    4. Too much background ozone at ground level which is also known to be destructive to plants.

    5. Something I haven’t thought of; or some combination.

    As time goes on unfortunately I am leaning towards 3 or 4, for the simple reason that ALL trees and shrubs seem to be declining at the same time, even though some are watered regularly or grown in enriched soil.

    Think about it: given the well-documented damage that UV radiation, and background ozone, cause to vegetation, there logically MUST be some level of each that vegetation simply can’t tolerate. And IF that is the cause, we’re in very serious trouble.

    Even without all the other issues (water shortages, social unrest).

    Thanks for reading if you got this far and I am interested in any thoughts.

    Gail

  23. paulm says:

    Gail, how about – all the above.

    Here in the NW we are seeing a huge decline in the returning Salmon fisheries. Its now affecting the eagle population and behavior. This is lower and they are flocking to the municipal dumps and the theory is that they cant get enough food in the wild. A similar thing can be observed with the sea birds.

    I have only seen the odd seal in the Fraser, where before there use to be many sightings. Not sure whats going on there – no fish; pollution; both.

  24. paulm says:

    On the topic of civilization decline, you would be surprised at how quickly this can happen due to resource depletion.

    We use them up then move on where we can. Only problem is we can move on now as
    1) We have global civilization now (all depending on oil)
    2) we are using a global garbage dump for our CO2 and the resulting Climate Change is world wide.

    Reflecting on decline, eg Maya and Easter Is., we can assume that in the case of resource exploitation, that the collapse is going to be relatively sudden.

    My guess it it will be in line with the slop on the other side of peak oil and probably more steeply due to civil unrest issues.

    The 80:20 ratio rule may applies some how in this case.

  25. Gail says:

    paulm:

    you are in the west? I read about the collapse of civilizations and yes…the entire globe is now Easter Island.

    I am full of grief. I have 3 daughters…oldest, 29, had bizarre, rare cancer, is an attorney who rides horses competitively. Middle, loves animals and is a student at UPenn Vet School. Youngest, junior majoring in environmental biology at Princeton.

    It just is agonizing for me. They have no future. It’s going to be hey, NO WAY to feed horses, hey, no food for pets and hey, envir bio, forget it.

    The coral reefs aren’t exactly “threatened”, they ARE dead!

    The best we can do is try to devise ways to raise food in enclosed environments.

  26. James says:

    Two ways I can see human civilization being destroyed, and they both depend on human reactions to climate change, not climate change itself.

    1. The inequity created as poor countries struggle to deal with rising seas and droughts and tropical storms merges with developing global communications. A global leader arises who finds a way to transcend religion/culture and channels both social and environmental rage into a giant jihad. Now, that would be World War 3, but in order to destroy civilization this global leader would also have to have an information-destruction/back-to-nature mentality. The global army would have to be thorough (no Middle East or Irish monks squirreling knowledge away after the fall of the Roman Empire). While some might disagree, I don’t think this is very likely.

    2. Something about resource wars and nukes and blah blah blah it won’t happen.

    All of this does give me an idea for a novel, though!

  27. James says:

    Sorry, to add to mine a little, the above defines the collapse of civilization as a complete loss of accumulated knowledge and habits – a simultaneous and planet-wide burning of the Library at Alexandria – and the prevention of any efforts to repair the damage.

  28. llewelly says:

    If Louisianans had been Dutch with their 10,000-year-event flood planning, New Orleans would have survived Katrina just fine.

    Historically speaking, Katrina was at most a 50-year flood event. (Some would argue 25.) Tack on sea level rise, greater rainfall from hurricanes, and (possibly) increased hurricane intensity from global warming, and it becomes less than 50-years. Oh, and there’s also massive subsidence (as in most deltas, much much worse than SLR) to account for. People at the University of Tulane spent decades trying to convince people and politicians of these facts. They failed, and New Orleans was criminally unprepared – and continues to be. Barring major changes in the way Americans view disasters, there will be a US hurricane landfall killing substantially more people than Katrina did within 30 years.

    It’s not popular to talk about it, but the fact is we have many cities – coastal and otherwise – which are woefully unprepared for known historical frequencies of well-known climate disasters, much less disasters intensified by subsidence, global warming, ocean acidification, NOx, or what have you.

  29. Greg Robie says:

    Hi Gail,

    In late summer deciduous trees will wilt (have shriveled leaves). This is an adaptation to drought conditions. By wilting they conserve water by closing the stamen in the leaves that they would otherwise respire through. This response is normal,.

    Coniferous trees also shed needles in the Fall.

    The loss of limbs is common in forest dynamics as tree growth shades out lower limes and these die, rot and fall off. This can be a cause of holes, though woodpeckers, squirrels, etc.

