Are Humans Just Self-Destructive?

Another hurricane is bearing down on the east coast; it’s projected to make landfall in the Carolinas, and to wreak havoc–massive rainfall, flooding–in Virginia and inland.

There are people in Puerto Rico still without power, and the island is still dealing with the aftermath of their hurricane. For that matter, Houston hasn’t completely recovered from Hurricane Harvey.

Only the determinedly ignorant continue to insist that these and other disasters are unrelated to climate change. As we’ve been repeatedly warned by scientists (you know–those elitists who actually know stuff), hurricanes gain strength over the warmer oceans that climate change has produced. Meanwhile, our determinedly ignorant President continues to relax environmental rules; most recently, rules limiting methane emissions.

Vox recently considered the insanity of America’s refusal to face facts. Environmental measures are not only necessary for the planet, they would save money. A lot of money.

$26 trillion by 2030.

That, according to the most authoritative research to date, is the amount of money humanity could save through a global shift to sustainable development.

It’s a lot of money. Before you break your brain trying to imagine it, just pause to make a note that it’s a positive sum (uh, extremelypositive), not negative. Net savings, not costs.

That might come as a surprise since decades of conservative and fossil fuel propaganda have made it conventional wisdom that cleaning up our act is expensive — that it costs more than the status quo. It is the argument hauled out against every single pollution regulation.

As the article points out, that argument has always been overstated, but these days, it’s demonstrably, massively wrong. The costs of fossil fuel extraction and pollution have gotten higher and the costs of clean energy have plunged–making it far less expensive to do the right thing than to continue pandering to uber-wealthy oil and gas interests. (Coal is already effectively dead–killed not by “guvment” regulations, but by the market.)

Arguments about the higher costs of clean energy have been less than honest for quite some time,

But these days, it has gotten almost impossible to make sustainability look like a bad deal.

Two forces are acting as a pincer, making the decision more and more obvious.

First, the future damages of climate change are coming into clearer focus, and, more to the point, the damages have arrived, here in the present, in brutal fashion.

And second, the costs of sustainable technologies and practices (e.g., solar panels) have fallen at a dizzying rate in recent years, especially in the energy sector.

The article (which is lengthy) goes on to provide the data that supports the point, complete with charts, citations to research and quotations from heads of state, including former (real President) Obama. I encourage you to click through and evaluate the evidence.
In my opinion, the article’s single most telling point was this acknowledgment of the central challenge we face.

For all their numbers, models, and charts, it’s the one thing reports like this can never tell us: how to conjure leadership and political will — how to induce business and political leaders to cooperate for mutual long-term benefit in spite of short-term differences.

But that’s just the basic human moral project, isn’t it? It’s the central dilemma of our nature and our history: how to cooperate across tribal lines, how to construct systems that bind and benefit widening circles of people. If we knew how to accelerate that process, we’d probably be doing it! Or rather, we are accelerating the process, as best we can, but it remains frustratingly slow.

Residents and visitors are currently evacuating the Carolinas. As they drive out–bumper to bumper, according to friends caught up in this particular event–we and they might think seriously about a world in which such evacuations become routine, at least until rising sea levels take back those beaches we like to visit.


  1. Sadly, the Carolina’s are deep red on the political spectrum and ignore climate change completely. The billionaires running the show have pummeled the poor in their states.

    And who isn’t fleeing the hurricane in their new cars heading to motels further inland?

    The poor.

    To our current leadership, humans are expendable because it reinforces their belief system of being superior. “The poor and uneducated reproduce a higher rates so storms and gun violence weed out the undesirables.”

    And the “silent majority” idly sit by and allow it. That’s who MLK was addressing.

    Paulo Freire would say that today’s leaders aren’t really leading—they oppress.

    If you are in a position of power, do you use that power to lift up all people or oppress part of the tribe?

    WE is the keyword.

    In today’s oppressive environment of “rugged individualism”, the keyword is “I”.

