The Last Planet 3 Open Thread

Suggested topic – What online resources do you find most valuable in support of thinking about our common future? Which writers do you follow?


  1. Well, heck. I'd put P3 on the list. But, otherwise, my reading is very granular. But I read Resilience which really aggregates a bunch of stuff, in particular the Archdruid (Michael Greer). I don't link Greer but read him sporadically. He's a bit to cocksure for me though his deep historical knowledge and systems thinking are both hugely deserving of respect and quite thought provoking. But Resilience also links Kurt Cobb at Resource Insights which is pretty much limited to energy and (obviously) resources. I do link Cobb's blog. Probably most here have been to Resilience, but I recommend it. My climate science education, still in its nascent phases and perhaps fated to remain there, comes, in large part, from Steven Carson's blog The Science of Doom. And Carson's career trajectory is simply amazing. From a scientific career at GFDL (NOAA's Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory), he's now a middle school science teacher! Incredible!

    I also do a fair amount of reading of ... denialist?... skeptic?... whatever... sites. I link to Briggs' site despite your loathing of him (his interpretation of the philosophy of probability and statistics is interesting though I often feel it boils down to "statistics can tell us nothing of interest"). I will occasionally spend a few minutes with Steven Goddard (Tony Heller)too. I would like to find someone who would take the time to explain the errors in all of his thousands of graphs showing no problem with ice, no problem with temperature, no problem with sea level, no problem with anomalistic weather events, all GISS/HADCrut/etc. temperature data is manipulated nefariously, etc. but am too embarrassed to admit to reading there to ask (though now the secret is out). Somebody should do it.

    Two sites that provoke much thought for me on a political level as well as a sustainability level are Fabius Maximus, whose authors share my gloomy outlook about the trajectory of the US, and The Automatic Earth. The Automatic Earth is not only compelling and thought provoking, its inclusion of some really wonderful black and white photography from times past amazes me.

    As to books, not so many that relate. Mostly math and physics texts (thermodynamics lately) and junk fiction (Jack Reacher, for example). But the junk fiction does help in its own way, letting me stop thinking about family, work, school, and the fate of the planet.

    I don't read any futurist material either online or in hard copy. I find it quite boring. I will certainly miss this site while it's on its hiatus, and I hope that it really is that rather than gone for good. I believe, Michael, that you're involved in writing a book, and I can only imagine how time-consuming that is. And I feel a modicum of personal responsibility for this site perhaps not achieving the acclaim and stature I feel its mission, if not its actual results should have earned. So, as Dan said, hopefully you'll continue to publish your thoughts regularly in some venue, your input on the web and in our email correspondence has been very helpful.

  2. I don't use the Internets much for thinking about present and future. My most valuable resource is planet3 and affiliated blogs to watch the discourse and some news, but I spend as much time with google plus to find and order books. Yeah, I still prefer to read (and pencil) stuff on paper.

    Currently I study lots of Martin Heidegger whom I regard the most important philosopher for the 21st century. Not his "Sein und Zeit" (Time and Being), but his works after the "turn". Forget "Geworfenheit" (thrownness), try to understand our "Seinsvergessenheit" (forgottenness of Being). He posed the central question of our century already in 1937:

    "Warum schweigt die Erde bei dieser Zerstörung?" (Beiträge zur Philosophie §155)

    Transl.: Why is Earth keeping silent upon this destruction? And his answer is related to his perpetual questioning: "Seinsvergessenheit". Luckily German is my mother tongue, for Heidegger's language play is often not tranlateable.

    So, what I try to understand: Why don't we care about the existential problems of our century? Has technology numbed us? Or our history of metaphysics? It's not so easy. E.g. Buddhist philosophy (shunyata) seems as numbing: Why is Earth silent? Because she is empty...

    Methinks much of philosophy/ethics is rendered superfluous or trivial in light of the climate catastrophe. E.g. the old question: Is there a way from the "Is" to the "Ought"? Well, yeah, stupid, if you regard survival and essential axiom of your thinking...

    I'm meanwhile convinced that nothing serious will get done toward decent survival of Man and Life until we develop a new relationship to the ground below our feet.

    The other author I found most important related to the climate question was Kari Norgaard's "Living in Denial". As long as it socially acceptable to deny elementary facts, enlightenment has a hard time. So, here's what I've been saying for many years, now supported by Norgaard's study: Use the word "bullshit" more often when you encounter bullshit. It is time to shame the flat-earthers out of socially acceptable discourse.

  3. "Use the word 'bullshit' more often when you encounter bullshit. It is time to shame the flat-earthers out of socially acceptable discourse."

    Maybe so, but they have quite a tribe ready to respond in kind (or engage in a first strike), and are (seemingly) more familiar with that strategy. Not saying there's no place for that weapon but it needs to be deployed with precision.

  4. It depends on the social context. E.g. when the audience knows I'm scientifically literate, then one utterance of the B-word suffices. (In German I say: "Schwachsinn" and the criminal talking head I call "Schwachkopf".) -- Telling "complicated" facts instead could actually backfire in some weird psycho-sozio paradox. Usually I just continue with a short tirade and jokes about flat-earthers using GPS or thermodynamic machines like the steam engine or (gasp) an automobile. But then I refuse further discussion of the ridiculous. Because otherwise you would be in their trap: taking them serious.

    What is important for most audiences is not the facts, but the emphatic declaration of bullshit being bullshit, and that We (the serious people) don't tolerate particularly criminal or psychopathic qualities of bullshit.

