I discuss how humanity is being forced to adopt an unprecedented defensive posture with respect to nature. 

How will this play out? Can our communities and the way we exist be sustained? Is nature at war with us?

Based on increasingly erratic and dangerous climatic events, which are now threatening entire communities on a regular basis, our current prospects are not encouraging.

This episode was recorded on August 20, 2023 and it was published on August 21, 2023 at 3:33pm EDT.

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Please also see this related episode (Aug 14, 2023): Our Paradigm is Literally Untenable and Hardly Anyone will Admit it

Episode transcript:

Greetings, all. Welcome to Aquarian Diary. I’m your host, John Irving.

It is August 21, 2023. I recorded this on August 20.

I’ll be displaying some graphics and screenshots throughout this episode. If that matters to you, you may prefer to watch this on YouTube.

Of course I have been following many of the alarming environmental crises that are occurring around the world. In my own country of Canada we have the Northwest Territories and the entire province of British Colombia under states of emergency due to unprecedented and out-of-control wildfires.

The city of Kelowna in B.C. and Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories are under evacuation orders.

This year our environmental agency, Environment Canada, issued three times the normal amount of air quality alerts than it normally would in the course of a year, and the year is not even finished. And the amount of area that has been burned this year is off the charts as well.

Anyone who follows the news will have heard about this.

Throughout their lifespan, forests have extracted and captured a lot of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere which they store in their form. When they burn, that carbon is released back into the atmosphere all at once, and it can take many decades for those forests to regenerate.

Another thing that came to light is that in the aftermath of the fires in Hawaii there are very significant concerns about the toxic legacy of all of the materials that were burned, that they will leach into the waters and poison the land.

Of course human beings use a lot of toxic products in construction and in day-to-day life and many of those now pose a threat to the local ecosystems. This is something that makes perfect sense when you think about it, but it’s not something that people had really thought about before. What happens when residential or commercial areas are raised in fire?

It introduces another feedback that we have to think about and that hasn’t really been fully considered before, because in many ways this is also unprecedented.

But what I really want to focus on here today is something that was triggered by an article I read yesterday, August 19th, in a Canadian publication called The Globe and Mail. Unfortunately it’s paywalled, but the concepts it articulates are pretty straightforward (and of course I’ll put links as usual in the episode description).

What this article describes is how some Canadian cities are starting to plan for how they will need buildings and spaces that are equipped to provide people with clean and safe air during such conditions. In other words, there would be places where people can go in these kinds of events when there’s very poor air quality. Not everyone lives in a residence with good air filtration and those kinds of things.

But when I read this, I thought about how more and more people would need to be hunkering down in spaces or shelters that are safe under these kinds of extreme conditions, that are going to be becoming more normal and commonplace. And to me, this is a very telling development.

When I was younger, growing up, nature was a refuge. We were encouraged to go out into nature to rejuvenate, to restore our mental health and well-being. We thought about going to the country to get away from it all. But now it seems like that is being completely reversed.

To me personally, this is one of the most upsetting elements of current trends. It really bothers me that, for example, my son, who is in his 20s, will not be able to experience the same kinds of things I experienced when I was young. To be in pristine natural environments, it wasn’t all that hard to find places where there were no people or very few signs of human activity.

There were also a couple reports in the past few days about additional invasive species that have made their way into the area where I am currently that are threatening, for example, hemlock and spruce trees. Spruce are the dominant tree in many parts of Canada and the United States. They are critically important.

These are just further indicators of how our ecosystems are facing all of these threats simultaneously that just keep multiplying.

So this notion of having protected spaces for the public, like I said, I feel is very telling. I am concerned, and at the same time fairly highly convinced, that these trends portend our future, a dystopic science fiction-like future.

The script is effectively flipping where it appears that nature is turning against us and that we will be going from having kind of an offensive posture towards nature, where we perceived ourselves as the dominant force on the planet, to being in a defensive posture where we have to protect ourselves from all of these feedbacks that are the result of generations of unrelenting attempts by human beings to dominate nature, to force it to submit to our will.

