Both poles are overheating in unexpected ways, inflation is rising across the world, a senseless war rages in Eastern Europe, food shortages threaten in the Middle East, catastrophic droughts appear to have become permanent climactic features in many parts of the world, disinformation and lies spread like a disease, the world is divided between a few enormously wealthy states and a great mass of enormously poor ones, and the wealthy ones are themselves divided between a few immensely wealthy people who own almost everything, and a great, restless mass that they seek to control through lies and disinformation. And dictators and would-be dictators nibble at the edges of freedom, with the clear intent of swallowing it whole. And then there’s the pandemic, never quite overwhelming us, never quite disappearing.

On the surface this seems like a host of different problems, but that isn’t actually true. And, as I am going to be talking history here, this is where I fear that eight out of ten of my readers will click this off.

You shouldn’t, not when history is the only resource we have that can help us understand our situation, and possibly navigate our way into a safe and peaceful future. What I want to talk about is the Roman Climate Optimum, which lasted from about 500 BC until 150 AD. At that point, the sun grew slightly warmer. This caused worldwide drought, which in turn brought starvation and thus weakened immune systems, migration and war. The result was that the Roman empire eventually collapsed. First, it was depopulated by one pandemic after another. Then it was invaded by Germans who were being pushed east by the Magyars, who were themselves being pushed east by the Huns, who were seeking pasturage for their horses, as their central Asian homeland had dried up.

The Germans discovered that vast areas of Roman territory that had been forbidden to them were now depopulated, so they moved in. The history of how this led to the eventual abandonment of Roman governmental institutions and the rise of Germanic kingdoms is a complicated one.  When the Romans sacrificed to their gods and didn’t get help, they turned on them. They pulled down the temples, broke up or melted the statues, burned the books and ran off or killed the priests and intellectuals.

What is happening to us right now bears striking parallels to those days.But there is one difference, and it is huge: The Romans did not understand what was happening to them and we do. They called on their gods and when it didn’t work, they tore down the temples and created a new god–which didn’t work, either.

The Romans suffered chaotic and generally incompetent leadership for 200 years between the death of Marcus Aurelius and the accession of Constantine. After that, the empire continued to be gradually overwhelmed by climate change, resulting migrations, and more pandemics. Then, in 536 AD, a massive volcanic explosion, probably in Iceland, caused 18 months without sun worldwide. The Roman Empire in the west sank away into memory, replaced by a mass of feudal domains that gradually coalesced into larger and larger states, until, in the 19th Century, the world began to take the shape that we know today.

SO what does all this mean to us? First, we’re restless now, not desperate. When we are desperate, which will happen whenever the first irreversible and intolerable climate disruption takes place, we will begin to overthrow our governments. The regimes and parties that have ignored or denied climate change can expect to be destroyed and abandoned. They will fight back with lies and attempts to impose authoritarian regimes by whatever means possible. In the end, they will fail, but just as war is distracting us now, internal upheavals in states worldwide will cause us to continue to fail to prevent a united front against climate disaster in the future.

Since the mid-1980s, it has been too late to guarantee climate stability. At that time, the United States, which, like it or not, is the world’s leading nation, failed to provide the leadership needed and set a world example. Since then, a continuing false debate about the danger has hamstrung all efforts to provide the kind of continuous and consistent effort needed. This fake debate has all but guaranteed vast suffering around the world.

However, it may not too late to plan for and even deflect some of the worst parts of the crisis. I do not think that we can succeed in stopping sea level rise. Vulnerable human settlements around the world can expect to be inundated. This means major coastal communities around the world. You can see on inundation maps what this is going to look like. As to when, given what is happening at the poles right now, it is apt to be sooner rather than later.

It is possible that the war in Ukraine will cause disruptions to food supplies in the Middle East sufficient to cause shortages. However, there are adequate supplies elsewhere to take up the slack, albeit not without significant price increases, which are happening now. The last time a significant disruption like this took place in the Mideast, the Arab Spring revolution unfolded. This was a general revolt of the middle classes against regimes that they had supported prior to the food crisis. In fact, looking back across history, most great revolutions have unfolded when previously prosperous people found themselves without food. This will happen again.

