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Scientists are getting a bit nervous.
October 25, 2007 11:23 AM   Subscribe

In what it calls "the final wake-up call to the international community," a UN report (press release, website, 21 MB PDF) warns that damage to the environment is reaching a "point of no return" and now threatens "humanity's very survival." Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.
posted by salvia (118 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
They added, "We just have four words for future generations: Don't be like us."
posted by salvia at 11:25 AM on October 25, 2007


Cue right-wing UN-debunking talking points.
posted by NationalKato at 11:29 AM on October 25, 2007


NationalKato has it. Right-wingers have already decided that the UN, Al Gore, and global warming are politically incorrect topics or sources. Therefore, they should be mocked and their arguments should be ignored. The end.
posted by ibmcginty at 11:31 AM on October 25, 2007


nothing threatens our survival. we'll be crawling around the deserts of the future like cockroaches.
posted by bhnyc at 11:32 AM on October 25, 2007


But there is still a range of views on whether it could result in a catastrophic depletion of natural resources as the human population heads toward 9 billion by mid-century, or more of a steady diminution in diversity.

so, to paraphrase: "there's still some debate over whether the world will end with a bang or with a whimper."
posted by saulgoodman at 11:36 AM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


"We just have four words for future generations: Don't be like us."

Too bad the only words they'll understand will be "eat," "fuck," and "tasty mutant rat."
posted by nasreddin at 11:37 AM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Too bad the only words they'll understand will be "eat," "fuck," and "tasty mutant rat."

Or, as I call it: "Friday night".
posted by LordSludge at 11:41 AM on October 25, 2007 [13 favorites]


The more realistic, ethical and practical issue is to accelerate human well being and make more rational use of the resources we have on this planet.

The problem with this statement is that the only reason the earth hasn't already gone up in smoke is that the vast majority of the world is not as well-off as the West is. If "rational" means "equitable," the West will have to accept a lifestyle on the order of contemporary Paraguay. Which will happen--never.

Pick one, guys. Nuclear war (followed by total environmental collapse) or total environmental collapse (followed by nuclear war).
posted by nasreddin at 11:42 AM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Cue right-wing UN-debunking talking points.

I wonder what right-wingers have to say about George W.'s daughter's choice for "representing" U.S. Americans:
"TIME Magazine: If the war in Iraq is so noble, why aren't you and your sister serving our country there?

Jenna Bush: I understand that point, but there are many ways to serve our country, and I think my skills are better suited for teaching and representing the U.S. in Latin America through UNICEF."*
posted by ericb at 11:51 AM on October 25, 2007


If "rational" means "equitable," the West will have to accept a lifestyle on the order of contemporary Paraguay. Which will happen--never.

Bingo. Don't have kids, people. I mean it. You can rationalize it a few different ways; a) fewer people means less garbage, pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, b) fewer people means less competition for existing resources, meaning less chance of resource wars, c) our society, as we know it, is probably pretty much fucked, and do you want your children or grandchildren to suffer through the collapse?

By not having children you'll be making a more positive contribution to the environment than a lifetime of Level 5 veganism or Greenpeace do-gooderism could ever hope to aspire to.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:53 AM on October 25, 2007


Oh, c'mon, tell us what you really think.

They will, once you take your head out of the sand.
posted by Dave Faris at 11:54 AM on October 25, 2007


OK, so, just to get this straight. It's all fucked up, but like really now, so I can just keep on keepin' on? 'Cause like anything I do now is a decade late and ten billion dollars short (as it were)? The report was just the teensiest bit vague.

If so, that's awesome. really, great. super.
posted by From Bklyn at 11:56 AM on October 25, 2007


Meh.

I never was a fan of "humanity" anyway.
posted by Hugh2d2 at 11:57 AM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Besides, any species stupid enough to invent something like Dove Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash* doesn't deserve to go on reproducing.

* filled with thousands of tiny plastic beads that, once they're finished exfoliating your skin, get washed down the drain and into the ocean, where fish eat them. Then we eat the fish, and thus the circle of life is complete.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:01 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not at all worried. A Democrat is a shoo-in in 2008 and they are going to totally revamp the entire energy sector from stem to stern. Check it, some of these candidates are calling for an increase in MPG from 25 to 25.0001.

As long as they don't cave to pressure from Detroit, we're saved!
posted by DU at 12:02 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


Earth, meet your new owners.
posted by nasreddin at 12:02 PM on October 25, 2007



As long as they don't cave to pressure from Detroit, we're saved!


Well, that depends. Is hot air a greenhouse gas?
posted by nasreddin at 12:03 PM on October 25, 2007


The problem with this statement is that the only reason the earth hasn't already gone up in smoke is that the vast majority of the world is not as well-off as the West is. If "rational" means "equitable," the West will have to accept a lifestyle on the order of contemporary Paraguay. Which will happen--never.

This is mostly correct, but as technologies mature, they tend to become less wasteful, all else being equal. I'm sure that with some serious leadership, the west could move towards a simpler kind of equity, say, equal GHG emissions per capita with Paraguay without any truly painful sacrifices.

All the west needs now is moral leadership, and that is in serious short supply. The United States is collectively in a state of denial, the current Canadian government seems bent on profiting from this crisis, and I'm not sure if it would be brave or foolhardy for an aspiring leader to ask for even trivial sacrifice, but who knows, no one has tried.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 12:16 PM on October 25, 2007


Bingo. Don't have kids, people. I mean it. You can rationalize it a few different ways;

you just lost the game: um, yeah, but take that thinking too far and we still go extinct, just by a different route. i agree with the idea that no one should have more children than necessary to maintain current population levels (or even that most people should have even fewer). but if your advice were taken literally we'd all be gone within one generation!

If "rational" means "equitable," the West will have to accept a lifestyle on the order of contemporary Paraguay. Which will happen--never.

i think it might actually do us some good to drastically tighten our belts in the west. imagine if we each only had access to a few hours of electrical power a day--or if it were rationed so that we actually had to consciously budget our power consumption. imagine if we worked out of our homes, and did most of our day-to-day business within walking distance of our homes like we did a few generations ago, reserving automotive transport for rare long-distance travel and emergencies.

such changes would initially seem like a huge inconvenience, but we'd adapt, and eventually it would all seem like a normal--even relatively comfortable--way of life.

but you're right: once you get hooked on the good stuff, it's just about impossible to settle for less. i remember once almost popping an artery during an argument with a colleague who insisted that even if (speaking hypothetically) it would literally bring about the human race's extinction within the next century were he personally to keep driving his SUV, he would still drive his SUV because to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the american way of life.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:16 PM on October 25, 2007


Dove Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash

holy crap. that stuff actually has plastic beads in it?!?
posted by saulgoodman at 12:21 PM on October 25, 2007


um, yeah, but take that thinking too far and we still go extinct, just by a different route.

