Category Archives: Doomsday

Civilization: how thy collapse?

Depending on the mechanism of the apocalypse, the end of civilization would occur in vastly different ways.

Here’s a recent video sponsored by the Royal Institution and conducted by Dr. Lewis Dartnell (of The Knowledge fame).

 

 

It’s of pretty standard apocalyptic fare, but there are a few standout notions posed by the panel and audience.

The first is asked by the astrophysicist: How would society change, today, if we discovered that in thirty years an unavoidable asteroid (of ELE size) was destined for Earth? That delay, thirty years, really made me think. Obviously, everybody 70 and older wouldn’t really care, personally. They would, though, work to save their descendants. But aside from who would care, and for what reason, what, if any change would occur in society — tomorrow? What would you change in your life, right now, knowing in thirty years the end of the world was guaranteed?

Another notion, proposed by the generalist, was that in a catastrophic event, like my favorite topic, a CME (coronal mass ejection – and the end of the electrical grid), that there are billions of food animals (cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens and turkeys) that would be available for months after the “end of food.” His theory, which sounded silly, but he confessed it was considered by those who plan for such things, was that humans would be eating burgers for months, but that the lack of ketchup would be part of the critical path of survival. He quipped that there was a National Strategic Condiment Reserve created to store enough ketchup and mustard to ensure that people could continue to enjoy their quarter-pounders.

The third notion that I thought curious was the topic of what goes first? Do people die out quickly (a pandemic, or nuclear, volcanic or asteroid induced winter) or do people survive and their infrastructure fails them (a CME or a nano bot revolt or AI take over).

Generally speaking, civilizations don’t collapse quickly. Jared Diamond’s Collapse, explored the various failures over the last few millennia and, for the most part, things come apart slowly but determinedly. Politics, food, resources, strife, elitists vs plebes, all contribute, over tens if not hundreds of years, to destroy a civilization.

The apocalypse, however, would tend to speed things up.

Mentioned in the second half of the video, is the book Paradise built in Hell, which explores the altruistic fallout during specific calamitous occurrences. That — we are our brother’s keeper — that people, over all, tend to jump in to save each other in times of catastrophe.

This may be true for localized events; single areas, nations or even regions (Hurricane Katrina, the 2011 Sendai earthquake, or the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004). But where I think this fails us, and this is the base theory for this post, is the following:

When we feel secure in our own lives we feel empowered to help others. Even if we ourselves are inundated by chaos, if we know that the province, country or world remains stable — outside of our ongoing criticality — then extending ourselves to our neighbors can be substantiated; we know others will be there to pickup the slack. That, knowing we do not risk everything, we feel empowered to help those in need.

But what happens when, deep in our souls, we know no one else will be there to help us out of our own disastrous situation? When we know that the entire world is under siege? That we know that help IS-NOT-COMING. How will we react then?

Does civilization fail when the realization that THIS-IS-IT penetrates our thinking? Do we resort then to protecting our own, abandoning our neighbors, our jobs of assistance? What would you do if you knew your family, your loved ones were also under attack — but your job, your duty, was to stay here and fight for and protect these folks? Would you stay? Or would you admit that, “hey, I have to get back to my OWN family who needs me.”?


Humanity’s one shot

[Sometimes I write to myself just so I have the thoughts persisted.
A thought written is a thought not forgotten.
This is one of those posts.]

Blue Across the Sea & Shadow Shoals foundational premise.

Here’s my theory.

First off this happens: Blue Across the Sea Epilogue, https://goo.gl/q6Hkj4 (a pair of massive CMEs destroy the Northern hemisphere’s electrical grid).

Supporting theory…

Coal and oil allowed the 19th and 20th and the first 1/3 of the 21st centuries to become the mega-food and people generating periods that we’ve seen thus far. Without oil, particularly, there would have been no way to produce the food that has produced, to date, 7.4 billion people. And, once sucked from the ground and burned, oil is gone. Humanity got exactly one shot at our technological advancement — and that shot has been expended. If 80-90% of people were to die off today, leaving about one billion, this would approximately represent where the human population would have been without coal and oil. And that would be it. No technological renaissance 2.0. One shot, bang!
[Cite: https://anonymole.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/drake-equation-more-on-the-topic/ ]