    Ayn Rand suits the selfish egomaniacs who refuse to see that WE are all connected…including plants, animals, and the planet. They call it an ecosystem for a reason. 😉

  2. While living in the small Florida Gulf Coast towns of Port Richey and New Port Richey; I was well aware of the “Evacuation Route” street and road signs. The few times that area suggested evacuation, I never saw where people were to evacuate to other than the names of a few facilities. No directions or maps of our area and newcomers and tourists were at a loss. New Port Richey Main Street, the primary evacuation route, ended at U.S. 19 a few blocks west of the bridge over the Withlacoochie River. The town leaders decided a beautifying of Main Street would impress the tourists. The 4-lane street to the 4-lan bridge over the river was lined with lovely palm trees and plant; the bridge itself was narrowed to a 2-lame bridge with a beautifully landscaped median in the center and benches on bridge sidewalks on both sides.

    It is not always residents and tourists deciding to “sit it out” that is the problem. And remember before, during and after Katrina and the levee collapses that the decision was made to shut down all bus service in a city where public transportation is the main transportation option. Due to poverty level of the majority of residents, car ownership and maintenance were cost prohibitive. There is still no full count of deaths or diseases caused by the toxic floodwaters in that area.

    I attended an emergency evacuation planning all-day seminar in the 1970s; their plan was to know where all disabled live in this city and arrange for their transportation to shelters. No plan – no thought was given – to evacuating wheelchairs for those who were wheelchair-bound; I asked the Public Safety Director about this and was told they hadn’t considered it. Does Indianapolis have plans for evacuation of anyone for any disaster, natural or man-made?

    “Only the determinedly ignorant continue to insist that these and other disasters are unrelated to climate change.”

    While those in charge sit around arguing against reality; the few who are working to prepare shelters and have first responders prepared to act, climate continues to change, escalated by Global Warming and there will always be those who choose to “sit it out” to watch the incoming storms…believing it will pass them by. Is Trump prepared with a good supply of Bounty paper towels, the “quicker picker upper”, to toss to survivors? Was that cost figured into hurricane rescue efforts as a viable expense?

    In all seriousness; I do hope Marv is battening down all hatches as Jacksonville, FL, is on the target list of Hurricane Florence.



    Speaking in Virginia, home of his Christian Broadcasting Network and in the potential path of the storm, Pat Robertson cited a Bible passage in which Jesus commanded the wind and water on the Sea of Galilee to “be still.”

    Then the preacher said he and his followers could accomplish the same “if we are together with one accord.”

    In a clip posted online by Right Wing Watch, he asked followers to “put a hand out toward the Atlantic” and repeat an incantation.

    “In the name of Jesus, you Hurricane Florence, we speak to you in the name of Jesus, and we command the storm to cease its forward motion and go harmlessly into the Atlantic. Go up north away from land and veer off in the name of Jesus. We declare in the name of the lord that you shall go no farther, you shall do no damage in this area.”

    He also declared a “shield of protection” over the Virginia area in which he was speaking and around “innocent people” in the storm’s path.

    “In Jesus’ holy name, be out to sea!” he called out.

    He warned followers that they must have no doubts in their faith for the ritual to work but added that the “shield” has worked against previous hurricanes.

    “It’s almost hilarious to see them try,” he said. “They (hurricanes) try to get in and they can’t, and then they go north and they turn around, try to come back in. They can’t do it.”

    Rational? VOTE BLUE

  4. The total fools that slowly but surely politicized environmental science should be home from the nearest yardarm. Thanks to their extremely shortsighted and money only oriented points of view we have been when a too slow in coming to grips with the climatic changes we ourselves at foisted upon this planet. This current Administration is in the process of rolling back or chili all the common sense environmental safeguards that every preceding president going back to Richard Nixon pushed in order to preserve our environment. Their performance in Puerto Rico in mitigating the disaster that the fellow American citizens two years ago is way beyond appalling and shows just how out of touch this current government is in safeguarding the lives of American citizens regardless of where they live.

    What we have right now is a perfect storm aimed at to stopping logical and well thought out programming aimed at mitigating what is inevitably going to happen in regard to our coastlines, the availability of fresh water, and the clean air that we can breathe along with all the other creatures of the earth. We must remember that we are part of a massive food chain, not some species that merely looks on and manages everything else.

    The very future of this planet and all the subsequent generations of human beings that inhabit it are at risk while Trump and his incompetent and ill qualified minions do everything they can to protect cash cows, please big donors and big oil, doing so at the expense of the only planet we have. I can’t think of anything, among so many things that are vying for the title right now, of being nonsensical.

