The Apocalypse Is Coming

The apocalypse is coming! All the scientists agree!
And it won’t be caused by Jesus; it’s the fault of you and me!
As we stomp our carbon footprints, and we foul the fetid air
The apocalypse is coming… but we mostly do not care.

We were running out of oil, till we figured how to frack
Now we pump it under pressure till the bedrock starts to crack
And a new map shows the earthquakes, where they never used to hit
But it’s only Oklahoma, so we do not give a shit

We see ocean levels rising, at accelerating speed
In Miami, we must worry; in Wyoming, what’s the need?
In the not-too-distant future, watch as neighborhoods are drowned…
But the future is the future, so let’s pour another round

Now the whole world is connected via internet today
And your friends might live next door to you, or half a world away
We can make a meme go viral, with some twenty million views
We could care about each other, but that isn’t what we choose

We could utilize technology, this wonder that we’ve built
To address our pressing problems—ah, but people hate the guilt
The apocalypse is coming, but right now I’m doing fine,
So I’ll watch another video, and maybe drink some wine

There are people working day and night to help, but all the while,
There are those who make a living through a message of denial
It’s a deadly game of chicken with the world itself at stake
And to fail to act, this time, might be the last mistake we make.

It’s too horrible to contemplate; too terrible to think!
Analysis? Paralysis! Just have another drink!
If we just ignore it long enough, the problem goes away,
And the message always changes, that the “experts” have to say.

The apocalypse is coming, as I’m sure we’re all aware—
The apocalypse is coming, and we proudly do not care.
The apocalypse is coming, and perhaps it’s just as well…
The apocalypse is coming, and I’ll see you all in Hell.

This may well be the most depressing thing I’ve ever posted. And I posted about my brother’s death.

Last week, we saw the official (it had been hinted at earlier) publication of this paper, which strongly suggests (my reading) that our worst-case scenarios are not nearly bad enough, that climate change models that have been telling us we are screwed in the long term should be telling us we are screwed in the fairly short term. We saw the new US Geological Survey maps showing us the new earthquake zones… in Oklahoma and Texas, not California.

The shit is hitting the fan. The honeywagon (I am an Ohio boy; the honeywagon is a massive manure spreader) is hitting the hydroturbine. All the bad news is turning out to be worse than expected.

And (because I do what I tell everyone not to do, and read the comments) we, collectively, do not care.

Some of us actively do not care. We (I’m not gonna go with “they”, because this is a problem with all of us) put on our “skeptical” hats and say the gubmint scientists are all shills, that Talk Radio tells the truth, or we say the market will magically fix everything, or we say god made us a promise, or we just say “oh, that’s terrible” and look at more cat videos, or argue about politics, or pretend Trump is a thing.

Some of us care, or claim to, and do nothing. Or very little. Because we are out of cinnamon, and the supermarket is 20 minutes away if we walk. Or because it’s 65 degrees inside, and if I don’t turn the heat on, I have to put on a sweater.

Or a million other things, half of which I am guilty of myself. And no one is guilty of all of them. And there are no out-and-out bad guys and good guys, but somehow I end up using many multiples of the resources some other people use. Because I am writing this on a laptop, in a house with a TV and lights and a furnace for when it gets cold.

And so, yes, climate change is my fault. And it is changing the world. And our future is likely to be very different from what we were hoping it would be. Because of our actions, and our failures to act.

And those of us (I am being hopeful here) who witness the decades unfold will see the changes we have determined, and will likely ask ourselves “why didn’t we…?”

And we will ask this in a world much changed from our current world. Changed by us. Changed, I fear, for the worse. In our lifetimes. And not in a small way.

So, yeah…. religion aside… see you in hell.

*oh… as an aside…. suppose some of us (hey, I’m trying!) actively work to make a difference, and we actually *do* make a difference! What is our reward? The people who have been saying “there is no problem” get to point to the lack of devastation and say “see? we were right!”. If, because our worst predictions get people to act, our worst predictions fail to come true, our success sows the seeds of our failure.

Sweet dreams.


  1. John Morales says

    I know it’s poetic license, but I think that the word “Apocalypse” has inescapable connotations that don’t really apply to the described scenario.


  2. says

    Great (though depressing) post.
    BTW “Trump is a thing” I thought Trump WAS a ‘thing’*
    * possibly from the Black Lagoon.

