Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

The study on collapse they thought you should not read – yet

Posted by jembendell on July 26, 2018

A research paper concluding that climate-induced collapse is now inevitable, was recently rejected by anonymous reviewers of an academic journal.

It has been released directly by the Professor who wrote it, to promote discussion of the necessary deep adaptation to climate chaos.

“I am releasing this paper immediately, directly, because I can’t wait any longer in exploring how to learn the implications of the social collapse we now face,” explained the author Dr Bendell, a full Professor of Sustainability Leadership.  deep adaptation paper

In saying the paper was not suitable for publication, one of the comments from the reviewers questioned the emotional impact that the paper might have on readers. “I was left wondering about the social implications of presenting a scenario for the future as inevitable reality, and about the responsibility of research in communicating climate change scenarios and strategies for adaptation.” wrote one of the reviewers. “As the authors pointed out, denial is a common emotional response to situations that are perceived as threatening and inescapable, leading to a sense of helplessness, inadequacy, and hopelessness and ultimately disengagement from the issue…”

That perspective is discussed in the paper as one that enables denial. Professor Bendell explains in his response to the Editor, that the response may reflect “the self-defeating hierarchical attitude towards society that many of us have in both academia and sustainability, where we censure our own exploration of a topic due to what we consider should or should not be communicated. There is both scholarship and experience on the impact of communicating about disaster, and I discuss that in the paper.” Moreover, Bendell consulted with practicing psychotherapists on both the motivational and mental health implications of this analysis and was reassured that perceptions of a collective tragic future should not in itself be a cause for depression. Instead, it could trigger transformative reflection which could be supported – and would be inevitable one day, given the inevitability of mortality for all human life.

The paper offers a new framing for beginning to make sense of the disaster we face, called “deep adaptation.” It is one that Professor Bendell proposed in a keynote lecture two years ago and has influenced community dialogue on climate change in Britain in the past two years, including in Peterborough and Newcastle as well as being used by the Dark Mountain network.

The paper “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” is downloadable as a pdf from here.

The response of Professor Bendell to the Editor of the journal follows below.

A list of resources to support people as they process this information, including emotional support is here.

A LinkedIn group on Deep Adaptation exists to support professional discussion of the topic.

Letter to the Editor of SAMPJ, Professor Carol Adams, from Professor Jem Bendell, 26th July 2018.

Dear Professor Adams,

It is an odd situation to be in as a writer, but I feel compassion for anyone reading my Deep Adaptation article on the inevitability of near term social collapse due to climate chaos! I am especially grateful for anyone taking the time to analyse it in depth and provide feedback. So, I am grateful to you arranging that and the reviewers for providing their feedback. Some of the feedback, particularly recommendations for a better introduction, were helpful. However, I am unable to work with their main requests for revisions, as they are, I believe, either impossible or inappropriate, as I will seek to explain.

I agree with Professor Rob Gray that “The journal’s constant exploration of new and challenging perspectives on how accountability and sustainability might play out in organisations ensures a stimulating source of articles, experiences and ideas.” It is why I was pleased to guest edit an issue last year and bring critical perspectives on leadership to its readership. However, the topic of inevitable collapse from climate change is so challenging it is not surprising it didn’t find support from the anonymous peer reviewers.

I would have had difficulty finding motivation for undertaking a complete re-write given the conclusion of the paper – that the premise of the “sustainable business” field that the journal is part of is no longer valid. Indeed, the assumptions about progress and stability that lead us to stay in academia in the field of management studies are also now under question.

The first referee questioned “to which literature (s) does this article actually contribute” and stated that “the research question or gap that you intend to address must be drawn from the literature,” continuing that “to join the conversation, you need to be aware of the current conversation in the field, which can be identified by reviewing relevant and recent articles published in these journals.” That is the standard guidance I use with my students and it was both amusing and annoying to read that feedback after having dozens of peer reviewed articles published over the last 20 years. The problem with that guidance is when the article is challenging the basis of the field and where there are not any other articles exploring or accepting the same premise. For instance, there are no articles in either SAMPJ or Organisation and Environment that explore implications for business practice or policy of a near term inevitable collapse due to environmental catastrophe (including those that mention or address climate adaptation). That isn’t surprising, because the data hasn’t been so conclusive on that until the last couple of years.

It is surprising therefore that the first reviewer says “the paper does not contain any new or significant information. The paper reiterates what has already been told by many studies.” The reviewer implies therefore that the paper is about climate change being a big problem. But the article doesn’t say that. It says that we face an unsolvable predicament and great tragedy. When the reviewer says “There are not clear contributions that can be derived from the article” then I wonder whether that is wilful blindness, as the article is saying that the basis of the field is now untenable.

At a couple of points, I attempted to cut through the unemotional way that research is presented. Or instance, when I directly address the reader about the implications of the analysis for their own likely hunger and safety, it is to elicit an emotional response. I say in the text why I express myself in that way and that although it is not typical in some journals the situation we face suggests to me that we do try to communicate emotively. The reviewer comments “the language used is not appropriate for a scholarly article.”

The second reviewer summarises the paper as “the introduction of deep adaptation as an effective response to climate change” which suggests to me a fundamental misunderstanding despite it being made clear throughout the paper. There is no “effective” response. The reviewer also writes “I am not sure that the extensive presentation of climate data supports the core argument of the paper in a meaningful way.” Yet the summary of science is the core of the paper as everything then flows from the conclusion of that analysis. Note that the science I summarise is about what is happening right now, rather than models or theories of complex adaptive systems which the reviewer would have preferred.

One piece of feedback from the 2nd reviewer is worth quoting verbatim:

“The authors stress repeatedly that “climate-induced societal collapse is now inevitable” as if that was a factual statement… I was left wondering about the social implications of presenting a scenario for the future as inevitable reality, and about the responsibility of research in communicating climate change scenarios and strategies for adaptation. As the authors pointed out, denial is a common emotional response to situations that are perceived as threatening and inescapable, leading to a sense of helplessness, inadequacy, and hopelessness and ultimately disengagement from the issue…”

This perspective is one I discuss in some detail in the paper, as one that enables denial. It reflects the self-defeating hierarchical attitude towards society that many of us have in both academia and sustainability, where we censure our own exploration of a topic due to what we consider should or should not be communicated. There is both scholarship and experience on the impact of communicating about disaster, and I discuss that in the paper.

The trauma from assessing our situation with climate change has led me to become aware of and drop some of my past preoccupations and tactics. I realise it is time to fully accept my truth as I see it, even if partially formed and not polished yet for wider articulation. I know that academia involves as much a process of wrapping up truth as unfolding it. We wrap truth in disciplines, discrete methodologies, away from the body, away from intuition, away from the collective, away from the everyday. So as that is my truth then I wish to act on it as well, and not keep this analysis hidden in the pursuit of academic respect. Instead, I want to share it now as a tool for shifting the quality of conversations that I need to have. Therefore, I have decided to publish it simply as an IFLAS Occasional Paper.

The process has helped me realise that I need to relinquish activities that I no longer have passion for, in what I am experiencing as a dramatically new context. Therefore, I must step back from the Editorial team of the journal. Thank you for having involved me and congratulations on it now being in the top ten journals in business, management and accounting.

Please pass on my thanks to the reviewers. On my website http://www.jembendell.com I will be listing some links to articles, podcasts, videos and social networks that are helping people explore and come to terms with a realisation of near term collapse (and even extinction), which they may be interested in. 

Yours sincerely,

Jem Bendell

 

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53 Responses to “The study on collapse they thought you should not read – yet”

  1. Reblogged this on The Brooklyn Culture Jam and commented:
    Thank you for making your paper accessible to the general public. I blog about issues surrounding climate collapse, and I am sharing with my readers. I hope this is acceptable to you.