As matters stand right now, the climate in major North American and European food growing areas has not changed enough to disrupt food export markets. This is less true of South America, where droughts have affected output, but still, it has not thus far been a serious problem.

This could change at any time, and nobody knows how to predict when it will do so.

So what do we do? I think that it’s probable that there will not be a concerted trans-national movement to plan for the coming changes until it is too late, at which time the disruptions will be too great to be overcome by planning. We have simply come too far.

One would think that this would lead to despair, but I think that’s the wrong response. I stand with the young people of the world, who are increasingly approaching the problem not with the denial and frozen despair of older generations, but with a “can do” approach that I think has a good chance of winning the day, and ushering mankind into a truly better future.

These kids deny nothing. But doesn’t freeze them. They want to have lives and a future, and I want that for them, too. Everyone over the age of forty should have only one goal: make sure that the world not just a good place for the coming generations, but a better one.

If we find our way to get past nationalism and ideology and all the belief systems that keep us apart, we will experience the dawn of a new human community and, truly, a new human age.

Think we can’t? Wait until Miami and Houston and Venice and Lagos are flooding, and parts of New York and London. It will turn out that we can.

Let’s do this!

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34 Comments

  1. I always read your every word! The world-wide international Baha’i community is (in my personal opinion) in agreement with your true words. We have a road map, a series of plans to ” get past nationalism and ideology and all the belief systems that keep us apart”, by following these plans “we will experience the dawn of a new human community and, truly, a new human age.” The people of the Just (was what Reinee Pasarow, during her NDE was told the Baha’is are) . https://youtu.be/xB-T78qgfHM

  2. Yes indeed, I do believe a new world will arise. I have faith that science will redirect to solving problems with a new paradigm of low tech sophisticated and sustainable systems rather than complex high profit and short term gains. Nature is elegant and humanity can embrace the elegant ways of living.

  3. Thankyo for posting this information , it’s a brutal truth that humanity is on the brink now and to survive we have to abandon greed , selfishness and prejudice .
    It’s no good to think on the lines of nationwide survival , it’s a worldwide , planetary effort that’s desperately required .
    Fear and panic lead to hate , we have to overcome fear and embrace love , compassion and understanding .
    From what I see of the children growing up , I see they are looking for answers , searching for a way to logically and practically live in world that is in upheaval.
    I,m so angry with the leaders of our nation’s , they have sat back and watched climate change unfold , they are afraid of the new world order that must come .

  4. I have mentioned multiple times on this site that I would never bet against the human spirit when faced with its own mortality. But that doesn’t mean it’s a foregone conclusion humanity would make the right choice between mere survival and a thriving existence for most of its kind. Frankly, I have been mired internally with pessimism as of late, closely attuned to the machinations of wealth and power that have captured every level of government within the United States, supposedly the beacon of democracy and prosperity for the rest of the world.

    I am sad to admit that I can’t see the U.S. leading the way toward a more prosperous, just, and balanced society throughout democratic countries. Not the way it is currently constituted, and how it is controlled and manipulated by a tiny elite who are the primary funders and benefactors of the elected officials. This donor class has a very narrow set of interests, and it is to retain their power and influence over the majority of people who will suffer the most from a rapidly changing world. In fact, the faster things change, the more you will see these elites exert their power. And they will never give up. Many will suffer because of this, many will perish.

    I hate to sound like some sort of apocalyptic doomsayer, infected with baseless conspiracy theories. But that is my personal opinion on things, the way I see how the world is currently constructed. However, I am a big believer that positive change in the name of freedom and general welfare is not only a feature of our collective consciousness, but a driving factor in our evolution. It has been mentioned many times on this site and I will mention it again: the soul always seeks more and more freedom. Without it: extinction.

    Somewhere deep inside, I have a passion to witness the tumbling, if not total destruction, of institutions that hold power over others, institutions that no longer benefit the average person, but indeed, keep them in chains. This concentration of wealth, power, and influence is feeling this “restlessness” among us who want more freedom, a better opportunity to have abundance, to live in a healthy environment, where creativity and imagination can flourish, making for an even better world.

