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Time To Bury The Dead

By Guy R. McPherson

10 May, 2010

The final nail in the global financial coffin was hammered into place this morning by the masters of the Eurozone. The trillion-dollar bailout Ponzi scheme to save Greece is yet another example of kicking the proverbial can down the road, hoping the taxpayers fail to notice the 800-pound gorilla fighting its way out of the can.

And, because the taxpayers are so easily swindled by TPTB, there is little doubt they will fail to notice or, more likely, will believe the inflation-induced salvation of Greece is a brilliant move by the Economists In Charge. Judging from today’s explosive jump in stock markets, the swindle worked brilliantly. But volatility in the stock markets is back, so today’s huge gain will be wiped out by week’s end, perhaps in a ten-minute spasm subsequently blamed on a computer glitch that cannot be rationally explained. Glitch? If you believe that, then I’ve sell you some ocean-front property in Arizona. Well, it’s not ocean-front property yet. But we’re certainly headed in that direction.

But let’s go back to that coffin. Following the lead of the last remaining hyper-power, Europe is generating a mountain of debt so high it cannot be imagined, and therefore cannot be dealt with.

The black hole of debt has gone global. We’ll never pay off the debt because it cannot be paid off. But the average American believes every word that ends with illion is the same as every other word that ends with illion, so he goes back to the television while sucking down cheap beer and cheese doodles. Failing to recognize the effects of debt for him and his equally ignorant children, he keeps cheering on the military while booing the politicians, gleefully following American Idol while bitching about the quality of the public schools, bemoaning those poor fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico while filling up his SUV with gasoline and blaming Obama for not fixing the deep-sea oil gusher, blaming his elected representatives for high taxes (sic) while demanding eternal solvency of Social Security and Medicare, and calling Barack Obama a socialist even as the president nominates a fascist to the Supreme Court.

Citizens have become consumers. (Ben Franklin: “It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority.”) We have abandoned the pursuit of inquiry, thus trading skepticism for suckerism. (One every minute is a massive underestimate from people who cannot distinguish millions from trillions.) We traded in our union cards for the promise of free money without reading the fine print. Having thoroughly fucked the planet and ourselves, we’re all playing extend and pretend, wishing for economic growth for our own generation (while willingly shit-canning future generations, as we’ve always done).

Eyjafjallajökull blowing smoke, ice melting at an accelerating rate from Antarctica, oil covering the Louisiana coast, biodiversity taking the fast track to oblivion at our oil-soaked hand, and on and on until the real news becomes so sickening we readily, eagerly, happily turn to reality TV (sic) or other mind-altering substances to get us through the week. If I weren’t a rationalist, I’d swear the third rock from the sun was trying to even the score with its most clever species.

Fortunately, even Ben Bernanke knows the odds are dimming on an orderly collapse. Don’t look away from the television now, but the post-industrial Stone Age is coming into full view.

Will it arrive in time to save the last remnants of the living planet? Will it arrive in time to save our species? Considering the planet’s atmosphere currently holds 387 ppm carbon dioxide, with 350 ppm the likely upper limit humanity can tolerate for an extended period, I have my doubts. Toss in methane, which is five orders of magnitude more powerful than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, and we’re currently experiencing the equivalent of 460 ppm carbon dioxide.

If that seems problematic to you, perhaps you’re numerate enough to distinguish between millions and trillions. Consider yourself a rare industrial human.

Guy R. McPherson is Profesor Emeritus at the University of Arizona. Educated in the ecology and management of natural resources, his early scholarly efforts produced many publications of little lasting importance. In mid-career, he began to focus on development and creative application of ecological theory, primarily with an eye toward conservation of biological diversity. Currently, his scholarly efforts focus on social criticism, with results that appear most frequently on newspaper op-ed pages. In addition, he facilitates research by students and he prepares synthetic documents focused on articulation of the links between (1) environmental protection, social justice, and the human economy and (2) science and its application. These efforts have produced more than 100 scholarly papers and nine books.

contact information:

Guy R. McPherson, Professor Emeritus
University of Arizona
School of Natural Resources & the Environment and
Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Biological Sciences East 325
Tucson, Arizona 85721

email: grm@ag.arizona.edu