  2. Near Term Extinction - Human on You Tube. said

    Jem, you can’t publish stuff like this, think of the snowflakes for god’s sake. Besides that it is not repeatable, nobody can duplicate the extinction of humans.

  3. The original Near Term Human Extinction SUPPORT Group is here with over 5000 members:
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/NTHESupportGroup/

  4. Hassan Shaikley said

    Siberia was 40 degrees warmer than average this year

    You said at one point the Arctic was 20 degrees warmer than average, but it’s worse than that as of fairly recently.

    https://qz.com/1324838/an-unprecedented-arctic-heatwave-resulted-in-70-deaths-in-canada/?utm_source=reddit.com

  5. Vanessa Blakeslee said

    The Near Term Human Extinction Evidence Group is updated numerous times a day — an excellent resource. Link here: https://www.facebook.com/Near-Term-Human-Extinction-Evidence-Group-170787913129107/

  6. Mark Bentley said

    excellent

  7. David Brettell said

    From email sent.

    Dear Professor Bendell,

    I was pleased to read your very recent 27 July 18 paper “Deep Adaptation: A Map for Navigating Climate Tragedy” this morning, which I found detailed on the Seemorerocks website. I congratulate you on publishing the paper yourself since I believe the chances of me finding it in the SAMPJ journal, or being able to access it unpaid, would have been virtually zero (Professor Adams – Durham was my old university also as it happens). Surely journals related to climate change issues are no longer relevant due to the pace of change? Peer review is essential but delays in publishing and exclusion of the public is, in my opinion, unforgivable. SMAPJ may be behind the curve it seems on what it accepts. As a 51 year old non-academic (I teach computer science at a large international school in Bangkok, which makes me perhaps a semi-academic and certainly no climate expert) I would like to make a few comments on your paper in laymen’s terms, and in doing so make my relatives, friends and colleagues aware of your paper if they are not already.

    A lot of what you referenced and wrote of I have read and I am aware of since becoming invested in the topic on a daily basis. Over five years or more past a friend and colleague asked me to proof-read his IB Environmental Science textbook and I came across his graph for increasing temperature. My opinion at the time was that his graph must be wrong, sadly it was not and I extended it into the future, covering my children’s lifetimes. From that time on I have read books and papers on a fairly regular basis. I also did what you suggested in your paper, which was to try and incorporate climate change into my own work and our computing curriculum. I also set up a climate change school website, maintained a noticeboard, ran a course, organized an early screening of the “Chasing Ice” movie, wrote to my MP etc. etc. Mostly all to no avail I would say. I don’t do any of this anymore apart from annoy a dwindling circle of friends and colleagues with dire, and somewhat cynical, climate change warnings and facts, although I tend do less of this now on the grounds that it is better to play the system until its collapse rather than fight it in a Catch 22 “lose-lose” scenario.

    I think it is quite brave of you to publish your paper and I hope that you still have a job to go back to and are not sacked or “retired”. I detected aspects of McPherson’s approach to “hope” in your paper. I don’t have any hope, but rather acceptance now (I’ve done the other stages and got the tee-shirt ), and I am intent on enjoying every sandwich as if it might be my last. Unfortunately I have yet to reconcile all of this with my children or my students futures. Your paper succeeds in its purpose of promoting discussion and I will use it and reference it at a Sunday lunch with an old friend and colleague here in Phuket tomorrow. I have yet to investigate your website but will do so later today.

    I shall continue following the climate change news and data, including following your blog, and realize that I am also in fact looking for the initial early warning signs of society collapse that will impact upon my family and I. Although I do not wish to be the last person standing when the music stops I believe collapse will be fast, within each country, and everyone will be left standing with no chairs to be had by anyone. Local and community groups may survive for a while, but not when crops cannot be grown. If societies collapse like dominoes perhaps there will be a little time to make personal arrangements and plans.

    All the best for the future.

    David.

    • permoccupy said

      David, the reasons communication fails are varied, but the most important is this: Tell people there’s no hope, they act like there’s no hope: They give up as you and Jem have. Twll people there is a crisis *and* how to get past it, they act.

      Few know what we can do, and few are able to accept the implications of simple living. But that does not change the fact we can, in fact, draw carbon back down to below 300, stabilize the ecosystem, and thrive in simplicity – with a minimal use of unsustainable high tech for some energy, communications, some transport and R&D.

      But we must act quickly.

      • David Brettell said

        Hi Permoccupy,

        In the past (five years or so back), as the scope of the impending disaster dawned on me, I never gave a message of “no hope” but just presented the facts and evidence of a climate beginning to go haywire. I naively thought people would be able to see the facts for themselves and then draw their own conclusions. Despite presenting greater and greater evidence for climate disasters and crisis very few people took an interest, even today people do not wish to have the evidence explained to them. I do not believe we could reduce carbon back to 300 ppb (because of lack of large-scale technology, cost and the current increasing rate of emissions as well as lack of incentive of course) and even if we could it’s not going to happen is it? There is going to be (in fact there is now) so much local distraction (fire, floods, lack of food etc.) there is never going to be an organized international effort to save the planet and human race. All of those COP meetings were/are just a talking shop and a complete cop-out. People congratulated themselves in Paris, but what has happened on a global planet saving scale since then? Unless I missed a memo, I think nothing. What country is going to take on a massive carbon capture effort alone – none I would suggest? Politicians are cowards and just as greedy and selfish as bankers, who will just try to protect their own interests. The letter I received back from my “so called” local UK government representative a few years back was laughable, so no hope there I quickly deduced.

        Combined with local disasters distracting people’s attention (and governments applying idiotic and pointless sticking plater solutions) there is too much heat already locked in to the future, which is then just going to exacerbate an already initiated runaway climate change. Small, simple, communities will function until they can no longer grow food but they are never going to save the planet. Ask yourself honestly, what country is currently taking any meaningful action with a goal to reducing carbon on a massive scale? Sure, you can probably list various experiments going on but its chicken feed is it not? Where is the Global Climate Change Emergency Committee, where are the countries working together on nothing else but this one gigantic problem? There is not a hope in hell that countries will pull together; they are more likely to pull further apart as the climate worsens (i.e. to supposedly protect their own self-interests but in reality it will just be a coward’s response).

        I wholeheartedly support quick action, better to go down fighting rather than give up, but I think quick action now may still be too late, and besides there is never going to be any quick action. I base this on the complete lack of action of the past. When one has young children “no hope” is not a viable position to take, but I think the cards are stacked against us. Governments move far too slowly, look at the UK government, what a shambles. It is a wonder they manage to dress themselves in the morning let along initiate a humanity planetary saving project.

        David.

      • Apneaman said

        “Tell people there’s no hope, they act like there’s no hope: They give up as you and Jem have.”

        How did you come by this knowledge of the inner workings of the minds of all 7.6 billion humans? What about holocaust death camp survivors and those who made it through the black death? Was it because they out hoped the competition?

        Progressive rhetoric. ‘You’re either with hope or you’re with the terrorists.’

        Jem, this is how progressives attempt to silence anyone not on board with the teachings of the positive psychology industrial complex. In this case you.

        You have just been judged and found guilty of secular blasphemy. Heretic.

        You are not being helpful, Jem.

        Jem, can’t you see you are ruining their cyber ‘safe space’?

        You need to be blacklisted and silenced like Alex Jones and all the Russian operatives out there hiding under the bed.

        Jem, I’ve been accused of the same ‘no hope’ crimes against humanity too.

        It’s kinda flattering to be told that your words are more influential than all the denier propaganda oligarch billionaires can and have paid for over the last 4 decades.

      • permoccupy said

        It’s a well-known psychological response.

        Now, quiet. Adults are talking.