And? No, I'm just kidding. In a bad mood today. Obviously, if absolutely nobody had kids, we'd go extinct, yes. But that's not going to happen, because most people will keep on having kids no matter what happens. But if I can convince just one person to not have kids, my posting will not have been in vain.

> holy crap. that stuff actually has plastic beads in it?!?

You got it, pardner. PLASTIC FUCKING BEADS. Thousands of 'em! Ordinary body washes just liquidize, but Dove Gentle Exfoliating Body Wash will be circulating throughout the ecosystem long after you've shuffled off this mortal coil! Ask for it by name!
posted by you just lost the game at 12:31 PM on October 25, 2007 [5 favorites]


Honestly, I think now we're in a race between technology and time. Even if humanity went all out in trying to switch to sustainable means, I believe the damage we've already done, combined with the sheer number of people, makes it impossible to avoid some sort of massive catastrophe with our current technology.

We're in a mess that's only going to get worse, and the only way we're going to get out is to find/develop new technology to fix these messes. Which means we have to put our time, resources, and energy into the appropriate activities.

Especially since humanity really only gets one chance at getting through this. If there were to be some massive catastrophe (or combination of them) that were to ruin most/all of human civilization, the survivors won't be able to get back to where we are now, as there won't be enough resources left to make use of.
posted by evilangela at 12:32 PM on October 25, 2007



This is mostly correct, but as technologies mature, they tend to become less wasteful, all else being equal. I'm sure that with some serious leadership, the west could move towards a simpler kind of equity, say, equal GHG emissions per capita with Paraguay without any truly painful sacrifices.


I would need to see some proof of this, since it doesn't correlate with anything I've observed in history.


i think it might actually do us some good to drastically tighten our belts in the west.

I agree: it'd be great if it would happen. But it won't, and expecting it to is wishful thinking. If your socioeconomic system is entirely based on maximizing consumption and waste, you won't be able to minimize consumption and waste without scrapping it. And it's too late for that.

Ultimately, what the West does is irrelevant. What is relevant is what China and India do, because the collapse of the environment will be caused by their rapid economic growth and rise in standard of living. While they're definitely making environmental noises, I doubt they'll be able to stop the upward spiral of growth. It's the tragedy of the commons.
posted by nasreddin at 12:33 PM on October 25, 2007


This is mostly correct, but as technologies mature, they tend to become less wasteful, all else being equal.

That's not quite true.
posted by freedryk at 12:33 PM on October 25, 2007


he would still drive his SUV because to do otherwise would be unfaithful to the american way of life.

Who knew the American Way Of Life was so nihilistic? That's fucking punk rock, right there, that is.
posted by you just lost the game at 12:34 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


It seems as if all of the positive feedback mechanisms are starting to kick in for global climate change. Increased CO2 from arctic tundra, diminished CO2 capture capacity in the oceans. Increased fossil fuel consumption do deal with drought and poor farming practices. And much much more.

As the article states, we are exceeding our carrying capacity. Soon we may loose our ability to feed the population. Really once we exceed carrying capacity there are three reasonable long term paths, one our population declines to the point of no return (unlikely), two we hover right near capacity with a periodic boom bust cycle (possible, but I hope this doesn't happen), or three we figure out how to manage our population at a sustainable level (I would guess 1-2 billion).

What happens when we reach carrying capacity is really the question. Economic collapse and resource wars over food, fresh water, and energy will be a bitch, and even exacerbate the problem. It seems to me that a pandemic, as bad as it sounds, would be a better option than the entire planet spiraling into war and conflict. The population would wither away by 15-20% and hopefully we would all be too sick to fight. Being more optimistic than usual, I would think that we could use a world changing pandemic to bring about the needed changes. Only the future will tell. The next 50 years will be interesting to say the least.

I would like to thank my parents and grand parents for making this slow catastrophe possible.
posted by kscottz at 12:34 PM on October 25, 2007


It seems to me that a pandemic, as bad as it sounds, would be a better option than the entire planet spiraling into war and conflict. The population would wither away by 15-20% and hopefully we would all be too sick to fight.

Based on what happened in Europe during the Black Death, I don't think this a viable possibility. Here's what will happen:
1. Working class/poor population drops catastrophically.
2. Remaining workers demand higher wages and social status.
3. Bosses who control guns and nuclear bombs refuse to concede these demands.
4. Global class struggle ending in yet more devastation and misery, possibly the annihilation of entire populations of workers.
5. Warlordism on the periphery and totalitarianism in the center.
posted by nasreddin at 12:39 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


um, yeah, but take that thinking too far and we still go extinct, just by a different route.

See also: the Voluntary Human Extinction Movement.
posted by salvia at 12:42 PM on October 25, 2007


The focus should be on the fact that the Small Island Developing States are being hard-hit by climate change. Start telling people that their vacation spots are in danger and action will be taken.
posted by Shebear at 12:44 PM on October 25, 2007


This is mostly correct, but as technologies mature, they tend to become less wasteful, all else being equal.

The problem is that as technologies mature they also become more efficient, so the products being sold cost less, and thus get replaced more often. Overall volume goes up and the problem gets worse, not better. This isn't the way it has to be, but the economic incentives guide it in that direction.

On preview: holy shit, that has a name: Jevons paradox. What do you know. Thanks freedryk.
posted by PercussivePaul at 12:45 PM on October 25, 2007


Not to mention that a pandemic will result in instant totalitarianism. Haven't you seen 28 Weeks Later?
posted by nasreddin at 12:45 PM on October 25, 2007


Okay, so I have this friend and he is rilly intrested in this topic and he sez that most of the publications showing global warming is man-made are from just a small group of scientists who generate a lot of papers and therefore they can't represent consensus and this one paper that everyone cites has a mistake, so he's pretty sure it's all just a hoax by the global warming conspiracy who stand to make millions on the public's misperception that they are actively promoting, including that guy Algore and those dudes with the black helicopters and just because the oil industry is actively promoting the opposite it's not because they stand to profit it's because they are interested in truth, because just because you make money doesn't mean you're bad, so I don't believe any of this stuff the UN is trying to pass off. Gotta go listen to Rush now, so 'bye.
posted by Mental Wimp at 12:49 PM on October 25, 2007


I'D BE HAPPY TO WARM YOUR GLOBES, LADY.
posted by quonsar at 12:52 PM on October 25, 2007


Bingo. Don't have kids, people. I mean it.

