Dollar Doobie

The amygdala, part of the limbic system, is involved in the perception of danger, associating various “bad” stimuli with an emotional fear response. The world of dissipative structures can be a very nasty place, with individuals and groups vying ruthlessly for survival. I was thinking that it would not be very conducive to effective functioning to have this fear rattling in the brain all the time just by thinking about what “could” happen. It should only rattle when danger is present and imminent. If it were to go off regularly with just the thought of bad things, the person so afflicted would have a severe case of post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. If a person had PTSD from a wide variety of thoughts, imaginary and real, then they would be unable to function and you might find them in a corner whimpering. These people likely wouldn’t survive. Evolution had to find various means to turn off the fear so the organism could go about getting the energy needed for survival. This is why we don’t have the motivation to react to future dangers like climate change. The amygdala is kept from rattling by defensive measures like delusional beliefs or denial. The organism is therefore not incapacitated by fear and can go about its essential business of gathering resources. And that is what is occurring today as most people eliminate fear of the future and go about their daily lives.

Financial advisers and their clients alike are good at suppressing any fears with delusion, like the economy will grow forever and you will always be able to exchange you dopa-dollars for real resources. The human is well-equipped to not let anything interfere with their primary, day-to-day, resource gathering imperative. They will continue to operate within the technological metabolism in a state of mental torpor as things gradually decline. God is in control. Even as the a tsunami comes ashore it takes the water to reach chin-deep before some people have an adequate fear reaction, then it’s too late. There seems to be very little fear of the climate and economic catastrophes that are developing. God would never let that happen, just as he would never let the faithful truly die.

 

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Just relax and don’t worry, smoke a dollar-doobie, U.S.A. is number one. and God is in control. Everything is going to be O.K.

Maybe some of us like the thrill of the amygdala going off again and again as we contemplate what is likely to occur, but for a vast majority, bad things are never going to happen and the amygdala sleeps as the body goes about its daily routines. Eventually the clarion call will be sounded, only many decades too late.

I’ve always wondered why “doomer” sites never get much readership. By the same mechanism that people use to go about their daily lives with thousands of nuclear warheads pointed at them and the possibility of accidental or preemptive launch. People can put so much out of their minds just so they can get up and function in the morning.

Black Thanksgiving Friday

It seems that Thanksgiving and its cohort Black Friday are approaching once again. This year those that earned a minimum wage (14 billion in 2015) will be fighting it out for the precious jewels from China, while those on Wall St. that received bonuses (28 billion in 2015) will not be in line at the local Target, Wal-Mart or Best-Buy, but will be jetting off to the nearest ski resort, if they can find any snow. Just another tiny positive feedback to add to Guy McPherson’s long list – no snow equals firing-up the snow-making machines which directly or indirectly belch CO2, which ultimately result in even less snow.

I just watched this video once again, its not very long. For some reason it reminded me of the usual melees occurring at the Black Friday retailers and as a bonus you can observe an artistic dramatization of the birth of the technological cancer. It’s title should be “2001: A Space Odyssey – The Dawn of Cancer.” It really captures the advent of tools which are initially used to beat the hell out of other Homo sp. and large herbivores.  And then there is the techno worship later on as they gather around the monolith. The culmination of the movie is the battle between Homo sapiens (RNA) against the machine it has created.

But let’s get back to Thanksgiving, the time to be thankful to God for making us the cancer and not some other species. If turkey’s were the chosen ones you might see a white-haired, 400 pound Ronald Reagan on the table or at least some GMO corn.

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This is the turkey the cancer built. The dignitaries are going to pardon the turkey in a spectacle of kind heartedness, but 50 million or so other turkeys will be taken from their cells and distributed to nourish the technological RNA in their homes. Over the years the tools used to defeat nature have changed, but not the inherent greed. Soon those in attendance will sit at tables, dopamine levels elevated, salivating like a Pavlov’s dog, ready to cut into the flesh of their Frankenstein poultry.

Speaking of salivating and dopamine and rewards and the like, this is one of Pavlov’s original dogs, stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey of course and in a museum. Notice the saliva collector at the side of the dogs head. High dopamine levels and dinner bells can make the secretions flow. No turkey for you Rover.

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And who is the real culprit behind all of this greedy behavior inherent to energy burning conduits? See photo below.

