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Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Just a little bit of history repeating

They say everything has a beginning, a middle and an end, except life is not nearly so simple. The great black meteor that thundered into the lush verdant deciduous forest was all three. The beginning of the time of mammals, the end of the time of reptiles and the mid part of the story of life on the planet we call Earth.

The forest erupted in great billowing gouts of flame. Towers of ash ascended into the air on the wave of impact and the fire derived thermals.

Once in the air the ash travelled far, each so very tiny and light as it floated on the wind. Almost beautiful in a way, the little particles dancing in the air but on mass the tiny particles blocked out the sun.

The great scaled beasts on the ground below weren’t sophisticated like people. They had no wind turbines, no solar panels, no lab grown meat, no tomatoes grown from the CO2 produced brewing beer. They were simple creatures. The plants drew in light and CO2 and that produced oxygen. The herbivores breathed oxygen and ate those plants, crapping out methane. Then the great carnivores ensured the herbivores never ate the last of the plants by predating on their asses. The great big circle of life.

There were problems with this system. Too much oxygen, because the carnivores had a good year say, then fires are a big problem. If the herbivores have a good year maybe they don’t know when to stop and CO2 combines with the methane to create some serious global warming and an explosive atmosphere. It’s a delicate, evolutionary balance.

Then the Earth erupts in flame, venting liquid rock onto the ground’s surface, like a flame thrower on gasoline. The ash rises, doing its little dance, blotting out the sun. The fire spreads with the lava and among the brush. Great trees fall to dust, blotting out the sun. See it wasn’t just one big bang. It was a whole series of environmental explosions.

The ash can stay up there for years, especially when fresh fires keep adding to it. So the ash formed of forest fire, explosive shit, volcanic eruption and great extraterrestrial balls of fire suffocates the earth. Plants die so herbivores die so every great mother fucker that must eat a metric fuck-ton a day dies. And these great beasts that stalk the land become great gas bombs as their flesh rots away, producing gasses until their skin bursts and they deflate like a balloon or a lasagna left too long in the microwave.

Now that’s our call. See the great reptiles have skin made of a natural armour and as it happens over lapping plates may be good for defence but it leaves you susceptible to heat. A mammal can sweat and shiver. A reptile has to take the heat or find a way to cool off. And mammals bring their babies to term inside them then weans them until they can hunt for themselves. The babies are kept safe with their parent or parents until they have the body and the smarts to hack it on their own.
In a world of flame the mammals can scavenge the dead and avoid the fire. They can also adapt and learn. Reptiles hatch as baby predators, they eat what they are told is safe to eat. They may experiment out of desperation but they only pass on what they know if they live to have children. A mother mammal raises her children until they are ready to look after themselves so if time is tough and the children may die anyway, she can experiment and possibly live to teach what she learned from her failed experiments to her next litter.

Mammals adapt.

So they eat the lizards and they ate what they could as the fire spread and remade the Earth without great reptiles and massive forests.

Now here we stand, at another instance of mass extinction caused by climate change and we can either adapt and shut off the damn carbon pollution or we can go the way of the beasts we outlived. There is an off switch to this apocalypse, we just have to have the confidence to push it.

Friday, 13 March 2015

I failed my own challenge

I created the #565ClimateChange Challenge fully intending to spend a week without electric lights and internet. Here is a post I wrote earlier:

A Week Without Internet and Electric Lights


Alexander Gordon Jahans

2 days in and my first instinct is to get an early night, the lack of internet and light leading to a perception that the day is done and I've got jack shit to do, a perception not helped by the fact that my headphones recently broke and I don't want to keep people awake at night. It enforces s behavioural curfew, meaning that I can't listen to audiobooks, I can't watch youtube videos and I can't read cracked articles or trawl facebook. I feel like my ability to use my computer is completely shot. So sleep is the answer.

To counteract against this call for an early night is that on Thursday I am running a D&D session so I need to be fresh for 7pm-to 11pm, plus I am a night owl and screwing up my sleeping pattern by going to bed early would just mean being wired at a time when all I can really do is read.

The next thing I notice is that going to the loo in the dark is terrifying. I mean I am a guy with glasses and nightmares I have been preparing myself for the possibility of going blind or waking up to find my room or the house in darkness. I can feel my way along the halls and navigate the stairs without seeing, even if I still feel a little fear alone in the dark, especially when heading back into the light but in the bathroom? I have never had reason to memorise that shit. Part of me thinks I should now.