    But I confess I don’t know how this great change can occur. For those on the side of the good, it will take great courage, creativity, and the steel to face those unwilling to give up the power gained from a past paradigm. Does progress happen incrementally, from funeral to funeral, generation to generation, or do huge leaps in our collective consciousness occur when there are external forces applying the right amount of pressure?

    Regardless, I am an optimist when I see the potential for the human race. But I am also a realist when it comes to the destructive tendencies of humans also. Will we cross the great divide that we are rapidly approaching, reaching the other side heartened with wisdom and fashioned with a new set of eyes that allow us to see our true place in the cosmos. Or will we fall into the abyss, sinking in the muck of past evolutionary failures?

    I can say that I will do my best to be a willing participant in this fight for freedom of the soul, contributing in my own small, creative, and unique way.

    1. I agree and I like the way you used the word “infected” here. I would just add that the U.S. has always been tainted with oligarch, privilege, and elitism pretending to be democracy since its beginning and I think the vines growing from those toxic seeds have choked the life out of democracy which we are now seeing with the decay in the branches of the so-called “balances of power” definitely in the carnivalesque SCJ confirmation hearing currently. I think a lot of people are counting on emergent tech like A.I. to save us. Some are planning to go to colonize Mars. Some are waiting for Jesus to come back and for everyone but the true believers to be sent to hell. Some are hoping for the nice and caring E.T.s and/or the Rapture depending on their beliefs. Some have regressed to monarchial feudalism in the worship of Trump or Kek or Putin or some other chaos god embodying cult. Most are not taking real action to stop polluting and to connect in a deeper way to the planet they are destroying but a few are desperately trying. One thing to add here is that when the planet’s basic operating system is destabilized, it effects humanity, making us/it less stable (and thus more mentally whack). We just choose not to know our role in that process anymore because our egoic operating system is infected with malware. Where there is divisiveness–us/them mentality and perception–the malware is running the system. We have even created a division between ourselves and Nature as if we are not part of it!

  5. Thanks for these thoughts, Whitley. I agree that there is reason to hope for the species/humanity. I want to add a few points to your insightful historical analogy: Before Rome was an empire, it was a Republic that fell with the inauguration of Julius Gaius Ceasar in about 50 B.C. In other words, it deteriorated during that time from a constitutional system to a dictatorship. Your points about the climate change that occurred during that period helps to explain one of the reasons this occurred , the corruption and greed of the Roman senators, who constituted an oligarchy and only seemed to be interested in increasing their own wealth and power at the extent of all others, even Romans. Not only did they steal the land of farming families who had worked it for 400 years or more using manipulative laws they created about debt and controlling the market, they started wars using propaganda to motivate the patriotic Romans and obliterated other cultures (Carthage for one) to take their land and resources. The farmers and middle class were unable to find work after losing their traditional occupations because of the slaves having all the jobs. The idea of the country house/villa was established here, on the stolen lands of those traditional farmers and of course there was a lot of competition between the bored and dissatisfied1% with their acquisitions just as there is now. I’m sure they used the shifting climate destabilizing the market to their advantage in the process. By the time Caesar came to power,. Rome was a welfare state with 80 percent of the population unable to make a living. He was a populist and hero to the poor, even a living legend because of his best-selling autobiographical book: My Gallic Campaigns. By the time he crossed the Tiber, people were cheering him on, ready for him to “drain the swamp,” which he promised to do. When he crowned himself dictator, no one saw a problem except the senators who felt threatened for obvious reasons and killed him “to save Rome.” But by that time it was too late and a military dictatorship ensued with Octavian, Caesar’s nephew who had been groomed by him to succeed him in Caesar’s long game “to save Rome.” First Octavian’s army had to defeat the challengers, which he did and thus, after Octavian, it was essentially the military who decided the emperors. Competition for the title was based on whoever was the greatest benefactor to the military. Thankfully Octavian made many improvements, including codifying and modernizing an ancient and crumbling bureaucracy into a well-oiled machine that ran through several more centuries through some truly terrible and insane leadership. In my opinion, if not for Octavian, who managed to pretend to maintain a constitutional monarchy appearance of the system instead of calling himself dictator, Rome would have “fallen” much sooner. But to be clear the slippery slope had been going on since at least 100 A.D. and probably sooner and this information on the destabilized climate sure brings more explanation to the table because it was a farming culture to begin with. Another point to add with regards to the religious situation, is that the viral rise of Christianity in the first century A.D. can at least partly due to the poverty. It was the religion of the poor and the disenfranchised suffering masses. It promised an afterlife that was not told of in the Greek and Roman stories. It was also an afterlife of justice in which the corrupt and heartless monsters in the 1% would get their due. God would judge. There was no hope in the world of suffering for the people but one day the dead would rise and they would be glorified by God and healed from all of the trauma they had endured under the Roman oppression. They sought death, to be martyred like Jesus and this is one reason why the Roman leadership hated them–that was a very “un-Roman” viewpoint. They were weak, like prey, and that invoked the predator-like values of the Roman leadership. Their longing for death was disgusting and abhorrent to “true Romans.” This kind of attitude may be a part of the malware adaptation in the Egoic Operating System as it evolved based on “survival of the fittest,” which we know is a fallacy and not even a correct interpretation of Darwin, but it is the Ego’s way now as it has evolved over at least tens if not hundreds of thousands of years in the human species. Anyway, the lure of a better afterlife based on love and justice was catnip for the poor dis-empowered masses and it made sense because of course the Torah had already been teaching that it was a fallen world for at least a thousand years or more. Adding the trauma and suffering caused by climate change to the story fills out the picture even more, so thanks, Whitley.