What you're saying is that only people who are too stupid to realize there's a problem should reproduce.

The inevitable consequences are left as an exercise for the reader.
posted by Malor at 12:52 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


What you're saying is that only people who are too stupid to realize there's a problem should reproduce.

It's this kind of unbelievable self-righteous arrogance that makes me long for the human race's destruction.
posted by nasreddin at 12:56 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Eponysterical!
posted by dead_ at 12:56 PM on October 25, 2007


This is just code for UN Bureaucrats telling us what temperature it'll be in our American outdoors!

We'll show them! We'll grow oranges in Alaska.
posted by OldReliable at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2007


I agree: it'd be great if it would happen. But it won't, and expecting it to is wishful thinking.

you don't think there's any hope of some very well-crafted public policies doing the trick? i agree it won't just happen on its own. but i think there's a vanishingly slim chance it could be made to happen, with the right leadership in place. but even then, i agree, it's probably a long shot.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:01 PM on October 25, 2007


Not to mention that a pandemic will result in instant totalitarianism. Haven't you seen 28 Weeks Later?

Great all optimism for the future have been totally crushed. Time to pack up the cat and dog and head for my self sustaining eco-colony / compound in rural Minnesota. I think I will pick up a few more AK-47s and amo along the way.

"We just have four words for future generations: Don't be like us."

I have four words for current generations: canned food and shotguns
posted by kscottz at 1:02 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I'll never grow tired of posting that comment. When the world is crashing around us, supermarkets are bare and I am shivering, malnourished, and forking over twenty bucks a kilowatt to power my laptop, I'll still be laughing.

KOTH is the best show ever.
posted by OldReliable at 1:03 PM on October 25, 2007


Things To Do:

1. Phone parents, teachers, guidances counselors, and everyone else who told me that I would be wasting my life if I didn't go university and gotten an education and a career. Haw-haw, suckers!

2. Return library books.

3. Wait for The Great Death.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:03 PM on October 25, 2007


It's this kind of unbelievable self-righteous arrogance that makes me long for the human race's destruction.

Toss around all the personal attacks you like, but he is exactly correct.

Either you wish to see humanity extinct or you don't. If you do, then it is irrelevant who reproduces; we can reach the goal of zero population by changing nothing.

If you don't, then that means that someone has to reproduce. Since the admonition to not reproduce is directed at those who will accept that there is a problem, and thus the conclusion is that the reproduction should be done by those who don't know any better.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:04 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


freedrick and nasreddin,

This is why I put in the caveat, although I should have been clearer. I'm aware that efficiency, especially with energy, has a paradoxical effect on consumption. What I meant was that because technology becomes more efficient over time, a price on waste, like CO2, can be made quite high before it results in serious reduction in our living standards. For instance, I'm sure we could easily reduce our overall consumption of all resources per capita to 1957 levels without reversing 50 years of increases in standards of living.

Not all of this even needs to be technological. Efficiency only helps when waste has a real cost. Start taking lanes on streets away from cars and giving them to bikes and buses in every major city; start taxing fuel at rates high enough to fund serious public transit; start imposing punitive tariffs and taxes on seafood that comes from unsustainable sources. Stop subsidizing industrial agriculture or oil companies or coal extraction. Start charging real royalties that reflect the real value of resources like water, timber, minerals, etc. If you give all this waste a real price, efficiency can help us consume less without throwing us back to the stone age.

Sacrifice is essential for rich, developed countries; however I don't think it needs to be nearly as hard as some people are thinking. Maybe the standard of living we enjoy will need to be set back a two decades or so, but I can accept that. The alternative is so much worse that we can barely comprehend it.

you just lost the game is right, methinks. The world needs a strategy for reducing the human population immediately.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:06 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]



If you don't, then that means that someone has to reproduce. Since the admonition to not reproduce is directed at those who will accept that there is a problem, and thus the conclusion is that the reproduction should be done by those who don't know any better.


Which in no way justifies sneeringly calling them stupid, or assuming that just because we're the enlightened people the world won't be better off without us--or, indeed, that it will make any difference at all. Australians were all a bunch of damn convicts, and they're doing pretty well today.
posted by nasreddin at 1:08 PM on October 25, 2007


Which in no way justifies sneeringly calling them stupid

True. "Ignorant" would have been a better word, but the attitude is by no means arrogant. All other things being equal, people with knowledge are superior to those without. I don't consider this particularly controversial.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:13 PM on October 25, 2007


[expletive], it's possible that these suggestions might help. But we don't live in a country or a world where implementing them is in anyone's immediate interest. Which means it isn't going to happen.

Sacrifice is essential for rich, developed countries; however I don't think it needs to be nearly as hard as some people are thinking. Maybe the standard of living we enjoy will need to be set back a two decades or so, but I can accept that. The alternative is so much worse that we can barely comprehend it.


Look, changing the nature of civilization isn't like raising the luxuries tax rate in Civilization. You might think it's not that hard, that you'll be fine and dandy, but good luck convincing society, or the people that count, that that's true.

Plus, you're ignoring the 2 billion people in developing countries who are just about to achieve developed-world standards of living. You're willing to stand there, on your nice internet-enabled always-on 24-7 glossy Western perch, and say, "The good of the planet requires that you stay down"?
posted by nasreddin at 1:15 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


ten pounds of inedita: If I had to guess, nasreddin was probably most angry about the use of the work "stupid" instead of the phrase "either too stupid, or too ignorant."

nasreddin: it's not just the ignorant of the third world who will continue breeding, but the stupid of the first world. Do you think that fundie xtian family frequently in the news for having 18 or 19 kids is going to stop breeding because of this?
posted by nobeagle at 1:16 PM on October 25, 2007


All other things being equal

You're assuming a spherical cow.
posted by nasreddin at 1:17 PM on October 25, 2007



nasreddin: it's not just the ignorant of the third world who will continue breeding, but the stupid of the first world. Do you think that fundie xtian family frequently in the news for having 18 or 19 kids is going to stop breeding because of this?


Where did I say I only cared about the cute brown babies? Arrogance is disgusting, whether or not it's targeted at people whose political and religious opinions you disagree with.
posted by nasreddin at 1:18 PM on October 25, 2007


The world needs a strategy for reducing the human population immediately.

