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Tiny little thing, isn't she.

She's all we have in this universe, our only home, and our only shelter. She's everything to us, and gripping her tightly we bob along together.

She's our little lifeboat.

Well, maybe to us she doesn't seem so little. To us she is titanically impressive. After all she's about 5 trillion times the size of the biggest lifeboats we've ever seen.

But she's still only a pale blue dot. A tiny speck in a terribly, incalculably vast ocean.

In real terms she remains only a lifeboat.

She carries a finite amount of nearly all essential resources, and the protected environment she provides is a closed system; any upset can have ubiquitously devastating consequences throughout the system. If it's disrupted beyond a certain point that's IT for us. Adios mi amigos. No more human race. Some few may survive, possibly even a great many. Enough to fill a football stadium, or a national mall, or a generation ship, headed for Alpha Centauri. Tough break for the rest of us. Therefore our responsible management of those resources, and of ourselves, and of our lifeboat, are severally of paramount importance. This is the open ocean, help is at the very least light-years away. Indeed; save for magic, a miracle, or a lucky break of Vulcan proportions there can be no help from outside.

So we're going to have to finally start helping ourselves. Our situation is dire, despite the fact that our Earth is amazingly bountiful for a vessel of her type. Life is rarely easy on board a lifeboat, and ours is no exception.

Yet for our current straits we have only ourselves to blame.

More below the fold.

We are adrift in the howling dark, without succour and utterly alone except for each other, and our pets, of course.

At long last we've begun to truly understand this vessel and its many interwoven systems, and even a bit about the unthinkably hostile sea beyond. We've come to realize how precarious our perch upon her really is, how utterly indispensable she is to the survival of our species at our present state, and how important it is for us, as a lifeboat-striding culture, to both keep our footprints to a minimum and repair any damage we've already done.

What that means to the residents of a lifeboat, when you get right down to it, is PROTECT THE LIFEBOAT OR DIE.

I think I saw that written in a manual somewhere.

One would think that if our lifeboat's integrity were merely called into doubt, that doubt would take precedence over most everything else, let alone if there was consensus that it was poor and/or near failure.

That is exactly what we're seeing right now.

Our earth is in jeopardy, and we humans are directly responsible. We're still getting a handle on the extent of the problem, but there are people among us who have dedicated their lives to that very thing. Chemists, biologists, physicists, meteorologists, climatologists, and many many more, from around the globe and in many countries and tongues, have been doing tireless work not only finding out the extent of the damage, but also researching and consulting in turn with engineers, architects and builders to discover methods and means with which to nullify that damage and restore our lifeboat before it's too late. Their toil has been yielding measurable and actionable results for decades.

By their standards, that is, the scientific consensus of the human race, we are in big trouble; trouble we ourselves have caused and still have a chance to reverse. But the clock IS ticking.

However, there is the incessantly pesky matter of ourselves. Standing squarely in the way of the self-help we so desperately need.

We have long had a nasty habit: acquisition and accumulation of power and money at the expense of everything and everybody else. In many circles such habits, and those who practice them, are referred to as "industrious" and "hard-working" and "go-getters." Far too many of those of us at the top levels of our leadership, even now in these "enlightened" days, revere them as though they were the most virtuous of works; as though wanton use and abuse of our earth and our neighbors are somehow to be admired, even exalted.

Most of these self-identify as "conservative."

And where the scientific community sees total disaster, these "conservatives" see nothing but profits. Or rather the ohsoterrifying boogieman known as A Threat To Profits.

Because the preservation and maintenance of our earth, you know, that thing that allows you to live and breathe in relative comfort in a universe that would destroy you in seconds otherwise, is not worth a little consideration? Maybe a little risk management?

Because the potential fall of civilization doesn't constitute a threat to profits to you?

Conservatives?!? BLEH!

These greed-drunk fools should be ashamed to call themselves conservative. Just what on earth do they think they're conserving?

Nothing, that's what. Nothing at all but their own continued and unimpeded free-for-all. The worst part is that there are no illusions for them anymore. They're well aware of what they are doing, they must be.  

Go along to get along, but only for me. Everything else; you, your pets and the lifeboat, can all go to hell.
That is their mantra. Their suicide pact.