    The presence of fungus and/or lichens, if primarily on the north side of the tress is also usual. If more than randomly present, it could be a sign of a micro-climate change due to forest succession dynamics, or other stress inducing forces such as you have listed (Acid deposition due to Ohio’s coal power plants avoiding meeting the 973 clean air act regulations being the most likely. Acidification does effect different tree species differently. Oaks seem to do better than most and are gaining dominance in easter forests

    Rhododendron leaves are hanging straight down when it is cold–and we had that cold snap when you observed this (I am in the mid-Hudson Valley). I am not sure what the color change in you boxwood might be–unless mice or voles might have girdled them below the snow line.

    None of this explanation is meant of negate the agony you feel. We have given our kids a world we should be ashamed of. Learning to see the proof of this in our environs will be part of our grieving process as we move from denial to responsibility. While the changes will become more rapid and pronounced in temperate latitudes as things progress, for now such large shifts are happening, primarily, in the Arctic.

    Our progeny will come to reject our false sense of hope. The wishing we have clung to as hope is basically worthless to them. Because humans cannot live long without hope, after a period of forebodance and fear they find a new hope that will carry them through the suffering that will shape their tumultuous lives, and the end of ours. There is such a hope that endures suffering, and here again, the poor have a leg up on the piously privileged in feeling it is so. Ours may yet be one where the lyrics of Graham Nash’s “Teach Your Children” stanza that applied to parents will apply to us:

    “Teach your parents well
    Their children’s hell will slowly go by
    And feed them on your dreams
    The one they pick’s the one you’ll know by”

    We’ll just need to learn to listen to them better than our parents listened to us! ;)

    In the meantime, most of the impacts of climate change in our region are still subtle to our sensibilities. One that relates to our different locations is that you live where the boundary of the Northern Black Capped Chickadee and the Carolina Chickadee ranges use to overlap. This past spring I heard a chickadee with a song that was a cross between these two species. This was new to me, but probably has been normal in your area (though you now may only have the Carolina Chickadee).

  30. jorleh says:

    Idiots make idiotic polls. But of course we get a world war because of the climate change after some decades. Our species dies in nuclear winter, after some hot decades, and that is going to happen before the year 2100.

  31. So many questions:

    What percentage of those who know that global catastrophic change is looming have decided to keep quiet about it?

    What percentage of those asked know the answer, but refuse to answer pollsters?

    What percentage of trained scientists think that all the science is settled?

    What percentage of those scientists will even bother to address the issue any longer?

  32. Wonhyo says:

    Joe,

    I think you optimistically deflect the significance of the poll. Yes, it is a vague question, but most polls are intentionally vague. Despite the vagueness, the result shows a significant portion of the population is apprehensive about the dangers of climate change, yet our society has been (and is still) slow and inadequate in our response. This signifies a combination of denial and capitulation that must be overcome.

    This reminds me of the question posed by Jared Diamond in “Collapse”. When that last tree on Easter Island (once lushly covered) was chopped down, what was the guy thinking? I think he (and his cohorts) were in denial of the dangers of chopping down trees until it was too late. Then he capitulated, thinking one standing tree isn’t going to save him or his buddies, so he might as well enjoy chopping it down. That reasoning makes sense, in a selfish way. If that guy didn’t take the pleasure of chopping down the last tree, someone else would have.

    I (and many of your readers) think the scientific question is settled. We need to move on to the social implications of climate change, meaning the preservation of civil society within the conditions of climate change. To address this, we have to go beyond science. I think it will take religious leadership to guide human civilization through climate adaptation in an orderly manner.

    While I respect individual scientists, like James Hansen, science as a profession has failed to alert humanity to the dangers of climate change. Will the clergy be up to the task of guiding us through it?

  33. paulm says:

    The attitude of lovelock is interesting….
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126921.500-one-last-chance-to-save-mankind.html

    ….
    I’m an optimistic pessimist……
    It has happened before: between the ice ages there were bottlenecks when there were only 2000 people left. It’s happening again.
    ….
    It’s a depressing outlook?
    Not necessarily. I don’t think 9 billion is better than 1 billion. I see humans as rather like the first photosynthesisers, which when they first appeared on the planet caused enormous damage by releasing oxygen – a nasty, poisonous gas. It took a long time, but it turned out in the end to be of enormous benefit. I look on humans in much the same light. For the first time in its 3.5 billion years of existence, the planet has an intelligent, communicating species that can consider the whole system and even do things about it. They are not yet bright enough, they have still to evolve quite a way, but they could become a very positive contributor to planetary welfare.

