Global Catastrophe in 40 years (111)

Four references are important for this page, two DVDs and three books:

  1. Book - “The Meaning of the 21st Century” by James Martin
  2. Book - “The Rough Guide to Climate Change” by NASA scientist Robert Henson
  3. Book - “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.
  4. DVD - “Six Degrees - could change the world” - by National Geographic
  5. DVD - “The Age of Stupid” - by Spanner films starring Peter Postlethwaite.

Two Books are not important but you may feel inclined to read them:

    A. “An appeal to reason - a cool look at Global Warming” by Nigel Lawson

    B. “The Skeptical Enviromentalist” by Bjorn Lomborg


We can easily be misled by one sided arguments. We take risks when we claim something is happening because of one event because “one swallow does not a summer make” and we also take risks when we draw conclusion from enormously complex mathematical and computer models which may have errors.


Please read the referenced book above by James Martin called, “The Meaning of the 21st Century”.  In the book he issues warnings about the future. He is a British engineer, scientist and analyst. He successfully predicted the internet and the mobile phone and was employed by the US Defence Department and IBM. So successful was this entrepreneur that he made enough to acquire his own island in Bermuda and donate £150M to Oxford University to create The James Martin 21st Century School. This links institutions and academics to find solutions to the problems facing our planet in the next 50 years or so and uncover opportunities.
An analysis by Norman Myers showed that 75% of the world’s most threatened mammals, birds and amphibians occupied just 2.3% of the planet’s surface. In response to this and since politicians would do nothing, The MacArthur Foundation and The Gordon Moore Foundation provided $850 million to preserve these biodiversity hot spots.
James Martin’s analysis identifies sixteen ‘mega-problems’ that will create a perfect storm by 2050. They are: Global warming; population growth; water shortages; destruction of life in the oceans; mass famine; the spread of deserts; pandemic disease; extreme poverty; the growth of shanty ‘cities’ around major cities; unstoppable global migrations; non-government organisations with extreme weapons; violent religious extremism; runaway computer intelligence; civilisation ending wars; threats to human existence;  a new dark age.
His predictions in the book are dire and he uses the analogy of our earth being like a boat heading happily along a river. A canyon lies almost immediately ahead and the ride will become much rougher as we enter the rapids for forty years approaching a bottleneck in the canyon and the consequent perfect storm.
 James Martin is clearly no tree-hugging impoverished survivor of the hippie era, but the following sentences are just some of his wise words as to what politicians must do to avoid the destructive power of the ‘perfect storm’. “The causes of hunger, despair and extreme poverty need to be removed”, “We must no longer fight nature”, “We live on a small planet, we must make its institutions and codes of behaviour robust”, “Many of the problems of the canyon should be dealt with before the severe tensions of the canyon build up”, “We are largely ignoring the factors leading to climate change”.
For those interested in his wisdom please see the web-site “www.jamesmartin.com” and “www.oxfordmartin.ox.ac.uk”
Only ecological and people focussed governments, informed by science, not using political spin, protecting the natural world, can save the diversity of life on earth and perhaps even the human race.  We cannot depend on the altruism of a few kind hearted rich people. The 2011 May elections offer an opportunity to begin the process of change to a sustainable future. You and your children may only have 40 years left. We need to see through green-wash and adopt true Green ethics.


Robert Henson’s book takes a balanced scientific view of global warming. It is better to read this than Nigel Lawson’s (not recommended reference A). A balanced scientific view means that one accepts, for instance, that the Greenland ice cap had been observed rising, (used incorrectly by some skeptics like Nigel Lawson to ‘prove’ global warming was not occurring) and also accepts that the ice sheet is melting and glaciers retreating in Greenland,(used correctly to show global warming is happening without identifying the reason by the non-skeptical). Having accepted the two measurements as true, one then searches for the cause and perhaps finds that the evaporation of the melting glacier at the coast of Greenland is crossing to the interior and falling as snow to cause a rise (albeit temporary), in the height of the cap in the centre of Greenland. The book has four parts, the basics of global warming science, the symptoms which illustrate it is happening, the deeper science and finally the debates and solutions.


Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book describes how our lives can be largely governed by the unexpected. The title comes from the concept that everyone thought all swans were white, until Australia was discovered, where black swans had evolved. He illustrates this with examples such as a couple of economists who won the Nobel prize for economics with a theory based largely on detailed analysis of the what is called the Gaussian bell curve, as the statistical basis of their theory. They had their own investment company and a year after their Noel prize was awarded their company crashed nearly bringing the new York stock exchange down with it, in one of the biggest losses ever at the time. Enlightenment as Buddha experienced and evolutionary mutation that confers natural advantage are both Black Swans.

Where I would disagree with Nassim Taleb, is in Buddha’ observation that ‘there are gods but there are no gods’. It is difficult to understand why Jews have been so good at the arts, science, economics, (although at least one of the Nobel prize winners above was Jewish), without there being some external influence on who is the exception who can capture the Black Swan effect and profit from it. As described elsewhere on the site, my belief is that this is due to a combination of inhibition of rivals by the chemistry of various churches, (varying in each one), which try to prevent observations of nature, the universe etc, that are true from being perceived by their attendees, and the ‘whore of Babylon’ effect, where the whore is framed as the trader in souls while the church declares that “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” which amounts to the same thing as the whore, of taking ‘souls’ from their owners. What is a soul? I don’t know, perhaps it is a centre of our beings where our capability to reason, analyse and be creative is born and nurtured through life, unless we are ‘de-cored’ by something. however, the book is a great introduction to the idea of being aware that other things you probably do not as yet believe happen, actually can and will.

In terms of the subject of this page, you may be inclined to believe such massive detrimental changes cannot so quickly. this book may help you change your mind to accept that what you consider improbable may yet happen. If you accepted a massive earthquake and resultant tsunami could occur off the Japanese coast as occurred in 2011, would you live there?


This DVD is produced by the respected scientific organisation National Geographic. It illustrates what could happen if we do not mitigate the risks of global warming. Like the Black Swan described above, we cannot as yet know what runaway effects may carry the world to destruction of most life forms. One warning I can give is that government economists are planning on adaptation to climate change with a little mitigation, this effectively means they will allow the situation to develop but encourage an economy which is robust enough and based on non-dependance on aspects of nature which are vulnerable to global warming. Of course, nature cannot adapt quickly in general because the mutations or behavioural changes occur randomly over centuries or millenia. Adaptation means global warming will only be reduced so, for instance, countries like Bangladesh will remain at risk and millions will face flooding of their lands.


The “Age of Stupid” takes a look around the world and some events that have occurred in the last decade 2000 to 2010. The perspective is of the last man left alive in 2050, the actor recently deceased Peter Postlethwaite plays the role, who makes a final broadcast to outer space from a huge concrete edifice, an archive of life that existed on earth. probably not what will actually happen but since many species will become extinct and the likelihood is many people will die prematurely the question is simply one of scale.


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