Thursday, December 24, 2015

Don't Wait for the Lifeboats

The Brown- and Green-tech scenarios David Holmgren postulates are only half of the picture.  When you factor in the effects of a rapid decline in worldwide oil production, the scenarios become "Lifeboats" and "Earth Steward," respectively, with Earth Steward being the lesser of four evils. Murphy's law favors the greater of the four evils, especially as we find oil production to be past peak with no viable substitute.  Assuming oil production will decline more rapidly than our ability to power down in a controlled fashion gives us the Lifeboat scenario, where civilization fragments and humans die off by half.  If you think it couldn't get any worse than that, read Revelation or Dante's Inferno or a Cormac McCarthy novel; our capacity for suffering seems almost unlimited.  Yet, it is so troubling to plan for the Lifeboat scenario, much less act on that premise, that we are loath to even consider it.

Holmgren's solution to our predicament is to accelerate the collapse of the capitalistic system that now bewitches us in order to fail into a Green-tech future before a climate tipping point occurs, e.g. melting of arctic tundra permafrost, which would void the possibility of either of the more benign outcomes. Holmgren is Australian, which is far enough removed from our locale to make you think that it might be different for us here.  Maryland author and permaculturist John Michael Greer doesn't think so. His projections for our future are as frightening as Lifeboats.  His solution also mimics Holmgren's - Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush.

Maryland is due to update their own projections of local sea-level rise in early 2016.  I doubt they will include many of the positive feedback effects and climate tipping points that may arise in the years ahead.  This hot December is even making me wonder if we've already encountered one. While we are on high enough ground to not require a real lifeboat, it's a good thing we have access to the Navy base nearby in case we need a metaphorical one.

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