The future collapse….?

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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Interesting take here from a scientist and sci fi writer discussion:


This is largely the model I captured in Into A Blood-Red Sky and I do believe small community will be essential in the future - and continued arable land (Ireland and New Zealand look best placed for that)
 
Yeah, the Bottleneck. This is why I am interested in watching the development and eventual progress of Generation Alpha, cos when the Shirt Hits The Fan it’ll be them at the difficult pointy end. They’ll be in their thirties come 2050.
My own kids will be in their forties and this hangs over their generation the way nuclear war did ours :(
 
Interesting take here from a scientist and sci fi writer discussion:


This is largely the model I captured in Into A Blood-Red Sky and I do believe small community will be essential in the future - and continued arable land (Ireland and New Zealand look best placed for that)


It's interesting you mention Ireland. It gives me a chance for an anecdote.
My brother has a degree in biology and is a dedicated beekeeper so he often keeps me abreast of the ecological situation. We were talking the other day about the drop in certain bird species in our area of Scotland and he mentioned the possibility that it is linked to the decline of insect life.
He was on holiday a couple of years ago in Ireland and he said that one thing was very noticable. As he drove through rural areas of our old land (surname O'Brien), the windscreen was covered in insects. That just doesn't happen here. You can drive for miles and miles with nary a smear.

It might be an indication of a few things - less use of pesticides in Ireland and more reliance on traditional practices, or it could be down to a single crop type being grown to the detriment of everything else. Either way, it points to a notion that we have created a lack of variation (as mentioned in the article) and kind of supports your thoughts on small community (meaning likely less industrialisation) and good, arable land where not only crops can grow but food chains and pollinators re-establish themselves.


One final thought comes to mind. If the insects are doomed, that's going to be one very tight bottleneck.

Edit: A final, final thought: how many would give up their phones to save the world?
 
It's interesting you mention Ireland. It gives me a chance for an anecdote.
My brother has a degree in biology and is a dedicated beekeeper so he often keeps me abreast of the ecological situation. We were talking the other day about the drop in certain bird species in our area of Scotland and he mentioned the possibility that it is linked to the decline of insect life.
He was on holiday a couple of years ago in Ireland and he said that one thing was very noticable. As he drove through rural areas of our old land (surname O'Brien), the windscreen was covered in insects. That just doesn't happen here. You can drive for miles and miles with nary a smear.

It might be an indication of a few things - less use of pesticides in Ireland and more reliance on traditional practices, or it could be down to a single crop type being grown to the detriment of everything else. Either way, it points to a notion that we have created a lack of variation (as mentioned in the article) and kind of supports your thoughts on small community (meaning likely less industrialisation) and good, arable land where not only crops can grow but food chains and pollinators re-establish themselves.


One final thought comes to mind. If the insects are doomed, that's going to be one very tight bottleneck.

Edit: A final, final thought: how many would give up their phones to save the world?
I remember windscreens thick with insects - but not for a long time, even in quite rural places in Ireland (so, like, outside of about 10 key urban areas…) but I do think small communities will give both the skills needed for survival and the size for viable food creation.

It’s one hell of a tight bottleneck, she typed from her iPhone….
 
There is a lot in that conversation that resonates with me. Firstly the false assumption that technology will be the answer to any problem. Clearly we have been through a century of great advances, but I think we have been reaping the low-hanging electro-mechanical fruit. The next century is going to be relatively disappointing. Therefore, to survive as a species in the numbers we have become accustomed to - what are we now?...almost 8 billion? - huge behavioral and structural societal changes will be needed. This kind of thing requires strong government, but in fact government is getting weaker across the globe. Right-of-center politics is in the ascendancy, fetishizing personal freedom, eroding our ability to affect societal behavior (carbon tax anyone?....apparently it is outrageous government overreach). Humanity has become structured based upon self interest and small 'c' conservatism (a resistance to change). Unfortunately we are left in no position to tackle the huge problems that face us.
 
Does anyone remember the 1976 novel The Hab Theory by Allan W. Eckert ?
 
The generation after the big collapse of 2050 is the one that decides what will happen. There is no guessing there, no hindsight, no foresight, just business as usual.

Leaving very large areas uninhabited by people would be good. The shore lands going underwater would be an easy place to start. We could easily pack people into cities which would be encircled by managed wild land so people can still "live" in the country if they want to.

