Civilization is Ending in Real-Time … It’s a Holy F**k Moment

I’ve been in a depressed and distraught state recently.  More than usual.  I need to rant a bit and that’s what this post is, pure and simple.

Around where I live a house that was worth $1.3M (the same house would be worth $20,000 in Detroit) was put on the market for $1.6M and sold for over 2M.  This is a dinky little house on a mini-lot, old & in need of massive improvements. We are nearing the crest of the housing crash of 2008 all over again, with Evergrande (a huge Chinese real estate company) our first Shearson-Lehman.

Meanwhile, the stock market is soaring, especially tech stocks, with no reason behind the surge but to line the pockets of the super-rich.  It’s the tech boom of the early 2000’s (and crash) all over again.

Oh yeah, fuel prices are soaring. COVID is soaring.  Bitcoin is soaring.

Simple things like milk and eggs are hard to find as the supply chain crumbles.  Shelves are empty.  No cat litter, no pants, no noodles.  For now, there is still coffee and whiskey.

People are spending cash they don’t have in record amounts on crap they don’t need creating a backlog of metal boxes in ports all over the world.

Plastic is everywhere — a blob the size of Texas has settled somewhere in the Pacific.  Microplastics have penetrated our food chain. Does plastic taste like chicken? There is so much plastic even China is turning away our so-called recyclables.

Millions (billions) are traveling to places there is no need to be in record numbers.  Gotta see Joe.  Another ton of carbon.  Gotta see Lilly.  Another ton of carbon.  Gotta drive to the store.  Gotta charge up that electric vehicle, that e-bike, that i-phone.

Politically here in the US our democracy is failing in real-time as states subvert our electoral process. Internationally, Vladimir prepares to invade Ukraine. China and India don’t give a fuck about anything.  Australia used to have habitat for koalas and an unbleached barrier reef.  The Arctic is melting with a blue ocean event around the corner.  It rained on the highest peak in Greenland.

Methane is hitting record highs.  CO2 is hitting record highs.  If there is some ambition to change the rate these gasses are entering the atmosphere, there is no data that supports progress.

Heat waves and cold snaps are breaking records.  Floods, droughts & ecosystem collapse is everywhere.  In British Columbia, after hitting over 120F last summer in Lytton and fire burned down the city, an atmospheric river has destroyed major highways.  Madagascar is in the midst of a famine that is forcing their population to scour the dessicated landscape for bugs to eat.  Here in California we are one dry winter away from all out water wars.

All this is just getting started.  I have a curated list of 40 catastrophic consequences of climate change and another list of 76 (and growing).

The collapse of everything is a shit show of epic proportions.  As the climate changes, every system is falling apart.  We are witnessing the failure of financial systems, political systems, social systems and ecosystems.  The infrastructure humans spent centuries building is crumbling. The ecosystems that have evolved over millennia are crumbling.  The species that evolved over millions of years are going extinct by the hundreds every day.

We are losing habitable spaces to this escalating collapse, forcing climate refugees to seek out new homes in countries that are protecting their borders with the darkest brutality I’ve seen in my lifetime.

I am not the only one to notice all this shit coming down. There are millions who see what’s happening and what’s coming and they are screaming about it.  They are climbing on trains and locking themselves to trees. But at this point there is absolutely nothing we can do to prevent collapse.  Nothing. Maybe we can delay the worst impacts a few years.  Maybe we can make the downside of collapse less severe.  Maybe by 2100, we will only see the collapse of civilization and billions dead instead of the outright extinction of our species.  But the pain of all of it has already begun.

For now, the pain is emotional for me.  But the pain is physical for others.  Humans all over the planet are progressing full speed towards the bottom rung of Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs.” Life is survival and nothing more.

I like to think that knowing about these things makes me more prepared to meet them.  But suffering and death are terribly sad.  When it’s everything and it’s accelerating, it’s almost impossible to find a safe space to breathe and take account of where things stand.

I am not writing this rant to explain something sciency or to rag on some other authority who has gone astray.  This is a pure and simple “holy fuck” rant — we — the collective “we” — are experiencing this absolute failure of everything right now, today, this moment.  No GOD, no new-age alien, no silver bullet, no noble savage philosophy and no amount of planning for adaptation or isolation is going to do a damn thing.

My cat just crawled into my lap and started to purr.  Today she has litter in her box.  Today she has kibble.  That will have to be good enough.

 

Eliot Jacobson, Ph.D.