  34. Shelly T. says:

    My guess:
    American, wealthy human civilization will survive just fine up to about six degrees though their numbers will diminish as many of them make bad choices and move south instead of north.
    Same with wealthy Europeans and other very very wealthy people. IOW, the wealthy will do OK.
    The rest of the world will not because they will find food and water shortages, land shortages, migration problems, and civil unrest as jobs disappear and economies in some areas collapse.

    The wealthy will survive, the poor will not, and the middle class is anyone’s guess. I live in central MN so I assume I’ll be OK. If I lived in Florida, I’d move. If I lived in New Orleans, I’d move. If I lived on an island, I would definitely move.

    Societies may very well break down but probably not the American one. I mean, we already have soldiers at the ready at Northcom! (this is written with sadness, not promotion of the idea of soldiers shooting civilians, which I predict will start happening as soon as serious looting picks up.)

    The population of the world will decline greatly and there will be a lot more wars for resources. Unfortunately, I doubt that President Obama will do enough about climate change because he’s so busy wanting to get along with everyone. I hope he gets over that.

  35. Nick says:

    To echo Greg above, societal collapses are always a result of many factors. Those factors were always in place until AGW chipped in and put them in the shade with a dazzling combination of novelty,glorious complexity and tension-inducing suspense. By 2060, we will be in severe contraction from over-population,environmental degradation and resource exhaustion, regardless of AGWs coup-de-grace.

  36. Maarten says:

    The black death in Europe (oh yeah, during the little ice age, another climate induced stress) reduced populations by 30 to 40 %, several times; it was usually great for the survivors, because they had more resources per head than before, land got cheaper, wages rose. But consider the millions of wrecked lives and torn families.
    With the impeding crises of resource depletion, peak oil, climate disruption, everyone dreams himself or his descendants to be among the survivors, which for a great number of people will be a miscalculation.
    My greatest worry is that our political systems which aren’t performing competently even in the best of times will collapse under increased stress, turn fascist. The severe contractions ahead will be nasty. There is one assault rifle for seven people on this planet. People will not starve peacefully in their beds!
    We ‘mis-underestimated’ the risks in the mostly virtual financial world, and even a small decrease in economic growth causes social stress — how will it be going when there will be serious economic contraction?

  37. Neven says:

    The first Greg and Greg Robie said it best. There’s a multitude of problems that will sooner than later cause societal collapse, perhaps even on a global scale. I think for large regions this will involve the end of civilisation, though not the end of humanity.

    I believe the main cause of all the problems the first Greg summed up (declining fresh water availability, soil fertility loss and area loss, depleted fish stocks, the increasing social inequality between rich and poor, peak oil, global warming, spiritual impoverishment) is the concept of (exponential) economic growth. Growth is fine when it resembles that of a child or a plant and gets living standards above the minimum, but it soon crosses a threshold that makes its growth resemble that of a cancerous tumour. Western society crossed the threshold a few decades ago.

    The problem of this concept of economic growth is that for it to work, ie get people to produce and consume ever larger quantities, it has to embed itself in culture. And culture, the context in which people relate to each other etcetera, is for a large part subconscious. This means that most people are not aware how their behaviour and relationships with other people is fuelled by the need for economic growth. They think that by altering the things they DO they can solve the problems, when what they actually should be doing is changing the way they ARE. Windmills and fluorescent light bulbs are cosmetic surgery, nothing more.

    Now how to change something that is so invisible, so deeply embedded in all our institutions, our educational system, our livelihood? The psychological need for keeping the system in place, the not having to live through the pain of radical change of psycho-physical patterns, the addiction to things that threaten our individual and collective survival… It’s simply enormous and almost impossible to grasp. I don’t know how to get the real transition going. But if we don’t throw the concept of economic growth overboard and work towards a steady state economy, if we don’t give 100% attention to food and energy security first (which can only be obtained on a local, decentralised and transparent way), societal collapse will be inevitable.

    I personally believe it’s inevitable because the real cause of all the problems and its solutions are practically invisible. People that are skeptical of this simple line of thought, aren’t aware of their motives to do so. Their psychological need for it not to be true is so great, that they don’t believe it’s true.

  38. Gail says:

    Neven, well said. My head is ‘splodin.

  39. Linda S says:

    There seems to be a lot of confusion over just what ‘collapse of civilization’ means. As far as I’m concerned, civilization has collapsed when rule of law no longer exists. We’ve seen it happen in the U.S. before — in Watts, in New Orleans — but only for brief intervals. A prolonged, nationwide collapse could well become permanent.

    If it were just climate change we are facing, I think we could maintain our civil veneer for some time to come. But as others have pointed out, we face multiple stresses on our current way of life. As just one example, consider the effects of severe gasoline shortages — due to natural disasters, peak oil, wars, or any combination thereof — our food supply lines would quickly fail. How long before the guns would come out and it’s every man for himself? Wealth and technology wouldn’t offer much protection.