Oh, I think some folks are busy workin' on it.
posted by maryh at 1:21 PM on October 25, 2007


it's not just the ignorant of the third world who will continue breeding

Uh, many women of the third world would be happy to stop "breeding" if they could get access to contraception, its use was culturally sanctioned and not forbidden by custom and religious law, and men would co-operate. You want the population to go down? Make sure that women have economic freedom and birth control options.
posted by jokeefe at 1:24 PM on October 25, 2007 [8 favorites]


The world needs a strategy for reducing the human population immediately.

I have such a plan. It's relatively easy and requires only minor adjustments in lifestyle.

1) look around you
2) the first person you see, kill them
3) congratulate yourself
4) assist the other survivors in disposing of bodies
5) yield to my ironfisted domination

See? Five simple steps and the planet is saved. There's no tedious warfare, no unsavory ethnic strife, just nice egalitarian slaughter. All ranks of society are treated equally, everyone has an equal chance to live or be culled.

A few decades after The Reaping, it may be necessary to do it again. This is why I've added Step 5, which will forestall the need to repeat ourselves.
posted by aramaic at 1:25 PM on October 25, 2007 [3 favorites]


I should have noted, you each get only one murder. Any more than that is being greedy, so if you find yourself set upon by someone who hasn't had their turn, be polite and die with dignity.
posted by aramaic at 1:26 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


nasreddin: I have to agree with ten pounds of inedita; I think that the logical people who realize that society is in a bad time and place and going to a worse one are the people who "should" be doing the breeding. Regardless of genes, more importantly, they'll be passing on good memes.

Not that I'm saying I'm not arrogant; I got a vasectomy before breeding, and I'm still living in the developed world.
posted by nobeagle at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2007


You're willing to stand there, on your nice internet-enabled always-on 24-7 glossy Western perch, and say, "The good of the planet requires that you stay down"?

The planet will be just fine, in the long run. It's humanity I'm not so sure about. No, us Westerners are not in any sort of moral position to tell Chinese or Indians to keep their standards of living down. We're all frogs in the same big pot of water, and doesn't it feel better now that the water's getting a little warmer?
posted by you just lost the game at 1:31 PM on October 25, 2007


nasreddin writes "It's this kind of unbelievable self-righteous arrogance that makes me long for the human race's destruction."

He has a point. Overpopulation is not a problem in so-called advanced nations. In fact population growth is mostly negative in the West. It's only in impoverished and less developed nations where people are having too many children.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:32 PM on October 25, 2007


You might think it's not that hard, that you'll be fine and dandy, but good luck convincing society, or the people that count, that that's true.

I think there might be a couple of historical counterpoints to your position, nasreddin, unless I'm mistaken. The development of the early space program in the US was a fairly monumental public policy undertaking that in some ways radically transformed society (though maybe not as permanently or deeply as some had hoped). Also there was the New Deal. The New Deal restructured American society in fundamental ways through public policy, despite being in many ways very politically risky.
posted by saulgoodman at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2007


What happens if we are able to wave a magic wand and reduce the human population to 1 or 2 billion? Suddenly, there are ample resources to go around, so we can all consume as much as we want. And then we will start to grow again.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:33 PM on October 25, 2007


For instance, I'm sure we could easily reduce our overall consumption of all resources per capita to 1957 levels without reversing 50 years of increases in standards of living.

We could do all kinds of things. But try telling 2.5 billion Chinese and Indians that they should live the way their grandparents did in 1957. They want comfort and progress and entertainment as much as anyone else.

We, the US, built our society sets of facts and assumptions that are no longer true. The developing world will develop and improve their society with a more realistic set, but they will develop. So we may end up making sacrifices, and net net the world is no better off, because the 'developed' world is twice as large.

Furthermore, 'we' is not homogenous. Does the 'we' that have to sacrifice refer to NYC, or the mountains of West Virginia? The middle class in the suburbs or the poor in the urban ghetto?

There will always be wealthy, and they will never sacrifice. The poor will end up sacrificing. It's the poor family that will have to heat it's home at 58 instead of 68, because heating oil is insanely high, not the wealthy family. To them, the price increase is barely noticeable.

So nasreddin's comments about class struggle are not misplaced. You drive the poor and the wealthy further apart, and you end up forcing the middle class to choose which side of the middle it wants to be on, and that shifting and adjustment will create incredible social tension.

There really needs to be a technological solution to this problem. Improved solar or wind, better nuclear, whatever. Calling for sacrifice won't work, and is ultimately unfair to the people who have the least to sacrifice.
posted by Pastabagel at 1:34 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


StandUpPhilosopherFilter: A link to George Carlin's rant about the environment. Dissect or praise his words; it won't matter much, will it?
posted by not_on_display at 1:38 PM on October 25, 2007



I think there might be a couple of historical counterpoints to your position, nasreddin, unless I'm mistaken.


The problem with using historical counterpoints is that they don't prove anything. For every instance of "successful" social transformation, I can show you projects gone horribly wrong, from the French Revolution to Russian Communism to Diocletian's creation of the augustus system.

Also, I am not at all willing to accept the degree of control the State will have to assume over my life, and the lives of everyone in the US, to achieve this goal.
posted by nasreddin at 1:41 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


There have been major advances in solar power, but there are still challenges and the technology suffers from a negative brand image (that is, people still just intuitively feel solar power couldn't be a viable alternative because that's been the status quo for so long) and there's also just not nearly as much public policy will or enthusiasm for alternative technologies on any scale comparable to the kind of enthusiasm and policy support that built up our old fossil-fuel driven infrastructure. There are just no modern-day Henry Fords more or less ramming solar power down everyone's throat like there were to popularize the automobile and usher in the other developments that got us where we are.

The problem with using historical counterpoints is that they don't prove anything. For every instance of "successful" social transformation, I can show you projects gone horribly wrong,


Fair enough point. But then you agree that such programs do sometimes enjoy a degree of success (though I think we both agree there isn't much to be optimistic about in this particular case).
posted by saulgoodman at 1:46 PM on October 25, 2007


Since the admonition to not reproduce is directed at those who will accept that there is a problem, and thus the conclusion is that the reproduction should be done by those who don't know any better.

Mike Judge made the point better than any of us. (But didn't DEVO do it first?)

Of course, that assumes that intelligence is primarily hereditary which devolves into James-Watson-think faster than the human race can devolve into idiots.

