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Forecasting Doomsday

Hemos posted more than 8 years ago | from the and-here-without-my-book dept.

Science 854

Boccaccio writes "James Lovelock, the planetary scientist famous for his Gaia Theory, writes in today's Independent of his belief that it is already too late to divert an environmental catastrophe which will see much of human civilisation destroyed. Fearing it too late to be green, he instead suggests communities plan for survival in a Mad Max type world with limited resources ruled by violent warlords. "We have to keep in mind the awesome pace of change and realise how little time is left to act, and then each community and nation must find the best use of the resources they have to sustain civilisation for as long as they can." He suggests we should be writing a practical guidebook printed on long lasting paper containing "the basic accumulated scientific knowledge of humanity.""

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854 comments

Pop Scientist Melodrama (5, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482880)

The climate centres around the world, which are the equivalent of the pathology lab of a hospital, have reported the Earth's physical condition, and the climate specialists see it as seriously ill, and soon to pass into a morbid fever that may last as long as 100,000 years. I have to tell you, as members of the Earth's family and an intimate part of it, that you and especially civilisation are in grave danger.
I don't want to start a flamewar but isn't he being a little melodramatic?

First off, the "climate centres" around the world aren't the equivalent to a pathology lab. This is a bad analogy. Pathology is a science that is fairly solid. There is a pathogen or there isn't, we may miss it but we sure are good at diagnosing it if you have it. More importantly, pathologists can agree with each other.

With the status of the environment, no one agrees with anyone else. The world is ending on one end while the U.S. government isn't too concerned with it at the time. James Lovelock is certain we're doomed while Michael Chrichton [crichton-official.com] is giving speeches detailing environmentalism as a religion.

Who do we believe? The physician or the author? I don't think either are adequately qualified to make the call.

I can understand articles urging us to cut back on emissions or asking everyone to support the Kyoto Treaty. What I don't understand is how this article can be constructive. I read it and it tells me to drive to Wal-Mart as fast as possible and buy a gun and five shells so that I can rob said Wal-Mart of all guns and shells for my basement armory.

I'm not sure whether to read this as honest opinion or a hilarious satire reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb [imdb.com] .

Can anyone please tell me what Mr. Lovelock hoped to gain from this article other than creating hysteria among his fans and receiving "nut job" status from those who disagree with him?
The Revenge of Gaia' is published by Penguin on 2 February.
Oh, I'm sure that will be a fair and unbiased scientific look at the state of the environment that everyone will love. Why must people make such polarizing comments? Can't they see how many people they alienate with one fell swoop? He could have gotten the same message across without the drama.

Re:Pop Scientist Melodrama (2, Informative)

alicenextdoor (910558) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482940)

Lovelock has always been a drama que^H^H fearlessly outspoken scientific maverick. The Gaia hypothesis was considered pretty outrageous when he proposed it in the mid 1960s, and it dodn't become mainstream(ish) until Weak Gaia was introduced. Most people would agree that the world is a complex, interlocking, dynamic system, but some of us draw the line at a loving (or vengeful) Mother Goddess. And with a new book coming out, what does he have to lose by cranking up the hysteria? It's just like the good old days.

Re:Pop Scientist Melodrama (4, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482943)

"Why must people make such polarizing comments? Can't they see how many people they alienate with one fell swoop? He could have gotten the same message across without the drama."

Unfortunately, he probably couldn't, or at least not to as many people. Would this book have gotten coverage on Slashdot if it weren't so dramatic? Probably not. I'm not impugning Slashdot, it's just the nature of our society to pay attention to the ridiculous.

An unfortunate consequence is that his brand of extremism is likely to make more realistic claims and analyses less acceptable to the mainstream.

A fortunate possible consequence is that such extremism may shift the "center-of-opinion" towards (but not into) extremist alarmism -- which means that we may see some preventative (and hopefully even ameliorative) action.

The fact is, though, alarmism sells. "End-of-the-world" prophets have always had their followings. And despite whatever message the author wants to get across, he's beholden to his publisher -- and sales are what Penguin's looking for.

Pop Doc. Melodrama (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482996)

Well gloom and doom nonwithstanding. I would recommend more independence between humans, and society in general anyway.

While I'm here I would also recommend reading:

Rx for survival, why we must rise to the global health challenge by Philip Hilts.

An angle on Globalization most ignore.

"Oh, I'm sure that will be a fair and unbiased scientific look at the state of the environment that everyone will love. Why must people make such polarizing comments? Can't they see how many people they alienate with one fell swoop? He could have gotten the same message across without the drama."

It's OK when slashdotters do it, but not OK when an author does it.

Re:Pop Scientist Melodrama (4, Insightful)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483022)

...while Michael Chrichton is giving speeches detailing environmentalism as a religion.

Not everybody cared for the book (as evidenced by some of the reviews [personally I found it quite refreshing, he made a lot of very interesting points]), but Crichton's recent novel State of Fear [amazon.com] dealt with almost this exact viewpoint. Individuals and "environmental" groups proclaiming doomsday just around the corner, and it's always our fault. Conveniently enough it's also right when they're having some sort of fundraiser or selling a new book.

*cough* *cough*

Give me a break. This guy is just the exact opposite as the niche of corporate types who really don't care if they dump toxic waste into the groundwater near a preschool.

Re:Pop Scientist Melodrama (5, Funny)

Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483047)

> The Revenge of Gaia' is published by Penguin on 2 February.

Unless Lovelock sees his shadow, in which case we'll have another six weeks of civilization.

Re:Pop Scientist Melodrama (2, Interesting)

955301 (209856) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483093)

Who do we believe? The physician or the author?

Both. James Lovelock is stomping to sell his book:

My new book The Revenge of Gaia expands these thoughts, but you still may ask why science took so long to recognise the true nature of the Earth.

Look, my hypothesis is that the reversal of our impact on the global environement will take on the order of a thousand years for one reason - vegetation. We are not the only life on the planet which deliberately change our environments to make then suitable for our own well being. Plants drop leaves that are poisonous to competing vegetation, that compost and help the ground turn to soil and maintain moisture. They grow tall and create hospitable environments for their root systems underneath their canopies. So wherever the fringe of life ends up by the time the tides change vegetation will re-establish itself and make the march back down the planet.

Let's suppose we hose the cycle and end up in the poles as this guy suggests. We won't be able to sustain our current populations or continue to cause damage on that scale any more. The instigator is now marginalized. And so long as there are seeds somewhere on this planet, which is mostly surfaced with water btw, a time lapse of the 1000 year recover time will look like a terraforming scene from a Star Trek movie.

