Yes Doomers, Life Really is a Tragedy
Jul 06, 2019
How opinion pieces telling folks not to worry about changing your life style because of climate change are wrong because they are giving people bad advice about how to make the best use of their resources. Even if near term human extinction is in the cards for us you will have more resources to live out your life by trying to address your carbon footprint then you would if you ignore the acting to mitigate your personal contribution to global climate chaos.
On social media I often run into people who are adherents to the Near Term Human Extinction (NTHE) theory that human civilization is doomed. The theory postulates that our current form of civilization will end in biological, social, and physical collapse in the very near term. I am in agreement with this prognosis as I have been saying for a long time our version of civilization is a spiraling impossibility.
I say this as do the NTHE people because of our massive human population overshoot, our mania for ever more growth, our unrelenting assaults on the natural world, and our hubris in thinking we are exempt from the laws governing the natural world. When we can expect our civilization to collapse in rapid series of cascading failure is an open question in my estimation that no one yet has firm grasp of.
People telling you they do know precisely when our civilization collapses are just exhibiting their own version of hubris, because they cannot know how such a complex equation plays out in the real world, in real time.
Personally I would be very surprised if our form of civilization can last to the end of this century. I have even coined a new word “Nostradumbasses” to describe people who pretend to have such futuristic knowledge. Usually I mockingly ask if the world is going to end on a Thursday.
Before my father died he told me life was a tragedy. This statement aroused my curiosity, so I asked him why he thought so. My father who majored in literature at Case Western Reserve University answered me as follows.
In literature there are only two types of stories, comedies, and tragedies. A comedy has a happy ending, but the story can be tragic throughout but if it has a happy ending it is a comedy. Conversely a tragedy can be a happy story to the end but if it ends tragically it is then a tragedy. Life is tragic because it always ends tragically in that you die at the end of it.
We just celebrated my 69th birthday in late May and it seems I have been going through a mid-life crisis recently. My doctor has been after me about controlling my blood pressure better so I have started on an exercise regime three times a week to improve my physical health. The good news is my efforts seem to be paying off and my BP seems to be coming down.
The bad news is regardless of what I do I probably only have about twenty years left for a natural life span (give or take five years) before I experience my own personal extinction of dying. While I am not particularly sanguine about dying I am of the Mark Twain school of thought here in that I find I wasn’t inconvenienced one iota by my non-existence of the billions of years before I was born and I speculate that I won’t be inconvenienced after I shed my own mortal coil either.
It is not the non-existence of my person or the human race that concerns me here nor should it concern any of us either if we were to be honest about it. It is what happens while we live that concerns us the most. The potential collapse of civilization will concern us because it will be attended by all kinds of mortal terrors. Famine, disease, war, floods, fires, multi 500 year storms, extremes of hot and cold weather, and droughts that should make the equanimity of even the most unimaginative among us quake.
Not being able to buy food in the stores or even to grow it yourself because of climate disruption as well the breakdown of social order will suck. Wither this begins to kick in with a vengeance in ten years or twenty years is beside the point. There will be very little you can do about it and very little in the way of preparation that will make much difference. Things can and will deteriorate to such a point where the living may come to envy the dead.
Because of these potentialities many in the NTHE crowd recommend that you not bother to make any efforts towards climate change mitigation but instead just try to live a life of excellence, love one another, and wait for the end.
Just what functional difference is there to distinguish between this advice and the advice of the climate change denialist? If the NTHE crowd isn’t being paid by the fossil fuel interest to troll us on social media pages one has to wonder why are they turning up their noses at such an opportunity to earn extra money to contribute to their own life of excellence.
Would if a life of excellence meant to me, and many others, reducing your carbon footprint, living more energy efficiently, and pocketing the savings for energy you don’t really need, so you can live your own life of excellence? What is it they think they know that presumes to make them believe that you acting to mitigate your carbon emission impacts, is causing you lead a hair shirt life of denial, and austerity anyway?
We filled the tank of our gas truck last week and it cost us $45 to buy 18.5 gallons for 355 miles of travel. Not bad for a full size ICE truck averaging 19.2 mpg for this particular fuel run. I got curious and I went over to look at the readout on of PHEV. We had driven 366 miles in it for a reported 80 mpg meaning we would need 4.575 gallons of gasoline which would cost us only $11.25 to replace the gasoline in it.
This is quite a significant difference caused by being able to plug our car in and charge it using our solar panels allowing us to drive 2/3rds of our miles electrically using carbon free electricity. Far from being inconvenienced by these efforts to reduce our carbon footprint we find it so easy a caveman could do it. We pull in the garage, park our car, plug it and go in the house. We are using 1/3 of the energy per mile to drive because of the inherent efficiency of electric drive.
We have a truck for towing a travel trailer and for doing occasional truck things with it. We probably don’t drive over 300 miles a month in the truck but we need to drive it enough to keep it functioning properly. In point of fact we will have this truck paid off next year and at that time the truck will have less than 60,000 miles on it.
Our 5,100 watts of grid tie solar panels provides for 120% of our electrical needs. For ten months out of the year we not only do not pay an electric bill, we receive a stipend from the electric company and only have a very small bill to pay for the remaining two months of the year because of Central Air Conditioning needs here in the desert southwest.
