We don’t allow drunks to fly planes. Because we understand that alcoholism is common, partly genetic, and very dangerous at 30,000 feet. We therefore screen pilots to keep ourselves safe. And alcoholics support this policy because they also want to fly safely. Why do we allow our leaders to deny reality? Reality denial is common, … Continue reading "On Drunks Flying Planes"
I recently purchased a 6 piece queen sheet set for my bed and marveled at how something so useful, and so difficult to make myself, could be so inexpensive, costing only $30, or about 2 hours of my labor at minimum wage. I did a little digging and found this video on how fabric was … Continue reading "On Fabric (aka Fossil Energy is Indistinguishable from Magic)"
For climate change and sustainability, the road less traveled that we must now take, is our unsustainable global population growth.
This post was inspired by a comment from reader Kira. She asked if denying climate change was the same as denying death. I answered as follows: “I suspect there are 2 main groups of people: One group is the 95% of the population that doesn’t really understand the science or the severity of the problem. … Continue reading "The Un-Denial Decision Tree"
Sabine Hossenfelder today explained why we have no free will and why we shouldn’t worry about it. She’s right but she missed an important piece of the story. A quick summary of her essay is that our brain is a computer made of particles governed by the laws of physics that inputs our current state … Continue reading "Sabine Hossenfelder on Free Will"
Why do leaders on both sides of the political aisle fail to see, or fear to admit the true underlying cause of the West Coast wildfires with the public? Earth Overshoot Executive Director Terry Spahr writes about our tendency to reject what may be true but complex in favor of what is simply false.
Three years ago I wrote about Garrett Hardin’s famous 1968 paper “The Tragedy of the Commons” here. The gist of it is that the collective effect of individuals making independent, well-intentioned, rational decisions regarding the use of a shared resource, such as livestock pastures in the past, and our entire planet today, leads to the … Continue reading "On Garrett Hardin’s Denial and the Gift of History"
Most people who are expert on our overshoot predicament and the behaviors that enabled it believe two things: The Maximum Power Principle (MPP) governs our behavior. We have no free will. These beliefs lead to the following conclusions: Our overshoot predicament was inevitable. There is nothing that can be done to improve the outcome. A … Continue reading "Maximizing Power with Fewer Children"
Apneaman is one of the brightest lights illuminating the handful of blogs that discuss reality. Unfortunately he does not have his own blog and so his unique insights are usually buried in a sea of less significant comments. We were discussing here new evidence that the virus was engineered and Apneaman wrote a comment that … Continue reading "By Apneaman: On Plandemics and Denial"
This recent essay by Art Berman may be the best historical analysis of oil and its relationship with the economy I’ve read. https://www.artberman.com/2020/09/03/stop-expecting-oil-and-the-economy-to-recover/ Here is my simplified summary of Berman’s analysis: both supply and demand for oil have recently fallen oil demand fell more than oil supply this despite an all-time record amount of debt … Continue reading "By Art Berman: Stop Expecting Oil and the Economy to Recover"
1400 km and 4 nights in the interior of British Columbia.
This latest video from Jack Alpert is very good. Alpert explains why on our current default trajectory most of the global population that lives after 2050 will experience starvation and that by about 2100 our 8 billion will be reduced to about 600 million serfs leading a medieval lifestyle on a sick planet. Alpert then … Continue reading "By Jack Alpert: How the World Works"
I just listened to Michael Shermer’s interview of Michael Shellenberger on his new book Apocalypse Never. Here is the publisher’s summary of the book: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/50173134-apocalypse-never
I watch for evidence that supports or contradicts Varki’s MORT theory. With average citizens it’s hard to distinguish ignorance from denial. The only way to know for sure is to explain the facts and associated evidence about human overshoot to someone and then observe if they still deny our predicament and what needs to be … Continue reading "Eric Weinstein: A Case Study in Denial"
Two nights and 22 km on the Bedwell Trail to Cream Lake in Strathcona Park.
Although the plunging numbers of sea life might suggest we should focus on setting more catch limits or enforcing fishing moratoriams, the ever-increasing global population makes a consumption-based approach nothing more than a stop-gap measure. By taking a two-pronged approach that addresses BOTH the supply of marine life AND the demand we can increase our changes for creating a sustainable food source and a healthy ocean ecosystem dramatically.
World Population Day (WPD), established by the United Nations Development Programme in 1989, falls on July 11th every year and focuses attention on the urgency and importance of population issues.
Hopefully most of us can agree that empowerment of women, choice and agency in regards to family size and worldwide access to affordable family planning and contraception services is a moral imperative. Not only are they essential human rights but, once in place, they lead to smaller family sizes, which are better for families, communities and the planet.