Doomsday can come only from governments (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482890)

And people think us Christ followers are bonkers.

This Revenge of Gaia stuff is pure fiction -- but it does sell books. I've been called a doomer-and-gloomer for my opinions over the past 10 years. I'm an avid gold bug, I hate the idea of working as a salaried employee, and I believe in owning land both in urban areas as well as rural areas. You can buy 100 acres of land dirt cheap still in many parts of the U.S.

I don't believe we'll see a Mad Max style world. There is so much land available in the entire globe that I don't see how warlords can use the strength of weapons to take over. The reason we see "chaos" in Somalia is because there is an existing infrastructure that people want to utilize. In this Gaia-chaos vision, there wouldn't be. People who survive would not be anywhere near the billions we have today, and a family of 10 can easily survive even on a near-desert piece of property.

I don't believe we'll see the water of the world undrinkable, I don't believe we'll see the air of the world unbreathable. Humans are a minor part of the balance -- if we do something so bad that billions will perish, we won't be able to continue doing "harm" and the planet will recuperate itself -- quickly, too. The worst catastrophes that could happen would not necessarily be environmental ones but ones dealing with war. Anything we do slowly to the environment will be quickly absorbed and returned to normal -- the so called circle of life. It is the things we can do quickly that would be the most devastating. Nuclear wars come to mind as one possible catastrophe that we couldn't resolve in less than a century.

Even if we did collapse into an chaotic anarchy (opposite of the capitalist anarchy that I promote), weapons wouldn't last without an infrastructure to maintain them. Once all the bullets are expelled or all the maintenance fluids are used up, most weapons are useless. You can't fight a global war with knives, and you can defend yourself much easier in communities against warlords if you take the machine guns and flamethrowers out of the equation. War is one of the most inefficient ways to gain wealth -- it requires millions of people deciding to give up their wealth in exchange for no profitable gain. In fact, I believe war requires democracy.

I wish Julian Simon was still kicking. That guy would offer Lovelock a great debate (and likely win it, too). Simon showed that more people means more wealth, more innovation and long lives for everyone. Look at China. They were on the verge of overpopulation, but it wasn't the mass numbers that was killing them -- it was government and communism. The freer they get, the longer they live, the happier they live, and this lets them live long enough to get Parkinson's, cancers and other diseases that keep us from living forever. Communism offered them shortened lives with no reason to want to live -- freedom gives everyone a reason to work together to try to live longer together.

In the end, I see the only doomsday here being empire and government. Nuclear war won't happen any other way. I don't believe we'll ever get to the Mad Max scenario unless we allow ourselves to continue to arm the elite with weapons of mass destruction. We should work at arming our own households, investing in bountiful properties, creating communities of people who love one another but are no adverse to profit or personal gain.

The environment continues to fix itself -- yesterday's doomsdayers are silent because they were wrong. Today's will be silent tomorrow -- they'll be wrong, too.

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482903)

WTF?

War requires Democracy? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482962)

I really don't follow you there. Did you ever take history class in High school? What about all those wars under a guy named Caesar. Rome was pretty big back then, and that was an imperial state. Don't forget the Vikings. And, the mongols are a pretty good example of raiders with no real home just wreaking havoc on random people. I think it's very plausible that if our government breaks down, we will see roving bands of motorcycle gangs shooting up many towns just for shits and giggles. There will be nothing to stop them, and they have nothing to live for because they lost everything.

Our country really is balanced on a delicate edge. Since we have recently completely lost any semblance of morals (witness the implicit approval of torture in Gitmo and Iraq, as well as the use of nuclear weapons against other countries; have you heard anyone on the news saying nukes are definitely never going to be used? look back a decade or two and the tone is completely different). I feel that many people in our country have become so demonic that if they were given the opportunity they would run wild.

Another thing: war and combat does not require projectile weapons. Baseball bats and knives are just as effective against defenseless targets. Sure, maybe you have a handgun or two, but what good is that going to do against 50 armed hoodlums?

Re:War requires Democracy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483147)

While there is a common belief that Rome suddenly disintegrated, this is not true. The fall of Rome took almost 500 years! First, power was shifted to Constantinople about 400 AD. Then a horizontal division occured that split the empire into a strongly governed part and a weakly governed part. The strongly governed part included Italy, the northern African coast, Syria, Greece and parts of Turkey. The weakly governed parts (where in some cases barbarian kings ruled who officially served Constantinople) included most of northern Europe. In the 600s, the Muslim state took back all areas of the Middle East and northern Africa. This left Rome a relatively small country (that which was controlled) centering around Greece and Italy. With the rise of Catholocism, this area gained power, but so did the areas that we might call France. Rome didn't die during this period, it just faded away and was integrated into the rest of a now medieval Europe.

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (1)

DaveCar (189300) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482997)

I think the one significant word that was missing from your post was "oil".

Not wishing to make a political point, but that's probably what a significant portion of the weapons in the world go into guarding (at least are a "deterrent"). I don't expect this situation would get any better in a post-apocalyptic scenario - not according to the films I've seen anyway. ;)

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483041)

Confirmed: Christ followers are bonkers.

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (4, Insightful)

StrawberryFrog (67065) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483068)

"There is so much land available in the entire globe that I don't see how warlords can use the strength of weapons to take over"

WTF? - that's a complete non-sequitur. How does there being lots of land stop weapons being useful. Here's a hint - it's hasn't up to now.
Aside from that, so what if there's lots of land on earth? There are lots of people too. The density of people on the land is increasing, since the number of people is increasing, and the part of the land that is useful to us is decreasing (desertification, salination, erosion, pollution, etc)

Humans are a minor part of the balance

Not true anymore. Welcome to the anthropocene era [everything2.com] .

You can't fight a global war with knives, and you can defend yourself much easier in communities against warlords if you take the machine guns and flamethrowers out of the equation.

Nobody said anything about a big "global war", just local war everywhere. Warlordism is implausible? Go look at the early history of ... anywhere.

The environment continues to fix itself -- yesterday's doomsdayers are silent because they were wrong. Today's will be silent tomorrow -- they'll be wrong, too.

The ones who weren't wrong weren't silent - the chap who successfully predicted the USA's peak oil, and has predicted the world's peak oil soon now. Anyway, that's another non-sequitur. It's equivalent to saying "The candle didn't go out this minute. Those who predicted that it would go out were wrong. Therefore it will never go out."

