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Root to rise

Sun, Jul 24, 2011

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by Alfie Turnshek-Goins

The space between. Not wild, not domesticated. Something else. Something new and old. Whether we are reclaiming lost knowledge or using our integrated be-ing to create new ways of floating along with the material needs of life, it makes no difference. Nothing new under the Sun. Indigenous or civilized, the only way forward is through the playful creation of sustainable ways of living. This means, as Derrick Jensen says, not being a culture of occupation. We have much to learn from the indigenous people of this continent. Some of these cultures stretch back 10,000 years or more. The way of living practiced by many of these cultures is green of a very deep shade, before green was a political ideology or anything other than the color of life; green like the quiet of the forest under the canopy, duff and twigs crunching beneath your feet. And a softness to the air, a rich stillness where the processes of life around you march on, perceptibly. Ant footsteps can be heard if you listen. And breathe.

These spaces between open us up to the fact that in our cities and society we inhabit a psycho-physical world where the most taboo things we can feel, the things we are told by our governments and self-proclaimed elites we are not allowed to feel, yet those things which deep down we all know to be utterly, simply true; are that we are powerful and beautiful and free beyond our imagining. That our imagining is the only thing that limits us. That we may be imagining the wrong things. That we are not prisoners. That our needs are greater than those of The System. That the Earth freely provides everything we are currently being tricked into paying for. That we are capable of living together in peace, in concert with the natural limits of our biosphere. Two times, two times for emphasis: we are capable of living together in peace, in concert with the natural limits of our biosphere. Maybe not everyone is, but many are. I don’t know if there’s some sort of pendulum effect (where pendulums near to each other and swinging at different rates will eventually synchronize) in societies. Maybe in smaller, local communities. Whatever the case may be, I’m looking for the ones who are capable of living in concert with their total environment. I call them The Happy-Monkey-People.

When I am in urban space I see ruins. Living, breathing ruins. The structural violence of industrial civilization. A scavenger’s paradise. I see the frustration of the superego; its futility. I see the enclosure, the limits, the boundary of the city. An outpost. In Phoenix, where I currently live, those ruins are sometimes not so living and breathing. They’re just broken down, forgotten buildings with old stories on the façade and older chairs inside, the decay of decades of industry and metastatic economic growth. It’s strange to feel nostalgic about things that are currently happening. There is no such thing as history. There’s only what happened in the past. In The Black Swan, Nassim Nicholas Taleb writes: “It struck me, a belief that has never left me since that we [humanity] are just a great machine for looking backwards, and that humans are great at self-delusion. Every year that goes by increases my belief in this distortion.”

When I think of people in cities, I wonder how on Earth we are going to make this transition to living in a way that is predicated on health and wellness for everything. I was led to believe that was the whole point of the Universe (by whom or what, I’m not sure, but that’s what I think, anyway.) All the fixtures of the contemporary American city: the cabs, the restaurants (diabetes and heart disease are on the menu), the trucks, the girls, the guys, the homeless, the criminal, the waste, a great martini, the waste, traffic and horns, urban growth, urban decay, gutter punks, bad water, good art, the afterhours, narcissism, the farmers markets, god damn near everything … (breath) depends on oil, and is thus linked to all the tangible effects the use of that substance entails. And what it entails is ecocide. While that is not news to many of those reading this blog, I am still thinking of American city-dwellers, of whom I am currently one. How is it to be done? What force could motivate the conversion of those who depend on supermarkets for their food and Amerika for their infotainment into those who produce much of their own material sustenance, right down to the rocket mass heaters and Hugelkultur beds? The compost pile hot water heater? The creation of a personality with the spiritual knowledge of a being who can live peaceably and joyfully among a diverse group of biological entities? Is Snooki gonna help with that?

The force we usually think will initiate this conversion is the murky specter of collapse. Peak oil and the Economy! are complex beyond prediction, and it is no surprise that so many of us feel like something is shifting, something so massive it does not immediately register on our scale as powerful movement. The combination of these two forces will most definitely be converting some things in our world, although it’s likely to be the living into the dead. I really hope not. Doom and gloom take the place of rational predictions (although they are still possible) precisely because the nature of the problem does not appear to be rational. The word “non-linear” has been ringing in my ears of late. One side of the function of the exponential curve is about to turn for the heavens, and the other side, in a poetic nod to Lao-tse, is about to dive for the center of the Earth. Peak everything. Except peak mayhem, peak denial, and peak possibility. What peak oil is really about for me, is not how much oil we have left, but how much more of this shit I can take before I spontaneously and compulsively start building cob houses in the middle of the street and planting perennial polycultures in my immediate surroundings, fending off herbicide-spraying landscapers and cops with a combination of wit, bearing, charm, and Spanish. And fruits and nuts and vegetables, of course. You can get a long way with fresh figs.

