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Will We Save the World? The Paris Summit and the Last Exit Before Armageddon


Will We Save the World? The Paris Summit and the Last Exit Before Armageddon

John Atcheson

This December the world’s nations will gather in Paris to attempt to come to grips with climate change. The stakes are high, and all signs point a massive collision between the physics of what is required to limit climate change to safe levels, and the politics of what’s achievable. Unfortunately, politics seems to be winning.

This poses an existential threat to humanity and the global ecosystem because in a conflict between physics and politics, physics always wins.

Let’s examine some of the ways this Conference fails to acknowledge scientific reality.


Do the Greek people actually get to decide their economic future?

Do most women get to decide that they can have access to safe birth control?

Do the people in Afghanistan get to decide if drones will fly overhead?

Do the people in Syria get to decide NOT to be bombed back to the Stone Age?

Mr. Atcheson--along with the title of this pathetic analysis--strains to use and embrace the WE frame as if it is WE, the People, who have thwarted the implementation of Greener energies, or WE, the People, who have hedged on putting into place far WISER uses of energy on a grand scale.

As is obvious, the pioneering individual here or there who manages to "get off the grid" is no match for state-sponsored incentives and widely financed systems that should and could go EASY on this planet's fossil fuels.

Atcheson leaves out odious items like the TPP and the types of corporate "law" being thrown over the rest of us like giant drift nets to effectively thwart ANY meaningful opposition to what today's corporate predators (high on the list of which are the Fossil Fuel empires) are doing.

Many intelligent pundits have pointed out that Occupy Wall Street's greatest contribution to the public discourse was delineating an obvious demarcation point between the 1% oligarchic class--the deciders at this Paris event and every other one of significance--and WE, the People. That's why it's suspect why Mr. Atcheson would PUSH the We frame here.

Certainly people can cut back on their energy usage. However, as is the case in California, residential water usage accounts for about 20% of all state water consumption. In contrast, 80% goes to Big Agriculture and The Frackers... a geological wrecking crew setting into motion future sinkholes, earthquakes, and toxic water tables so that a few asinine anti-life corporatists (of the Mother Nature sort) can make a financial killing in the short term.

When the all-inclusive WE frame becomes the focus (as I feel the obligation to continually point out), the REAL actors and deciders get a pass. Unfortunately, most paid media voices today provide that cover when not offering up apologias to the 1%.

I think it was Michael Parenti who explained the dangers of Left Gate-keepers. Now I understand. Far too many voices that could be voices for the radical truths needed at this time instead pay homage to the existing system. The "blame everyone" meme not only reinforces a belief system implanted for generations through the Bible's focus on sin, it also ensures that little can be done to alter circumstances. That means the status quo gets to remain in place.



Homo Sapiens Sapiens is a sap and climate change deniers are idiots!

Well that much was obvious by this point...Lol.

Meanwhile we all get the sense that hope springs eternal at Paris. This means that politicians are hoping that they will not have to actually do anything drastic or even discuss such things in Paris. The intentional inertia of politics combines with the awesome inertia encountered when trying to change economics and the result is... ineffectual 'voluntary' guidelines that delay doing anything substantial until things get so bad that the public demands something be done. Only then will measures be taken to counter the economic inertia that faces us.

Once not all that long ago fisherman off the Grand Banks of Newfoundland began noticing that the once prodigious catches of cod and other fish from the Banks were falling off rapidly. The fishermen recognizing that overfishing was causing the fish stocks to crash, petitioned the Canadian government to impose a 5 year moratorium on fishing to allow the fish stocks to recuperate. A moratorium would allow the fishermen to leave their boats in port and the government would be responsible for the mortgage payments on the boats or suspend them etc.

The government declined to impose a moratorium on fishing off the Grand Banks. The fishermen knew that the overfishing had reached the breaking point but the bankers said either pay your boat's mortgage or we will take your boat. So the fishermen continued to fish just to be able to keep their boats.

Within five years or so, the fish stocks in what had once been the world's greatest fishing grounds collapsed. Once legendary numbers of cod nearly disappeared. The fish (many other species as well) never recovered and the whole industry collapsed and has never recovered.

Economic inertia >>> Keep fishing or lose your boat. They lost their boats anyway but in the meantime the whole economy based on that fishing was knocked for a loop as well. Banks suffered major declines. Everybody (including the fish) got hurt real bad.

