Sunday, November 19, 2006

What's Your Outlook?

This Questionaire was put out by Portland Peak Oil.

A questionnaire on collapse

Hello fellow concern citizens,

There appears to be a great divide between possible problems and probable solution. I’ve yet to witness any sort of general consensus as to exactly what the general opinion is in regards to potential crisis even among those choosing to stay informed. So for anyone interested, I offer a general consensus building exercise; a crude questionnaire. Not for the general public, but for those of us, more naturally inclined to think about such things, or what Anthony Leiserowit referred to as “Alarmist”.

What follows is a two part survey. The first is “identifying the problems”; I’ve only mention what I consider to be the top five major problems (Climate Change, ecological collapse, energy scarcity, economic decline, and general collapse. I’ve intentionally avoided the political arena). They are numerical multiple choice, and are based on a point system.

For the following “identifying the problems”, please enter the number or numbers that correspond to your views (If say for climate change; you believe 3 to be probable as well as 9, the higher number trumps, all higher numbers are mutually exclusive to lower ones, but if say you think somewhere between 6 and 7, then 6 ½ will be your value.

The second part “identifying the solution”, there are ten choices to choose from, they are rather lengthy, and are roughly based on the five stages of grief. Please pick only one that you most agree with. If none apply, then please write your own. Please be mindful that the point of this exercise is to attempt to weed out the contradiction we all embody, and remember; that which makes you uncomfortable or offends is probably true.

At the very end, there is a section for your answers, I would please like you to copy, answer and email back to me. I’ll gather up all of your replies, average out everyone’s response, post them, and vuala!……….hopefully a slightly less vague understanding of each other.

Please be mindful to answer honestly, and if you’ve never really thought about it before, then please take your time and think about it before you do. There are seemingly minute distinctions between a lot of the choices, but those very distinctions tend to reflect the devil in the details as to our true feelings. Either we believe things to be ok, or not, and if they’re not, then just how bad do we think they are?

Identifying the problem(s)

Side note: Remember civilization doesn’t connote humanity. The rise and fall of numerous civilizations is just one aspect in the history of humanity. Here “humanity” equates to our very existence as a species, as where “civilization”, equates to our current means of extraction of raw materials, production, consumption, transportation, communication, urban and rural civil infrastructure, basically our industrial and technological way of life.

Climate Change: The largest body of peer-review scientists in the history of civilization (I.P.C.C.) are 95% certain the earth will increase by 3*C by 2100 regardless of any CO2 emissions reduction. And this doesn’t even factor in positive feedback loops, which will almost certainly dramatically increase the rate of change. Again, a 2*C increase is considered to be the point of no return in regards to run away Climate Change and/or abrupt Climate Change.

Therefore Climate Change will either:

1. Have no affect on civilization
2. Barely affect civilization
3. Moderately affect civilization
4. Seriously impact civilization beyond our current understanding of what civilization means
5. Seriously impact civilization, but nothing approaching collapse
6. Seriously impact civilization up to the point of collapse
7. Eventually collapse civilization
8. Collapse civilization within our lifetimes
9. Eventually destroy humanity
10. Destroy humanity within our lifetimes

Ecological collapse i.e., over population, water scarcity/drought, poverty, destruction of both the tropical and temperate rainforests, acidification of the oceans, habitat destruction, soil erosion, desertification, water and air pollution, mass extinction, etc.

Therefore ecological destruction is either:

1. A non-issue
2. Going to minimally impact civilization
3. Going to moderately impact civilization
4. Going to severely impact civilization
5. Already is severely impacting civilization
6. A domino effect that “will” moderately collapse civilization
7. A domino effect that “is” moderately collapsing civilization
8. A domino effect that will eventually totally collapse civilization
9. A domino effect that will totally collapse civilization within our lifetimes
10. A domino effect that will eventually destroy humanity
11. A domino effect that will destroy humanity within our lifetimes

Energy scarcity: The peaking and permanent decline of crude oil and natural gas around 2010, with no alternatives even remotely capable of replacing them, which will have a resultant devastating impact on global economic growth and the global economy.