Back on topic, I was won over to a Global Warming Believer in 1989 by then-outlier James Burke (whose documentary is a lot more entertaining than Al Whatsisname's) and realized that there was a better-than-even chance that the old 'frog-in-the-saucepan' affect would keep us from doing something before it's too late. Right now, I'd say there's a better-than-even chance that it's too late. But I don't have any children who can curse me for my failures.
posted by wendell at 1:49 PM on October 25, 2007



Fair enough point. But then you agree that such programs do sometimes enjoy a degree of success


I think that this is true, though not for the examples you mentioned.

But the problem is, for us to save the environment now, the solution HAS to work perfectly, fundamentally, quickly, and cheaply. Which is too much to ask of any such program.
posted by nasreddin at 1:50 PM on October 25, 2007


I got a vasectomy before breeding

What?
posted by BaxterG4 at 1:51 PM on October 25, 2007


My "murder-for-all" plan is free, or nearly so, if you decide that disposing of all the bodies will cost money rather than simply using slave labor to grind up the corpses into fertilizer as would be my preference.

If any of you feel you lack the moral fortitude needed to murder an innocent bystander, then I ask you to do the next best thing: suicide.

One dead Westerner is worth a lot of starving Malawians, so if a few of you guys pick up the slack, I'll have the necessary margin of error. My message of mass-murder may not be able to reach some especially benighted corners of the globe, so I need to make up the difference elsewhere.

Do the right thing my children. Kill yourselves. You know you want to.

Think of all the times you woke up in the morning, rolled over, stared at the ceiling, and thought "Oh god, another day". Think of all the empty hours you've spent, the endless procession of gray days stretching on to the horizon.

Do the right thing.
posted by aramaic at 1:58 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Do the right thing.

This reminds me of the end of Pippin.
posted by oaf at 2:01 PM on October 25, 2007


BaxterG4: some people wait until they're in their late 30's and have a few kids before getting a vasectomy. I've had no kids. Altho I guess my wording is ambiguous enough that one could think that I had it reversed and then started breeding. Which I haven't done.
posted by nobeagle at 2:03 PM on October 25, 2007


Actually, the Chinese seem to get the population thing, they just go about restricting it in a way that -- to Westerners, anyway -- can seem a bit, er, heavyhanded. But if anyone thinks that the leadership there doesn't understand that having billions of people makes per-capita GDP growth hard to achieve, you need to think again. They definitely understand that, and have been working on population stability for more than a generation. (Granted, I think they way they've tried to implement that policy has been less successful than a softer policy, based more on education, would have been...but I think that about most everything that the government there does.)

That said, I do wonder sometimes if the Western 'values package' (that bunch of memes including equality, democracy, secular government, etc.) isn't on the losing side, if we wipe ourselves out faster than we spread that ideology to places in the world where they still think they key to success is to reproduce as quickly and aggressively as possible.

I don't think that the solution is for Westerners to try to have more children, but to try and show other cultures the value of things like sexual equality and contraception.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:06 PM on October 25, 2007


Calling for sacrifice won't work, and is ultimately unfair to the people who have the least to sacrifice.

PastaBagel: I mostly agree with this, but I'm not sure it's necessarily correct. And again, I'm relying on an historical counterpoint, which as nasreddin pointed out, doesn't prove anything, but during WWII, Americans were called on to make often drastic sacrifices (a lot of rationing of resources, high taxes, etc.) and it seems to have had the opposite effect on class tensions, at least to hear the anecdotal evidence.

Or we could just do this.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:06 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


pastabagel said: We, the US, built our society sets of facts and assumptions that are no longer true.

I'd argue that the assumptions were untrue from the start, namely, that natural resources were limitless. This should have been evident from basic observation of our surroundings.

There really needs to be a technological solution to this problem. Improved solar or wind, better nuclear, whatever. Calling for sacrifice won't work, and is ultimately unfair to the people who have the least to sacrifice.

yet technological solutions are just stopgaps to the problem of consumption. Even with a limitless source of energy, we'd still be unwilling to reduce the amount of waste we create - a lifestyle which has been marketed to the world as the apex of human achievement.
posted by dubold at 2:09 PM on October 25, 2007


reminds me of a book i just read, Ishmael (by Daniel Quinn). highly recommend it, not the best written book but makes the same super interesting points and hints at the reason why.

while we're on topic, id like to let everyone know that i came up with a solution. seriously. we begin engaging in cannibalism, thinning out our numbers and sustaining ourselves without destroying the earths biodiversity.
posted by mano at 2:26 PM on October 25, 2007


How rich are you?
posted by zebra3 at 2:35 PM on October 25, 2007


mano: someone got to that idea first
posted by nasreddin at 2:35 PM on October 25, 2007


I think you mean "earth's biodiversity," mano.
posted by saulgoodman at 2:37 PM on October 25, 2007


Pastabagel writes "There really needs to be a technological solution to this problem. Improved solar or wind, better nuclear, whatever. Calling for sacrifice won't work, and is ultimately unfair to the people who have the least to sacrifice."

Problem is, there may not be a technical solution. So, while people may not want to sacrifice, they may be forced to.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:48 PM on October 25, 2007


It's such a disconnect to read this post and the comments, and then to think about all the trash burning all over the world. Human waste and refuse are being burnt by the ton everywhere, and especially in third world countries in which sanitation infrastructure is minimal to non-existent. Holding these peoples and places down to limit their population is the last thing I would want to see in terms of the climate.
posted by rockhopper at 3:49 PM on October 25, 2007


So, while people may not want to sacrifice, they may be forced to.

And guess who will be forced to first?

Those poor brown babies of the third world that we are now so quaintly reticent to encourage the use of birth control or environmental and growth restrictions.

One way or another those populations will contract. By famine and war mainly.

If the resource sucking west doesn't foster a successful movement to voluntarily reduce it's consumption then we will destroy, invade, occupy and colonize every place on the planet that HAS resources. And we will win becuase we won't be hampered by notions of human rights or liberation or nation building. China and India will not be able to militarize fast enough. And if they try they will stunt their growth. They know this.

The longer we go without self restraint the worse we will be in the long run on everybody else.

India and China, even with their enormous populations and exponential growth still do not nearly consume as much as we do... and they wont for a few more decades. In fact they wont at all. the internal pressures in China are immense only a tiny tiny fraction of that country is seeing the fruits of this new global Capitalism. They are riding a razors edge of popular revolt. It cannot be sustained.

We in the west don't need to reduce our population. We are not growing. That's not the problem. It's how much we each consume that is the problem. And we can easily reduce that with out ruining our lives. In fact it's probable we may enrich and gain entirely new meaning to life, sustainable economics, and stewardship in the process.
posted by tkchrist at 3:49 PM on October 25, 2007


> we will destroy, invade, occupy and colonize every place on the planet that HAS resources.

