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    Collapse

    This thread is a gathering place for all collapse-related matters. Signs that the planet is headed towards trouble as is our industrialised civilisation. This is an ongoing phenomenon linked to our energy predicament and the gathering forces of climate change and possibly other earth changes, that few of us are prepared for.

    I'll start us off with my favourite Collapsitarian, Russian-American Author, Physicist, Engineer, Linguist, Social commentator and Sailor Dmitry Orlov. The transcript below is from a bad quality audio interview, so it's worth reading instead. It mostly concerns the US, but the rest of the world gets a mention as well.


    http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2018/1...view.html#more

    Sam: Have your views become somewhat darker since you published The Five Stages of Collapse a few years ago?

    Dmitry: Yes, they have. My premise in that book was that financial, commercial and political collapse are inevitable in many of the severely overextended countries around the world, the US especially (what can’t be sustained won’t be), but that social and cultural collapse can be prevented, as they were in Russia after the collapse of the USSR. My goal, therefore, was to provide some ideas on how to survive the inevitable but also to save that which can still be saved. Since then, I have come to the realization that in these same severely overextended countries social and cultural collapse have largely run their course, and that this is being masked, for the time being, by the fact that financial, commercial and political systems there are still functioning on some level, or at least pretending to function using money injected ex nihilo, severe trade imbalances, forged statistics, gerrymandered electoral systems, etc. But once this all fails, it will suddenly become apparent that there are no time-tested social institutions or a cohesive common culture to fall back on. The bad thinking that has led to the overextendedness that results in collapse has also killed off the social and cultural cohesion of previous generations. In fact, it was its first victim.

    Sam: Are you saying that social and cultural collapse can’t get any worse?

    Dmitry: No, things can always get worse. For example: suppose your woodshed burns down. Is that as bad as it gets? No, it could then get hit by a tornado! Then you’d have burned timbers and ash scattered all over your patch of land, which is even worse.

    Sam: But first people have to admit that there is even something wrong. Is that even working? Mike Sliva called it “the echo chamber of the doomersphere.” It’s turned into just a few of us on the planet talking to each other. Do you agree that the vast tide of humanity is nowhere near having this conversation?

    Dmitry: Oh, the vast tide of humanity will certainly never have this conversation, and that’s a good thing, because we can waste all sorts of time talking about generalities and never get to discussing simple, plane, basic things that actually figure in people’s lives. It isn’t possible to process ideas as generalities; it is only possible to process them as specifics. That’s why I don’t really contribute to this doomerish discussion. It’s not interesting.

    Sam: So, at what point will more people start having this conversation?

    Dmitry: Well, I really have no idea. I do have a faithful readership. I wouldn’t call them “followers,” but enough people read my stuff on a regular basis. It helps them process reality. How it helps them is up to them. It’s very much a DIY experiment—what they do with whatever insights they gain. I just try to present the widest possible perspective and to kill a lot of falsehoods that are being circulated. As far as the various stages of collapse, the nitty-gritty of it, I am very interested in that too. I am a scholar of collapse. My job is to study it. It’s not my job to do anything else with it.

    Sam: What are the lies that need to be killed? I assume that the lie of the possibility of infinite growth on a finite planet is one of them.

    Dmitry: No. You shouldn’t eat anything bigger than your head, and you shouldn’t think anything bigger than your head either. “Infinite” is a difficult term for most people; there are several different kinds of infinity in mathematics. And what on Earth is an infinitely large economy? And it’s a finite planet, but it’s a lot bigger than any of us. It’s a huge place, especially on foot, on horseback, or under sail. Most people are completely unfamiliar with 99.99999% of it. And then they try to apply a difficult mathematical concept to something they aren’t familiar with. How useful is that?