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (1)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483153)

The density of people on the land is increasing, since the number of people is increasing, and the part of the land that is useful to us is decreasing (desertification, salination, erosion, pollution, etc)

Actually, I tend to disagree. I see the amount of land becoming available to us as increasing. As technological resources continue to come to fruition, you'll see more people living on ocean cruisers, you'll see more homes being built in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico (I was just there, and one desert town is now a grass-covered urban area). You'll see more buildings moving upward, allowing more people to live in comfort. Even in the deserts of the Middle East (just outside of Dubai) I see high rises.

Go look at the early history of ... anywhere

Before the printing press, yes. People lived and died based on the beliefs that their warlord was granted by God to conquer and spread their souls through rape and pillage. Now that people are a bit more intelligent, the mandate of God is not as potent. Maybe it is in the US (I'm a Christ follower and I just wrote about how Jesus was anti-government: 1 Samuel 8 [blogspot.com] ).

As people get more intelligent, they do realize that life is better through voluntary cooperation of mutual profit (capitalism). I don't see anyone allowing things to go to hell in a handbasket, as we've always worked together in mutual profit to make our lives better. The only time we don't is when we give government a big stick to smack us around with.

the chap who successfully predicted the USA's peak oil, and has predicted the world's peak oil soon now.

There is no peak oil. There never was, and there likely never will be. There is more oil available in the US than has every been taken out combined. Here [lewrockwell.com] and here [lewrockwell.com] .

Do I think oil will hit US$85 this year? Of course! The Fed keeps printing fake money, so all prices will rise. Oil is cheaper today than at any time in history once you factor in government printing presses and their inflation cycle. If oil is getting cheaper, it means that we aren't running out.

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (4, Interesting)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483085)

"There is so much land available in the entire globe that I don't see how warlords can use the strength of weapons to take over"

Useable land? Enough useable farmland to support 6 Bn people? Along with the fuel needed to get the same kind of return from the land that we experience now, including distribution of the food?

I suggest you read Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed [grist.org] .

Good insight on the topic.

My point is that faced with a growing population, uncertain sustainability of our current food production methods (e.g., how can we do it without fossil fuels to rely on for production and distribution), and reduced supply of both arable land and waters suitable for food production, how can we expect to keep everyone fed? And if we can't feed everyone, how will disputes be resolved? My guess is through warfare. State action in some cases, "Mad Max"-style in others. If the drop in food production is extreme enough, modern states will collapse, and the "Mad Max" vision may come to pass.

Re:Doomsday can come only from governments (1)

utexaspunk (527541) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483135)

You seem to think that the environment can "fix itself" regardless of what we do to it. If things get out of balance to the point where billions of humans are dying, while it may return to an equilibrium friendly to human life, there's no guarantee that it it will. There's no guarantee that a few hundred years from now some tipping point could be reached that causes the atmosphere's composition to change in a way that could not be reversed without some massive effort (like having to build oxygen creation plants, or something). I'm not saying there's any reason to believe that it WILL definitely happen, but there are certainly scenarios where something gets out of whack- plankton counts could skyrocket or plummet, weather systems or ocean currents could get screwed up, etc. The best way to deal with this is to proceed as usual but constantly study and try to minimize the environmental impact of industry

Paper? (4, Funny)

mysqlrocks (783488) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482893)

He suggests we should be writing a practical guidebook printed on long lasting paper...

Won't creating more paper just hasten the coming apocalypse? Hopefully it's at least post-consumer chlorine-free recycled paper printed with soy-based ink.

Well, it's not like this is carved in stone or... (2, Funny)

StressGuy (472374) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483010)

...uh...nevermind...I forgot where I was going with this joke anyways

violent warlords (1, Flamebait)

Threni (635302) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482896)

> Mad Max type world with limited resources ruled by violent warlords.

Check.

Bin laden trains guys to smash planes into buildings, killing 3000 of civilians.

Bush raises the ante by dropping bombs onto Iraq (a country with no relation to Bin laden, but plenty of oil), killing 30,000 -> 100,000 civilians!

What'll happen next? Keep tuned!

Re:violent warlords (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483042)

looks like he missed one...

Outback Steakhouse (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482898)

Fearing it too late to be green, he instead suggests communities plan for survival in a Mad Max type world with limited resources ruled by violent warlords.

I agree, the Mad Max contains too much meat. By violent warlords, do you mean the restaurant manager?

Paul Ehrlich Anyone? (3, Interesting)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482902)

People have been predicting the end of the world due to environment destruction for years. What gets me is that most 'intellectuals' will scoff at christians but listen seriously to these people.

Re:Paul Ehrlich Anyone? (3, Insightful)

SIGFPE (97527) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482981)

Is there any connection between your two sentences? It seems about as relevant as saying "There have been people who play chess for years and yet French people will turn their noses up at British cooking."

Re:Paul Ehrlich Anyone? (2, Insightful)

MarkPNeyer (729607) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483108)

My connection is that anyone who believes in 'Intelligent Design' or 'Creationism' is considered an idiot and mocked for stupidity (Flying spaghetti monster) whereas people who said things like "In 1980 there will be massive riots due to starvation" and who continue to make such claims are still given the time of day.

Re:Paul Ehrlich Anyone? (1)

Azureflare (645778) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483172)

When you're talking about the real world, Religion can't be proven wrong, while Science can. And if you're proven wrong in Science, it doesn't mean it's the end of your career, you were just wrong. In Religion, you're always right; and that makes it real hard to have any kind of discourse.

This is only when you're in the realm of Science. Religion and Science are really two different ways of explaining the universe. I don't think either can be crossed, because they both have fundamental rules that you must accept which conflict with each other. I'm not saying Religion is wrong, or Science is the right way to view the universe.

That being said, I really don't feel like the slashdot article is science. It seems to be bordering on religion to me, with no real scientific evidence. Maybe that's because it's just a fluff piece advertising his book. But I'm no closer to believing this theory because of this article. Maybe if there was some kind of summary article of the book, it would be easier.

Re:Paul Ehrlich Anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483112)

I think you just proved his point.

Re:Paul Ehrlich Anyone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482995)

Yeah, well what gets me is idiots who present two extreme views as if these are the only options. Funny how said idiots usually have one of those views so deeply entrenched into their mindsets......

Monday... (3, Funny)

op12 (830015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482905)

I realize it's Monday, but it must be one hell of a slow news day...

Re:Monday... (1)

Fred Or Alive (738779) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482950)

No, this is The Independent, every day is front page big issue story day. The Enviroment is one of their favourite big issues to use. They've been like it ever since they turned into a tabloid, they're basically the left-wing Daily Mail now.