Again, the script seems to be flipping, and I predict that we will be seeing this occur more and more going forward, because all of the data and much that we are observing empirically supports this trend continuing.

People have no idea how hard it is to evacuate a place like Yellowknife. It is extremely isolated and remote. So it’s not just a matter of getting in your car and driving for 30 minutes. It takes many hours to get to the nearest community.

For example, it is a fourteen or fifteen hour drive from Yellowknife, NWT to Edmonton, Alberta, and the population of Yellowknife is, or was, some twenty thousand people, all of whom had to evacuate, and many people had to be airlifted out of that area. It’s not trivial, and this has occurred many times recently in various places.

So these remote or distant areas that are surrounded by a lot of forests in particular are turning out to be dangerous and very costly. Again, this is not trivial at all.

We have to consider how it affects people’s lives, businesses, local hospitals, industry, infrastructure, airports, roads, everything. What will happen if that occurs on a regular basis? It’s already extremely expensive just to live in these remote areas.

Can we extrapolate from this that human beings are going to have to live in more centralized locations that can be protected from these spiraling out-of-control events? That’s what I was thinking when I was reading this article about these cities needing to create safe spaces that are climate-controlled.

And it’s not just the smoke, it’s the heat. The province that I’m in right now, hardly anyone had air conditioning when I was growing up here. It wasn’t even needed in vehicles, it was very uncommon. Now it’s pretty much essential because it gets much hotter than it used to. And this area is relatively cool compared to many other areas like Ontario in the summer, the vast majority of Canadians live.

And of course, the more air conditioning that’s running all the time, the more energy we’re consuming, and in many cases, the more emissions that are generated. So it’s a self-reinforcing feedback loop.

But my larger point really is this shift from nature sustaining us in so many ways. I mean, think about the lumber industry, think about farming, think about the fisheries.

Whereas now we’re moving into an era where nature is going to be dangerous, whether that means extreme weather events, forest fires, floods, droughts, wildfire smoke, hurricanes, sea level rise, ecosystems that are completely unpredictable compared to what they were like in the past, and I think this marks a critical shift in global history.

Of course this isn’t just occurring in Canada, it’s occurring all over the world. Look at the Mediterranean, look at the Persian Gulf, look at India, China, Europe, America, America. South America just had its incredibly hot winter temperatures off the charts where it should be cold.

Humanity needs to completely restructure civilization because it was built on almost a diametrically opposed premise where we controlled nature and now nature is becoming a threat to us in ways that it never was before.

Yes, there have been extreme events in the past, but not nearly on this level. Not constant, unrelenting, extreme events that are occurring around the world almost on a daily basis.

It affects everything from our air quality, and wildfire smoke is toxic, to our food and water supplies. All of these things are essential for our survival.

It may turn out that it is no longer possible for people to live in remote areas or enclaves outside of major urban centers simply because the conditions are going to become too extreme. I’m not saying that’s going to happen in the next few years, but that’s possible in the coming decades.

And that is the point I wanted to make here today, that this shift into what has been termed the Anthropocene, or a new scientifically designated epoch on the planet where the biosphere has been dramatically affected by human activity on a global scale for the first time in recorded history.

So are these early discussions about creating shelters for the public to cope with extreme events? Is that portending, like I said, the future? And I believe it very well could be.

When an entire province the size of British Columbia, and it is huge, some 365,000 square miles, or just under a million square kilometers. Huge! Or the Northwest Territories, which is also huge, about 30% bigger than British Columbia, or even California with Hurricane Hillary.

These are unprecedented, especially because they’re all occurring simultaneously.

Is this the beginning of an epoch where humanity and civilization will be in retreat in a defensive posture, where in effect we are at war with nature, or nature is at war with us? Is this truly the beginning of the Anthropocene, or as some are asserting, the Pyrocene, or the age of fire? If so, that is a major, major change from the status quo that has prevailed for centuries, if not millennia.