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And there it is, the bilaterally symmetrical limbic monkey-in-the-middle (MITM). I’ve removed the frontal, parietal, and some of the occipital lobes so you can see. The white areas are intimately wired to the higher brain structures which have expanded to give us speech, plenty of space to build analog world, association areas, planning areas and social morality but the monkey in the middle still decides what we want to do. It really does want to do all kinds of devious things and then use the cortex to make up some kind of excuse like “manifest destiny” or “we’re gonna shoot some deer so we’ll have somethin’ in the freezer” when actually the monkey in the middle just wants to go hunt and kill something. It really causes some contortions when the rational mind serves a nugget of truth to the MITM like “if you continue burning fossil fuels it’s over” but the MITM only knows what feels good and what feels bad and burning fossil fuels doesn’t feel bad, but shopping on Black Friday feels really good. Decision made.

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Eat lots of turkey and buy lots of stuff. It’s what your master wants you to do. Chime in the Christmas music. “Have a holly jolly Christmas, it’s the best time of the year……….” and don’t get bit by rabid shopping monkeys.

The Final Frontier

I found the clip below over at Dave Cohen’s www.declineoftheempire.com. It’s a trailer for a National Geographic mini-series entitled “Mars”. It seems like a propaganda effort spun-out by the highly respectable National Geographic Society, now owned by Murdoch, Inc. If National Geographic is behind this then you can be sure it’s real or at least that’s the impression that millions of viewers will have. Throw in a few of the world’s  “brightest” TV personalities like Elon Musk and Neal Degrasse Tyson and you have a bona-fide trip into humanity’s future.

 

So, I ask myself, why is the colonization of Mars being promoted while we have such profound problems associated with growth and technology here on Earth? Is it A). Because it’s what happens in the comic books and that’s as good an excuse as any. B). A cabal of cancerous corporations need to make a profit and a big government project will guarantee it. C). We’ve killed the ecosystem and must make our escape before it’s too late. D). They need to put a carrot in front of the moribund human RNA to keep them happy and working towards a future reward (which seems always to be out of reach). E). We’re really no different than a slime-mold whose individual members occasionally coalesce to form a stalk whose spores are sent into (air) space to find something new to eat. F). Accomplishing the feat of going to Mars will impress the Gods and they will save earth’s ecosystem. G). Massive debt and spending must happen to keep the financial system from imploding even thought the project doesn’t return any of the copious amounts of energy it expends.

We already have a livable planet with amazing diversity and complexity and it just happens to support us, but we couldn’t or can’t mount an incredible project (like a mission to Mars) to save it?

Below is a diagram of a mitochondrion. Among other functions it provides the ATP energy molecules for the entire cell. There are usually anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 mitochondria per cell and they must make 1-2 billion ATP molecules every couple of minutes per cell. In return we get to walk around looking for food and water and breathing air to keep them pumping out the ATP, somewhat similar to the electricity that comes from a power plant that burns fossil fuels. We could further explore mitochondria, something that inhabits every plant and animal cell instead of traveling to a dead planet or make sure every human has cells full of healthy mitochondria.  But, I forgot, we really don’t give a shit about life.

 

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Awesome cellular power plant – the Mitochondrion Project, coming to theaters soon. Watch these organelles churn out the ATP that makes your muscles move and makes the dopamine pop at the synaptic cleft as your brain makes you search and acquire new sources of fuel. Watch the mitochondria work overtime in the heads of world leaders as they burn the midnight glucose in search of new sources of oil for their technological cancers. Guest appearance of Mito-Man at theaters near you.

And therein lies the problem, we’ve been moved to another level of evolutionary competition where we function as the RNA, in cells, making tools. We have one foot in the ecosystem and one foot in the technosystem, but it’s in the technosystem where all of the rapid evolution is occurring and that’s where we’re focused to gain an advantage or at least maintain parity. Not only do we design tools to eat the ecosystem to feed the RNA humans, we imprudently mass produce novel substances and dump them into the ecosystem’s bloodstream. Proven by historical precedent, humans with an advantage tend to wipe-out less aggressive cultures or tribes and therefore we are locked into a “compete or die” dynamic. This is nothing new and is the rule in the ecosystem, but when the same dynamic takes over at our scale of operation, the likely result is extinction. We are involved in an evolutionary arms race, nation against nation, whose ever expanding populations demand cellular growth and more jobs. The technological system is embedded within the failing ecosystem because of the evolutionary competition between entities in the technological system. We seem to have no more hesitation in knocking off another nation than a robin has in eating a worm or a Penicillium mold has in killing a bacterial competitor.

Additionally, we couldn’t even make a self-contained Biosphere 2 work on this planet. Mars is only a distance of 119 million miles from earth or about 540x the distance to the moon.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biosphere_2

I’ve come to my conclusion. The Mars mini-series is just a hope-filled, made for TV drama to keep the public entertained, befuddled and confused while everything else goes to hell.

Fragility, Decay, Collapse

The interview of Tim Garrett above may be of some interest, although it’s been around a while.

