Featured Post

Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy...

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Free will

Stephen Hawking, the renowned English scientist, discussed the meaning of life in a TV documentary. He has the view that science holds the key to this question while the Greek, Descartes lay the foundations of rational thought on the issue many centuries ago by separating the operation of the mind from that of the body. The operation of the brain is, like all operations in the body, governed by natural forces. This is an indisputable Hawking argument. These operations are tangible in that they are measurable or otherwise determined to be in existence in all organisms. Conscious thoughts, on the other hand, are deemed intuitively by most people to be intangible. They occur but cannot be measured although they determine the decisions made about what the person does. This exercise of free will is in parallel with the deterministic decisions made by the brain about what should happen in bodily functions.
The operation of the brain can be likened to that of the operation of the processor in a computer. The flow of electricity is the measurable quantity in the computer similar to the flow in the brain, although a lot simpler! However, this measurement of electricity flow does not provide meaning. The output from the program provides the processed information. So the operation of the brain is covered by natural forces but the thoughts are not. So Descartes was right despite many contrary arguments. Hawking quoted a program that seems to simulate how the brain produces coherent thoughts just as computer programs carry out analyses. The fact that the thinking ability of a brain is limited by physical factors such Alzheimer’s disease does not make thinking a tangible quantity.It is like part of the computer processor being damaged.The nature of the thinking is portrayed by the output (spoken or actions) just as the nature of a computer program is conveyed by the results.
There has been appreciable argument about whether people have free will. Clearly people are free to make decisions depending upon the circumstances such as the information available to them, where they are and a range of other factors. But two people in similar circumstances could be free to make contrary decisions. So people do have a degree of free will and contrary arguments by people are examples of their free will ability. Of course, all organisms have a degree of free will. Birds can decide to take off when they feel like it. Whales exercise their free will to surface when they feel the need to have some fresh air. This free will of all organisms creates a degree of uncertainty about what will happen within the limits of the operation of natural forces. People can only make decisions about operations that are physically possible. This duopoly is as manifest as the separation of mind and body. It is a fundamental operational principle even though many people do not understand it.   
Hawking argues that the real world is an impression in the mind. That is surprisingly illogical for a prominent scientist who one expects to make sound statements. What individuals know of the real world is clearly subjective and inherently very limited, even for intellectuals like Hawking. What has happened, is happening and will happen in the future is the holistic, objective world, largely unknown to all individuals, including Hawking and Descartes.  But Descartes did not suffer the delusion of Hawking and many other people. After all, anthropocentrism is rife. The belief that people can now make decisions that will cope with the real world climate change is just one example of the common misunderstanding. All that can be done is make decisions that will constrain damaging physical operations, so delay the impact of catastrophic climate change and the associated events, ocean warming and acidification..
The real physical world has been operating for eons without any impact from the thoughts of people and will continue to do so after the demise of our civilization. Anyone who thinks otherwise is suffering a delusion. Ironically, this delusion is an aspect of their free will.

Monday, May 19, 2014

decisions amok

Billions of people are making a multitude of decisions about physical activities every day. Some are the mundane associated with every day life. Others have a significant impact on the future behavior of communities and of systems. Some decisions are good and some are bad. In combination they have a tremendous influence of what is happening at a range of levels from how they affect the individual up to the global impact.The range and weight of the impact depends on many circumstances. Listing some of these provides insight into what humans are arranging with their decisions.
  • when and what to eat - smart people stick to a routine and eat reasonable amounts of good food - unwise people over eat of fast food - however, many people have little choice and have to make do
  • when and what to drink - smart people ensure they consume adequate amounts of a mix of liquids appropriate to the occasions - unwise people too often go overboard on alcoholic beverages - however, many people find it hard to get potable water
  • what drugs to take - smart people take them only when deemed necessary by medical advisers - unwise people take them because they like the short term benefits and discount the long term side effects - however, many people are not in the position to be tempted
  • what housing - smart people live in reasonable homes in convenient locations  - the elite show off their position by living in McMansions that they cannot really afford or manage - however, many billions around the globe get by as best they can with unsatisfactory shelter
  • what facilities to have in the home - many people take water supply, cooking facilities, toilets, heating, air-conditioning, communication and entertainment facilities for granted - however, many people have access to few of the facilitators of a comfortable life style
  • how to cope with diseases - inoculations and medications help many people overcome natural diseases - however, there is no means to overcome the insidious disease affecting many people, too much money 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Aircrat technology chasing its tail

The Red Baron adroitly used his Fokker in downing many Sopwith Camels in the Great War. Spitfires and Hurricanes repelled the German bombers in the Battle of Britain while matching the Focke-Wulf. The Germans were too late in introducing jet fighters. The Japanese Zero was too maneuverable for the Yankee fighters in the Pacific air war until the Lightning entered the scene. The American Sabre jet was not only compared to the Russian MiG on paper as they met over Korea. The F-15 Eagle has added to the potential air power of numerous countries for many years.The Mirage was a useful mirage in the Australian defence capabilities for decades. The Hornet has not had to prove its sting but looks good in air shows. The F-35 Lightning II lights up the eyes of the PM as it is expected to add to our defence capabilities in due course even though it may not be a match for the Chinese J-20 or J-31 or the Russian/Indian Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA).

These developments in fighter aircraft over the years are an example of technology chasing its tail in an unsustainable process.  Unfortunately it has not been matched by a revolutionary way of providing aircraft fuel (because that is not physically possible) or of creating the materials irrevocably used up (because that is also not possible) . This example of biased unsustainable technology development has fostered the aircraft industry and has contributed to airliner development but at great ecological and natural resource (but not yet financial, social and political) cost.