  8. Killian O'Brien said

    Sorry, a fuller response:

    I am glad to see an academic lay it all on the line, but I am disappointed Jem failed to find that his suggested solutions have already been laid out. This is unfortunate, though it is in no way an accusation: Finding needles in global haystacks is not easy, particularly when the best thinking on regenerative systems is not in the realm of academia. We are still trying to get academia to take us seriously. It seems Jen does, but now he needs to align his knowledge with the full breadth of available Regenerative thinking.

    The first line of regenerative thought is from Mollison (RIP) and Holmgren, circa 1978 and after. Permaculture provides a planning process that creates regenerative, what Jem calls resilient, systems. It is elegantly simple, promulgating principles of design rather than rules, and providing a design, aka decision-making, framework with which to apply the principles. This is a set of First Principles, thus applicable anywhere. Mollison later provided a huge compendium of techniques and methods for the four primary types of ecosystems published as Permaculture, A designers Manual.

    Both men were aware of the various planetary issues we face. Their work came from observation of natural vs. human systems, and aboriginal vs. modern systems and concluded modern systems failed to follow the sound principles of natural systems, including aboriginal societies still closely tied to the natural world.

    Permaculture, however does not effectively address large-scale governance – though the manual, published around 1983, does already suggest small communities, local economies, localization and local currencies.

    In my own thinking and work to be part of the solution, I started the Permaculture and Resilience Initiative – Detroit. Unfortunately, Detroit, et al., was not ready for that radical step despite being the single best place on Earth to create the first truly regenerative network of communities outside of aboriginal societies. Still, it brought me into activist circles and drew me into Occupy Detroit. I realized within weeks that a movement like Occupy, if successful, could take a concept like permaculture global in an extremely short period of time and lobbied hard for “sustainability” aka regenerative systems via permaculture to be the central conceptual framework for Occupy. Alas…

    Still, the reintroduction to egalitarian decision making made me explore the issue further and I also realized if Occupy did not figure out what it was finally going to be, and do the hard work of community, it would fail. I literally predicted the number of weeks till it collapsed. The problem? Nobody actually embraced that deepest of democratic systems: Egalitarian decision-making. Worse, none were speaking of Commonses as more than a piece of the solution rather than THE solution. We don’t need to tweak economics – it violates multiple principles of Natural systems – we need a non-economics. The combination of egalitarian decision making within a Commons is the solution, and is what we have found among aboriginal groups (though there are a great many misunderstandings about this issue) that manage their domains effectively.

    One piece was missing and it all came together in a flash: I had been advocating with Occupy Detroit for the creation of neighborhood General Assemblies (GA’s) to make the Occupy movement manageable in terms of numbers and because the Detroit GA could not possibly hold 700,000 people. Yet, we have already learned a representative government does not work; power colludes to attain greater power. The solution is a network of small autonomous community groups, city-level groups and bio-regional groups. The key to this working is that decision-making is not hierarchical, but determined by problem scale. That is, anything affecting only a neighborhood or small town, e.g., is the responsibility and under the authority of that community. When issues are extra-community, those affected all work together. If large enough, the process moves to the city level. Resources and watersheds, e.g., are clearly bio-regional. It is hoped the reader has not missed the important point that these various levels of Assemblies are populated by people from those same groups down to the neighborhood. And, no decision may abrogate the well-being of any level of organization. That is, a city may not sacrifice a neighborhood to assuage the desires of those not from that neighborhood. Etc.

    When we combine permaculture with Commonses, egalitarian decision making and this tiered governance, we may call it Regenerative Governance. But it must be embedded in Deep Simplicity, which is the recognition of our over-consumption and abuse of resources leading to a poisoned planet, degraded ecosystems and Rapid Climate Change (RCC).

    So, I applaud you, Jem, coming to this understanding via academia. It could not have been easy. But you are a bit behind the curve. To truly understand Deep Simplicity and Regenerative Governance, you must understand resources, Natural (Permaculture) Principles, the patterns of aboriginal communities, RCC and the power of truly restorative design.

    If we simplify and naturally sequester carbon, we can get back to < 300 ppm CO2 in as little as 20 – 50 years, but only if we go for Deep Simplicity, or what you call Deep Adaptation. But isn't just adaptation, and it need not end in violence and further destruction.

    Simplicity is a choice.

    Cheers

    • jembendell said

      I salute your activism and persistence. I agree that permaculture is a brilliantly useful and under utilised philosophy, not just for agriculture.

      Last year I spent a few months in Exarchea, Athens, and talked to people involved in various initiatives which use General Assemblies. Many are self described anti authoritarians or democractic anarchists and doing really useful things, e.g. establishing farms with refugees.

      I have volunteered for the past 15 months for the http://www.creditcommons.net collective, in developing a global solution for locally organised credit-based currencies. Information on that is here: http://www.localpay.tech If that interests, and you could help, or use the free software, let me know.

      Thats all part of Deep Adaptation but not the totality of it.

      You say “his suggested solutions have already been laid out”

      Not really. Because in my paper I’m not saying there are solutions, but suggesting ways of reflecting to guide our actions as we navigate collapse. I dont know what forms of society we can sustain or that we can sustain human life. Im as interested in “solutions” for reducing suffering during collapse and possible extinction, which will involve work on psychology and spirituality as much as anything else.

      Ill give you one example of the non permaculture-related issues that could arise in a collapse-based approach to policy. What happens when some of the 400 nuclear power stations in the world are at risk of melting down due to collapsing societies around them? Just a few of them going the way of Fukishima and with no organised containment would then cause serious damage to the future of all life on Earth.

      But there are many other issues that arise once we accept that evidence now points to near term collapse.

      You mention 300ppm within decades. Can you link to the study that explains that?

      None of what I say here is intended, nor should, reduce enthusiasm for local regenerative activity or the broader discussion of a regenerative approach. But its not enough.

      • permoccupy said

        Not surethis posted, so sending this way. More to come, in greater detail.

        Post:

        Damn…. I just lost a long reply. Will make this short and do a longer response via e-mail.

        You said: “You say “his suggested solutions have already been laid out”

        Not really. Because in my paper I’m not saying there are solutions, but suggesting ways of reflecting to guide our actions as we navigate collapse.”

        As I said, already done.

        “Resilience – people and communities better coping with disruptions”

        Is this not exactly what permaculture does? The system is exactly the creation of resilient, regenerative nee sustainable systems/communities.

        Covered.

        “Restoration”

        Permaculture, and other sub-forms of regenerative systems, do exactly this. Zones 5 through 7, e.g., are the blending of the human and “natural” environment. The mixing zones. But a well-designed sight may have no perceivable zones at all. You can’t have resilience without Nature, thus no resilience without restoration.

        “Relinquishment – people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviors and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse”

        An early step in permaculture is… a Needs Analysis. We do not design to wants (or should not, but too often do), but to needs. This is how aboriginal peoples manage their lands. They don’t take more than it can offer nor more than they need. They do adapt it and manage it to produce more, but abundance does not equal wants.

        This is something I think even permaculture designers and teachers miss. It gets plenty of mention, but it is neither given enough focus nor fully understood as the lynchpin for simplicity it is.

        It is learning to embrace this as a metric for human societies that will make a regenerative future possible, stop climate change, and remake civilization as a satisfying, content, generous, cooperative global society.

        So… I do not see you adding to the base of what is known or needed. I see a much more vital role: Getting academics to take us seriously.

        Killian O’Brien Permaculturist82-01-4014-2068killiankob@yahoo.com

      • jembendell said

        This is feeling like a one way exchange. You mentioned 300ppm within decades. Can you link to the study that explains that?

        Sadly permaculture cant shut down nuclear power stations when a society collapses. So, permaculture is going to be a big part of the process of managing the impacts of collapse.