    It doesn’t have to be that way, but no promises it won’t be, and soon.

  40. Dano says:

    Good thread.

    IMHO, what Joe is getting at is key questions about human societal resilience: what will happen, and will we survive it? The comments above inherently state that we are NOT resilient, and something big will happen.

    So, what do we do about it?

    Best,

    D

  41. John McCormick says:

    The destruction of human civilization is too massive a topic to capture in a few paragraphs; though, some commentors have posted some sobering, frightening thoughts.

    Taken to ground level, and on a local level makes the topic easier to grasp because we can witness it, catalogue the destruction and examine the debris for clues.

    Elkhart Indiana is a place to begin to understand how that particular civilization will fare in this harsh economic time. My heart goes out to its residents as we hear the statistics that define their future. Once the “RV capitol of the world” its unemployment went from 4.7 to 18 precent in one year.

    Re-employment in this one-industry city will not come easy. Meanwhile, mortages and bills must be paid and families will struggle to remain in their homes. Selling their homes and moving on will not be realistic for the former and a possible necesssity for the latter.

    As the community of Elkhart struggles, we will have the choice to rescue it or watch it dissolve. The Maldives Islands, coastal Bangladesh, the Nile Delta, nations dependent upon glacial melt for summer water supplies will all fall victim to changes they did not cause but may not survive.

    There is time to respond to the crisis unfolding in Elkhart. I do not believe there is time to rescue impoverished civilizations from the fate we have delivered to them.

    John McCormick

    [JR: If you think the rich countries are immune to the climate change that is to come, you aren’t following this blog or the science.]

  42. Jim Eager says:

    Shelly wrote: “The wealthy will survive, the poor will not, and the middle class is anyone’s guess.”

    The mere wealthy will not survive for long without those who know how to grow their food and build and maintain the technology that insulates them from the environment. It will be well armed and ruthless neofeudal lords and small bands of hunter-gatherers that will survive.

  43. Stuart says:

    I think it will be more Soylent Green than Mad Max.

  44. Greg Robie says:

    What to do about it is, Dano, great question (and this is turning out to be a good thread). Below is an exercise I did this morning to rewrite the President’s prologue to his press conference last night. I feel that in it are the seeds of what is needed as a “next,” but who can say it, and even if you do, who can hear it remains a unanswered quandry.

    Wonhyo, I have 20 years of patient work among the religious sector of our society that says that your correct insight that change could come from this part of society, also says that this won’t be the case in our culture; at this time (which is not to say it should be given up on). The reson it is unlikely is that we have been too religious in our religious embrace of capitalism’s exploitive and extractive tenants of faith to get another religion.

    In addition, and in my experience, the current religious community will find a new purpose and revive by facilitating the transformation of our fascism from a “friendly” type, from which we have benefited, to an oppressive one that will be anything but “friendly” (and I am referencing the 1980 book of Bertram Gross, “Friendly Fascism” with these quotes). Institutional religion, while now in decline, will find a rebirth as the next iterations of mysticism and dark ages define the cultural norms that I feel have the greatest likelihood of rising to dominance. Today’s conservative religions will continue to grow as they give moral eficacy to the government’s transition to overt fascism, while the liberal branch, particularly the new age crowd, will feed the denial (via a profession of tolerance, fairness, and non-violence in an absence of any substantive practice dynamic) necessary for avoiding the transformatoin for friendly to unfriendly fascism. Liberal will pragmatically (from a self-centered perception) survive as the next age’s mystical monastic orders, and the conservatives the alter boys, chorus, and religious instructors.

    While I am not Roman Catholic, to the degree I understand that denomination’s spiritual schizophrenia, it will be a Jesuit and Franciscan-like dysfunctional division/marriage of differences that will, systemically, afford the next dark ages’ “princes” to have control of the commoners. The resulting every growing consolidation of wealth will go on until climate change kills all their dutiful and faithful serfs. While you can make suicide a sin–a resolution to oppressed serfs checking out of the “Hotel California” wwhen living got hopeless during the Dark Ages, starving to death is a hard “sin” to similarly control, when having the poor serfs suffer and die is a system’s “religious” agenda. (Neven’s medical metaphor about cancer is equally insightful.)

    Ironically, this shift will be facilitated through an unbalancing swing of the social pendulum from rationalism to mysticism such as we have seen in the free market mantra that has stopped ears to reason environmentally, socially, and economically. This will be facilitated through a misapplication of Machiavelli’s argument that the ends justify the means. The swing toward rationalism that facilitated the destruction of non-rational power the church held (and abused) in the last dark age will, in this iteration, swing us back into such a state. Motivated reasoning is our mental proclivity we would do well to grapple with (with what is left of our rational approach to being a society.