They would tempt the extinction of their own species, and see the extinction of countless others and our planet an utter ruin, rather than see a loss on the next quarterly report.

They would scuttle the lifeboat and kill everyone aboard rather than give up even a morsel of their treasure.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thanks for this (6+ / 0-)

    This is the proper perspective. And it brings things sharply into focus when a contingent of our fellow passengers are in active denial and punching holes in the hull.

  •  The planet is fine... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hammerhand, alx9090, Bronx59, unfangus

    The people, on the other hand...

    Especially starting at 2:31.

    "There are no atheists in foxholes" isn't an argument against atheism, it's an argument against foxholes. - James Morrow

    by kirrix on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 05:54:24 PM PDT

  •  It's not just the conservatives (7+ / 0-)

    but every single person who is unwilling to put their own hand in the gears to stop the machine.

    There's a way to stop it. It's not cheap. But it's not nearly as expensive as not stopping it. Imagine everyone making the necessary changes so that one of every two could stop working for the two, four, six months or more it would take for millions, perhaps tens of millions of people to force D.C. to stop everything it is doing until it ramps up a War Effort level response to Climate Change. Then everyone can go back to their families and jobs, etc.

    People just have to be willing to put their hands in the gears. Yeah, their hands may never be the same. Or they might get recover after all. But wouldn't it have been worth it?

    I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

    Trust, but verify. - Reagan
    Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

    by Words In Action on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 05:58:12 PM PDT

    •  Scientists Are the Only People Who Can Easily (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hammerhand, Words In Action, alx9090

      do this. The economy has been methodically restructured over the past half century to minimize the leverage of every group of workers that's ever struck, slowed down or sat down.

      But not scientists, there are only a very few of them, but the machine needs them badly.

      We don't need any more findings, we need denial of service. A hundred scientists could jam more gears than 10 million factory workers.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:19:42 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Maybe (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alx9090, ktboundary, Hammerhand, unfangus

        I think they'd be in much better shape if millions had their backs. Basically, McKibben's event Sept 20-21, attended by a 100 scientists and a million people who never leave NY, except perhaps to march on DC. But frankly, Wall St. would make just as much sense.

        I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

        Trust, but verify. - Reagan
        Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

        by Words In Action on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:53:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I saw that episode. (5+ / 0-)

        It did not end well.

        What you want are saboteurs.

        On a lighter note:

        Scientists Politely Remind World That Clean Energy Technology Ready To Go Whenever

        CAMBRIDGE, MA—Stating that they just want to make sure it’s something everyone keeps in mind going forward, an international consortium of scientists gently reminded the world Wednesday that clean energy technologies are pretty much ready to go anytime. “We’ve got solar, wind, geothermal—we’re all set to move forward with this stuff whenever everyone else is,” said Dr. Sandra Eakins, adding that researchers are also doing a lot of pretty amazing things with biomass these days. “Again, we’re good to go on this end, so just let us know. You seriously should see these new hydrogen fuel cells we have. Anyway, just say the word, and we’ll start rolling it out.” At press time, representatives from the world’s leading economies had signaled that they would continue to heavily rely on fossil fuels until they had something more than an overwhelming scientific consensus to go on

        - theonion.com (of course)
      •  A slight problem: scientists have been sounding... (4+ / 0-)

        A slight problem: scientists have been sounding the alarm about impending bad events for quite a while now...but the decision-makers seem to be deaf to those warnings.

        The drivers of change need to come from the masses. That means that those masses must be willing to alter their own lifestyles in order to drive that change.

      •  I guess maybe a scenario in which the 100 top (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hammerhand, ypochris

        scientists of our time set down their work and held a sit-in until the government and business leaders came up with a sensible response...

        It would certainly make a strong statement.

        Certainly would be a stronger statement if there were a general strike by the 97% of the scientists who recognize Climate Change and its largely man-made origin. Basically shut down the scientific infrastructure of the country.

        I've never left a blank space on a ballot... but I will not vote for someone [who vows] to spy on me. I will not do it. - dclawyer06

        Trust, but verify. - Reagan
        Vote, but Occupy. - commonmass

        by Words In Action on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 08:14:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Sorry...but my pessimism levels are a bit high ... (0+ / 0-)

          Sorry...but my pessimism levels are a bit high right now...