Too bad it's Lovelock saying this... (2, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482906)

"I'd like to share a revelation I had during my time here. It came to me when I tried to classify your species. I realized that you're not actually mammals. Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply until every natural resource is consumed. The only way you can survive is to spread to another area. There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague, and we are the cure."
- Agent Smith

"Master Blaster run Bartertown!"
- Master

It's really too bad that James Lovelock is perceived as a bit of a nutball in the scientific community...global climate change is a real and accelerating problem (the duplicitious yammerings of the naysayers and industrial apologists notwithstanding), and it needs to have more serious attention focused upon it. I fear that all Lovelock's doomsaying will accomplish is the opposite.

Hollywood (1)

Grip3n (470031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482907)

Thanks to Hollywood, I now know that the end result of "nature getting pissed" will be 3 gigantic ice hurricanes which move entirely independent of the earths rotation, freezing anything underneath instantly, and the only way to avoid these are to flee down south.

Of course, movies fail to show what actually ever happens in Canada (where I'm from), thus it is my belief in this scenario we would only notice but a small drop in temperature and continue going about our merry ways in our much more winter-adapted persona's.

Re:Hollywood (1)

Guysmiley777 (880063) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483146)

Thanks to Hollywood, I now know that the end result of "nature getting pissed" will be 3 gigantic ice hurricanes which move entirely independent of the earths rotation, freezing anything underneath instantly, and the only way to avoid these are to flee down south.

Or just build a fire. Everyone knows killer frost from blizzard-icanes can be stopped in their tracks by a nice cozy fire.

I swear that movie killed a 12 pack's worth of brain cells.

Soon to appear on slashdot: (5, Funny)

Spy der Mann (805235) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482908)

After doomsday strikes, who do you want to be?

- Water pirates ****
- Mad Max ***********
- The kids beyond Thunderdome *
- CowboyNeal ***

Amazingly retarted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482911)

Firsat it will require the collapse of governments first. Or an all out nuclear war.

personally i love the idea of welding plates all over a full size van and outfitting it with turrets and rocket launchers, but then I drive on 696 every morning and am sure that the morons in the BMW's and lexuses and pickups really do need to die.

I disagree.. (4, Insightful)

Ckwop (707653) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482920)

Billions of years ago, when the day was 23 hours long, there was no oxygen in the air and hence no ozone. The surface of the earth would have killed any land based animals pretty quickly.

Over time, life transformed the atmosphere and soon after plants and animals started to come out of the sea and started to prosper on land. Billions of years past and today we're sat here with laptop's contemplating what to do about climate change. I personally think that a large chunk of climate change has been caused by humans. I also agree with the scientist that we've already past the point of no return - so the question is not how we can stop climate change but how we can cope with it.

Personally, I think the climate disaster will be very bad for bio-diversity but have a negligable effect on humanity. I often go to Florida on my holiday from the foggy and cold waste lands of the UK :). The heat in Florida is at times unbearable but it matters not because air conditioning is in nearly every building. If I get too hot, I just go inside.

As the oceans expand and the sea level rises, people will simply move further up the shore. When islands disappear, people will be unhappy but they quickly build new lives in new countries. When crops fail to grow in some countries they will replace the crops with others that grow in those climates. If they've really got money to burn they'll genetically engineer plants that are resistant to the heat. When oil prices start their long climb to unaffordability other technologies will take up the batton. Suddenly the economy will start to allocate resources to bypass the damage that the price-hike induces. Life will go on as normal.

I think we're heading for a mass extinction event - of that I am certain - but is highly unlikely we will feel the pinch. These are interesting times to be alive.

Simon

Bio diversity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483052)

Are you totally ignorant? Humans rely on biodiversity. You can't get rid of the system of which we are part, and expect it not to have a savage impact.

Re:I disagree.. (1)

CatsupBoy (825578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483081)

As the oceans expand and the sea level rises, people will simply move further up the shore. When islands disappear, people will be unhappy but they quickly build new lives in new countries. When crops fail to grow in some countries they will replace the crops with others that grow in those climates. If they've really got money to burn they'll genetically engineer plants that are resistant to the heat. When oil prices start their long climb to unaffordability other technologies will take up the batton. Suddenly the economy will start to allocate resources to bypass the damage that the price-hike induces. Life will go on as normal.
You forgot to mention the eruption of a super volcano that will globally block the sun for 5 or more years. What will your genetically engineered plants do then?

And how about all the livestock you use as food? How will you preserve them when there is no vegetation?

Welcome to 2006 (4, Insightful)

grub (11606) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482923)


world with limited resources ruled by violent warlords.

We're already there...

Re:Welcome to 2006 (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483138)

The world has always BEEN there. From Ape to Man, nothing really hasn't changed all that much in social dynamics in the course of evolution.

Old news! (2, Funny)

JehCt (879940) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482924)

communities plan for survival in a Mad Max type world with limited resources ruled by violent warlords.

We're already pwned by violent warlords!
  • One Bush President
  • Two Bush Governors
  • A Governator
Ack!

Re:Old news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483051)

Melodramatic much?

You mean like... (3, Insightful)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482926)

He suggests we should be writing a practical guidebook printed on long lasting paper containing "the basic accumulated scientific knowledge of humanity."


So he means like my physics, math, and biology textbooks?
My books will last forever...
They are extremely heavy, have never / wont ever get used. They practically re-sealed themselves after I purchesed them from the bookstore!

My new book The Revenge of Gaia (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482931)

The write-up neglects to mention all this breathless hyperbole is associated with a book release.

I think the success of Day After Tomorrow is spawning a revival of enviro disaster fiction and non-fiction. Sort of a liberal version of Left Behind.

Long Lasting Paper?? (2, Funny)

xlr8ed (726203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482936)

He suggests we should be writing a practical guidebook printed on long lasting paper containing "the basic accumulated scientific knowledge of humanity

Why don't we stamp it into something a bit tougher like tungsten or titanum....or the back of Dubya's head

So basically... (2, Funny)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482941)

Calling for printing out a few dozen pages from Wikipedia, some medical history book, and a lifetime's amount of porn? (It'd make good bartering fodder for the Thunderdome wannabes!

He's right you know (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14482944)

I think we're all blind to the massive changes that have occured and the vast momentum that exists; the massive danger is of activating entirely unforeseen new climatic mechanisms which will terribly exacerbate the consequences of our actions.

An example of this is the shutting down of the Gulf Stream, which in due course, will render Europe as cold as North America. The consequences of this are beyond imagination and it is but one of many potential known unknowns.

I think we're screwed; the political structures we have in place are suitable for maintaining the status quo and only respond to external crisis' when they are so desperately pressing that they *will* destroy the status quo unless dealt with.

