Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Finding the Greater Fool — The Elite Logic Behind "Going Over the Climate Cliff"


The "Seneca Cliff" is the point at which a system that grew large slowly, starts to collapse rapidly. This is the way the 1929 stock market and 2008 banking assets collapsed (image source). Any complex system can go over the Seneca Cliff, says climate scientist Ugo Bardi. (Can you guess why he's studying it?)

by Gaius Publius

I won't belabor this here, since I have a longer piece in draft that makes the same point much more directly. But the basic idea is this: Climate people — activists, scientists, concerned citizens, "woke" politicians — think that the elite drive to march human civilization over the climate cliff is, to put it frankly, "nuts." Irrational. Or "insufficiently self-interested," to put it much too mildly.

I've begun to think differently though. I've begun to think that elites who are driving us over the cliff are not at all irrational. Someone who's had that same thought as well is climate scientist Ugo Bardi, who offers a lay person's view of much of his current work at The Seneca Effect.

Bardi's goal is to study, in his words, "why complex systems fail," and further, why they often fail rapidly. For more about Bardi's work on rapid system collapse, see "The Seneca Effect: Why decline is faster than growth." It explains phenomena like those detailed here — as well as what might soon happen to Uber (see "Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Ten: The Uber Death Watch Begins"). The Seneca Effect is named after the Roman philosopher Seneca, who wrote that "increases are of sluggish growth, but the way to ruin is rapid."

The Maldive Islands and Climate Change

Now to my own point. In a recent post, Dr. Bardi looked at the Maldive Islands, one of the most seriously threatened inhabited places in the world when it comes to climate change. According to the IPCC, 75% of the Maldive Islands could be under water by 2100.

Yet here's what the rulers of the Maldives plan to do — stimulate development:

Full Guardian article here. Boggles the mind, doesn't it?

Actually it doesn't. Dr. Bardi:
Is this an epidemics of brain disease? Or do the Gods really drive crazy those whom they want to destroy?

Maybe. But there is also a perfectly rational explanation for what's happening. Imagine that you are part of the elite of the Maldives. And imagine that you are smart enough to understand what's going on with the Earth's climate. As things stand today, it is clear that it is too late to stop a burst of global warming that will push temperatures so high that nothing will save the Maldives islands. Maybe not next year but in a few decades, it is nearly certain.

So, given the situation, what is the rational thing for you to do? Of course, it is to sell what you can sell as long as you can find a sucker who will buy. Then you can say good riddance to those who remain.
In the case of the Maldives, Dr. Bardi concludes (emphasis mine): "What we are seeing, therefore, is a game in which someone will be left holding the short end of the dynamite stick. When the elites of the Maldives will have left for higher grounds, the poor will be stuck there. For them, the Seneca Cliff ends underwater."

This is a developer's dream — own something worthless, enhance it enough to sell at a much higher price, then leave. "Then you can say good riddance to those who remain."

Can you guess where this logic leads us with respect to the planet? Not interstellar travel for the elites, but something else. If you still haven't figured out what "then leave" means for them, stay tuned.


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At 10:09 AM, Blogger Linda Levee Samuels said...

Sounds like my condo HOA.

At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Hone said...

Sounds like Florida, too. They keep building and people keep buying. The whole state is around 13 feet above sea level.

It is called denial.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger Ten Bears said...

It would seem the extra-terrestrials inhabiting the dark side of the moon have, rather scaring us all off for all time, instead been co-opted into preparing Luna, which is of course hollow, as an escape refuge for the elite and when the shit really hits the fan - really hits the fan, really, really hits the fan - thousands will come floating down out of the sky on flying rainbow unicorns to carry them all away to paradise. Oh, wait...

I have tried to express this sentiment as "the point of statistical saturation"; the implosion, if you will, the inevitable collapse of a hollowed out structure. Like climate change it has been a long slow build. While literally no idea what will happen, it will happen very quickly, and will no doubt be very ugly.

At 12:20 PM, Blogger QAdams said...

Excellent article, GP. Spot on. This is the way civilization works, the way humans are programmed: maximize short-term gain and let the rest take care of itself.

At 4:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope such people DO try to end up on Mars. Then I hope their incompetence catches up with them. Most of them aren't smart enough to wok out how to survive no matter how many times they watch The Martian or Robinson Crusoe On Mars [trailer. The movie appears to be in at least 13 parts]

I hope someone decides to restream their plaintive wails for assistance. I'm just that cruel to enjoy the pain of those who love inflicting it.

At 5:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the case of the Maldives, they are utterly impotent to affect change, so why not try to sell their future reefs to sub sentient americans who may have some dollars.

The rich plan to build their dikes out of the bones of those they will kill by denial of health care, food, water and homes. If not enough bones, they'll just start killing the nonwhites indiscriminately. If still not enough... Read Niemoller's quote to get the idea.

Their gawd will tell their clergy that this is what he wants.

At 12:09 AM, Blogger Ugo Bardi said...

The same concept expressed in narrative form:



At 5:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

GP: please, the list (short, I presume) of your certified, "climate-woke" US congress members.

John Puma

At 1:18 PM, Blogger Gaius Publius said...

GP: please, the list (short, I presume) of your certified, "climate-woke" US congress members.

I'm on writing deadline now, so not a ton of time to answer. But there are a few.

On the senate side, Whitehouse (who is bad on several things) is excellent on climate, as is Merkley. Certainly Sanders. Likely a few others who really do get it, as opposed to those who just mouthe the words.

On the House side, I had a good conversation with Ellison about this. I'm told by Howie that Ted Lieu really does see the light on this. Again, I'm sure there are others, though maybe not in great numbers.



At 2:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. a REALLY short list.

Perhaps they all realize, as I do, that it's already too late.

And, like those Maldivians, maybe the majority are going to plow that furrow for everything they can until we're all goners.

At 3:23 PM, Blogger Okasis said...

Talk with the Hawaiian Reps and Senators. As Islanders, our State 'gets' the problem - Unlike Florida, we are trying to at least slow the stuff down - altho all the Military Bases and Practice Artillery barrages, and Jet over-flights, blah, blah, blah Do NOT Help!

At 10:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is exactly the choice exxon/tillerson is supposed to have made ? Their research in the 1970s showed climate change was real, so they decided to go for broke and grab as much as possible before the dam broke ?

At 9:48 PM, Blogger Singingway said...

So what is your idea of what the elite plan to do for the "then leave" stage of their logical plan?


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