    In any event, here is the introduction to last night’s press conference I would have liked to hear the President give. The actual transcript is at (http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog_post/the_first_press_conference/). I want a URL to reference to send this to the Administration so I’m including it in this thread for it is a “what’s next” I feel is being systemically avoided. Once we stop being falsely hopeful we can consider what really is hopeful–and its sobering cost.

    Good evening. Before I take your questions tonight, I’d like to speak briefly about the state of our economy and why what I believe is needed as a recovery plan is wrong headed. 

    I took a trip to Elkhart, Indiana today. Elkhart is a place that has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America. In one year, the unemployment rate went from 4.7% to 15.3%. While the government has be OK with such unemployment rates among the disenfranchised, Elkhart is not such a community and what has been a contained disgrace is leaking into the communities of the franchised and that is a threat to the elite’s hold on power. Companies that have sustained this community for years are shedding jobs at an anticipatable rate. The people who’ve lost them have no idea what to do or who to turn to for they, like those of us in government and the press, have not learned from history. Just as they can’t pay their bills, this nation has effected a model for economic growth that is predicated on not paying for the cost of government. Prudently, the people are stopping spending money. We in government are not. And because the populous is prudently changing their spending habits, more businesses have been forced to lay off more workers. Local TV stations have started running public service announcements that tell people where to find food banks, even as the food banks don’t have enough to meet the demand. The authentic role of government is to regulate commerce, and we did not,. This stimulus bill as another iteration of heroic efforts that have been tried to stop the collapse of a failed economic model. This means that this plan will fail too. We are simply buying time as all responsible alternatives feel as though they are politically untenable.

    As we speak, similar scenes are playing out in cities and towns across the country. Last Monday, more than 1,000 men and women stood in line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami. Last month, our economy lost 598,000 jobs, which is nearly the equivalent of losing every single job in the state of Maine. And if there’s anyone out there who still doesn’t believe this constitutes a full-blown failure of an economic paradigm, they are in deep denial. Americans lives are being turned upside down because we all thought we knew what we were doing in our pursuit of economic security and now are wondering whether the next paycheck is coming.

    Consequently, all we can imagine as being politically possible is the Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. We hope it will save or create up to 4 million jobs. What the financial elite most need right now is jobs for Americans to (hopefully) slow the collapse and buy time to adjust to having wreaked the bullet train of global capitalism and figure out how to stay on top in whatever is “next” in economic theory and practice.

    It is absolutely true that we cannot depend on government alone to create jobs or economic growth because, in the collapsing model, it was credit that did this. As a nation with a savings rate of zero, we cannot self-fund the credit that has been squandered, nor act as a stop-gap for the collapse of credit. We are completely dependent on the fiscal judgment of foreigners and on them reaching a decision to throw good money after bad. Extending credit to our national government and replacing American’s as the world’s consumers to recover the economy is now up to people other than Americans. The American private sector is basically powerless as is American government. But at this particular moment, with the private sector so weakened by this recession, the federal government is the only entity left with the right to print money to cushion the collapse. Government, under my leadership, will continue to exascerbate the systemic dynamics of this collapse with this ultimately futile effort to break the vicious cycle we are in where lost jobs lead to people spending less money which leads to even more layoffs. Delay this vicious cycle is all that the plan that’s moving through Congress is designed to do.

    When passed, this plan will ensure that Americans who have lost their jobs through their greed, individualism, and lack of vigilance can receive greater unemployment benefits and continue their health care coverage. We will also provide a $2,500 tax credit to folks who are struggling to pay the cost of their college tuition, and $1000 worth of badly-needed tax relief to working and middle-class families. These steps will put more government borrowed foreign money in the pockets of those Americans who will spend it in our national economy and provide some anemic demand in the global economy until the gap our diminished capacity as consumers creates is adjusted to and the global economy resets on a savings rather than credit-based model.

    As we learned clearly and conclusively over the last eight years, tax cuts are both delusional and irresponsible. Their capacity to create short-term growth was itself an economic problems – especially tax cuts that are targeted to the wealthiest few Americans. Unsustainable growth was effected and the economy hollowed from the inside out leading to the global collapse we are in the early stages of.

    Even so, the plan we are advocating combines hundreds of billions in tax cuts for the middle-class with direct investments in areas like health care, energy, education, and infrastructure. At best these will slow job loss, create some new jobs and businesses, and help mitigate the social pain of our economic collapse – now and into the near-term future. Long term this paradigm shift we are entering is the end of capitalism as defined by unregulated fiat currencies and fractional banking facilitated by a private central bank.