Society will be bewildered as this era comes to an end due to the declining availability of the energy and materials used in building and operating these insatiable mechanistic monstrosities. Politicians, business people and tourists will rue the associated loss of airline travel. The aviation, defense and airline industries will vainly try to maintain their ravishing in an attempt to made money for their investors and prolong the careers for their specialists. And governments will belatedly adopt defensive policies. 

Progonosis of a failing organism

We have understanding of how organisms, including human beings, operate as they grow to maturity then senescence leads to inevitable demise. Of course, medical people have much greater understanding of the detail including the role of the multitude of cells that control operations in the organism. The mechanism is an extraordinary extremely complex operation that has evolved naturally. It is a phenomenon that we tend to take for granted except in the relatively rare cases when the program goes wrong to a small extent. Cancer is a localized mutation that causes a degree of concern while the vast majority of cells in the organism get on with their prescribed job during their short lifetimes.

This behavior of organic organisms is common knowledge. However, the existence of a vast inorganic organism having many similar characteristics is not widely help. James Lovelock has over the years provided sufficient argument to convince knowledgeable people that the ecosystem is a gigantic inorganic organism with operation controlled by the interaction of a host of organic and inorganic processes. It has been given the name, Gaia. Its operation is similar in some respects to that of natural biological organisms. A wide range of natural processes emulate the role of cells in biological organisms.

Civilization is also a vast organism we can call Tityas, the delinquent son of Gaia. It is growing rapidly as its multitude of human beings use a variety of tools to act like cells. But, unlike the cells in natural organisms, these cells are not programmed to carry out specialized constructive operations. Many of them do but there are sufficient rogues to foster irrevocable obesity of the organism. Intangible money flow is the life blood of this organism even though it is often contaminated by greed. The cells in under developed regions of this organism are vainly striving to attain healthy operations while those in over developed regions continue their cancerous malfeasance. The organism is entering its senescence with few cells operating benignly. The inevitable demise of civilization will entail a die off of much of the population coupled with disintegration of much of the infrastructure that provides them with goods and services.

The only treatment for the disease this organism is suffering from is for the Earth's Lodgers' Activity Management (ELAM) movement's large dose of understanding influencing the operation of a high proportion of the cells of Tityas. Is there hope of this treatment eventuating?

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Wars - who are the enemies?

Wars have been disrupting and degrading society while damaging the infrastructure of civilization for millennia. It is one of the deleterious features of the operation of our society. This feature has been fostered by political, religious, racial and social animosity. But it also has also been fostered by those people and concerns that have gained by providing the implements of war and the postwar reconstruction. Ironically, countries and communities that have been bitter enemies at one time have often become friends at a later stage - and vice versa!

Societies have been very adroit in finding enemies (and friends) for a variety of reasons. Yet, ironically, society has never officially declared war on Mother Nature (Gaia) even though they have being do their utmost to ravish her for their selfish purposes for millennia. Money has been the tool for this divestment of the  natural material wealth of humanity's life support system. It has fostered the unsustainable growth of the population of parasitic humans. It has fostered the unsustainable growth of the technological infrastructure of civilization (Tityas) by the irreversible of some of Mother Nature's natural wealth.

But fiat money does not take into account the consequences of the ravishing that it has encouraged. So society will have the pay the price of treating Mother Nature as the enemy. She is slowly responding to the aggression of the parasites and the damage being done by their tools. She will win the undeclared war and the surviving parasites will find it hard to adapt as they lose the capabilities of Tityas (their aging infrastructure.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Beyond our ken

As a long standing physical scientist, I have repeatedly asked many technical questions over the years about what physically happens and why. I manged to get a few answers during my career as an aeronautical research scientist. I have been researching what technological systems have done to the environment during my retirement. This covers a much broader field so I have come up with many more questions but not many more answers!