          I suspect that a protest by the top 1000 scientists would have no effect. The pols and their corporate handlers that really make the decisions are pretty much blind to science and scientists. Except of course when science and scientists support their ideas.

          The strongest statement...the statement that will result in substantive action... will come from those who will be directly and immediately impacted by a changing climate. Farmers. Ranchers. Potable water suppliers. Irrigation companies. Convince them that we are causing climate change that will hurt them and you have just recruited really strong and influential allies.

    •  That's well put (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Words In Action, alx9090

      though I am still hoping for few industrial accidents. The trick will be as many reaching at once as possible.

      And you're right, it will have been more than worth it

      •  Based on recent events, I would disagree. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hammerhand

        I share your concern. I wish I had something constructive to offer. I am thinking back to what changed following the industrial accident in West Virginia, and the one in West, TX

        You'd think we'd learn, right?

        More of those events won't help, I'm afraid.

      •  The era of "beneficial" industrial accidents is... (0+ / 0-)

        The era of "beneficial" industrial accidents is long past....well except perhaps for those accidents that highlight lapses in enforcing the rules that have been established. The current threats are far more subtle and (slowly) long-acting. We have dealt with emissions at the percent level...then the parts per thousand level...then the parts-per-million level. We now are at the parts-per-trillion level and still finding problems.

        Unfortunately, the discharge of nasty things at the PPT level is not something that can grab the average person's attention, damaging as it may be.

  •  Alas, in the US (at least), we tend to wait unt... (5+ / 0-)

    Alas, in the US (at least), we tend to wait until something really bad happens before we decide to do something. A river catches fire and then we decide that clean water is a good thing to have. Smog levels in certain cities consistently approach lethal levels and then we decide that clean air is a good thing. RCRA, Superfund, the ESA...all reactions to bad events. Wouldn't it be nice to for one act before something really bad happens?

  •  Thanks Hammerhand. We need to get this (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hammerhand, alx9090, ypochris

    idea across to the masses.

    Humor Alert! No statement from this UID is intended to be true, including this one. Comments and Posts intended for recreational purposes only. Unauthorized interpretations may lead to unexpected results. This waiver void where prohibited.

    by HoundDog on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 06:47:50 PM PDT

    •  Yes. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      alx9090, ypochris

      So many are in thrall though. The lies are thick. Cutting through them to reality on a big enough scale will be difficult.

    •  Some people can't be taught and IDK what to do (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hammerhand
      The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to emotionally comprehend the exponential function.
      Abraham Lincoln

      or maybe Albert Allen Bartlet
      but probably not Edward (Fuck that guy) Teller

      I think it's darkly funny that people fight over the attribution for this (specifically this) quote.

      I added Lincoln because I'm a jerk that way.

  •  We need more, better lifeboats (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Hammerhand, cotterperson
    •  Not much choice, unfortunately (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rduran, alx9090

      We have one that's too cold, and too exposed. Another two that are much, much too hot, and the nearer of them smells terrible. Other than that there are a few frozen balls of rocks and ice, and earth.

      Unless we can find some Vulcans

    •  There ARE no better lifeboats. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hammerhand, alx9090, unfangus

      I know your fantasy is that we all move into space. But we can't even build a car, with a century of experience, that we can rely on after twenty years of regular use. How do you think we will be able to build space colonies to survive for even a century, let alone eons? Look at the outposts we have created so far - how long before they are just garbage heaps in the sky, those that aren't already? And don't tell me we can do better when we have spent absurd amounts of money on these, making them the very best we can.

      The fantasy of man moving into space is dangerous, a pipe dream that allows us to think that we don't have to protect the one and only planet we will ever have.

      •  I think you underestimate the (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hammerhand, rduran

        ability of technology to surprise us. Every prediction over the centuries that technology was nearing its limits has proven to be false. We really have no idea today just what future humans will be capable. To suggest that it is impossible that we will figure out how to live on other planets (and get to them) doesn't seem too wise to me.