WorldPopulationGrowthFossilFuels

Okay, so the primary driver here was energy — in the form of oil — which produced food. Food is the crux, the fulcrum which makes or breaks all civilizations. I go into this theory in the previously linked post, but suffice to say, with out fossil fuels, humanity would never have attained the populations necessary to spawn the technological revolution. No great world wars (which require oil), no space race (which require oil), no massive move to the cities (which required food produced by oil). The tech revolution just wouldn’t have happened. Humanity would have burned whale oil until all the whales were dead. And then maybe hydrolyzed wood to produce methanol as a fuel, and of course ethanol from fermentation — energy is life. Without fossil fuels, we’d literally still be in the 1800’s

Now back to the post CME apocalypse: So, even though the buildings and cities and structures in the stories still exist, many were burned or ransacked after the sunstorm, but, yes the cities are still there, and the roads exist, and there are people who might still live there. But the major problem now is that food is scarce, similar to the 1600’s and 1700’s, but without the prior hundreds of years of people having learned how to leverage the land and live on less. Only the countryside can provide food now. There are villages and towns that exist and thrive, but without electricity – we’re back to the 1800’s at a maximum technological level — but without the possibility of being rescued by fossil fuels.

All the agriculture lore that the people of the 1800’s had available to survive — that has been lost. Horticulture? Animal husbandry? Those were reset to zero. Now, it’s been 230 years since the storm so there are enclaves and substantial areas thriving. But food is still the prime driver for all societal organization.

Recall that the Southern hemisphere avoided the sunstorm. That’s how that catastrophe would work; the Northern hemisphere would get destroyed as, when the CMEs hit during the summer, the Earth’s tilt would have allowed the plasma wave to obliterate the Northern hemisphere’s electrical grid. The Southern hemisphere collapsed due to the influx of 600-700 million people escaping the north. But there would be countries there returning to productivity and that will become evident when a steamship shows up in the Chesapeake Bay with intentions of establishing a colony from New Brazil.

One of the ideas I use to justify the existence of stuff in this future world is by looking backwards about 300 years and thinking “what is here today that was built or made back in the 1700’s?” Books survive, some clothing (especially that made from non-organic materials). Roads, buildings, metal signs even, and metal of many kinds. Guns that were well taken care of, sure, but ammo is gone. Glassware, some plastic, pottery, many tools¬† but nothing made from rubber. Nothing electrical or electronic. But the wire would still exist and have been reused for other purposes. No engines or motors, as fuel hasn’t been refined for centuries. Although, in remote mountainous areas there are some solar cell systems running at perhaps 5-10% efficiency. And a few hydro generators still work in tucked-away places.

More on this to come.


My Dystopian Life

The topic is a tired one. And this post is not meant to wipe the sleep from its eyes. I often find myself writing stories in this genre, therefore, I’d like to put all this here so as to keep track of it.

Note, I tend to focus on “apocalyptic” dystopians. Those other story lines, that come about through gradual oppression, I don’t much care for. (Hell, we live in one now.)

I’ll be updating this post, from time to time, and commenting with links and data.

Reasons why dystopian stories are alluring:

  1. A return to survival mode.
  2. Simpler cause and effect living.
  3. The elimination of wealth inequality.
  4. Imagining and preparing for the worst.
  5. Societal “clean slate” thinking.

A return to survival mode

Let’s face it, the act of survival (in the Western world) is less than challenging. On average, most people do not have to worry about surviving from day to day. (Many caveats to this, I know, but that’s not the point now.) As animals, humans,¬†when threatened, have a fierce will to live. In fact, we evolved during such times when our ferocity undoubtedly determined the survival of our genes. We’ve lost that edge.

“Attack that sales meeting!” “Tear into that engine overhaul!” “Shred that software bug!” Nope, sorry. Our million year old survival instincts are just not triggered these days.

I think a return to a time (or reading about one) when every decision you make, throughout the day, influences your personal and family’s survival gives us a momentary boost of Darwin’s and London’s “Survival of the fittest,” and “Eat or be eaten,” sense of immediacy. Choices would mean something again.

Simpler cause and effect living

Similar to a return to survival mode, a jump into a post-apocalyptic world simplifies one’s life. Would you have to manage your IRA? Worry about interest rates? Think about saving for yours or your child’s college education? Second guess that office photo you posted on fadebook? Hell no! That shit would be history, a quaint recollection as you lie beneath a glowing sky lit by strange aurora, listening to the wild dogs circle your camp.