        But I no longer feel able to speak of “solutions” to climate change, for all the reasons in the paper. Instead, its now about reducing harm and supporting people in their emotional and, if they are open to it, spiritual growth.

      • permoccupy said

        Huh? A one-way exchange? That makes no sense. You are working at reinventing the wheel. I am encouraging to investigate more deeply sources you have not fully understood or appreciated or…? If it’s one way it’s only because you don’t appreciate someone pointing out you missed something.

        You speak of permaculture, but don’t see in it the three avenues you present as if original ideas, yet, permaculture does exactly what you suggest we do. You don’t see it. Why? I can only assume you are not deeply versed in permaculture in some aspect or another. So, I am trying to get you to recognize the solutions ***already exist.*** We do not need a pathway to find them. They have been long known.

        If you go out and further fragment the movement by presenting what already exists as something new, how does that help?

        =======================

        “But I no longer feel able to speak of “solutions” to climate change, for all the reasons in the paper. Instead, its now about reducing harm and supporting people in their emotional and, if they are open to it, spiritual growth.”

        That concisely explains your affinity for GMc. Two suicidal birds sitting in a tree tweeting the end is near.

        Good luck with that.

        But please understand the more you carry on about giving up, the worse you make it. I have met dozens of people who have no hope and are subsisting to die thanks to McPherson. It is an immoral, unethical thing to draw others into your own failure to understand solutions.

        There ARE solutions. Too bad you got suckered by guy.

        Cheers

        The drawdown is my own prescription. But you have to not have your head in the sand and the white flag up to see it.

        Oh, nuclear? Like McPherson, you assume as fact that which you suppose. I oppose nuclear for the same, and more, reason: The future is unknown and what happens if collapse makes maintenance and shut down impossible?

        But we have not collapsed. That only becomes an issue of we DO collapse. If we simplify and sequester carbon, there is no reason for collapse to occur.

  9. The situation is more dire than your paper presents. We are in a planetary hospice situation for humans and most higher life forms on Earth:

    ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE Leading To NEAR TERM HUMAN EXTINCTION

    Here is the outlook of Dr. Guy McPherson, Professor Emeritus of Natural Resources and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Arizona, and the world’s leading authority on Abrupt Anthropogenic Climate Change leading to Near Term Human Extinction:

    We are now at a Global Average Temperature of 1.73 C above the 1750 baseline and it is apparent that it has started to increase exponentially. An “ice-free” Arctic Ocean later this year or the next increases the probability we’ll have a sudden release or “Burst” into the atmosphere of 50 Gigatons of Methane from the frozen Methane Clathrates in the Permafrost lying on the shallow seabeds of the Arctic Ocean causing the Global Average Temperature to rise 1.3 C more in a very short time.

    This actually means a more than 2 C Temperature Increase in the so-called “Breadbasket Regions” of the Northern Hemisphere (North America, Europe, Ukraine, and Russia), where Most of the Plants that Humans and Other Animals depend on for Food are grown. The effect of this Temperature Increase is that these Plants will Die and Mass Starvation will be the result.

    Mass Starvation in turn will mean a Collapse of Industrial Civilization and a steep Reduction in the Burning of Fossil Fuels. This might seem beneficial at first, since there would be a Reduction in the Emissions of CO2 and other so-called “Greenhouse Gasses,” but the Global Average Temperature will continue to rise due to the Emissions Generated over the last 10-20 Years.

    However, the Reduction in the Burning of Fossil Fuels will also result in the Reduction of the Emissions of Aerosol Particulates such as SO3 (particularly from “Dirty Coal”) which REFLECT Solar Energy back into Space before it reaches the Earth (the so-called Global Dimming effect). These Aerosol Particulates Fall Out of the Atmosphere in a matter of Weeks or Months and the Global Average Temperature will rise another 3 C, causing the Extinction of Human Beings and Almost All Higher Life Forms on Earth.

    This all could happen by next Spring or the Spring of the following year, so be prepared.

    AT THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION, ONLY LOVE REMAINS !

    • permoccupy said

      McPherson has no credibility.

      • David said

        He is cited in the paper however and what he has been saying, is saying, is evident in the paper.

    • jembendell said

      Thx for this. But I address methane hydrates in some detail in the paper. The conclusion from that is that the theories are debated but thee is some initial evidence of methane release from the artic.. but its circumstantial. I give the analogy of russian roulette with 2 bullets in the chamber. The one part of Guy’s analysis which I dont look at is “global dimming” and how the collapse of civlisation could lead to a reduction in the cooling effect of hydrocarbon particulates etc in the atmosphere. The reason for that is I found there to be only a limited number of studies on it, and I decided to stick to what has been widely researched. However, Guy may be right, and in which case we have less than ten years. I am still processing that idea. But already I seem to be making decisions on the basis of that idea. And I recommend others do that also. Yes the answer is definitely, therefore, love. Which involves compassion. Which can manifest in how we communicate, or not.

      If you have any recent research on global dimming, please post it here.

      • permoccupy said

        Prof Bendell,

        The problem with McPherson is not that he doesn’t raise issues worth raising, but that he misleads, downright lies at times, to twist the science to fit his narrative. If you wish to cite a man who does that, do. It will not help *your* credibility.

        McPherson is not a climate scientist, he was in biology. He has not done any research in the field, he simply blogs on the issue. That would all be fine if he were honest, but he is not. E.g., the paper on the 1000+ yr residency time CO2? He has said countless times this is irreversible. Sure, the paper says that, but the paper is 5 years old and I, personally, and many others, have pointed out to him countless times the paper *only* addresses Earth system dynamics in making that statement. It does not address any use of the biosphere by humans to draw down carbon except for one pointless tech approach.

        Rather than being honest and saying CO2 will stay high for millennia ****if we do nothing,**** he leaves it stated as an irreversible, incontrovertible fact: Nothing can stop climate change because nothing can bring down carbon!**** Why does he do this? It fits his narrative we will all be dead by sometime in the 2030’s. Literally.

        That is blatant dishonesty. One of many examples. You can find debunkings of his B.S. in multiple places, if interested. My question to you is, why in the world would you cite a pedestrian on climate science when you can cite the paper itself, especially one of questionable ethics, character and analytical skill?

      • permoccupy said

        Re: Global Dimming

        The reason for so few papers might be obvious: It’s obvious. There’s little point in wasting time and resources on a climate point that is generally accepted as true. Let’s not keep testing to see if CO2 traps heat, either! 🙂

        Did you ask anyone why there are so few papers?

      • I.M. Noman said

        This looks like recent research on global dimming: the earth would be 0.5 to 1.1 degree C (0.9 to 2 degrees F) warmer if pollution were to suddenly disappear.

        https://e360.yale.edu/features/air-pollutions-upside-a-brake-on-global-warming

  10. […] The response of Professor Bendell to the Editor of the journal is here. […]

  11. Arthur Noll said

    In 1979 I was graduating with a bachelors degree in mechanical engineering, when I read “Limits to Growth”. I was ultimately more disturbed by the responses I got from people than from the book. Basically people felt it was safe to ignore the projections of this book because ways around limits had been found in the past, and so they were sure ways would be found again. I felt this wasn’t logical, that there was no observable relationship between what had been found in the past and what might be found in the future. With no observable relationship, the belief was basically superstition, and to me this was an unacceptable way to plan for the future. I couldn’t say that ways wouldn’t be found, but I could say that the expectation wasn’t scientifically rational. People around me were not concerned, and mostly haven’t been concerned in the decades since then. I was concerned enough to leave behind my just starting career in conventional industry, to learn how people might live if they decided to be scientifically rational on this issue.

