August 23, 2013

Grand Unified Theory of Unconscious Evolution, Part 1

From another Deep Green Resistance writer published on Guy McPherson's blog, Nature Bats Last:

If you have read or seen Guy McPherson, Dmitry Orlov, John Michael Greer, James Howard Kunstler, Richard Heinberg, Chris Martenson, James Hansen; seen the film “What A Way To Go: Life At the End Of Empire”, or spoken at length with anyone else who has brought up the issues of Peak Oil, environmental degradation, rising CO2 levels, the melting of the Arctic, release of methane from the tundra and clathrates, you know the score. We are in for one helluva ride, and it most likely will be unpleasant. 

As Maynard used to say on "Dobie Gillis:"  You rang?

By the way, Guy's blog is kind of fun.  The most heart-wrenching jeremiads are displayed there.  People write long, agonized posts in highly florid, ornate language, about coming to terms with near-term extinction, which even has an acronym now:  NTE. It's sort of like reading Silent Spring as Emily Dickinson might have written it.  Among these essays, Guy's are the most dire.  He's thinking about 2016, which I think is sort of cutting it close.  He's put his money down on Arctic methane release as the final hammer blow.  Other than a worldwide nuclear holocaust, Arctic methane release is probably the only horse in the pack that can finish us off by 2016.

When I first read about methane blooms, I have to admit it freaked me out, and I had the same disquieting feeling I had back in 1969 when I first read about rising CO2 levels; namely, we're not going to do anything signficant about this problem and it carries with it the possibility of mortal consequences.

Anyway, Guy presents that personal conundrum I have adverted to before: the mismatch between a perspective that takes into account the generations ahead versus the natural, and very human, narcissistic desire to have fun and do what you want in your one and only life.  Difficult tango steps to execute.  Guy's a tall, handsome guy with an enviable head of thick hair, and he frequently reminds us that he was a "tenured professor" at a world-class research university, by which he means he was a professor of geology natural resources at the University of Arizona.  Which is impressive, and everything, but you might think for a moment he must be talking about being head of CERN or director of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.  His evident need to impress you suggests that he's a little uneasy about what he's done, "walking away from the apex of empire," and sure enough, lately I read where he admits that leaving his university sinecure was "the biggest mistake" of his life.  There's that tension again. It's what keeps us all playing the game of advanced civilization, despite the enormous, obvious damage to the ecosphere.  Meanwhile, we all hope that "they" will come up with something which allows us to keep nice things, like MRI machines and advanced hip replacement therapy, and high-speed Internet, while eliminating excessive CO2 emissions, water scarcity, oceanic death, topsoil depletion, overpopulation, and right-wing talk radio.

I think of Guy as sort of the Rod McKuen of doomsayers.  His essays seem more poetic than scientific.  The blog, founded by Michael Mann and others involved in the "hockey stick" controversy, does not share his dire assessment of the Arctic methane problem, nor do more rigorous thinkers such as Dmitry Orlov.  I think Guy's intellectual gambit is that if he has to give up the glamorous academic life (or, I guess, now that's he given it up, whether he had to or not), then it's better to think that he only has to live his mistake three more years.  In a way, he's thinking in Millenialist terms, only with methane taking the role of Our Lord & Savior.

Not to make fun of Guy, who seems like a good...guy.  Rather, it introduces my thesis, which I guess I'll get to next time out.

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