Economic inertia. It isn't really only about physics... sometimes it is about the immediate expediency of greed. Let some other guy stop fishing but I'm going to keep doing it because its legal.

That mentality will be in play in Paris. Let somebody else do something because I don't want to.

Political inertia meets economic inertia and ... and physics take the hindmost!


This was a very succinct diatribe. I understand and agree with you that using the generic "we," puts all of us as human beings, on the list of offenders, responsible for wreaking havoc on our planet earth. The culprits are the leaders and heads of corporations, etc. But alas, they are also human beings...at least I think they are. What is an alternative? We can play the blame game from now till Armageddon. But if ALL of us don't start raising our pitchforks, and yes, being martyred in the process, we will effectively have handed over the planet to the psychopathic few. The Mammon worshiping system called "Capitalism" is parasitic. It feeds off all of us. But if we don't feed "it," "It," cannot survive. That is the choice we have. Simple.

Example: A violent drunkard threatens to kill his family. Are "we" responsible for him? Will it be our fault if he succeeds? I posit that the people who produce alcohol, the bar that serves it, the bartender or the clerk that sells it, the doctor who treats this guy, knows he's an alcoholic, but does not address it, the wife and neighbors who enable this drunkard by letting him off the hook every time he does a stupid thing, are all partially responsible. Stop feeding him alcohol and force him into a rehab unit or lock him up till he gets sober...then he cannot succeed in being a violent drunk. It is imperative that WE the people set the limits because it is WE the people who are ultimately the victims.

The problem is that WE collectively, don't want to give up Capitalism! WE want our cake and eat it too. The minority of people who have given up on Capitalism are paving the way, as an example that it can be done. But those people are still in the shadows. Where are the writers who can feature a group of people like this and bring them to the forefront? Where are all the positive examples of alternative life styles?

When I look at what these Multi-Nationals are doing to our world, I shake my head in wonder! Are they not able to see what they are doing? I guess they just don't care. I sit and "read" all about it. But, it is not affecting my neighborhood right now. It is not hampering what I purchase at the grocery store, the farmers market, the seeds I buy to plant in my home garden, the clothing I buy at the department stores, the restaurants where I occasionally go for a lunch or dinner; so I think things are not so bad yet. But this is a creeping, fatal, humanity killer--loose on our world. WE have to wake up and realize it. WE enmass, are much greater than those few psychopaths. WE must be the ones who do something about them! If not "US," then "WHO?"


So Susan, what are We going to do about it?



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Summer's here and the dying is easy.

Someday the line will be >>> Winter's here and the living is easy.

Heat baby heat!!!

Hot like we wouldn't have believed possible... I won't be here either in the 'future that is to be feared' but I can see it coming!

Global warming... the heat that kills old coots like me.

Heat that kills. What a legacy we leave to the young!


Are you looking for a "policy" at the international governmental level, or at the personal level?

You know a number of "advanced industrial" wealthy states have "achieved" ZPG by accident? NPG actually; they simply find that their people are no longer reproducing at replacement rate. Do you advocate therefore that all states become "advanced industrial" states? That would presumably meet your goal.

Except these advanced industrial states achieved their economic status based on extreme exploitation of the Earth's "resources," and other states' peoples.

Do you propose a "policy" like China's "one-child" policy? Are you working to enact such a policy in the country you reside in?

What policy work are you doing, at whatever level, in whatever countries or international bodies, to install the "policy" you advocate for?

Do you mean a personal policy to restrict one's own procreation? A "categorical imperative" based on assessment of what would happen if everyone behaved like this? Are you practicing such a policy yourself? What is your personal "policy"? Did you make any humans yourself? i assume from your posting stye that you are an older adult (also fitting the profile of the "typical" Common Dreams commenter), but i could be mistaken. Are you at, or past, procreative age? What are your personal practices?

Are you actively advocating similar practices for others? How are you working to instill similar personal commitments in the people you know, and more widely?

Do you actually work on this issue, other than to repeat the same post at Common Dreams 1,000 times? 'Cause that ain't working - in both senses of the term.


I've discussed this many times. Possibly over 100. However, since my prescription doesn't suit the Yang-fight-back narrative of: soldier boys, macho Johnny-get-his-gun types, or agent provocateurs, it's discredited.