    On the other hand, you can wonder about certain things far more usefully. For example, what makes you think that you will still get medical care when you are old if you are, say, in the United States? What are the chances that you will be able to collected a retirement that is a meaningful sum of money? What are the chances of you ending up on the street? (A lot of people are ending up on the street already.) And if the answers are negative, then what are you going to do about it? Is it reasonable to go to a university and run up student debt in hopes of having a prosperous career? How do you avoid becoming lonely and of no use to anyone? Will your children still like you and take care of you if it turns out that everything you’ve taught them about the world is either useless, wrong or both? Those are the sorts of questions that people should think about, not the infinite sizes of economies or the finite sizes of planets.

    Sam: Before we get to the United States, you are Russian, aren’t you? You have no accent whatsoever. What’s up with that?

    Dmitry: I am a trained linguist with expertise in phonetics and phonology, so accents aren’t a big issue for me. I can put on an accent for the occasion. I’ve been going back and forth between the US and Russia for much of my life, and I am very familiar with both. But I am quite happily and unrepentantly Russian and have become an expert on the United States through no fault of my own.

    Sam: But you are living in Russia now. Is that a permanent decision? Are you done with the United States?

    Dmitry: Probably not. I don’t make permanent decisions. The planet we are on is currently not a good place for making permanent decisions. Things are changing too fast for that. We have to keep things flexible and keep our options open. Right now I am in Russia, and I am really enjoying it, but I don’t know what the future holds.

    Sam: But what is your vision for life in the United States moving forward?

    Dmitry: I’ve traveled around and have lived in a few different places in the US and in Europe, and it’s absolutely shocking how backward and substandard and really run down the US has become, how many things there are really outdated, sometimes in a dangerous way—like the way the bridges and the highways are, and other infrastructure, such as water and sewer mains, the electric grid, the railways, etc. It is also stunning how absolutely ridiculously stupidly everything is organized, from the tax code to the permitting and licensing systems. The banking system in the US is the most retarded banking system I have ever seen. Who has ever heard of paper checks? That’s just not done any more. And why do wire transfers cost so much and take days instead of seconds? There are endless circles of ridiculousness that we could spend days talking about—the way the government operates, various other things. Overall, there is the feeling that it’s a land that time forgot. Dinosaurs roam the United States. The rest of the planet has moved on.

    Sam: At what point is all of this going to bite us in the ass? Do you attach a timeline to any of this?

    Dmitry: I look at timelines when looking backwards in time. Looking forward—it’s a bit too unpredictable, especially where chaotic phenomena are involved. But in terms of what the US has already achieved…

    …look at political collapse. The country has completely lost any faith it may have once had in its leadership class. That’s why Barack Obama got elected—a complete outsider. Of course, he turned out to be a complete traitor as well, and produced eight years of nothing. And then it got even worse when Trump got elected. He is even more of an outsider. Not only does he talk like an outsider, but he acts like one! He has threatened to kick over the feeding trough for all the little piggies in Washington. And if you look at what’s happening in Washington right now, it’s a country in the midst of a nervous breakdown.

    Or look at defense: the US spends more on defense than any other country on Earth by far, and gets less for it than a lot of other countries—such as Russia or China. Just in terms of procurement, the spending parity between the US and Russia is 10 to 1: it takes $10 of US defense spending to match $1 of Russian defense spending. The Russians don’t waste money; they actually get results. Then end result of that is that the US is now militarily enfeebled. The entire aircraft carrier fleet is now redundant; it cannot be deployed in any conflict involving any reasonably well-armed nation. That’s just one example. There are also boondoggles galore: the F-35, the Zumwalt ships, Patriot missiles that still can’t shoot down Soviet-era SCUDs.

    Or look at finance. The US is busy sawing through the financial branch that it’s been perched on ever since World War II, which is the US dollar. It is forcing other countries to use the US dollar to their own economic disadvantage, and they are all conspiring to end their dependence on the US dollar and executing plans to do just that. Once that happens, the US becomes a much poorer country overnight. Nobody knows exactly when, but it’s going to happen.