Therefore energy scarcity will either:

1. Be a non-issue
2. Only minimally impact civilization
3. Only moderately impact civilization
4. Severely impact civilization
5. Eventually collapse civilization
6. Collapse civilization within our lifetimes

Economic decline in the U.S.: $ 8,550,658,088,146 national debt (as of Oct 11th), and borrowing $2 billion a day; a $191 billion trade deficit; a devaluing dollar/petrol dollar; an over-inflated housing market; outsourcing of the manufacturing and high tech job markets; dwindling middle class wages; an ever increasing lower income class; continued privatization of common wealth; corporate deregulation; impotent antitrust laws; mass media conglomeration; increased health costs; increasing insurance costs; a polarized one political party system; corporate campaign funding; over fifty cents on every U.S. tax dollar going to the un-auditable military-industrial-complex “accounting” office in the Pentagon; the outright theft of the last two presidential elections; the U.S. governments complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Not failing to mention the impact both climate change and energy scarcity will have not only on the U.S. economy, but the entire global economy

Therefore economic decline:

1. Will be a non-issue
2. Will minimally affect our daily lives
3. Will moderately affect our daily lives in the distant future
4. Will moderately affect our daily lives in the near future
5. Is moderately affecting our daily lives
6. Will severely affect our daily lives in the distant future
7. Will severely affect our daily lives in the near future
8. Is severely affecting our daily lives
9. Will eventually collapse the U.S. economy
10. Is currently collapsing the U.S. economy
11. Will eventually collapse the global economy
12. Is currently collapsing the global economy
13. Will eventually collapse civilization
14. Is currently collapsing civilization
15. Will collapse civilization within our lifetimes

Collapse: All of the above along with several hundred other distressing issues not mentioned


1. The future “objectively” looks bright, positive, wonderful and all this talk about collapse is absurd and ridiculous.
2. There’s really no reason to worry, it will somehow all work itself out in the end.
3. Humanity has always been confronted with adversity, and just as before we will discover a way to overcome these new challenges, there are no problems, only solutions.
4. The fundamental constructs of civilization are in question and we need to eventually change how we approach things.
5. Civilization has “serious problems” and if we don’t drastically change our behavior, we might be in for a rough ride.
6. Civilization is “seriously flawed” and needs to be rebuilt from the grass roots up immediately.
7. Civilization is “inherently flawed” and will eventually collapse
8. Civilization is collapsing.
9. Civilization is inherently flawed and will collapse within our lifetimes.
10. Humanity is inherently flawed and we will eventually destroy ourselves.
11. Humanity is inherently flawed and we will destroy ourselves within our lifetimes.

Another general overview of collapse just worded differently:

1. I am an instrument of god's will
2. We are all in god's hands
3. Civilization is infinitely dynamic and adaptable, and will make what ever needed adjustments are required to assure our continued success.
4. Human ingenuity is limitless and capable of overcoming any adversity.
5. Civilizations technological achievements will eventually develop any solution to any challenge before us just as it has continued to do since the dawn of civilization.
6. Life is in a continuing state of flux, between life and death; we’ve always taken two steps forward and one step back.
7. Life is indefinable and imperceptible, all of life ebbs and flow, we are but in an endless state of transition and evolution, the future has always been uncertain.
8. We are capable of great change if we so choose, we are equally capable of enormous destruction, what will be are fate is anyone’s guess.
9. We are being confronted by serious challenges that are demanding serious changes in how we live and interact, if we do not begin to change our behavior soon, we will be in serious trouble.
10. The challenges ahead may be without a solution, but I believe we will somehow overcome these problems.
11. The challenges we are being faced with have probably never been so severe, we must change our way of living immediately if we want to avoid catastrophe.
12. The problems we are facing will never be solved by the people who created them; we must take it upon ourselves to be the change we want to see.
13. The dilemma we are in now is really no different than any time before, but now we’ve reached the outer limits of discovering solutions.
14. The crisis before us is unprecedented and will require unprecedented change if we hope to overcome the single greatest catastrophe in the history of civilization.
15. The crisis before today, scientists have been describing for decades, we’ve done nothing to change the coarse we’re on, and are now meeting our fate.
16. The catastrophe now in affect will “eventually” collapse civilization.
17. The catastrophic consequences of our negligence will collapse civilization “within our lifetime”.
18. The disaster fast approaching will devastate those who are unable and/or unwilling to prepare.
19. Climate Change will not only collapse civilization within our lifetime, but will as well, nearly destroy humanity.
20. Climate Change will nearly destroy humanity within our lifetime.

