Bookmarked The Anthropocene Is a Joke (The Atlantic)

On geological timescales, human civilization is an event, not an epoch.

Peter Brannen looks at our current impact on the world and where it sits with the history of the earth. Very stoic.

Marginalia

For context, let’s compare the eventual geological legacy of humanity (somewhat unfairly) to that of the dinosaurs, whose reign spanned many epochs and lasted a functionally eternal 180 million years—36,000 times as long as recorded human history so far. But you would never know this near-endless age was so thoroughly dominated by the terrible reptiles by looking to the rock record of the entire eastern half of North America. Here, dinosaurs scarcely left behind a record at all. And not because they weren’t here the entire time—with millions of generations of untold dinosaurs living, hunting, mating, dying, foraging, migrating, evolving, and enduring throughout, up and down the continent, in great herds and in solitary ambushes. But the number of sites within that entire yawning span, and over these thousands of square miles, where they could have been preserved—or that weren’t destroyed by later erosion, or that happen to be exposed at the surface today—was vanishingly small.

If, in the final 7,000 years of their reign, dinosaurs became hyperintelligent, built a civilization, started asteroid mining, and did so for centuries before forgetting to carry the one on an orbital calculation, thereby sending that famous valedictory six-mile space rock hurtling senselessly toward the Earth themselves—it would be virtually impossible to tell. All we do know is that an asteroid did hit, and that the fossils in the millions of years afterward look very different than in the millions of years prior.

via Jeremy Keith

Listened IRL Podcast: The Internet’s Carbon Footprint from irlpodcast.org

Manoush Zomorodi explores the surprising environmental impact of the internet in this episode of IRL. Because while it’s easy to think of the internet as living only on your screen, energy demand for the internet is indeed powered by massive server farms, running around the clock, all over the world. What exactly is the internet’s carbon footprint? And, what can we do about it?

This all makes me wonder what impact 5G might have in regards to ‘carbon footprint’? Will it just make it easier to waste the world away? This is something that James Bridle touches upon in the New Dark Age.
Listened What oil companies knew: the great climate cover-up – podcast from the Guardian

Author Bill McKibben on how industry lobbying created 30-year barrier to tOil firms are said to have known for decades of the link between burning fossil fuels and climate breakdown. Author Bill McKibben describes how industry lobbying created a 30-year barrier to tackling the crisis.ackling crisis.

Bookmarked ‘Just add water’: Lake Eyre is filling in a way not seen for 45 years (ABC News)

In Central Australia, one of the largest and most pristine river systems on the planet is flooding.

Dominique Schwartz reports on the water currently filling Lake Eyre. What is unique about this is that it is all just nature. Although locals fought an attempt in 1995 to introduce large-scale irrigated cotton farming on the Cooper, there has not been any other attempts. It makes me wonder about rewilding and letting things take their cause.
Bookmarked Will building the Bradfield Scheme to redirect water reduce the effects of drought? (Crikey)

Barnaby Joyce says this 1930s plan will reduce the effects of drought. Is he right?

I have always heard reference to turning back the rivers, but never know what it was called. This article provides some background to the Bradford Scheme and why the proposal is pie in the sky. It reminds me in part of the dream of towing an iceberg to Cape Town to provide drinking water.
Bookmarked Rebecca Solnit: When the Hero is the Problem (Literary Hub)

Our largest problems won’t be solved by heroes. They’ll be solved, if they are, by movements, coalitions, civil society. The climate movement, for example, has been first of all a mass effort, and if figures like Bill McKibben stand out—well he stands out as the cofounder of a global climate action group whose network is in 188 countries and the guy who keeps saying versions of “The most effective thing you can do about climate as an individual is stop being an individual.”

Rebecca Solnit unpacks the problem of heroes when trying to drive change. In part this reminds me of some of the arguments in Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human, especially the challenge of narrative. It also captures what Martin Lukacs describes as the ‘con’ of individual action associated with change.

via Katexic

Liked We Might Be Reaching ‘Peak Indifference’ on Climate Change (WIRED)

The current political moment is incredibly interesting. Anyone who wants to deal with climate change may have only a brief window to sell the public on a plan. In his new book The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming, the writer David Wallace-­Wells talks about the value of panic to pushing collective action; Doctorow says it’s the point “where you divert your energy from convincing people there’s a problem to convincing them there’s a solution.”