Carless, mega-village, agroforest. Die-off is a touchy subject that is beyond the likes of a knave like me. I don’t want to think about it. This is not out of a desire for ignorance; as Jan Steinman said recently, “Although I appreciate those who fight against the wrongs in the world, we prefer to work for the rights in the world.” I understand the gravity of what we face. It’s so catastrophically profound of an idea, that I won’t waste another second thinking about it. I’m getting going, most ricky-tick. I want to have kids. I want those little wise monkeys to grow up without having toxins put into their bodies. Without toxins being put into their minds and their spirits. I think I speak for the majority of Earth’s living beings when I say I’m over it. I want to walk outside my earthen berm house that I built with my hands and pick fruit for my family’s breakfast. Trade vegetables and comedy gatherings and beer. Artwork and hand tools. Salvaged battery systems that enable diverse art forms and certain life-affirming technologies to continue. Street corner forums on the continental philosophers. Cheese and herbs. Scrap metal and books. Medicine and massage. I want to feed everyone who needs food. I want to figure out how to grow avocadoes at temperate latitudes, because damn it, I want the guacamolé, but I care where it comes from and how it gets here. I want to live, love, and laugh. Vandana Shiva, in the wonderful documentary, Dirt!, says we must feed the Earth first. What it gives back is our food. Feed the Earth. Feed yourself. Simple, not easy.

That is where I’m headed. The inner spiral, the rooting down, and the outward expansion. I’ve transferred my loyalty. What’s left in the intervening space between this place and a place where I produce my own food, my own hot water, and my own happiness, is the time and effort required to prepare an escape trajectory from the orbit of a death-culture with immense mass and spin. Calculate when and for how long to burn my rocket stove to achieve the appropriate velocity for the interculture voyage between civilization and something else. Figure the correct angle and orientation of my solar dehydrator for a safe re-entry into the atmosphere of a healthy planet. Some people call it dropping out. I call it leaving one world and appearing in another, which is the same world you just left. Not the country, not the city. The space between. Let’s build it.

_________________

Alfie Turnshek-Goins was born and raised in Berkeley, California and relocated to Phoenix, Arizona last August at the age of 33. As a kid, he ran pretty free and spent a lot of time in the woods of the Northern California and the Pacific Northwest with his families, where he learned about what he thought were the most important things in the world. He has worked since before graduating from high school, and finds himself checking the “some college” box on job applications. Occasionally he suffers from fits of leaping and grinning as well as from bouts of running for long periods of time. Favorite thing: shower beer.

____________________

This essay is permalinked at Seismologik.

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172 Responses to “Root to rise”

  1. Diane Gloria Cooke Says:

    Really great writing here, loved it. Please keep on sharing your experience, strength and hope, your vision is exquisite and priceless. It can help heal the world.

  2. Andy Brown Says:

    We need more of this wise recklessness. Much more.

  3. Diane Gloria Cooke Says:

    You are most welcome, kind Sir. I do believe we met many years ago, though for the life of me I can not remember when or where. Just way too familiar, if you get my drift :)

  4. Frank Mezek Says:

    Alfie Turnshek-Goins

    Excellent,perceptive essay !!

    I live in Sun City,AZ.If you would care to communicate my number can be had from phone information.I’d welcome the opportunity.

    DoubleD

  5. Robin Datta Says:

    Thank you, Alfie Turnshek-Goins, for a perceptive essay, in touch with reality. Yet the guiding forces of the industrial civilization are moving to an increasingly further remove from reality:

    TED Talks: Kevin Slavin: How algorithms shape our world

  6. Sean the Mystic Says:

    There is no intrinsic morality in this universe. All beliefs and actions are meaningless. The only true god of this cosmos is entropy. Whether you live for 5 more minutes or 500 years is of no consequence; life is no better than death, all your efforts are in vain and everything ends in destruction. The only solution to the suffering and absurdity of life is to build a doomsday bomb and extinguish it forever. I call upon the best and the brightest minds to annihilate the world. This universe is an abomination that shouldn’t even exist.

    Have a nice day.

  7. Robin Datta Says:

    All beliefs and actions are meaningless.
    I call upon the best and the brightest minds to annihilate the world.

    Bit ‘o contradiction there, ain’t it, mate?

  8. Sean the Mystic Says:

    Maybe. But. If. You. End. All. Actions. And. Thoughts. Forever. The. World. Will. Have. Buddha. Nature.

  9. Ed Says:

    Alfie: Very nice, I really enjoyed that, thank you. Solar dehydrators, rocket stoves, bermed houses. How do you get there from here? That is everyone’s question. Do you have a plan? These questions seem to now permeate the internet, as people finally begin to realize that this life style is finished. Every job that is based on an unsustainable life style has to be questioned now.

  10. Robin Datta Says:


    All beliefs and actions are meaningless.

