The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (VI)

(a.3) If We Do Nothing | Invariable Extinction (continued from part V)

Whilst it is obvious that the “the world” is not ending in any meaningful, immediate way, despite the doomsaying of catastrophists such as Al Gore and Stephanie Wakefield, the world will, eventually, come to disintegration given sufficient time. Nothing extant is without an end. Even stars perish at the last. Our own sun, no exception to this rule. By aggregate estimate, the average age of a star is predicted to be around several billion years; the precise number of these years is difficult to determine given that celestial burn-out is predicated upon the amount of hydrogen contained within the core of any given celestial body. Our own star – the sun – is classed as a “main sequence” body which describes the fact that it is currently in it’s most stable period wherein it continuously converts it’s hydrogen core into helium. After around 8 billion years of this process the hydrogen will have been exhausted and as a consequence, the helium still in the core will cause the sun to utilize hydrogen outside of the core as a heat source, as this occurs, gravitational forces take over from the burning process thus causing the shell to expand and the surface to cool from white to red; when a star enters this stage it is referred to as a red giant due to it’s sanguine hue and significantly increased size. Given sufficient time this process will bring the red giant into contact with the earth which will swiftly be disintegrated. Before that occurs, however, the heat from the rapidly expanding sun will boil the oceans, causing all water on earth to become trapped in the atmosphere where it will be molecularly splinted by the sun’s energy, causing it to bleed out into the void of space as hydrogen and oxygen, thus leaving a barren, desiccated husk1. Amun-Ra’s wrath. Given that our galaxy is 4.5 billion years old, our sun has exhausted around about half of its total, estimated lifetime, this is to say humans have around 5 to 6.5 billion years left to inhabit the earth before the sun reaches it’s red giant phase2.

Yet even abandoning any concerns about sun-death, humanity, whether collectively or in some portion, will still need to contend with what many environmentalists and scientists have begun referring to as the sixth great extinction event. A research paper published in Science Advances in 2015 by the well known American biologist, Paul R. Ehrlich, and others, comparing past extinction rates to modern extinction rates states that animals are vanishing at a rate unprecedented since the fifth mass extinction period3 which occurred over 66 million years ago4 and brought about an end to the dinosaurs (save for that which became avians). The problem with these studies (and assertions which echo the sentiments contained within such studies) is that it is incredibly difficult to determine, with any accuracy, the rate of extinction of species that no longer exist. Ehrlich notes as much within his study when he writes, “-biologists cannot say precisely how many species there are, or exactly how many have gone extinct in any time interval-5.” He further states what should be obvious to everyone in the proceeding page, “Population extinction cannot be reliably assessed from the fossil record-6” the study also abstains from making any statement on organisms other than vertabrates; “-we have not considered animals other than vertebrates because of data deficiencies-7.” The latter point should also be rather obvious, there are simply too many different species on the planet to plug them all into a extrapolatiing extinction matrix in a 6 page paper. It would be astounding if, say, tardigrades were on the verge of extinction (they aren’t). However, we should not wax whistful about the prospect of extinction as there are decidedly certain types of organisms which we would be better of without. Whilst it is still dubious to classify viruses as a form of life, there are numerous types of viruses, such as HIV8. HIV is but one of many of the genus lentivirus which are, across the board, harmful – and often deadly – to mammalians such as humans, apes, cows and goats. More terrifyingly, viruses of the genus lentivirus can become endogenous to the host, meaning that they can incorporate their genome into the occupied organism’s genome such that the virus will henceforth be inherited by the host’s descendants. Pathogenic bacteria (those types of bacteria which cause disease and death) also occupy a similar position in relation to humans.

A common rebuttal to such a position as that which we have sketched out above is to take aim at centering either one’s personal or societies collective concern on humans-as-such and attempt to deconstruct so-called anthropocentric thinking. But what would it mean to center one’s concerns on anything other than one’s species? At a certain point one would be forced to make the decision between expanding a settlement and displacing some wildlife and simply not expanding and settling at all. If this queer notion had been taken up from the first it is highly unlikely that humanity would share the masterful command over the world that it does to this day. If we had refused to slay a charging beast upon the plains, if we had refused to eat the feral herds, if we had refused to burn the forests and there kindle them a’fire, if we had refused to dam the rivers and drain the swamps and level the land how sleek our chances would have been! How like as not we’d have passed away into the dustbin of history like the Neanderthal and homo erectus before us!