Some questions that are unanswered include:
  1. scientists have determined the microscopic composition (electrons, neutrons, protons) of elements and chemical compounds. They know their properties and their role in the operation of ecosystems. What carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere are doing to the climate is a popular topic now. We give little thought to the oxygen in the air mixture that we breathe or that normally there is no free hydrogen but it is in many compounds, such as water, that we find invaluable. Physicists and engineers have learned how some elements are radio active and how that can be used to provide nuclear energy in power stations  and in bombs.Chemists have provided appreciable understanding of the grouping of elements in the periodic table. They have devised reactions that have produced new products, often unexpectedly toxic although profitable.What determined this structure of elements?
  2. the flow of energy plays a major role in the operation of all systems made of material. The Sun has been the source of the energy used by systems here on Earth, even that energy stored for ages in oil, gas and coal. Various forms of energy are properties of materials. It is the chemical energy in oil that powers many of the systems of civilization. However, it is the gravitational potential of water that fills a similar role with hydro stations supplying electricity. Physicists understand the microscopic aspects of energy even to the relation between energy and matter. But do cosmologists have the answer to the question as to how matter and energy came into existence?
  3. natural forces took millions of years to produce oil using energy that came from the Sun. Humans devised means of extracting a high proportion of the crustal store of oil so that they can use mechanical monsters to carry them and their goods hither and thither on land, in the air and upon the sea. Despite valiant attempts by industry to devise measures to extract what is remaining of the various forms of oil, the availability of oil products is irreversibly declining. The question is: what will most people do when they can not longer call upon the mechanical monsters to carry them and their goods hither and thither?
  4. fuel for the mechanical monsters is running out. That is an indisputable fact. It is not a question. But those monsters are made of irreplaceable materials extracted out of the crustal store. And friction ages them. So the question is whether the die off of the mechanical monsters will be a bigger problem for society than running out of fuel.
  5. scientists have in recent times acquired a vast amount of knowledge and understanding of how the vast array of natural forces operate in the various fields. The introduction of  improved instruments and data handling systems has facilitated  that progress. Governments and industries sponsor technological research and development with the objective of the provision of innovative goods and services. Why is science given such reverence when the objective is to provide these goods and services at the expense of permanent divestment of natural material wealth?
  6. engineers got so carried way with the invention of machinery to extract and process natural material resources to supply electrical energy that they did not take into account the fact that  useful energy is always a property of materials. The combustion of fossil fuels produces the greenhouse gases that have made a major contribution to irreversible rapid climate change and ocean acification and warming. Can they redress that mistake by coming up with a system that will sequester carbon dioxide in a sustainable manner? That is a question that has been addressed without taking into account the fact that sequetering would entail the installation of a temporary system at appreciable ecological cost.
  7. do those who benefit from what technological systems provide by ravishing eco systems take into account the fact that the natural force, friction, irreversibly ages the systems. This is common knowledge but its long term impact is not factored into financial consideration. Do politicians, economists and financial advisers believe natural resources can be conjured up out of thin air in the way money is?
  8. disposal of radioactive waste from nuclear power stations has been put in the too hard baskets by governments in a number of countries. What sound proposals can possibly deal with this problem when the capabilities to carry out remedial measures have been drastically reduced as materials run out?
  9. wise people have the view that greed is the (financial) market's vice. They view greed as being at the heart of three major threats to our existence as individuals and societies: pollution, terrorism and crime. What can be done to get rid of this insidious disease?
  10. oligarchy has been a tenet of the elite in societies for a long time even though the term has gained prominence through activities in Russia in recent times. What do the oligarch hope to gain with their riches apart from a lavish life style. It certainly is not immortality and it appears that it does not buy them happiness. What can explain the rapid growth of this parasitic portion of the human race?  
  11. economists are strong in pronouncements of policies that will foster economic growth. They have developed mathematical tools to analyze financial market developments and to estimate opportunity costs. They claim they have adopted a scientific methodology. How can they claim that when ecological costs are not included in their methodology?
  12. What right has society to condone the irreversible devastation of the life support system of civilization?
  13. The Good Friday Appeal for the Melbourne Children's Hospital  brings to the TV screen the marvelous efforts of the doctors and nursing staff in dealing with sick children. They use a bewildering array of devices in carrying out their life saving activities. What will these skilful people do when the specialized equipment can no longer be procured? How will parents deal with the loss of these heath services?That time will come before the end of this century.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Free will

It is amusing the read the discussions of seemingly knowledgeable people about whether people exercise 'free will'. Many claim that people cannot exercise free will and they quote the constraints that determine that it is not free will.The only constraints on what I am typing now is that the computer system exists. I am free to express my opinion of 'free will'. You might think what I am writing is gibberish. You are free to write what you believe to be the case with respect to 'free will'.
Leonardo da Vinci doubtless had his beliefs about 'free will' as he was free to indulge his artistic creative ability centuries ago.

So, yes, there are boundaries to the 'free will' region. Physical, social, political, religious and economic constraints can define the boundaries of the region but individuals have the 'free will' within that region.Even a one-year-old child exercises a degree of 'free will' within its limited region. On the other hand, even a billionaire has a limit to his/her large 'free will' region and it will contract drastically late in life.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The demise of the flying machine

For centuries, people dreamed of being able to fly like birds. Leonardo da Vinci had sound ideas but it was centuries before pioneers like Lawrence Hargrave produced machines that obtained lift from the air. Numerous people in various countries tried variations but it was the Wright brothers in the US who were the first to succeed in have a machine carry a human in a flight. This was a start to the twentieth century. Rapid progress followed as understanding of aerodynamics and engineering aided the race in many countries to build bigger, faster and longer flying aircraft. Military requirements provided much of the early boost for the rising aircraft industries but developments for commercial use really took over in the middle of the century. Airliners now dominate traffic in the skies and many people enjoy rapid transit around the globe for business and pleasure activities.

Very few of the passengers in these airliners give a moments thought to the reality that airliners are an artificial, parasitic species that is doomed for extinction this century. Many clever people have made contributions to the design, construction and operation of airliners such as the Boeing Dreamliner and the A380 Airbus. But these aircraft use jet fuel, processed from oil. The supply of this natural bounty is irreversibly running out and no viable alternative is practical. Bio-fuels can fill only a niche role at the expense of meeting other needs, including food. But lack of fuel will not be the only factor leading to the demise of the artificial bird. Aircraft are made of a range of materials gleaned from the crustal store and many of these are also becoming beyond reach rapidly. So our emulation of birds is  doomed because we could not come up with a means to emulate nature's slow but reliable means of generating such natural resources as oil. The skills of the aerodynamicists, designers, machinists, management, pilots and others in the aeronautics fields will become surplus to requirements as society at large tries to cope with the inevitable powering down as the infrastructure of civilization collapses. Society at large will not be happy with the withdrawal of the service currently provided by the airlines. And the military will have to reduce their dependence on aircraft, including drones.

Cars, container vessels, computers and numerous other devices that society has become dependent on will also become become fond memories for those who survive the inevitable loss of much of the essentials, food, potable water, shelter, heating, air conditioning, health services and sanitation. The disintegration of the cities will be a reminder of the fact that humans could not successfully use up the limited natural material wealth that had evolved over eons at such a high rate.They will have to power down and try to live with what nature can still provide.

