[Paleopsych] Global Die-Off: The profound mysanthropy of the deep ecologists
checker at panix.com
Thu May 5 16:28:00 UTC 2005
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Date: Thu, 5 May 2005 08:43:02 -0400
From: "Hughes, James J." <james.hughes at trincoll.edu>
Reply-To: World Transhumanist Association Discussion List
<wta-talk at transhumanism.org>
This piece makes very clear the horrific worldview of the deep
ecologists, which accepts the inevitability and desirability of a
"global die-off". This is the direct parallel to the Christian Right's
view that accepts that everything has to go to shite and then be
destroyed in a firy conflagration before we get back to the Kingdom.
Even if "global die-off" was a serious risk, these folks aren't really
interested in mobilizing prophylactic answers, because that would just
be putting off our inescapable punishment for hubris/sin. - J.
>From - http://www.dissidentvoice.org/Apr05/Bageant0429.htm
Background reading - http://dieoff.org/page125.htm
Back to the Ancient Future: Chewing Raw Grubs with the "Nutcracker Man"
by Joe Bageant
April 29, 2005
I spent the middle weekend in April with a group of artists and thinkers
called the April Fools Group. Put together by Brad Blanton,
psychotherapist and creator of "radical honesty" politics and therapy,
the three-day meeting was set on a farm down the Shenandoah Valley amid
the battlefields and rolling countryside of Newmarket, Virginia.
Brad, a world famous redneck headshrinker, had put together old hippies,
theoreticians, musicians, young anarchists, beautiful brilliant women
and aging writers to yap, drink and plot against the Bush
administration. So when I pulled into Brad's driveway to find him and a
fellow named Hank parked in lawn chairs up on the roof with a bottle of
bourbon I knew this thing was off to a good start.
The gathering was an organizational meeting for Brad Blanton's
independent run for the Virginia Seventh District U.S. House of
Representatives. Blanton's working slogan is "America needs a good
psychiatrist." And we got a lot accomplished in that direction, despite
my intellectual flatulence and Brad's orneriness. Any psychotherapist
who actually gets people to pay for advice such as "Fuck'em if they
can't take a joke" must be called ornery at the very least. And any
politician who thinks he can get elected on the basis of extreme
Anyway, I came away from the meeting deeply struck by one thing. Every
person there seemed to understand and acknowledge the coming global
human "die-off." The one that has already begun in places like Africa
and will grow into a global event sometime within our lifetimes and/or
those of our children. The one that will kill millions of white people.
That's right, clean pink little Western World white people like you and
me. Nobody in the U.S. seems to be able to deal with or even think about
this near certainty, and the few who do are written off as nutcases by
the media and the public. Mostly though, it goes unacknowledged. All of
which drives me nuts because the now nearly visible end of civilization
strikes me as worthy of at least modest discussion. You'd think so. But
the mention of it causes my wife to go into, "Oh Joe, can't we talk
about something more pleasant?" And talk about causing weird stares and
dropped jaws at the office water cooler.
Here's the short course: Global die-off of mankind will occur when we
run out of energy to support the complex technological grid sustaining
modern industrial human civilization. In other words, when the
electricity goes out, we are back in the Dark Age, with the Stone Age
grunting at us from just around the corner. This will likely happen in
100 years or less, assuming the ecosystem does not collapse first. And
you are thinking, "Well ho ho ho! Any other good news Bageant? And how
the fock do you know this anyway?"
For those willing to contemplate the subject, there is a scientifically
supported model of the timeline of our return to Stone Age tribal units.
A roadmap to the day when we will be cutting up dog meat with a
sharpened cd rom disc in some toxic future canyon. It is called the
The Olduvai theory* was first introduced in a scientific paper by
petroleum geologist/engineer/anthropologist Richard C. Duncan titled The
Peak Of World Oil Production And The Road To The Olduvai Gorge.