    Maybe. But. If. You. End. All. Actions. And. Thoughts. Forever. The. World. Will. Have. Buddha. Nature

    More contradictions, eh?

  11. Jan Steinman Says:

    Nice essay, Alfie — and thanks for the nod. I’m flattered that something I wrote left an impression!

    But what the heck are you doing in Phoenix? Do you think it has more than a snowball’s chance in Phoenix of surviving with more than a few percent of its present population?

    I’m currently visiting in-laws in the out-law US of A. It is such a cognitive break to go to Harbor Freight and buy a tool that costs five times as much on my tiny Canadian island. Someone who normally drives about 40 km a week to take raw goat milk products to the local market is astounded at six lanes of traffic stopped on the freeway. Have I made the right choice, to pick a relatively isolated area in which to take a stand? Should I not instead run through Big Lots or Costco with a credit card, and hoard all I can for the coming crash?

    Yes. Right choice. Thanks for reminding me of what I wrote earlier. I feel ashamed to be buying bulk organic rolled oats in Oregon, when I cannot afford to buy the same thing from my fellow islanders. I walk the aisles of Costco with dropped jaw, a stranger in a strange land, unable to resist the wiles of so-called “civilization.” Thank goodness family obligations lead me into temptation only a few times a year.

    But while feeling shame at my one-week lapse into insanity (at least, I didn’t buy a wide-scream TV), I urge anyone who is so motivated to forcibly cut yourself off from the beast. Move somewhere where you simply cannot get to a Mall*Wart store. Find something to do for income that absolutely does not involve plastic. Produce as much of your own food and energy as you possibly can. Then you can indulge in the luxury of self-angst, when you find yourself with family who can’t possibly understand, in the Belly Of The Beast.

  12. sam Says:

    jan said ‘Move somewhere where you simply cannot get to a Mall*Wart store.”

    a probably a very good principle for location; & a nother quote to remember.

  13. sam Says:

    Alfie Turnshek-Goins; loved your essay. i believe it is very important to live within our wiring whenever reasonably possible, & i believe your/our optimism bias is right on!

    creative!

  14. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    Off subject—Re: Super Congress

    Debt Ceiling = Reichstag fire ????????????

    I have the elevator-drop feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    Michael Irving

  15. matrix Says:

    Debt Ceiling = Reichstag fire ????????????

    We’re in 1930′s dejavu. Rising of the US of A Reich in tandem with emerging Fourth Reich.

    Mankind will never learn. 400 yrs ago were liberated from traditional tyranny of the church and monrchies but the revolution was hijacked by the money changers and their tribes.

  16. matrix Says:

    Another fancy dream story that has no relation to reality. Fabulous fiction but lacking the Asshole character by navid.

    The Real space can only be realized when our monekey brains are silenced of our own primate pattern of thinking. That space is the immortal, the Real.

  17. Jesus Christ Says:

    These articles are inline with Breivik’s manifesto laying out a stark picture of the future of the Industrial empire.

    Whats next on the agenda?. Oh… and dont forget that the actual industrial productions are already shipped abroad.

    If you are all so rhetoric against the Industrialists, just sniff out the bacon, all of the trimmings comes right back here at home. Long live the Emperor and it’s army of Goonies.

  18. pumpkin Says:

    We must admit that we are the most NEUROTIC people walking the face of the earth. Psychotic medication is being prescribed at an all time high.

    A good explanation to the cause of our reactions.

    http://www.realjewnews.com/?p=166

  19. nathan Says:

    Jesus you should check out this article, the Real reason behind Breivik’s motives.

    http://www.gilad.co.uk/writings/gilad-atzmon-was-the-massacre-in-norway-a-reaction-to-bds.html

  20. the virgin terry Says:

    if writing was music, this essay would be pretty good jazz.

    ‘I understand the gravity of what we face. It’s so catastrophically profound of an idea, that I won’t waste another second thinking about it.’

    no need to think of it anymore, once the knowledge has taken root, u can’t escape it.

  21. the virgin terry Says:

    speaking of jazz, here’s a blast from the past u may appreciate anew:

    so much great music from my youth has been virtually lost in the sands of time. thank gaia for you tube, at least for a while longer. helps keep us entertained, distracted, not thinking unpleasant thoughts…

  22. nobody Says:

    I wish the families of the Anders Behring Breivik catastrophe find peace at this time of world suffering.

    We can not look away and pretend that we are not part of this, our own towns and societies are just as much infected with hatred towards Muslims. I will make every effort to help other people around me understand that we are all human beings, equal in all senses, heart and mind. Below our skin color, race, caste, religion, we are all human beings.

  23. Robin Datta Says:

    Debt Ceiling = Reichstag fire ????????????

    I have the elevator-drop feeling in the pit of my stomach.

    When the only conceivable options are authoritarianism of one form or another, such feelings are to be expected.  Climbing out of the box of authoritarian thinking ends identification with that system. 

