The Light Brigade of Doom

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 22, 2013

Discuss this article at the Doomsteading Table inside the Diner

A while back when we got going with our Podcasts, one of our first Guests to discuss the oncoming DOOM was Guy McPherson of Nature Bats Last. In the Taxonomy of Doom Scenarios, Guy fits under the rubric of what I call “Uber Doom“. Guy projects a high likelihood if not certainty of Near Term Human Extinction inside the next Century. I myself fit under the rubric of “Full Doom“, which projects out a pretty massive knockdown of human population, but not necessarily an Extinction Level Event for this species. The conversations we had with Guy were entertaining and informative, I’ll include them here for folks who have not listened to them as of yet.

The relationship the Diner has with NBL sorta simmered on the Back Burner until recently, when Guy published a couple of my articles on NBL. As a result of that, I found out about technical problems Guy was having with NBL, and offered our help in resolving them, under the theory Doomers should stick together even if they don’t have precisely the same spin on the end game here. Result here is that as of today, there is a New NBL on a New Server, and we hope it works real well for the Uber Doomers on that site.

In publishing my spin on NBL though, in commentary I have already been subject to quite a bit of derision regarding my philosophy and how I am approaching the oncoming problems we face. As opposed to most websites where my views are considered extreme and TOO DOOMERISH, on NBL I am not Doomerish ENOUGH! Rather than answer each and every individual comment that has been made inferring that I am unrealistic, in denial, not conversant with all the issues etc, I thought a better idea would be to write an article looking at the different Attitudes that are extant among people who are aware of the issues we face here. In so doing, I hope to clarify this, and eliminate or at least reduce the number of comments my articles on NBL elicit which are so far off the mark it isn’t funny. Assumptions being made by many of the commenters are entirely wrong, made only because they have their own ideas and spin and have not looked at all at how we approach these issues on the Diner, and now on SUN :icon_sunny:as well. So let me now elucidate the problem as I see it overall.

Once you grasp hold of the many problems we face coming down the pipe here, not the least among them being a Non-Zero likelihood of Near Term Human Extinction, there are a few way you can react to this:

1-Party Like it’s 1999.

Party like it is the End of the World, well, because it IS the End of the World! Nothing can be done about in anyhow, so go out in Style. Of course, if the world does NOT end on your timeline and you spend all your money partying it up BEFORE TEOTW comes, the succeeding years will be more difficult than they otherwise might have been.

2-Starship Hale-Bopp

Queue up for the next Comet passing reasonably near Earth and attempt to Hitch a Ride on the Starship trailing it. Since we don’t have enough decent Spaceships available at a reasonable Ticket Price to make Earth Orbit, you will need to divest yourself of your Corporeal Baggage and try to Thumb them down in Spirit form as they blow by here. This of course was the Heaven’s Gate meme, and who knows maybe it worked?

Heaven’s Gate was an American UFO religion doomsday cult based in San Diego, California, founded in the early 1970s and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1927–1985).[1] On March 26, 1997, police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the group who had committed mass suicide[2] in order to reach what they believed was an alien space craft following the Comet Hale–Bopp, which was then at its brightest.[3]

3- Bemoan it on the Internet

Relieve your frustrations through Daily Posting on a variety of Blogs and Forums dedicated to TEOTW ideas. Complain about the sad state of Homo Sapiens, greed and stupidity while you while away the days, weeks, months or years it takes until the Internet Goes Dark. We do our share of this on the Diner, so I can’t say this is without value. It has a cathartic effect to do some venting on this issue. However, you can overdo a good thing here, and miring yourself in dismal thinking is not real productive overall. BAU Denial

Look at every Fact & Factoid available, and construct a rationale for why it won’t actually happen, then just go on living your normal life convinced you have resolved this issue and the Doomers obsessed with it are Fruit Loops or Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.

5- Take on the CHALLENGE!

Figure if TEOTW is a possibility, challenge yourself to see just how long you can actually keep going! Why be the First to Die here rather than the Last?

I am in the Door #5 Camp, despite the fact in the original Let’s Make a Deal, Monte only had 3 Doors available.

Why pick Door #5?

Well, first and foremost, there is no Absolute Guarantee that we will get complete wipeout. When Toba went Ballistic, 10K Human Souls made it through that one. Second, for the AGW crowd, there is no absolute proof you get runaway warming that does not reverse even with CO2 levels at 1000 ppm, and right now we are only at around 400.

First of all, how much does atmospheric CO2 rise if you add 3000 GtC to the system in a (geologically) short period of time? Zeebe et al. did this calculation and the answer is about 700 ppmv – quite a lot eh? However, that is a perturbation to the Paleocene carbon cycle – which they assume has a base CO2 level of 1000 ppm, and so you only get a 70% increase – i.e. not even a doubling of CO2. And since the forcing that goes along with an increase in CO2 is logarithmic, it is the percent change in CO2 that matters rather than the absolute increase. The radiative forcing associated with that is about 2.6 W/m2. Unfortunately, we don’t (yet) have very good estimates of background CO2 levels in Paleocene. The proxies we do have suggest significantly higher values than today, but they aren’t precise. Levels could have been less than 1000 ppm, or even significantly more.

