.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Future Imperative

What if technology were being developed that could enhance your mind or body to extraordinary or even superhuman levels -- and some of these tools were already here? Wouldn't you be curious?

Actually, some are here. But human enhancement is an incredibly broad and compartmentalized field. We’re often unaware of what’s right next door. This site reviews resources and ideas from across the field and makes it easy for readers to find exactly the information they're most interested in.


The future is coming fast, and it's no longer possible to ignore how rapidly the world is changing. As the old order changes -- or more frequently crumbles altogether -- I offer a perspective on how we can transform ourselves in turn... for the better. Nothing on this site is intended as legal, financial or medical advice. Indeed, much of what I discuss amounts to possibilities rather than certainties, in an ever-changing present and an ever-uncertain future.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Greenland Icecap Collapsing at Accelerating Rate

Relax, it's worse than you think. Much worse.

As this piece in the Guardian notes:

The Greenland ice cap is melting so quickly that it is triggering earthquakes as pieces of ice several cubic kilometres in size break off.

Yes, this is the land-based Greenland icecap, which contains enough water to raise sea levels worldwide by over 20 feet.

Robert Correll, the chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, states, "We have seen a massive acceleration of the speed with which these glaciers are moving into the sea. The ice is moving at two metres an hour on a front 5km [3 miles] long and 1,500 metres deep."

But again, it's worse than you think.

Professor Correll also commented that he had, "seen gigantic holes in it through which swirling masses of melt water were falling. I first looked at this glacier in the 1960s and there were no holes. These so-called moulins, 10 to 15 metres across, have opened up all over the place. There are hundreds of them."

The article continues:

He said ice-penetrating radar showed that this melt water was pouring through to the bottom of the glacier creating a lake 500 metres deep which was causing the glacier "to float on land. These melt-water rivers are lubricating the glacier, like applying oil to a surface and causing it to slide into the sea. It is causing a massive acceleration which could be catastrophic."

But again, it's worse than you think.

The glacier is now moving at 15km a year into the sea although in surges it moves even faster. He measured one surge at 5km in 90 minutes - an extraordinary event.

On a more positive note, the magnitude 1 to 3 earthquakes created by shifting glaciers are apparently nothing to be alarmed about in and of themselves, but merely indicative of the scale of the changes taking place in the icecap itself.

Everyone who might be reading this: Yes, I do still think it's critical to reduce carbon emissions. But given the titanic range and speed of these changes, we all need to be looking at the strong possibility that our coastlines could be inundated in less than a decade. In fact, scientists can not determine which direction the climate will go in this kind of a collapse -- one serious option is the destruction of the North Atlantic Current, putting Europe into an ice age and seriously chilling the rest of the Northern Hemisphere in particular. If that does not happen, or if it is a relatively minor ice age, it's still possible that we will have to deal with a runaway global warming process -- an outgassing of the oceans' methane could be unbelievably catastrophic. (That is to say, worse than a collapse of human civilization.)

Given that we are apt to see existing lines of transportation come apart on a relatively short time scale if the Greenland ice sheet continues to crumble at this accelerating pace, I would suggest combining your carbon reduction and personal survival goals by, among other things, seeking alternative energy sources for your present and possible future emergency needs. I would also suggest encouraging the same thing in your community and among your family and friends.

Wherever you are, you and your community need energy, food and water to survive, not to mention shelter, medicine, spare parts and some kind of a sustainable economy. You should think about what you and those around you will need in these areas, and about other, longer-term requirements, such as medical care, education, etc.

I will be posting some more extensive planning options relating to disaster survival for crises on the scale of one's nation or civilization, but I encourage everyone to make their own best plans now, as well as doing whatever they can to prevent or contain the cataclysmic threats we may soon be facing.

Future Imperative

Post-Deployment, 49% of Guard, 38% of Army, 31% of Marines Have Brain Damage, PTSD, etc - A Question of Math

A blue-ribbon Pentagon task force reported this July that about 38% of soldiers, 31% of Marines and 49% of the National Guard have 'psychological conditions' such as traumatic brain injury (brain damage) and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan. These numbers were expected to grow because of repeated and extended deployments.

I'd like everyone reading this to lay their politics and personal opinions aside for a moment, and ask themselves: How long is it practically possible to maintain any sort of deployment like the one we have in the combined Iraq and Afghan theaters given this rate of mental injury, in combination with the physical wounds, maiming and actual deaths our troops are also suffering?

Believe it or not, I don't have an answer to that question.

And quite seriously, no matter how strongly you feel about this issue, or how dispassionately you look at these Middle Eastern conflicts, an accurate estimate will be invaluable in anticipating just what direction the Iraq War will go in over the next several months. The 'facts on the ground' can override any other consideration.

Right now, I haven't the foggiest idea. Does the tipping point mean over half of all our ground troops suffering from brain damage, PTSD and serious or crippling physical injuries? Two thirds? More? And when do we get to that particular point? But again, laying politics aside, I would really like to hear everyone's best assessment. Please let me know what you think.

Thank you.

Future Imperative