    The Real space can only be realized when our monekey brains are silenced of our own primate pattern of thinking. That space is the immortal, the Real.

    Could be taken as an endorsement for euthanasia.

  24. Michael Irving Says:

    Robin Datta,

    “When the only conceivable options are authoritarianism of one form or another, such feelings are to be expected. Climbing out of the box of authoritarian thinking ends identification with that system.”

    I understand heroin use is another good route for escaping reality.

    Michael Irving

  25. Kathy Says:

    Apologies to Frank, the enforcer, but seemed like this bit of off topic news is of interest. Doesn’t matter in the long run, but in the short run it is pretty worrisome…..

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/07/debt-ceiling-negotiators-propose-super.html

    Debt Ceiling Negotiators Propose a “Super Congress” To Do the Dirty Work and Avoid the Wrath of Voters

    Huffington Post reports:

    Debt ceiling negotiators think they’ve hit on a solution to address the debt ceiling impasse and the public’s unwillingness to let go of benefits such as Medicare and Social Security that have been earned over a lifetime of work: Create a new Congress.

    This “Super Congress,” composed of members of both chambers and both parties, isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, but would be granted extraordinary new powers.

    ***

    Legislation approved by the Super Congress … would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits.

    Michael Rivero comments:

    This article is correct. The Constitution does not provide for such a sham. This group of 12 will do the dirty work so that the rest of Congress can evade the wrath of the voters in 2012. No doubt the 6 Senators will not be up for re-election in 2012 while the 6 house members will either be impossible to defeat or predicted to lose anyway no matter what they do.

  26. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Thanks to everyone for the comments. This one sure brought out the peanut gallery in full force.

    Frank – Will do. Look forward to talking to you.

    Ed – My plan at this point is to do as much research and experimentation as possible for the next 9 months. At that point I will likely be applying to enter a natural building and permaculture internship somewhere in the PNW or CA. Not exactly sure where, but all those plans are moot if this ship doesn’t hold together through the end of the year. I agree completely that unsustainable ways of living will soon be hitting some hard limits.

    Jan – In the case of a rapid descent (like if the just-in-time system has a heart attack) I think Phoenix will be one of the worst places to be imaginable. I have plans for that eventuality. We came here for my wife’s job, but honestly, living at the poverty line in the bay area wasn’t much more sustainable for us, still living as citizens of Empire. Coming to Phoenix has been really amazing for me, in that it has fully awakened me to the total and complete unsustainability of this way of life. The bay at least has the veneer of being aware of the nature of the problem, though in reality it isn’t much different from everywhere else in this country. We are here for now, but likely not much longer. I am going to spend the next year accumulating experience and looking for opportunities to work on a permaculture farm where I can learn all the skills needed to make the long-term health of my family and friends a real possibility. Any suggestions would be most welcome.

    matrix said:

    “Another fancy dream story that has no relation to reality. Fabulous fiction but lacking the Asshole character by navid.

    The Real space can only be realized when our monekey brains are silenced of our own primate pattern of thinking. That space is the immortal, the Real.”

    I have room in my story for another asshole. You are currently filling that role. And since you mentioned no relation to reality, I must say that the second part of your comment is about as silly as it gets. What I wrote, I wrote as the most real thing I could imagine. Feeding myself and those I love with food that I have grown. Can you tell me something more real? If you want to silence your monkey brain, I hear a bullet works real good. Me, I like my monkey brain. It’s the best part. Hella Zen.

  27. the virgin terry Says:

    thanks to victor and kathy for bringing to our attention this little matter of a ‘super-congress’ development in the u.s. i often don’t pay much attention to the details of political shenanigans, since their broad strokes are oh-so-familiar by now, but this one sure appears to be a doozy!

  28. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    I also think that there is an artificial distinction between the city and the country that needs to be abolished. When I said “carless, mega-village, agroforest” I was thinking about the spaces we currently inhabit. The world I want to live in is not a world of isolation. The city needs to die, but something else will take its place. I want that place to be a veritable Willy Wonka factory of creative, life-affirming endeavors. On this blog, we often talk about permaculture options as being rooted primarily in rural space. I think it’s important to keep our options and ideas open as to what shape the future may take. I have found http://www.futurescenarios.org/ by permaculture co-founder David Holmgren to be of great use in thinking through all the myriad paths we can take. I would be interested to hear feedback from the readership as to what it is we are talking about, precisely, when we talk about durable living arrangements, and where and how they might be possible.

  29. Robin Datta Says:

    I understand heroin use is another good route for escaping reality.

    Staying in the authoritarian box is an alternate and preferred way to shield oneself from reality.

  30. vera Says:

    Pickle, that is some awesome-good writing! Thank you.

    If I were in your shoes, I would not bother spending all that money on a permie course but apprentice directly. Unless you are hoping to make money by teaching others… but that pyramid scheme will eventually run down, as they all must, when high paying customers peter out.