    But in a science hostile environment, yes: precision. I.e. with some backing by simple facts, if the bullshitter dares fire back. No need to train a whole Gish counter gallop. But try to have 2-3 arguments up the sleave to make the bullshitter look ridiculous. (E.g. I mostly suffice with recommending an experiment: "Take 1ppm of LSD, e.g. 250µg LSD with 250ml H2O. Then come back and we discuss the 400ppm CO2 thing.")

    Apropos writers. Here's a serious philosopher's little book to get used to the word:
    Harry G Frankfurt: On Bullshit, Princeton University Press, 2005

  5. Thanks!

    As far as I can see, there will be no shortage of my stuff on the internet for those that like that sort of thing, and the few regulars and semi-regulars will have no trouble finding me. I'll do my best to leave a crumb trail here.

    But P3 was not intended as mt's blog, and as it emerges to be mt's blog, it would be less trouble and more effective to just go back to blogspot or something equally lightweight.

    My dislike of WordPress is quite severe, and especially given the extra bells and whistles that we bolted on, with Dan moving on to a Real Job, I think the platform here is fragile. That figures into the hiatus.

    I am hoping P3 will come back in a form that is worthy of asking people to fund it. Think about an 18 month time frame.

    P3 looked good at first but this site never rose to the level where I wouldn't feel like an idiot asking for money to support it. I don't feel comfortable asking to be paid to blog for a few dozen readers. If P3 does come back, as I intend, it will be to make another attempt at a seriously professional operation. Moe to follow on this - I'm trying to compose my thoughts for a farewell (au revoir, not adieu) article.

    Meanwhile, I myself am not going away; my obsessions and my moderating style will be visible on a conventional blog platform. I just won't have to jump through so many hoops to get something posted.

    I think I'll just go back to initforthegold,blogspot for most of what I don't post elsewhere. Some people must still have it languishing in their RSS feeds.

  6. Well, we finally closed on the house sale, and I was just getting ready to be more participatory. But honestly, a month went by with only two comments. mt is right to rejigger, particularly if the software is recalcitrant.

    I will, however, try to think of something I'd like to say and go out with a blast, now I have a little time. I think it's time to go from talk to action, mostly. The argument is so stale, and the positions so dug in.

    For example, see:
    What I have Not Been Doing

    Meanwhile, our government has gone to smash, except for the heroic Obama (and that I lived to see that, after the disappointments since the early days, is interesting). We are in a mort of trouble. And Brazil's Dilma Roussef has also done something truly awful.
    Climatologists Balk as Brazil Picks Skeptic for Key Post

  7. Well I really hope MT's thoughts will continue to appear somewhere.

    I'm guessing all the regulars here are familiar with David Roberts (of Grist) and George Monbiot. They often have something bigger in mind that the latest blogosphere dust up.

    Maybe I'm just not looking in the right places, but it feels like the big picture futurism thinking that emerged as a response to climate change has been drying up lately. I worry that society and media has offloaded the responsibility of long term problem solving onto the nebulous collective referred to as "Silicon Valley." See, for example, a recent Eric Holthaus piece at Slate which dings the California High Speed Rail project as expensive and "too late" to address climate change, but offers as alternatives only some hasty references to Electric Buses (which don't do long-haul), efficient airplanes (new airplanes are rapidly approaching their realistic efficiency limits) and self-driving car networks (maybe someday, but in 13 years?).

    It's too bad P3 hasn't really worked out as envisioned; I actually feel a little guilty in that I think I could have made an effort to keep up with the affiliated blogs and contributed more to the community. If there's a downside to having such a high quality commentariat, it's that making a meaningful contribution requires more than just throwing in your two cents following a quick read through.


  8. I am not going away form the internet. I wouldn't know how to do that.

    At present I plan for P3 to come back, but don't bet the farm on that.

    I am still working on a farewell article... it may be a series... so stay tuned.

  9. A little proper head-explodey right-wing nuttery from the UK, for old-time's sake. He's a fellow of the Institute for Economic Affairs, a right-wing, um 'think'-tank. Many absolute gems but my favourite:

    "Suppose that, in 150 years’ time, climate change means the tropics have such frequent storms that almost no-one could live there. Why is that a problem? Almost no-one lives in Antarctica or the Sahara today. Is that a problem? If the tropics became uninhabitable overnight, that might require a significant and rapid movement of peoples. But if the great grandchildren of folk that today live in the tropics live instead in Canada or Russia why is that, per se, an ethical issue? It’s not “worse” living in Canada than in Haiti. It’s merely “different”. (And remember, whilst there might be a debate to be had about the costs of relocating the population of the tropics elsewhere, we are assuming throughout that adaptation is economically superior.)"

    I love how he frames this as an ethics discussion...

  10. Frequent commenter Hank Roberts has been awarded the 2014 Climate Commenter of the Year. As Gavin Schmidt was awarded Blogger of the Year a couple of years ago and Roberts comments here, I hope you will forgive the intrusion for this announcement. Congratulations Mr. Roberts. - See more at:

  11. Frequent commenter Hank Roberts has been awarded the 2014 Climate Commenter of the Year. As Gavin Schmidt was awarded Blogger of the Year a couple of years ago and Roberts comments here, I hope you will forgive the intrusion for this announcement. Congratulations Mr. Roberts. - See more at:

  12. "we are lost in the 21st Century, living in a state of social disaggregation that hardly anyone desired, but that is an emergent property of a world reliant on rising consumption to avert economic collapse, saturated with advertising and framed by market fundamentalism. We inhabit a planet our ancestors would have found impossible to imagine: 7 billion people, suffering an epidemic of loneliness. It is a world of our making but not of our choice."

    I have an article I've been trying to bring to closure for a month, asking the questions about how we bring our world community back from the brink of collapse, with apologies to you all and to mt for the delay, I am still trying to put the questions I have about how we evolve towards survival.

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