  6. A person complains today of paying more for gasoline… as they are on their way to picking up their $6 macchiato. What’s going to happen when the day arrives when they can’t feed their child and there is no hope in sight?

    1. Author

      Hopefully, they will find themselves unable to get a macchiato before they starve. Hopefully that will inspire action while there is still time

      1. I’m afraid that a sudden climate event, over the course of a season, will slam the door shut.

        1. Author

          This has happened before. I am haunted by something I believe I heard from the visitors long ago, “it will come upon them unaware.”

          1. …now THAT is chilling, but most likely will be the case.

  7. If a truly great leader would come to the fore in the U.S. who put forward a platform of key things to accomplish such as:
    vigorous program to try to make fusion energy real
    simple ideas such as universal white rooftops
    restoration of the railroads for mass travel
    protection of the grid against EMP
    increased effort to protect against astroid impact
    serious attention to ending the bribe system that controls congress.

    Would be nice to see a serious and intelligent presidential candidate talk about these and other ideas.

    1. Even a padded infrastructure bill was called communism by certain members of the Republican Party in Congress. I think any progress in DC is usually thwarted by the before mentioned party. I honestly see no hope there until our society is in such dire condition that there are no other choices left.

  8. These are intriguing ideas, but will never be given any serious thought no matter who occupies higher office. Their funders won’t allow for such things that might interfere with their interests. Major change will only happen from the ground up. Perhaps that’s why the Visitors have gone directly to ordinary folks with open minds and open hearts, instead of government entities who have been captured by shallow-minded operators.

    1. They’re too busy scrambling for screen time, being as carnivalesque as possible. It’s like monkey vaudeville shows in Congress now.

  9. “What I want to talk about is the Roman Climate Optimum, which lasted from about 500 BC until 150 AD. At that point, the sun grew slightly warmer. This caused worldwide drought, which in turn brought starvation and thus weakened immune systems, migration and war. The result was that the Roman empire eventually collapsed”

    Any reputable sources to back up this assertion – I couldn’t find any. There are however many reputable sources the are in common agreement about said collapse, non has anything to do with climate. e.g.

    https://www.thoughtco.com/what-was-the-fall-of-rome-112688

    Even Wikipedia, explaining the term Roman Climate Opitmum, doesn’t make the connection to the fall of Rome. In fact, they’re saying the changes were of regional not global (i.e. “climate”) nature.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Warm_Period

    “What is happening to us right now bears striking parallels to those days.”