And there is a significant percentage of the population that do not even acknowledge that this is a human-caused phenomenon, despite vast and overwhelming amounts of highly credible and at this point virtually irrefutable evidence.

It appears as if it will require very dramatic events to break an almost incomprehensible level of human hubris or arrogance, if not stupidity, which they say you can’t fix.

So that’s what I want to put out there mostly to have on the record.

I know that a lot of what I talk about here is rather gloomy, and I debate that all the time. But this is actually happening in real time, and we’re witnessing it. So we can ignore it, but it isn’t going to go away just because we ignore it.

Given the profound gravity of this situation, it should be at the forefront of our minds and actions, and we should be calling out those who are attempting to thwart us from doing everything we possibly can to mitigate these circumstances, as well as their enablers and sycophants.

I’m going to add a little clarification on a couple technical points that frequently come to my mind to share.

In simplified terms, the Earth’s atmosphere is only 60 miles thick. That’s about 95 kilometers. If your car could drive vertically and you started a journey on the surface of Earth, It would take you one hour to get to the edge of the atmosphere. That’s it. That’s all we have on planet Earth is 60 miles of atmosphere.

So remember that when people say that human beings can’t alter the atmosphere. We have been producing vast amounts of pollution, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, for the past 200 years or so.

On a related matter, I often see people speculate that they feel like there must be more solar activity than normal. That’s not true.

On your screen is a graph from NOAA, or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a very highly regarded American scientific body.

As you can see, there is nothing particularly abnormal about current solar activity.

We measure solar cycles based on the level of sunspot activity and we can measure those quite accurately.

Geomagnetic activity has significant implications for many arenas of human activity from power grids to aviation, so it’s important for us to measure that accurately, which we do.

During its 11-year solar cycle, the Sun’s solar radiation only varies by 0.15%.

Such small short-term changes in solar irradiance are not strong enough to have a long-term influence on the Earth’s climate. So no, it’s not the Sun.

I’ll include a link in the episode description to an FAQ from NASA that addresses this topic in more detail.

Obvious questions like these were long ago considered by scientists and analyzed and evaluated many years ago.

I’ll put links in the episode description to any related content, and if you’re interested in a reading with me, I’ll put a link to that as well.

Many sincere thanks to everyone who supports me, especially my YouTube members.

Thank you very much.

Take care, all the best, and I’ll talk to you again soon.

Bye for now.

END of Transcript.


Please see my “⁠Environment⁠” playlist for other episodes on this topic.

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Episode references:

⁠Cities pondering how to protect against wildfire smoke (paywalled, sorry)⁠

⁠’Crisis situation’: N.W.T. declares territorial state of emergency over wildfires (note title has changed)⁠

⁠’It was 100 years’ worth of firefighting in one night’: West Kelowna chief on wildfire⁠

⁠A state of emergency has been declared in B.C. due to wildfires. Here’s what that means⁠

⁠Hurricane Hilary triggers Southern California’s first tropical storm warning ever, with heavy rain and flash flooding forecast⁠

⁠The toxic aftermath of the Maui fires could last for years⁠

⁠Our Toxic Legacy⁠

⁠Nature Spirits in Distress⁠

⁠Destructive insect makes its way to Halifax area, attacking hemlock trees⁠

⁠Worms that secrete a dangerous paralyzing toxin spreading in Montreal⁠

⁠The climate crisis will make entire cities uninhabitable. It’s time to head underground.⁠

⁠The only way is down: subterranean survival warning⁠

⁠Wildfires’ mounting damage will cloud the economic view for months⁠

⁠Mid-winter temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius in South America leave climatologists in disbelief⁠

⁠Welcome to the ‘Pyrocene,’ an Epoch of Runaway Fire⁠

⁠Solar Cycle Progression – NOAA⁠

⁠FAQ: How Does the Solar Cycle Affect Earth’s Climate?⁠

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