Friday, February 28, 2014

A dose of reality every day

Every day:
  •  twenty four hours go by as time passes in the natural operational cycles, day/night, summer/autumn/winter/spring.
  •  more people are born than die in processes that happen naturally
  • all people, organisms and plants age due to irrevocable natural processes
  • the inanimate structures of civilization also irrevocably age due to irrevocable natural processes, forms of friction
  • so do cars, trucks, ships and airliners as they use up irreplaceable fuel for operation
  • water recycles naturally through evaporation and precipitation in the hydrological cycle
  • but systems of civilization use up aquifer water (such as the Great Artesian Basin) unsustainably 
  • carbohydrates are produced using carbon dioxide in the photosynthesis stage in plants of the natural carbon cycle
  • carbon dioxide is produced from carbohydrates in the respiration stage in animals in the natural carbon cycle 
  • the carbon cycle was roughly in balance for eons before technological systems started using fossil fuels so now the emission rate is  much greater than the absorption rate
  • hydrocarbons are converted in fossil fuel combustion in temporary systems made of irreplaceable materials to increase the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere sufficiently to change the climate and acidify and warm the ocean unnaturally
  • hydrocarbons in fossil fuels are produced naturally at high pressures at such a slow rate that this does not influence the operation of civilization 
  • the combustion of coal in aging power plants irreversibly emits gaseous, liquid and particular pollutants contributing to global warming, ocean acidification and harming organisms, including humans
  • many millions of barrels of oil out of the crustal store are destroyed in a variety of manners, many of which are not very useful
  • nitrogen cycles unnaturally in temporary plants to produce artificial fertilizers and naturally in biological  processes.
  • phosphorus is so necessary in food production that its declining availability will increase starvation
  • vast amounts of soil nutrients are flushed out from cities to contaminate waters
  • all energy flows end up as waste heat after doing useless or useful positive work in natural and technological processes
  • various forms of friction do negative work in transforming useful material to irrevocable waste during operations
  • but friction also enables birds and airplanes to fly
  • hearts pump blood against friction
  • unexpected climatic events such as floods, droughts, storms, heat waves, cold spells, wild fires, sea level rise are growing evidence of climate change
  • creation of fiat money increases the capability of people to continue their ravishing of the natural life support systems only so long as the value of the money is not irrevocably degraded by continuing inflation 
  • society is  beguiled with the temporary availability of all forms of electronic gadgets for business, computing, obtaining information, banking, online shopping, communication and socializing.
  • physical scientists continue using the latest technology to advance the frontiers of knowledge of how nature works, so illustrating how little was previously understood, while continuning to not take the impact of fundamentals into account
  • social scientists continue to speculate on the behavior of all levels of the human race without understanding the limitations imposed by physical reality
 These activities will continue tomorrow and every day as long as natural forces allow society and its technological infrastructure to get away with freely degrading the eco systems and divesting natural material wealth. Society is so entranced with the power of fiat money that they will continue to ignore physical reality until it is too late to power down comfortably.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What smart people, think, decide and do.

Smart people have left their positive implant on civilization over the ages and will continue to do so even during the senescence of our industrial civilization even though circumstances are not encouraging. They know their mortality will give them only a limited amount of time to strive to meet realistic goals. These goals generally depend on circumstances outside of their control. Africans, in the main, have to set their sights lower than most Americans or Australians. Those who are denied a good education through a range of possible factors can be smart by learning from other sources, including from the examples set by people successful in worthwhile fields. Females have to set their sights lower than males in those activities based on bodily strength but not necessarily on degree of smartness. It is not smart for talented musicians to strive for excellence in a sport for which their body is not suited.

Smart people do not just hope that their circumstance will improve. They will strive to make the decisions that will make the best use of their talents and skills to help family and friends to cope with reality. Smart people will not be conned by the media advertisements to buy goods they really do not need. They certainly will not be convinced by the rhetoric of politicians about about the merits of economic growth because they understand the ecological cost of the ravishing by the systems of civilization.

Smart people will strive to extract some wisdom from the vast amount of information produced by the digital revolution.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Profound Mystery

The technological systems of industrialized civilization are irreversibly using up limited natural material resources to provides society with goods and services together with the construction, operation and maintenance of the vast infrastructure. This operation entails appreciable disruption of  biodiversity and damage to the environment. It also outputs material wastes that promote such deleterious consequences as climate change and ocean acidification.

That is the stark reality of what is happening. But very few people understand the fundamental principles that underline the above hypothesis. The vast majority believe the conventional view that economic growth is the norm. They appreciate the role that energy has played in development.They are conditioned to believe that with know how and hard work they can enjoy a high material standard of living. They may have a cynical view of their political masters and bankers while lauding the celebrities in the financial circles, arts and sports. But they go along with the idea of business as usual because they have been conned by the education system, government and media, to expect that progress will continue to be conjured up out of thin air!

So, on one hand we have what is happening in the Real world while on the other, the common, Myopia view. The Myopia view does not take into account the divestment of natural material wealth in meeting the demands of technological civilization and its resident population.

The mystery is two fold. Firstly, why is society so blind to what civilization has done wrong and is still doing wrong despite the multitude of warning signs that nature throws up? Climate change is one symptom of this malfeasance of civilization.

Secondly, what will society do to cope with reality as the Real world gradually hits harder below the belt and civilization collapses? The 'leaders' of society will not lead the way as they are blinded by dollars. The bewildered masses will strive to power down as painlessly as possible as the infrastructure they are so dependent on disintegrates through lack of sustenance. Cars and airliners are endangered species through lack of fuel. The supply of food, water and electricity will decline as the concentrated energy from the crustal store runs out. Ironically, science will not provide guidance as it has been too concerned with innovative use of natural forces to provide understanding of the fundamental principles that limit the sustainability of technological systems. The only hope is that smart people will use their understanding of Real to make wise decisions that will ease the inevitable powering down of society.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Science's illusory role

Scientific investigations have the objective of providing people with understanding of what happens and how this comes about. They are an anthropocentric invention aimed at satisfying human curiosity. Physical scientists have discerned only some aspects of how natural forces have operated for eons, operate now even in industrialized civilization as well as the natural world and will continue to operate long after the collapse of this civilization.