    More than 90% of the jobs created by this plan will be structured to be created in the private sector. This will avoid growing employment in the last segment of our economy where jobs with security, benefits and retirement are mandated. Because these jobs will be in the private sector they will not be make-work jobs so much as jobs doing the work that America has chosen to not fund due to its valuing private sector profits over responsibly caring for public infastructure. These public works jobs for rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, and repairing our dangerously deficient dams and levees will be private because the previous plan to transfer all this public spending to the private sector through privatization has collapsed as a viable business model . This plan’s approach is the next best way to transfer public treasure to the elite. Unfortunately it does so much less efficiently. The private jobs the plan creates will also be building the wind turbines and solar panels and fuel-efficient cars that will lower our dependence on foreign oil, but that will be limited, in part, because manufacturing capacity exceeds the raw material available for such production, and the approval process for siting of centrally owned and managed alternative energy systems is a long drawn out one . Existing technologies of coal and nuclear will get major subsidies as well, and while these subsidies will not do much in the short-term to create jobs, they will give a new lease on life to the established energy sector players to remain key players in defining energy policy for a long time to come. Combined, this is a policy that will continue to minimize conservation as a real solution, and, by the way, that is the only long term sustainable one. The jobs will also modernize a costly health care system such that this will save insurance and drug companies billions of dollars. Thee jobs of this plan will be creating 21st century classrooms, libraries, and labs for millions of children across America. This will help preserve education as the specialized industry it has become and squander the opportunity the Internet provides of decentralizing education such that parents could, again, play a full role in the rearing of their children. And they’ll be the other public sector jobs of firefighters and police officers preserved that would otherwise be eliminated if we do not provide states with some relief.

    After a few weeks of debate and discussion, the plan that is being compromised on in Congress must be big enough to sound bold and good enough to meet the size of the economic challenge as we have been led to feel we face (even though what is felt is far less than what it really is. This approach is supported by businesses representing almost every industry in America, for like us in government, what else can be imagined? The Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO are buying in for they too lack vision and a capacity to think differently. In any event, what beyond input, ideas, and compromises from both Democrat and Republican establishments can be implemented. These establishments, having done everything they have to consolidate power, cannot trust andy ideas from outside the group-think of these establishments. Consequently the plan is unprecedentedly and transparently an act of desperation by a failed status quo to maintain its power. Its ultimate failure will hold this establishment accountable. We are going to make this possible–and hope you learn from our mistakes–by posting online where and how we’re spending every dime. The plan has been stripped of the projects members of both parties found most objectionable,. Consequently this is not a typical collection of pork but rather another collective step in a mindless fear-driven march, first into deflation and then into hyper-inflation.

    Because of this, the plan is not good. No plan create by those of us whose thinking has created this problem can be. Like the former President, I hope you will come to appreciate that we have made a plan; that we are making hard decisions. While I can tell you for sure that little in this plan will work exactly as we hope, I can also tell you that we have had fun creating it. I am also telling you, with complete confidence, that through this plan’s failure, the continued deepening of this environmental, social, and economic crises, as well as the pain felt by millions of Americans is assured, and it will only be in retrospect that we will see what we should have seen; what was obvious but for the blinders our paradigm have placed on our eyes; our thinking; our feelings [not wasting this crisis to concurrently resolve these four Constitutional crisis (http://home.roadrunner.com/~robie/opento/klimakatastrophe/DiscoveringMetanoia.html#ConstitutionCrises)] My administration inherited a deficit of over $1 trillion. We also inherited the profound economic emergency that marks the end of a parpdigm; an historic era. Doing too little and effectively, nothing at all, is all we can do given the complacency, ignorance, and sheep-like nature of the electorate. Together, we are embarked on a great adventure into even greater deficits of jobs, incomes, and confidence. The deficit will transform this crisis, through environmental, social, and economic catastrophes, into a place of hopelessness from which we will, only then, begin again to recover. Like Mikhail Gorbachev, I am doing what I can to let this happen. As long as I hold this office, I will do whatever it takes to put this country on a path were we bow and bend and turn and turn ‘til “we come ‘round right” 

    I want to thank the members of Congress who’ve worked so hard to move this plan forward, but I also want to urge all members of Congress to act without delay in the coming week to resolve their differences and pass this plan. 