Here is a link to a 2013 paper: Thermodynamics of long-run economic innovation and growth. https://arxiv.org/pdf/1306.3554v1.pdf#page=23&zoom=auto,-73,715

There is a lot of mathematics in this paper but also good written interpretations.

From the paper we have this figure (pg. 23) in which the x-axis represents the rate of return on investment and the Y-axis the rate of technological advancement.

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I believe what this shows is technological innovation pushing to the right as new tools are used to consume existing gradients more efficiently and open up new gradients if they exist.  This trend is always facing the headwind of diminishing returns as each new iteration of technology becomes more expensive and provides less net profit. When innovation fails to provide any new energy/resources, then diminishing returns wins and you approach a zero return on investment and zero GDP growth. This is a time of fragility as indicated by the small box in the center. Any rate of return less than zero means technology has failed to open up any new energy vistas and decay and/or collapse commence. Seems like we’re about at the point of decay and collapse now.

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It looks like technology began to fail around 1980, at least in the case of oil where production (equals consumption) overcame technologies best efforts to find more reserves. At that point we were consuming from developed legacy fields and collapse was baked into the cake. Even though it’s easily determined that future production would be curtailed even with the use of fracking technology, we continued to grow our civilization. All of those large finds from about 1935 to 1980 have been used to build endless numbers of technological cells, distribution systems and all sorts of complexity. Now the black production curve has pretty much peaked far above the annual reserve additions. Will more innovation besides fracking save us? Not likely. Return on investment is pushed towards zero. In some cases we are already experiencing negative interest rates or return on investment which will push us into decay.

These are some of Garrett’s conclusions from the paper:

“Global GDP growth requires energy consumption to grow super-exponentially, or at an accelerating rate. GDP growth is sustainable for as long as energy reserve discovery exceeds depletion.”
“When growth rates slow and rates of return approach zero, civilization becomes fragile with respect to externally forced decay. It lies along a tipping point that might easily lead to a mode of accelerating decay or collapse.”
Externally forced decay seems to be ramping up with flood and wind damage from storms, fire damage and warfare. The old adage that starting a war will spur the economy no longer holds in a time of falling energy reserves – it will most likely just push us from decay into collapse.

“Innovation and collapse are two sides of the same coin. Increased internal connectivity allows for explosive growth when times are good, but also for exceptionally fast decline when times turn bad.”
One other thing to consider with our networked economies is that on national levels Liebig’s Law of the Minimum has been overcome with international trade allowing economies to achieve sizes by trading for the resources that would have limited their growth in their own geographic area. When the “minimums” are reintroduced through trade dispute or interruption of supply by depletion or war, the effect may be catastrophic. The minimum, the amount that can be obtained within a countries borders may call for a much, much smaller overall economy and population.
It also seems like the young RNA, fresh out of college, are backing up in their parent’s cells, unable to find work that will support them in the system built when times were good. If they inherit their parent’s homes they likely won’t be able to maintain them as decay sets in. Not only will they not make enough to expand the system, they won’t be able to afford the “connections” that make the legacy economy work.

 

 

Perspiration (formerly vomitus) of the Gods

 

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Birth of the Universe

The more I see the products of civilization, the more I see the vomitus perspiration of the Gods, a half-digested meal of fossil fuels ejected onto the landscape in a sudden and uncontrollable manner. The self-organized characteristics of a system are identifiable within the mess,  like the distribution systems and cells where most of the metabolic activity and tool building occur, and where the human RNA lay down to rest at night before their mechanical alarm clocks wake them again in the morning. I’m sure that by now we know more about ribozymal activity than was revealed by Taylor’s time and motion studies and all subsequent related investigations. But somehow we cannot diminish our own self-esteem by recognizing the corollaries that exist between our civilization and cellular systematic life. But let’s return to the machinations that have spewed forth the toxic metabolism and infrastructure.

It is clear that an ancestral species of the geneus Homo could have continued to exist in the natural ecosystem without information and tools beyond that occupying the nuclei of their cells. That could have been a long-lasting and sustainable relationship. But through no fault of its own, this ancestral ape was nudged towards tool-use and then description and recording of such tools and the processes needed to produce them. It has been said that Homo erectus used the same primitive axe for nearly five-hundred thousand years. Even though humans have been moving towards technology for at least two-million years, why did it take so long to discover the fossil fuels and begin utilizing them? Is it simply a matter of obtaining a high enough level of net energy that provides the metabolic firepower to do the “extra” things necessary to record the tool related information, so that it may then subsequently evolve? In other words, the use of primitive spear points, axes and scraping tools, utilized against the stock of apex “meat” was still inadequate to provide the energy for scribes and temple builders, let alone skyscrapers full of engineers? If net energy had to be advanced a notch, it probably would have been accomplished by attacking the soil gradient and with the use of fire in a localized place where “investements” , including information, could be handed from one generation to the next. Eventually, if there are sufficient gradients to consume, there arise engineers and scientists whose jobs involve mapping reality and recording it and then examining information in order to produce new tools and structural components that can attack other energy/resource gradients. Is it any wonder that the fall of civilizations has often been attributed to drought which makes the soil gradient useless?

