The oak that fell to entropy

Being sustainable now will be the difference of who survives and dies in future.

The sun is setting on this age of civilisation.  Climate change is adding to the entropic collapse of global energy systems.

The sun is setting on this age of civilisation. Climate change is adding to the entropic collapse of global energy systems.

Besieged by snow and wind for weeks, a great storm sent a 1,200-year-old oak tree crashing to the ground.  The Pontfadog Oak growing in Wrexham in Wales was one of the oldest trees in Britain, a meeting point of the ancient Welsh armies who fought the English, recorded as far back as the Viking Age of 802.  This tree, which had been a source of shelter, meetings, feed for animals and fencing for the community was cut down by entropy.

The Pontfadog Oak could be a metaphor for what human civilisation is now facing.  If the oak tree is human civilisation, then the storm that brought it down is entropy.  The Second Law of Thermodynamics is behind the idea of if you take too much energy out of an energy system, and damage its ability to renew itself, then entropy is the result.  An energy system that loses too much energy without replacement collapses to an ever increasing simplicity through disorder.  Social, political, economic and environmental systems are like the Pontfadog Oak, all energy systems that will crash to the ground when entropy reaches a certain tipping point.

By degrees the Pontfadog Oak had been weakening due to the siege of climate change conditions, then the tipping point emerged without warning that smashed the tree to the ground.  Plenty of warnings had been made that the tree needed support from its stewards and stakeholders, but nobody wanted to give the tree the love and attention it needed, so it died.  Everyone now misses the tree they neglected and took for granted.

It no longer matters what is responsible for climate change, it is too late to do anything about it.  Any historian or anthropologist would be aware climate change has been behind the evolution of humanity, it killed the Neanderthal and pushed our present human species to the technological progress it now has.  Climate change has always been the game changer, unsustainable human waste, greed and inefficiency will be laid bare as climate change wipes out food, water and energy sources in a world of seven billion people.

Whilst I try to be the optimist, I am the realist.  Like the Pontfadog Oak the decision makers and citizens of this world will carry on in their unsustainable ways, they will be negligent and blind to the obvious, then the energy systems that are already crumbling will collapse. Large numbers of people will no longer have access to the basic essentials of life, they will use the only options open to them, they will begin to move and fight.

In nature some plants depend upon wildfires destroying wood and grassland, destruction that triggers new growth.  For a better future the human race is going to face a period of anarchy and violence of a magnitude that will seem horrific.  The human race is going to have to experience a good kicking to experience a paradigm shift of the type needed to survive.  For those of you like me who are on the ball, making sustainable choices now which benefit principally you, your family and the community assists you in surviving what will be a challenging and dark time ahead.


12 responses to “The oak that fell to entropy

  1. Damn right. Excellent post. Have you read the book Ishmael by Daniel Quinn? I feel it’d be right up your alley. While humanity isn’t necessarily hopeless, we’re going to drive ourselves extinct if we keep going the way we’re going.

    • Humanity will get plenty of warnings along the path, if it chooses to ignore the warnings then inevitably to extinction it will fall.

      I have never read Ishmael, but I read a review and found it to be an interesting book to look into further. Thanks for mentioning the book and your comment.

  2. Climate changes have definitely always had great effects on humanity-even to being a proposed cause for our larger brains thru adaptations required to survive the ice ages.

    I do think it matters to stop polluting because it will make a difference between “rough period where a few survive to start over” and “Earth resembles Venus and NO humans or any of the larger life forms we know survive”.

    The science is very clear on how the warming is happening so fast this time, and what is driving it-and what could mitigate the effects, or make them continue on the same path.

    Gaia is a system that self regulates, so we cannot always predict just what will happen, but on the upside, the collapse of industrial society worldwide will drop the carbon output quite a bit;-)

    I am sorry to hear about the oak; trees and plankton made it possible for us to come into being and we sure are repaying the kindness badly by cutting down over 98% of the world’s forests and strip mining and poisoning the seas.

    I hope someone thought to collect some of its acorns and plant them at least! I constantly collect acorns and other tree seeds as the place where I live has more than its fair share of aggressively unsustainable folks who seem to believe that destroying trees, plants and any vestige of nature they encounter is some sort of holy duty. ( as well as blowing up or knocking down any building that has any trace of history or happens to get older than a few decades)

    • Hi ohnwentsya, climate change will push humanity to a position of sink or swim, there will be no room for tricks and self deception by humanity in the coming great crisis.

      If you remember the story of the Titanic that hit the iceberg, the disaster made worse by lack of lifeboats on the ship, the iceberg is climate change and the lack of lifeboats is what humanity did to this planet through unsustainable action.

      I think the experts are looking at what they can do about salvaging something from the fallen oak tree.

  3. Death and regrowth are the constants across the Universe. Wisdom is optional! Great post, Alex.

  4. Whatever else happens, the tree should not be wasted. I believe it deserves the beauty, dignity, and respect a craftsperson or artist can give to it.

  5. Loved this Post Alex…. Such a shame about the old oak tree,.. A tree which has seen so much change in its life time… A great analogy of our Human experience.. We are on the brink of no return.. And Have I think gone past the point!..
    How Mankind adapts will be the cusp of his survival tactics.. How he sustains himself will be the crux of the matter.. No longer will he be able to nip down to the supermarket and buy his needs… I wonder if people ever THINK! beyond their own little boxes, and see the patterns of history .. The floods, droughts, mini-ice-ages- storms increasing in volume and density..
    That alone is enough.. but we complicate things ever further by our economics, wars, and greed..

    Mother Nature always adapts, she will always get around to changing things to survive.. She needs not the human element to thrive.. In fact we have been the bane of her world, as we sour- scar- and wound her shores and oceans. .. Mankind had better wake up fast to his actions or else he too as mighty as he may think he is in his knowledge.. Soon be felled along with his brothers ‘The Standing Ones’ the trees…….

    Great post.. and thank you for providing the link.. ~Sue

  6. Thanks Sue, I am saddened by the loss of this ancient tree, and hope some good can come from it.

    Many species have come and gone, humanity if it goes extinct will be replaced with something else.

    People are sadly so ignorant of nature some have no idea what an oak leaf looks like, or that meat in the supermarket came from slaughtered animals. Ignorance, hubris and control is the curse of humanity, I hope they will learn wisdom, humility and the blessing of liberty. Time will tell.

  7. Alex does your study give some insights of possible migration routes in future?And possible regions of conflict?

    • The North of the World will be a flash point as the powers fight over transport and mineral rights as a result of climate change. I will become involved in such a fight because I am determined to protect the Sami from exploitation and destruction.

      China is asserting its rights over the ocean in its area.

      Every nation is slowly turning against immigrants they blame for taking jobs and resources in challenging economic, social and political situations. Greece and the rise of Golden Dawn is an example of this.

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