Duncan ("Dunk") chose the name Olduvai because, among other reasons,
"...it is a good metaphor for the Stone Age way of life." It also
sounded cool, he confesses. The Olduvai Gorge is a deep cleft in the
Serengeti steppe of Tanzania, where Louis and Mary Leakey found the
remains of prehistoric hominids, some up to two million years old, and
along with the first stone tools, other things such as the skulls of
sheep big as draft horses and pigs the size of hippos. Also the skull of
"Nutcracker Man (Australopithecus boisei), so named because of a set of
powerful choppers, teeth so strong they could bust the lug nuts off a
truck tire, were he around today to work at the Goodyear Tire Center. As
to Nutcracker's "lifestyle" (and we are using the term most generously
for a style that had more than adequate pork resources but had not
developed a decent pinot grigio to serve with it, or even barbecue sauce
for that matter) Dunk says "the Olduvai way of life was and still is a
sustainable one -- local, tribal, and solar -- and, for better or worse,
our ancestors practiced it for millions of years."
Dunk's Olduvai theory provides a modern database support structure for
the Malthusian argument. The Olduvai theory uses only a single metric,
as defined by "White's Law," and deals with electricity as the most
vital expression of other forms of energy such as crude oil or coal.
The theory is an inductive one based on world energy and population
data, so elegantly simple that any 12th grader can do it, assuming he or
she can do multiplication (a risky assumption now that no child has been
left behind by our great ownership society). In the Olduvai schema
permanent blackouts will occur worldwide around 2030.
Industrial Civilization ends when energy availability falls to its 1930
level. Measured as energy use -- energy expended or consumed -- our
industrial civilization can be described as a one-time phenomenon, a
single pulse waveform of limited duration which flashed out from the
caves to outer space, then back to the caves over approximately 100
So when was the highpoint of the flash? On the average, world per capita
energy use crested around 1977. That was the same year John Travolta
made "Saturday Night Fever," which few of us consider much of a
highpoint. To make a long story short, there are three intervals of
decline in the Olduvai schema: slope, slide and cliff -- each steeper
than the previous. Right now we are in the slide headed for the cliff
(see http://dieoff.org/page125.htm). After more than a decade no
scientist has been able to refute it and even given the flexibility and
bias inherent in what passes for common sense in this country, it's
still pretty damned hard to argue with.
When we do go off the cliff, the Big Die-off will play no favorites, and
will happen everywhere more or less simultaneously. But there are some
particularly lousy places to be when permanent worldwide electrical
blackouts happen. In or near a big city is the worst. You can imagine
the, uh, "discomfort" of billions when the electrical grids die and
power goes out across the densely packed high-rise buildings surrounded
by a million acres of asphalt. People with no work, no heat, no air
conditioning, no food, no water. Put on yer Adidas, it is migration
time. Wherein bankers, skinheads, little old ladies and taxi drivers
swarm like insects toward whatever passes for the countryside by then.
Looks like all those survivalists up in North Idaho and Oregon may be
right. Personally, I wouldn't want to be in New York or Bombay, or even
Toledo when the deal goes down, and in fact want to be as distant from a
city as one can get without having to be too far into the woods (of
which there will de damned few) to eat my daily requirement of tree
Americans busily expanding their lard content to fit the contours of
their air-conditioned SUVs are among the chief accelerators of the Big
Die-off. However, people worldwide assume that the average American is a
blind dickhead who wouldn't acknowledge the ecological price of his/her
lifestyle if it were branded on their forehead. That assumption is
correct. Americans for the most part don't give a twit what kind of
world their own children inherit, much less about dolphins, Hottentots,
Frenchmen and the approaching desertification of distant places like
Still, it is reasonable to believe that many powerful people and
organizations with all the research capability in the world at their
fingertips must understand the future before us. In fact, I am sure some
in industry do because even 10 years ago when I used to deal with
chemical executives at Monsanto, Zeneca, Dow and other corporations, it
was discussed and acknowledged a couple of times over cocktails, and
even discussed how to profit from it through genetically engineered
non-reproducing seeds that eliminate all the native crops around them.
One might also guess that the U.S. president and his cabinet know, and
that their solution is to fight for more oil and higher profits, given
its increasing scarcity. Even the superficial whoring media is broaching
the topic of "peak oil," though mostly for shock entertainment value.
