Forum / Interim Essay on the Continuing Advent of Technogenic Climate Change

  • Photo_00020.thumb
    Sep 02, 05:12pm

    I post this contribution here in the Fictionaut Forum because the queue for fiction and verse on the main page scrolls so slowly.

    As of this writing almost thirteen months have passed since the IPCC AR6-WGI release with its analysis of data accumulated through the end of calendar year 2020. Over the past thirteen months, nations, societies, and their governments have continued to perform and behave as if they continue to live in the Twentieth Century CE (true: maybe our reckoning has been off all along by at least two decades and we do remain in the Twentieth Century CE). (If in fact we do remain in the Twentieth Century CE, then this dread century is concluding in Pakistan with two comparable flood events only a dozen years apart:

    --in which case the apex predator species on the planet has done nothing appreciable across recent decades to mitigate the threats being unleashed by Technogenic Climate Change.)

    As Pakistanis face familiar conditions decade after decade, Americans on their accelerated schedules and timelines face familiar conditions week by week.

    Last weekend (the final weekend of August 2022), the American space agency NASA had planned to launch the first (unmanned) mission of its Artemis/Orion/SLS project into space for its weeks-long trajectory out past the orbit of the Moon in preparation for future manned launches intended to return American astronauts to the Moon after a lapse of almost fifty years (ostensibly, still within range of the Twentieth Century CE). That initial launch was aborted for technical reasons, partly due to weather conditions (lightning dancing around the launchpad).

    The launch of this mission is now scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 3 September 2022. One curious feature about this launch: NASA is the American space agency whose satellites help capture data that document the ongoing onset of Technogenic Climate Change. (Some satellites are NASA’s, some are NOAA’s, others are operated by other agencies of the Federal bureaucracy.) NASA thus has a role in documenting Technogenic Climate Change: for this reason it is all the more galling that some 400,000 spectators are anticipated to show up to watch the heralded launch “live”—because the launch is being planned for Labor Day weekend, the anticipated gawkers will outnumber those assembled for the launch attempt earlier in the week on the order of four-to-one.

    Couldn’t NASA administrators and spokespersons have gone out of their way to dissuade the populace from assembling to watch the (scheduled) launch “in-person”, since thousands of vehicles emitting tons of extra carbon will need to be driven to and from the viewing site? (Not one word is being said here for the material or thermal emissions of the rocket launch itself.) For this matter, why would any person of intelligence or reflection undertake a trip to watch a launch that could just as well be cancelled as the effort immediately preceding? Turbulent weather in Florida in September is not exactly uncommon. —but again: why would 400,000 people drive to watch a rocket launch when satellites launched on previous rockets are already warning us of the global onset of Technogenic Climate Change? (Can members of the planet’s species of apex predators truly be said to be “rational”?)

    —but then: this late demonstration of human behavior is exactly as typical as behaviors that were exhibited earlier in the Twentieth Century CE, back in the heady days of 1970. That was the very year that the very first “Earth Day” was proclaimed to fanfare and celebration. With little doubt the “Boomer Cohort” can take due credit for this public enunciation, this public declaration, this public observance.

    —but then the Boomer Cohort must also take credit for what followed. No matter how vociferous or vocal, how conscious or comprehending members of that generation were in marking the first “Earth Day” with its very own 22 April date, how did this generation comport itself in the decades following? It comported itself as if “Earth Day” 1970 was just another day on another calendar: members of the Boomer Cohort in the main continued to live as if it were still 1969, or 1964, or 1956, or 1950.

    The identical dedication to cultural undertakings persisted without change, without interruption. Having contributed to cultural momentum with the electrification of musical instrumentation, the Cohort persisted with its dedication to celebrating electrical instrumentation (which, naturally and unnaturally, entailed generation of electricity from all kinds of sources). Continuing celebrations of music coming from electrified musical instruments entailed electrical production in electrified studios and then electrical processes governing production of vinyl albums and audio tapes to be played to acclaim on electrified turntables and electric tape players. With all the acclaim for electrified musical performance continuing without interruption, attendance at live concert venues continued without interruption: arenas crawling with high-beam spotlights and dazzling strobe lights had to be wired for all the electric instruments and their amplification (along with “natural” voices), just as the arenas themselves had to be wired for comfortable thermal conditions (air conditioning in summer seasons, appropriate heating in winter seasons). Cheering fans of course had to drive dozens, scores, or hundreds of miles to and from concert venues in each and every decade after April 1970, and they did so (apparently, commonly) without second- or third-thoughts: cultural momentum was that strong an inducement to continue just as before.

    Within a decade practically, merely hearing popular music no longer sufficed: auditors had to be given the chance to watch visual accompaniments, a new cultural elaboration entailing further commitments to electricity generation and consumption, day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year, decade by decade. Driving to and from concert venues continued without interruption or serious reflection. (Bands and their respective entourages also had to travel from site to site, by land or by air: cultural momentum required this.)