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Magura caves, Bulgaria, about 8,000 BP. They already have some nasty tools to use against the other large animals. Lots of meat means lots of little conduits, but farming means even more.

But over the two-million years of human evolution, it seems that the speed and extent of development into systematic status was slow but accelerated rapidly with the discovery of fossil fuels. Suddenly there was enough energy to create specialists of every description, working in all areas of information, creating more capable tools and structures. In the old ecosystem the general rule of the jungle was, “if your not fit to escape, we’re going to eat you”. A rather unfeeling rule but, for the most part, the ecosystem has no feelings. However, humans often do have feelings and sometimes ponder the cruelty of the ecosystem and are themselves often cruel. Once they obtained the energy and tools, what did humans do? They didn’t have “feelings” for the natural world, but rather used their newfound power to escape into their technological cells and from there destroy and enslave their old cruel nemesis while assuring themselves of their  chosen status.

So here we are, beings, conduits, formed by the maximum power (entropy) principle, conducting ourselves in a very predictable manner, scouring the face of the planet to consume anything that can be readily digested. Humans have barely enough feeling or empathy to prevent them from killing each other, let alone the entire remainder of the ecosystem which has conveniently been put into the “them” category that humans love to use as an open invitation for butchery.

Even though humans are a social species, their behavior is a two-sided coin alternating between cooperation and competition. No doubt we were increasingly pulled together to pull-off the transformation to technological existence, but this cohesive force has not overcome the natural competition for advancement in the social hierarchy. I’ve never heard of a case of ants from the same colony with clonal DNA cheating on each other or fighting for a greater share of the resources. Individual humans with their unique DNA are expected to struggle with each other for the greatest rewards even as they cooperate in the face of greater adversaries. It would also seem that God loves liars, thieves, philanderers, rapists, warmongers, and the like because the good people that restrain themselves and save assets simply are not getting the job of gradient reduction done fast enough. Of course, with modern societies, smooth functioning requires “peace” so that the human RNA may go about their work of taking down the gradients. But when the gradients are exhausted the individual conduit should be prepared to protect themselves, their mates and children from other dissipative structures that want their energy and powers of reproduction. Also it is so very common in nature for young conduits to be eaten or thrown out of the nest by new mates who take over the resource and energy environment for their own young. It seems we occupy a world of mindless, competitive conduits.

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Who’s going to be the winner? Let’s have Donald Trump go against Lloyd Blankfein in the smack down of the billionaires, winner take all. Since they already  have the gold, we’ll award the winner Kim Kardashian, something like a booby prize.

The human mind seems to find many ways to justify its greedy, nefarious activities. It seems they won’t stop fighting until there’s nothing to fight over.

Build More Roads – We Need Growth

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The map above depicts major U.S. highways connecting the various metabolic hubs.

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This map depicts major roadways in Canada.

Larger maps can be seen at: http://www.ecoclimax.com/2016/09/the-us-mapped-only-by-roads-highways.html?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

I’m always amazed at the speed and infiltration of this vascular system into the organic tissues of new geographic areas. There are very few areas that these tiny distribution channels have not penetrated. They’re built to access the resource gradients found there. After the road is built, typically a few frontier technological cells will be built; homes, storage buildings, barns and then the technological enzymes (tractors, chainsaws, cultivators, rifles) will pour forth onto the fresh, nutrient rich area and begin the harvest. Raw material is pulled into the technological, cellular system where it can be distributed along these myriad roadways to other cells involved in the overall metabolism.

Although I like to compare man’s escapades to a cancerous growth due to the relatively sudden evolution to technological, systematic status, the growth that has resulted has gone far beyond that of a common malignancy. If even 1/100 of the scope of growth we see on the geographic landscape had occurred in a multicellular organism, it would have already expired and taken the cancer with it into the great beyond. But as you can see from the maps above, the “cancer” has sent a vascular distribution channel (road) into just about every tissue that has anything to offer. It’s as if a distribution system similar to that of multicelluar organisms comprised of a heart/pump, major arteries, lesser arteries and capillaries had grown into another body for the sole purpose removing all nutrients for its own metabolic activity. It’s as if a human cancer had produced not just a few tumors that interfere with the indispensable functioning of the integrated body, but rather that the exponentially growing cells had penetrated every last cubic millimeter of flesh without the patient yet expiring.