    Scenarios… they are seductive, but I think what is more useful is to have a clear vision, and go do it, then modify based on feedback, and do some more.

    Durable living arrangements… ah. Well, you know, people talk about them a lot but the only folks who have them are tribal and subsistence folks far away from the world we inhabit. They will do well in the collapse. The rest of us… been thinking a lot about the way we civ humans trample everything we come across, all the livingness around us. Now if we were serious about durability, we’d stop building more roads, and start converting some of the ones there to living surfaces. We would only build microhouses, because anything larger kills too much land. And we would stop clearing more fields, more mining sites, more extraction places, and convert some of what there is back to forest, back to grassland.

    You know… it gets me. Permies and greenies go buy land, and the first thing is, they develop it. I would love to know of a community that actually gets the land, and they say, ok, how can we live here WITHOUT developing this land? What is the bare minimum of human artifacts? How can we protect the livingness that is here, so that it keeps on living?

  31. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Hi Vera,

    Thanks for the compliment and the reply! I am not hoping to become a for-profit teacher so that is good to know. The internships I have seen are not outrageously priced, but doing an apprenticeship where my contribution is in labor and time is much more preferable. Any suggestions on places to study?

    The scenarios Holmgren writes about are useful in thought experiments, and I agree that basing your course of action on real feedback from the world is a strategy that will ultimately be the one that provides the greatest potential for success.

    I further agree that we are almost completely ignorant of living in a way that is in tune with the biosphere. I think that we have to accept the fact that anything we do at this point is going to have to be an experiment. Whether we choose to learn from indigenous cultures or not, the knowledge of how to live in accord with our planet is out there. We have to find it again or anew, and I love the unknown and the adventure of it. It’s also important to approach this adventure with the benefit of the knowledge of previous “explorations” and not repeat the same colonialist mistakes and transgressions.

    I see a lot of truth in what you say about the permaculture movement. If you could find a group of humans who wanted to go back to living a nomadic hunter/wildlife manager lifestyle, maybe you could do it. I guess the thing to consider above all else, is does the land provide the caloric requirements to sustain the number of human inhabitants? If it doesn’t, some kind of increased human intervention will always be the result. I like to think of this project as some sort of creative interplay between the basic needs of human life and our knowledge of the biosphere. If we can build structures, and more importantly, ideas, that allow us to exist upon the land in a way that contributes to our biosphere and does not extract anything that cannot be replaced, perhaps we can create novel communities that resemble societies of the past in many ways, with some new additions. All these ideas MUST adhere to the natural limits set by the planet, and indeed, must also include both the foresight to live within those limits, and the hindsight to remember how we have exceeded them in the past. We’ve got a lot of healing to do.

    Thanks again for the reply. Love your blog!

  32. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Speaking of tiny houses…

  33. Victor Says:

    Just as you thought the news of the environment couldn’t get any worse….well, it has…..

    From the Guardian/UK:

    Melting Arctic ice releasing banned toxins, warn scientists

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/24/melting-arctic-ice-banned-toxins-pops

    Remember all those persistent nasty chemicals, known as “persistent organic pollutants (POPs), we used to throw into the atmosphere causing birth defects and cancers – Chlordane, lindane, PCBs, DDT, hexachlorobenzine (HCB), etc? Well…..they’re back! Trapped in cold water and ice for decades, but now being released by global warming in the Arctic….

  34. Ed Says:

    Permies and greenies go buy land, and the first thing they do is develop it. Or they don’t. I’m not sure what category we fall under, but in 5 years we have put in almost 2,000 perennials on our 24 open acres, 4 ponds, and a bunch of other sustainable thingies. I guess that is development, but the good natural things that have happened because of these actions makes me smile.

    Alfie: Jen, my OH has a PDC, and you are probably better off spending your money in other ways. Some of the courses are way better than others, but for the most part they are more about design and what you are looking for is the guts of what you need to do.

    M. Ruppert said we collapse this month and it was the easiest call he has ever made. Tomorrow is the 26th. You have time, but not alot. Pick a place that has lots of water, and then make sure it has even more water, and then make sure it has just a little bit more. The NW is a good choice. Carol Deppe’s book is a have to read. We learned a ton from it. Drying squash is something everyone should be doing and she takes all of the guess work out of it. More than Coleman and a bunch of others. Bermed house, we are in the process of building one. If you want the plans, I’m happy to send them to you. That goes for anyone else.

    Jan, good stuff. Today was my once a month visit to Sam’s. I go there because about once a month I need seed starter mix and vermiculite. I’m down to pistachios, two types of cheese, and a couple more garden hoses. The cheeses we can make ourselves if we needed too, but items like the hoses, we keep putting away.

  35. Guy McPherson Says:

    Another alternative for inexpensive learning about permaculture and gardening: http://www.wwoof.org

  36. Kevin Moore Says:

    Victor.