I heard an "expert" say the other day that science will solve the peak
oil problem, probably through nuclear energy, as if that did not have
its own awful implications. Sure buddy. Just like the "Green Revolution"
solved the world's agricultural foods problem by poisoning the earth
with pesticides and burning two gallons of oil to produce a pint of
milk. There is the myth left hanging out there from the old scientific
paradigm that science and technology are somehow going to snatch us from
edge of species die-off just in time. Yes, we will be saved by the very
science and technology that evolved from, and is completely dependent
upon, an energy source that will no longer exist.
I think the pundit probably understands that, but like all media and
political people, safely assumes the public has the critical thinking
capability of a jar of fruit flies.
Shut up and watch Survivor!
Well hell then. What does keep the American people from looking around
them and seeing the obvious? That the earth is a finite thing being used
up at exponential rates? Answer: The Spectacle. American capitalism's
"media hologram." We no longer have a country, but the artificial
spectacle of one. We have a global corporation masquerading
electronically, digitally, financially, and legally and every other way
as a nation called the "United States of America." The corporation now
animates most of us from within through management of the need hierarchy
of goods and information. We no longer have citizens. We have consumers,
"purchase decision makers" whose most influential act in life consists
of choosing a mortgage banker and an NFL team. And a car. The majority
of modernized technical humans, Digitus Cathodus Americanus, cannot
perceive the hologram because their self-identities were generated by
it. It's "reality" to them -- the only one they will know until the
hologram collapses with their electrical industrial civilization.
By design or not, the hologram's primary effect has been to induce the
illusion of a national "value system" through hypnotic repetition of
images. Thus profit-seeking enterprises are legitimized as the animating
spirit of our identities as individuals and as a nation. The end result
of course is the mass replication of millions of uniform "market
segmented consumer identities." Individuality is circumscribed by brand
identification. The overall aggregate of brand identification groups is
interpreted to be an inherently superior race or nation (worth fighting
for to expand the resource base and markets.) We no longer have lives,
just lifestyles that are defined and expressed through ever expanding
(and more profitable) consumption.
Net result: The legions of humanity toil to generate the trucks and
tofu, munitions, missiles, newspapers, petrochemicals and pizza and
millions of tons of ground up cattle sold to fire the furnace of an
economic engine that has taken on a life of its own. One that must grow
exponentially, devouring everything just to survive. Just to keep from
collapsing. And people are taught that it is called "human progress."
This mass hallucination generated by this totalist capitalist system,
the state as engine of profit, is one thing. Life on a real planet made
of dirt and water and flesh both warm and cold-blooded is quite another.
Viewed from outside the web of Western illusions, say, an Iraqi citizen
or a Filipino Moro, one finds the economic engine to be driven by unseen
death and war and the pillaging of the weak by the powerful. All this is
set against the backdrop of explosive human disease, growing starvation,
the impending failure of the environment and petroleum based
civilization, resulting in the greatest mass extinction event in the
history of this planet. The Big Die-off. And in your very lifetime too.
Admission is not only free, it is compulsory.
One of the hologram's great illusions is that Industrial Civilization is
evolutionary -- that it advances forever. Industrial civilization does
not evolve. In the overall history of man it is extremely short and
completely unsustainable. It is a one-time biological drama that rapidly
consumes the necessary physical prerequisites for its own existence, the
ecology and resources of the planetary gravity well in which it is
Any good news, for Chrissake?
Sort of. We may not become completely extinct. It looks like the earth's
immune system is beginning to shake off its infection by the human virus
through what appears -- to we virus at least -- as environmental
collapse. But for the sake of discussion, let's assume that extinction
through nuclear war and ecological collapse is somehow avoided
(nowadays, we're allowed to assume anything we want, regardless of the
evidence around us. Just ask any U.S. capitalist free market economist).
If what is left after the Big Die-off can still be called a human
society, it will be bottomed out at the subsistence level of energy-use.
Now that is one ugly booger of a notion to contemplate. What is
subsistence level energy-use? In all likelihood it has to do with
shitting in the winter darkness at a sustainable 45 indoor degrees.