    In considering this and trying things over the years, I came to the following observation- that people live by teamwork and die without it, and we all have the naked body to experiment with on the issue if there are doubts. Teams can work together with good energy efficiency or not at meeting the needs to have people fed and sheltered and adequate reproduction to meet the death rate, and they can have rational expectations or not about the future. They need to have a good food EROEI, (food energy returned over food energy ingested) and make reasoned estimates of the long term sustainability of this. With uncertain estimates, having a factor of safety with this would be wise. There is an issue with this where good energy efficiency at meeting needs can come at the expense of using resources at unsustainable rates, and if the expectations about this aren’t rational, failure of the society can be expected. Another issue with this is that if some people do this and others don’t, the ones that conserve can be overwhelmed by the ones that don’t. While conservation has arguably often come from lack of ability to exploit the environment more, this situation of one group expanding at the expense of others has also clearly happened. But in the end, this expansion reaches an end and the growth collapses.

    What survives the scarcity of collapse the best, if anything does, is letting go of the beliefs and value system that led to it, and people working together with greater efficiency to deal with all the problems that come up. With regard to the current value system given by money-markets, people have been able to win market competitions by ignoring conservation, and paying employees less than the competition. This is not rational in view of the observations above…But in the short term, those who win also get influence over laws and law enforcement. But again, this can be expected to fail.

    It is a difficult matter, psychologically, to let go of systems of thought that one has grown up with, and learn something new, but the physics of the situation are not at all likely to change because people find them unpleasant. On the other hand, teamwork will generally be more efficient if it is voluntary. Laying out what is most likely to work, and letting people choose, looks like the logical way to deal with this. From the expectations of the scientific point of view (which I believe I am giving) non scientific belief is more likely to end in death than the scientific view. But since we are probably far beyond sustainable carrying capacity, (as outlined by Paul Chefurka in his paper bringing together several scientific estimates of this) having a majority chose against the observations here is also a form of triage. And people who make choices against these observations, are also likely to have doubts about their choice. Strong efforts to solve their problems by the methods they believe in, attempting to solve them and to silence their doubts at the same time, could lead to even faster self destruction than what they are already doing. Since non scientific beliefs are often in conflict, large organizations that might do more damage, are more likely to break apart rather than work together on doing dangerous things. All of that would actually be good for survivors, cutting short the damage presently being done, having the collapse more of an implosion than having a lot of big explosions.

    I’m well aware this is just a view of basic principles, and how they are applied gets into considerably more complexity, when one considers what behaviors, what lifestyles and strategies actually have sustainability or not, and that in emergencies it can make sense to use resources at unsustainable rates for brief periods, similar to what happens with secretion of adrenaline with individuals. And sometimes all we have to go on are correlations, and no time to figure things out deeper. I understand there are a lot of nuances to consider with this. But there remains a big difference between accepting the observations above, and acting on them, or not.

    • jembendell said

      I think you may be interested in our free course on money and society http://ho.io/mooc

      • Arthur Noll said

        I’ve done a lot of thinking and research on money, and it has been a topic in many online debates I’ve been in or watched. The things you mention in your introduction to your course are all things I’m familiar with.

        My own idea of what money is, is based on my engineering education, which is that it is fundamentally about energy. Others with technical education have had similar thoughts about it, have wanted to say that money should be backed by energy. In the 1980s I did a lot of thinking about this concept and concluded that money was a measure of energy, but it was a very poor measure of it, and the two systems were basically incompatible, and things should simply be looked at in terms of energy, as it was the more accurate way of measuring. The idea of labor value, of course, fits well with energy as the measure, labor can be seen as the physics definition of work, which is force times distance the force moves. But it is more complex than that, there is the matter of food energy being eaten to do the work, and food can be seen as potential energy and a portion of it is turned to kinetic energy with muscle movement. And there is the concept of food EROEI, which is the ratio of food energy returned over food energy ingested. It is the idea that we have a food energy budget and we must have a sufficient ratio of returns of food energy to go on living. This is assuming a complete diet, including things like water and minerals that don’t have potential energy the body can use directly, but are needed to make use of the parts of the diet that do provide energy directly. They are what you might call commodities. Many other things are commodities, not directly involved with energy, but indirectly needed to use or modify energy, direct movement. We can need shelter from the elements to slow down excessive energy loss or gain to our bodies, for example. Tools direct our muscle energy in specific ways.
        Reproduction is also a basic part of which requires additional food energy and commodities, thus needing a better ratio of food EROEI than to simply live. We also use energy externally, with fire, to cook food, which means we require less food energy as overhead, to run the digestive system, and also means less food energy and commodities goes to the immune system, as cooking kills pathogens. And of course fire can be used to heat a shelter. And in recent times we use fire to make and run machinery which amplifies our muscle, by pressing buttons or moving a lever etc. we can get far more work done than what was used to move the lever, press the button.

        But maintaining a good food EROEI, means that resources can’t be used at unsustainable rates. The attraction to amplifying our abilities with machinery is instinctively very large- animals alos instinctively move to do things in the easiest way possible. Food EROEI defines life and death. If you don’t get an adequate return for the work you do, you will die, so it isn’t surprising people and animals have instincts about this. Our instincts to have a good food EROEI, is typically far stronger than concern about how long a good food EROEI will last. The problem of how long resources last, is a relatively new one for human beings, as with more primitive technology it was mostly physically impossible to use things at unsustainable rates. Given the ability to get past this limit, we behave as other animals do, overuse, overshoot, and then population collapses.

        A system of exchanging tokens is far too simplistic to accurately encompass what we can measure in terms of energy and rates of use of things. It fails to measure value properly, if value is having human life go on into the future.

        Biologists in my lifetime have increasingly been looking at animals in terms of the food energy budget they have to get more food, shelter as needed, and reproduction, with respect to their environmental challenges. I simply consider humans to be another animal and that we should look at ourselves the same way. I started doing this about thirty years ago.

        Individual bodies can be seen as a team of organs all exchanging goods and services in an energy efficient way. All the organs are basically trading whatever goods or services they can do, to the whole body, in return for what they need to go on doing this. People in the past have seen the similarity of the teamwork in the body, to social groups, it is mentioned in the Bible. The brain provides a service to the body, solving problems of hunger, pain, discomfort of all kinds, giving direction to solve these problems. The immune system works to keep out freeloaders on the system that would destroy it. Parasites, cancers, have to be destroyed or controlled. The senses feed information to the brain. And so on, many different systems working together. If a poor job is done by one or more of these components the individual is likely to die and may fail to reproduce, as well. Genes are often widely shared and the death of an individual can be bad luck, and doesn’t mean that genetic pattern is going to be lost, but if enough individuals with similar traits die, those traits might become very rare or even go extinct. Social groups that don’t see and solve their problems properly can also die out. If people do see their problems properly, this basic pattern of teamwork of organs in individuals can be replicated with how a social group works, and in turn you could have a group of groups doing the same basic pattern.

  12. Evelyn said

    If the Arctic and climate warming is the issue that prompted this paper then why was not all of the data researched and investigated? I am not suggesting that we are not being faced with a catastrophe because I do believe we are deep into one… just that there is mounting evidence and studies equally suggesting that the “warming” we’ve been witnessing is quite likely part of a normal cycle that I think is better known as an interglacial cycle… which indicates that what we are witnessing is the leaving of a warming period and moving rapidly into a much colder period, such as an ice age – which also would produce the same societal collapse. History has shown us that there is always societal collapse during ice ages, empires collapse too, enormous numbers of people die as well, and some species become extinct.

    I do agree that discussion of the collapse needs to be addressed while at the same time it would also be necessary to make double-certain that the science which prompted Jem to write about this critical situation is in fact the reality of what is actually taking place.

