THE DON JONES INDEX…
GAINS POSTED in GREEN
LOSSES POSTED in RED
DOW JONES INDEX: 6/4/21…34,084.15; 5/28/21…34,464.64; 6/27/13…15,000.00)
LESSON for June 4, 2021 – “A LITTLE LITE READING!”
Americans by the milliards are driving over the highways and through the woods to grandmama’s house, to Disney World and, of course, flocking to the nearest beach (except the unlucky wet, freezing souls in the Northeast). Meat and marshmallows on the grill, mellow-able drinks in the cooler and all that is lacking is a good beach book to read.
Have we got one for you, Mister Jones!
“It is worse, much worse, than you think,” states David Wallace-Wells in his late 2018/early 2019 tome “The Uninhabitable Planet”.
Bad enough. And the book, like the climate, gets worse too.
“The slowness of climate change is a fairy tale, perhaps as pernicious as the one that says it isn’t happening at all, and comes to us bundled with several others in an anthology of comforting delusions: that global warming is an Arctic saga, unfolding remotely; that it is strictly a matter of sea level and coastlines, not an enveloping crisis sparing no place and leaving no life un-deformed; that it is a crisis of the “natural” world, not the human one; that those two are distinct, and that we live today somehow outside or beyond or at the very least defended against nature, not circumscribed and literally overwhelmed by it; that wealth can be a shield against the ravages of warming; that the burning of fossil fuels is the price of continued economic growth; that growth, and the technology it produces, will allow us to engineer our way out of environmental disaster; that there is any analogue to the scale or scope of this threat, in the long span of human history, that might give us confidence in staring it down.
“None of this is true.”
Mr. Wallace-Wells is, apparently, not a climatologist, but he has interviewed plenty of these in his aweful book about the awfulness of the human (and the planetary) future. He is a Deputy… formerly for the Paris Review, presently for New York Magazine’s high sheriffs; he is also a fellow who is not only a Fellow but a National Fellow at the New America Foundation, billed as a “distinctive community of thinkers, writers, researchers, technologists, and community activists” (which, assuming said Fellow is only even partially correct, will be a short-lived enterprise… almost as short as Donald Trump’s blog). Well reviewed (See Attachment Three), lauded by a couple of Williams (Vollmann, author of No Immediate Danger, and Gibson, Neuromancer), compared to “The Sixth Extinction”, “Silent Spring” and ”a cross between Stephen King and Stephen Hawking”, “Uninhabitanle” evokes the sort of fearful respect that, owing to its relentless, unmitigated pessimism, is more easily praised than responded to.
The recently concluded Climate Summit initiated by President Joe was a necessary, if feeble, first step towards re-establishing an American presence on the global stage, rudely given the hook by Donald Trump’s withdrawal of the Paris Climate Accords which, as noted in Station Eleven, “Climate Conflict”, the meeting of which would not have been enough to save the world from “bloodshed”… the literal climactic damages as well as the toll from inevitable wars and criminal activities to come as the planet warms. (After a series of computer crashes and possible hacks, we have finally managed to include both Biden’s introduction to the Summit and responses and notes on the contributors as Attachments One and Two.)
How bad is it? (The situation, not the book – although with statements like “not a new normal, but the end of normal… never normal again,” it’s not exactly the fun beach read for summer.
Courtesy of the publisher, the first chapter of “Uninhabitable”… “Cascades” is available online and reprinted below as Attachment Three.
The author posits twelve discrete but interconnected “Elements of Chaos”, each of which shares the common denominator that the worsening of the carbon dioxide toxicity of the planet and a plethora of multiplying factors – all bad (except, perhaps, for the Russians… but only in the short term). Like the twelve Stations of a Cross from which there is no relief and no resurrection, the uber-pessimistic Mr. W-W drags his burden of despair to our doorstep before disappearing into the night.
Humanity faces, it would seem, twelve Stations of dying… as individuals and as a species, and the race to the end is likely to conclude before the end of the twenty-first century (although individual and select geographical catastrophes will manifest long before the last hominid takes its last breath) and Earth becomes rather like Venus. These special deaths dangle on a de-needled Anti-Christmas tree of fear and loathing like so many Satanic ornaments… each dedicated to a special, infernal and eternal concluding shriek. Spin the wheel and place your bets.
These twelve forms of death (the author’s “Elements of Chaos” although there is a logical and intelligent progression, in each case, from the worrisome to the tragic), all prolonged and excruciating as any tortures devised by the Spanish Inquisition, are…
1. Heat Death
The most obvious of the Elements, and one which will soon (if not already) be upon us for another long, hot summer (temperatures in Fargo, North Dakota, reached one hundred degrees this week) – the author notes that an increase of seven degrees centigrade will kill directly, a four degree increase (widely circulated as the best worst-case scenario) will directly kill half the planet’s population by 2100.
