Commentary

3/6/2019: Unacceptable Options

In the fictional treatment of the Timelines model in the Simulated News blog, I began with a range of possible options for avoiding the "imminent extinction" that the model's most accurate projection indicates for humanity and most other species. Those options narrowed to perhaps the most controversial (and therefore least likely) strategy: reducing ecological impact by controlling population and consumption so that natural processes involving other species might recover and repair much of the damage humanity has done to ecosystems - including disturbance of the climate. That strategy is embodied in a "hope chart" (below) which shows how resources might change over time if the strategy is executed.

The best case result is shown in black, where the effects of global warming and other ecological damage are stopped (green). Unaffected and growing damage is defined by the set of alternatives shown in red, which would drive us to extinction even if we did reduce our own impact. The most likely scenario, not shown, is an increase in total human consumption, leading to our extinction by late calendar year 2037.

As I develop vicarious experience in "a world like ours" that is confronting the full impact of the threat, I am disturbed to the point of extreme disgust by the comparative inaction and woeful lack of commitment in our real world. The most modest proposals are treated as extreme by far too many people who value short-term personal gain more than the survival of their species. I've introduced some fictional representatives of those folks in my imaginary world, and am dutifully exploring their viewpoints (as a thought experiment based on observation) along with counter-arguments by others who must ultimately prevail.

Several of the latest modifications to the Timelines model have been inspired by imagining how people and machines smarter than me would deal with resistance like that found in discourse about the real extinction threat. The answers come from a subconscious source along with the results of those modifications, done on the fly based on ideas I'm often barely aware of. The use of randomized data instead of statistical distributions evolved from a need to simulate how parts of the world's population (like nations) would need to interact so a global strategy could be implemented.

This resulted in the discovery, yet to be confirmed in reality, that parts of a population can be in what I've called "collapse" - equivalent to what Timeline 2 shows for the world after peak population - while the rest are approaching that stage with varying degrees of speed. Understanding and projection of the dynamics of a real world response to imminent total collapse would need to account for how people in all possible stages might act as conditions change, as well as how they might change their conditions. I have a pretty good idea where to start.


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