When you buy a new cellphone, how much impact does that really have on your life? Diddly squat! That’s how much.

If you fail to step quietly through the broken, rubble-strewn town, what effect, then, when you neglectfully kick that empty jerry-can waking the denizens that lurk there in the shadows? One hell-of-a-lot!

We have no agency in our lives today. (Of course we do. But not the kind that will get you killed within seconds or minutes after your mistake — unless we’re talking about stepping in front of a bus or texting while driving.) Meaningful agency is lost to us. A return to learning to survive, where every action and choice matters, would be a refreshing reemergence of “feeling alive!”

Return to equality

Take the world and turn off the internet. Turn off the lights. Turn off the electricity. Turn off the water and food delivery and medicine production and police protection, fire protection, military protection. Turn everything off that makes our technological society what it is today.

Now tell me, what’s your net worth now? Yeah, exactly! You are worth whatever you have in your backpack — and that’s it! Those of you in your razorwire shrouded compounds? Your food will run out eventually. Do you have private generators? Fuel production has ceased. This is a drastic simplification of course, but the vast differences in “wealth” we have today? Those would vanish overnight in a post-apocalyptic scenario.

Just to see a time when your own wits and skills of survival lend you a modicum of superiority would be worth watching the end of technological society. Or so many dystopian novels would have us believe (including mine).

Preparation for the worst case

Imagine the end of all convenience. The end of easy calories, of secure sleep, of clean water. Dwell on this imagined world; examine it in your mind, angle by angle. Now, pull back from this catastrophe and look around you. We have it pretty damn good today, don’t we? But it could be worse, much worse. By considering such End-of-Times scenarios you’ve both prepared yourself for the possibility, and you’ve reestablished your sense of what is important to you today.

Prepare for the worst, but live and survive today. Know that you have evaluated the ramifications of Armageddon but also know that, were it to arrive, you’re prepared. Your task would then be a constantly adjusting triage: evaluate, act, move on. Your future, cataclysm or not, will unfold (or not), and all you can truly do is handle the “now”.

Clean slate

Take the U.S. Constitution, patch the holes (corporations are not people!), add some equality of citizen amendments, and maybe some term limits, now, wipe the slate of human government clean and then apply your new World Constitution to civilization.

There! All better.

Well, not quite. While you were struggling to survive, a bunch of bad actors sprung up with their massive caches of ammunition and alt-right supremacy notions and bloomed, like a red tide, beneath your clean slate.

But at least your thoughts and intentions were true. They must count for something. Right?

An apocalypse and the dystopia that would follow “could” evolve into a new and beautiful utopia. This is one of the appeals of dystopian stories — the possibility that from the ashes a new, equitable and loving society could emerge. (Cough, cough!)

A list of dystopian novels I’ve read:

  • The Road
  • Alas Babylon
  • On the Beach
  • The Girl with all the Gifts
  • Far North
  • Earth Abides
  • Robopocalypse
  • Terraforming Earth
  • Stranger
  • Hunger Games
  • Divergent
  • Maze Runner
  • The Dead Lands
  • The Giver
  • Battle Royale
  • World Made by Hand
  • Night Work
  • The Last Man

Non fiction:

  • The Knowledge: How to Rebuild Our World from Scratch
  • (Numerous others to be listed soon, before, you know, The End.)

REFERENCES:
https://anonymole.wordpress.com/2016/01/21/drake-equation-more-on-the-topic/


Chinese Millennials

Will Chinese Millennials diverge from their elders’ and ancestors’ infatuation with consuming the world’s endangered species?

“Worth thousands of dollars on the Chinese black market.”

That statement alone should make you shudder with regards to what the Chinese economy is set to do to the world’s endangered wildlife. With nearly 1.4 billion people, 70% of which are up and coming middle class — many of whom will be subscribing to the traditions of their ancestors — China will soon be eating, drinking, buying and owning the world’s critically threatened species.

Elephant ivory. Rhino horn. Exotic bear, tiger, simian, marsupial and fish organs. The consumption of all of these and hundreds, if not thousands, of other medicinal and collectible parts of animals, are all on the rise in China.