Identifying the solutions

Side note: Identifying the solutions is so completely interconnected to identifying the problems, that in many ways they become one in the same, similar to the interconnection between cause and effect.

Please choose just one of the following ten options.

1: Problem, what problem? There is no need for concern or change in our way of life and living, we are all in god’s hands, and as long as we take strength in prayer and hope for the best, everything will be as it has always been, or as god intends. We will all live long prosperous lives, for civilization through its continuous technological progress, will only go on to provide ever abundant and rich future prospects for all of mankind. Metaphorically: Life is but a glorious cruse.

2: There is no cause for us to alter our individual lives, although I recognize there are things that do need to change, but you know what they say, “the only thing constant in life is change”. No one knows what the future holds. Scientists can no more predict the climate a hundred years from now, than weathermen can predict the weather next week. There is always room for improvements, and civilization will eventually solve whatever problems may arise; besides necessity is the mother of invention. Metaphorically: This ship is unsinkable.

3: Who do they think they are to make such outrageous claims? I can’t stand people like them; all holier than thou. They always find some reason to be angry and disappointed, always pointing their finger at others and telling them how to live. They should first ask themselves what they are getting out of all this fear mongering. I’m sick of their doom-saying, just let me be. I can’t believe I’m having to have to deal with this. Science is fallible and in many ways plain wrong. One can always find fault, we live in an imperfect world. Who are they to tell me my world view is wrong, my god is dead; my faith is false, my life is a mistaken or civilization is going to collapse? What do they suppose I tell my children, that we‘re all going to die tomorrow? We only have one life to live, if they want to go through it constantly being pessimistic about everything, and not accepting the way things are, then they can go to hell. Metaphorically: What is all this talk about icebergs, it’s really spoiling my trip. The Captain knows these waters well, and just look at the size of this ship, you must be crazy to think they would ever let anything happen to us.

4: This is not my problem. I’ve got more important things to think about, besides what can anyone do to really make a difference? Why should I be punished for just wanting to do well? What about my desires? Haven’t I the right to be happy? “God helps those who help themselves”. I recognize that there are certain problems that relate to how we live in some aspects, but it is not my responsibility to save the world, besides what ever problems there are, they won’t happen in my life time. Metaphorically: We may or may not be able to turn the ship around, but for the most part, I’m just going to enjoy the ride while it lasts.

5: I am aware that there are many difficult problems; there have always been problems, as well as solutions. This is a wonderful opportunity to finally build sustainable communities, and renewable resources that we’ve needed to do for decades, now is the time for change. If we all just wake up and pull together, “we can be the change we want to see”. I believe that society is capable of waking up, and is, waking up to these new challenges, and we will make the appropriate changes to alter the direction we are on, and that though the road ahead maybe bumpy and possibly treacherous, and though I admit there is great cause for concern, I believe we will find a new path and create new ways of living. A certain amount of denial isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For me hope is crucial in remaining optimistic, so regardless of what happens I’ll continue to look on the bright side of life. The love we receive is equal to the love we give, change starts with ourselves. Metaphorically: By voting progressive, recycling, conserving, staying informed and making a few personal sacrifices we might somehow, someday turn the ship around.

