The World is on Fire

The world is on fire, both literally and figuratively. It’s May, it used to be that fire season would just be getting underway. But in the month of April two big wildfires started in New Mexico that have now merged and burned 217 square miles so far and with hot, dry and windy conditions the fire is nowhere near contained. Fires have erupted all over the Southwest and Texas very early this year burning over 4400 square miles so far.

The fires have been in part driven by the decades long drought in the Southwest and Nevada. The biggest concern of all is that the dammed sources of drinking water for major cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas are in trouble. Lake Powell water levels are so low that emergency measures have been put into place.

Most distressing of all have been the insane heat waves that have been happening in Pakistan and India who have experienced the hottest March on record and shattering heat records weekly. Delhi faced over a week of temperatures over 104 degrees Fahrenheit for the first time ever recorded. Desert cities in Pakistan have seen temperatures approaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The high humidity accompanying India’s heat wave has made for deadly conditions as well as severely impacting crop yields.

Climate models have been predicting just this sort of thing, and while a single heat wave can’t be specifically linked to climate models. The droughts in North America and Asia, the increases in wildfires are all consistent with climate model predictions. The worst part is that heat waves lead to higher power consumption in places like India with rolling blackouts and record power cuts happening. Given India generates 75% of it’s power with coal, it’s a vicious cycle. The climate induced heat waves, cause higher power consumption which leads to more greenhouse gasses, which leads to more heat waves.

Crop yield losses in India are particularly painful this year with the extreme losses already happening due to the war in Ukraine. The increasing crisis in food production has even caused the UN world food program to cut the size of it’s rations to starving people.

The fires keep coming, the water is running out, the crops are failing and we just keep on shambling.

Welcome to the Shambling Apocalypse

What this blog will be writing about is the apocalypse. We often look at the apocalypse in two very specific ways. First, as something sometime off into the future. Second, we look at it as it occurs in movies and on TV, one day the world is fine, there are a couple of news reports of odd happenings, then boom, all hell breaks loose and everyone is running for their lives.

While that is certainly how the apocalypse could come, in the 1980’s many of us lived daily in fear of just that, some news reports about trouble with the USSR, then boom missiles in the air and everybody heading for a bunker.

The theory of the apocalypse I’ve always thought most realistic is what I call the domino apocalypse. Meaning that something happens, let’s say a pandemic. The pandemic starts to destabilize economies, which leads to political turmoil and something tips off, whether it’s North Korea invading South Korea, or Pakistan nuking India and that starts an initial regional war. And these dominoes just keep toppling, regional war leads to greater economic instability, which leads to further political instability, which leads to refugees, famine and more disease outbreak all while the original pandemic rages on until at some point the world looks nothing like it does now.

However I recently read a really good book by Octavia Butler called, The Parable of the Sower. Without much discussion at all about the downfall of society, her book paints a picture that I could realistically see as California ten to twenty years from now. All of technology hasn’t been wiped out, the rich still can afford airplane flights and live in protected compounds. Not every country is descending into drastic inequality and poverty, but many have. What this very and potentially near future reality made me realize, was that we are already in the apocalypse.

Having fallen prey to the movie version of the apocalypse, while noticing all of the signs around me I still really hadn’t put it together until Octavia Butler’s book hit me over the head with it. You see I have acknowledged that the next generations will likely have a lower standard of living than we or are children have had in life. Natural resource depletion issues are everywhere, fresh water, starvation and the ever elusive concept of peak oil. The Amazon is being cut down, wetlands have been massively eradicated. We’re currently living in a pandemic that has followed on the heels ever several epidemics in Asia and the Middle East, think SARS and MERS.

Then the big hammer, global climate change. The data is undeniable, the signs available for everyone to see. Iceless Summers in the Arctic, record heat, intensification of storms, sea rise, the geographic spread of disease (yellow fever, Zika) and all of the environmental impacts tied to a warming earth. There is even some serious speculation that the North Atlantic conveyor may be on the verge of collapse. This would drop temperatures in England almost ten degrees, meaning a current average high of 48 and low of 41 in the winter would shift to 38 and 31 meaning a lot more snow and ice in the winters.

So it seems to me we are already in the midst of the apocalypse, the dominoes have started to topple, it’s all just happening in slow motion, shambling along like a Zombie in The Walking Dead TV show. So this site will explore it, sort of like a slow motion news report of our society’s demise.