1Nearly all animal species will die once the oceans boil with the possible exception of the tardigrade. Fascinatingly resilient organisms!

2See the work of Enjar Hertzsprung and Henry Norris Russel, specifically as pertains to the Hertzsprung-Russel diagram.

3K-Pg extinction event which occurred between the Cretaceous and Paleogene epochs and ended 75% of all life on earth.

4Time interval calculated from Time Scales of Critical Events Around the Cretaceous-Paleogene Boundary, Paul R. Renne et al, Science 339, 684, (2013).

5Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 3

6Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

7Ceballos et al., Sci. Adv. 2015, p. 4

8HIV stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus.

The Image of Man | Specter of Earth (V)

(a.2) Death of the Specter | Man, Reborn (continued from part IIII)

Unrigorous conclusions are starkly evidenced by envirocrats, who, often regardless of the evidence in a given situation, advocate that human activity has caused, and is causing, one of three particular eventualities: catastrophic resource scarcity (from say, overpopulation), mass and devastating pollution (from factories, mines and energy production facilities) and, the mainstay, disastrous climate change (which is generally ascribed to CO2 emissions). All of these eventualities merge and blend into one another and are often grouped under the blandly melodramatic heading of those set of actions which are “killing the planet.” Putting aside literal claims of a “dying planet” (which doesn’t really mean anything and, again, places “the planet” – a vague anthropomorphization – over humanity or some portion thereof), issues of desertification, disappearance of plant and animal species and pollution of bodies of water are all important issues but what one should take pains to examine is whether or not such claims are actually true and, if so, to what extent.

Resource depletion

Let us tackle the first issue: resource depletion. This issue is somewhat vexed due to problems inherent in the language that is used to describe it; one of the most problematic of these pieces of language is contained within the phrase “natural resources” which is generally taken to mean something or things which exists independent of man but that can also be plucked from that natural spot wherein it lays to further some end. Apples, for instance, would fulfill this definition. But oil or coal bare very little similarities to an apple as they are not “given” but made. “Natural resources” is a vexed phrase due to the fact that everything which exists, whether wild apples or compressed hydrocarbons, require work to acquire. In the wilderness, nothing is given, everything is acquired, which is to say, labored for. One does not simply move out over an oil field and scoop the black stuff from off the ground into a bucket1, rather, one must drill, drain, remove, contain, refine (typically via fractional distillation or chemical processing), treat, combine and transport the fuel. Every step of this process requires some form of labor, whether man-powered or machine-powered, and this takes further energy, but more crucially, ingenuity. This is to say that the hydrocarbons laying in the ground are completely useless (to humans) until someone figures out how to utilize said resource.

In 1595, the lauded English explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh2 – with the help of some natives – discovered3 the Pitch Lake of Trinidad4. The Pitch Lake contained around 10 million tons of bitumen (asphalt5) which could be distilled into kerosene6, however, no one had developed a the method of fractional distillation7 which would have allowed for the extraction of kerosene from petroleum and thus, the Pitch Lake was rendered useless as a fuel source (though Raleigh was able to utilize the tar to fix his ship). In the absence of a distillation process (and a technique to utilize it) black goo in the ground was just that and very little more. Until it wasn’t. Until men made it a resource. Thus, the transmogrification of raw material to resource is limited only by ingenuity and the means to implement the innovative processes which arise because of it. Thus, there is, in theory, really is no such thing as even the potential for “natural” (wild) resource depletion (given that energy is contained within everything) but only a scarcity of human innovation.


To tackle the second issue, that of pollution, we must begin by stating at the outset the glaringly obvious fact that conversations surrounding this issue are almost entirely one-sided; with the dominant view being that the aggregate effects of industrialized human impact are “polluting the planet.” Several things need to be said about this, the first of which is that phrases such as “polluting the planet” are quite nebulous; in the case of pollution it is more useful to examine the by-product or by-products of a particular form of energy-production and then critically examine their effects in the broadest possible ecological context given that every form of energy-production has some kind of by-product which could be described as “pollution.” Even the most “nature friendly” of fuel sources, the primordial bonfire, releases smoke up into the atmosphere and could be, if it was set up within confined spaces, be inhaled to the detriment of one’s health or the health of some allotment of other organisms.