Talk about changing one's attitude, the collapse is coming is for people whose societies haven't collapsed yet or never got established.

Like it says in the movie, life will find a way. When a space opens up, life that can will take advantage of the situation will move in.

I would suspect some kinds of insects are doing quite well, it could be just the cute ones we like that we count among the missing. People seem to be only interested in the future if people are going to be in it. It seems like research and debate is centered around those avenues, not including everything that is happening.

If you try to search for specie populations that are increasing, the only articles that show up are how species are decreasing everywhere. If they are increasing it is about endangered species increasing which are still in overall decline. Or else you get invasive species growing like weeds, could they successfully replace the missing plants. One reason they could be succeeding is because the land has been re-engineered for them. Try searching for what invasive species come from colder climates.

Over time, the planet has been covered with volcanoes, ice, water, and experienced other unpleasant situations. The microbes do a good job of surviving, having done so for 4 billion years. Perhaps looking at what is prospering could give us a better idea of where things are going.
 
There's work being done to swap the native microorganisms that live in coral with ones that survive in warmer water, stopping the bleaching. I imagine there are many lynchpin species like that which may respond to a change in expressed genes or geography.


I think the idea that everyone is going to suddenly start behaving better is ridiculous. There is no precedent for it. Laws and religions can produce better behavior only if they have something to offer the adopters other than base survival. So let's hope genius still has a place in the solution. And that it happens before billions have to kill each other - because that's going to just accelerate the debacle.
 
There'scgoing to be a lot of blaming and finger pointing going on before anything gets done. Then there will be the dawning realisation that humanity will all have to sacrifice something in order for humanity to survive.

It will no longer be a case a case of sitting back and leaving it for others to sort out, everyone will have to be involved however reluctantly. It won't simply be a case of throwing money at the problem yo make it go away.

And to think that small changes could have stopped significant future sacrifices from having to take place. It's still possible that moderate alterations to our way of life could rectify the situation, but the sad situation is that that that is unlikely to happen.

I tbink it was Douglas Adams that said that humanity is wittingly driving towards the edge of a cliff, but instead of putting on the brakes we are accelerating.
 
A great read on how nature regains space and why reforesting is often overlooked is Cal Flynn’s Islands of Abandonment

Planning to go and see the Kupari hotels soon!
 
Must read of Cal Flynn’s Islands of Abandonment, thanks for that tip.

Remember the seas
I've been reading David Attenborough's A Life on this Planet - a memoir on his life, the nature he's seen and what he thinks could be done next. Really great read. One of the many extremely interesting things is protected marine zones.
So at present big trawlers go out into international waters and scoop up fish, and the catch is getting smaller both in terms of fish size and total number of fish caught.
Some species of fish take years to grow to full size, and the bigger the fish, the more eggs she can lay.
There are a few places where large marine protection areas are in place, no fishing at all, and you have to wait, five to ten years (and support the fisherman in the mean time) but then in the seas outside the marine protection zones, you start getting more and bigger fish. One of his suggestions is that doing that in a lot of places, and catching the increased fish outside the zone, is both more sustainable for the seas, and more sustainable as a food supply for us humans.

Optimism
I'm rather more optimistic than the article, but less about governments and more about all the grass roots movements and campaigning that are possible thanks to the internet, and are gradually knocking governments and corporates into shape. Long way to go, but there is more hope than if you look at just governments. For example Avaaz, which is entirely funded on small donations form ordinary citizens is funding things like sorting out the legal documentation of indigenous people to prove they own the land - in the Amazon rainforest and other like places - to stop it being developed. Or they are providing top up funding to the Narashulai Maasai Conservancy who are mostly living traditional lives and don't receive money from the National Parks funds because they are outside the area despite being a major tourist safari area. Traditional cattle herding lives work a lot better alongside wildlife than fenced off farms and with a top up every few years of donation cash, they keep their medical centres and schools going. Entirely Maasai founded and run.

Small groups
Various thoughts
1. Interesting - the EO Wilson foundation and the Half Earth project is looking at the opposite - all the areas of the world like rural Eastern Europe where people have left the rural life and gone for city jobs - and all the abandoned farmland is seeing a big nature comeback. The theory goes that would be a great way for restoration of nature - people continuing to move out.