Meanwhile, a cockroach watches, thinking to himself, "What a shame,
because at the height of their culture these guys made a damned good
peanut butter sandwich."
Your attention please. This is your pilot. We have crested in our
evolutionary journey and are beginning our descent. Please lock your
folding trays, put you seats in an upright position and enjoy the
landing. (Captain! Why are there no lights down there at the airport?)
It was a helluva crest, that spurt of technological jism by the
industrial state toward outer space and impregnation of the moon. What
with Neil Armstrong bouncing around in the lunar dust in his high tech
Pillsbury doughboy outfit and all, it added up to about one week of
attention by the masses and a lot of dough for government contractors.
But as one who within my lifetime witnessed the entire evolution of the
space program, and its accompanying nationalistic hoopla about beating
the Russians at being the first to fart in the vacuum of space, I am
somehow unconvinced it was worth it. I dunno. Maybe my wife is right.
Maybe I'm just a goddam crab. Maybe I'm a little resentful because,
thanks to the big American suckdown of the planet, I will never have
grandchildren. My kids are among that portion of their generation who
understand what their lifetimes hold and are not remotely interested in
adding to the problem.
We weren't always like that. Right after World War II and the advent of
the atomic bomb a majority of Americans (67% of those surveyed by
Gallup) wanted a cooperative one-world government with all nuclear
weapons put under the control of the United Nations. Now you cannot get
an American to turn off a light switch to save human civilization.
As a friend from Cape Verde once remarked, "Just watching Americans
consume things gives me a headache."
As for the weak ploy I used to slip into this screed -- Brad Blanton's
April Fools Group meeting -- that too left me with a headache. After
nearly a fifth of Maker's Mark bourbon on the third night I was hugging
everybody in sight and had entered into an agreement with a jazz piano
player and an inventor from Wisconsin to start a free love commune
together right there in that beautiful valley. (Honest to god, I am not
joking. I wish I were.) When I woke up next morning and looked into the
mirror at eyes like two bloody pissholes in a snowbank ... and wondering
who let that dog crap in my mouth ... well ... let's just say I wasn't
experiencing the same sense of brotherly love as the night before.
Rather than go into the wretchedness of the next day's grisly recovery,
or contemplate what we might possibly find to drink while living in
shipping containers during the next Olduvai period, let me share my
favorite hangover remedy as a way out of this little box I've written
myself into. OK?
Uncle Joe's Big Die-off Hangover Cure:
* Empty two cans of sardines (skinless packed in water) into a bowl.
* Add two medium size habanera peppers.
* One squirt of mustard.
* One dash of Tabasco.
* Blend coarsely in a blender. (Cover the blender with six bath towels
to keep the noise from cracking your brain and teeth)
* Spread on toast or crackers and eat.
Your lungs may or may not collapse briefly and there may be temporary
blindness. Not to worry. After your eyes quit watering enough to see,
either endorphins associated with hot peppers will kick in, or
subsequent fiery bites of the cure will be enough to distract your from
the headache until they do.
Joe Bageant is a writer and magazine editor living in Winchester,
Virginia. He may be contacted at bageantjb at netscape.net. Free
downloadable pdf files of his works are archived at www.coldtype.net.
* The Olduvai theory postulates that electricity is the essence of
Industrial Civilization. World energy production per capita increased
strongly from 1945 to its all-time peak in 1979. Then from 1979 to
1999 -- for the first time in history -- it decreased from 1979-1999 at
a rate of 0.33 %/year (called the Olduvai "slope"). Next from 2000 to
2011, according to the Olduvai schema, world energy production per
capita will decrease by about 0.70 %/year (the Olduvai "slide"). Then
around year 2012 there will be a rash of permanent electrical blackouts
-- worldwide. These blackouts, along with other factors, will cause
energy production per capita by 2030 to fall to 3.32 b/year, the same
value it had in 1930. The rate of decline from 2012 to 2030 is 5.44
%/year (the Olduvai "cliff"). Thus, by definition, the duration of
Industrial Civilization is less than or equal to 100 years. (Richard
Duncan at: http://dieoff.org/page125.htm)
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