Home | About | Donate

So Now What? Good Question


So Now What? Good Question

Randall Amster
Since the election last November, I’ve been searching for the right words to convey my concerns. It’s not primarily about who won and who lost, although clearly the outcome does have serious implications not only in terms of policies and principles, but also for the cultural messages it sends about acceptable behaviors and ideologies. And it’s not about political parties -- assuming that construct can be pluralized anymore, with the power of the corporate purse strings tethered to those equivalently across the aisle.


There's only one thing to do.

Kiss our azzes goodbye. In June 2015, Dr. Guy McPherson, an award winning Emeritus Professor from the University of Arizona, who is a Ecology Biologist who studies extinction events, said he thinks we have 18 months until a thermal runaway of 6 degrees C above 1750 baseline of 13.5C.

Temps rose about 1 degree C by some measurements in just 2016 alone. We were 1.6 degrees above baseline in April 2016. At 2 degrees C above baseline, the wheat supply dies off. At 4 degrees C, Guy says he can't imagine we'll have a tree on the planet still alive.

So maybe we've got six months or maybe just a few years if we are lucky. Already Massive methane is being detected exploding out of Siberia. It's frying in Africa, Australia and Chile since they're in the Southern Hemisphere and it's summer there.

Sam Carana (a pseudonym for several Arctic climate scientists), thinks at this rate we will be extinct by 2026.


Man, I don't wanna give up yet.


I'm not suggesting you give up. But getting yourself in trouble like some activists do, may be futile since the heat energy can't be put back into the ground. It's loose. And the oceans aren't absorbing it anymore making massive heat domes over whole continents.

But realize, this guy has been right all the way down the line. His colleagues are telling him that he's too conservative, and that it's a lot worse than he's saying it is.

Atmospheric Scientists, like James Hansen who used to say we had until 2100, don't study extinction. They study physics and the atmosphere. They've got no clue about biological limitations. Trees can't just get up and migrate North, so they die, bugs get em, and they burn in place. There goes half our oxygen. The other half comes from the ocean and it's acidic and more than half of the oxygen producers in it just died.

Nobody has ever seen, in the ice cores and sea cores and tree rings, a change in temp this rapid. The closest was 10 degrees in 13 years which killed 90 percent of all species 250 million years ago.

The theory of Abrupt Climate Change holds that if just One Percent of Siberian Methane erupts out of the shallow sea up there, which it probably is since the ice has broken up and the current has gone ballistic, we will see another full degree of temp rise right away, and more later.

There's another 64 known feedback loops all capable of causing us to bust the deadly 4 degrees C above baseline.

It is game over. And Bill Gates and Warren Buffet won't survive either because they forgot to decommission 440 nuke plants 40 years ago. Hiding in a seed vault or an underwater seabase won't prevent ionizing radiation circulation at lethal levels no matter what engineers told them.

Machines break down. Filters leak. Heat Exchangers get contaminated. At some point they will be exchanging air or water with the contaminated biosphere.

I give you the Naked Ape. Not so wise after all.


Whatever is coming, I will go down fighting for authentic participatory democracy, the only mechanism through which this nation might finally make restitution for the near genocide of this land's native people, and the past and continued enslavement of black people and other communities of color. I appreciate this column, because it will be very hard to come together if white folks don't understand just how imperfect this democracy has been, but also that it is in the hands of multi-colored, multi-gendered, and multi-aged human beings to perfect it.


The way people are dealing with the climate emergency is a good example of how people can easily normalize. But climate change is a special case because it occurs so slowly such as sea level rise or involves extreme weather evens which occur anyway due do weather that it is difficult to appreciate what is going on without looking at graphs. There fascist threat of Trump on the other hand does evoke the emotional response of fear. I am sure millions have at least thought probably for the first time of escaping the United States. An almost unthinkable thought until recently for most Americans. The best strategy that I have heard so far is to use the Tea Party strategy of an all out effort to get member of Congress to oppose Trump by packing town hall meetings, constant lobbying and so forth. Republicans who won in closely contested districts would seem to be the top targets for this sort of political activity. Other than that I would say always defend the press and stop calling it the corporate media and rather call it the free press. Defend judges who are unfairly attacked. Defend politicians on the left of center and stop saying they are nothing but corporate shills, even it they accept campaign contributions from corporations. In other words, put some trust in our existing institutions instead of just bashing them. Try to understand that they actually are a big part of democracy and need to be defended against the lies put out by the right in order to establish what would amount to a dictatorship in the United States of America.


@Lrx Why would anyone have faith in our democratic institutions when they are riddled by systemic racism and tilted to the benefit of rich folks? Why would anyone have faith in US institutions, when my state is riddled with cancers and grief-stricken families mourning the loss of people still dying from being downwind of the Nevada Test site. The government said it was safe when it knew it was not. Why would anyone have faith in democratic institutions including the Corporate Owned News (CON), or free press as you would have it, when we were bold-faced lied into a War with Iraq? The free-press certainly gave an enormous amount of free time to Trump, aiding in his rise, and their ratings--boy did the free press make a bundle off that.