Listen in as Earth Overshoot's Terry Spahr discusses the global consequences of our human numbers and why family planning is an essential solution to many of the social and environmental problems we face on a global scale.
The 12-minute interview with Terry starts at minute 6 on the podcast.
I just finished the book Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle by Daniel L. Everett. Thank you to Perran for recommending it. A riveting account of the astonishing experiences and discoveries made by linguist Daniel Everett while he lived with the Pirahã, a small tribe of Amazonian Indians in … Continue reading "Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel Everett"
Thanks to Apneaman for bringing this image to my attention, it’s very interesting. This info-graphic was constructed from a list of cognitive biases assembled by a team of experts collaborating via Wikipedia over a 15 year period. A cognitive bias is defined as: A cognitive bias is a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or … Continue reading "Biased Cognitive Biases"
I just finished Sabine Hossenfelder‘s book Lost in Math. Whether pondering black holes or predicting discoveries at CERN, physicists believe the best theories are beautiful, natural, and elegant, and this standard separates popular theories from disposable ones. This is why, Sabine Hossenfelder argues, we have not seen a major breakthrough in the foundations of physics … Continue reading "Sabine Hossenfelder’s Lost in Math"
Earth Overshoot Executive Director Terry Spahr sent his youngest son off into the world with a personal message that reflects his feelings about nature, sustainability and the changing nature of "normal." What lies ahead for the Class of 2020?
I first reviewed Harari’s book 5 years ago here. After watching this book sit near the top of popular book lists for several years I thought I should re-read it to see if I missed something. I posted the following refreshed review on Goodreads. Another fine example of Panglossian cognitive dissonance in the tradition of … Continue reading "Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (revisited)"
Every year Nate Hagens gives a talk on Earth Day. I missed the announcement of his talk a month ago, perhaps because I killed my social media accounts, but better late than never. Nate’s presentation as usual is excellent, and this year he provides thoughts on how the virus may influence our overshoot predicament. Here … Continue reading "By Nate Hagens: Earth Day 2020 – The State of the Species"
Greenpeace International Co-Founder Rex Weyler gets real on climate change, sustainability and overshoot.
Enjoy this interview, courtesy of our friends at Rewilding Earth, with the straight talk Weyler is known for including the one solution that most environmentalists refuse to tackle as well as his hope for the future of humanity and nature.
Earth Overshoot Executive Director Terry Spahr reviews the book, "Planet of 3 Billion" by Chris Tucker, which details the role our human numbers play in the global environmental and societal problems currently facing the planet.
Gail Tverberg is one of my favorite thinkers and has been writing about our overshoot predicament for years. In today’s essay she makes the most specific predictions I’ve seen on the probable outcomes of the economic deceleration caused by the Wuhan virus. I suspect most of her predictions will happen, but I’m not confident on … Continue reading "Gail Tverberg on what to expect…"
Does it take a deadly virus to make a global population of almost 8 billion people reduce their consumption? Terry Spahr, founder of Earth Overshoot explains what 57 years of record keeping tells us.
OPEC backs biggest oil cut since 2008 crisis, awaits Russia OPEC agreed on Thursday to cut oil output by an extra 1.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in the second quarter of 2020 to support prices that have been hit by the coronavirus outbreak, but made its action conditional on Russia and others joining in. … Continue reading "Providing Alcohol to an Alcoholic"
More evidence that intelligence and education do not reduce reality denial, and that the strength of denial is proportional to the unpleasantness of the reality, as Varki’s Mind Over Reality Transition theory predicts. Two hundred scientists were recently surveyed on their perceptions of global risks. https://futureearth.org/initiatives/other-initiatives/grp/the-report/ Top risks by likelihood: 1. Extreme weather 2. Biodiversity … Continue reading "Denial is Proportional to the Unpleasantness of the Reality"
Terry Spahr explains how our ability to both spread and combat pandemics and other disease outbreaks is connected to our fossil fuel addiction
I finally got around to watching the top grossing movies of 2018 and 2019, Avengers: Infinity War ($2.1 billion) and Avengers: Endgame ($2.8 billion). This type of movie, with extreme fantasy super heroes and over the top special effects, is not my cup of tea, but I decided to watch them to get some insight … Continue reading "On the Avengers and Denial"
Covered in this discussion: the population versus consumption debate, and the obstacles to recognizing overpopulation as the root cause of climate change, fresh water shortages, and environmental degradation.