Bookmarked Pattern and Forecast (Vol. 5) – Believer Magazine (Believer Magazine)
Josephine Rowe discusses Nevil Shute 1957 book On the Beach written about a nuclear holocaust in the northern hemisphere. The story documents people’s response of people in Melbourne on the coming nuclear cloud progressively moving south. Rowe compares this with the current milieu around the threat of global warming. With record heat waves in Central Australia and bushfires caused by lightning in Tasmania.
Bookmarked Are we on the road to civilisation collapse? (bbc.com)

Studying the demise of historic civilisations can tell us about the risk we face today, says collapse expert Luke Kemp. Worryingly, the signs are worsening.

In an article a part of a new BBC Future series about the long view of humanity, Luke Kemp unpacks the historical reasons that have contributed to the fall of past empires. These reasons include climate change, inequality, increasing complexity and demand on the environment. Although Kemp suggests there are reasons to be optimistic, he also warns that the connected nature of today’s civilization has made for a rungless ladder where any fall has the potential to be fatal.

Marginalia

Think of civilisation as a poorly-built ladder. As you climb, each step that you used falls away. A fall from a height of just a few rungs is fine. Yet the higher you climb, the larger the fall. Eventually, once you reach a sufficient height, any drop from the ladder is fatal.

With the proliferation of nuclear weapons, we may have already reached this point of civilisational “terminal velocity”. Any collapse – any fall from the ladder – risks being permanent. Nuclear war in itself could result in an existential risk: either the extinction of our species, or a permanent catapult back to the Stone Age.

Bookmarked Tasmania is burning. The climate disaster future has arrived while those in power laugh at us | Richard Flanagan (the Guardian)

Scott Morrison is trying to scare people about economic policy but seems blithely unaware people are already scared – about climate change

It feels like one of the dominant narratives about global warming is that the caps will rise and the sea levels will rise. However, what posts like this highlight is that it is all far more complicated.

Marginalia

What has become clear over these last four weeks across this vast, beautiful land of Australia is that a way of life is on the edge of vanishing. Australian summers, once a time of innocent pleasure, now are to be feared, to be anticipated not with joy but with dread, a time of discomfort, distress and, for some, fear that lasts not a day or a night but weeks and months. Power grids collapse, dying rivers vomit huge fish kills, while in the north, in Townsville, there are unprecedented floods, and in the south heat so extreme it pushes at the very edge of liveability has become everyday.

Climate change isn’t just happening. It’s happening far quicker than has been predicted. Each careful scientific prediction is rapidly overtaken by the horror of profound natural changes that seem to be accelerating, with old predictions routinely outdone by the worsening reality – hotter, colder, wetter, drier, windier, wilder, and ever more destructive.

Bookmarked Human rights for the 21st century: by Margaret Atwood, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Dave Eggers and more by Margaret Atwood, Josh Cohen, Dave Eggers, James Bridle, Anne Enright, Olivia Laing, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Bill McKibbon (the Guardian)

As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights turns 70, leading authors reimagine it for today

  • The right to be a person, not a thing (Margaret Atwood)
  • The right to an inhabitable planet (Bill McKibben)
  • The right to live free from blame (Anne Enright)
  • The right to understand (James Bridle)
  • The right to live free from discrimination (Reni Eddo-Lodge)
  • The right not to work (Josh Cohen)
  • The right to define yourself (Olivia Laing)
  • The right to a life offline (Dave Eggers)
Bookmarked To Slow Down Climate Change, We Need To Take On Capitalism by an author (BuzzFeed News)

As we head for the edge of a climate change cliff, neoliberal market capitalism is chewing up the biosphere and the lives of everyone in it. But it’s not too late to act.

Kim Stanley Robinson argues that change is still possible to alivate the crisis of global warming. However, this is not individual change, but rather political change.

Any such resistance will have to emerge in forms borrowed from the system we have now, in a stepwise process using the political tools already at hand. This is a depressing thought, but as methods go, it’s the lesser of many evils. The other options include things like world revolution (messy, murderous, prone to failure or blowback); or a fall into a new Dark Age, followed by a renaissance some centuries later; or — well, what else is there? Alien or divine intervention I leave to others to imagine. In our timeline, it seems to me the only real option is politics. Or to be more specific, political economy.

This ‘political economy’ would be post-capitalism. In many respects this touches on Douglas Rushkoff’s push for more human intervention and involvement.

A political economy like this would be a “post-capitalism” one in which everyone could live at adequacy, including wild and domestic mammals, birds, fish, insects, plants, bacteria, and all the other parts of Earth’s living symbiosis. What we’re doing now makes it harder to get to that good future, but the goal is still physically possible to attain. This is the project that human civilization has to take on to survive, and one that will provide not just employment, but purpose. We all crave meaning in our lives, and by a strange twist of fate, a very meaningful project has been given to us: Prevent a mass extinction event, and build a better world for the generations to come.