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Crisis & collapse - May 18

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Expert warns climate change will lead to 'barbarisation'

James Randerson, Guardian
Climate change will lead to a "fortress world" in which the rich lock themselves away in gated communities and the poor must fend for themselves in shattered environments, unless governments act quickly to curb greenhouse gas emissions, according to the vice-president of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (IPCC).

Mohan Munasinghe was giving a lecture at Cambridge University in which he presented a dystopic possible future world in which social problems are made much worse by the environmental consequences of rising greenhouse gas emissions. "Climate change is, or could be, the additional factor which will exacerbate the existing problems of poverty, environmental degradation, social polarisation and terrorism and it could lead to a very chaotic situation," he said.

The scenario, which he termed "barbarisation" was already beginning to happen, he said. "Fortress world is a situation where the rich live in enclaves, protected, and the poor live outside in unsustainable conditions.
(15 May 2008)


Thomas Homer-Dixon interview
(video)
John Horgan, Bloggin Heads TV

Science Saturday: Pre-Apocalyptic Edition

Amidst the optimism of the 90’s, Tad [Thomas Homer-Dixon] contemplated disaster (05:03)
Complex causes of violence and war (11:14)
Does Rome’s fate await us? (07:50)
Our dire need for an energy revolution (09:44)
How global connectivity can endanger us all (06:46)
Why survivalism isn’t the answer to the threat of crisis (07:35)

Thomas Homer-Dixon
Trudeau Centre, University of Toronto, The Upside of Down

John Horgan
Stevens Center for Science Writings, JohnHorgan.org
(15 May 2008)


Everything Falling Apart, Reports Institute For Somehow Managing To Hold It All Together

The Onion (satire)
WASHINGTON-Officials from the Institute for Somehow Managing to Hold It All Together warned that, despite their best efforts, everything appears to be falling completely apart and "getting way out of hand," according to a strongly worded report characterized by panic, frustration, and numerous typographical errors that was released to the American public Monday.

"The country today faces a number of pressing issues, including potential economic collapse, the continued threat of global warming, and the decaying national infrastructure," ISMHIAT chairman Kenneth Branowicz said during a press conference to announce the study's findings. "And we just can't keep it together anymore."

... "In summary, we have no choice but to accept that managing these complex and varied crises may be untenable at this time," the report concludes. "We're in way over our heads here, people. Oh God. God. What are we going to do?"

The institute, a nonpartisan Washington think tank formed in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his Depression-era For God's Sake, Somebody Do Something Initiative, has issued similarly dramatic warnings in the past.

... This latest warning, however, could be the most alarming and desperate to date.

"Among the new challenges America faces is a deteriorating public education system, a vast healthcare crisis, new and frightening bioethics quandaries related to the privatization of human genetics, and, of course, the whole fossil fuels thing," the 5,000-page study, which was due in November 2007, notes.

... Some have criticized the report as being alarmist and exaggerated, urging that the nation should just cool out for a minute until the situation can resolve itself.

"While they have certainly generated plenty of attention, these findings represent an unnecessary overreaction, and should be met with restraint and calm," said James H. Walloch of the California Center for Not Worrying About Stuff So Much. "It is my opinion, as an expert in this field, that it's probably not that big a deal."

Walloch's agency is not the only one coming down hard on ISMHIAT. Others have accused the institute of shortsightedness and even gross negligence for failing to keep on top of such issues.

"The current state of world affairs is completely unacceptable," said Dr. Hyram Klemper, codirector of the Sitting Around and Expecting Others to Take Care of Everything Foundation, which has historically had a contentious relationship with ISMHIAT. "We rely on the institute to keep things together, yet, evidently, this bloated bureaucracy is incapable of fulfilling its mandate from the American people. Now I've had to cancel my Hawaiian golf vacation to return to Washington and address this issue."

Dr. Thomas Dyers, of the National Blame Allocation Council, echoed Klemper's statements, stating that if the ISMHIAT cannot handle its responsibilities, its duties should be turned over to another organization, such as the Federal Fall Guy Bureau, under the supervision of Ed Haversham, the national Scapegoat Czar.
(14 May 2008)
Contributor John Gear quips: "The federal agency in charge of peak oil response"

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