I doubt it. The developed nations don't have enough soldiers to invade, occupy and hold. The toughest Western kid on the block was not able to invade, occupy and hold even one small nation like Viet Nam or Iraq.


> The world needs a strategy for reducing the human population immediately.

Who picks the ones who get reduced? And what kind of mentality will they need to get the job done? To go from the current 6.75 billion down to a population that's remotely sustainable before it's too late to matter will take some serious reducin'. Are we saying "Where's Hitler, Stalin and Mao now that we really need them?"
posted by jfuller at 3:59 PM on October 25, 2007


Who exactly promised you guys that:

1. Human life should be easy and fun.

2. The human race will live forever.

Global warming happens. Accept it. Its this greed that caused it in the first place.
posted by damn dirty ape at 3:59 PM on October 25, 2007


Three words. Paul Ehrlich.Wrong.
posted by A189Nut at 4:07 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Do the right thing.

This reminds me of the end of Pippin.


It reminds me of National Lampoon's satire of Woodstock, Lemmings. "We owe it to the Third World to off ourselves!"

I remember attending various anarchist collective meetings in the 1980s which were kind of like that.
posted by jokeefe at 4:14 PM on October 25, 2007


The toughest Western kid on the block was not able to invade, occupy and hold even one small nation like Viet Nam or Iraq.

Wrong.

We WERE able to invade both those countries. We were able to decimate thier organized military structures and force them to fight aysemtrically.

What were NOT able to do was make them in to little cultural clones of the US. Yes. Occupying pretending to be nice guys does not work.

Militarily we brag that we practiced such restraint in these wars.

Imagine if killing 2.5 million Indochinese and killing 200,000 Iraqis is considered restraint... what would it be like if the gloves were off?

We are not so good at nation building. But are very, very good at nation destroying.

And if it's the actual "brink" that hangs in the balance... and that is what this thread was essentially building up to... then unless there is a sea change in our national charachter and our consumptive habits then we will become nation destroyers and skip the building and occupying part.
posted by tkchrist at 4:14 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's how much we each consume that is the problem. And we can easily reduce that with out ruining our lives. In fact it's probable we may enrich and gain entirely new meaning to life, sustainable economics, and stewardship in the process.

I really want to believe that this is true.

But even my relatively low-on-the-food-chain life, which I occasionally feel self-righteous about (I don't have a car! I live in a housing cooperative! I buy organic/local!) gives me the kind of ordinary riches that I cannot fault your average Chinese or Indian family desiring. A fridge, a stove, an apartment of reasonable size, heating, all the water I can use, a washing machine. I even travel at least once a year, usually on an airplane. And I blanch at the thought of giving that up.

Like I say, I want to believe that we in the West can find a way to cut back our consumption, but I think it's going to have to be codified in law. And I don't see that ever happening.
posted by jokeefe at 4:19 PM on October 25, 2007


what would it be like if the gloves were off?

Big bad american would then have drawn in some regional superpowers like China or Russia and all hell would break loose. The "restraint" is just a funny way of saying "lets not piss off the 800lbs gorilla and lets stick to shooting gibbons."
posted by damn dirty ape at 4:22 PM on October 25, 2007


A fridge, a stove, an apartment of reasonable size, heating, all the water I can use, a washing machine. I even travel at least once a year, usually on an airplane. And I blanch at the thought of giving that up.

Why would you have to give any of that up? Why would the Chinese or whoever be denied these things? especially given that the fridge, the washing machine etc, can all be made BETTER, to be less wasteful and more durable.

Americans may have the equivalent of two hundred of each of those things. That's the problem. 40 mile plus commutes. Three cars. Five TVs. Four computers. 6000 sq. ft. houses for a family of three. This is AVERAGE in America. This is what has to end.

And chasing all that shit is what is making American fucking crazy. It doesn't fill the void. It IS the void.
posted by tkchrist at 4:26 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


Big bad american would then have drawn in some regional superpowers like China or Russia and all hell would break loose.

Really.

Funny that when we were killing 2.5 million Vietnamese all they did was supply weapons and a few advisors. Funny that when we invaded Iraq neither of those "superpowers" did anything at all.

BTW. They are NOT superpowers anymore. Unless you mean in the sense of Nukes.

We could have easily bombed the fuck out of Iraq with conventional weapons and killed 60% of the population and Russia and China would not do shit. In fact they COULDN'T do shit. they cannot project power. They don't have many aircraft carriers. They don't have the strategic bases we do. They don't have the resources.

Neither could sustain a conventional war with the US for very long. Unless it was fought on their soil. And we ain't that dumb. Well. Maybe Bush is. But besides him.

Don't kid yourself. The US could bring down any state in the world pretty much unopposed if the goal was simple brute wanton destruction.
posted by tkchrist at 4:34 PM on October 25, 2007


tkchrist,

What you're saying above reminds me of a speech Solzhenitsyn gave at a university, but I can't remember which.
posted by rockhopper at 4:34 PM on October 25, 2007


You know, maybe we don't have to start culling populations yet. Maybe we could just raise fuel efficiency standards or something. Just for starters.

That’s what jumps out to me in the press about this report, the bewilderment of the UN about how many governments are continuing to do, really, almost nothing about certain problems, not even the easy stuff, even while those problems get worse and worse. "There have been enough wake-up calls" … a "remarkable lack of urgency" … "an urgent call to action" … "in an era in which the severity of environmental problems is increasing faster than our policy responses..." "Determined action now is cheaper than waiting for better solutions to emerge."
posted by salvia at 4:59 PM on October 25, 2007


I don't understand why people have reacted so negatively to what I've suggested. I don't see where I wrote that poor countries need to reduce their consumption along with the rich. Where did I say China and India need to lower their standard of living? China emits around 1/10 the CO2 of what the US and Canada do per capita. With India, it's more like 1/20. Of course the rich need to sacrifice first. Maybe rich nations should also pay countries like Indonesia and Brazil what they need to enforce protection of their rainforests. I'm not saying this is what's going to happen, but at the same time, I don't see why there aren't serious calls for people to sacrifice like their parents and grandparents did during the second world war.

The problem with waiting for technology to save us is that we've been doing that for going on 20 years already, and it isn't fucking working. Of course we should invest in clean energy, both in research and infrastructure, but it's becoming increasingly clear that for most of the rich world, and especially the United States and Canada, must begin to sacrifice now. Regardless, future generations, should they both exist and remember, will judge us very, very harshly.

