The Roman Philosopher Lucius Anneaus Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE) was perhaps the first to note the universal trend that growth is slow but ruin is rapid. I call this tendency the "Seneca Effect."

Friday, April 28, 2023

America, the Collapsed. Why Mommy Knows Best


I am still reading paper books. I think they favor concentration in a way that on-screen books cannot provide. Books are also one of the few places left in the memesphere where you can say what you think without being aggressed by a band of zombies or censored by brain-drained idiots. So, during the past few years, I have been reading a series of books, most of which, I think, deserve a comment. And I'll see to publish a few; not really book reviews, but just ideas derived from the books I read. 

Why do people do things that harm themselves? It is a good question that nobody seems to know how to answer -- yet, it happens all the time. Scott Erikson tackles the question in his book, "Mommy, Why did America Collapse?" A nice addition to the catastrophist's bookshelf. 

Erikson writes in a light mood; his analyses do not pretend to be quantitative models of the collapse of complex systems, but he tells a fascinating tale in the form of a bedtime dialog between a mother and her daughter. The fascination is not in the story itself: for those of us who are hard-core catastrophists, there is not much that we didn't know before (mommy is one of us!). For those who are not catastrophists, the book will probably fail to appear convincing.

Yet, the problem is there, and many past stories show how exactly people can and do harm themselves by doing things that may appear intelligent in the short term but lethal in the long term. Throwing oneself naked into a thornbush to collect berries is a paradigmatic example, but, in a more pedantic kind of analysis, Ilaria Perissi and I noted how the fishing industry has consistently destroyed the fish stocks that made them live in our book "The Empty Sea." How could it happen? We cite several examples of how people simply trade long-term survival for short-term gains. It is the way the human mind works. We need just one word to describe it: "greed."

That's exactly the point that Erikson makes over and over in his book. It is not so much an analysis of the reasons why America did (will) collapse but how a profound failure in communication caused the collapse. More than a problem of communication, it is a problem of trust. A mother can say things at bedtime that her daughter has no reason to mistrust (unless mommy wants to sell the munchkin to the bad witch for cooking in a cauldron).  

But, apart for bedtime stories, we are always dealing with people who are trying to sell us to the canned meat industry -- often figuratively, sometimes perhaps even for real. So, if there is no trust, there is no truth. And if there is no truth, there is nothing at all. Only noise. And who has the time for bedtime stories, anyway?

No wonder America Collapsed.


  1. To continue the conversation from the last post... someone said, that Ugo believe in (some undefined?) paradox. Can you explain?

    I have followed Ugo from the days of peak oil and the doomosphere. I keep coming here hoping that now that Ugo's income does not depend on supporting "climate change", we might be treated to some new realizations and disclosures. So far, no luck. Ugo rightly rails against corruption in science, while acting as though it does not affect his field. He could be a voice for truth and common sense, so lacking everywhere these days.. Will he be?

    1. >Ugo's income does not depend on supporting "climate change"

      ??? What ? Climate Change has nothing to do with Ugo (aside his small emissions), same as the periodic table doesn't change because of Ugo retiring, he didn't "make it up"... The laws of nature don't change because you change jobs or retire.

    2. Oi. :-) Yes, indeed, climate science has nothing to do with Ugo. "Climate science opinion" does. I am hoping he'll change some of his. If climate can change, surely Ugo can too. Just funning...

    3. I was not talking about a particular paradox but about a way of thinking that can accept one thing and its opposite. The school has taught us that a paradox must be solved or it is impossible, and nothing could be further from the truth. It is not surprising that Professor Bardi is too optimistic about renewables for the doomers, and too catastrophic for the techno-solutionists. Neither side is capable of grasping the subject in its complexity. Just as science is corrupted and has lost its credibility in its present form does not prevent honest scientists from continuing to seek to improve our knowledge. I don't know if climate scientists are among them, but I know people whose work is not formalized by peer review and yet they develop new knowledge (sometimes by picking up where they left off centuries ago). The collapse of scientific institutions is inevitable, from their ruins a new form of science will probably arise. Time alone resolves paradoxes.

    4. Thierry, thank you for the response. I have not noticed Ugo's response as you describe it, and will watch for it. Living with disparate possibilities and uncertainty seems to be a skill or aptitude lacking in many these days, and to be appreciated when it occurs.

      It would be nice, however, if Ugo engaged with people on legit questions apart from quips. For example, in the last post, someone asked about CO2. The question may have been poorly worded. But Ugo just dismissed it with a false analogy about cyanide. (Surely comparing the vastly beneficial CO2 without which life would not be possible, and cyanide, one of the extreme poisons, is not really a valid or trustworthy response?)

      Or, another example. A while back, I asked for a link to studies comparing the energy needed to produce a giant turbine (and to dispose of it) to its energy production over its average lifetime. Ugo sent me to a highly mathematical article that purports to make such a calculation possible. It well may. But wouldn't it have been more honest to say that such a calculation has not yet been performed? Which raises a host of other pointy questions.

      I would really welcome someone with such a useful background -- as the professor has -- to speak to the dead ends and dishonesties of the "climate change" can of worms. As well as aspects that have stood the test of time. Now that his career is not at stake. You know... similar to the variety of knowledgeable people speaking -- finally! -- about the mess in medicine brought to a head under covid.

  2. It seems that countless voices in the Middle East have been given the instruction to loudly claim on the social media that Gold - required for the new Russian/Chinese global currency - is behind the recently-erupted civil war in gold-rich Sudan (ha ha ha)....

    It cannot be that any Gold today is more precious than the seas of diesel burned - mining for Gold....

    Rivers of blood in Sudan today will never be an evidence that the - what is called Russian/Chinese new global currency - is any real - no matter how wide rivers of blood in Sudan - flow....

    It cannot be that Gates is still greedy - when we are told he already owns hills of wealth...

    The West is not greedy - when it owns and runs the money printing-press....

    Bur rather - the West doesn't have the courage to tell itself and others - oil reserves worldwide are almost all gone - In the US, Canada, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and elsewhere...

    The West is willing to burn the little remaining oil to the ground - self-describing itself greedy - rather than telling people - oil reserves worldwide are almost gone - In the US, Canada, Iraq, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and elsewhere...

    "No energy store holds enough energy to extract an amount of energy equal to the total energy it stores.
    No system of energy can deliver sum useful energy in excess of the total energy put into constructing it.
    This universal truth applies to all systems.
    Energy, like time, flows from past to future".


  3. I kinda think that every single person that ever lived is, at any given moment, doing what they think is the "right", or "correct" thing to do at that moment. There is always a lot of self interest wrapped up in any and all actions, unavoidably, even when the self interest of others is being accounted for. I'm not sure that I would call it "greed", but that might be the right word for it. Not sure.

  4. Possibly it is 'greed'. However, what is required, is a complete restructuring of modern society , East and West. We need a new way of living in the world, not of the world. Do we have time to create such a world? Do we even want to live in such a world? Probably the majority of people living today would not want to live in any other kind of world than in an industrialized world with all its comforts and promises. So change becomes complicated, if not impossible.

  5. Greed And Stupidity Are What Will End The Human Race - Stephen Hawking

  6. Greed produces phenomena such as planned obsoloscence in industrial production. Without that, we would have a little more time, but nothing else changes.
    In the individual case it is not greed, but an adaptation to the society within which the individual wants to survive. Natural processes can look quite stupid. Gaja is either a hollow nut, or has other priorities.
    Maybe everything is supposed to be like that. It strikes me that life as a whole is doing something that is decidedly satisfying: sorting. If that's the meaning of life, then it's on.