    So these are just some examples of the ways in which the United States has already decisively blown it. … It is on a collision course with reality. Pretty soon the interest paid on the national debt will exceed the defense budget; that’s an interesting inflection point. Right now the US is running record deficits, and it’s not even considered to be in a recession… although you never know what that means any more because the US has been cooking its books for quite a while now. We really don’t know what the real unemployment figure is, we don’t know what inflation really is. But you can look at other numbers, that are harder to forge—drug overdose and liver disease statistics, suicides in the military, childhood poverty, mental illness—and from them you can tell that this is a country in severe distress.

    Sam: I want to ask about fracking and the whole Peak Oil debate. What about Donald Trump’s claims that the US is going to be the number one producer of oil on the planet? Are you still staying on the Peak Oil bandwagon?

    Dmitry: If Donald Trump is a petroleum geologist, then I am from Mars. You have to pay attention to who you pay attention to. Donald Trump is not one to enlighten anyone on this topic. Yes, the raw volumes of oil that the fracking phenomenon is currently producing in the US are huge, but the effect is temporary. Overall production is around 11 million barrels per day, but the decline rate of existing wells hit 500,000 barrels per day per month this summer, and it’s going up. And most of the wells being drilled to compensate for this decline rate produce less than the old ones because all the sweet spots have been tapped already. Add to that the fact that fracking is extremely energy intensive, lowering the EROI of fracked wells. Add to that the fact that the fracking industry hasn’t made any money and is only being kept afloat by a debt bubble kept inflated by low interest rates—which are trending up. Yes, the country is being turned into toxic Swiss cheese; no, this is not going to produce lots of oil long term.

    Sam: Then there is the Bill McKibben camp, claiming that Global Warming will kill us off before we get a chance to burn up all the oil.

    Dmitry: The effects of Global Warming will vary country by country. We already have extreme, life-threatening heat waves in Southern Europe and in the South and Southwest of the US. There was a lot of crop damage in Europe this summer as a result. The US can no longer compete with Russia in wheat exports. Russian grain exports have surpassed weapons in terms of export revenue and are now in second place after oil and gas. Russia is becoming the breadbasket of the planet. Of course, it has more land than any other country on Earth, but it used to be pretty cold. Now it’s warming up and things are growing really well. The tomatoes that we grew in Russia this summer did really well. We were just buried in tomatoes! And so there will be winners and losers. Bangladesh and the Netherlands will end up underwater. An entire belt through the south of the US will not be survivable in the summer without air conditioning…

    Sam: It’s 97ºF [36ºC] here in Atlanta in October. I can’t run the AC because it ruins sound quality, so I am sitting here with sweat running down my face… But how much has Global Warming affected your view of the future?

    Dmitry: It has affected my view of the present. The world has been reconfigured by Global Warming. The fact that it is now possible to ship goods year-round through the Arctic Ocean, along the north of Russia and Canada, is a game changer. Goods no longer have to pass through the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal. There is a more direct route now. That is a sudden, drastic change that has happened thanks to Global Warming—thanks to the fact that the Arctic is now relatively ice-free, to a point where Russia’s atomic icebreaker fleet can keep the sea lanes clear year-round. There will be winners and losers. Sorry to have to state the obvious, but Russia is looking like a Global Warming winner and the US is looking like a Global Warming loser. This is not just my opinion: lots of authoritative voices are making that point and recent economic results back it up.

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    Dinosaurs roam the United States. The rest of the planet has moved on.


    But how much has Global Warming affected your view of the future?

    Dmitry: It has affected my view of the present. The world has been reconfigured by Global Warming. The fact that it is now possible to ship goods year-round through the Arctic Ocean, along the north of Russia and Canada, is a game changer. Goods no longer have to pass through the Suez Canal or the Panama Canal. There is a more direct route now. That is a sudden, drastic change that has happened thanks to Global Warming—thanks to the fact that the Arctic is now relatively ice-free, to a point where Russia’s atomic icebreaker fleet can keep the sea lanes clear year-round. There will be winners and losers. Sorry to have to state the obvious, but Russia is looking like a Global Warming winner and the US is looking like a Global Warming loser. This is not just my opinion: lots of authoritative voices are making that point and recent economic results back it up.
    Well, he's not in denial.