The maps above only show the major roadways. Spreading out from these major arteries in every direction are the capillaries that leave no stone unturned in their search for resources to pull into the cancerous growth. The entire ecosystem is being eaten alive by the digestive juices pouring from the technological cells.

And what do the politicians promise their citizens? More growth. It’s even a principle of the cancer to build more roads to spur more growth (bring more resources into the cancer.) And what can anyone find sustainable about this malignant operation? Do humans think that they will be able to pour more enzyme onto the landscape? New and improved enzyme to extract every last bit of resource? What is sustainable when the human and associated technological conduits burn through everything they can access while dumping the CO2 into the atmosphere and dumping the other toxic wastes willy-nilly into the bodily environment. The ecosystem is dying and all the idiots in Washington and other capitals can say is that we need more growth. Even after the ecosystem is dead, the human cancer will likely continue processing necrotic tissue until it too ceases to function in the exhausted, putrid environment.

This entire civilization is a one-trick pony and the show is almost over. Look again at the maps and the complex, metabolic hubs (cities) sucking the life from the landscape with its tiny capillary roads and try to imagine just how sustainable any of that really is. It’s not.

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Farm land, where the cancer systematically deploys tools to utilize the soil and fresh water gradients. Most raw materials are then taken into the vascular system for transport to factories for conversion into techno-mass.

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Infiltration of cancerous cells and vascular system into ecosystem tissues. Each cell houses RNA, of which some will remain in the home cells while others travel to dedicated factory or office cells to do the business of the cancer, finding new gradients and opportunities for growth, production of tools, production of more cells and roads.

Competition, Evolution, Extinction

 

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Charles Darwin

From Salthe’s “Darwin and some leading ideas of contemporary Western culture.”

http://www.nbi.dk/natphil/salthe/Ludus_Vitalis_paper.pdf

(and here is the link to Salthe’s website via Dave, good reading and ideas here.)

http://www.nbi.dk/natphil/salthe/

I conclude with thoughts concerning why one might be concerned today about these relations. Darwin’s natural selection idea can be summed up as — ‘whatever succeeds is good’, ‘success is its own reward’ – success here meaning short-term success

. As such, it is hardly a ‘theory’! — except when it gets detailed by theneoDarwinians into a principle that competition is the source of success. Evolutionary psychologists point out that cooperation has evolved in many species, but that is because it succeeds –against non-cooperators in the same species. Importantly, this is not only a leading idea / belief of our culture, but when readinto biological evolution — the process which produced us — it becomes a mythological theme. The current relevance of this is that it is our capitalist economy that appears to be destroying our natural environments around the globe,and this economy is based in competition, which becomes idolized by being as well the source of we ourselves, in the neoDarwinian theory of evolution. Here a pragmatic principle tends to become sacralized, and it is in this that Darwin’s (asNietzsche would have said, ‘English shopkeeper’) concept can be said to have become dangerous to our continued cultural survival. As well, in its hectic productivity and search for energy, we could fairly interpret our economic system as earnestly pursuing the goal of universal thermodynamic equilibration, despite the fact that that condition would eliminate us all.

I’ve expressed this idea myself, that cooperation is only engaged to out-compete those that are less able to cooperate. Cooperation results in the elimination of many potential states of freedom that could have been taken by the individuals acting alone, but in cooperative unison results in even greater entropy production as energy gradients are made accessible and degraded. But are international animosities unavoidable in the competition for energy, red in Abrahms tank (tooth) and ICBM (claw)? It has been the rule in both the ecosystem and the technosystem to this point in time.

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Cheshire Unit, WWI, The Somme

In order to crystallize the “cooperation” amongst nations for the purpose of consuming gradients and dissipating heat, there would need to be a gradient greater than all of the fossil fuels put together, a supernational technological organism cooperating to work upon a gradient that could satisfy the appetites of its members would have to form. With regards to the sun,  I don’t think the universe needs humans on earth to process sunlight through their machines when it is done most effectively through the conduits of the ecosystem. Although there do seem to be some inklings of a Manhattan style project to harness sunlight and also one for fusion, these have not led to a new world order, but rather provide pleasant fantasy for human’s indefatigable optimism bias. 

But as humans begin to fight over remaining fossil fuels, this will not facilitate a future evolution in technologies as occurs in the ecosystem but rather will put an end to our short-lived technological civilizations. Having failed to coalesce this unification of the world prior to fossil fuels peaking, the cooperation, as in the Eurozone, is likely to go by the wayside and give way to warfare. To bring all of these actors into cooperation requires greater wealth and energy flows than was available from fossil fuels without toxic externalities.