    Thanks for the link.

    I suspect we may not have time to worry about the long term effects of POPSs. The meltdown of the Arctic is accelerating, as we suspected would happen when record low ice cover was reported in Dec-Jan. As we all know, positive feedbacks have been triggered -more melting causing the release of CO2 and CH4, plus the albedo effect-

    NSIDC reported:

    ‘July 18, 2011

    Early sea ice melt onset, snow cover retreat presage rapid 2011 summer decline

    Arctic sea ice extent declined at a rapid pace through the first half of July, and is now tracking below the year 2007, which saw the record minimum September extent. The rapid decline in the past few weeks is related to persistent above-average temperatures and an early start to melt. Snow cover over Northern Eurasia was especially low in May and June, continuing the pattern seen in April.’

    The heating of the planet is already generating extreme weather events. Increasingly unstable climate will make permaculture increasingly difficult: not too many varieties can stand wildly fluctuating temperature and rainfall conditions. (NZ has been suffering from a severe Antarctic blast which has dumped snow in places it is normally unheard of, including Inglewood, just 18km from here.)

    When I discussed that aspect with David Holmgren 4 years ago he was contemplating leaving Australia and shifting to NZ, but the rainfall that Australia received over the past couple of years has negated those thoughts, I believe. Who would have thought that parched areas of Australia would be knee deep in water a few months later? I guess the southern regions of the US are praying for similar inundation. The last data I saw reported indicated that 29% of the US was in severe droought.

    Alfie. All that makes the choice of a suitable location to settle extraordinarily difficult.

    The NZ dollar is currently just over 86 cents US, and people are seriously talking about 95 cents, which will pretty much annihilate the export sector (other than to ‘rich’ Australia, whose currency has rocketed from 55 cents US to nealy $1.10 and to Cjioan, which is apparently desperate for resources. Unfortunately the high NZ dollar is reinforcing the delusions that ‘things are not too bad’, even as the globalised economic system gradually implodes and the environment melts down.

  37. Kevin Moore Says:

    Oops terrible typo I didn’t spot. Sorry.

  38. Kathy Says:

    Our huge web of interconnections will do us in. The river conditions affect the barge industry, but also the industries that ship by barge. Per the article switching to railroad ups costs by as much as 25%. Fertilizer going up uses barges, grain going down uses barges, among other products shipped by barge. More impact on food prices…

    full article at http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2011/07/23/missouri-river-flooding-closure-impacting-barge-industry/
    Missouri River flooding hurts barge industry
    After years of drought, flooding ruins expectations for recovery of shipping
    The Missouri River gave the shipping industry too much of what it needed this summer. After a lasting drought in the river basin decimated the corridor’s barge industry for the past decade, this summer’s flooding has washed away hopes for a bounce-back year.

    “Everything is here. The infrastructure is here,” Jackson said. “It’s just a matter of getting the correct amount of water.”

  39. Victor Says:

    The heating of the planet is already generating extreme weather events. Increasingly unstable climate will make permaculture increasingly difficult: not too many varieties can stand wildly fluctuating temperature and rainfall conditions.

    Kevin

    So true – this is the gorilla in the room where permaculture is considered the way of the future. In the end plants need water, but not too much or too little. Climate change brings with it climate instability at first. Few areas of the globe will be unaffected.

    So those who get through the Bottleneck through “staying close to nature” will likely find themselves having to frequently pick up and move to find food.

  40. Victor Says:

    Point well taken, Kathy. Production, whether it be food or other, must still get to market using an infrastructure that provide for timely and inexpensive transport. With climate change and peak oil we will lose much of that. At first,we will experience significant price increases. Later we will experience real shortages as infrastructure breaks down, and food and other goods become too expensive to produce, much less transport.

  41. john rember Says:

    Alfie:

    I know I’m not the only one writing into NBL who has read William Forstchen’s novel One Second After. It’s a vision a civilized people reduced to killer apes by the loss of the electrical grid, and it postulates the violent reduction of the U.S. population to 30 million in the space of a year. If you put it and McCarthy’s The Road on one end of a projected-future spectrum, a history of the world and Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee in the middle, and your piece and various ecotopian visions on the far end, you can start assessing your chances of raising a child in the kind of world you so poetically evoke.

    To me, your vision looks like a boatload of magical thinking. I love your phrase “happy monkey people,” but the Albigensians were the medieval model for happy monkey people and they didn’t fare well when confronted with a demonic Pope who said, “Kill them all. God will recognize His own.”

    In law enforcement classes I was introduced to the concept of the “human lowest common denominator,” the person who, by his actions, takes everyone to his level. In this culture, that’s the person who’s going to use a gun to get what he wants once civil authority breaks down. That’s why you are going to need a gun if you share your world with ungoverned humans, and if you have a child, you’ll need to teach that child to shoot straight. Turboguy! has some good advice on guns and on the subject of human nature, and you should listen to what he says. He’s one of the people who will set the norm for the rest of us.