    He says he ended up knowing the US very well,"through no fault of his own". And Russia is now the breadbasket of the world.

    Interesting that Trump's tariffs have hit US farmers so hard. You'd think he wants Russia to become the new breadbasket.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post




    Well, he's not in denial.

    He says he ended up knowing the US very well,"through no fault of his own". And Russia is now the breadbasket of the world.

    Interesting that Trump's tariffs have hit US farmers so hard. You'd think he wants Russia to become the new breadbasket.
    I think his point about the negative effects of climate change being strongest in the USA is valid, there was a scientific article confirming this, not so long ago. On the other hand, Northern Eurasia will benefit hugely from it, perhaps Canada and Alaska as well. These regions could feed and house billions of people as they heat up (and climate change has been most noticeable in the arctic regions), whereas much of the Southern and Western United States, China, The Middle East, North Africa and India might become uninhabitable, with heatwaves that will kill you if you're caught outside. These regions will probably start to substantially resemble Mars, in that during most of the year, humans simply won't be able to survive on the surface.


    This is often ridiculed by conservatives, but I'm convinced that the migrant crisis is just a precursor of the massive wave of South to North migration that will inevitably have to occur. I don't think there is any practical wave of stopping this, walls will only provide a temporary relief from the pressure of the mass migratory movement.

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    The one looming problem for Europe and Eurasia is the screwing up of the ocean pumps. It may be getting warmer but if the ocean currents bringing the warmth to Europe cease, it'll take a helluva lot of global warming to counteract that.

    And ultimately we will snowball into an ice age again, it's just a matter of when.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    And ultimately we will snowball into an ice age again, it's just a matter of when.
    Possibly sooner than we might even realize and this will become a major problem.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    The one looming problem for Europe and Eurasia is the screwing up of the ocean pumps. It may be getting warmer but if the ocean currents bringing the warmth to Europe cease, it'll take a helluva lot of global warming to counteract that.

    And ultimately we will snowball into an ice age again, it's just a matter of when.
    We'll see how that plays out. This was the consensus scientific view around the time Day After Tomorrow came out. As far as I know, there are no signs of this scenario coming true currently. I take a more long-term view and the fact is we are barely out of the last ice age, with current Co2 levels I really doubt we'll fall back into another one. During most of earth's history, the planet was a lot hotter than today and there was basically a uniform tropical climate over much of the planet's surface. I think we're returning to those days, which means much higher sea levels and major earth changes, but also a much longer growing season in those parts of the planet that will benefit from global warming, chiefly Russia.

    At the moment, Siberia is populated by an alcoholic 80-year old and his two pet bears, yet it is bigger than the United States and Mexico put together. Completely new cities will be built and this region will probably house most of the planet's population in the future. For one, it has half-a dozen Mississippi-sized rivers that are currently completely unitilised and just flow uselessly into the Arctic sea. A single Siberian lake, Lake Baikal, houses most of the Earth's fresh water supplies. There is similar potential in Canada, Alaska and Greenland. I think we will see major changes ahead for how the Earth's population is distributed.

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    The Sun's activity also has a lot to do with it. And even the increase in Cosmic Rays which won't be diminishing any time soon.

    I might start posting in my "our Sun" thread again. I got tired of seeing the same patterns on the sun over weeks when the images were supposed to be from the most recent 48 hours. They clearly were not.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    The Sun's activity also has a lot to do with it. And even the increase in Cosmic Rays which won't be diminishing any time soon.

