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Mr. Roboto

And also, because of the principle of diminishing returns, more energy is required as the system in question becomes larger and more complex to generate the same amount of growth.


Let me say that in the social realm I'm a Marxist so this sudden discovery is old hat here. You should also consider that Climate change results not just from some technical effect but from techniques of production and the existence of Capitalist externalities. The other side of Free Enterprise(autonomous producers selecting technology to maximise profits). And if the combination of Free Enterprise and piston power can change the composition of the atmosphere imagine what it will be able to accomplish with genetic and nano technologies organised for profit. But sadly not for survival. Social hierarchies have proved to be a good species mechanism for doing something fast(in historical terms)like developing technologies for production. Not for doing something dull ,like surviving. What's that old description of the Bourgeois life cycle 'in come the dividends up go the lofty thoughts'. Now in the entirely predictable bust 'down go the dividends out go the lofty thoughts' . There is of course a chance that humans will survive in spite of everything. But I wouldn't bet a Kopeck on it.

Bill Hicks

Romm and company really need to take a few minutes and watch a couple of You Tube videos of all the Black Friday madness and then come back and tell us that there is ANY chance the shameful behavior of their fellow Americans is going to change short of them no longer being ABLE to engage in it thanks to fossil fuel depletion.


If a miracle occurs and we find a new energy source that causes little to no pollution/GHG gases (hope Santa can deliver), it would not be our salvation. It would simply allow more humans to gobble up and destroy more of the earth's resources. Climate change is only one of the symptoms of our reckless growth that disregards the environment.

Dave Cohen

Re: if a miracle occurs

I agree. If a miracle occurs, we will probably destroy our habitat faster.

Those bent out of shape about climate change are treating a symptom (albeit a major one) without treating the disease. Joe Romm is one of those.

-- Dave


Well said, very true, and not news to me, but still very hard to internalize.

I suppose the same logic applies to driving the economy off the cliff with more debt and QE rather than letting some stuff default now.

Tenney Naumer

I get the distinct impression that you think we should just give up and kiss our a@@es goodbye.

I love George Carlin and he is correct about nearly everything, but I have to base my own actions on the assumption that he is dead wrong.

Eventually, things will come down to a real crisis and people will get it into their heads that people are more important than things. By then, they may not have many things, anyway.

Dave Cohen

Re: kiss our asses goodbye

I write this blog, but regarding the Human Condition, it really doesn't matter what I think. I'm an empiricist. I'm just describing what there is to see. Anyone who sees behavior different than what I've described here is 1) delusional or 2) dishonest.

And sometimes when I point out to people that they are delusional or dishonest, they get angry with me for pointing it out.

I saw your comment on yesterday's post. I'm sorry to tell you this, but the climate people have constructed an elaborate fantasy world, and having built that house, they have moved right in.

So, you must base you Obligatory Hope on the assumption that Carlin and I are wrong and "people will get it into their heads" blah, blah, blah.

Good luck with that.

-- Dave

John Theodorou

As the Koran says, “those who destroy the Earth will be destroyed.”

william mcdonald

In a nutshell, there are more and more of us humans, all wanting a lot of things, things which require a lot of fossil fuels to make- human population exploding, soon to be on a logarithmic scale, and as Dave says, we are in or about to be in a peak oil situation, a million straws sucking up the last of the oil pockets- how in the hell can this not end badly?

Decline of the empire, we are definitely "consuming" on borrowed time-
from ourselves as individuals to our nation state- I don't think we will need to say "last one out the door, turn out the lights,"- there
probably won't be any power for the damned switch.

John Theodorou

Most people want peace and the status quo (i.e. the 'oil-burning') to continue, if only for a few more years, although this will cause the destruction of the biosphere and the happiness of future generations to come. The challenge at hand is to prevent modern civilisation (i.e. the liberal-democracy, capitalism and globalisation) from completing this mission. However, the odds of this happening are very small since most people want peace and the status quo...blah, blah, blah, blah blah.


@tenney - you make bold assertions but you never say how we get beyond the hurdle of 8 billion people living on a planet w declining resources. So the little guy "wakes up" and then what? As I see it billions live on the margins, and as the margins narrow, you'll see mass mortality. "waking up" then means seeing this catastrophe unfold before it takes you.

Also where is the pivot going? Here are a couple of ideas you seem to overlook- what about a small elite controlling all resources enslaving and killing off the meaningless bulk of humanity? Or maybe the pivot can be towards some technology that allows us to live in suspended animation hallucinating a more perfect virtual world? Let the little people sleep for gods sake and get a clue.


This whole situation is like a few sentient yeast cells realizing that the petri dish they are growing in is fast filling up with their ever-expanding numbers, but there's nothing that can be done to stop it.


xray, I was going to post about how we can't escape our roots, biologically, or otherwise. Thus, yeast in the Petri dish.

Aren't most species a bell curve?


@xraymike79 and Brett

those 'centient yeast cells' are not centient if they do not realize that they need to find the ways to find each other, exchange the knowledge, learn the dynamics of the petri dish and work on the ways to go thru saturation event

saturation of the petri dish by yiest cells is just change of the environment that will simply lead to less yiest cells

the process of 'sentienization' will continue for as long as 'yiest' exists as species

eventually, at a grossly different petry dish, fully sentient organization of yiest cells will emerge that will regulate its own expansion in such a way as maintain the rate suportable by outside inflows of energy (solar)

when? - who knows :)


I certainly agree with your points about the economy, and that humans will do nothing about this because we refuse to shrink our economy.

However, in regards to not hitting 560ppm because there aren't enough fossil fuels to burn to get there, I think it is important to realize that there are other sources of CO2 that could contribute beyond fossil fuels. I think one of the biggest is the thawing of the permafrost, but there are others. The feedback loops are not entirely understood, but we could reach a point of warming where the amount of CO2 entering the atmosphere from fossil fuels is outweighed by other sources.

Just wanted to point that out.

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