  5. JoAnn Green
    “In all seriousness; I do hope Marv is battening down all hatches as Jacksonville, FL, is on the target list of Hurricane Florence.”

    JoAnn, What are your hopes for Mar-A-Lago?

  6. OMG,

    What a terrific combination: Donald Trump and Pat Robertson. I suppose there is nothing left to worry about?

    Nevertheless, I would still strongly suggest, as you have—- VOTE BLUE!

  7. With all due regards, I doubt if Adolph Hitler could have successfully competed against the present U.S. combo of THEOCRACY+FASCISM. Is there any disagreement out there on this point?

  8. When we do things that will increase the world’s average temperature, we are increasing the speed limit for hurricanes.

    About ten years ago, a British Economist (Nicholas Stern) supervised a large-scale study involving the “precautionary principle.” They calculated the costs of dealing with global warming to society’s economy and compared that to the costs associated with letting the climate go wild. The result was that the costs of dealing with it will reduce the world’s GDP by a percent or two, whereas the cost of not doing anything will reduce it by about 20%.

    So much for the economic arguments against curtailing carbon emissions. If you are interested in the report, google on The Stern Report. He also published a book for the general public on the study.

  9. When societies give up trying to solve problems by practical means and embrace religion as their salvation, they always fail, because they stopped thinking about practical solutions.

    – paraphrased from “The Watchman’s Rattle” by Rebecca Costa.

  10. There are plenty of Darwin Awards waiting to be awarded. And a LOT of candidates for them!
    You cannot fix those who are just flat out stupid. “The Aggressively Ignorant will always be with you…” as I paraphrase it…

  11. DECATUR, Ind. (AP) — A Texas company says one of its pipelines has spilled more than 8,000 gallons of jet fuel into a river in the northeastern Indiana city of Decatur.

    Houston-based Buckeye Pipe Line says it immediately shut down the line Friday evening when it detected a pressure problem.

    The fuel spilled into the St. Marys River in Decatur, a community of about 9,500 people roughly 100 miles northeast of Indianapolis.

    Local officials say booms were placed in the river to contain the fuel, which was being vacuumed off the water’s surface.

    Decatur Mayor Kenneth L. Meyer says the cleanup could take weeks.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is monitoring air in neighborhoods and businesses near the river. The EPA said it is also monitoring water quality at several locations downstream.
    As 1.5 Million Flee Hurricane Florence, Worries Grow Over Half Dozen Nuclear Power Plants in Storm’s Path.

    As the Associated Press reported on Monday, “The storm’s potential path also includes half a dozen nuclear power plants, pits holding coal-ash and other industrial waste, and numerous eastern hog farms that store animal waste in massive open-air lagoons.”

    “Even when a plant is not operating, the spent fuel stored on-site, typically uranium, will continue to emit heat and must be cooled using equipment that relies on the plant’s own power,” they wrote. “Flooding can cause a loss of power, and in serious conditions it can damage backup generators. Without a cooling system, reactors can overheat and damage the facility to the point of releasing radioactive material.”
    “Are Humans Just Self-Destructive?” The answer is a rounding, YES!!! Sustainability has never been a strong human motivator. With all consuming Steroid Profit Goal, it becomes far easier to destroy than to conserve. Wild flowers are labeled weeds and are selected against by a barrage of herbicides. Plus there is the applications of pesticides. The balance is upset.

    At one time according to first hand accounts, the skies were cloudy with millions of Passenger Pigeons. Today there is not one that is alive. The American Bison was nearly hunted to extinction.

  12. Monotonous; the one news report I saw about that spill warned people not to smoke or set fires anywhere near the river. The fumes that dangerous should come with a warning and security guards to keep all people but hazardous cleanup workers away from the area.

  13. JoAnn, one news report in stark contrast to all the coverage the Colts receive, everyday. I would expect some meaningless fine to be imposed.

    Our corporate media in general fails to cover all these pipelines rupturing across the country and the aftermath. You are left with the impression that all is well once the spill is “contained”.

  14. From this morning:

    Author Wolfgang Kowalsky,

    “Economists have been pretty silent over the summer. It has probably been too hot to come up with new ideas. Generally speaking, most of them are more passionate about 2% inflation or ½% growth and other economic key figures than about the 2% rise in the Earth’s temperature.