    Electricity consumption globally continued apace. Whether the irony could be intentional or regrettably accidental, the following dynamic video presentation (a scant three-minutes in length: you can safely play without speakers engaged) shows how electricity consumption has played out among leading nations from 1970 to 2020:

    The sad fact remains: as worthy and as worthwhile as the 1970 declaration of “Earth Day” may have been, the Boomer Cohort that declared it continued to participate in historical momentum with hardly another thought. Members of the Cohort did not migrate in droves into ecological or environmental studies: climatic and meteorological and cryospheric and oceanological studies did not begin to gain any traction culturally for almost two decades, and it took further decades before media outlets (never second-guessing their own dedications and commitments to cultural momentum) began to publish here and there what the relevant sciences had been saying since the late 1980s. —and meanwhile, wonder of wonders, a new technology of internet and wireless communication was unleashed (we might safely wonder whether our planet’s apex predators find electricity physiologically addictive and as attractive and as fashionable as cocaine).

    Every year, every month, almost every week, and practically every day, if we dare to look, we can find some anecdotal suggestion (when not some abundantly clear sign) that Technogenic Climate Change is upon us, that our ability to mitigate it is already inconsequential to the task, and that the data and metrics for what more and more clearly seems heading in our direction will only accumulate with sharper and sharper focus as each day, each week, each month, each year, and each decade passes. Efforts now being undertaken are already too little and too late. Electric vehicle fleets that might profitably have been unleashed decades ago are already at least a half-century too late in coming to market. Carbon-capture technologies won’t be anywhere close to anything like appreciable scale for decades yet to come (at the very least). Solar panel and wind turbine technologies will remain marginal and peripheral in their contributions to electricity generation, distribution, and consumption. Droughts and protracted heatwaves will not be averted. Sudden heavy precipitation events and damaging floods will pop up from place to place with the global water cycle already facing global disruption. Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and mountain glaciers worldwide continue to melt with loss of ice mass that is in no danger of being suitably replenished. Vast human migrations are already underway (though on unheralded scales). Shortfalls in agricultural production and disruptions of food and water distribution are already breaking out. Coastal buildings already are collapsing, and seashores are already being saturated and undermined by creeping sea-level rises.

    No doubt, I overstate things here (using identical electrical channels to get the words out, no less), but my era, given the cultural momentum it remains prone to, seems to remain satisfied with understatements when the subject of Technogenic Climate Change comes up and the prospects for adjustment already pose themselves so rudely.

    Unpretty times ahead, as far as my eyes can see, which is never too far.


  • Angelcity1.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Sep 02, 08:09pm

    Once we pass an increase of 2 degrees - and we will in approximately 5-10 years - 2 billion people in the Southern Hemisphere are going to die. The climate crisis is a Genocide Project run by the elites. They've known that the temperature of the globe was going to increase for at least 40 years. The Pentagon has known longer than that. But they don't care. Because that's what elites do, historically: they kill massive amounts of people. That's what they've always done, and they're going to do it again, and it looks like no one is going to stop them.

  • Dscf0571.thumb
    David Ackley
    Sep 03, 02:18pm

    A footnote, if you will, Edward and Chris. In the early part of the last century, electric vehicles were beginning to dominate the market, when Henry Ford, with some encouragement from Thomas Edison, implemented the mass manufacture of cheap, gasoline burning vehicles, with his ubiquitous Model T Ford and blew electric vehicles out of existence for the next century and counting. From a profit-making point of view, an ideal solution, especially for oil companies, producing the ideal consumable, once burned requiring instant and endless replenishment. Historians and theorists debate where the era began(and the groundwork laid for environmental destruction and climate change, and who's to blame.) I'll take Capital and its epitome, Ford.

  • Photo_00020.thumb
    Sep 03, 05:13pm

    Chris and David: thank you for your responses.

    As events continue to unfold, it will take the combined efforts of historians, economic historians, and historians of science to chart the path that led us here.

    In the meanwhile, we are compelled to hope that these accounts will be published and that after publication there will be people motivated--and/or remaining--to read them.

    At this point, too, the technocratic responses to these new circumstances and the necessary adjustments thereto cannot easily be determined: at least some levels of skepticism regarding proposed "technocratic fixes" can be anticipated, at least some of the skepticism being registered for sound reasons.

    Without having the data at hand, I have begun to surmise that the costs of dealing with the climate crisis will be approximately on the scale of expenses deployed and expenditures that were made to instantiate the Industrial Revolution and its most recent successors of our Internet Era (c. 1850 to 2000). I begin to fear also that the global population could well revert over the next century to about where it was at the very advent of the Industrial Revolution, viz., c. 1 billion total due to the combined stresses of sheer climatic and meteorological conditions, with the aggravations of food shortages, sea level rise, opportunistic floods, droughts, and wildfires, population displacements and migrations, and challenges over dwindling resources.

    Maybe things won't be quite so bad, but to entertain this hope, we'd better soon begin finding copious evidence that can actually support such optimism.

  • Angelcity1.thumb
    Chris Okum
    Sep 03, 07:39pm

    I believe that if you take an empirical point of view re: our current predicament you will come to the logical conclusion that we are irrevocably fucked. The only thing left to do is to mitigate the suffering of those who will be affected the most, and try to force - through civil disobedience - the powers that be to activate their log dormant - and possibly extinct - sense of compassion. I feel that promoting optimism right now is complicity in the crimes against humanity that are about to occur. Technology cannot fix a situation that it created. That is magical thinking at its basest.

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