    I might start posting in my "our Sun" thread again. I got tired of seeing the same patterns on the sun over weeks when the images were supposed to be from the most recent 48 hours. They clearly were not.
    Indeed, that is why I think warming is going to be the general trend, rather than a new Ice Age. There is actually Solar Warming going on in the Solar System right now, all of the planets are heating up due to increased sun-spot activity, not just Earth. CO2 is only one factor in this warming trend, the Sun of course is just as important.

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    Quote Originally posted by Chris View Post
    Indeed, that is why I think warming is going to be the general trend, rather than a new Ice Age. There is actually Solar Warming going on in the Solar System right now, all of the planets are heating up due to increased sun-spot activity, not just Earth.
    No, actually the solar irradiance has been decreasing, our Sun is going to take a nap. Way less heat coming.

    I hope the data to be wrong in this case, I'd much rather prefer global warming. It's effects wouldn't be as bad. There's of course no man-made climate change whatsoever, but I bet that no one would like the freezing times. Unfortunately it seems that it is exactly what's coming in just a matter of few years.


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    The sun has had very few spots recently and is likely in a minimum. There's nothing going on other than coronal holes.





    These data show that sunspots do not appear at random over the surface of the sun but are concentrated in two latitude bands on either side of the equator.



    From Suspicious Observers:

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    One other thing, human impact really isn't known one way or the other. We've put massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and we really don't know what effect it will have. We don't have a natural comparison.

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    Quote Originally posted by Dreamtimer View Post
    One other thing, human impact really isn't known one way or the other. We've put massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere and we really don't know what effect it will have. We don't have a natural comparison.
    But the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere only makes up for 0.04% of the atmosphere, and plants need CO2 for their survival. As a byproduct of their metabolism, they give us pure oxygen in return.

    There are far more dangerous greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than CO2, such as methane and even water vapor. And apparently nobody's thought of stopping the cutting down of the Brazilian rainforest — the lung of our planet — yet either.
    = DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR =

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    Quote Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
    But the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere only makes up for 0.04% of the atmosphere, and plants need CO2 for their survival. As a byproduct of their metabolism, they give us pure oxygen in return.

    There are far more dangerous greenhouse gases in the atmosphere than CO2, such as methane and even water vapor. And apparently nobody's thought of stopping the cutting down of the Brazilian rainforest — the lung of our planet — yet either.
    Thank you for your sanity here. Was like oxygen. I addressed this issue in my stream last night by calling BS on the CO2 alarmism by those who would benefit from the taxes while the same ones are behind the global disrespect for Nature and the oxygen providing large forests of the Earth. If CO2 was truly an environmental issue, cutting down forests would be illegal. Science is not a strength with too many people and that is routinely exploited by those who live to do just that.
    Last edited by modwiz, 10th October 2018 at 05:09.
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    Personally, I haven't a clue whether the sun is currently undergoing a warming or cooling phase, I've seen studies supporting both sides, though admittedly, the solar warming studies are a bit older, so perhaps already out of date.

    One thing I've noticed since my childhood is that the sun used to be yellow, now it's white. That would indicate it is heating up, but that is a subjective observation of course.


    What is not in dispute in my opinion, is that the Earth is warming up, especially in arctic areas. The data on that is indisputable. If the Gulf stream was slowing down, the North of Europe would be much colder already, but instead it is much warmer than usual. In Hungary, the climate has turned decidedly subtropical, instead of the usual continental pattern (more like Georgia than Iowa). Winter has essentially disappeared and the warm season is at least two months longer than it used to be. The warming trend is far more noticeable, the further north you go.


    If the Sun is indeed cooling down, that would make greenhouse gases the main culprit in global warming, just like most scientists have always maintained. That means we are in even bigger trouble than commonly thought as it means we already have runaway global warming despite a solar cooling effect helping out.

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    Dumpster Diver would agree with you about the sun heating up, Chris.

    Thanks for the point about CO2, Aragorn. The methane being released will dwarf the CO2.

    And there are the boreal forests as well. I don't know how much they are being cut but they are just as important, as far as I know.

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