        •  Hell with waiting for technology to surprise us (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hammerhand

          Space settlement has been fundamentally feasible--if economically impractical--for over half a century, and the technical barriers to entry are largely incremental gaps in cost reduction.  Political and cultural lack of interest is probably more of a roadblock than anything else at this point.

        •  I don't see what basis you have for thinking (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hammerhand, unfangus

          technology is going to be some kind of panacea. Sure, technological advance appears to be a J-curve. But as far as I can see, our destruction of the planet has closely tracked our advancing technology.

          The reality is that we already HAVE the technology to save ourselves - in alternative energy, conservation, pollution reduction technology, and birth control. What we lack, as a society, is the willingness to insist that this technology be used. And there is no technological solution to that.

      •  Not sure how the car analogy applies (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hammerhand

        Or why you think you need parts that never wear out in order to build a habitat.

        How do you think we will be able to build space colonies to survive for even a century, let alone eons?
        That aside, hollow out an asteroid, fill it air, water and biomass, and spin.  
        And don't tell me we can do better when we have spent absurd amounts of money on these, making them the very best we can.
        Making what the very best we can?
        The fantasy of man moving into space is dangerous
        Well, I do like to live dangerously.
        •  May I suggest a successful experiment on Earth (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hammerhand, unfangus

          before moving to that asteroid?

          Build a dome on Earth that humans can survive in for generations before trying to do it in space. I know you know that it has been tried. And I know you are aware that it hasn't worked for even a short time.

          The biological systems required to sustain higher life forms are enormously complex. And I'm just talking about physical survival, not the psychological needs of humans.

          •  Why wait? (0+ / 0-)

            It's going to take time to move that asteroid anyway, and it's not like the only reason for capturing it is to stuff it full of humans.  Walk and chew gum at the same time, no?

            I know the reality show that was Biosphere 2 failed.  I don't know why you think this tells us anything, or diminishes the knowledge gained from the BIOS series of experiments or ISS.  

  •  We need to at a minimum delay (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alx9090, rduran, Gooserock

    the worst effects of climate change until we can perfect interplanetary travel and figure out how to colonize places like Venus and Mars. We're talking many decades, and the development of technologies not yet even on the drawing board. It sounds impossible, but mankind will have little choice but to figure out how we'll all live (or really, our grandkids will live) in a post-Earth world. And hopefully we'll have learned our lesson and not mess up Saturn or whichever our next planet will be.

    •  We are talking millenia for that. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hammerhand, Gooserock, ypochris, unfangus

      If we could terraform - it would be trivial to repair our own home. Right now, we could stop making things worse for ourselves - that would take tens of years and we'd need to focus efforts mostly on energy efficiency. Profit would have to take a back seat (ha), and we'd have to work together (ha x 2).

      So yeah, all we need to do is set aside greed, envy and suspicion long enough to get some things done, housekeeping chores really, then we can get back to the hating, exploiting and the killing.

      We could think of it as an 'intermission' if that helps.

      So that's my idea. Anybody want to guess the over/under on it?

      •  That's for the planets (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Hammerhand, alx9090

        And I still have no clue why people want to leave Earth only to live in another pit.  Floating is cool, goddamn it!

        We could get to mass migrations into cislunar habitats in one or two centuries if the money's right.

      •  We Only Need to Learn How to Select Leaders and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        alx9090, ypochris

        wisdom figures using attributes not dominated by great success at acquisition (either their own or sponsors'.)

        That's basically it. Primitive pre-agricultural societies use numbers of long-horizon criteria to select leadership and therefore to make decisions; so our species and our historic cultures are eminently capable of dealing with this crisis.

        Just not the large systems evolved over the past millennia of huge surpluses of resources, energy and space flowing into the system, which could hardly be worse designed for dealing with hard limitations.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 08:01:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  When Has a Colony Ever Taken ALL the People (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hammerhand, ypochris

      of the homeland? Or even 20%?

      The only quasi national evacuation I know of is the Highland Clearances, most of the people were thrown out of the country over some generations, but that's a population maybe half of Ohio's and there were places all over earth for them to go, beginning maybe a hundred miles south.

      Earth, even in climate hell, will support orders of magnitude more people here than will be able to be transported away to Colony Waves-Hands.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Jun 01, 2014 at 07:57:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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