    I respect your desire for a life in balance with the earth, but I was raised in a family that tried to be in balance with the earth and we managed to sustain ourselves only because my father ceased his fishing and hunting and trapping for a few months each year to work on highway construction or drive bus. My father taught me how to trap, skin, and stretch the hides of animals but for reasons related to my possible reincarnation I hope never to steel-trap any animal again. I don’t mind hunting but it’s not for the unskilled or the out-of-shape and most people fit the description.

    Even a sustainable vegetarian existence requires such hard work that it shortens lifespans and causes minds to obsess on chickenwire and humanure. The reluctance of us old people to jump into tribal sustenance schemes, no matter how benign they sound, reflects the fact that some of us have been there and were glad to get out. On a tribal scale, visionaries turn into petty tyrants.

    Seven billion humans confront us with a dilemma: either we keep slapping patches on industrial civilization, fracking and leveling the whole planet until and if fusion power becomes practical and we reconstitute an expanding capitalist economy, or the whole distribution and production system breaks down and six billion of us die in the ensuing fight for food. There’s a chance that the survivors might be able to construct a world like the one you postulate, but to get to the other side of the bottleneck they will need both physical and mental toughness beyond any of our present imaginations. As Victor noted, even Turboguy!’s biggest challenges are in the future, when he will have to decide which side he’s on. As Victor Frankl said of his experience in the death camps, the decent ones among us died.

    Like Kevin Moore, I’ve been watching the Arctic Ice, and it’s only one indication that the world climate has reached a phase-change. From here on out, anything goes. It makes it hard to grow fruit and vegetables by doing the same thing one year to the next.

    I’ve worked with words all of my life, and it’s a real effort to keep them from forming realities complete unto themselves. Your essay, for all its poetry, detaches from the world your much-wanted child will face: on the one hand a lack of space, a chaotic climate, and the difficulty of protecting hard-earned food from people who won’t respect the fences, and on the other–probably worse–a continuation of a death-dealing world-wide capitalist economy.

    All that said, I admire people like Guy and Ed and Resa and Jan, et al., who are doing the next indicated thing, which is to build and plant and store things away for next winter, however long it may last.

  42. Victor Says:

    M. Ruppert said we collapse this month and it was the easiest call he has ever made. Tomorrow is the 26th. You have time, but not alot.

    Ed

    Mike’s tendency recently to get into predictions is what finally drove me away from his site. It’s like he has entered this mode where he feels it necessary to constantly up the fear pitch. I have no use for that kind of fear-mongering – reminds me too much of our governments…. ;-)

    I was going to re-new my membership for another month or two just so I could hold him to account when collapse didn’t happen, but in the end I had to ask myself why I would do such a thing.

  43. Kevin Moore Says:

    John.

    Salutary words that I tend to agree with, unfortunately.

    Victor.

    I understand what you mean re: MR. TPTB will keep the show running a while yet.

    What do make of this?

    http://www.stuff.co.nz/taranaki-daily-news/life-style/5339573/Plant-now-to-survive-in-the-future

    Awful photo: freezing cold day and close up wide angle lens.

    FYI the 80:20 rule applies. 80% of what is in the article is what I actually said, and the article covers about 20% of what I said. However, since we are dealing with the corporate press, we could expect little different.

    As it happens, climate instability hit hard yesterday, with unusually cold air defoliating a large number of my more sensitive plants (pepinoes, tamarilloes, mountain pawpaw).

  44. Kathy Says:

    John, thanks for bringing things back to the reality of what lays down the pike. I have taken heat for it before, but I will say it again anyway. An unborn has no voice in their birth. Thus parents who can choose are obligated to envision what life their child might have. I have read One Second After and I think the problems that will be faced are fairly accurately laid out. Since it follows the “hero” who helps their town deal better than others, the dismal things described in detail are the difficulties and successes. The towns that don’t deal well are described more succinctly. But even in the town that does well, huge numbers of people die from attacks from the outside, lack of food, lack of medicines, internal strife etc.

    Since the unborn have no voice, one should ask oneself “will this child thank me if scenarios such as this or worse become their life, or will they curse me for bringing them out of oblivion into horror?” Watch a few movies about life when the social order is upturned – Savior, The Secret Life of Words, Prisoner of the Mountains, Triage, or The Grey Zone come to mind.

    Those who survive past the coming dieoff (to die later of course) will likely have to kill many others by weapons or by not sharing what they have. While I dislike Turboguy’s attitude, he is right that to make it for very long in the coming times one will have to be armed and unafraid to use weapons to defend what you have. (Jean says the same but in a far less cocksure, abrasive way. Attitude matters too and I would bet he will do better in the future than Turbo)

    I don’t want to crawl over the bodies of others to add a few years to my life. And in the end all we can do is add years, for we are mortal.