Science has provided people with sufficient understanding of how some natural forces operate that they have been able to construct technological systems that use natural material resources (wisely and unwisely) to temporarily supply goods and services while having the unintended consequences of outputting intractable waste material and immutably damaging the environment. The technological systems that have stemmed from scientific findings have done no more than use natural forces to operate on natural resources in producing goods and services. Technology has never created anything, despite the hype that humans have about its utility.

Mother Nature slowly responds to the parasitic operations of civilization without being aware of the mutterings of the invasive human species. But the populace still believe that scientific findings will allow them to continue the malfeasance of civilization's operations. They do not understand that scientists have provided understanding of only some of Mother Nature's repertoire with the fundamental physical principle being beyond their ken. Technological systems are irreversibly using up natural material in tangible operations. So civilization irreversibly uses some of Mother Nature's bounty for temporary relief while society hopes that intangible money flow will continue to power the illusion of economic growth although it does not pay the eco cost.

So when will society realize that the benefits they have enjoyed as the result of scientific findings are only one side of the coin. That the claims that science is advancing the the frontiers of knowledge  are really pointing out how limited scientific knowledge of the operation of natural forces had been. The failure of science to warn of the damage to the ecosystems of using fossil fuel to provided energy is but one example of the failings of science. Yet the illusion still persists because the flow of fiat money still manages to provide society with the benefits provided by technology. Ironically it also it has a significant impact on the research carried by scientists and,in many cases, on their findings!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Thoughts for 2014