    We find ourselves in a rare moment where the citizens of our country and all countries are watching and waiting for us to own up to our mistakes. Such is a responsibility of every generation of learders. It is one that more than a few generations of us here in Washington, DC have excused ourselves from. Since we too are choosing to duck and run on this count we must accept, with grace, and for the sake of our future and our children’s, the eventual backlash that our lack of humility will evoke. The strongest democracies flourish from frequent and lively debate. This we have systemically prevented (and if we allowed the cameras in our respective legislative chambers to show this, such would be a step outside the box of our misguided paradigm. Democracies endure when people of every background and belief find a way to set aside smaller differences in service of a greater purpose–and that is “greater purpose” greater than shopping on credit and investing in unregulated and unsustainable speculation that has defined this nation for far too long. The test facing the United States of America, in this winter of our death and collapse, is whether we will yet, as leaders and citizens, repent of our lack of responsibility and fundamentally reset our inner compass and course toward what is true; that ours is a time of the doing environmental, social, and economic justice, with a passionate love of mercy, and the profound humility of a recovering drunk. After a lifetime of speaking with and listening to the fundamentally decent men and women who call this nation home, I know such is our best option for recovery . . . should the planet’s climate afford us the time to do so. And with that, I’ll take your questions.

  45. I am busy getting ready to cash in on the latest fad by writing a modern cookbook titled, “Green Soylent Green.”

    This way I will hang on by being self supporting while my peers get ground up by their grandchildren who would rather feed their children than us who are depending on social security.

    I will follow the auto industry plug-in electric deception example by telling my readers that they can use electric motor driven grinders which are reeeeealy efficient. I am sure the government will cooperate by making it top secret, special access, black program, codeword, special handling required information that the electricity will be coming from coal from the Powder River Basin. The power plant will be located in a secret enclave under heavy guard. We will eliminate physics from the educational programs so no one can detect my deception.

    Of course I will sell really big and heavy old guy grinders as well. Maybe I can hire Bob Lutz when he retires from GM to spread the word that women who do not grind up their grandparents using these grinders hug trees and do not shave their legs.

  46. So 23% of Americans believe that the world will end this century due to global climate change. Of the others, how many are aware of the consensus of the scientists? How many believe that the world will end due to the Rapture, etc., end times disasters so eagerly hoped for by the faithful?

    There is a word for what the deniers (tobacco, toxic waste, CO2, etc.) practice on the public, and that word is “agnotology” — the deliberate creation of ignorance. The scientific consensus is clear, and will not be overruled by a poll of the American public.

  47. Stuart says:

    Greg Robie – I had forgotten A Canticle For Liebowitz – add that to our possible future dystopias.

    We should get a pool going “Name Your Dystopia!” Will truth resemble fiction? If so, which one?

  48. David B. Benson says:

    Oops. Put my post on the nest later thred by mistake.

    Anyway, today I am quite discouraged.

  49. There should be thousands of civilizations more advanced than us in our galaxy. Ever wonder why they haven’t arrived yet? It is because they exterminated themselves with global warming of their own planets.

    At least 50% chance civilization collapses by somewhere between 2030 and 2050. 95% chance by 2100. ALL rich people will die. All Americans will die. 99.99% of all humans will die. Most deaths will be due to starvation but some will be due to cannibalism. If you live, expect to be killed and eaten by your neighbors or roving bands. You will be tortured to death if you withhold food. The only survivors will be Eskimos [Inuit] living in far northern Canada already who still use stone pointed harpoons and a few people in remote jungles still living in the stone age.
    If civilization does not collapse, there is a 99% chance we will go extinct by 2150.
    Nuclear war could save us by providing nuclear winter. Nuclear winter would be a brief reprieve from global warming. Either nuclear war or a collapse of civilization could slow the burning of fossil fuels enough to avoid extinction.

  50. Jean says:

    A lot of Oklahomans I work with think The End of Civilization will happen bec Obama became President.They describe this as everyone with guns will soon be defending themselves from hordes of violent people coming to take food that they need for survival..Gardens have failed for 2 years bec of weather conditions…Maybe they are not so far off,altho they love James Inhoff.

  51. paulm says:

    100
    That’s the important figure, not 350.
    100ppm less than 280ppm CO2 ment 5 degrees cooler.
    100ppm greater than 280ppm means > 3 degrees hotter.

    It is quite straightforward…you dont have to be a climatologists or meteorologist for that matter.

    Hansen knows it….

    An initial 350 ppm CO2 target…
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/2008/Hansen_etal.html

    …Hansen says Arctic sea-ice passed its tipping point decades ago, and in his presentations has also specifically identified 300-325ppm
    http://westcoastclimateequity.org/?p=2185

    and now others are coming round to it, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, head of the Potsdam Institute and climate adviser to German Chancellor and the EU

    …only a return to pre-industrial levels of CO2 would be enough to guarantee a safe future for the planet… He said even a small increase in temperature could trigger one of several climatic tipping points,

    350 parts per million carbon dioxide is the wrong target…
    http://westcoastclimateequity.org/?p=2185

    Climate Crisis is now!

  52. paulm says:

    I dont know how factual this comment in the above link is but if accurate it demonstrate the smaller tipping points that are not clearly present to the public.