    Here is one source, Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI), which indicates to many of us that the warming of Greenland at least is in fact not occurring https://www.dmi.dk/en/groenland/maalinger/greenland-ice-sheet-surface-mass-budget/

    I am no academic, just a concerned human who finds myself appalled about the massive conflicts not only regarding the legitimacy of the science of a warming climate change being the cause but the resistance that the climatic changes appear to more likely be something quite different… as in the climate is not actually warming but on the verge a great cooling to the likes of which we have never seen.

    Thus conversations and discussions need to also cover the fact that it sure is looking like it’s not run away warming that is the cause but the fact (also) the academics resisting other possibilities outside of what appears to be some very flimsy science supporting a continued warming model. Daily I watch believers of the warming model push, completely out of the science scene, all legitimate contrary science out of the picture. What kind of science is that? Science that’s paid-off???

    I’m just saying that as a concerned citizen I am not pleased at all with any of the ways this situation is being handled by any of the academics and climate warming scientists, whether it be CO2, the Polar Vortex, or whatever… if it opposes the held beliefs and models it’s entirely rejected and squashed.

    While you’re busy doing that the rest of us are sitting around thinking “something is not right with our climate.”

    I suppose we will all discover the truth of the cause of the catastrophe ahead because in doing my own research said catastrophe will further reveal itself this winter and next. And some of us at least are not so ignorant as to believe snow during summer is not “white rain”.

    When we are all looking out our windows at several feet of snow that doesn’t melt in 2019 and severe storms worsen beyond anything we can imagine right now. At that time we non-science people will know what stage the planet is in simply by looking out our windows and at the thermometers… wondering where the hell our food is going to come from since there’s been so much crop failure around the world, not by fire but by ice.

    We are witnessing our star, the Sun, dimming as we move deeper into cycle 24 and the Eddy Minimum. Which as far as I can tell appears to be the Mother of all ice ages that have ever been. A part of that cycle also involves severe climatic/weather changes but even so we all will know that the ice age is upon us and not the warming. History shows us that there is always a spike of warming on earth just before we drop off the cliff into coldness for decades, if not centuries.

    Not to sound rude because I do respect your hard work and perseverance about there not being discussion or anything of any real significance… but come on you guys, knock it off and get with it already. We’re not stupid. Nor are we blind. Well, at least not the ones who are not getting paid to do a study and who are still capable of thinking for themselves.

    I don’t think taxing CO2 will be a solution to the problem because (work with me here please since I’m not a scientist) humans aren’t the cause of this events, it’s a natural cycle. Granted, we may have contributed to it but we did not cause it.

    Sure we have done some things we should have stopped long ago simply for the fact that it’s just not a good idea to poop where you eat.

    I get the impression that there’s a whole lot more going on with these earth changes than the pollution humans have caused. For starters our sun is changing. We also know that our sun is the primary force that creates weather on earth.

    Can’t we try to get rid of the finger pointing in the scientific community and look at the other scientific and academic work being done? Are we going to have to wait a thousand years before mainstream science accepts that we do live in an Electric Universe??? I surely hope not as that would be a sorry position for us all to be in… because science has difficulties accepting new data and new discoveries we all need to suffer and die, or perish needlessly??? Seriously guys, come on already.

    I’m just speaking my truth and sayin’ what it looks like from out here. We’re not idiots… well, at least those of us who aren’t captured in that matrix.

    Jem I wish you all the best in getting these numbskulls to work with all of us in discussing and creating the new things that will be required that will allow humanity to continue onward in a balanced, honest, and un-bought way… let’s actually work on the things that are really happening though and have a much better understanding and knowledge of our solar system and universe so our efforts aren’t wasted running down rabbit holes because the money directs us to go there.

    I wish you all well. Thank you for letting me speak my mind and for tolerating my non-scientific comment. Good luck.

    • David Brettell said

      May I suggest you take a look here https://skepticalscience.com/argument.php

    • jembendell said

      Wow, skeptics still exist! Im not interested in persuading skeptics anymore, but you mention a few things which mislead any reader of this blog:
      1 – In my article I summarise the latest measurements. Not just theories or projections but what has already happened.
      2 – I mention in the article that I wrote it on my unpaid sabbatical.
      3 – Its clear in the article why this is no way helps my career, and probably threatens it 🙂

    • permoccupy said

      False. There, in *fact*, is not even one credible scientific paper that in any way makes even an important dent in the anthropogenic nature of the warming we are seeing.

      You are committing Crimes Against Humanity and Ecicide.

      I advocate #EcoNuremberg for those who knowingly assist in the destruction of civilization and what little nature we have left. It is the greatest crime in human history and is intentiinal and done with full knowledge of the outcomes.

      • John Burnett/Redpanther said

        Nature has immense regenerative capacity. The Permian Extinction was vastly worse than anything late capitalism is managing to do (before it collapses or is overthrown). Nature regenerated.
        However, “Nature ultimately eliminates anything that damages what it depends on.” – Jag Bhalla, Scientific American, 7-12-13.

  13. […] also Professor Bendel’s response to the Editor of the […]

  14. spiraljohn said

    Reblogged this on spiraljohn.

  15. MARK BEVIS said

    Thank you for this paper. it resonates with my views generally, and a couple of comments made my laugh out loud, so a nicely written piece too.

    An important point people should take away from the paper, is the link between economics and climate change. To me, climate catastrophe (as it should be better named) is not a problem, but merely a symptom of a problem. A fatal symptom no doubt. But you get more mainstream commentators trying to “fix” climate change, with geo-engineering and the like. Or trying to fix ocean acidification, or trying to fix neo-liberalism a bit. This misses the point. The operating systems of the planet are now so broken, so intertwined and so over-burdened, that fixing one bit will not save the other operating systems.

    The IPCC is so conservative as to becoming meaningless in a world of non-linear climate change. It’s Third Working Group is made up of economists which oversee the data from the scientists in the First Working Group, so that tells you a lot. Why are economists even in the IPCC? Because they don’t want to scare investors with scenarios that don’t involve an annual 3% economic growth.

    Even without climate catastrophe, we would be facing extinction level events. There is much recent academia on soil degredation, ocean acidification, over pollution, resource depletion and perhaps less so, on over-population.
    The recent paper on planetary biomass, indicating astonishing data that 70% of birds on the planet are chickens, and 96% of mammals are humans and their pet cows (25 billion of the latter, due to reach 50 billion by 2050 under busines as usual scenarios) is warning alone of the crises we are in. Richard Manning made the point that we’re likely to reach ‘peak air’ long before we reach ‘peak oil’, given the amount of pollution we’re adding to the atmosphere. His 2005 video on agriculture is still prescient today. If you delve deep into google, you’ll find lots of current scientific and governmental studies on the industrial exploiting of methyl hydrates, which perhaps indicates the reason for lack of governmental responses to the rapidly declining Arctic sea ice, or Arctic slush puppy as it should be better described currently.

    Limits to growth, is basic maths, you cannot have unlimited economic growth on a finite planet. Without addressing this, detractors of the near-term-extinction scenario take note, we will not “solve” climate change. As someone has commented above, I question why indeed we even need economy? Perhaps it only economists that demand we need an economic system, just as it politicians demand we need a political system, related to artificial lines drawn on maps in previous centuries. ‘Deep Adaption’ is indeed an opportunity to question the fundamental foundations of existing society, and discard those that are no longer functionable. Sometimes all it takes is sufficient number of people willing to go to prison to affect the changes we need, there is a youtube video by a climate scientist about this, from May 2018 I think, look out for events in November….