Thoughts for the New Year, 2015
By Denis Frith
This is an update of the essay I produced for 2014. Before presenting an update on background and recommendations, I will comment on the impact of what has happened in 2014 on the premises I put forward. The global awareness of  the deleterious impact of climate change and some remedial measures have grown during the year but, surprisingly, Australian 'leaders', still consider the pursuit of economic growth to be more important! Economic growth has slowed down in many countries due to the combination of a number of economic, social, political and ecological reasons accentuated by conflicts in a number of regions, particularly the Middle East, together with the common financial market games played by powerful interests in Eastern as well as Western countries. The recent drop in oil price will hit many economies (particularly Russia and Iran) and industries (including shale oil producers) hard although the masses here will welcome the cheaper fuel for a while only. This oil price hiccup is bound to lead to tumultuous events in the coming year that will have an impact in this country. The lowering price of iron ore is also going to hit the budgets of industry and government hard in the coming year.Unfortunately, there are no signs that our federal and state politicians have a clue about about how things really work. Employment, health and education are important issues but the holistic one is that the technological systems are irreversibly using up natural resources, producing irrevocable waste and devastating the environment. A commentator blamed the loss by the Liberals of the Victorian election on the failure to emphsise liberal values of small government, individual liberty and personal responsibility. His attitude sums up the reason why civilization is doomed. People do not really have the liberty to consume irreplaceable natural resources and produce irrevocable waste. Responsible people do their utmost to live sustainably with what nature provides but the majority irresponsibly consume. Wise government would seek to provide sound leadership rather than promote economic growth without paying the ecological cost as governments worldwide are doing.
I entered an essay " " in a global competition " " without any success even though a Russian anthropologist gave it ten out of ten because the novel points in my essay were consistent with those raised by  some past authorities with out having any impact on the decisions being made by the powerful. I have now offered a prize for the student of my old school, Launceston Grammar, who provides the best response to the challenges raised in my ELAM essay. The intention is to encourage the students to think about the reality that is occurring rather than the delusion fostered by the mainstream. Maybe in 2015 I will have some success in improving understanding of reality by focusing on novel, unrecognized.basic scientific principles.
In my retirement I have researched what civilization has done to its life support system, the environment and the underground material bounty. I have used the internet to gather information and evidence and to peruse the views of informed people in many fields. I now know the fundamental physical principles governing the operation of all the technological infrastructure of civilization. This operation is an unsustainable process that uses up the limited natural material wealth while producing irrevocable material waste in providing the goods and services that society has become so dependent on.  The harm that this process is doing to the environment is another deleterious consequence of this lust by society for a high material standard of living regardless of the real ecological cost. The fact that the marine ecosystem is also being devastated does not receive the warranted consideration, as yet. The billions who rely on fish for protein are striving to ineffectively cope with this marine predicament. Although climate change is causing widespread concern, little effective adaption is being implemented. These examples are only symptoms of the stark reality, but society does not understand the fundamental physical principle that the operation of the systems of civilization is unsustainable. And there is no reason to believe that the powerful or the masses will take this reality into account until it hits home hard in coming years due to numerous deleterious effects. The impact of climate change is only one symptom of the holistic malaise. Many others are being assessed by scientists in their specific fields. Knowledgeable people talk in terms of the collapse of our civilization. They are referring to a process that is under way now and will take place relatively slowly over the coming decades.  ‘Black swan’ events may precipitate local catastrophes that will hasten the demise. The current population is beyond the carrying capacity of Earth so a horrifying die off is certain this century. Ironically, the inevitable demise of the infrastructure (the cities, roads, ports, sewerage systems etc.) will also be a problem that the coming generation will have to face. How will they cope as the availability of food, fuels, electricity and many other services declines?
Individuals, families and even communities can do very little to ameliorate the inevitable powering down of society as a whole. But they can ease the situation for themselves and associates by making sound decisions and by adopting worthwhile practices. My objective in writing this essay is to pass on useful facets of the knowledge I have gained in my research. Many informed people around the globe have put forward sound proposals. I summarize these below to the best of my ability as I want this to be a useful legacy.
I list below issues you will some time address and I then follow with comments on them if I believe I can provide sound insight.   
1.      Attitude
2.      Outlook
3.      Environmental  issues
4.      Family
5.      Residence
6.      Diet
7.      Health issues
8.      Education
9.      Skills
10.  Technology
11.  Life style
12.  Social issues
13.  Career
14.  Retirement
15.  Communication
16.  Relaxation
17.  Traveling
18.  Managing financial affairs
19.  Prognosis
I will not deign to say much on many of these items.  The search mechanisms on the internet can easily provide back up material for these items. I only provide advice where my research provides understanding of details of how the future will be different to what has happened in recent times and, often, what is the general misleading view portrayed by the powerful in society, governments and the media. I want this understanding to help people cope with the inevitable powering down of Australian society by making sound decisions on the issues listed here.  We live in the lucky country but that does not mean that we can look forward to continuance of the economic growth so beloved by politicians – for now. You cannot expect to have a major impact on what happens overall, but you can influence the prospects of family, friends and your community by your behavior and the understanding you promote.
I find it useful in making points to differentiate the common view of what is happening and why from the reality of what is happening to the physical world. I call the former Myopia while the specialists in affected fields and the few realists understand what is actually happening in the Real world. It is becoming increasingly common in learned circles to regard the natural world as being a great organism, termed Gaia, that has slowly evolved and will continue to do so despite the damage that industrial civilization is now doing to it.  Knowledgeable people are calling our times the Anthropocene Era due to what we are doing to our life support system.  I find it useful to term the temporary inanimate organism that is the infrastructure of our civilization (cities, roads, power stations, etc.) Tityas. Tityas is feeding off Gaia for operation and maintenance in an unsustainable process. It is entering its senescence as the natural resources it thrives on decline. Its decline will ensure the end of the Anthropocene Era and will be causing society to power down.
Now for comments on the items listed above.