Finally there are certain quality of life changes with the lack of internet. See I am autistic, I'm no good socialising instinctually, I have to know this shit like I know Doctor Who or a well read book, which means like anything you know consciously it can slide if you're too stressed or too tired or the cues that are supposed to jog your memory aren't clear so I don't use the phone and a lot of my socialising is done online, through the medium of text. Not having facebook or gmail open makes me feel anxious and alone because in a very real way I am. If the internet shut off tomorrow, well I wouldn't notice I guess but after the week was up I would, I would freak. All my friends gone in an instant because this imaginary construct of electricity no longer functions.

Next there's the entertainment angle. I don't watch tv any more, I don't read books. I watch let'splays and I listen to podcasts. That is my life now. It feels empty without them. TV is too high maintenance let's plays are just chill. With the podcasts though because they are so long I usually get them though Itunes and download them so I have an extensive back catalog of podcasts, that isn't so bad. Youtube though is like how TV used to be. Sure you can pause it and open it in a new tab to watch later but you have to get it while it's on your feed before the next load of shit shovels it away and even if you have a tab, that shit is streamed. Itunes will just download everything and delete after you've watched. Youtube downloads nothing for fear of the copyright gods. A service by the way that protects nobody, if you want to pirate you will find a way. So I have no youtube stash to go over. Kind of a shame.

The streaming phenomenon also affects games. I mean games basically need to be installed on the host hard drive to be played and I have a tiny amount of space in that left so I like that Steam keeps all them games on their servers for me to download onto any computer but right now I got what I installed and that's it.

I am also out of the loop with regards to news because I get everything through the internet. This adds to the feeling of isolation.

The one good thing is that I have the kindle app on my computer so I've been reading, about the only time this is useful but still.

Oh and I watched the Wire series 1, it is awesome. I feel like jack shit happened and it is slow as shit but it was fun and smart. Plus Omar is awesome.

Truth is I already cheated a little, keeping gmail open to keep track of meetups and important correspondents, not trying to shit in the dark, I had already failed before I began, I just intended to not tell you and call victory because I'm petty and climate change is a big fucking deal.

This is why I caved though, not pissing in the dark, not making a sandwich in fridge light alone, not actually reading ebooks out of boredom. I have to fail my goddamned #565ClimateChange challenge, potentially damning thew world, because my entire social life is online and my attempt at getting a social life offline tonight only served to remind me how fucked I am without the internet and as I sat listening to a podcast on innovative ways to open a game of D&D out of boredom I felt the need to cry out "Friends! I miss you! Let's get a game together! 4e or Pathfinder, I don't care, let's just roll some dice!"

For what it's worth, my pathetic cry for discounted I can tell you how the next 3 days would have passed. 
Daytime: Watch The Wire or Buffy 
Night Time: Listen to podcasts while playing minecraft, skyrim or solitaire.
I am very boring.

What I have learned from this very minor sacrifice though is HOLY SHIT WE NEED TO SOLVE CLIMATE CHANGE FAST, I WILL NOT SURVIVE THE POST-2C WORLD!!!

Monday, 9 March 2015

World War E

The storm raged for 40 days and 40 nights, only Noah and his Ark remained to see the new dawn.
Triffids shuffled through the abandoned City of London lashing out with their needles to kill the blind stragglers of the apocalypse.
The zombies overwhelmed the ill equipped troops at the battle of Yonkers.
The Ringwraiths trawled the shire.
Now our world stands on the brink of radical collapse and we choose to ignore the issue.

World War E


Alexander Gordon Jahans

Last year I was freaking out because I had a dissertation defining sharkploitation to write and my parents chose that as the perfect time to announce their separation. I thought life couldn't get any worse.

Now here I sit undergoing a body horror caused by a lack of testosterone my parents are somehow still living together and I feel like the Kingfisher as the world and economy around me seems set to collapse.

Someone once said that the definition of insanity is doing the same shit and expecting things to change but that insanity is change. A spreading fault line leading to a massive eruption of destructive change. I see this everyday, in history podcasts, in gaming journalism, in political journalism, in economic journalism, in climate change, in my family and in my cat Roninomikin Skyweasel.

I love Ronikin, he is very loyal, loving, fluffy and sweet. He also likes to maul my hand.