6: Well it could be worse. I recognize that there are very serious problems, when hasn’t there been? Who ever said it was going to be easy? But to be honest, I am utterly torn between knowing that I need to make some serious changes, and just wanting it all to go away. I know I’m doing my best, and that unfortunately, it’s still more than most, but there is whole lot of shit coming down that’s hitting people hard. I believe we are about to see a great transition in how we approach most everything. While the older I get, the more cynical I become that we can change the coarse we’re on, I still believe there are many causes for hope, as well as many new technological advancements breaking ground that will completely change the way we live. The world is finally waking up from its long slumber, and I believe we’ve still enough time to make things right or at least reduce a lot of the problems. It is less a question of our ability, than it is our will. I hope that it will not require something catastrophic to happen that finally forces us to make those serious changes. I believe that things have probably never been as bad as they are today, but I try to remain hopeful that somehow things will work themselves out, besides what’s the point of living, if you just dwell on the negative all the time? But ultimately, even if we don’t change, what difference does it really make in the end? We’re all just star dust after all. Life simply is. Metaphorically: We’re old hands at this game called life, for some reason we’ve a disposition for presuming the worse. I understand why the Titanic metaphor is so popular, for it definitely seems that something very dark is up ahead, but we’ve been using that ship to describe the present for over seventy five years, yet here we are, still plodding along, and even if we do crash it’s not like we haven’t cashed before.

7: Obviously there are enormous problems facing us, and they will only continue to probably get worse. I know I could be being doing more, but I don’t believe it will make a bit of difference. The magnitude of our current situation is so emotionally overpowering, that when I do contemplate the greater cause, effect and solution to the problems, I’m so completely distraught, that I just mentally shut down, and am wanting of anything to distract me from such depressing thoughts. Being constantly mindful of current events makes living day-to-day very difficult. To be completely honest, I’ll probably just continue to go about my life much as I have always done, why not? When hasn’t the world been on the eve of destruction? If not Climate Change, then nuclear annihilation, the hole in the ozone, bird flu, AIDS or some other god awful manmade creation. Yes, I fully recognize that there are incredible problems facing both civilization and humanity, and it appears that the world’s governments are either unwilling and/or unable to do anything about it, and people are just too afraid and apathetic to change. I don’t know what I can do to really change anything accept just go about my life and try not to be apart of the problem. Metaphorically: The ship is still full steam ahead, I can see the iceberg, the captain is a gambling drunk passed out over the helm, and the door is locked. The ship may or may not go down, and to honest, I don’t really care either way, I’ve got my lifejacket, there’s no point of worrying more than I already do, life is challenging enough without having to plan for the worst case scenario.

8: The problems we face are in many ways the same problems we’ve always faced, except where instead of there only being a few million to hundred million people destroying the commons, much as we’ve been doing over the entire history of humanity. We are now, nearing the tail end of exponential population growth unto nine billion, with all of its associative destructive manifestations, and where we’ve overshot the earth’s carrying capacity now by over 20%. No amount of political or economic mitigation can possibly counter the enormous impact of our sheer physical footprint on a finite and fragile environment. The best we can hope for is that some ecological catastrophic event occurs that so impacts our perception of reality, that humanity is forced to change virtually every aspect of civilization overnight. I’ll wait and see how bad things get before I decide what I want to do. Metaphorically: Humanity is a ship that breached well before we were even born, it’s just taken decades to capsize, and there are no lifeboats in this metaphor. And even though I can swim, I’ll die of hypothermia within minutes. So I think I’ll just head for the bar, drink the top shelf, and watch the whole shithouse go down.