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Ireland and England at night. You can plainly see just how extensively the cancer has spread by the light by-product of metabolic processes feeding on fossil fuels.

The steady delivery of energy from the sun provided a boundary to the development of life on earth. Atoms became molecules which became cells which became organisms, all ultimately limited in extent by the earth’s daily dosing of solar radiation. Humans became unbounded when they became systematic and have served the insatiable desires of the limbic system as they have accessed the seemingly infinite supplies of fossil fuels. Mankind became a malignant cancer and continues to this day to consume everything at the most rapid rate possible. 

Fighting for the dregs of remaining energy is counterproductive in the technological system because there won’t be another generation of conduits regardless of which nation burns the remains. It all goes away when the fuels are gone.

In addition, a freely evolving technosystem is completely incompatible with biological life on earth. How many centuries of plastic water bottles, millions upon millions of solar panels, toxic chemicals, CO2 etc. can a biological system sustain. It is already dying after only a couple of hundred years of technological growth and evolution. Big, fast growing and undisciplined malignancies have a tendency to undo their parent systems. (Disorder them so they can’t process energy and resources any longer.) Biological life will come back and fill-in some of the gaps and the new species do not need to be “intelligent”. The intelligence evolved only to produce the tools to get at the fossil fuels and devise a million different ways to burn them. Intelligence of the technological type just won’t be needed in this little part of the universe in the future.

Being a cancer feels great in the short run, but in the long run it’s not a winning strategy. Parents are having little conduits today in expectations that they will be fully employed, reducing resource and energy gradients in the future, instead of working down Cheetoh and Pepsi gradients in their basements. Stepping away from the virtual realities of their protective cocoons, they will emerge to find desolation and starvation.

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Annapolis graduation – Anchors and hats away. A job you can count on in the future.

How Many Conduits Do You Have

Information, RNA and tools and the cells that contain them serve the function of creating conduits that maximize the flow of energy from a highly energetic source to a cold sink that accepts the waste heat. It’s a thermodynamically favorable arrangement of matter, even considering the amount of energy it takes to build it. The extant biological forms are “profitable”, if not they go extinct. Those conduits that are best at acquiring energy and dissipating it are also those that can reproduce themselves most prolifically from the profit derived from the energy and resources that flow through them.

Human societies are no different in that they use information, RNA (humans) and tools at the human scale to attack energy and resource gradients to maximally degrade energy from high density fossil fuel deposits, converting it to waste heat. All of the structures built by humans facilitate the acquisition and degradation of high grade energy. Self-organizing systems like the ecosystem and the technosystem evolve to maximize the acquisition and flow of energy. Metabolism, cellular and technological, is the sum total of movements to build and distribute materials for building conduits, reproducing conduits, moving conduits (in pursuit of energy) all fed by the primary source of energy (ecosystem/sun, technosystem/fossil fuels). Even though complexity is created in the conduits, entropy overall is accelerated as conversion of high grade energy to low grade waste heat. Prior to the use of fossil fuels, the emerging technological system relied upon wood.

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A very profitable brand of conduits that has expanded rapidly based upon the amount of profit it has been able to skim is Wal-Mart. Fed by products made with low-low wages in China, the company was able to offer low-low prices in the U.S.

Biological and technological conduits will evolve and reproduce and those forms that are best adapted to the environment and can skim the most profit from the energy flow will reproduce to a greater extent than others. Technological forms like Wal-Mart can likewise evolve and reproduce based upon the profits generated by the energy that flows through their stores and distribution channels. One store becomes ten, becomes one hundred, becomes one thousand. It expands because it is best at maximizing the energy flow, deriving a profit and reproducing. Same story for Starbucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken and so on. Those structures less capable of processing energy and deriving profit grow slowly, if at all, and may also go bankrupt or become extinct.

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Early logging operation in Queensland. These human RNA are very hungry for a profit as their numbers expand exponentially. The wood is used for both building cellular and other structures and in firing the metabolism of steam driven tools, heating and cooking. The tree they stand upon had evolved to skim a profit from the solar radiation it collected. The humans, in their malignant form, equipped with rapidly evolved tools, will skim a profit and grow by essentially consuming themselves – the ecosystem. Malignant cancers  always perish as the system which gave birth to them dies.