Everyone finds that hilarious.

I see the faultline spreading with each bite and claw though. I see the restraining bolt on radical destructive change being worn away piece by tiny piece. He serves as a fantastic reminder of the fragility of the world we call normal.

There is a myth that the economy is booming, that the rich are having the time of their lives and so the apocalypse of climate change must come because money is so sweet but here's the secret: Capitalism and materialism is doomed with or without the very real issue of climate change. 

I wrote recently about the need to transfer smoothly into a post scarcity society and if we continue at this rate that is where we are headed. We have virtual reality, 3d printers and enough technology and unemployed people to make use of said technology to undermine the basis of materialistic capitalism. In the old system a book or a tv show had value because materials were used up to make the product and even the very rich had to pay for time since making money was still very much a physical act of labour and production. Now once the costs of production have been accounted for digital products can be distributed at virtually no cost to anyone. I repeat once something is made there are no further costs to selling in practically speaking. So time is money. Except that time spent to create the product is worth so much less as now any out of work idiot with the internet can create something people can enjoy as a piece of media. There is an entire sector of internet users who make money playing video games and talking over them. I for one prefer this to conventionally made media and I don't have to  pay for it because in theory the advertising pays for it. Advertisements to people who choose to watch people play videogames, because that makes sense.

With the approach of the Virtual Reality Revolution Materialism in the real world starts to make less and less sense. So as far as I am concerned there is no doubt that if Climate Change were not a factor and the world could continue as it is money would fast become meaningless and the super rich would be ultimately powerless. There is no version of reality in which the MegaCorps of today can last into the future.

Climate Change is a factor though, it is the shadow we have all seen coming for such a long time and tried so very hard to ignore. Some of my friends even still ignore it, pretending this is not our problem to bare. It shouldn't have been. My parents' generation should have sorted it for us but they procrastinated and passed the buck onto us, a generation so disillusioned that our messiah is a comedian who can't see the point in voting and racists have thus taken control of most of Europe. I say this not as a condemnation but a lamentation.

I don't want this. I don't want to fight for survival on a planet my species fucked up and is continuing to fuck up as we waste our last chance to save human civilisation on making money that will be worthless in both a post-scarcity future and a post-climate-fuck-up world. I have breasts growing on me because of abnormal hormones, my family is disintegrating after decades holding together and my interests are each going through clusterfucks as they entire a new world of awesomeness. I don't want this. I don't want to be this guy. I felt like committing suicide these past few months and that was before I got the climate change wake up call.

We are clusters of cells clinging to the skin of a planet that is whizzing around the sun as the empty expanse of space reaches onto eternity. The chances of alien life existing, even at the lowest estimates are so large as to ask the question "Where are the Aliens?" The answer was feared to be that each succumbs to its own cold war but now I dread that the dead silence of space is a sign that a significant number of alien civilisations reach this point of briefly continuing to have a comfortable existence or surviving climate change and each chose the former.

We have a chance but we need to give our governments the teeth to save us. Renationalise transport, housing, gas, electricity and control imports and exports. We need, as a global entity, to abandon pollution causing practices, no matter how profitable. The survival of the species is at stake. The irony is that the downsizing that is needed in order to survive will keep capitalism and materialism relevant. Switching from high carbon fuel sources to low carbon fuel sources will create jobs and with borders more strictly controlled to limit high polluting air travel industries that were outsourced abroad will make money in each of our countries again. What needs to happen is hard and expensive but it can happen and needs to happen.

Tomorrow I start my week without internet or electric lights as part of my #565ClimateChange challenge 565 being the amount of carbon in gigatons we can afford to pour into the atmosphere before we are irreparably fucked as a global species.

I hope this blog post will serve as sufficient warning and motivation for people to get off their arses and do stuff about climate change. Make a fuss, write petitions, write letters to your local government representatives, make great and moving art, picket fossil fuel corporations, donate to climate change industries. Make some noise and let the world know that we will not lie back and wait for the apocalypse. We will fight it and if we fail at least we can say we tried.

This is a time when many are in denial, thinking somebody else will deal with the problem, well they won't, not unless we make them. This is not somebody else's problem, this is ours. This is not some far off abstract threat that does not concern you. This is a clear and present danger to life and property that you can do something about. Please don't let the apocalypse come because humanity was too lazy to turn off the light.