Thus, it is not enough to talk of pollution-as-such, rather, to be clear-headed on this issue, we must looked to the particular kinds of pollution, their effects and the acceptable and unacceptable thresholds thereof. The first and most obvious negative pollution threshold would be any kind of by-product which reliably ended human life within human settlements; mass quantities of ceaseless bonfire smoke, for instance, in tightly confined and poorly filtered areas, would clearly be beyond the bounds of threshold acceptability as it would, given sufficient time cause all of the inhabitants to suffocate from cerebral hypoxia8. However, if there was a by-product caused by some energy production facility or machine that was unpleasent but considerably mild, one might judge the “pollution” to be worth it (as is the case for many with car exhaust). Thus, in summary, the correct way of viewing pollution is not whether or not there is any at all, but rather, is the amount of by-product produced by a given venture worth the venture itself.

Anthropogenic Catastrophic Climate Change

The claim of man-made global warming represents the descent of science from the pursuit of truth into politicized propaganda. The fact that it is endorsed by the top scientist in the British government shows how deep this rot has gone.”

-Melanie Phillips, Daily Mail, 12 January 2004.

Unlike the relatively simple issues of pollution and resource depletion, climate change is a considerably more complicated issue. At the outset it must be stated that the history of the discursive modalities surrounding this intensely politicized subject is frought with difficulties with those who believe humans are bringing about the end of the world through climate change declaring that any who deny their claims are “climate deniers.” Such a ridiculous phrase must be promptly rebuffed; obviously climate is real. One would be quite hard pressed to find a man or woman living with a fully functional brain who truly believed that the climate was an utter fiction. What is actually entailed in the phrase “climate denier” is denial of climate change, not the climate-as-such. The climate is obviously and observably changing, indeed, it changes every season, from warm to mild to cold and back once more to warmth and all that is gold and green and skittering. The crucial questions to be answered are what is the degree of climate change and is this change dangerous to mankind and, if it is determined that such changes are determined to be dangerous to mankind, what should be done about it? For example, every winter, one realizes the dangers posed to the human organism by frostbite and, to gird against it, one deploys additional heating within one’s domicile and without, one dons furs and gloves and all manners of coating to protect against the elements.

During the 1960s and 1970s, the world witnessed a surge in claims of impending catastrophic climate change in the form of global cooling; in the 90s & 2000s, global warming rose to fashion. To give a brisk listing:

  1. 1970, Kenneth E. Watt, noted ecologist of the University of California claimed that the global mean temperature would drop four degrees by 1990 and 11 degrees by 2000. He claimed this change would bring about another ice age.9

  2. Earth Day, 1970, Harvard biologist George Wald declared that civilization would come to an end in “15 to 30” years, barring “immediate action.”10

  3. 1970, May Bethel publishes How To Live In Our Polluted World. Upon the very first paragraph of the very first page she writes, “It is impossible to isolate ourselves entirely from this menace of civilization.”11

  4. 1971, Paul Ehrlich, ecologist of Stanford University prognosticated that by the year 2000 the UK would be utterly decimated and fragmented by famine as a consequence of anthropogenic “global cooling,” he further went on to say that were he a betting man he would put money on Britain not existing by the year 2000.

  5. 1971, John Paul Holdren and Paul Ehrlich wrote the 6th chapter for Global Ecology: Readings Towards a Rational Strategy for Man wherein they claimed that human activity, such as jet exhaust, pollution, drainage and so forth, would bring about a new ice age. Holdren would go on to become the “science czar” to the Obama Administration.

  6. 1975, Newsweek published an article entitled, The Cooling World, put forth the hypothesis that the earth’s aggregate temperature had been steadily dropping for decades due to human activity.12

  7. 1978, Paul Ehrlich, Anne Ehrlich & John Paul Holdren publish Ecoscience, a tome which calls for the creation of a “planetary regime” that would have dominion over nearly all resources on the earth and would also enforce population control via coercive sterilization and abortion to protect the ecology.13

  8. 2000, David Viner of Climate research Unit (CRU) claimed that in a matter of years snowfall would become so scare that it would be considered “rare” and “exciting” whenever it was beheld. He further went on to say that children would have no conception of what snow even was and that snowfall would be a “thing of the past.”14

