The Permian Ice Age and the Perfect Storm (I)
This thread is the first in a series that concerns what I call the greatest threat to humanity in our modern world. Xru and grmorton have brought out aspects of this problem, but it is the combination of factors that leads up to a Permian Ice Age and a Perfect Storm that I wish to propose. The concept is based on the chaos mathematical model (read Chaos by Gleich. In the natural world chaos is good, because It is where the existence of great diversity means a healthy world. When diversity (the number of variables) decreases the system becomes fragile, and prown to collapse or massive failure.
Examples of the potential effects of the decrease in diversity are commonly being felt in the modern world. Economic diversity means many sources and many entities in the chain from resources to the finished products. Example there were only several producers of certain auto parts in one place in Japan, and when the Tsunami struck they all failed and many automobile plants either shut down or slowed production to a level unable to meet demand. a potential example is that 80%+ of vitamin C producers in the world are in China and increasing, therefore the market becomes fragile and monopolistic. At present there is a sharp rise in prices. If something happens the supply of Vitamin C could virtually end or become unrealistically scarce in relation to demand.
The above examples allude to a key problem in a fragile system, 'unbalanced dependency' in an unbalanced supply and demand situation. The achilles heel here is the supply problem, but uncontrolled runaway demand can create a severe unstable situation as in energy resources.
Why call it the Permian Ice Age and what is the Perfect Storm?
The Permian Ice Age was a time in our geologic past when a sudden change (meteor impact and/or severe geologic event?) ended a period of great diversity of life and climate, The result was a near death flat line for the surface of the earth which was either Ice Age or desert for ~80 to 95%. Diversity ended and life struggled at minimum level. It took millions of years for the climate and life to slowly return to a healthy diversity. The Perfect Storm would be the event that causes this event.
These issues have been presented individually in many threads, but i will present them in a different light and different way integrating them in a way not done before.
The key factors in the possible impending catastrophic collapse are . . .
(1) Global Climate Change (GCC) and climate cycles - It is not the change, but the cycles. We cannot pedal out of this one.
(2) Energy - The end of the glutons feast, Glen has covered this well. I will deal with interedendency of the consequences.
(3) Technology R&D Ceiling - No more Thomas Edisons.
(4) Environmental Diversity - a decreasing life system.
(5) Maybe more or less . . .
The first problem from a different perspective.
(1) Global Climate Change (GCC) and climate cycles - Climate Change has been the subject of heated debate here and all over the world, but I believe our concerns are dangerously misdirected. I believe that there is a human element, but the extent has not been determined conclusively. I believe the reality is Climate Change regardless. Almost every one equates this with the problems and possible benefits rising temperatures, and have an exaggerated sense of the importance of short term year to year apparent changes. These issues create illusions that obscure the important problems, which in the long term GCC may not be the climate issue that takes us down. It may be simply the natural climate cycles that have torpedoed civilizations in the past.
The main problem is the fragile dependency created by food demands of an increasing world population (7 billion and growing) and the fragile high energy requirement of agriculture facing a decrease in arable land. The increase in the number of monoculture industrial farms with increasingly higher energy demands, and the decrease in small diverse farms with lower energy demands creates a fragile system prown to catastrophic failure.
The natural drought cycles are too often interpreted today as GCC. GCC is a factor which likely increases the drought impact over time, but the main problem is our inability to deal with drought because we have over extended our high energy dependent monoculture agriculture into marginal zones in the good years.
If the GCC factor is significant it can possibly tip the scale of the drought cycle and really signiicantly reduce agricultural production in the future.
The midwest is currently going through a drought and heat crisis that is likely a part of this cycle. They went through this in the fifties and in the past. the problem is each time this happens the impact is more problematic on the food supply and prices because of the increased demand on a increasingly fragile system.
Africa is a classic case of the impact of over population, increased political instability, forced nation boundaries, and religious divisions that have virtually eliminated the natural diverse migratory patterns where the people responded to natural drought cycles by moving north and south.
Go with the flow . . . may no longer be an option.
The combination of all the factors leading to the Permian Ice Age may have reduced our chances of simply adopting to change, which is the only alternative.
The unfortunate result of all these factors may be the 'Feast of the Crows*'
From the title of George RR Martin's 4th book in the series.
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Last edited by shunyadragon; September 9th 2011 at 09:57 AM.
Go with the flow the river knows.
Hillsborough, NC 27278
Gifts of jade-silk change weapons and war into peace and friendship.
I do not know, therefore I think . . . and everything is in pencil.