    I am very much in favour of Carne Ross’ approach, the self-titled Accidental Anarchist. He advocates, not regime change, or violent overthrow, but by building alternative systems at community level – show that they work and people will join in, thereby ultimately rendering the current failing systems superfluous and eventually leading to their disappearance.

    the writer’s three Rs – resilience, relinquishment, restoration are similar to what I’ve had in mind for a couple of years now, but not had the venues to articulate them.
    My three Rs were/are Resources, Resilience, Recovery.
    By this, I mean that a community to have a chance of moving forward (whether a household or a city, but most likely ward voting districts) should identify it’s resources – land, water, skillsets, etc, then seek to share them in an egalitarian manner for the community’s benefit, not for the benefit of an individual.
    Resilience – the community allocates those resources to build resilience into the community, creating operating systems that thrive. Functioning food and water, homes (note not housing), work places, waste recycling/composting etc.
    Recovery – the community will be designed to deal with local catastrophes that are a threat in their particular circumstance. Live on a hill? Then design the structures to deal with flooding in a period of excess rainfall for example. Have the community centre stocked with extra cot beds for housing climate change refugees from other towns. If a community has an excess of one resource, then stockpile those resources to aid other communities in their emergency. And so on, if that makes sense.

    Once again, thanks for this paper.

    • permoccupy said

      False. There, in *fact*, is not even one credible scientific paper that in any way makes even an important dent in the anthropogenic nature of the warming we are seeing.

      You are committing Crimes Against Humanity and Ecicide.

      I advocate #EcoNuremberg for those who knowingly assist in the destruction of civilization and what little nature we have left. It is the greatest crime in human history and is intentiinal and done with full knowledge of the outcomes.

    • permoccupy said

      Mark Bevis, please ignore the previous comment, it was a funtion error, probably due to my phone’s incompatibility.

      Your response is fabulous, much like I wrote above. I agree climate is not the primary. It does not exist without context: It is a symptom of resource misuse and abuse, aka consumption.

      Yes, climate is a consumption problem, not some random ecosystem craziness, or lack of better tech. We are like mice on a chese planet eating up our world up and leaving ourselves mired in excrement. Yeast in a Petri dish. We are killing ourselves for comfort.

      Your solutions are community-bssed. This is correct design: Small, simple solutiins. This is how we create simplicity and thus how we reduce consumptiin 80 to 90 percent. And *that* makes it pissible to draw down carbon without any tech, only biological processes. Regenerative Agriculture alone can sequester 40% of emissions. If consumption drops to 90% and we do RA globally, we immediately are reducing atmospheric carbon by an amount equal to 30% if current emissions per year. What is that? 9 or ten gigatons? Add in reforestation, aforestation, ecosystem restoration, bio-mass regrowth. One paper estimated regrowth (restocking) of the oceans would permanently sequester one year of emissions, about 30 gigatons.

      We are putting it up there at a rate of 2 ppm a year, and we can reduce it that much per year. 50 years gets us back near 300 ppm. If we really pushed it, however via global cooperation to sequester every bit of carbon we can while living in simplicity, we can do it far faster. In the worst case scenario (less the permafrost and clathrates), it would take less than a hundred years to get back to 260.

      What happens at 260? The poles begin to stabilize. Sea level rise is unavoudable. We are likely locked into at least 4 or 5 meters, but if we stabilize the poles we may avoid worse.

      As Jem said, the caveat is the Arctic. If the emissions from permafrost and clathrates are not stoppable, nothing we do will matter. But if returning to 260 cools the poles enough to limit those emissions, we can have a beautifully simple future.

      But not if, as Jem advocates, we commit to suicidal ideations, instead. Rather than existing because if the threat of war, etc., such thiught create the cinditions for war, et al., because no hope for a future will lead to survival of the fittest, Lird if the Flies-type reactions. The idea people will all quietly lie down and die. No. Even if a majority did, it only takes a tiny fraction to wage war, to rape, pillage, torture, dispossess, etc.

      There is only ine choice: Simplify into a regenerative future.

      • node333 said

        Permoccupy,

        I admire the optimism you have for the possibility of the sequestering carbon via regenerative agriculture and permaculture but I wonder if you are aware of something called ‘path dependence’, or what Joe Brewer calls ‘cultural scaffolding’. The ability for individuals and groups to respond depends upon the past actions and decisions and any infrastructure that arose from those.

        “Cultural development is constrained and enhanced by scaffolding processes that must be understood if humanity is to make the transition to planetary-scale sustainability.”

        Some scaffolding is flexible where as some are extremely rigid. Even if sequesteration were possible then I’m sure you would agree that it would need to be initiated and scaled at a rate which would completely defy the inadequate response we’re seing so far. Sequestration or Project Drawdown has a time limit and we are fast approaching that margin. It’s not a case of achieving it in the future but the actions or inaction in initiating that socio-technical transition. The initiatory process of this imagined transition is not happening at anywhere near the speed and scale we would need to see for it to be successful. The ideas are there but there is no cultural or political imperative and individuals and communities are largely not aware enough of the problem to be mobilizing towards this aim.

        I suspect the salience of more extreme weather events might catalyse this process in different regions and at different times ,however by then it could already be too late.

        Even without the possibility of the methane [end-of] time-bomb, there is the albedo effect to contend with. It’s expected that the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer as soon as 2022 and at the latest around 2040. Current trends are looking like this occurring within the 2020’s is fairly likely. This process could trigger a cascade of feedback loops in the global carbon cycle across land and ocean. There are dozens of positive feedback loops out there that are a huge cause for concern – the albdeo, water vapour and forest fires being some key suspects for what may unfold. What is of greater concern is that the tipping points triggering abrupt change are difficult to anticipate with current climate models. The risk is still there. This risk alone should be making the world respond but the precautionary principle is lost on most governments.

        So once again, I want to feel optimistic that we can change paths but it seems the path dependence and cultural inertia is not on our side at present.

        It makes most practical sense to me to at least prepare for multiple scenarios. Be systematically prepared and resilient to endure the worst yet also mobilize towards the most regenerative state.

      • permoccupy said

        Whoa. Sorry. So many typos.

  16. Peter Wadhams said

    I have not yet been able to read your article but I understand that I am mentioned in it
    Please send a link
    Best wishes
    Peter Wadhams

    • David Brettell said

      Dear Peter,

      It’s here: http://lifeworth.com/deepadaptation.pdf

      David.

    • jembendell said

      Data Update August 5th 2018:

      After reading a version of the paper Professor Wadhams corrected a mistake in citing his conclusions on the reduction of the Arctic albedo effect. His finding of a 50% increase in warming from an ice free Arctic was misquoted as doubling the effect of warming from anthropogenic emissions. It has been corrected to say a 50% increase.

      So, I’m pleased with the reduction in the predicted heat exacerbating feedback, though sadly it makes no difference to the argument that IPCC predictions have been too cautious or that current measurements provide some evidence of runaway climate change (driven by those feedbacks, even if we cut emissions). I conclude that will lead to social collapse, which therefore requires a shift in attention to “deep adaptation”. It doesnt mean dropping efforts to cut emissions, to sequester carbon or cautiously and transparently explore geoengineering. But such activities won’t stop a social collapse occuring in much of the world.

  17. […] August 1, 2018 at 1:23 pm […]

  18. […] Maybe I’m overreacting, maybe I’ve “flipped a bit”, as they say in IT. But I keep evaluating this possibility and keep coming back to the fundamental and quantitatively convincing case: We have built a life of growth and prosperity based on finite (and soon-to-max-out) resources with no equal replacement in sight. This is uncharted territory, and the fact that generations have experienced the fossil-fueled upswing holds no predictive power over our future. Just because growth has been thematic does not mean it will always be there. The failure of most people to treat this possibility seriously is disheartening, because it prevents meaningful planning for a different future. We can all hope for new technologies to help us. But this problem is too big to rely on hope alone, and in any case, no practical technology can keep growth going indefinitely. In my lifetime human population has more than doubled, from 3.5 billion when I was born to almost 7.7 billion now. Yet during the same time more than 300 billion trees have disappeared and not been replenished/replaced. In fact, for every new born human about 100 trees go down and won’t come back. That’s just not going to be sustainable in any way, it’s a recipe for disaster. […]

  19. John Burnett/Redpanther said

    I emailed you earlier just after reading your very informative paper.
    I can’t post the very brief “Ah, progress, you just CAN’T stop it, can you now . . .” I attached on this site; it concerns global topsoil degradation/destruction.