Some time ago I explained how this "2 complementary sides" to the life equation operates. That Yin and Yang display in such obvious expressions as the DNA molecule, the building block of life with its intertwined ladder of genes drawn equally from both parents.

That our bodies contain an active sympathetic nervous system and its complement: a parasympathetic component that without our ACTIVE engagement, tells our stomach to break down food and our lungs to process oxygen, and so forth.

This dual set of inputs also is signified through action--Yang and consciousness-Yin. Too many here want to dive into every situation guns ablaze without understanding that IF the same martial consciousness that made for war and competition (the driver of capitalism, after all) continues as thus, nothing will change. As I often relate, one set of dominant baboons will merely come to replace another.

When Dr. Michael Parenti was asked that same question, he answered that people will do and are doing a great many things. Those of you who ONLY see validation in the "fight back" model grant short shrift to these efforts... YOU render them invisible and in so-doing, wittingly or otherwise show your complicity with the dominant media and the existing status quo.

Paula Rae has asked me this before. But Paula also wants a firm, recipe-like answer that fits into her bifurcated worldview. It is a view that I often seek to expose for its limitations. This idea that there is only doing this or doing that, doing the "right" thing or nothing at all, belonging to this team or that team.

These frames--like that of two teams competing in the sports arenas or two political camps arguably offering diametrically opposed policy platforms work to retain the status quo. They create tension that cannot be reconciled. The worst outcome is when both fuse into ONE entity--which is the current status of American politics--that serves the same interests.

Back to Parenti, he said to raise consciousness (the path I am committed to and have been for decades), agitate, organize, and create perturbations to existing systems. When brave souls climb trees to stop them from being torn down, or block pipelines, or put their blood onto missile silos, or get aboard offshore oiling vessels... they take that stance.

If anyone looks around, it doesn't take a Weather Man to see that systems ARE imploding. Wars are spreading and the spillover and blowback is only in beginning stages. Greece is but the weakest link in a fiscal house of dominoes that's coming down; and then there are the escalating Earth Changes.

Why YOU would lecture me on "waking up" is amusing. I have self-published 11 books since mainstream publishers don't want to share what I have to say. It's also viewed as "not commercial" because I don't push themes of violence and fortuitous sex, etc.

In the long run, each soul must answer for what they did or didn't do. That is the Individual component. But the power lies with corporate overlords who have STOLEN governments that formerly, at least in some ways, served their citizens.

Look around... the anger, despair, betrayal, and fallout is breaking out all over. And you ask what should we DO? Start by recognizing that processes are at work that are undoing the world that Mammon and Mars made. If you can, put energy into envisioning what is yet to manifest as OTHER... a vibrant life-affirming alternative to the warrior view that only traffics in massive destruction.


It seems we share some common ground, despite your hateful framing of everything i write. Here's something i recently wrote here:

As always, i pop in to bemoan the focus of commenters here, who flock to articles about political horse races in the USA, and do not invest one 20th of the energy and intellect on articles about strategic and tactical efforts outside of electoral politics.

These actions targeting factories of death are far more important than arguing about how to vote "correctly."

Popular direct action is way more significant in influencing the direction and potential for exponential growth of popular movements, than political party campaigns. But it is treated with yawns, while another article about the Sanders campaign draws thousands of views and dozens of comments.

When Sanders says "It's not about my campaign" we should say "Thanks, you're right!" and go get involved with grassroots organizing in our communities to confront the true actors and power brokers who own the
political parties and media in the USA.

And we should take a few minutes out of our day and vote for Sanders, or Stein, or anyone running on a Socialist platform. If so inclined we can contribute to the candidate or party of our affection. But the horse race deserves very little of our attention or energy! People organizing to shut down tar sands pipelines, and death factories, and promote real living economies, deserve far more of our attention, energy, and money.

While you cite Parenti and elaborate:

Back to Parenti, he said to raise consciousness (the path I am committed to and have been for decades), agitate, organize, and create perturbations to existing systems. When brave souls climb trees to stop them from being torn down, or block pipelines, or put their blood onto missile silos, or get aboard offshore oiling
vessels... they take that stance.

Which is interesting since in the same post, you smear anyone who proposes to fight back. Does Parenti propose not to fight back? Not in the least. Do the tree-sitters and factory-blockaders propose not to fight back? No, they are fighting back.

