Brightest before the Dark

Whilst watching a video over at Cluttercut about James Lovelock and his latest book, The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning, one of the phrases he used struck a strong chord with me.

“Gaia is shining brightest before the dark”. Now usually the saying is “It is always darkest before dawn”, but the modification works for me. He went on to explain that the planetary systems were presenting massive extreames of hot and cold across the globe and this was a sign of a system ready to collapse. Let me demonstrate by expanding upon this and showing some example from the press today.

We (humans) are currently the most populous mammal on the planet Earth, and we use more planetary resources than any other living creature. We generate the most pollution on land, sea and air. We are also destroying habitat for all other species (except maybe pigeons and cockroaches) and causing their mass extrinction. We are shining as a race and can live in the most inhospitable places on the planet. Hell, we even live in space and have visited the Moon a few times. No other species has achieved what we have, and by the sounds of James Lovelock’s latest book, no-one will again. He has already written off our ability to bring climate change under control and reverse the effect, and is predicting a mass extinction, not of other species, but of mankind. We are talking about billions of people in the next 90 years. He predicts that only about 500 million of us will survive by clinging to the near polar regions. So much for a story of hope, but then James has only ever been a realist and calls it how it is.

I am not saying that I subscribe to his way of thinking, because I believe there is always hope and that strong action, at least locally will help communities to survive. However, when I picked a few random articles from the newspaper today to try and counter argue James Lovelocks theory of mass extinction, and that we can make the necessary changes to present human behaviours for the betterment of Gaia, I couldn’t find any. This is why.

Subterranean bugs that break down coal could change mining
This story describes a discovery that ancient bacteria could be used to change coal deposits into methane for human use. I have a fear that if we unleash this technology, it could start a runaway process that would release climate killing amounts of methane into the atmosphere and push us past the point of no return. Just a thought.

This is not the climate for selfishness
Ed Miliband, British Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change talks about national sacrifice at the Copenhagen Climate talks in December. Why do I think this will not solve the climate crisis? The talk should have ended long ago. We knew about global warming in the 1950’s and have chosen to ignore the issue. Also, in all of human history, we have never, ever gained binding agreement and taken action against a comon threat this big. What makes us think we will succeed this time around, with all the vested interests opposing real climate action for the sake of short term profits.

Hall’s career over?
This has been massive news here in Victoria. A footballer who likes to have a fight on the field. Who cares! It reminds me of the bread and circuses the Emperor used to throw daily just before the downfall of the Roman Empire. Keep the punters distracted and they will never learn nor care about the truth. Same goes for this story, but in a modern setting.

Solar power faces early sunset in Australia

Support for the solar industry from the Federal government has been sending mixed messages to industry and the general public, with two early terminations of solar rebates, both replaced with a dud scheme funded by industry that will distort the next renewable energy target. Other countries are screaming ahead of the country with the most sunshine. One would think we would make clean energy our number one priority, especially that our climate is heating up and we eagerly rush out and buy another airconditioner to cool ourselves down with coal fired electricity. The ultimate irony if I ever saw it.

Gunns finds partner for controversial mill
Letting corporations like Gunns all over the world cut down our old growth forests just so that the human race can wipe their arses with soft toilet paper. This is the strongest evidence of why James Lovelock may be right! We are cutting off our noses to spite our faces.

I see the truth before us, do you? What do you think of his rationale?


  1. says

    Hi Gavin – I can’t help but think that Lovelock is right, that we have long since passed balance, and that humanity is set for a massive reduction in numbers. It’s pretty grim to think about.

    Lovelock doesn’t mention petroleum in his interview, but I think, over the coming decades, we’re going to realise just how dependent we are on the stuff, and it is going to be pretty rough as we do so.

    I wish so much I could offer a better future to my two young kids, but all I can do is try to make amends as best as I can. That’s all any of us can do :-)

  2. says

    I’m not quite as cynical as Lovelock, but the man has a lot of good points. What bugs me so much is that we have all the technology we need to fix the problem right now – it’s just the lack of will to apply it that’s holding us back.

    So I take Lovelock in small doses, and keep trying to find the bright spots too. Some days it’s harder than others, though…

  3. says

    I also watched the video Gavin and I have to say it made me feel completely helpless. I have spent the afternoon wondering if what I and others are doing will have any effect. Is it worth the trouble. I know I will get up tomorrow and set my shoulder to the wheeel again and the way I am feeling will pass (I hope). I just wish to God that those who have the power would take the shit out of their eyes and see what is happening. Sorry if this sounds despondent, I don’t want to be, but when a man with his credentials speaks up you have to take notice.

    And what I really don’t get is that he is going on a space trip. Duh. What’s the man thinking of.


  4. says

    I haven’t read the book yet, and I’m not sure I want to. I don’t need to be convinced. Heck, I’m not any kind of scientist, just an aware critical thinker and I have thought that the human race is in for a severe “downward correction” on population growth for a long time. 90 years is a shorter time span than I thought, however, I was thinking more like 200 to 300.
    Since I am already convinced, and since I have children, what can I do? Good lord, if I could go back in time 15 years, I wouldn’t have children. It’s terrifying thinking of the things they may face if Mr. Lovelock’s timeline is correct. Wars over the last fresh water resources on the planet, massive migrations and millions of refugees, famine, etc. Luckily, I live in an area with relatively abundant water resources and a mild, temperate climate. I have used my material resources (while they are still worth something!) to buy land and start learning skills like producing our own food and fuel. That’s about all I can think of. Maybe I should buy in the circumpolar region.

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