Such a response is of course fundamentally broken when the crisis has no pressing effects until far, far past the time when action can be taken to avert the disaster.

I hate to sound like I had a bias while I RTFA (1)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482955)

But the thing that kills me about these theories is that they make human existance seem like some anamolous event that all in all was just plain bad news for the rest of the planet. I feel like they make us out to be the 'virus' that Agent Smith describes humanity as in The Matrix.

Anybody else feel that way when the tree hugging hippies come out to talk?

Fearmongering (1, Flamebait)

Loundry (4143) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482957)

Fear is the most powerful human motivator. It invokes our desire to preserve our own life. God only knows how many times I have been nearly crushed by the fear of the bad thing happening only to find that the bad thing was not nearly as painful as the fear.

Fearmongers have long known this and exploited it in order to gain power, money, and attention. This wicked priest is no different than other wicked priests of other superstitious faiths who have tried to emotionally rape you for their own personal benefit. Resist him as you do all others. Use your power of observation and your rational mind in order to make good choices for the future.

And yes, this clown is, in fact, preaching a religion. "Gaia" is the "goddess earth". It is nothing more than blatant superstitious garbage with an enviro-friendly sheen. If you want to stand up for the environment, then go knock yourself out. It doesn't justify giving this fool anything except ascerbic mockery, and it certainly doesn't justify attempting to inspire fear in other people.

Gaia (4, Insightful)

Tony (765) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483150)

Your comments are, for the most part, spot-on.

"Gaia" is the "goddess earth". It is nothing more than blatant superstitious garbage with an enviro-friendly sheen.

The term "Gaia" was borrowed from the ancient Greek gods, but no more so than Pluto or Mars. The concept is, that as cells make up an organism, and many organisms an ecosystem, many ecosystems make up a still larger system. "Gaia" sounds all new-agey, but in reality, it is nothing more than the extent of all life on earth.

It's not superstitious garbage; it is quite valid to think that destroying the rain forest in Southeast Alaska will have profound effects on New York City, or Moscow for that matter. Then to imagine that the total biosphere can heal itself after a catastrophe is also valid. That is, the environment affects not only the evolution of species, but evolution of species also affects the environment.

Gaia was, perhaps, a poor choice of terms. But "superecosystem" sounds stupid, and isn't as catchy, and doesn't intimate the self-regulating nature of the total biosphere.

The thought that all life on earth is a single organism with conscious thought is a little silly. Not many people truly believe that, though. In my experience, most people believe in some weaker form of the Gaia hypothesis-- that even if we humans fuck up so badly we destroy our environment and kill off tens of thousands of species (including humanity), the earth will go on, heal itself, and new species will crop up to replace the old ones.

Other than that: yeah, I think Sir Lovelock is being a bit extremist in his fears. It's kind of like during the five years leading up to 2000; too damned many people thought civilisation was going to collapse, when most of us in the IT trenches knew everything was going to be fine. The didn't stop Edward Yourdon from shooting off his mouth and selling some books, but there will always be people who expect the worst.

The people who scare me, though, are those who want the worst to happen.

Accumulated knowledge (2, Funny)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482959)

He suggests we should be writing a practical guidebook printed on long lasting paper containing "the basic accumulated scientific knowledge of humanity."

Send a bunch of scientists off to a deserted island and have them write the Encyclopedia Tera?

Re:Accumulated knowledge (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483157)

And found a second colony on the opposite side of the world...

Re:Accumulated knowledge (1)

daVinci1980 (73174) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483171)

Hahahahhaha..

Great, if not moderately obscure, reference. Foundation is a great series. I'm up to Foundation's Edge now. Good stuff.

The world can end for all I care (5, Funny)

palad1 (571416) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482972)

All I'm asking for is that it ends before tomorrow's deadline.

Sounds like Encyclopedia Galactica (Asimov) (2, Interesting)

rcpitt (711863) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482974)

Foundation series: Civilization is falling - accumulate all knowledge in a set of books and make copies to send to the far reaches of the known universe.

Or do you subscribe to Heinlein and his survivor stories like Farnham's Freehold?

With the various governments' movements to ban guns and such I'm beginning to smell a conspiracy theory here somewhere :)

Me? I'll probably be one of the first ones to die when I can't get the drugs that keep me alive - of course Darwin is at work there too. "Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and "go lemmings!" are my two favourite catch-phrases.

Mad Max style world (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482977)

Does this mean we're all going to turn into Mel Gibson and Tina Turner lookalikes?

God bless antipodean post-apocalyptic sci-fi: Mad Max, The Quiet Earth, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Beyond the Thunderdome, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert...

Re:Mad Max style world (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483024)

Does this mean we're all going to turn into Mel Gibson and Tina Turner lookalikes?

Well, even Master-Blaster would be an improvement for most Slashdotters.

Re:Mad Max style world (1)

ettlz (639203) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483033)

Well, even Master-Blaster would be an improvement for most Slashdotters.

Speak for yourself, sir!

Re:Mad Max style world (1)

Nutria (679911) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483043)

Does this mean we're all going to turn into Mel Gibson and Tina Turner lookalikes?

Or, you might be the dweeby little auto-mechanic/train-station manager.

Re:Mad Max style world (1)

orac2 (88688) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483121)

Wow, a reference to The Quiet Earth! God, I loved that movie, never did figure out the ending...

Re:Mad Max style world (1)

jridley (9305) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483151)

Nah, I'll look like the guy in Silent Running, not The Running Man.

Or, if Running Man, I'll be Dawson, not Arnie.

Obligatory Richard Pryor (5, Interesting)

thatguywhoiam (524290) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482979)

In regards to climate change, and those who deny it:

"Who are you gonna believe? Me, or your lying eyes?"

Just getting off a week of +5-10C weather, in January, in Toronto. (40-50F for the Americans.) That is really, really atypical.

So is the 28 days of rain the west coast just received.

So is the 13 feet of snow in Japan.

Its unsettling.

Re:Obligatory Richard Pryor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483062)

And yet....no records were set....uh..

Re:Obligatory Richard Pryor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483076)

That's very scientific.

You may be shocked to hear the Earth has been both much warmer and much cooler throughout history.

Re:Obligatory Richard Pryor (1)

PinternetGroper (595689) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483100)

What I always remind myself is that perhaps these unseasonably warm temperatures in my area are nothing but a cycle of weather. For instance, yesterday, a town near here set a record temperature of 72F(normal might be around 20F-40F), beating the original record from...1921. I think when we look to predict the future, we often forget the patterns of the past... my two cents anyway...