    This summer, wildfires spread all over Europe and the world and not a day passed by without thousands of firefighters battling blazes, with soldiers being dispatched for support against the unprecedented speed and expansion of fires. Many countries offered support and sent experienced firefighters. However, the resources available to respond cannot cope with the multitude of fires burning ever more quickly and expansively over longer periods of time. Choking smoke makes it impossible for people to stay in the neighbourhood.

    When reading the Press, a majority of the reports on the fires send out warnings against being too quick to link the hot summer to climate change. There seems to be a consensus that it might well be a seasonal variation and there has always been extreme weather, as, for instance, in 1540. They nearly all add that much more evidence is needed to have definitive proof of climate change.

    These underlying messages are somewhat disturbing. They are probably right: it is not fake news to say that the final proof will be a burning uninhabitable globe. But is it reasonable to wait for the final proof and to continue to emit CO2 without any incentive for a change of course? There are all-time records of heatwaves in many parts of the world and in particular temperature records during the night. It cannot be overlooked that glaciers and polar ice caps are melting, the sea level is rising, coastal and island regions are flooding, areas of drought expanding. All the facts are on the table. Climatologists warn that these developments might be irreversible.

    The challenge requires a systematic response, by politicians, economists and climatologists – and other key stakeholders. The problem is that this response might fail and the same errors as with the financial crisis which nobody saw coming or predicted. As always there are winners and losers – and many who do not feel concerned and will join the rank and file of climate change deniers. The easiest justification for not caring is to deny climate change and so to exculpate the polluters. Who is ready to leave the comfort zone? It is easier to name those who are unwilling:

    Maritime and air transport has succeeded, thanks to intense lobbying, in being excluded from CO2 targets
    Agro-chemical industry avoids including externalities
    Environmental dumping continues
    Fourth industrial revolution is seen through the lens of growth potential
    Over-exploitation of natural resources and oceans continues, etc. etc.

    All climatologists agree that only by dividing CO2 emissions by factor 4 could the climate catastrophe be stopped. Factor 4 must be reached in 2030, i.e. almost tomorrow. Is this shrinking of CO2 emissions possible without accepting the de-growth paradigm? Digitalisation could be the necessary tool to steer de-growth in an intelligent, fair, social, inclusive, egalitarian, and sustainable manner. A conceptual revolution is necessary, or civilisation will face its demise.

    The next crisis will be climatic and worse than the financial one. The financial markets crisis could be addressed by the responsible actors such as monetary authorities, finance ministers and central banks. There is no such key actor for the approaching climate crisis. Some peripheral action from national authorities has been reported such as drafting emergency plans to deal with heatwaves, to improve fighting of forest fires, to better equip fire brigades, to dispose of more firefighting airplanes – this and much more is necessary but not sufficient, it‘s like a drop of water on a burning planet.

    What is urgently needed is a holistic approach, a vision of how to preserve a sustainable earth, not only for us but for our children and future generations. It is time to step outside of the comfort zone before it is too late. We need an action program not only for the willing but for all the core countries with high CO2 emissions and we need strong leadership to push it through. This necessary and urgent action program will probably demand painful adaptations to the new situation, going through to all levels – global, European, national, regional, local. Who will take the lead?”

    Many more problems than just hurricanes.

  15. After living 28 years in Virginia Beach within one block of the Oceanfront at the Northend, we were accustomed to the annual hurricanes, prepared with generators for the inevitable power loss for weeks at a time. But until last year, 2017, Virginia had no statewide hurricane evacuation plan. Now there’s one in action.

    In 2017, the state rolled out a new system called “Know Your Zone.” It divvies up the region into four zones using detailed map forecasting down to each block in a neighborhood.

    The zones, designated A through D, aim to provide residents a better understanding of what to do based on the nature of the disaster. Avoiding unnecessary evacuation travel will reduce traffic congestion, promote highway safety and lessen overcrowding at storm shelters, state officials say.

    By the way, if I were still living in Virginia Beach, I’d be in Zone A (orange) and under mandatory evacuation orders as per City Manager, Dave Hansen.