Yes, the Western world had, as its toy, for centuries, the undeveloped world. The United States extracted one of the greatest tolls on the planet as it sucked at the planet’s resources before, during, and after the country’s golden years. And then the rest of the industrialized world caught on and replicated America’s rapacious exploitation. Colonialism started it, but transnational corporations are finishing it. And yet, through it all, the West seems to have found religion. They’ve realized the detrimental impact they have on the species of the world (or so they would have us think; I do believe the West is trying to be a good curator now).

But China and India (and the other countries of Asia?) they’re just getting started in their consumption cycles. If just a third of China’s middle class all want to own an ivory trinket of some sort (to honor tradition, or establish a wealth designation) that alone will have 300 million Chinese buying carved ivory — extracted mostly through illegal sources — effectively wiping out the entire African elephant population.

And that’s just the elephants. A million apothecaries all trying to get black bear pancreases, or tiger penises, or pangolin fetuses, or totoaba bladders (a fish), will utterly destroy the populations of such species.

So, I ask, will the Chinese Millennials alter the future of their people and reject such ancient superstitious traditions and help save, rather than consume, the world’s endangered species?


Sheesh, Capitalists!

“Here’s What Stocks You Want to Own in the Event of a War With North Korea”

https://www.thestreet.com/story/14316270/1/north-korea.html

What a load of aristocratic horse hockey! Cramer’s TheStreet is trying to tell you “Hey, here’s how to make money on the up coming end-of-the-world — get in now while you still have air to breathe!”

  • Do these people even realize how like human scum they are?
  • Is there a more despicable slice of humanity than capitalists?
  • Do capitalists even have souls?
  • What do you call 1,000,000 capitalists at the bottom of the sea?
    A good start. (an oldie but tasteless joke).
  • Are there conscientiousness capitalists? I guess… I’ve never met any. They “say” they are but most likely would read an article like that and, if it made sense, take financial advantage of the information.
  • Do I despise capitalists? No. Only those who own capital.

 


Cascadian temblor – soon?

NASA released a rather interesting video of the last 15 years of recorded earthquake activity on the planet.

At the end of it you’ll see a set of stills. These are all quakes, 6.5 and greater and then 8.0 and greater. Here’s the last of these images:

EarthquakesWhen

Pretty startling that all around the “Ring of Fire” (sounds Tolkienian no?) that the west coast of North America is the one place where 8.0+ temblors have not occurred.

If you’re not familiar with the concept, the Pacific Northwest has not had a BigOne since January of 1700. The Juan de Fuca tectonic plate boundary and the Cascadian subduction zone are areas which “stick” for hundreds of years (300-600) and the release, quickly and dramatically. The quake in 1700 was not recorded as no Europeans either were there or survived. But the tsunami it produced was felt and recorded in Japan. It’s a fascinating story of how the geologists figured out the northwest was a location for earthquakes.

But suffice to say, every year, we’re getting closer and closer to the BigOne.

Soon? Yeah, maybe.


Apocalypse for charity

What if you could prepare for the Apocalypse while donating to charity at the same time?

Imagine this:

For $100 a year Calamity-Charity delivers to your door a five-gallon (or more) bucket of various survival goods. Inside you’ll find 20-30 kilos of rice, beans, oats, wheat, and assorted flavorings and dried vegetables and proteins.

Now, in all likelihood, you probably won’t be using any of the contents in this bucket. And in fact, it behooves you to NOT use it. Because after six months, Calamity-Charity will delivery to you a NEW bucket, and take the old sealed bucket away. If you renew your yearly subscription, every six months you’ll get a brand new bucket of survival food.

But not only that… Because you DONATED your first sealed bucket you get to write off its cost of $50.00. If you renew your subscription you get to write off ALL $100 as a charitable donation. AND STILL get to keep your third survival bucket (which gets replaced on your anniversary and then again… and so on and so forth.)

And here’s the bonus part: that food that Calamity-Charity carted away after six months? Yeah, it went to FEED THE POOR! It went to homeless shelters, emergency food supplies for natural disaster victims — it didn’t get thrown out — it got used by those in need.

And if, by the extremely unlikely scenario you need to use the food? Well, you’ll have guaranteed fresh grains ready and waiting for your use.

Sounds like a pretty good business model no? Get in on the Apoca-porn industry, provide a potentially life saving service, and create a charity system all in one!