My theory... (3, Interesting)

Bazman (4849) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482983)

You know the anthropic universe principle? That the universe seems fine tuned for life? Well I have another theory that is that yes, the universe is fine-tuned for life, but its also fine-tuned so that life has a remote chance of making it off the planet and colonising the universe as seen in science fiction. The universe is in fact fine tuned just so that it can create sentient life that can consider its mortality, dream of conquering the cosmos, but then not being able to because fundamental physics just gets in the way...

I call this the misanthropic universe principle...

Already there uh? (1, Funny)

xtracto (837672) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482992)

world with limited resources ruled by violent warlords

Oil & Bush & Co. anyone?

I'm as green as the next guy: (1)

Hosiah (849792) | more than 8 years ago | (#14482999)

I'll even blush and admit that I did a 2-year stint in the Conservation Corps (yes, I was a professional government-employed tree-hugger!) in my youth. I still wring my hands and fret a little bit over the occasional environmental impact. But even I laugh these instant doomsayers out of the lecture hall. No matter what we do or don't do about anything at all, insisting that we're all at the end of history isn't the way to do it.

As always, by the time it gets even one tenth as bad as the dark prophet preaches, bigger minds than I will be panicky enough to do something about it. I do enough for the environment today for one consciencious person, and gently urge others to do likewise, but that's all that needs doing.

Basic accumulated scientific knowledge book (1)

AK__64 (740022) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483003)

Sounds like an interesting project to me. How long would the section on, uh, ecological issues be? If it were any longer than the section on religion, I wouldn't read it :p I mean come on, the article talks about humans being the central nervous system of Gaia. "Not that I want to start a flamewar here," but let's call a duck, a duck, and move on. This guy's a quack, moving on...

Yeah, Okay. (1)

AlienGoods (928169) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483008)

Well the shock factor is amusing, it sounds to me like he's watching too many movies. We're going to be living in a Mad Max world, and we should make a guidebook ala Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Take the advice of the latter. Don't Panic.

On a side note, I think it would have been a more interesting read if he'd mixed in the plots of Army of Darkness and Debbie Does Dallas.

I am the Knight Rider! (1)

s31523 (926314) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483018)

So, basically, I should hoard a bunch of gas and build a bad-ass gas-hog car with a super charger and a nitrous intake. got it. I'll get right on that.

I am the toecutter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483126)

I'd go with an older Kawasaki instead, it would be cheaper to get running, rquire less fuel, and be far cooler!

I've got my Kz400 all set for the wastelands!

Re:I am the Knight Rider! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483158)

That's Night Rider.

Knight Rider: drives a talking car.
Night Rider: lays down a rubber road straight to freedom.

Internally inconsistent (3, Insightful)

corbettw (214229) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483027)

This is interesting:

"It was ill luck that we started polluting at a time when the sun is too hot for comfort. We have given Gaia a fever and soon her condition will worsen to a state like a coma."

So he's saying that the output of the sun is one part of the global warming phenomenon, and that human-caused pollution is another. I partially agree with this, though I think the sun has a bigger part of it than he might.

But then he says:

"By failing to see that the Earth regulates its climate and composition, we have blundered into trying to do it ourselves, acting as if we were in charge. By doing this, we condemn ourselves to the worst form of slavery. If we chose to be the stewards of the Earth, then we are responsible for keeping the atmosphere, the ocean and the land surface right for life. A task we would soon find impossible - and something before we treated Gaia so badly, she had freely done for us." (emphasis added)

Wait, if it's "impossible" for us to regulate the environment, doesn't it logically follow it is equally impossible for us to change it?? He seems to be saying "We've destroyed it, but we don't have the power to fix it." That's completely inconsistent.

The Article is Self Serving (1)

BrentRJones (68067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483030)

This so-called scientist is meerly promoting his own ideas and book. His "theory" that the earth is a living being is humorous.

If the man had "published" on slashdot, he would be marked a TROLL, marginalized, and maligned.

Replacing one fallacy with another (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483032)

The religion prosletizing of the "Global Warming" cult has failed to curtail economic freedom and development, slow scientific innovation and halt human progress.

Knowing no other approach, these forces are taking it up another notch.

Methinks we witness the birth of a new religion: "Global Death".

It's ust the end of THIS world. (1)

deathcloset (626704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483049)

Don't worry, "doomsday" is actually just another word for the technological singularity [wikipedia.org] .

Take a look at this [wikipedia.org] . There's still plenty of human birthing to take place - it's just the world as we know it which will end Friday, November 13, 2026. And good riddance says I!

well, good riddance to some of it. I like the majority of how the world is right now - there's just a couple little problems like war, famine and the like that I would like to strike off the issue board.

Nothing to worry about. (1)

0xC2 (896799) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483057)

International terrorism, global warming, peak oil, massive debt, nuclear proliferation, US president as eternal Commander-in-Chief.

No problem! Pass the popcorn...

The worst is yet to come... (4, Insightful)

Noryungi (70322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483066)

... or is it?

It seems to me that humanity has a tendency to fall into two intellectual traps:

  1. Either the future is rosy and beautiful, and the best is ahead of us (for instance: Nanotechnologies and nano-factories will save the world! Fusion power is right around the corner!),
  2. Or The End of the World and Civilization As We Know It is right around the corner (for instance: Peak Oil! Planet Warming! Bird Flu! Grey Goo! Killer Asteroids!).


I do believe both attitudes are just wrong. The future holds a lot of promises, but also a lot of challenges. There are international mechanisms in place to deal with global warming, for instance: that's what the Kyoto Protocol is all about.

Peak Oil may be very bad -- I do expect a lot of economic suffering ahead -- but it may also be our best chance to get rid of polluting hydrocarbons, and turn to ultra-efficiency and renewable energies. These, in turn, will have the added effect of lowering global warming and overall pollution.

Another example of this is nuclear war and MAD: it did not happen, probably because intelligent people on both sides understood the terrifying consequences. That also means we are stuck with thousands and thousands of nukes that need to be decommissioned and possibilities of proliferation, but that, too, can be taken care of.

So: ignoring problems is just as bad as putting your head in the sand and pretending everything is A-OK. What Winston Churchill used to say about Americans really apply to the whole human race: "They will always choose the right solution... but only after trying every other one". We may suffer in the short run, but the nimbleness, adaptability and intelligence of human beings mean they will come out all right in the end. Our problem is that we always take the short view and the easy solution first, instead of the long-term view and making the necessary sacrifices right now, instead of tomorrow.