And do i ONLY propose to fight back? No, that is your smear. i write extensively about the need for holistic thinking and living. Here's another thing i recently posted:

... that gives some idea of what i think of when i think of steps toward fighting back:

"Mass movement, mass mobilization, broad and deep solidarity, risk and resistance, civil disobedience, civil resistance. Feed each other, take care of each other, face the extractivist monster and all its tentacles. Join the movement in your community, support the people on the front lines, support indigenous communities, support all the species of the Earth. Feed each other, take care of each other, broad and deep solidarity. Crazy times are not coming, crazy times are here. How will you respond? How will we respond?"

The practice in these threads, of accusing anyone who asks such a question: "How will we respond?" of "blaming the people," is disempowering. It appears to be intentionally disempowering.

It is intended to train our minds to see any effort to organize popular power as "blaming the people."

It is intended to stop us from considering what we might do, and instead wallow in our powerlessness.

i believe we might actually benefit from considering: What might we do?

i have much respect for the organizers of today's Canadian day of action for Jobs, Justice, Climate. Bringing these movements together, and organizing for mass mobilization, is not "blaming the people" it is organizing to exercise popular power. We need much more of it, and we need much more discussion of it, without being immediately and disingenuously attacked.

Perhaps you might open your mind to consider that i am a real person, a complex person, with a complex analysis, who strives for holism in my life and in my politics. When your knee jerks in response to anyone's post, you might take a moment to pause for reflection before posting your 5,000th personal attack.

Your endless stream of personal attacks completely belies your claim to be raising consciousness.


Your endless stream of personal attacks, and your utter, 100% incapacity to ever accept any criticism of your own behavior, completely belie your claim to be raising consciousness.


What action do you think is being thwarted by the propagation of the notion that "we" are capable, and thus culpable, agents. Will recognition and acceptance of our powerlessness somehow empower us?


Hansen is outside of the green mainstream because he thinks the situation is so dire that we will need to develop and expand some forms of nuclear power. The 2C target is the environmentally-correct moderate compromise between the view that the status quo is working fine and Hansen's extremist radicalism. It conveys that the situation is serious enough that we do need to work on it, but not SO serious that we need to do anything as drastic as give nuclear any consideration. Indeed, the mainstream green view is that the situation is so far from urgent that we can go ahead and start taking nuclear power plants offline right now, and replace them with tree-burning generators while we gradually roll out wind and solar and work out the kinks.


"WE collectively, don't want to give up Capitalism!" We who? I strongly disagree. It's a false and divisive meme to define things down to such a choice. Capitalism is not necessary. Democratic socialism would be a much better system. Size matters and the corportocracy has become too big and powerful. Business and socialism are not mutually excluding. Our nation was founded on common law and the primacy of the commons. Our founders would never have allowed the concentration of wealth we have today. Promote the general welfare not oligarch welfare. Natural resources belong to everyone. No ownership. Just public license fees for extraction and production with strong environmental controls.


It is possible to feel the population issue is important, and yet also feel that talking about it is not important. The reality is that we are never going to implement a global reproductive management system, and any public funding of financial incentives for not having children will be seen as financial penalties imposed on those who have children--as if having children didn't come with enough of those already.

And population growth tends to be higher in poorer and less-developed countries, and the poor of these countries already suspect that we of the richer countries are trying to sterilize them or even kill them so that we can have their resources, so lecturing at them about overpopulation might actually be counterproductive. And on the issue of carbon emissions, those of poorer countries have added reason to be resentful of richer countries--who were by far the dominant carbon emitters (which is largely how they got to be richer countries). They are not only bearing disproportionate costs of climate change, but they also see it as fundamentailly unfair that we should be trying to put the onus on them to not reproduce and to not cut down their forests and develop their lands, after we have already reaped the benefits of doing just that.

So it isn't clear how talking about population actually helps anything. What does seem to help curtail population growth is a decent standard of living like prevails in most first-world nations. So some people think the more productive route is to work on how to help them to a better standard of living by means that are cleaner than the path we took. That approach also seems to engender less suspicion and resentment.


