Dan Carlin (2019) The End is Always Near: Apocalyptic Moments From the Bronze Age Collapse to Nuclear Near Misses.

Dan Carlin’s book is based on his HardCore History Podcasts. I’ve never listened to them. Books are better. A good apocalypse always gets my attention. Carlin asks the question were men (and women) tougher in ye olde days. The answer, not surprisingly was probably. Let’s look at the Spartans. No fat kids. No food unless children foraged for it. Stole it from each other.  Childhood obesity is no joke, but you know we should try that at Eton, and on Boris Johnston in particular.  I did a list of possibilities with the doomsday clock ticking closer and closer to midnight. The moron’s moron and 45th American President has lightened the load a little. I guess we can also begin to rule Asteroids out. NASA (or somebody) sent an experimental rocket up with a payload of a Hillman Imp to try to deflect one of the smaller rocks. From smaller rocks to bigger rocks to bronze to iron to flying machines to Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Man has never developed weapons he’s not used. (I use the male tense) until we went nuclear.

One thing I didn’t mention in my UFO post was a group of American soldiers in their bunkers reporting seeing lights in the sky. A spaceship hovering and the commander reporting a ray that turned off nuclear weapons. The Day the Earth Stood Still moment with Gort, the benign alien, under the classified section. He does mention The Fermi Paradox which stacks the odds in their being other intelligent beings on other planets. Then looks for reasons why we can’t contact them. They may be so technologically advanced that they’re invisible, but Occam’s razor suggests another more plausible option. They become so technologically advanced—like us, but with wings on—they blow themselves up. 

Carlin only mentions global warming in passing. It’s not right away and it’s not sexy. But I’d guess that it will be a catalyst for all these other factors including using tactical nuclear weapons. We’ve already begun the softening up progress. Military psychologist, David Grossman, for example, notes that greater distance makes killing possible. I’m sure there could be some kind of equation here. Algorithms rule the world.  A soldier guiding a drone into warfare isn’t the same as medieval soldiers having to hack their way through the bodies of tens of thousands of women and children. Around 40 000 Londoners killed in the German Blitz in London during eight months of the Second World War. Around 40 000 killed in Hamburg in one afternoon. Scaling up.

He doesn’t give any mention of the rise of the robots and machine intelligence. The cuckoo in the nest. To paraphrase, 100 computer programmers worth one million soldiers. Then one computer programmer worth one hundred. But with self-replication no computer programmers and no soldiers that can stand against them. A slow burn. Then an implosion.

Because Carlin’s Podcast/Book was pre-Covid, Covid-19 is not here. He does make a case for vigilance, but he’s missed the big one. He needs to rely on Smallpox and The Black Death, which wiped out half the world, but wasn’t all bad. Workers became more Bolshie, moving into their master’s houses and taking their land. Round up the usual suspects. Spanish Flu.  He identifies the speed of spread is tied in with the interconnectedness of modern life. As it was in the past. When a ship docked and its cargo was unloaded, those that helped unload it went home and infected their family. We know how it works. We’ve become experts in epidemiology. One thing Carling didn’t predict was the unexpected backlash against inoculation. The growth in Conspiracy Theories. I don’t doubt if there was a vaccine against the Black Death with little chance of survival, people would have been queuing around their hovels. Or smallpox, which was lethal. And not only that, it cause disfigurement on the skin, even for survivors. Inoculation against smallpox would have been an easy sell to Instagram and Facebook generation. Imagine the selfies? Even the First World War, Spanish flu (it didn’t come from Spain, that was a bit of propaganda, like the moron’s moron calling Covid-19 the Chinese thing, but it did come from China). The Spanish flu hit mainly the young and healthy. Old blokes like me were quite safe. Imagine if over 150 000 corpses in the United Kingdom were under forty. That would have created more of a fuss.

Oh, well, back to the killing board. We’ve all got to die of something. It just looks like we’ll become progressively poorer, perhaps even go hungry, before the full wrath of global warming is unleashed. The Jews were wiped out in many European nations during plagues. I’m sure boat people and refugees will face similar plights. We do love our scapegoats. That savagery linked to ancient times before the Bronze Age. Back beyond Old Testament times. We might be fat and half blind, but we can still find a good bit of hatred of foreigners when required. Justification in extremis. The more we change the more we stay the same…

Climategate: Science of a Scandal, BBC 4, BBC iPlayer, producer and director Steve O’Hagan.


Our ancestors believed that the sky was round and the earth was square, the sun and all the planets circled the earth. All these things were self-evident.

When emails from the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of Cambridge were hacked in 2009 the theory that global warming was a hoax gained credence and the sky really was round and the earth square. Everything was up for grabs, including the truth.