For the May/June billing period we actually got a $29 stipend but since it was less than $50 the utility doesn’t make a payment to us until our net negative billing adds up to $50 or more in the coming billing cycles. What this means is if we owe a bill in the June/July billing cycle the $29 will be deducted from it either reducing it substantially or entirely. In either case we will not be inconvenienced but this practically non existing electric bill at all.
We started out paying small bills for as many as four months a year but even though since then we have added electric car charging to the our mix our electrical consumption has declined. I will not go into the details of this all here but suffice it to say instituting electrical efficiencies that accomplish the same task as before but use less energy actually works.
The reason I am telling you all this is you can imagine how advice from the doomers to not waste my time driving an electric vehicle or screwing in any squirrelly light bulbs looks like folly from my perspective. We would quite simply be spending up to a couple hundred or extra dollars every month doing the same things we do now. How would wasting this kind of money contribute to our new life of excellence I have to ask!
Let’s imagine that there is no such thing as climate change or carbon emissions for a moment. One could argue quite successfully that buying an electric car would be justifiable from a local air pollution point of view alone. Being around your car would no longer have to pollute your lungs. When we drive our PHEV in the city which we primarily do in EV Mode, we do not contribute to the air pollution burden fossil cars are adding to our city air.
When you add the fact the electric drive is three times more energy efficient than internal combustion engines and that EVs cost only half as much to operate on average then you have a compelling case for the mass adoption of EVs that isn’t even climate change related. When you add to that case the fact that EVs are just better performance wise you could be accused of piling on by the fossil fool trolls.
Can we save the planet by our individual actions of reducing our carbon footprints? I would say the answer is an obvious “No”. Only our collective actions involving a complete rebuilding of our electric grid and energy infrastructure to be constituted by nearly 100% renewables and storage can make this happen. Our cars, trucks, rail, shipping, and yes even aircraft must be electrified as much as is possible.
Even that would not be enough as in all probability, without carbon extraction on a massive scale from the atmosphere, and sequestration. Going 100% renewable would not be enough to keep us below the 2 degree C threshold. By the way this 2 C degree limit is entirely artificial, as the data points to 1 degree C as disastrous, and we shot through that a decade or two ago.
What is my point here you may well ask at this juncture since I seem to be a on the same page as the NTHE crowd telling you that our situation is essentially hopeless. The point is the new technologies of wind, solar, electric drive coupled with energy storage are simply better. They are proving to be cheaper and cheaper with each passing year which is indicative that they are not only superior but just more efficient.
Eliminating air pollution by moving away from combustion alone is worth hundreds of billions of dollars to the world economy every year. So is reducing noise pollution. Add to it all that, the improvements in energy efficiency, and it is literally gold to our economy. Yes, none of this makes the fossil fuel interest very happy and they are fighting quite a successful rear guard action to forestall all of these developments.
It doesn’t matter to me if it is a fossil fuel troll sowing disinformation is recommending that we continue burning fossil fuels and that a renewable energy future is a foolish pipe dream or that it is a NTHE fanboy telling us that adopting a green energy future is waste of time because we are all going to die very soon anyway. The two viewpoints are indistinguishable in both their form and in their end results. The NTHE crowd might as well get on the payroll of the CATO Institute if they are going to keep spreading such disinformation.
The point is Climate Disruption Apocalypse aside we are all going to die in the near future anyway from natural causes if from nothing else. As a 69 year old statistically I only have around twenty years left to live. Not being a Nostradumbass myself I don’t know for certain just how this global warming catastrophe plays out.
I too would like to live a life of excellence until the end, my personal end, or our collective end, whichever comes first. If powering my house with PV panels, and charging my car with the same panels saves me money, then I have more room in my budget for excellence. If it makes me happy, and helps me look my grandchildren in the eye, then it is all good.
We use LED lightbulbs that are several thousand times more energy efficient at producing light then kerosene lanterns I am not going to recommend to anyone that they ignore the new technology and cling to the old ways of doing things. We may not think about it much but kerosene lanterns are not used much anymore for precisely these reasons, even incandescent light bulbs run circles around them in energy efficiency and cost.
If technology has caused the early death of the human race and there is every indication it is going to I would argue that it isn’t technology per say, but the unwise application of technology, and the lack of societal limitation of our collective behaviors.
We may never find out if human civilization could have existed for thousands of more millennia if we had kept our population limited to a tenth of what it is now and weaned ourselves off fossil fuels while there was still time. It would have been an elegant experiment to have tried I maintain.
The “if only” plurals here have to stack up a mile deep. If only we hadn’t frittered away vast resources on war, and or the futile pursuit of hegemony. If only, we hadn’t invented, and then believed in an economic system predicated on endless growth. If only we had really tried to protect the biosphere as if it was life itself for our species.
This is the end of my rant. Buck up snowflake NTHE crowd, stop advising people that the end is nigh, and for that reason to not bother saving any resources, or money, in the quest for their own personal excellence. Yes, we are all going to die someday soon, and no one really knows when that is precisely.
We all live with that knowledge every day, we always have. That has never stopped the vast majority of us from making and attempting any plans. Near the very end maybe, but I would suggest the NTHE crowd is jumping the shark here.
While you are still alive, live. Live like every man or woman has in the face of adversity since as a species we first stood upright, and walked. That is, live standing up, not supine. Stop whining, and keep a fire in your belly burning, while you are able.
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