Retired professor of mathematics and computer science, retired casino consultant, now a full time volunteer, husband and grandfather. Know-it-all doomer. Born in the year 316 ppm CO2.

14 thoughts on “Civilization is Ending in Real-Time … It’s a Holy F**k Moment

  • December 8, 2021 at 1:11 am
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    Sigh. I rant daily.

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    • October 10, 2022 at 3:26 pm
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      Glad I looked into you.

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  • December 8, 2021 at 9:38 am
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    >>>I’ve been in a depressed and distraught state recently. More than usual.

    Right there with you Eliot if that’s any consolation. That’s an epic rant, thanks for sharing. As you point out, it’s much more than CO2; even if we miraculously fix emissions tomorrow, we still have all these other issues to contend with. I’ve been watching/reading Dr. William Rees a lot lately and he makes the same points. Anyway, hang in there Elliot…Regards, Phil

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    • December 8, 2021 at 2:04 pm
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      Thanks Elliot. You give voice to the thoughts of many and I am sure it is appreciated. We are not alone.

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  • December 8, 2021 at 12:30 pm
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    I feel for you and with you.
    For all we know we are the only “intelligent” life in the Universe (answer to Fermi Paradox) as we stand at the apex of technological civilization. As depressing as going extinct may be we have at least some perspective (gained by science) on what the universe is/where we have come from. We can marvel at the vastness of the Universe and the utter inconceivableness of mere matter (us) coming alive and having the consciousness to comprehend it. AND yet, I would give up that knowledge and perspective if we could have left a livable biosphere. Depressing it is. Pat your cat on the head and tell her how lucky she is.
    AJ

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  • December 8, 2021 at 1:33 pm
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    Sometimes we just need to rant.

    And for what it’s worth, I think it’s actually quite powerful when academics do it.

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  • December 17, 2021 at 12:17 am
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    You’re spot on Eliot. We live in troubling times. I’m 25 years old, preparing to get married and hoping to raise a family…Climate change is always on my mind, yet I see no tangible action from those in power. It makes no sense and I wish that I could make a difference myself. I was recently in a hit and run car crash driving to work, and as I sat on the road with a shattered ankle looking back at my vehicle on fire, I thought of it as a metaphor for climate change. I thought “these fucking cars will surely kill us all”. I should have died. But perhaps, like I survived, the world will also survive this crash. By “survive”, I mean the sun will still rise and not all species will be extinct. Hard for me to be more positive than that though.

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    • December 26, 2021 at 11:43 am
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      Hi Jake, Please be certain that you know your child will have food before you have one. Thanks.

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  • December 26, 2021 at 1:32 pm
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    I wish these comments had a like button. Thanks for commenting all. Good stuff.

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  • December 26, 2021 at 4:51 pm
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    You write the things I think about when I lie awake at night.

    What even is the money I saved for my retirement but a stored unit of measure of the countless extinct creatures, enslaved people and the destroyed future of the planet? And how the hell can I trust I can live on it someday when our system of government is being replaced by an anti-democratic, end-times theocratic kleptocracy that wants to kill us all and steal all our money?

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    • December 27, 2021 at 5:40 am
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      Yep. Exactly!

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  • January 3, 2022 at 5:47 pm
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    This is why I dive deep into the music of Gustav Mahler again and again. Leonard Bernstein said that the 20th Century had been the century of death, and Mahler, its musical prophet. Extend it through about the first quarter of the 21st, and that seems doubly appropriate. The Sixth Symphony is a requiem for the failed human species. The Ninth is farewell to everything.

    Once the grid goes down, I’ll never again hear those symphonies. My soul will die without them just as surely as my body will die without food.

    So far my cats have food and litter. That will do for the time being.

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  • January 17, 2022 at 2:02 pm
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    ‘There is just time to fill and the choices we make on how we fill it’. Agree. Peter Melton has an analogy I’ve liked since I heard it several years ago. We’re all invited to a party. Each of us has to choose how we’re going to dress, how we’re going to show up.

    Also like his mock announcement on the Titanic: Ladies and Gentlemen! Dinner will not be served!’

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  • January 26, 2022 at 7:00 am
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    Sometimes we just have to rant, but it’s hard to find anyone to rant to. It seems like I’m the only person I know who will admit what’s coming. When I was born the carbon dioxide level was 313 ppm and the world population was 2.7 billion, yet still very few people understand the exponential function in action, even when it’s staring us in the face.

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