    Absolutely, because history repeats (or rhymes..). What we’re seeing is a change of guard – the decline of one empire (this time the United States) and the rise of a new one (China?).
    To understand where we are (and get a good history lesson), I suggest watching:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xguam0TKMw8&ab_channel=PrinciplesbyRayDalio

    In my opinion, the U.S. will collapse so fast it’ll leave the world stunned – except for historians.

    “Since the mid-1980s, it has been too late to guarantee climate stability”

    Was man responsible for the climate change, you claim, that brought about the fall of Rome? How about the Great Flood? Mini Ice Age?
    Not that our actions have no effect, rather, we’re too full of ourselves. Earth will do its thing, regardless.

    “As to when, given what is happening at the poles right now, it is apt to be sooner rather than later.”

    As I pointed out recently, even if the North Pole melted completely there would be no rise in sea level. Land based ice mass reduction is where the focus should be.

    My opinion, I could be wrong.

    1. Author

      The Fate of Rome by Kyle Harper (Book 2 in the Princeton History of the Ancient World Series) details the evidence, which is persuasive, very clearly. The Wikipedia entry is not accurate.

      There has been a years-long effort to deny the reality that climate change has had any effect on human history. However it is the fundamental driving force behind change on Earth. Ferdinand Braudel’s magisterial The Mediterranean in the Age of Philip the Second illustrates this with great care and intelligence. And it just covers that one small period.

      1. Certainly there may be “Climate Conspiracy” – as such it’ll be very difficult to prove one way or another.
        The effect of climate change on migrations and therefor on the rise and fall of nations, is obvious.
        I did find the climate change argument involving the fall of the Roman Empire, but the inability to defend the territory from the Barbarians, the source argued, was due to fiscal irresponsibility (and other man made factors) which should sound familiar.
        I don’t think climate change had anything to do with the fall of the Ottoman/Dutch/British empires..(with all due respect to conspiracies) – Ray Dalio’s video nailed the process.
        ..In my opinion – I could be wrong.
        PS
        Seemingly reputable source about the fall of the Roman Empire:
        https://www.usu.edu/markdamen/1320hist&civ/chapters/08romfal.htm

      2. Climate=food=land=survival=wealth. It’s a simple equation that always factors in. We know it is a factor with the mini-Ice Age in the middle ages and the ancestors to the Dine and Pueblo people at Chaco Canyon and Mesa Verde. It causes redistribution of wealth and migration just like pandemics. It is well know that the Black Death probably more than anything else ended feudalism. It’s basic common sense that our environment fluctuates and that it changes the socio-economic and cultural strata of all life, of which humanity is only one part. I guess people don’t like to think that humans have so little control over so much.

        Just wanted to add something I forgot before: that the Roman Church was built on the Roman hierarchy so that Rome never actually fell; it was just rebooted. I call it Rome 3.0. You could say that America is Rome 4.0. Science Fiction author Philip K Dick’s very interesting time displacement experiences in the 70s from which he became an authority on gnosticism resulted in a famous quote by him: “The Empire never dies.” I’m sure that’s where George Lucas got it.:)

        1. “I guess people don’t like to think that humans have so little control over so much.”

          Arrogance perhaps? By definition offensive display of superiority or self-importance. Or ego? …distorted perception? The debate rages, unfortunately, and nothing is getting done. This is where the “we are all one” or the “I am because we are” threads make sense.

    2. You loose that much ice in the arctic your certainly going to impact Greenland with plenty of ice sheets to effect sea level rise. Also there has been links to the affects of open ocean vs ice and impacts on the weather. In addition you’d loose a lot of Albedo if you melted that much ice in the arctic with a bad feedback on warming.

  10. Community:
    I would love any book or movie recommendations
    on this period and the fall of Rome. I am “standing in need” of a timeline to wrap my head around it all.

    The United States is an experiment based on land stolen from The Indians, given to Poor Whites in land grants ,who used African Slaves to make it fruitful globally. We were on the bumpy road to turning all the sins of the past around.
    These first few decades in the Information age are fraught with misguided baby steps ; steps of mass disinformation and tribalism.
    We know the collapse is coming, but as usual we don’t know when and how many it will effect, all we have are educated guesses from various futurists.