2019 has been a year of tremendous growth and change for Earth Overshoot. With your support, we look forward to accomplishing much in 2020 as we strive to bring sustainability to our world.
Unsustainable population growth is being increasingly acknowledged around the world as the primary driver of environmental degradation as the public becomes frustrated with the lack of progress that is being and can be made merely by addressing the symptoms including climate change. Earth Overshoot will continue to work to change social norms that result in a healthier planet for all.
Climate change is blamed for seemingly every environmental emergency, but the catastrophic decline in the bird population points to a more fundamental problem. Learn more here.
Dr. Ajit Varki, the scientist who inspired this blog with his book, published a paper for a new book today, which expands on his Mind Over Reality Transition (MORT) theory. Varki, in the past, has been self-critical of his 2013 book feeling that it did not receive the time and polish that his theory deserved. It … Continue reading "Ajit Varki: Our Only Hope is Legitimate Fear-Mongering"
Ronald Wright presented his book “A Short History of Progress” in 2004 via the Massey Lectures that were broadcast by CBC Radio. It’s my all time favorite lecture series and I’ve listened to it at least a dozen times. You can listen to it here. Last month Wright launched the 15th anniversary edition of his … Continue reading "By Ronald Wright: A Short History of Progress Revisited"
Tim Watkins, with some help from Chris Martenson, is very good today. I observe that people fighting for our species to acknowledge its predicament, like Extinction Rebellion, are as much in denial as the people they oppose. In his last section, Watkins suggests that the environmental movement has a choice to make between two paths. … Continue reading "By Tim Watkins: What Extinction Rebellion is Getting Wrong"
Yesterday, the leader of the world’s largest and strongest economy called his central banker a “bonehead” for not lowering interest rates below zero. ….The USA should always be paying the the lowest rate. No Inflation! It is only the naïveté of Jay Powell and the Federal Reserve that doesn’t allow us to do what other … Continue reading "On Boneheads"
Earth Overshoot Executive Director dispels the concept of technology as the holy grail of environmental salvation.
Today Nate Hagens released a new series of short courses on the human predicament created for the University of Minnesota NEXUS ONE freshman program. More information on Nate’s educational initiatives can be found at the Institute for the Study of Energy and Our Future (ISEOF). You can also find another excellent Reality 101 course … Continue reading "By Nate Hagens: Reality 101 Short Courses"
Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. In recent decades, as climate change has come to dominate environmental concerns, there has been a significant shift in the discussion. Our failure to see climate change in context may be our undoing.
Richard Heinberg, Senior Fellow at the Post Carbon Institute, skillfully explains why systemic change driven by a moral awakening, and not technology, is our only hope to solve our biggest environmental problem. Reposted from EcoWatch.
I don’t read ZeroHedge much anymore because they don’t understand and/or deny the relationship between energy, overshoot, and the economy. Today the US Fed lowered the interest rate so I had a peak at ZeroHedge to see what the knuckleheads were saying. It seems we’re approaching a Minsky Moment. https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-07-31/endgame-starting-2024-all-us-debt-issuance-will-be-used-pay-only-interest-debt Endgame: Starting In 2024, All … Continue reading "Endgame"
Earth Overshoot Executive Director Terry Spahr explains how promoting smaller families can ensure our individual freedoms in the form of sustainability, prosperity and peace.
Something big has recently changed in our culture. We no longer accept any unpleasant reality, no matter the costs of denying it, nor the benefits it might return in the long run. For example, parents who do not permit their children to play unsupervised for fear of a scuff. And school teachers who no longer … Continue reading "Removing the Safety Valves"
A year ago I wrote an essay that tried to capture the depth and breadth of our predicament, and that offered a simple idea for increasing awareness, gratefulness, and temperance. If you’re not an engineer the essay may be a painful read because my goal was to communicate maximum content with minimum words in … Continue reading "Saving the World by Recycling My Garbage"
A report issued by the United Nations last week states that up to 1 million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction with devastating implications for human survival. How did we get to this point?
The concise modern history of the Fire Ape, also known as Homo Sapiens Oblivion Oblivious. Thanks to Tim Watkins for finding this graphic.
Notice the tight correlation between CO2 emissions per person and standard of living: That’s not a coincidence as physicist Tim Garrett has explained: https://un-denial.com/?s=Tim+Garrett%3A So if we ever decide to do something effective about climate change (assuming it’s not already too late due to self-reinforcing feedback loops) then that solution must include some combination … Continue reading "Mashup"
In the movie, The Matrix, Keanu Reeves' character, Neo, observes his current life and senses foreboding, a palpable feeling that something else is unfolding around him to which he and everyone else is oblivious.