  3. Johnny Vector says

    John Morales: It doesn’t? Have you seen what happened from a couple years of drought-caused crop failures in Syria? Now imagine the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation stops and most of Western Europe drops 10 degrees in temperature, leading to sustained crop failures there. I can’t imagine a result under that scenario that I wouldn’t describe as apocalyptic.

  4. AlexanderZ says

    Y’all taking this far too negatively. Look at it this way:
    The up-coming collapse of civilization due to massive AGW food shortages, wars and energy crisis is the result of humanity’s inability to plan anywhere beyond the immediate or consider anyone’s needs beyond their closest acquaintances. Luckily, after the end of this, last, golden age humanity will be reduced to small groups, composed entirely from close relative and concerned only with immediate problems. All’s as it should be.
    Happy April Fool’s everybody!

  5. says

    We’ve already got a prime example of “see, nothing happened, conspiracy etc etc” with the Y2K Oh Shit! moments in 1999. Financial disaster for a goodly proportion of the world was avoided by a lot of very hard work by dedicated uber-nerds who nobody outside the computing business ever really notices.

    And there will be a Y3K too. I see some short-cuts have been made making assumptions about 2 digit years again, as to which century a number belongs. But the COBOL experts will be long dead by then. Hopefuly not along with the rest of Humanity.

  6. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    I’ll keep this short: There’s also a severe problem of people on the left who are anti-engineering pie-in-the-sky-dreamers who won’t use the single demonstrated technology that is available right now to get us out of this mess: nuclear. If you are not pro-nuclear, then you are not an environmentalist. IMO, the left is just as much to blame as the right on this issue. Both are impeding actual progress. One by denying reality, denying that a problem exists. The other also by denying reality, denying the only demonstrated technology that we have that can fix it (nuclear).

    All hope is not lost. We can fix this. It won’t be cheap. It will be very expensive, but so are the US wars for oil. Arguably, if we account for military expenditures alone, it may be cheaper than the current system. France went from almost no nuclear to almost all nuclear for the grid in about 15 or 20 years. The rest of the world could follow France’s example. The only thing that is stopping us is the right which says that there is no problem, and the left that would rather let the environment suffer than violate their religious anti-nuclear dogma.

  7. says

    @8 – you sound as religiously pro-nuclear as you accuse the “lefties” of being religiously anti-nuclear. The positive side of nuclear is that it has a light carbon footprint.

    The problem with nuclear is that we have chosen technologies for which we have no workable catastrophic failure strategies, and no solution to what to do to make the waste safe. For eons. And the single biggest failure mode is human error and human greed.

    We here have some 70 reactors that are about to reach EOL and nobody knows how to shut them down and safe them. We have no workable materials science to b able to handle melt-downs.

    Fukiushima is a prime example of this. If we as a species knew what to do about it it would aready be in progress. It’s not. We don’t even know how to see inside to identify exactly what is wrong, where all the active material is, or how and why it is still contaminating groundwater and leaking into the ocean. Their inspection robots are still dying after only very brief trips. Seconds, maybe minutes, no more. Unusable, in effect.

    The really sad part about Fukushma is that the disaster was not only fore-seeable, it was fore-seen and warned by the designers of that model of reactor. Yet the construction and activation went ahead.

    Here in the US we have AFAIK several reactors built over active fault zones. More meltdowns waiting to happen. And the impact of a failed plant on the environment is immense. Yes, we know how to make them work. No, we do not know how build them to be immune to the environment (earthquakes, tsunamis, super-storms, all are part of the environment) or to be immune to human error and greed.

    There are better tchnologies with superior inherent fail-safe characteristics. Cheaper too. So less profit. And to bring any new tech on-line is a good 10 – 20 years in the making. We’re well into that period with current low Emission technologies like wind, solar, energy storage, wave, hydro, geo-thermal. Competitive pricing in those areas is already subject to human foibles, not technology immaturity.

    And we need short term solutions NOW. Not artificial restrictions and suppressive legislation and artificial prohibitive charges designed by the encumbent energy giants to make them less accessible.

    In short, all the above (solutions) are needed at full steam ahead.and all will make our nest less fouled. Regardess of opinions on the degree of anthropic forcing, not to say the reality of the science showing us to be the culprits.

  8. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Meh. It won’t even accept a post with 3 links…

    Editing links to be readable and usable, but not copy-pastable.