Humans have found thousands of ways to channel the fossil fuel energy through the metabolisms of their technological cells (factories/workshops). For work performed in the cells, each human is given a stipend of paycheck with which to vote for their favorite products. Typically, instead of maximizing their own reproduction (children), they’ll instead choose from a variety of product-oriented mental masturbation and neural opioid release instead of pursuing the natural orgasmic opioid release associated with copulation and production of offspring. The variety of opioid possibilities has greatly expanded with technological civilization. Humans will defeat reproductive success, the only measure of success in the ecosystem, through the use of various barriers to conception. Instead of the limbic system tricking the cortex into pursuing sexual relations, the cortex can now trick the limbic system into providing the reward without the associated offspring. “What’s it going to be honey, another kid or a trip to Cancun every year for twenty years?” The typical human will choose the trips, even though they will be less represented in the species DNA in the future, if there is one.

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Large families happen when pleasure is religiously pursued. Each offspring is a potentially successful conduit that will both assist and compete against other conduits depending upon the closeness of their DNA – typically.

The Golden Pacifier

I’ve been watching several of the Vice News video clips on Youtube lately. Liberia, North Korea….. You may think that these people are somehow different from various developed world populations. But I’ve come to the conclusion that all populations are susceptible to molding into an apparently insane state of mind. Whether it be the followers of former General Butt Naked in Liberia or the followers of Kim Jong-Il in North Korea, the followers of ISIS in the Middle East, or the followers of Jim Jones in Guiana. There always seems to be a strong leader, a group think and a reluctance on the individual level to diverge from the prevalent belief system. Generally people do not want freedom of mind, but rather the comfort of belonging to a group (no matter how insane or immoral) that is part of a movement to satisfy their desires and alleviate their fears. Young males are often the first to take part as they are naturally inclined to strive for power, wealth and mating opportunities which, in declining economies, may not be available without taking short-cuts (like picking-up a gun and taking what you want). Instead of picking up a gun, Kim Jong-Il wants to pick-up a nuclear missile and take what he wants. Maybe he’ll grow out of it. This is further evidence, if we needed any, of the subconscious limbic system pulling the strings to get what it wants. In other words, I don’t care if we have to believe in unicorns and fairies as long as we get what we want. Many children will believe in Santa Claus long after their rational minds are giving them hints, because they know if they pretend to believe, they’ll get what they want.

Many people will put their faith in something like gold and believe post-collapse we will just revert to an earlier model of commerce and everything will be all right, especially for those possessing the gold. These people are likely to be disappointed because if gold does become very valuable, then those that believe in lead shot will soon deprive them of it. It is more likely, in poor conditions, that General Mosquito, General Rambo or General Butt Naked will show-up at your door and want not only your gold, but your children for the nights “ceremonies” and feasts. I have no doubt that those in the West that are susceptible to belief and group think would also do heinous acts without hesitation. The U.S. military’s Abu Ghraib prison is another good example of group think taking over and the dehumanizing of the opposition. But in any case, listening to people that want constant reassurance about gold is ridiculous. Gold is mostly what is seen in the picture below.

Baby_Blue_Adult_Pacifer

 

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The world is full of people that are willing to believe irrational things in order to get what they want, including the assuaging of the fear of death with a resurrection into heaven. Once again the limbic system is in control. Where does the limbic control of the mind stop? In collapse.

There is an equally absurd belief in technological progress, the same technology kept alive by fossil fuels that is poisoning the biosphere and is of limited supply. Technology doesn’t progress, it just serves the Maximum Power Principle and makes our eventual terminal destination arrive that much faster. There’s a belief for that too – colonizing space so we can continue growing.

And finally a picture of a cute and cuddly friend for our limbic brains, for the emotional side that doesn’t know how to speak in words and really doesn’t know anything about anything. I just feels.

1024px-FEMA_-_39098_-_Orphaned_by_the_storm_pet_in_Texas

All of the dog lovers hoarding gold must love this short blog post by now.

 

Here’s a link to the Vice HBO Korea/basketball short video.

Just don’t worry, Kim Jong-Il will get his nuclear warhead on a missile, Dennis Rodman will get another piercing, the executives will lie again regarding the next Fukishima (radiaton is good for you) and everybody gets a dog for their touchie-feely needs. It’s a limbic world, most of the rest is just made-up.

You can witness the limbic system at work here too in eating dog. The rationalization is that some dogs are pets and some dogs are food. That’s O.K. because we’ve got to make a living. What would they do if they got hungry enough?

 

 

 

 

 

Collapsing Pyramids

Dissipative structures exist as conduits to maximize the flow of energy in nature. Those structures that are best adapted to derive an energy profit beyond their operating and maintenance needs, are able to reproduce most and dominate in the competition for resources and energy. Within the same niche, those most successful at growing and reproducing will eventually prevail. Cooperation (amongst cells) may enable a structure that is more successful than the same group of cells existing independently.

Human technological cells (factories, parent companies) will likewise try to profit and plow money back in to new growth until they have pushed others from their particular niche. Some populations (corporations) expand while other contract in numbers due to differences in profitability.