Finally, for those who saw genocidal undertones in my last comment on population control, I think jokeefe said it best:

Uh, many women of the third world would be happy to stop "breeding" if they could get access to contraception, its use was culturally sanctioned and not forbidden by custom and religious law, and men would co-operate. You want the population to go down? Make sure that women have economic freedom and birth control options.

That's what I'm talking about. Maybe if the UN Population Fund had the resources they need, and world leaders were taking the goal of zero or negative population growth seriously, the problem of overpopulation would truly be in the past, as so many seem to think it is. What happened to all this concern about overpopulation? It seems once the growth rate started to go down a little, people thought the problem was solved. Because the rate is steadily falling just means population is not growing exponentially any more. Geometric rates of growth are still bad. Besides, a pretty strong case can be made that there are already too many people on this earth for everyone to enjoy a decent standard of living, let alone an average Western one.

Where are our leaders? You know, the people who will tell us what we need to hear, and not simply what we want to hear? Until the rich, and I include myself and basically everyone I know, are asked by our leaders to make real sacrifice, there is no leadership on this issue.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 5:05 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


Maybe we could just raise fuel efficiency standards or something. Just for starters.

I agree.

There is no reason why every big city in the US doesn't have an effective rail mass transit system. There is no reason why we don't mandate simple conservation oriented green building tax incentives.
posted by tkchrist at 5:08 PM on October 25, 2007


I was all, like, "Yeah, fuck those human shit-factory scum!" but then I remembered I was one of them.

So now I'm not sure what to think, other than making sure any kids I might eventually have know how to handle weapons and live in the wilderness.

Great. My woodcraft is right up there with Woody Allen's.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:14 PM on October 25, 2007


I thought everyone knew by now that the UN was just an international Communist conspiracy to impurify our precious bodily fluids by fluoridating our water supplies.

we must not allow a mineshaft gap!
posted by b1tr0t at 6:57 PM on October 25, 2007



(wait for it... wait for it....)

Apart from that little nit, I really don't see anything wrong with Mano's suggestion.

posted by saulgoodman at 8:28 PM on October 25, 2007


Uh, many women of the third world would be happy to stop "breeding" if they could get access to contraception, its use was culturally sanctioned and not forbidden by custom and religious law, and men would co-operate. You want the population to go down? Make sure that women have economic freedom and birth control options.

You know, this kneejerk anti-Americanism doesn't help matters.
posted by stet at 8:30 PM on October 25, 2007 [1 favorite]


“1) look around you
2) the first person you see, kill them
3) congratulate yourself
4) assist the other survivors in disposing of bodies
5) yield to my ironfisted domination”

Except for 4 & 5, pretty much what I have to restrain myself from doing every day. And not just on the highway.


2nd on Idiocracy. Why shouldn’t I have a couple of kids I dote upon and work on educating well and invest with environmental ethics and a sense of responsibility, equitability in consumption and empathy for their fellow man simply because some other guy thinks Jesus is telling him to have 12 kids he can’t even feed? We do need a shift in social values. Right now it’s this visible consumption crap, like golf courses.

“The human race will live forever.”

Y’know, what the Earth First folks said about various species (which I agree with), I reiterate on behalf of humans - we have a right to exist for our own sake. It’s not people that are the enemy, it is (as you rightly point out) greed.

“I cannot fault your average Chinese or Indian family desiring.”

And that desire is part of the problem. Do you want a car? Do you need a car? Why do you need a car? And really - how many things in your life are unnecessary needs forced upon you by the lifestyle environment?
We could create a society that values necessity over convenience. We choose not to. Hell, I’d be happy if I never had to drive anywhere ever again. I bicycle like an idiot.
Now, I enjoy riding my motorcycle, but I’d be happy to give it up as a luxury if the trade off was more green space and such.
+ what tkchrist sed.


Funny, someone was telling me arms dealers, folks like that, really don’t have some secret agenda, they just like driving their Ferraris and getting blown by teenage whores everywhere they go, living in mansions they never see, all that self-aggrandizement crap.
I know that’s true, but it literally staggers me that, not only is a suburban schmuck like me more enlightened, but that it’s that short sighted.
I’ve spoken with people, one of them a medical doctor, who quite simply do not care what happens to the world after they’re dead. They seriously want to get theirs and the hell with everyone else. Over nothing of worth. Nothing that’s even real, just a fabricated “brand,” some sort of consensual illusion of a superior lifestyle.
Like that asshole traitor in the Matrix, fucking over his friends for an illusion.
Honestly, were I of such a mind set I’d probably be far more “successful,” like Erik Prince or someone. I have the talent, ability and ruthlessness. But it’s so freeking obvious that it’s pointless to hold such a world view, so self-aggrandizing, egocentric and ultimately nihilistic that I always think people like that are lying or have some ulterior motive.
And it still floors me that, y’know, they don’t. (Like Kyle in South Park with the 9/11 conspiracy thing *tilts head* “REALLY?”)
I mean, you’d really just fuck over the next generation just so you can have that much more sex, living space, the appearance of better “stuff”... REALLY?
Yep. They will.
...which, y’know, is why I come off as so homicidally pissed off.
posted by Smedleyman at 8:44 PM on October 25, 2007 [2 favorites]


There is no reason why every big city in the US doesn't have an effective rail mass transit system.

I think you mean "no good reason." Most of the fault lies with city planners who like to build freeways and lots of them.
posted by oaf at 9:06 PM on October 25, 2007


Nothing serious will happen until there is a major catalyzing event (or series of them) that causes massive deprivation to the people capable of making a difference.

What comes to mind as a potential example is if we finish breaking the fisheries... would a Year Without Fish be a wake-up call that we cannot hit the snooze button on?
posted by marble at 9:46 PM on October 25, 2007


There is no reason why every big city in the US doesn't have an effective rail mass transit system.

I think you mean "no good reason." Most of the fault lies with city planners who like to build freeways and lots of them.


This is all of course a big derail, but let me respond with outrage on behalf of city planners everywhere. Of all people, city planners are the first to try to build housing within walking distance of shops and transit, but you should hear the incredible outcry from the public about traffic and parking.

And yeah, there are also city councils that try to do bad things, like grade the hillsides to build luxury homes for the tax revenues or whatever. But speaking very generally, people have gone into planning because they want to create good places, and most everyone that entered the field within the last ten or fifteen years knows you don't do that with highways.