  9. 2003, The Pentagon released a paper entitled, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States Security. The 22 page document, penned by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, laid out a hypothesis, based upon then-current research, that it was likely that climate warming would cause slowing of the thermohaline conveyor of the world’s oceans which would in turn cause increasingly frigid winters, soil desiccation and wild storms. In the view of the authors this climatic upheaval would be gradual and would leave North Europe, America and Russia relatively untouched for sometime, whereas Southern Europe, Africa and Central and South America would suffer from production shortages in short order.15

  10. 2004, the speculative science fiction film The Day After Tomorrow is released. Directed by Roland Emmerich (best known for Independence Day), the motion picture is based off of the book The Coming Global Superstorm, by Art Bell and Whitley Strieber, which warned of catastrophic climate change bringing about a storm that would amass around the Norther Hemisphere which would then freeze over. Many of the scenarios within the book are portrayed in Emmerich’s film.

  11. 2005, UNEP16 notified the world that in five years the world would face catastrophe due to anthropogenic warming which would bring about mass desertification and death. The claimed that the Pacific Islands and the Caribbean and various other coastal regions were at the greatest risk of this looming threat and would produce 50 million “climate refugees.” 2010 came and went with no records of any “climate refugees” fleeing either the Pacific Islands or Caribbean; rather, their native populations markedly increased.17

  12. 2013, The Friends of Science release a study concerning a predictive climate model created by the Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis which was used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change18 to craft a narrative of climate eschatology; disaster, they proclaimed, was imminent. The Friends of Science study, however, found that the latter’s model predictions were incorrect by 590%. Ken Gregory, the director of Friends of Science noted, “Taxpayers in Canada should be appalled at how their money has ended up funding faulty science that has driven climate change terror around the world.”19

Every single one of the aforementioned proclamations and projections turned out to be false, often glaringly so (as with example xii). What this tells us is that though climate science is extremely important, the reliability of period climate modeling was (and remains during the time of this writing) highly unreliable. Thus, when such proclamations are made, it behooves one to ask first, cui bono? Who benefits? Secondly, one should ask the questions: What is the model and what is the data and how was the data obtained? Additionally, who is conducting the research, what are their motivations? What is their track-record?

To conclude: The prospect of ‘environmental catastrophe’ (almost invariably overstated, when not outright false) should be viewed as an exciting new challenge to be overcome rather than some gloomy and incontestable eventuality. The mentality of the doomsayer is that of a masterless slave, for that which is thought impossible is made impossible in the thinking.

1Settled ground oil – or, bubbling crude – is a naturally occurring phenomenon but it is so rare as to be unreliable and even were it reliable one would still have to process the oil before utilizing it.

2Sir Walter Raleigh was a English spy, man-of-letters & explorer who popularized tobacco in his homeland.

3The natives knew well of the lake. “Discovered” here means, “The English discovered.”

4See, Paul R. Sellin, Treasure, Treason and the Tower: El Dorado & The Murder of Sir Walter Raleigh. 2011.

5A black, semi-solid form of petroleum. Also referred to less commonly as asphaltum. Popular in waterproof roofing.

6Kerosene is a combustible liquid-hydrocarbon which can be created from petroleum widely used as jet fuel.

7Fractional distillation is a old technique for the separation of useful hydrocarbons from crude oil which involves heating the crude substance to boiling point & then collecting the differential vapors (which are referred to as ‘fractions’).

8Condition characterized by the complete oxygen deprivation of the brain.

9Ronald Bailey Earth Day, Now & Then, May 1, 2000. Also see, Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt the Global-Warming Industry, New American, 2014.

10Ronald Bailey, Earth Day, Now & Then, May 1, 2000.

11May Bethel, How To Live In Our Polluted World, Introduction, p. 6

12Peter Gwynne, The Cooling World, Newsweek, April 28, 1975.

13See, Holdren et al. Ecoscience: Population, Resources, Environment. 1978

14Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt The Global-Warming Industry, The New American, 2014.

15Peter Schwartz, Dough Randall, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States national Security.

16UNEP stands for the United Nations Environment Programme.

17Alex Newman, Embarrassing Predictions Haunt Global-Warming Industry, The New American, 2014.

18Also known more simply as ‘IPCC.’

19Canadian Climate Change Predictions Fail by 590% Costing Global Consumers a Bundle Says Friends of Science Study, October 31, 2013.