    Radical climate change is just one of the many Horsepersons of the Apocalypse that late capitalism is gracing us all with. See also, if you haven’t already, The Guardian, 7-24-18 “How tech’s richest plan to save themselves after the apocalypse.” It is telling. The wealthy don’t want the rest of us to know what they are doing, but it is getting out anyway.

    Forest health regeneration (which also maximizes the “wild” food it provides humans), and other forms of permaculture, in the ecosystem I know well, are areas I plan to apply my knowledge. Am also knowledgeable on normal (hunter-gatherer-permaculturist) human societies, what normal/healthy human nature looks like, and what formative experience enables this to self-organize. Planning a sanctuary deep in the backwoods – surveying the health of the forest in a 5-8 mile radius on foot, and beginning to get to know the few people already living there. I expect the precipitation to drop over the next few generations, but it is now 70″ – 90″ per year.

    People are SO cut off from nature that NO ONE goes there, even over Memorial Day and the 4th of July, and even though it is only 125 miles from a major city and 175 miles from a megopolis. I can “save myself”, plus any people I know who are down for this, with not even 1% of the $$$ those sick hedge-fund oligarchs are spending on this (only to create a richly deserved paranoid hell-world for themselves). Would like to involve younger people who will have kids – i.e. what will outlive the Collapse and regenerate normal/healthy human life.

    Successful radical socioeconomic change is a possibility, which I’ll also commit time/resources to, but not the most likely outcome.

  20. John Burnett/Redpanther said

    A question for Jem Bendell:
    As readers already know, the mid-latitude storm tracks are shifting poleward, and the jet streams often weakening badly, moving erratically, or even nearly stopping altogether due to polar warming.
    Due to this, most climate models predict Oregon and northern California becoming drier. The permanent high creating the Baja-Sonora desert is shifting north.
    But one climate model predicts northern CA getting the same average precipitation as now (with MORE variation year to year) due to occasional atmospheric rivers in our wet season originating around Hawaii.
    More evaporation and energy in the tropics from warming would generate these.
    What is your take on this? You’ve gone through far more research than I have.

    A side point: All these TERRIBLE fires here in the news are only partly a result of climate change. They are MORE the result of severely stupid forest “management” practices by logging corporations
    and the (capitalist) State: clear-cutting huge areas followed by total fire suppression. The bad decisions were made long ago, now the bill is coming due. Had the ecosystem tending practices of the Original People
    (“wild Indians”) been followed, we would have a far smaller problem – even WITH climate change. But then, what do a bunch of “stupid savages” know, anyway? “Intelligent, civilized” people create Collapse instead.

  21. steve deeming said

    Many thanks for publishing your paper. As a non-academic, I am thankful to see ‘familiar’ names ( from my reading) appear. I have been following Dark Mountain for a while, but the most powerful writers have been Clive Hamilton ( ‘Requiem for a Species’ and ‘Defiant Earth’ – the last one becoming my go-to book on matters of Earth System Science and a critique of Enlightenment philosophy and post-modernism), John Bellamy Foster ( who offers a ecosocialist view of Climate Catastrophe) and Ian Angus (‘Facing the Anthropocene’) – there are others ( now to include an ‘occasional’ paper from the University of Cumbria!!) all of who quite clearly see considerable and damaging change in Earth life as a consequence of Climate Change. I can say no more ..well,except to say that it has to be said and people will have to stare it full in the face

    .http://climateandcapitalism.com/2018/08/05/eternity-nature-society-and-the-absurd-fantasies-of-the-rich/

    • permoccupy said

      Do we really need more on what’s wrong?

      We can mitigate and adapt, assuming we have not set off the clathrate/permafrost bomb. But if we have, no amount of adaptation will matter.

      Effective risk management dictates we try to claw our way back to < 300 ppm to extend the holocene, not give up.

  22. […] Fedback on the paper can be found here. […]

  23. The signposts set out by science and journalism mark this road and for a while longer it is optional. Those that take it become virtual (if not physical) migrants, leaving behind the society of our birth which is now defined various forms of denial. In this new country, can we let ourselves be awkward in learning its native language? For those that do, there may be new work, new friendships, and a very different story, one we may barely recognize, one that may demand that we shred our passports and yet remain ambassadors. Each of us will decide how to navigate this foreign land, but as fellow travelers, we can help each other.

    This life has never been certain. This particular story was well-underway before we were born. But the wisdom of the masters holds. Turn towards the difficulty, absent all resistance, and then lean in hard with a fierce compassion, this is all the guidance I need. If there is onward, I will be led. If there is not, let this be my song. No regrets.

  24. Rereading your article, my appreciation only grew. If the content itself wasn’t so over-arching in implications, it would be a fascinating case study of how the academy responds to challenge. But I did take exception with one section. As you correctly point out, this news is so hard, in many ways an unprecedented challenge to human psychology, that we who are willing to face it struggle to even define for ourselves appropriate response. The mind can scramble in desperation for familiar ground. Yet at the same time, we seem quite willing to criticize the response behavior of others as some form of denial with all the underlying implications of intellectual / emotional immaturity or cowardice. At one point, you identify this phenomenon within the online INTHE culture. But I suggest you might be guilty of it in the following passage.

    You say, “If we recognise the troubling implications of these facts but respond by busying ourselves on activities that do not arise from a full assessment of the situation, then that is ‘implicative denial.’ Foster argues that implicative denial is rife within the environmental movement, from dipping into a local Transition Towns initiative, signing online petitions, or renouncing flying, there are endless ways for people to be ‘doing something’ without seriously confronting the reality of climate change.”

    Earlier in this paper you clarify that experts have both underestimated and underplayed the direness of our situation. To those whose behavior is implicated here, the true extent of difficulty would be absent or at best recent information and run counter to the messaging of most in the climate movement. The activities you judge may be ineffective, but perhaps only recently so. So what gives us the right to categorize them as “denial”? From where comes this unnecessary and unwarranted harshness? Might this impulse to distance from one another shares its source from that which separates us from the rest of nature? Moreover, how can we be sure the degree to which people engaged in such activities have yet to metabolize the gravity of our collective situation? I suggest we’re in danger of projection here: one person’s avoidance might be another’s embodied prayer, expression of integrity or prerequisite for something grander that we might one day commend. In a culture still allergic to even naming climate change, we all benefit from the normalization of any enacted response, especially those expressed in overtly hostile environments. Finally, if we negate and dismiss what we deem lesser acts, we not only alienate our neighbors, on whose kindness we might someday depend for our lives, but we deny our own history. Did you and I start out where we are today? Aren’t we all allowed a transition into this terrifying territory?

    I offer this in a spirit of collaboration on the particular aspect of providing community and support to all those turning towards our collective difficulty. I hope it is helpful.

  25. Jem said

    Many thanks for the feedback here. If you agree with most of the analysis in this paper and want to explore the implications for policy and your own professional practice, then please consider joining the deep adaptation group on linked in. Search that term there and u will find it.

    I may respond to some specific comments here in due course but have provided a general response to typical questions here:

    https://jembendell.wordpress.com/2018/08/10/dialogue-on-deep-adaptation/

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