In The Fabulous History Of Plankton And Why Our Survival Depends On It

Magda Fahsi quotes Chris Bowler

We are now burning in one year the equivalent of one million years’-worth of plankton deposits as fossil fuel, we are polluting the oceans with toxins and plastic, we are overfishing. … What we are doing is totally unnatural. No other creature has been able to influence the planet so much, our power is just massive.” [emphasis mine]

According to the Institute for Energy Research 82% of US Total Energy Consumption is from Fossil Fuels.

The difficulty of decarbonizing our global civilization in time to avert a runaway greenhouse effect fixes me like a rabbit in headlights. No wonder other sentient species before us in the Milky Way failed to transition from fossil fuel in time to avoid extinction. No wonder that, with 100 billion planets, we’re confronted with The Great Silence. Our situation is the obvious candidate for The Great Filter, the almost impossible evolutionary step that’s wiped out other civilizations before they communicated with others.

Robin Hanson of George Mason University posits a "Great Filter" that prevents the rise of intelligent, self-aware, technologically advanced, space-colonizing civilizations. The "filter" would be one or more improbable steps along the path that starts with the creation of a planet and ends with a race capable of colonizing the galaxy.

Somewhere between those two points, philosopher Nick Bostrom points out, "the Great Filter operates, and it must be powerful enough that even with all the billions of possible starting worlds on which life might evolve - all those rolls of the cosmic dice - one ends up with nothing: no aliens, no spacecraft, no signals, at least not in our neck of the woods."

"The Great Filter": Science Fact or Fiction? -A Galaxy Classic

I’m just beginning to comprehend how much my everyday life depends upon this second source of energy besides food. At the gym, I have the extraordinary luxury of doing just the right exercises for my muscles, instead of using muscle power for survival and walking. Berries flown from Chile form a daily part of my low carb diet. It’s not just muscle cars and flying to Europe to visit relatives that will have to go, for a sustainable world. I’m thinking of the transition we’d have to undergo. We’ll be lucky to feed ourselves and avoid freezing to death.

Imagine the scenarios of those thousands or even millions of earlier alien civilizations, as each faced their own immanent fossil fuel fueled demise. How many of them decimated their populations, tried to triple insulate one room of their houses to not freeze to death in Winter, emigrated away from their tropics as it became and oven, tried to construct last minute climate sanctuaries. Some would have tried military solutions, with the mightier nations wiping away the rest. Some would have tried peaceful solutions, putting soldiers to work building sea walls, refugee camps and irrigation systems. Some would have tried nuclear winter, adding radiation to their climate hazards.

We burn up a million years of plankton-sequestered carbon every year. No wonder all of the climate feedbacks are positive and problems escalate exponentially.

Look around you. The global civilization you see is ephemeral, evaporating, transient in the extreme. Fossil fuel based civilization is inherently unstable, inherently self-destructive.

We’re shooting ourselves in the groin, literally exterminating our species, every day of this 82% fossil fuel based suicide economy.

We're marching ourselves into the same kind of self-made crematorium that wiped out all of those earlier sorry schmucks who weren't flexible enough, mentally and emotionally, to predict the consequences of a million years to re-sequester each year's worth of fossil fuel.

I'll bet they felt powerful too compared to their nonsentient animals who didn't master fire.

"No other creature has been able to influence the planet so much, our power is just massive." *ironic laughter echoes*

Tags: The Great Filter, The Great Silence

Views: 134

Replies to This Discussion

I guess our species needs to go on a "low-carb diet", eh, eh? ;-)

LOL Very funny, but yes.

There is so much here to absorb, and I am so hesitant to look at the reality of what is actually happening, even as I read a lot about this stuff. Yes, We burn far too much fossil fuels. Yes, we exhaust too much CO2 into the atmosphere. Yes, climate is changing and with it the forests, farms, soils, seas, fishing, everything that we have become accustomed to in order to sustain us. Yes, with all these billions and billions of stars in the Universe, and even with SETI listening for signs of life on other planets, The Great Silence continues after all these years. And yes, the Great Filter appears to be true; there seems to be a barrier or filter to getting beyond a level of living/existing and moving beyond warring and destruction. We seem unable to create a more habitable place before the soil is cooked beyond production and the air becomes unbreathable. 

Ruth defines the problems clearly and my only addition can be, Yes, you tell it like it is.

And Yes! Jedi, we do need to go on a "low-carb diet".

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