During the PETM, temps on Earth rose significantly higher than today, and CO2 also despite no Industrialization we know of. Nevertheless, the Earth was able to recover and all life was not extinguished. So there is also a Non-Zero possibility that this time again the Earth recovers; if this is the case all you as HS has to do is figure out means to make it through a few tough millenia to come. When the Going Gets Tough, the Heliopaths* get Going!

(*Heliopath is my terminology for folks involved in the SUN Project. “Following the Path of the SUN” :icon_sunny:)

In terms of some of the other Door Choices, I find it a waste of time to be getting all bent out of shape over whether HS is responsible for this or not. We have always been living on Borrowed Time, another Supervolcanic event or another Large Asteroid Collision is a GUARANTEE inside the next 100K-300K years at the outside. All the geological signs I see point to a near term GW effect regardless of what HS did or does in the future. The Yellowstone Caldera IS filling with magma, and the earthquake swarms there ARE on the increase. All you need to do to see how much geotectonic activity is increasing is go review the charts produced by DLindquist:

So we were going to face this stuff down sooner or later no matter what Homo Sapiens did during our existence on Earth. Life here was always a temporary thing, just as your own corporeal existence is a temporary thing.

So, in essence I consider myself a fortunate man, I got to be alive at the CUSP of what is likely to be either an ELE or a VERY serious Bottleneck of Population on the order of the Toba Cataclysm 75,000 years ago. If 10,000 Human Souls could make it through that one, it can be DONE AGAIN. I have a challenge before me only one other generation in the last 75,000 years of human history ever faced before. That is not just the challenge of a Lifetime, it is the challenge of MILLENIA of Lifetimes.

The Toba eruption or Toba event occurred at the present location of Lake Toba about 73,000±4,000 years[6][7] ago. This eruption was the last of the three major eruptions of Toba in the last 1 million years.[8] It had an estimated Volcanic Explosivity Index of 8 (described as “mega-colossal”), or magnitude ≥ M8; it made a sizable contribution to the 100X30 km caldera complex.[9]Dense-rock equivalent (DRE) estimates of eruptive volume for the eruption vary between 2,000 km3 and 3,000 km3 – the most common DRE estimate is 2,800 km3 (about 7×1015 kg) of erupted magma, of which 800 km3 was deposited as ash fall.[10] Its erupted mass was 100 times greater than that of the largest volcanic eruption in recent history, the 1815 eruption of Mount Tambora in Indonesia, which caused the 1816 “Year Without a Summer” in the northern hemisphere.[11]

The Toba eruption took place in Indonesia and deposited an ash layer approximately 15 centimetres thick over the whole of South Asia. A blanket of volcanic ash was also deposited over the Indian Ocean, and the Arabian and South China Sea.[12] Deep-sea cores retrieved from the South China Sea have extended the known reach of the eruption, suggesting that the 2,800 km3 calculation of the erupted mass is a minimum value or an underestimate.[13]

…The Toba eruption has been linked to a genetic bottleneck in human evolution about 50,000 years ago,[28][29] which may have resulted from a severe reduction in the size of the total human population due to the effects of the eruption on the global climate.[30]

According to the genetic bottleneck theory, between 50,000 and 100,000 years ago, human populations sharply decreased to 3,000–10,000 surviving individuals.[31][32] It is supported by genetic evidence suggesting that today’s humans are descended from a very small population of between 1,000 to 10,000 breeding pairs that existed about 70,000 years ago.[33]


I consider it a challenge before the whole human race
And I ain’t gonna lose. -Freddie Mercury

Not if you Party like its 1999 will you be there after the Zero Point though. Not if you Hitch a Ride on Hale-Bopp will you be either. Nor will it do you a whole heck of a lot of good to just bemoan the TEOTW on the Doomstead Diner or Nature Bats Last or Deny what is coming and live life BAU EITHER!

brigade460x276Your ONLY chance (which may be very small, but still Non-Zero) is to TAKE ON THE CHALLENGE! What’s the worst that can happen? You fail and die, but that would have happened anyhow, so not a downside risk in this case.

For those of us involved in the SUN Project :icon_sunny:, we will not go down without a fight. We will NOT GIVE UP. We will not QUIT until the Fat Lady Sings. The very WORST that happens is we Die With Honor, doing what is right. BEST case, we are the 10,000 who make it through the Zero Point, as another group of Homo Sapiens did 75,000 years ago when things looked REALLY BAD and the Skies Went Dark. We Ride into the Valley of Death Unafraid. We are the Light Brigade of Doom.

I leave you today with the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The Charge of the Light Brigade


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
“Forward, the Light Brigade!
“Charge for the guns!” he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


“Forward, the Light Brigade!”
Was there a man dismay’d?
Not tho’ the soldier knew
Someone had blunder’d:
Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.


Flash’d all their sabres bare,
Flash’d as they turn’d in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder’d:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro’ the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel’d from the sabre stroke
Shatter’d and sunder’d.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley’d and thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro’ the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.


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