  16. After living 28 years in Virginia Beach within one block of the Oceanfront at the Northend, we were accustomed to the annual hurricanes, prepared with generators for the inevitable power loss for weeks at a time. But until last year, 2017, Virginia had no statewide hurricane evacuation plan. Now there’s one in action.

    In 2017, the state rolled out a new system called “Know Your Zone.” It divvies up the region into four zones using detailed map forecasting down to each block in a neighborhood.

    The zones, designated A through D, aim to provide residents a better understanding of what to do based on the nature of the disaster. Avoiding unnecessary evacuation travel will reduce traffic congestion, promote highway safety and lessen overcrowding at storm shelters, state officials say.

    By the way, if I were still living in Virginia Beach, I’d be in Zone A (orange) and under mandatory evacuation orders as per City Manager, Dave Hansen.

  17. Putin pulled off his masterpiece of spy craft.

    We allowed it though. He just took advantage of our collective addiction to entertainment. There has, as far as I know, never been an opportunity for spycraft like we have given him.

    The climate change meter is clicking away the billions and, even though it’s a 40-50 year project to slow it down we have elected to go about it as slowly as possible to slow it down.

    Our collective heads need examining which means that many individual heads do too.

  18. The Republican Party is OWNED by Fossil Fuel folks and Bible Bangers
    Their voters are dumb as sticks – See Trump Base –
    They are manipulated by who the HATE Most in any election cycle
    Just fill in the blanks – the rest is the same –
    Willie Hortorn (Blacks) – A real favorite among Republicans
    Uppity Women
    Uppity Gays
    Uppity Mexicans
    Uppity Tree Huggers
    Uppity Educators (God they hate smart people)
    Then they all vote AGAINST themselves to affirm they hate these other people
    HOW do we deal with STUPID?
    Do be determined – Maybe
    Just not YET

  19. Human beings have been violent from birth. A fair reading and view of the history of human”civilization” does not give me much confidence. We have been able to invent and produce weapons that can destroy the entire planet in a matter of a few minutes!!! Think about that. The fact we have not done it (yet) should not give anyone a false sense of security.

    Add that fact to the “brilliant” Orwellian way the same technology is used by “media” to hide the daily uses of these deadly machinations of war. Each and every day there are human beings being incinerated by a drone or some other device. One MQ-1 Predator cost about 4.03 million dollars each (as of 2015). Each Tomahawk carries a price tag of 1.59 million dollars. This does not include the cost of support systems, personnel, maintenance and other systems such as traditional bomber aircraft and their payloads, helicopters and their payloads , and ground attack aircraft and their payloads.

    In America there is a deafening silence when it comes to our daily expense of all things military. Yet all hell breaks out if a literal fraction of that cost is spoken of within the subject of healthcare, education, green energy, fossil fuel regulations, infrastructure, minimum wage, etc, etc, etc. I have no confidence in the so-called “liberal” side of the American tribe as they (the DNC) intentionally and effectively torpedoed Senator Bernie Sander’s bid to run against the GOP. I find NO integrity in the leadership of the “working people’s” party. They left the working people behind and jumped on the corporate and Wall Street bandwagon decades ago. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s centrist right economic records speaks for themselves.

    Yes, history does not lie (assuming it is written by the losers and not revised: think Zenn’s corrected history…). History shows us the sad and detrimental results of human ego combined with fear and suspicion. I am convinced that our species has not evolved quick enough to keep our reptilian brain in check (Trump rally phenomenons as a poster child). In the 21st century, we STILL see and hear religious extremism in all its ugliness and horror from Paul Ryan type faith to ISIS. It is the same religious “faith” that is giving the green light to drone and IED alike. In this century alone we have seen a born again President lead a “crusade” in the Middle East and another President throw his friend, advisor and Social Justice minister under the bus (and never looked back) during the 2007 primaries.

    Yep, my confidence in humanity getting over its tribal tendencies (much less the leaders) is informed by the historical facts up to the present.

  20. heres the most brazen state law passed, foregive my date,but, wyoming has a very large wind farm. generating power, at the same time, wyoming passed a law that the state of wyoming had to only use its fossil fuel power supply,and outright denied any use of wind power in state, to be used by any enity or person in wyoming.. now thats whatchacall power of the stupid…

  21. Theresa Bowers answers, “Yep.” and Peggy Hannon, “determinedly short sighted.”

    Together both are correct. We humans are self-destructive because we are short-sighted. Especially in the U.S. where we are accustomed to, and demand, instant gratification. We want results NOW, profit THIS quarter and we aren’t going to bother with re-investment any more. We aren’t going to look years out because it won’t effect our lives TODAY. Sadly, I don’t see this changing.