1a I would add to that I like Campaign to Protect Rural England's latest suggestions - country parks and enhanced green belts near major cities for recreation for the city dwellers. One thing that will do is give people somewhere nice without having to travel long distances and use lots of fuel

2. My existing rural living - people know people in the countryside and there is a degree of community expectation so that is in favour of small groups, but against that is how a group can be dominated by one individual or interest group. I've seen that a parish council meetings.

3. I hope any future continues to have an internet - yes it is costly in terms of energy (though reducing picture size might help a bit with that :D) but it brings individuals together to find friends that don't exist in their local community. I had almost no-one to discuss sf with before the internet.


Finally - many people do eventually change behaviour - Drink Drive campaign in the UK has mostly worked. The concept of the designated driver is now firmly embedded in society and thirty years ago it didn't exist.
 
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I think it involves two set of predicaments: diminishing returns/resource crunch and environmental collapse/global warming effects.

Both are on-going: peak oil starting in 2006 (acknowledged by the IEA in 2010; likely the unsaid cause of the 2008 global crash) and affecting renewable energy, too (because 70 pct of mining, half of manufacturing, and the bulk of shipping involves fossil fuels; the same applies to all manufactured goods plus food production via mechanized agriculture and petrochemicals) and something like a third of any global economic growth eaten up by pollution plus floods, droughts, etc. (Also, like the unsaid cause of the Syrian civil war.)

One study points out that if we act drastically (e.g., no fossil fuel use) then the climate should stabilize in 40 years. If we act slowly, it will stabilize after 100 years. Meanwhile, "black swans" should continue throughout, like pandemics and wars, like one "long emergency," as a writer describes it. These "swans" include human migration due to these predicaments, a thirtyfold increase in arms production and deployment worldwide (especially weapons of mass destruction), increased vectors for the spread of disease, population ageing, and breakdowns of public and social services, including running water, electricity, and health care.
 
I have to wonder if AI will save us - because a mass unemployment event would cut emissions incredibly if no one can afford to buy gas (or food).

It really is kind of incredible how stupid we are about seeing what we are doing and what could happen. It is like after WWII if we just handed every nation on earth 5 nuclear weapons, or made it easy to make shellfish poison at home.
 
I have to wonder if AI will save us - because a mass unemployment event would cut emissions incredibly if no one can afford to buy gas (or food).

It really is kind of incredible how stupid we are about seeing what we are doing and what could happen. It is like after WWII if we just handed every nation on earth 5 nuclear weapons, or made it easy to make shellfish poison at home.
I think economics are really central to what happens next. South Africa are moving to a universal basic income - the expectation is that others will have to follow in the face of mass unemployment. If that happens, people have more time to eg volunteer, do things they are passionate about, garden etc - all of which could have a positive impact
 
I think economics are really central to what happens next. South Africa are moving to a universal basic income - the expectation is that others will have to follow in the face of mass unemployment. If that happens, people have more time to eg volunteer, do things they are passionate about, garden etc - all of which could have a positive impact
Does South Africa, or any nation with mass unemployment, have a tax base in a large enough domestic product to pay people and not have rocketing inflation?

I think we like to believe that we can just keep changing over economies from one type of production base to another, but there comes a point when you truly run out of things that have global market value. Several hundred years ago, Spain collapsed its economy by importing too much gold from the Americas - it had no real value when it wasn't the product of Spanish labor.


It is possible to have a post scarcity society where people do things other than work. But we haven't come even close to replacing scarcity.
 
To much waste of resources . Helium , a precious gas which has alot of important uses and applications and is irreplaceable and cannot be synthesized . Its being wasted such stupidly. frivolous things as Party Balloons .
 
To much waste of resources . Helium , a precious gas which has alot of important uses and applications and is irreplaceable and cannot be synthesized . Its being wasted such stupidly. frivolous things as Party Balloons .
Absolutely. Gold being used for electronics is more important jewellery (and not recovered very well).
I can get rather cross about packaging, how non-recyclable some of it is, how a lot is not re-usable, and where you can re-use there is a limit to the number of plastic milk bottles you can re-use even when using them as flower pots and bits of shim, and also the wonders of the having many versions of the same thing economics - with separate research teams and lots of resources working on multiple ways to make the end product a bit different, from cars to drinks.
Yes, having some variation is nice, and you do need different sizes of cars, but it's gone a bit bonkers. What happened to Henry Ford's "You can have any colour you like so long as it's black." ?
 

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