    @8 – you sound as religiously pro-nuclear as you accuse the “lefties” of being religiously anti-nuclear.

    When there is a strong and heated debate between two sides, the truth does not always lie in the middle, i.e. creationism vs evolution. Sometimes, one side is just wrong.

    In short, all the above (solutions) are needed at full steam ahead.

    I am in full support of “full steam ahead into research on everything”. I am against this delusional notion that current wind, solar, etc., – so called renewables – at present tech can solve the problem. They cannot.

    We’re well into that period with current low Emission technologies like wind, solar, energy storage, wave, hydro, geo-thermal. Competitive pricing in those areas is already subject to human foibles, not technology immaturity.

    This is wrong.

    In short: At current tech, only solar and wind can be scaled to the sizes needed to make an appreciable dent at a remotely acceptable money-cost. Hydro cannot be scaled sufficiently because of geography – almost all of the good spots have been tapped. Wave power is too expensive – low power density in a salt water environment is a pain. Conventional geo-thermal is great where it’s available, but there’s not enough spots. Artificial deep-bore geo-thermal has its own problems.

    With the remaining plausible technologies, wind and solar, they have severe intermittancy problems that cannot be fixed by a large, interconnected grid short of one spanning continents, and that carries its own, probably insurmountable, problems.

    That leaves energy storage, which is currently impossibly by physics with present tech, and there’s good reasons to think that we’re not going to find energy storage tech that is allowed by basic physics.

    For further reading:
    xxx bravenewclimate xxx .com/2014/08/22/catch-22-of-energy-storage/
    xxx physics.ucsd xxx .edu/do-the-math/2011/08/nation-sized-battery/
    xxx physics.ucsd xxx .edu/do-the-math/2011/11/pump-up-the-storage/

    W.r.t. nuclear power plant accidents.

    You’re doing not proper risk-benefit analysis. In your analysis, “nuclear waste” and “nuclear pollution from nuclear power plant accidents” are this magical substance that is infinitely more dangerous than any other kind of toxic substance known to humans. In reality, it’s not quite that bad. All industrial processes produce long-lived toxic waste, including the production of the precious solar panels. (What? Did you think that mass production of large amounts of semiconductors was going to be a clean process?) When you drop this particular fear of all things nuclear that has no basis in science, and when you educate yourself into the actual size of the dangers, and the dangers of the alternatives, then nuclear isn’t that bad.

    AFAICT, more people have died choking on sliced bread than have died from radiation release from nuclear power plants. That’s including Chernobyl. Only approx 4000 people died from Chernobyl. About 0 died from Three Mile Island. No one outside of the cleanup crew is going to die from Fukushima. When you look at the simple measure of human deaths, nuclear power comes as the safest by far, even beating solar and wind.
    nextbigfuture xxx .com/2011/03/deaths-per-twh-by-energy-source.html

    Right now, millions of people every year are dying from airborne particulate pollution from coal (at power plants and for indoor heating and cooking), and from other indoor heating and cooking fuels.

    I think you need to take a moment to reassess the alternatives, and to put the risks into context, and to stop believing the bullshit from Green Peace et al regarding the real risks of nuclear power, and the safety of modern designs.

    There are better tchnologies with superior inherent fail-safe characteristics. Cheaper too. So less profit. And to bring any new tech on-line is a good 10 – 20 years in the making.

    Also wrong.

    thorconpower xxx .com/docs/domsr.pdf

    By using only existing technology, we intend to be in full scale commercial production in year 7.

    Some will scoff. The conventional wisdom is that there is something fundamentally different about nuclear that mandates multi-decade long project times.

    Here are three counter examples, projects which faced far more difficult problems than
    ThorCon does.

    4.0.1 Wigner and Hanford
    […] In 2.5 years, Wigner went from literally zero to 500 MW.

    4.0.2 Rickover and the Nautilus
    [4+2 years]
    At the time no such thing as a PWR existed at any scale. Rickover wasn’t scaling up. He was going from nothing to full scale.

    4.0.3 Camp Century
    ALC designed, built, and tested the plant in 16 months.

    We’re not going to save our current environment with this ridiculous “no can do” attitude of yours.

  9. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    Oh, also, France went from about 0 nuclear to 80% grid nuclear in about 15 or 20 years.

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