More likely like this .... (1)

LividBlivet (898817) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483069)

Day One - The War With Iran
By Douglas Herman

The war began as planned. The Israeli pilots took off well before dawn
and streaked across Lebanon and northern Iraq, high above Kirkuk. Flying
US-made F-15 and F-16s, the Israelis separated over the mountains of
western Iran, the pilots gesturing a last minute show of confidence in
their mission, maintaining radio silence.

Just before the sun rose over Tehran, moments before the Muslim call to
prayer, the missiles struck their targets. While US Air Force AWACS
planes circled overhead--listening, watching, recording--heavy US
bombers followed minutes later. Bunker-busters and mini-nukes fell on
dozens of targets while Iranian anti-aircraft missiles sped skyward.

The ironically named Bushehr nuclear power plant crumbled to dust.
Russian technicians and foreign nationals scurried for safety. Most did
not make it.

Targets in Saghand and Yazd, all of them carefully chosen many months
before by Pentagon planners, were destroyed. The uranium enrichment
facility in Natanz; a heavy water plant and radioisotope facility in
Arak; the Ardekan Nuclear Fuel Unit; the Uranium Conversion Facility and
Nuclear Technology Center in Isfahan; were struck simultaneously by USAF
and Israeli bomber groups.

The Tehran Nuclear Research Center, the Tehran Molybdenum, Iodine and
Xenon Radioisotope Production Facility, the Tehran Jabr Ibn Hayan
Multipurpose Laboratories, the Kalaye Electric Company in the Tehran
suburbs were destroyed.

Iranian fighter jets rose in scattered groups. At least those Iranian
fighter planes that had not been destroyed on the ground by swift and
systematic air strikes from US and Israeli missiles. A few Iranian
fighters even launched missiles, downing the occasional attacker, but
American top guns quickly prevailed in the ensuing dogfights.

The Iranian air force, like the Iranian navy, never really knew what hit
them. Like the slumbering US sailors at Pearl Harbor, the pre-dawn,
pre-emptive attack wiped out fully half the Iranian defense forces in a
matter of hours.

By mid-morning, the second and third wave of US/Israeli raiders screamed
over the secondary targets. The only problem now, the surprising
effectiveness of the Iranian missile defenses. The element of surprise
lost, US and Israeli warplanes began to fall from the skies in
considerable numbers to anti-aircraft fire.

At 7:35 AM, Tehran time, the first Iranian anti-ship missile destroyed a
Panamanian oil tanker, departing from Kuwait and bound for Houston.
Launched from an Iranian fighter plane, the Exocet split the ship in
half and set the ship ablaze in the Strait of Hormuz. A second and third
tanker followed, black smoke billowing from the broken ships before they
blew up and sank. By 8:15 AM, all ship traffic on the Persian Gulf had
ceased.

US Navy ships, ordered earlier into the relative safety of the Indian
Ocean, south of their base in Bahrain, launched counter strikes. Waves
of US fighter planes circled the burning wrecks in the bottleneck of
Hormuz but the Iranian fighters had fled.

At 9 AM, Eastern Standard Time, many hours into the war, CNN reported a
squadron of suicide Iranian fighter jets attacking the US Navy fleet
south of Bahrain. Embedded reporters aboard the ships--sending live
feeds directly to a rapt audience of Americans just awakening--reported
all of the Iranian jets destroyed, but not before the enemy planes
launched dozens of Exocet and Sunburn anti-ship missiles. A US aircraft
carrier, cruiser and two destroyers suffered direct hits. The cruiser
blew up and sank, killing 600 men. The aircraft carrier sank an hour later.

By mid-morning, every military base in Iran was partially or wholly
destroyed. Sirens blared and fires blazed from hundreds of fires.
Explosions rocked Tehran and the electrical power failed. The Al
Jazeerah news station in Tehran took a direct hit from a satellite bomb,
leveling the entire block.

At 9:15 AM, Baghdad time, the first Iranian missile struck the Green
Zone. For the next thirty minutes a torrent of missiles landed on GPS
coordinates carefully selected by Shiite militiamen with cell phones
positioned outside the Green Zone and other permanent US bases. Although
US and Israeli bomber pilots had destroyed 90% of the Iranian missiles,
enough Shahabs remained to fully destroy the Green Zone, the Baghdad
airport, and a US Marine base. Thousands of unsuspecting US soldiers
died in the early morning barrage. Not surprisingly, CNN and Fox
withheld the great number of casualties from American viewers.

By 9:30 AM, gas stations on the US east coast began to raise their
prices. Slowly at first and then altogether in a panic, the prices rose.
$4 a gallon, and then $5 and then $6, the prices skyrocketed. Worried
motorists, rushing from work, roared into the nearest gas station,
radios blaring the latest reports of the pre-emptive attack on Iran.
While fistfights broke out in gas stations everywhere, the third Middle
Eastern war had begun.

In Washington DC, the spin began minutes after the first missile struck
its intended target. The punitive strike--not really a war said the
harried White House spokesman--would further democracy and peace in the
Middle East. Media pundits mostly followed the party line. By ridding
Iran of weapons of mass destruction, Donald Rumsfeld declared
confidently on CNN, Iran might follow in the footsteps of Iraq, and
enjoy the hard won fruits of freedom.

The president scheduled a speech at 2 PM. Gas prices rose another two
dollars before then. China and Japan threatened to dump US dollars. Gold
rose $120 an ounce. The dollar plummeted against the Euro.

CNN reported violent, anti-American protests in Paris, London, Rome,
Berlin and Dublin. Fast food franchises throughout Europe, carrying
American corporate logos, were firebombed.

A violent coup toppled the pro-American Pakistan president. On the New
York Stock Exchange, prices fell in a frenzy of trading--except for the
major petroleum producers. A single, Iranian Shahab missile struck Tel
Aviv, destroying an entire city block. Israel vowed revenge, and
threatened a nuclear strike on Tehran, before a hastily called UN
General Assembly in New York City eased tensions.

An orange alert in New York City suddenly reddened to a full-scale
terror alarm when a package detonated on a Manhattan subway. Mayor
Bloomberg declared martial law. Governor Pataki ordered the New York
National Guard fully mobilized, mobilizing what few national guardsmen
remained in the state.

President Bush looked shaken at 2 PM. The scroll below the TV screen
reported Persian Gulf nations halting production of oil until the
conflict could be resolved peacefully. Venezuelan president, Hugo
Chavez, announced a freeze in oil deliveries to the US would begin
immediately. Tony Blair offered to mediate peace negotiations, between
the US and Israel and Iran, but was resoundingly rejected.

By 6 PM, Eastern Standard Time, gas prices had stabilized at just below
$10 a gallon. A Citgo station in Texas, near Fort Sam Houston Army base,
was firebombed. No one claimed responsibility. Terrorism was not ruled out.