    William H. Calvin
    February 11th, 2009 at 7:08 am
    Climate models, for all their success, seldom capture the known tendency of the real system to shift abruptly at tipping points. After three decades of relatively flat global temper¬ature as the CO2 rose from 308 to 326 ppm, there was a marked shift in 1976 to a rising global fever. This suggests that a 350 ppm target is not low enough.
    Seven years into this new climate regime, global drought suddenly doubled and has never returned to the earlier baseline (from 1950 to 1982, the global land surface in severe drought stayed near 14 percent). This doubling in 1983 occurred when CO2 was only 342 ppm.

    If true, I think we can safely assume that civilization is going to collapse due to escalating Climate Change extreme events in the near future rather than in say a 100yrs time.

  53. Alex Smith says:

    In my latest one hour radio program I gather evidence from various scientists that THE CLIMATE HAS ALREADY TIPPED. The facts of heating have only been masked by a TEMPORARY SMOG.

    Look up Google videos on Atmospheric Brown Cloud by V Ramanathan. Schellnhuber, who advises Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, agrees, as do a whole range of scientists.

    The smog could lift if factories were to close down suddenly (say in an unprecedented economic collapse) – leading to a wave of global heating.

    Here is the program (1 hour 14 MB)
    http://www.ecoshock.net/eshock09/ES_090220_Show_LoFi.mp3

    I also include a roundup of how the birds and fish are moving toward the poles, along with the Jet Streams and the rain. The tropics are expanding, bringing sub-tropical deserts to lands where hundreds of millions of people formerly farmed (including N. China and California).

    Get ready to move to Canada, Siberia, or Tasmania. That is where the rain is going.

    Alex Smith
    host
    Radio Ecoshock

  54. At what point does loss of biodiversity cause man to be the next victim? (victim is not a good choice of words here maybe)
    I’ve seen projections of loss of biodiversity of 30-70% in this century, with a business as usual scenario of carbon emissions.
    Whether these are exaggerated or not, they are frightening, even at the lower end of these estimates.

    At the risk of sounding too new age/hippie environmentalist, isn’t it scientifically a fact that man is an interdependent part of this web of biodiversity? To me this is the biggest failing of those who are anti-enviromentalist. They fail to understand this basic idea, that the welfare of the environment, and man’s welfare, are one and the same. So they brag about not being a “tree hugger”.
    In fact, it’s this same lack of understanding that leads to thinking of environmentalists as what I was afraid to sound like.
    Ok, I have hugged a tree or two.

    I hear or read complaints all the time, about how environmentalists are more concerned with saving the environment than with man’s needs. As if they were separate issues. To me this is an example of the “agnotology” or
    deliberate creation of ignorance that Wilmot McCutchen commented on above.

    How many National Geographic or NOVA TV programs, describing the symbiotic relationship between species, do people have to see before they get it? Do they think we are somehow exempt from this? Or am I the only one that watches them, while everyone else is tuned into American Idol, the Simpsons, and Entertainment Tonight?

  55. Publius says:

    85%

    We are very good at underestimating the power of Nature and overestimating technology — especially Climate Progress. (hybrid cars as a long-term solution? To run on what? lol, tear.)

    I’m interpreting a “destruction in human civilization” to mean a global breakdown of law and order and world affairs; widespread state government failure. Law and order is the first prerequisite of Civilization and in much of the world it appears to be evaporating, while also under serious assault in the West. (see The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World Order. by Samuel Huntington.)

    Arctic regions are heating up way fast, methane is being released way fast, there’s no global leadership to reduce emissions, violence is widespread, and economic profit is driving unsustainable growth/consumption and even “progressives” are blinded by it. I see very little hope for international cooperation and coordination for the world to voluntarily stop burning fossil fuels and for the world to de-populate. We can’t even give up meat. Like Gore said, it’s a moral issue.

  56. raj says:

    It is not important whether the civilization will end in 2012 or 2100 or some other date. It is not important whether the media is making 21% or 50% accurate about global warming. Whatever it is, issue is present and time is running. It is better to concentrate on the issue rather than arguing on each other opinion. There are lots of researcher and scientist are giving us heads up on this issue.

    You need to understand below things
    1) No of earthquakes and other catastrophic events happened
    2) Ice storms that are happening
    3) life cycle ( There are so many life cycles…)
    4) ozone layer
    5) Gamma rays
    9) understand the 1908 event in Russia
    10) Understand the industrial growth (Global warming.. ice melting)
    11) population growth (food’s demand and supply)
    12) Human invention in mass destruction weapons(chemical weapons and others)
    13) Eco terrorism
    14) Read history… dinosaurs being so powerful where they went.. they are other things also read history..
    15) Human greediness
    16) so many other stuffs