The energy that human technological civilization is most rapidly converting to entropy in their races to profit and expansion will soon be gone, converted to lots of conduits (factory cells, infrastructure), waste gases and heat. In its expected course defined by the maximum power principle it will eat everything as quickly as possible and then the extant conduits will stop growing, die and deteriorate.

There is a comparison to made with plants regarding the metabolic changes resulting from steadily decreasing levels of light used for photosynthesis. The primary producers of the ecosystem are roughly equivalent to the primary producers of the technosystem, which would include producers of natural gas, coal and oil. We can and do pretend that the fossil fuels will always be there on a daily basis like the sun. This is a mistake. The sun does rise regularly and provide an input of energy to the ecosystem’s primary producers. Almost the entirety of the herbivores and carnivores feed upon the ample production of the plants and single- celled autotrophs. Anything reducing that productive capacity would necessarily reverberate throughout the ecosystem, resulting in species extinction, less complexity and perhaps collapse of the trophic levels above.

What if the amount of light available to plants steadily fell just as fossil fuel primary production will steadily fall?  What would happen to the primary production? Can a plant starve? In the graph below you can see a steady increase in photosynthesis (red line)  up to about 2,000 foot-candles of light intensity and then additional light input does not increase the photosynthetic rate. The green part of the graph represents photosynthesis greater than respiration, or production above a resting metabolic rate. All of that green area feeds both the growth and reproduction of the plant and the food requirements for the entire remainder of the ecosystem. Leafs can be grazed upon without harming the tree which is more than able to compensate. But at a certain “compensation point” light intensity is only enough to enable the plant to meet is respiratory needs. If light energy were allowed to fall this low, there would be no production for the remainder of the ecosystem and if the light level fell even further respiration needs would overwhelm photosynthesis and the plant would begin to lose dry matter and begin to starve to death. Plants can be starved of sunlight for a while and make use of stored energy reserves.

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By necessity, as the light intensity diminishes, the amount of food produced for the overlying ecosystem is proportionally reduced and one would expect a collapse in populations and perhaps extinctions and elimination of trophic levels. The technosystem also relies upon net energy made available by fossil fuel producers. At a peak of net energy production, equivalent to 2000 foot-candles in the plant system, primary production is at its greatest allowing for maximum technomass and complexity in the overlying technosystem. Because 2,000 foot-candles of sunlight have been showing up daily on the planet for billions of years, the photosynthesis based system eventually reaches maturity.

Since the human system has a limited pool of energy, it will not eventually stabilize at a high level of production like the plants. Instead the flow of energy will diminish, equivalent to a falling flow of photons in the plant example, and the amount of energy supporting the technosystem will slide backwards leaving bankruptcy, abandoned infrastructure and many human RNA out of work. The light intensity in foot-candles can be thought of as EROEI. In the plant example, at a foot-candle level of about 400, respiration exceeds photosynthesis and not only is there no growth, there is no longer an ecosystem. The plant makes only enough to keep the plant alive. This would be like fossil fuel corporations making only enough to support themselves, leaving nothing for the remainder of the technosystem. Eventually, when the flow of energy gets low enough, the plant or fossil fuel extracting primary producer starves and dies (yellow area).

Ecological_Pyramid.svg

This energy pyramid can represent both the ecosystem and the technosystem. In the technological system, most consumers will go extinct as the net energy from primary producers falls. Most of civilization will collapse long before primary producer EROEI goes to zero. The plants have no such problem as they are assured 2000 foot-candles of flow per day which allows for enough production to support the pyramid of life above them. However, the human technological fiasco will likely damage plant primary production greatly even though 2000 foot-candles will be incoming daily (ocean acidification, soil erosion, rapid climate change.) Humans think the fossil fuel sun will be out again tomorrow and they can use their ingenuity to “fix” the ecosystem. Arrogance and hubris.

Paul_Cézanne,_Pyramid_of_Skulls,_c._1901

The Pyramid of Life gives way to the “Pyramid of Skulls” – Painting by Paul Cezanne.

We can only speculate as to where we are on this primary production energy flow curve. If 2000 foot-candles (techno-equivalent) was the peak, are we now moving backwards and starving the technosystem, the technological pyramid of life, of what it needs to survive? How much bankruptcy (extinction) and unemployment will we endure before hitting the compensation point? There is already rumbling from the human RNA within the cells and our primary producers cannot turn a profit or produce the required amount of net energy to support the entire technosystem. Instead of a gentle slide back down the energy curve, we may experience something more like a shark-fin curve, popularized by Ugo Bardi. At a rapid level of descent we will find it difficult to reintegrate ourselves as the “static” apex predator in a damaged and hobbled natural ecosystem.