At sunset, the call to prayer--in Tehran, Baghdad, Islamabad, Ankara,
Jerusalem, Jakarta, Riyadh--sounded uncannily like the buzzing of
enraged bees.

*********

USAF veteran, Douglas Herman correctly predicted the aftermath of the
attack on Iraq in his column: Shock & Awe Followed by Block-To-Block.
He is the author of The Guns of Dallas, available at Amazon.com. Contact
him at douglasherman7@yahoo.com.

Dubos Would Roll His Eyes Again (1)

MikeyTheK (873329) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483071)

It's amazing how frequently these types of papers are released and how wrong they always are. Rene Jules Dubos, an environmentalist at SUNY, once, in a book (one of many) documenting the environmental damage Man had wreaked wrote "Wherever human beings are involved, trend is never destiny because life starts anew for them, with each new sunrise."
The point that Dubos made, repeatedly over decades, is that there have been doomsday predictions for hundreds of years in the Western world, from when the Black Forest was gutted, to when Jamaica Bay was more polluted than the Cuyahoga, to predictions regarding the environmental consequences of population growth made by several since-discredited economists. Yet in each and every circumstance, as technology advances and our knowlege, understanding, and wisdom of how the Earth operates has improved, Mankind has not only stopped the madness, but reversed the damage as well.
In fact, following the law of unintended consequences, many times after Man has botched things up, nature, storing in her litle finger more power to impose her will than Man could inflict in ten thousand lifetimes, has taken care of the problem herself.
The fact that we don't understand, and can't calculate the healing power of Mom Na isn't her fault. However, making this sort of idiotic statement just proves that we're too ignorant to have the right to make them.

The First Thing I am gonna need ... (1)

b3x (586838) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483072)

Is a 73 Ford Falcon, then a sawed off shotgun, and a leather outfit ... hmmm

Then I should be all set for Doomsday!

Another Perspective: Jared Diamond's Collapse (1)

wranlon (540319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483086)

I think Jared Diamond's Collapse [amazon.com] offers an informative look on how the enviroment and our impact on the same plays a role in the success and potential collapse of civilizations. It is still bleak in areas, but not outright hopeless.

What bothers me about this article is that it closes with the following: "So let us be brave and cease thinking of human needs and rights alone." (bold my emphasis). Perhaps this is a poor choice of words and I've misread them. But, I don't believe that the pursuit of our basic needs and the preservation of our rights has as much to do with harming the enviroment as does sating our every want, whatever form it takes. Or, it could be the quasi-religious zeal with which he paints Gaia's wrath. Or, maybe it was that I read half-way through the article before hitting the part about the author's new book, and realized this was an advertisement.

I BETTER HURRY (1)

Harlockjds (463986) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483087)

I need to get my leather chaps, spiked codpiece and chain mail before doomsday hits and everyone runs out to the market to buy them.

End-Of-Word Growth Industry Stalled By Y2K (1)

scottsk (781208) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483105)

Too bad there's not much growth in fear mongering now. Y2K really killed the cottage industry of predicting the end of the world - not much room for growth until a generation or two comes along who did not experience the monumental hype-up for, and the consequent ABSOLUTELY NOTHING of Y2K. I can't even remember any interesting doomsday theories since Y2K, although I guess a few people have predicted stuff just to keep their hand in it for when an opportunity comes along. Most of the stuff is penny-ante after the nuclear age and Y2K. Hard to come up with something scary enough to motivate people into action (which is usually emptying their pockets!). So dump any stock you own in fear mongering enterprises... I can't predict, but there will probably be a round of cult growth before we get back to fear mongering. I've noticed the TM people taking out ads for "peace palaces" in the NY Times.

2 man enter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483107)

1 man leave

Sweet, Mad Max (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483114)

Two men enter, one man leaves.

Incremental Disasters (1)

boyfaceddog (788041) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483119)

History (all of it) ahows us that things usually don't happen all at once. A huricane here, a melting glacier there, a rise in sea levels and a little less ozone and viola! Global Disaster(tm). We're more than few decades here, like two hundred or so, not a sudden lasting change. Peddle your mini-series somewhere else!

Who's laughing NOW??!!1?! (1)

Monte (48723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483123)

Glad I kept all my Y2k preps! Bring on the Mad-Max scenario! Bring on the purple spikey-haired mutants! You'll all be drinking dog urine out of rusty hubcaps soon enough!

Knowledge of Humanity (2, Funny)

AeroIllini (726211) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483132)

He suggests we should be writing a practical guidebook printed on long lasting paper containing "the basic accumulated scientific knowledge of humanity."

So, he's saying we need to set up a Foundation to start work on the Encyclopedia Galactica?

Perhaps he's a psychohistorian. Perhaps just an historical psycho.

Either way, he reads too much Clarke.

You mean Desperate like the US? (1)

dokebi (624663) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483136)

I tihnk he's about 3 years too late, 20 if you count the planning stages. What do you think Iraqi Freedom is, a field trip?

Like it or not, US cannot maintain even a semblence of her current economy without cheap oil. Even our food production is heavily oil based--from fertilization, mechanized harvesting, to transportation.

One way to prevent a Mad Max type situation is to guarantee oil supplies from a foreign source, backed by military force and strong border security (a la a big FENCE).

Another way is to invest in alternative energy, and reduce consumption (a la change "our way of life").

Which is better? That depends on who was/is/will be our President.

foxfire (1)

phrostie (121428) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483139)

years ago there was a series of books called the FoxFire series.
although they could use some refining they have a wealth of practical how to's.

i've always thought they should be expanded to cover more current and modern applications.

Pointless article. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14483140)

He may be probably right, but that article is a book ad and virtually says nothing.

Film at Eleven (4, Insightful)

crmartin (98227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483165)

Jeez I'm old.

I remember this same meme being around in the early 60's --- it was nuclear war then --- and in the mid-70's, with The Limits to Growth. Oh, and don't forget The Population Bomb. The expected date is always in the potential lifetime of younger readers, but comfortably in the future for older ones, and so far (note that you're reading this) it always fails to happen.

Oh, and one other thing: the person pushing the theory is always selling something. A book, money for "further research," something.

Hands on your wallets, kids.

Cycles (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 8 years ago | (#14483174)

Damn.
Whos turn is it to be Jesus ?
Can we use our writers this time ?
I think you'll all agree that King James screwed too many things up last time.
If we can't use our writers, at least keep his ass away from the alcohol, we don't need any burning bushes getting the kids hooked on mushrooms this time.
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