First, let me say, I agree with you, and I am a Democratic Socialist. But 2nd....how can you deny that "collectively" (not each individual, but nations as a group), the industrialized nations have moved toward Capitalism? How can you deny that many, if not most people who work in this system, buy stuff, stuff, and more stuff? Houses are bigger. Department stores offer more and more junk. Walmarts are spread over the landscape like a virus. How is it divisive to state reality? I also said that Capitalism is a Mammon worshiping, parasitic system....indicating that I think we need to get rid of it. Hello? I'm saying what you're saying. Why are you calling me divisive? "Define things down to such a choice?" What do you mean? If the choice is Capitalism or no Capitalism....I choose no Capitalism. Is that the choice you mean? Business or fair markets are a different story. There is "Free Trade," which is actually only free to the big multi-nationals--because they exploit the little guy; or "Fair Trade," which is just that....fair to all. Of course we have to have a market place. How else would we trade goods? The key is small, local, fair, self-sustainable, supportive of small farmers and small business, etc.


I'm afraid I am going to have to defend myself. I acknowledge that you didn't comment TO me, but ABOUT me. Nonetheless, I must say that I do not consider myself to have a "bifurcated worldview." I have spent much time and energy in balancing black and white thinking and coming to the conclusion that there are a lot of "grey" areas.

I find myself agreeing with so much of what you say, but then you have to go and spoil it by being, how shall I say, mean spirited! I didn't write a comment to "ask" you anything, as in the sense that you have the "right" answer. I commented to pose an alternate view to your incessant refusal to accept the "collective we." If anything, I find that distracting and it severely cuts off what others opinions are. The focus then becomes: What is Siouxrose saying again about "we?" Will you kindly stop it? You are much too intelligent and have much too much information to share, to keep beating this dead horse! You don't need to call attention to yourself in this negative way.

For heaven's sake, we're saying much the same thing. There are other ways to "fight" besides what you call soldier boys and johnny-get-his gun types. Fighting with words and ideas and action, are legitimate ways. Of course we must work to elevate consciousness. That is the best way to promote change. Yes. People are doing a great many things to change the system...all of which needs to be brought to everyone's frontal lobe.

And btw...I agree with you about publishing. Editors are looking for what sells most, not what new ideas can be presented. Profit is the bottom line. More and more people are self-publishing. I belong to a Writers Workshop group, and all of us are hoping for publication....but alas, it is so difficult now. You have to have a following, a personal website, pay for your own expenses when promoting your book, basically arrange your own promotional venues....it's daunting to say the least.


Actually the ZPG that has been acheived in "advanced industrial economies" have nothing to do with technological advances but rather political ones. For example in the province of Quebec after the Second World War, Quebec had one of the highest birthrates in the world. But three years after the war, Quebec women got the right to vote. In just one generation Quebec's birth rate fell to having the lowest population growth in any developed country despite being an "advanced industrial" area both before and after this transformative event. In fact in a global study done several years ago, women werre asked in impovershed countries around the world if they would have had a second child by choice. The answer was a resounding "no". Until women acheive the rights and protections necessary so that a women can say "no" without fear of retribution, the world's population problem won't go away.


Excellent example of why fishy banksters and greedy dynasty families shouldn't be in charge of the world. Another fish example, is that the Salmon, Sardines and now young Herring have all but disappeared in the Pacific along with about 100 other species. This is because the banksters won't let a nuke power plant shut down, no matter how dangerous it is, because a nuke reactor loses one million dollars a day in electricity proceeds each day it is idle.

Despite the ongoing nuclear holocaust from Fukushimas triple China Syndrome (which will never end), banksters have demanded that all 58 nuke facilities in Japan be restarted. Even ones sitting in the shadows of exploding volcanoes like Kagoshima!

Insanity has a name: It is Wall Street.


Yeah, that's the new Fossil Fuel industry misconception. "Another cooling trend will save us!"

What utter B.S. First of all: the Solar Cycle does not heat Earth at all. The 22 year sunspot cycle has nothing to do with the temperature of Earth. Sunspots cause ionized storms of highly charged particles which our ionosphere deflects. It is a radio-magnetic storm which shuts down HF radio on airliners and can blackout big electrical grids. Sunspots (sun's activity at Solar Max and Solar Min) has nothing to do with Earth's temperature! It just reeks havoc on electrical devices, like nuke power plant controllers!

In 2030 we will be in Solar Min, but that will NOT lower earth's temperature.


i don't dispute the specifics of your Quebec example, although i haven't looked into it, and i certainly concur with education and empowerment being important.

But the correlation between "development" and reduced reproduction is solid and consistent.