  1. Since 1880 our planet has warmed to around 0.85 degrees
  2. 100 percent certainty doesn’t exist in science, but we can say this with between 95 percent to 99.99999999999 certainty that half the global warming is due to human activity, in particular our reliance on fossil fuels
  3. To stay below 2 degree and runaway global warming we have a ceiling of one trillion tonnes of carbon which we can afford to burn.
  4. But we’ve already burnt more than half that figure and are accelerating towards runaway global warming.

Scientists in The Climate Research Unit don’t use terms like runway global warming. They use more prosaic terms such as ‘dangerous levels’ of climate change. In other words we are facing an existential threat in the same category as nuclear annihilation and nuclear winter.

The Third World War has begun but before it heats up, the propaganda campaign takes place. Climategate was the epicentre of the propaganda war.

One of the most striking features of the programme was science isn’t about certainty but uncertainty. Validation comes from not one body but many. When CRU released the data they used to a team of global-warming sceptics, physicists from the University of California, Berkley—with a $150 000 grant from Charles Koch, one of the richest men in America, friend of the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse and prominent climate-change denier— who used a different methodology, but came up with the same figures as the CRU that should be the end point of the earth is square believers. But we know that didn’t happen.

This is an interesting case study in why that didn’t happen and trolls rule the world. David Attenborough, Seven World, One Planet, can tell us that a football-pitch sized piece of the Amazon forest disappears every seven seconds and this can be seen from space. Similarly, Jonathon Watts,  report Battle for The Amazon can make the analogy, ‘rainforests function as the heart of the world…sucking carbon dioxide out of the air’ converting it by photosynthesis ‘pushing 20 billion tonnes of water vapour into the atmosphere each day’ as part of the earth’s cooling system.

But for square earthers if we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. When we waken up in the morning take milk from the fridge and eat Cornflakes today is much like yesterday. The bomb hasn’t landed.

We’ve been here before. Thomas Malthus, for example, Essay on Population  (1798) argued that unless we showed ‘moral restraint’ population levels would increase at a greater level than we could feed ourselves. He factored in the horseman of the apocalypse, War, Famine and Epidemics, but even allowing for these levelling factors his argument, like that of David Attenborough, on land and sea, mass species extinction and a holocaust, remained self-evident.

Malthus hadn’t factored in Planet B, the increasing efficiency of food production and the rise of global capitalism. As a general rule those that own the land own the people on the land. Natives of the Amazonian forest, for example, are vulnerable because clearing the land of forest increases its value by 50-to-100-fold and they have no land deeds to say they own the land. Land-grabbers, logging, mining and farming combine in a toxic mix that leaves little room for sentiment.

Marxism like Malthusianism has been overtaken by events. Liberalism and Capitalism have established hegemonic influence as the only game in town.

Marx argued, ‘It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness’.

In other words, the interests of the dominant class (the 1% to our 99%), land grabbers, logging, mining, industry, and farming conglomerates are reflected back to us in ideology.

Marx’s architectural metaphor makes this clear. The legal system, our ideology and politics is the ‘superstructure’ that rests on the ‘base’ of the economic structure and socioeconomic relations.

In crude terms, Marx describes morality, religion and philosophy, as ‘phantoms formed in the minds of men’.

When, for example, during the Highland clearances crofters were replaced by the more valuable monocrop of sheep, crofters had to sell their labour and learn to say ‘baa’ to survive. For their children this was a natural state, inseparable from their historical condition.

Marxism’s endpoint was when this false consciousness was shaken off. Climategate, the rise of the moron’s moron in the Whitehouse and Boris Johnston as the people’s czars show this is unlikely to happen soon.

Hannah Arendt, who fled Nazi Germany, argued ‘Things only become irreversible, when people start to think so’.

The dominant class, our 1%, since Climategate have opened up new fronts in the propaganda war. The nothing can be done argument has gained traction. Our eco-system rests on an economic system in which there are clear winners and losers. The Malthusian monopoly ‘on virtue’ has been co-opted by those that benefit most.

An archaic term, ‘running dogs of capitalism’ set loose to defend their rights and virtue. Marxism posited another scenario in which ‘contradictions of capitalism’ would be exposed and the workers would gain control of their workplace and the surplus value extracted from their labour.

Climategate shows there’s no Planet B and we burn through existing resources quicker than we can replace them leading to the increasing likelihood of extreme weather conditions and sea level rise. Bots and trolls rule the world. The contradictions of capitalism might just bring them down. But Malthus might just have got his timing wrong. Far more likely is tens of millions of refugees on the move. Wars and famine.  An Amazonian frog doesn’t jump out of a pot if the water is slowly heated.