Had I really not published this post before? Here is my speculation on what will cause the (next) apocalypse / collapse of civilization. In order of likelihood:
Why ask this question, you ask? Apocalypse is a surprisingly entertaining subject for us. I ask, why are we all interested in it?
- Apathy: the builders of society get bored when we can’t reach new highs and we just let it go. Like a little boy playing with Legos, the world is built by men. How long does a Lego structure last? The bigger it is the funner it is to destroy. How long does a dollhouse last within sight of a young boy? We should enjoy our tower while it stands!
- Zombies: zombies have already caused one apocalyptic civilization collapse. The only question remaining is, could they end us entirely?
- Disease*: disease is ancient and kills by numbers even bigger than millions or billions. Disease kills by the percentage of population. Disease is our most ancient enemy and far-underrated as it is invisible and not glamorous or sensational.
- Nuclear war: nukes are powerful and most people don’t even realize how powerful. Fusion bombs make Hiroshima and Nagasaki look tiny.
- Global Carbon Transfer (commonly mis-labeled as “global warming” or “climate change): this I believe is unlikely to cause our end. I think we are being overly-optimistic to imagine that we will thrive long enough for this to get us.
- EMP: again I think it’s optimistic to believe we will last long enough for an electromagnetic pulse to get us. Plus, one-time catastrophes like an EMP are sensational but not nearly as crushing as grinding sickness that can slowly erode resolve over years, decades, centuries.
- Flood, Earthquake, Asteroid, Volcano, Fire, Storm: wouldn’t be the first time for some of these, but could any of them really take us out? An asteroid certainly could, but it’s pretty sensational.
*COVID has brought disease to attention but the COVID response has mostly just highlighted our unprecedented inability to actually do something. Lose weight? Strengthen yourself in the face of disease? None of that. This could be an opportunity to get healthy.
On 2 November 2020 I decided to depart the corporate career path (energy engineer) for the rest of my life. My knee-jerk solution was to learn to sail and make sailing my occupation somehow. Regardless of what I do, I made the decision because of a fundamental idea: I am convinced that true progress in the next several decades will not be in new technologies, but in learning to use the existing technologies in a more wholesome way. As I went down the list of categories on my blog, I realized my decision affects almost every category.
Brazil Now What Migration Series: I once again do not know where I will go.
English Lessons: language is basic. Will I teach English from a sailboat?
Industrial Change Surfing: Industrial Change Surfing is about decisions – this was an enormous decision based on industrial changes.
Rage and Frenzy Politics: I believe the current polarized divisive politics partly arise from frustration with the diminishing returns of tech. (A pause for sailing is in order!)
Real Estate: boats are floating real estate. (the tax is maintenance!)
Travel: Sailing is the oldest form of long-distance water travel!
Ventures Quarterly: I have not been faithful to quarterly updates lately, but this obviously represents a ventures update.
Global Carbon Transfer
I have said before that we should call this concept we are all familiar with Global Carbon Transfer. That is what it is and always has been.
Global Carbon Transfer is directly measurable.
The term “Global Carbon Transfer” is completely accurate to what we are actually doing. We know that we are transferring carbon.
The name “Global Carbon Transfer” allows for consideration of other unknown effects that we have yet to identify that nobody even talks about.
We are transferring a lot of carbon from the ground to the atmosphere. This is an indisputable fact.
Simple Man’s Evidence for Global Warming
I personally believe that global carbon transfer is causing significant man-made global warming. Here is a list of the evidence that shapes my concept of the world, my personal observations that lead to my belief:
- I learned in Physics class in high school in ~2001 that carbon dioxide reflects infrared light / heat more than the other more highly-abundant components of the atmosphere. This makes sense to me. It would be difficult to fake this, easy to confirm or refute. I put this under the heading of scientific fact.
- We learned what the greenhouse effect is, and I have personally been inside both a hot car in the sun, and an actual greenhouse. Fact.
- I have personally seen an equilibrium exhibit a large change based on a small increase in a catalyst. For example:
- Milk goes sour if you drink from the carton.
- I saw chemicals abruptly change color in chemistry class after just drops of liquid entering.
- If I had drunk two beers this morning instead of two cups of coffee, my blood would have changed by less than one percent, but I would absolutely not have written this post.
- Small change can yield big change.
- Catalysts exist.
- I have seen man affect the environment, both for good and bad. Some of these I didn’t personally see of course, but they happened:
- Water quality in Columbus, Ohio versus Rio de Janeiro.
- Chemical disaster in Bhopal, India 1984.
- Smog in LA.
- Scale of the Piper Alpha explosion in 1988.
- Personal accounts of the reduction in litter in the United States following anti-litter campaigns in the 1970s.
- Chernobyl of course, but that’s nuclear not chemical, a whole ‘nother level.
- Urban sewage management, cities now versus 200 years ago.
- Forests versus fields.
- I see carbon entering the atmosphere that used to be in the ground from sources that are less than a century old. Sound ridiculous? It’s everywhere. Everywhere. Try not seeing it! We could not transfer more carbon if we started a campaign to transfer more. Everything we do contributes to carbon transfer, and is mostly new!
- The earth is really really old. There has been a lot of time for plants live, absorb carbon dioxide, respire oxygen, die, and be buried in the ground. Let me repeat, really really old, and a lot a lot a lot a lot of time. A lot. There has been so much time in fact that I no longer view the air I breath as coming from “the earth in general,” but as being the breathed out breath of plants. Call me a tree-hugger, but it is an accurate concept, much more accurate than the “general earth air” idea that comes easy. The atmosphere is and always has been a product of life and vice versa. It is a two-way street.
Johnny Cash – The Man Comes Around
R.E.M. – It’s the End of the World as we Know It
Paulinho Moska – O Último Dia (The Last Day)
The song is in Portuguese, but the pictures tell the story.
My love, if you were given just one more day, what would you do? Would you…?
San Andreas Trailer, 2015
Noah Trailer, 2014
Armageddon Trailer, 1998
Asteroid Trailer, 1997
Dante’s Peak Trailer, 1997
Backdraft Trailer, 1991
Perfect Storm Trailer, 2000
Twister Trailer, 1996
Rainbow Six Novel, 1998
My favorite disaster based novel, no movie yet. Must read!