Okay, just one example. Marin County. Planners have been trying to get a rail system up and running there for like 15 years. And people there are generally rich, no? Yet they don't have a rail system because voters turned down a quarter-cent sales tax in 2006, just like they did several times before.
posted by salvia at 11:07 PM on October 25, 2007


Scientists Denounce Global Warming Report 'Edits': Public Health Experts Say Edits Represent Censoring of Science
posted by homunculus at 11:37 PM on October 25, 2007


By not having children you'll be making a more positive contribution to the environment than a lifetime of Level 5 veganism or Greenpeace do-gooderism could ever hope to aspire to.

It doesn't stop at resource consumption. A good number of people I've known have had 180 degree priority shift since having kids. Issues of rights vs. security? (even if just a scare) Equality vs. security? Us vs. them? I think the priority shift is completely rational, and certainly many parents either don't buy into the stupid false-dichotomy scare tactics fed to them by politicians, but I can't tell you how many angry answers I've seen to every newsprint enviro article along the lines of "I have four kids. YOU try taking the bus." Well, um, who told you to have them? That wasn't a choice?
posted by dreamsign at 12:16 AM on October 26, 2007


TImes like this, I think of NASCAR. We're fighting the first of many wars for fuel, and these jackasses are driving in a circle - and people enjoy this enough to drive their own car or RV out to watch the circle driving. How do you begin convincing these people we have a real problem on our hands?
posted by EatTheWeak at 12:38 AM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


Of all people, city planners are the first to try to build housing within walking distance of shops and transit, but you should hear the incredible outcry from the public about traffic and parking.

Some city planners aren't this way, which is why my post above has no commas in it.
posted by oaf at 1:34 AM on October 26, 2007


it was technology that got us into this future and now you want technology to lead us into another future. where's the sense in that?

there are too many people doing too many selfish and greedy things. a new computer operating system is not going to make everything alright.

euthanasiaclinic.com
posted by altman at 3:30 AM on October 26, 2007


jesus. whose side are you self-immolation advocates on anyway?

all the talk in the direction of "just kill yourself," "don't reproduce," "try cannibalism," though perhaps somewhat tongue in cheek, just has the effect of alienating people who might otherwise be willing to make a more serious investment in these problems. it's like turning the board over and storming out of the room when you're losing a game of monopoly--it just makes your opponents not want to play the game with you anymore.

and as for the idea that science or technology can't solve these problems because they caused them, that's just simplistic, almost childish thinking because really, science isn't the cause of the problems we have now. science doesn't manufacture gas-guzzling cars, or plastic products made of petroleum. these are all consequences of the industrial applications of science, not of science itself. science doesn't put advertisements on urinal cakes. industry does. profit motive does. science and technology aren't the problems. the misapplication of science and technology, and a lethal cocktail of greed, reckless adventurism, and an exaggerated sense of personal entitlement are the root problems.

making the mistake of blaming science and technology in the abstract for our current mess would be fatal.
posted by saulgoodman at 6:53 AM on October 26, 2007 [2 favorites]


whose side are you self-immolation advocates on anyway?

On the side of everything that is Decent and Proper.

The only crime in this world is the fact that three billion people have yet to become murderers, and three billion people have yet to become victims.

This problem will be rectified. Mass-murder is the only path to the future. Only the murderer knows the true value of life, and only the victim knows the true meaning of Glory.
posted by aramaic at 7:00 AM on October 26, 2007


yeah, and explain again just how murder's ultimately any more glorious than taking a good dump? or scratching one's ass? ooh--big bad murderer! got somebody where they were going already just a bit faster. wow. what glorious powers over whatever.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:07 AM on October 26, 2007


explain again just how murder's ultimately any more glorious than taking a good dump?

Murder prevents people from taking dumps, or scratching their asses, and is therefore Mighty.
posted by aramaic at 7:13 AM on October 26, 2007


yeah, mighty boring.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:15 AM on October 26, 2007


Tedium is the essence of all things. In time you will come to realize this.
posted by aramaic at 7:15 AM on October 26, 2007


Murder prevents people from taking dumps, or scratching their asses, and is therefore Mighty.

by this reasoning, sexual abstinence is just about the mightiest thing going, because it alone has the power to keep murderers from being born.

Tedium is the essence of all things. In time you will come to realize this.

(yawn...) i think you're right. starting to realize it now, actually.
posted by saulgoodman at 7:22 AM on October 26, 2007


i think you're right. starting to realize it now, actually

Excellent my child. I'm pleased to have guided you to this realization. Perhaps one day soon you'll find a place within the Glorious New Regime. There's a whole division of jackbooted thugs you might enjoy spending time with.
posted by aramaic at 7:23 AM on October 26, 2007


There's a whole division of jackbooted thugs you might enjoy spending time with.

awesome. i'm a size 9-and-a-half, btw. (i assume i don't have to spring for my own jackboots?)
posted by saulgoodman at 7:28 AM on October 26, 2007


i assume i don't have to spring for my own jackboots?

Oh, heavens no. All manner of nice gear is duly provided. Even monogrammed ammunition, if that's your thing.
posted by aramaic at 7:31 AM on October 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Some city planners aren't this way, which is why my post above has no commas in it.

Ah, my mistake. Good clarification. Though I would still take some factual exception -- originally, it was state and federal planners who led the building of the highway system, and even now, at least in California, the smallest geography where highway funding decisions get made is at the county level, and many others are made at the "council of governments" level, which often involves several counties. City planners can lobby these bodies but don't have a lot of power themselves.

I'm with you though, that there's a lot city planning can do -- build places that are compact enough that people can walk to stores and jobs, places where public transportation might have a prayer of working (unlike most suburbs).
posted by salvia at 8:44 AM on October 26, 2007


hey, the cannibalism thing is not tongue in cheek!

if anything it should motivate people to find better solutions, because it DOES manifest in nature, in other species... and even in ours, if you take a more general view of cannibalism as intra-species predation.

and to be honest, its not fair to talk about it as a nightmare scenario of "what we are heading for" because the dominant economic system in the world right now could really be summed up as intra species predation.
posted by mano at 2:27 PM on October 26, 2007


"hey, the cannibalism thing is not tongue in cheek!"

Well, not just *your* tongue. I mean tongue is pretty good with spicy brown mustard. And really if you're going to eat someone the tongue is a good place to start, it's all muscle.

...I'm just sayin'
posted by Smedleyman at 10:00 PM on October 26, 2007


sigh. well good luck with that then, mano. sounds like a winner to me.
posted by saulgoodman at 10:20 AM on October 27, 2007


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