I'm sure America's indigenous folks have lots of faith in US institutions, since we've broken just about every treaty we've ever had with those sovereign nations. We can add to that list the great faith black folk should have for our Constitution, that once counted them as 3/5's of a human being, the same Constitution that still allows enslavement under the 13th amendment. Yes let's all trust our institutions.

I would have thought by now, after reading these pages and comment threads for these many months, that your naivete would diminish. But I do have faith that one day you'll discover just how owned you are.


Mr. Amster has a very valid point. Instead of arguing about how we got here, or how bad or beneficent various institutions are, we need to repeatedly ask and reflect on the question: So Now What?


This is the question that has kept me awake nights, and there is no clear answer, at least not one that I can see. What next? How do we go from where we are right now, to a just and equitable society? Is it even possible?


Still though if we are going to go extinct in less then a decade then we should still fight for liberties so we can spend these last years not under a fascist rule. Because those excuses for human beings in power are certainly not going to stop making other people's lives hell, even if they do believe in this near term extinction.


I hope that the new estimates are off by a few years but what was originally predicted on the the first Earth Day to happen around 2050 has already happened. So we're in totally uncharted territory. I follow a few of the more credible blogs and things are getting worse than ever before, mostly ignored by the MSM. In 20 years or less there will be a die off of humans of unprecedented magnitude due to lack of water and food. Yes things will get bad in a hurry and no one in power wants to do a damn thing about it.


Yes indeed defend the free press, but be wary of corporate sponsored media, the reporters are just trying to keep their jobs.


I agree. Unfortunately, events are already overtaking everyone. Food's a real problem in the third world already. Every year, nations who depend on fish stocks are having to substitute with whatever is scampering down the back alley. Native birds are being snared and shot for survival of poor families since fish is too expensive.

I used to fuss with locals for shooting at rare tropical birds. Now I realize, it's futile to try to save them. Few people can afford fish in SE Asia anymore (which most islands have depended on since prehistoric times.) Famine is looming large, and when that happens, civil liberties end not long after. Governments use excuses like Wars on Drugs and Terrorism to shoot at poor people.

That's why Syria imploded. I see endless Syrias in the very near future. We are seeing Muslim climate refugees in our Northern Islands right now since the crops keep burning off closer to the equator and war is ongoing there. Europe has already seen this, as you know. It's been close to 130 degrees or more in Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait and Pakistan the past few years, so those places will soon be uninhabitable.

Our roads and markets in the tropics are now jammed all the time, whereas, just a few years ago, the population was sparse here! Mass Human migration is already underway, imho. Our domestic animals are occasionally stolen by poor people trying to eat them. I never run off the thin desperate people who take fish from our fish ponds. I pretend I don't see them.

But I see where this is headed, and it's not good. For my family in the US, all of Mexico will show up soon if it gets to 60 degrees C. It's that bad, according to Pentagon projections of the future. How fast is the only question.

All of this is so outside any of our experience, that it seems impossible. We animals always assume that tomorrow will be much like today, because that is our past experience, but the planet has never had Seven Billion people on it before. It's completely unsupportable.

You may be able to hang on to your liberties longer than much of the world. But already, Ferguson, MO and Baltimore and Detroit have lost them. I've been to all of those places, and they are SCARY. Inequality and tension just hang in the air. Cops behave like occupying soldiers in a foreign land.

Here, landless squatters have rights and cannot be run off, if the land is not being used. It relieves the tension, imho. But if it gets ten degrees hotter, or the ocean rapidly rises as it has in the past, all bets are off.

I'll be viewed as a walking hamburger...


I think the reporters are doing much more than just trying to keep their jobs. They are very competitive at trying to get scoops. They also want to get things right. And they want to find anonymous sources to give them good leads. A problem for reporters is if they want access to a president they have to be careful not to be too critical. Some presidents will not give them interviews if they are too critical. So the reporters often are not critical enough to maintain access. Since Trump lies all time getting access to him may not be that important.


There was a story on the homepage of the New York Times today about a growing crack in the Larsen C ice shelf. This is a good indication of how the effects of global warming are accelerating.


Heh Thomas !

That's a pretty disturbing link - and that prof - 18 months - ??

It seems over the top - but heh - I myself have disturbing thoughts when I look at the extinction event at the end-Permian.

CO2 levels were very low then - before their sudden rise - in a way similar to the low CO2 levels which preceded the Industrial Revolution.

Still - I'd like to hear from James Hansen and Michael Mann and Richard Alley and Lee Kump ... - on the link you provided.

Not much chance of that happening though - so I'll have to remain sceptical for the time being.

But the unfolding political scene is right here - and right now - and that is bad enough.

It sure looks like a tipping point politically worldwide.