1.      The current Myopic attitude of most people in Australia is that they strive to make enough money so that they and their family can enjoy a high material standard of living. As the economy contracts in coming years, smart people will embrace an improved life style with less accent on having things and more on worthwhile activities. They will have a real, progressive outlook rather than being conned by the Myopic illusions thrown up on TV and the conditioning they have been given during the years of economic growth. Smart people will employ the precautionary principle because they understand that the boom this century is unsustainable, so living standards will decline even here in Australia. Only time will answer the question of how rapidly, although sound advice can be found on the internet by carefully sorting the wheat from the chaff. The media hype will be of no assistance! And governments will, as usual, respond belatedly to rising predicaments. The slow, belated and misguided response to climate change is but one current example of their ineptitude. The current  crisis in many manufacturing industries is largely due to financial issues but the impact on the workers in these industries and their families is indicative of what  is bound to be a growing problem as the economy contracts due to Real factors.
2.      The general outlook now in Myopia is for continuing progress. Most people hope that the situation for their family will improve. This hope is based on failure to understand that the operation of the technological systems of civilization is an unsustainable process. They do not understand how the Real world operates. This process that uses up limited stored natural resources, produces irrevocable material wastes and degrades the environment in an unsustainable process that contributes to food production, population and infrastructure growth and consumption that cannot last. Toxic wastes are polluting land, sea, air and all organisms, including humans. Knowledgeable people have tagged this as the Anthropocene Era because human decisions in recent times have had such a devastating impact on how the environment operates that it cannot continue and the era will end. Those who understand the stark reality of what is happening will adopt a cautious outlook and accept a prudent policy based on the precautionary principle. They will go to the trouble of taking into account what experts are saying about what is happening in their fields rather than believe the hype of the mainstream media. They will strive to understand how the Real world operates. The collapse of numerous civilizations in the past three thousand years for a combination of ecological, economic, social and political reasons provides only some indication of what lies ahead for the current industrialized civilization because the giant rapacious Tityas now exists. Ironically, a number of authors have published over the years realistic appreciations of what has gone wrong in past and current civilizations without having any impact on the policies of the public and the ‘leaders’ of society. However, these sound views tend to focus on why societies have gone down a path rather than on what consequently irreversibly happened to the supporting structures and environment. The global dependence on using irreplaceable natural resources adds to the problems that previous civilizations were unable to cope with. They did not have a hungry giant Tityas. The nature and rapidity of the gradual collapse of Tityas will vary spatially and temporally during the remainder of this century. The global financial crisis of 2008, the impact of climate change on typhoons, storms, wild fires, floods and droughts, the health crisis afflicting billions of the young and aged and other creatures, the desperate efforts of the oil and gas industry to supply energy by fracking despite the ecological cost are just some of the symptoms of the holistic malaise of this civilization and its spoilt offshoot, Tityas. Smart people will obtain a more realistic outlook by obtaining understanding of what is actually happening from the experts in the various fields by using the search facilities on the internet rather than the Myopia delusion fostered by government, industry and the main stream media. They will realize that symptoms of the collapse of this civilization and the mass extinction are there for those prepared to look – and think. They will embrace the Real view. They will realize that society is facing a dilemma with regard to supply and demand. The current civilization is demanding the consumption of natural resources at an increasingly high rate as the supply declines. Smart people will cope with the inevitable powering down by being frugal as there is little they can do to ameliorate the holistic malaise.
3.      Environmental issues are receiving more attention for good reason. Society is used to coping with the occasional natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, storms, floods and droughts. These are actually becoming more common due to climate change despite the denial of this aspect of Real by some prominent Myopians and very little remedial action. However, this issue is being compounded by the occurrence of unnatural disasters due to the failings of technological systems in Tityas. Often natural and unnatural disasters combine to provide a catastrophe. The tsunami combined with the ineptitude in the design of the Fukushima nuclear power station has produced on ongoing catastrophe for the Japanese and countless others as the toxic radioactive waste streams away in ocean currents. The Chernobyl nuclear plant failure was another unnatural disaster that had grim consequences for many in various countries for a long time. The precautionary principle has not been applied to the numerous nuclear power stations in the US and European countries. So a number of unnatural disasters of this type are possible as these plants age. Safe disposal of the vast amount of nuclear waste that has accumulated is swept under the carpet by the governments simply because they have no sound disposal plan. The disasters due to radioactive nuclear wastes are building up. Greenhouse gases are already causing atmospheric and ocean disasters. But disasters are not the only environmental issues causing increasing concern. Deforestation, desertification, loss of aquifer water and soil fertility, devastation of the marine ecosystem are some of the growing problems that are being compounded by climate change. Australia is particularly vulnerable as it is the dry continent with a small proportion of fertile soil. All one can do is be aware of what is happening to the environment so one can contribute a little to society coping with the ongoing devastation.
4.      The mutual support within a family and local community has been one of the most beneficial factors in many societies for a long time. This has tended to decline in recent times in most countries, partly as the young have adapted to a progressing economy. Changing values have also had an impact with marriage and having children losing its attraction for many. The unsustainable growth in the global population will exert growing pressure on society as a whole but there is no reason for a couple to take it into account in deciding the size of their family. But they should consider whether they will be able to foster a sound upbringing of their children as times inevitably become more difficult and values change. The increasing alcoholism and drug abuse amongst the young is just a symptom of what is coming as the bewildered lose hope of a prosperous standard of living. An additional problem is that people are living longer while the coming contraction of the economy will place an increasing load on medical and care services. Those families and communities that cherish the values of resilience and compassion and embrace sound living will be in a better position to face these challenges. And understanding of what is really happening will reduce the bewilderment.
5.      When considering moving to another abode bear in mind the following issues:
·         Those homes that are very dependent on heating and cooling appliances for comfort in summer and winter will become most unattractive as energy costs more while climate change increases the demand for comfort indoors. Look for homes that are orientated to take advantage of sunshine, no larger than necessary and also have good insulation.
·         The advantages that apartments may seem to have now will dissipate when inevitably power supply declines.  Imagine what it will be like when residents have to walk up many flights of stairs!
·         Suburban sprawl has become endemic in the major cities and has fostered the growing dependence on the car just as the availability of fuel noticeably declines. Regional cities will become more attractive where there are adequate employment options.
·         Buying a home by getting a large mortgage has become a sound financial move in recent times. Those days are coming to an end as economic growth peaks and can become disastrous for many as the decline sets in. Renting may not be financially attractive but the only possibility. Young couples moving in with parents is becoming increasingly common as the financial situation deteriorates.