    1. Poor whites did not own slaves. Slavery was a vice of the wealthy in 1 region of the country.

      1. White immigrants were given land grants from stolen Indian lands, in order to farm & settle various states and populate and therefore create representatives and thus power in DC. The myth of only the 1% wealthy had slaves is disinformation. In researching my southern ancestors on ancestory .com ( all with census and probate documentation) middle class folks owned slaves. I have seen the acreage & slave rolls of my ancestors from VA-NC-SC-GA-FLA… they did own slaves. Even a GGM was found to own a small 13 yo girl as a hand maiden “slave”….One cannot get a land grant of 200 acres and till it by reproducing a large family. BUT! We are gathered to talk of Roman Climate Optimum. praise be!

  11. Thank you, Whitley. I was struck by your comment about today’s youth:

    “These kids deny nothing. But [that] doesn’t freeze them.”

    I think that captures their potential in a nutshell. Unlike me as 10-year old, kids today are are better able to fluidly embrace diversity and change in a way that I think previous generations were unable to do but that will be essential to a brighter future for humankind.

    But I have to wonder if the political parties that have ignored or denied climate change will be destroyed and abandoned. Maybe, as you say, their lies will fail in the end but the willingness of so many to simply believe what they want to believe has astonished me. So has the tendency these days to think and speak in absolutes. It stems from the fear of living in a confusing and nuanced world, I would think. I believe that the youth of the world can take in that confusion and nuance without it unbalancing them or causing them to chose to shut down their minds. That ability will unleash their true potential.

    1. Yes, but. . .a lot of them are growing up halfway in VR and/or choosing to spend A LOT of time in VR. This makes Zuckerberg very happy.

    2. For a bit of immediate history, the Boomer generation was the most optimistic in a long time. We started many “freedom” movements. But in every single generation, there is a subset of psychopaths who focus only on themselves. Combined with a ruthless quest for power, such men and women eventually become the ruling elite. This happens generation after generation. Commentators once looked upon the youthful Boomers as the hope of humanity. A subset of the Boomer generation actively sought to create a new world of love and equality. They did plenty but were betrayed and thwarted by the psychopaths in their midst, one of which is still trying to claim he lost the Presidential election due to fraud. To a fraudster, everywhere he looks he sees fraud.

      But the point is that unless the current youngsters are somehow genetically changed enmass, we can expect this pattern to simply continue. No matter how tolerant and lovely they may be, they will also be betrayed by those in their generation that have no interest in all this “love and higher consciousness” stuff and just kill and claw their way to the top, where they will act only to serve themselves and seek to control the flow of all information.

      I am shocked how few Americans ever read a history book. They seem to have no clue how the world has been run. Now we have people arguing that democracy is too messy and we need fascism to solve our problems. Yet no one has bothered to read about 20th century fascism.

      Sorry to seemingly rain on the parade of hope, but unless human nature is changed (by the visitors?) there is not going to be some magical correction.

  12. I suspect things have changed, not for better, when yesterday was April 1st, and Mr. Strieber skipped the “fool them” opp.
    My opinion, I could be wrong.

  13. The west and now my part of the world, the great plains, has seen the negative effects of two years of LaNina. In fact LaNina has been behind the mega drought in the west appearing way to frequently. We just got, hopefully saving rains, to what was going to be a historically bad wheat crop.

    The odd thing now is LaNina is supposed to support cooling with less ice melt. Doesn’t seem to be having its usual effect. Are we overriding natural cooling systems? The other thing I worry about is a effect of ice melt and cooling on the Pacific region 3.4 which determines ENSO. If we have more LaNina the west and Plains are screwed. I’ve only seen the opposite correlation maybe it doesn’t happen that way. I will keep searching.

    This is a good article on ice melt and possible weather changes:https://news.mongabay.com/2020/01/melting-arctic-sea-ice-may-be-altering-winds-weather-at-equator-study/#:~:text=Language-,Melting%20Arctic%20sea%20ice%20may,winds%2C%20weather%20at%20equator%3A%20study&text=Scientist

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