    Kudos to Marv for some superb analysis and comments!

  22. And this just in from the morning Arizona Daily Star here in Tucson:

    The Arizona Corporation Commission (wholly owned by Arizona Public Service through millions in dark money donations to the campaigns of their handpicked commissioners) yesterday voted to allow Tucson Electric Power (and other power companies in Arizona) to pay homeowners with home solar systems less for the excess power generated by their systems and returned to the net (net metering) and to charge solar system owners higher meter fees.

    There are predictions that this new scheme will possibly cause the home solar industry in Arizona to collapse due to making the individual home solar systems uneconomical. Hopefully those predictions won’t be entirely accurate. Arizona, of all places, should be getting as much power and energy from solar as nearly anyplace in the world.

    This is, of course, all about $$$$. TEP and APS aren’t totally anti-solar. What they want to do is continue to control the distribution of power through their existing networks by producing solar through large scale solar fields they control and can charge for. They’re scared sh**less that home owners will eventually be able to disconnect from their net, and they won’t have to pay TEP or APS; meaning less profits.

  23. just a observence here, in a reply to a editor from a site i frequent, i had a objection to a story about those glider trucks… the story was way out there,claiming they polluted 40 times more than the new truck with particle filters,i.e.DEF trucks.. anyway, it wasnt true, and the object was about a industry i have been in since 1974. both as a mechanic,and trucker,,, the fact, theres little in this industry that makes any headway in non polluting vehicles,not because they are not available, they are, the fact, fueling them is the major obstacle . diesel stops are evreywhere, CNG is not.. (compressed natural gas) this is a product,that also,keeps the internals of the engine clean,fewer oil changes,and is alot more friendly to the enviroment. case in point,availabilty.. we have a contract scam in our indusrty,with big trucking companies,its a kickback scheme. when you see sa,a flyingJ of pilot,(both the same corp) thieir fuel is higher than average,and if you belong to a big trucking compnay(corp) or a consortium of buyers,you get a monthly kickback,which is geared to the surcharge on fuel,bought by the trucking company, which is really,a company tax,placed on the charges for the haul,its in the billing, usually 25 cents a gallon,for the computed amont of miles per gallon,and lenth of haul.. all in all, its a scam, and independants like myself,can join those big consortiums,but i refuse to give up my buisness information,and become a statisic for thier scam games. i prefer those mom and pop places,and their usually not screwing you for 2 buck for coke. when corps like flying J/pilot are allowed to buy and sell at the unbelieveable scale they do, they also tend to be able to control the diesel market,like 40% control of it, hense,it also makes sure thier investment in keeping diesel a market demand,and sans the alternatives, now, some have allowed CNG to be sold on site,but, i never see the pumps for CNG ever used,period,,,if we dont have alternatives,please dont pound on us, we just cant make it work, because, like you , we dont have clout,and money,to demand it. besides, i see that CNG container,as a bomb waiting to have a issue..

  24. Sheila, you, Tom, Todd, Marv and Brad have said it all and said it well and I have nothing to add other than to berate myself for constantly looking at the human condition through an economic prism, and thus imitating Wall Street, the FF industry et al. Mea culpa! We are, I hope, much more than ATMs laboring for financiers while destroying our planet, but oops, there I go again with an economic rather than a human analysis of our plight. Bad habits are hard to break. Mea culpa #2.g

  25. Gerald,

    We need your expertise with the ECONOMIC PRISM; This monumental, non-linear, SYSTEMIC PROBLEM we’re all dealing with, needs to be attacked from all sides. For the loss of a better word, the Rand Corporation calls it: SWARMING.

  26. They are just unevolved. Stupid. The finest people I know are the most intelligent. The rudest and most violent, the dumbest. We all know exceptions, but generally speaking people who can think more clearly are more compassionate and considerate.

    Don’t worry. Natural selection may have paused for a few years, but it will be back soon.

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