6.      Mainstream media provides a confusing mix of dietary and cooking information combined with the promotion of fast foods. The very real problem with obesity is already receiving due attention and that will increase as it is now an endemic problem. However, advice about the emerging danger of eating sea foods should also be taken seriously. Radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear accident seems to be combining with ocean acidification due to fossil fuel emissions to deleteriously affect many varieties of fish by altering the marine eco system. There are alternative sources of proteins. Growing your own fruit and vegetables will help ease the diet problem significantly, especially as transportation problems will reduce the convenience of conventional shopping malls. Eating out will become less popular so cooking skills will again be a worthwhile acquisition in households.
7.      Concern about health issues is biased by the impact of commercial presentations on medications and announcements of advances in treatment of such problems as breast cancer, diabetes and alzheimer’s disease. Emerging problems due to the increasing contamination of bloodstreams due to the toxic materials in the air, food and water do not yet receive the mainstream attention that is warranted. Radioactive waste from the Fukushima nuclear disaster can well be a major contribution to the impact of toxic materials. Fracking to extract shale oil and gas is contaminating groundwater yet some state governments are supporting proposals for industry to make money by providing energy by this process.  There is little you can do about pollution other than take into account that it is worse in some overseas regions, including many cities. However, you can enjoy the health benefits of sound food and physical activities. The common obesity indicates how many in society have given in to fast food and sedimentary activities. Watching TV and playing video games is a common ailment now but it will decrease in due course as these facilities become rarer. Ironically, the decrease in these distractions will force people to adopt a healthier life style. There is concern that a plague may occur that will have a devastating impact on the global population. The current bubonic plague in Madagascar is an indication that humans are still susceptible to a problem that led to the Black Death in the Middle Ages. Hygienic practices in developed countries lessen that possibility here but bugs like international travel too!
8.      Education will become increasingly important as the values in society change from the emphasis on increasing material standard of living to improving life style with less damage to the environment and a reduction in consumption. The current trend in fostering living with nature will continue to increase in schools. The courses available in universities are bound to focus more on means of adapting to what civilization is actually doing rather than innovative technology and economics. However, the increasing dependence on information technology is a worrying tendency as it is not sustainable. Smart people will be selective about their learning activities so they will have the resilience to cope with trends not foreseen in the mainstream. There will be reversion to many simpler past practices.
9.      Technological developments have greatly reduced the demand on people to have many fundamental skills. The current throw-away society will be replaced by a society facing the challenge of making do with a much lower material standard of living without having adequate coping skills. Fixing things rather than replacing them will again become the norm, where that is practical. But many items are now so constructed that they cannot be repaired. Gone are the days when car owners could maintain their cars for years. Nevertheless, going to the trouble of learning basic useful mechanical, electrical and wood working skills will pay off in due course. This, of course, is in addition to the worthwhile gardening, storing and cooking skills
10.  Society is addicted to the benefits provided by technology without understanding that technology has never created anything! Society is conditioned to believe inventors have devised means to provide the goods and services that are so much a part and parcel of what happens. All technology has ever done is enable the use of natural forces to irreversibly consume natural resources and produce irrevocable material waste in the process of producing the goods and services so beloved by society. Society blesses (and pays well) inventors, innovators and entrepreneurs now but how will they be treated in the future after the peak of everything? Ironically, there is nothing you can do about this delusion. The role of technology will slowly decline as its sustenance, natural resources, become scarcer.
11.  For decades the powerful in society have promoted the view that the market economy will foster the trickling up of material standard of living so to an improving life style for the masses. That has happened to the middle classes in the developed countries and is happening now in the developing countries such as China and India. It is based on the ability of the systems of civilization to divest natural material wealth at a high rate. That rapacious process is coming to an end. Smart people will adopt a frugal life style based on doing rather than consuming while seeking the benefits of localisation. They will avoid the harshest aspects of the inevitable powering down that will infect most of society and they will also have the advantage that they understand why this decline is happening.
12.  Social issues have always been worrisome due to the actions of the repellent minority, often because they are disadvantaged or have unreasonable beliefs.  There is widespread concern at how criminal activities, domestic violence, alcoholism, drug abuse and other anti-social issues are escalating, especially among the young. This malfeasance is bound to grow rapidly as more people become disillusioned as the progress they have been conditioned to expect dies. Smart people will be able to do no more than promote understanding, especially amongst the young, that society will have to learn to live with nature. It is quite possible that many of the brightest youngsters will rise to the challenge of fostering a sound powering down. The least that the oldsters can do is to foster this positive movement among the smart young. However, that can only slightly ameliorate the disintegration of society as a whole.
13.  Choice of career has always been an important issue for the young but the pressures will be changing dramatically in the years ahead. The need to look ahead is becoming more difficult due to the inevitable ending of economic growth together with the declining material standard of living combined with the aging population. Many of the careers that are currently deemed as being worth striving for will turn out to be dead ends. Airline pilots enjoy an attractive image now but that will not last because airliners are a threatened species. The current chaos in the automotive industry in Australia will get no better even though the number of cars being produced globally is still going up. That production rate will peak shortly and then decline rapidly, mainly because the fuel is running out and the necessary materials becoming scarce. Considering a career in mining, manufacturing or marketing would be unwise. Professionals in the legal and financial fields will be under greater pressure to provide reasonable service at a competitive price. The demand for scientists and engineers will focus on maintenance and remedial activities. The demand for education, health, caring and security services will continue but budgetary constraints in a declining economy could reduce prospects. On the other hand, the demand for electricians, carpenters and other skilled tradespeople is bound to increase as people are forced by circumstances to power down.
14.  Retirement is unlikely to be as comfortable and pleasing as retirees are enjoying now. Superannuation is most unlikely to provide adequate finance for the touring that most people look forward too, especially as cars and airlines will no longer be affordable for many. The aging of the population will put pressure on the governments to fund pension, health and caring services as their budgets are hard hit by reduced taxation income as industry fades combined with the cost of debt servicing rising. Smart people will adopt a frugal outlook now so that their retirement will not be stressful.
15.  Society is happily embracing the information revolution without giving any thought to how long it will be possible for industry to manufacture the vast number of computers, smart phones and other electronic devices by using up the depleting rare earth minerals and other irreplaceable materials. They do not understand that it is an unsustainable process that will be entering its senescence shortly. Banking, on-line shopping, social networking, searching for information, entertainment, learning, education, promoting views and stimulating activities are some of the activities  that people around the globe have become addicted too because they have not been educated about reality. How will they cope with the gradual withdrawal of these facilities in the decades ahead? How long will the National Broadband Network be operational? Most people will say that such a situation cannot occur. They will say that science and technology will come up with solutions but that is because they do not understand that technology has never done more than use natural forces to consume natural resources  while producing irrevocable waste material just to provide humans with goods and services for a while. Most people will find it hard to cope with the decline in the availability of these services and they will not be able to expect much help from governments or industry.
16.  Stress will become an increasing problem as people find it hard to accept that the good times are becoming fanciful images. The ability to relax will, consequently, become a more useful therapeutic measure. But the current emphasis on relaxing by watching TV, playing video games or other measures depending on technological systems cannot continue. There will be a reversion to focussing on artistic pursuits, hobbies, sporting endeavours, games such as chess and social discourse for relaxation. Ironically, the conversion of many redundant shops in shopping malls to meeting places will foster the social discourse that used to be so common in many countries.
17.  The current trend on travelling around the world for pleasure as well as business is built on the facility of airliners. And that will not last. Those who have the desire or need and the means should do it in the near future as the ability to do so will decline rapidly. It would be unwise to put such a move on the agenda for retirement. The Boeing Dreamliner, Airbus 340 and other airliners consume vast quantities of jet fuel during their limited lifetimes. There is not enough acreage for biofuels to meet more than a small proportion of the insatiable appetite of armada of airliners. Land and sea transports will continue to demand their share of this scarce natural resource.
18.  Managing financial affairs will change profoundly in the coming decades. Society has become conditioned by the rapid economic growth of recent times to make financial decisions that they could rue in the not too distant future. The investment boom will have encouraged them to fallaciously believe that their superannuation will finance a pleasant retirement while being able to support the pretensions of their family. The equity in their home will be supporting that unwise presumption. Financial managers will have to become more circumspect in their advice as money loses its potency.
19.  Society has become very dependent on the services provided by the systems of industrial civilization. This particularly so in the cities. The gradual withdrawal of these services in the decades ahead will have a profound impact on many people. The rich elite will have the monetary leverage to cope with the powering down. The smart people will use their knowledge to make sound proactive decisions. But the overall situation will be catastrophic. That is the prognosis based on the understanding of how the Real world operates.
The understanding that I have embodied in this essay is grim but based on the reality of what happens rather than what people want to believe. So let the points I have made here provide you with guidance in the years ahead.