Every degree Centigrade cuts grain production by ten percent. With the United Nations predicting population growth to soar to the point where fifty percent more food will be needed by 2050, the actual grain production… let along meat, which requires eight pounds of grain per pound, and other, more climate-sensitive plant foods… will be falling. Moreover, the soil… especially in less affected, even less prone to heat in places like Canada and Russia… is of poor quality. The result is what Mr. W-W refers to as “the Malthusian tragic”, potentiated by well-meaning liberals who oppose and even block potentially useful GMO technologies.
If unchecked by 2100, sea levels raised by Arctic and Antarctic glacier melt will inundate the world’s large coastal cities from New York and Los Angeles to Miami (including both the White House and Mar-a-Lago). A four degree hike will raise sea levels by 260 feet, Such a possibility is comparable to the Biblical Great Flood which, archaeologists have determined, did actually occur about 5,500 BC in the region of the Black Sea,
Citing Joan Didion’s “Slouching Towards Bethlehem” (but, somewhat surprisingly, not Nathaniel West’s “Day of the Locust”, the author enumerates innumerable fires that have raged, particularly in the American West, over the past decade… not to mention the chaos in the Amazon, where Trumptastic dictator Jair Bolsonaro has been busily chopping down the Amazon rainforest, thus perpetuating a vicious cycle: fires kill trees, dead trees release their carbon into the atmosphere, heating it up and enabling more fires to repeat the process.
“Uninhabitable” was published a few weeks before the emergence of the perversely pestiferous Covid plague but, a year earlier, the summer of 2017 produced three major hurricans (in sequence), not to mention smaller (but no less injurious to their victims) catastrophes like floods, fires, storms and landslides. The author notes that researchers are considering adding a new Category Six class of super typhoons which, citing Australian folk-tales, are bundled together as “dreamtime weather”. Atop this add the environmental damage of flooded chemical refineries and earthquake shaken nuclear plants.
6. Freshwater Drain
While the earth is 71% water, only one percent of it is drinkable. Four billion human face chronic shortages – especially in Cape Town, Africa; Sao Paolo, Brazil and Barcelona, Spain. (Not to mention Flint, MI!)
7. Dying Oceans
“Undersea” by Rachel Carson (written 20 years before Silent Spring) was no Disney homage; rather a tale of terror, death and horror as if a new version of the Little Mermaid was directed by Eli Roth of the “Saw” franchise. Since its publication, coral reefs have been dying off and fish are migrating northwards – some schools as 250 miles. See, also, a March New York Times expose entitled “CLIMATE CHANGE IS CAUSING THE GULF STREAM TO WEAKEN”.
8. Unbreathable Air
Are you feeling tired? Do others think you’re stupid. You are and they’re right because mental faculties are far more dependant than the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere (or its lack). The air quality index is measured on a scale – 50 is the old normal, it become dangerous over 300 (which point was reached in recent Western wildfires) and at the time of publication, had been measured at 993 in China, 991 in Delhi, India.
Mild winters and rainy springs bring a bountiful harvest of ticks, fleas and mosquitoes – all of which were the prime disease spreaders before Covid elbowed them aside. Now they’re itching to get back in the race. You’ll be itching too – or worse. A note: Mister W-W entirely missed the present plague, the book was published just as lab researchers in Wuhan were starting to feel not so well.
10. Economic Collapse
We saw a taste of it last year when the stocks slumped and unemployment soared. We may be recovering but the next disaster… most likely climate related… will be even worse. There is going to be a stark trade-off… reduce (or terminate) “fossil capitalism” and pay the economic price, or don’t.
11. Climate Conflict
Those nations that do find their situations worsening may… well, will… attempt to survive at the expense of others, and this may… well, will… lead to war. How much and how destructive are yet to be answered, but it is notable to note that Mr. W-W had no comment on the possibility of a nuclear war winter canceling out a climate induced global warming to felicitous circumstances. Other are probably looking into this.
12. “Systems” (i.e. refugees, migrants, mental health)
Finally, the catch-all for whatever didn’t fit in the first eleven. This may include crime, race riots, political upheavals (for good or ill), a renunciation or embracing of strange religious beliefs – whatever. A coda: the likelihood of UFOs landing and guiding us out of our cage through science and/or wise counsel is unlikely because it is assumed that any interplanetary culture probably experienced the same sort of energy-related mishaps as we are going through and then either learned to mind their own business and forego space travel or else they extincted themselves.
After the Chaos, comes, a somewhat inadequate unnamed, unnumbered swamp of…
As for Don Jones, even a record rebound in employment couldn’t wipe away the stain of debt that threatens to sink America.
As it has for the past few weeks, the Don bounced around a little, settled slightly higher this week… almost the same as two weeks ago. Many of the indices were variable and subjective… housing prices keep rising, gladdening owners, discouraging renters and people who need to move for good reasons or bad. Sales, however, are declining so realtors have that… what’s that buzzword above… “re-entry anxiety”?
THE DON JONES INDEX
CHART of CATEGORIES w/VALUE ADDED to EQUAL BASELINE of 15,000
(REFLECTING… approximately… DOW JONES INDEX of June 27, 2013)
See a further explanation of categories here…
ECONOMIC INDICES (60%)