9: Given that humanity has had every opportunity and imperative to achieve social equity, equality, social justice, environmentally sound development, global peace and harmony over the last twenty five hundred years of enlightened civil accord. And where we have obviously failed to do so in relative times of natural abundance, it is therefore preposterous to presume that now given the reality of catastrophic climate change, severe environmental degradation and perpetual resource scarcity, etc —as a direct consequence of exponential over-population—that civilization will be able to overcome the very endemic behaviorism which has prevented us from achieving such said goals thus far. We’ve known for over two decades that civilization must curtail CO2 emissions before “positive feedback loops” are tipped, triggering unstoppable Climate Change that will not only collapse civilization, but virtually destroy all of life on earth. Aside from many of these positive feedbacks having already been triggered, the general scientific consensus is that a 2*C increase is the “point of no return”. The largest scientific body of research in history of civilization, has now determined that regardless of mitigation, the earth will increase by 3*C. In concert with a litany of global unprecedented catastrophic events which have no foreseeable solution, collapse is not only inevitable, but is now transpiring and will only continue for the remainder of our lives. Metaphorically: The ship is going down, no one is coming to the rescue, there are no lifeboats, while most everyone are in the chapel praying for salvation, a few have their lifejackets on, and are standing on the edge waiting to jump, while others are gathered in the ballroom, either dancing there hearts away, enjoying their last meal or getting drunk. I am standing in middle of it all, unable to make up my mind; the music sounds so good and I love to dance, but I am hungry as well, and for god’s sake I could definitely use a drink, but I can’t help but notice the ax hanging on the wall behind that rather large wooden bar.

10: In acceptance of 9 being true. From an ecological, economic and political standpoint, collapse is not only inevitable, but unfortunately now necessary. The near millennial global institutions which humanity has created are not only systemically problematic, but owe there very existence to our cultural endemic false perceptions of reality, where we ignorantly perceive perpetual growth as being feasible in a finite biosphere. As long as our general social indoctrination of competition over cooperation prevails, true change is impossible. Nothing will eradicate that thinking more than a few billion deaths. While it is an incredibly grim prospect, that the planet is over-populated by billions of people, if we’ve any hope of surviving as a species—not to mention the rest of life on the planet—we simply must reconstitute our very existence, into entirely new social orders of incredibly less energy inputs and ecological impact. The only way this is physically possible, is for humanity to either practice volunteered simplicity, where we learn to live on far less, and that which we do live on, we provide for ourselves, or Mother Nature will teach us to simply live the hard way. Metaphorically: How are we going to get that bar out through those doors?

So please copy from here down, and email your answers back to me.

Identifying the problem:

For Climate Change I believe:
For ecological collapse I believe:
For energy scarcity I believe:
For economic decline I believe:
General world view:

Identifying the solution:

I consider___to best represent my outlook as to future recourse


Archangel said...

Hi Curt,

I found your blog through a comment on 'casemeau's a couple weeks back, and really enjoy it! this is a great survey, and I'd like to participate, but can't seem to find this guy daniel's email. Do you have it by chance?


Curt said...

Dear Archangel,

You wrote: "I found your blog through a comment on 'casemeau's a couple weeks back, and really enjoy it!"

Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I wish had more time to put into it.

You wrote: "this is a great survey, and I'd like to participate, but can't seem to find this guy daniel's email. Do you have it by chance?"

Did you check The Portland Peak Oil website?

Archangel said...

Hi Curt,

Back and forth: "Thank you for your kind words about my blog. I wish had more time to put into it."

I understand- I feel the same way about the one I just started. But quality's at least as important as quantity, I say.

"Did you check The Portland Peak Oil website?"

I did look and I found his blog where this was originally posted, but couldn't find contact emails for the bloggers. The site is also somewhat hard to navigate, so maybe it's there, but I can't find it. I'll keep looking, though.

Cool- take care, Curt!

David Broderick said...

The survey is a bad idea. The problem is, that nothing ever turns out like you think it will. It's a mistake to take all available data and say, "This is how it must be." The problem with this is that, while it's surgically logical, there is always crucial data which you can't see and while plays a vital role (when talking about the future).

For the money, here's how I think things will play out:
The US dollar and its economy will collapse sometime within the next few months (whether this is kicked off by a natural disaster, an attack on Iran, or some other factor is irrelevant). This will, in turn, cause the global economy to contract (but not completely collapse). Global warming will continue, but we will find better and better ways to deal with it using increasingly sophisticated technology.

In other words, prepare for the worst, but know that it never actually happens.