    I recommend One Second After as a guide to what happens when the grid fails (it will in the end fail, but the EMP attack in the book has it fail massively in one second). If your goal is to live the longest life possible the book will address concerns other than growing food that you may face. If your goal is to live well while you live, do those things that bring joy into your life in a daily way – for me my garden and chickens.

    Also go visit some nursing homes to see what living long can mean. Living long is overrated for most humans. Drooling old people strapped in wheelchairs unable to feed themselves are surviving….but survival can become a curse rather than a blessing.

  45. vera Says:

    “Mike’s tendency recently to get into predictions is what finally drove me away from his site. It’s like he has entered this mode where he feels it necessary to constantly up the fear pitch. I have no use for that kind of fear-mongering”

    Well said. That’s doomer porn peddling. Stoneleigh does it too. Apparently, fear sells. It’s easy to get seduced into it. On the other hand, Astyk hasn’t written up any doomer porn for a long time… and neither has Guy. Maybe it’s a curable condition! ;-)

  46. Frank Mezek Says:

    Kevin Moore

    What is “Cjioan” that you mentioned in your posting of 7-25-11 at 3:49 pm ?

    Also in the same paragraph “The NZ dollar is currently just over 86 cents US, and people are seriously talking about 95 cents, which will pretty much annihilate the export sector (other than to ‘rich’ Australia, whose currency has rocketed from 55 cents US to nealy $1.10 and to Cjioan, which is apparently desperate for resources. Unfortunately the high NZ dollar is reinforcing the delusions that ‘things are not too bad’, even as the globalised economic system gradually implodes and the environment melts down”.

    There are many benefits to a strong currency,as travelers to the US know.What economists call favorable “terms of trade” means the NZ dollar
    buys more for you,especially when you trade with the US.

    Double D

  47. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Alfie, thanks for your essay. I always enjoy reading the thoughts of others who are dealing with this crazy world. It helps me not to feel so alone.

    I must say, though, that I don’t envy anyone who is just embarking on a new career. My nephew is 20 and in his second year of college. His facebook page features all the exciting things he is planning to do with his degree in advanced technology. I don’t have the heart to tell him how useless his efforts will be in a very short time. He’s visited my website, so I know he’s at least read about it – but I can do no more to stifle him – and don’t really want to.

    @Kathy:
    “If your goal is to live well while you live, do those things that bring joy into your life in a daily way – for me my garden and chickens.

    “Also go visit some nursing homes to see what living long can mean. Living long is overrated for most humans. Drooling old people strapped in wheelchairs unable to feed themselves are surviving….but survival can become a curse rather than a blessing.”

    Thanks for those words Kathy – they really rang true with me today. About a month ago my 83 year old father was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia. He’s opted not to have treatment and is going downhill very quickly. We thought he was going to die a week ago but he pulled through. He is able to communicate his wishes well and so we are just doing what we can to spend time with him and love him. Soon, we’ll only be able to do that in our minds. At this point, I’m happy to say, he’s in no pain and is able to get around in his wheelchair. He still tells his infamous stories even though his voice is weak and hoarse, sends email, and is able to go down to the senior center to watch his buddies play pool, even if he can’t join in like he used to do everyday.

    My 12 1/2 year old dog, Lilly, is also dying. She’s a rotweiller/shepherd mix and has been in my life since she was 8 weeks old. Unfortunately, she can’t communicate her wishes and so I don’t know if she’s ready to die or not. Maybe she doesn’t even really think about it. Maybe all she knows is that she can’t walk anymore and is really tired of lying in her own urine. I’m in denial about her imminent death, so I bought her a wheelchair. Of all the silly notions! A wheelchair for a dog about to die. But I can’t help myself.

    If she lived in the wild, she would have been dead a very long time ago. She’s an alpha female and I’m pretty sure a younger, stronger female would have challenged her years ago and ended it. As it is, I keep her alive trying to stave off my grief. In the end, I suspect that all I’m doing is prolonging the suffering for both of us.

    Either way, it won’t be long now for either her or my dad. After all, death is the natural outcome of life. In some ways, these type of situations will be less fraught with pain in the future, at least with respect to making choices. Very few will have the option of prolonging life. When someone gets sick, they will either get better on their own, or they will die. There won’t be options of antibiotics, or oxygen, or transfusions, or surgeries, or any of the other interventions we humans have devised to steal a few more days of living for ourselves.

    Wow! It doesn’t take long to become quite morbid during these times. But, it can be therapeutic to write it out. Thanks to all for indulging me. :-)

  48. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    John – Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I guess the broadstroke of my reply would be, “You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” :)

    I actually did not write this piece with the intention of creating an ecotopian vision of the future. In between the lines, there can be read a tremendous amount of suffering, strife, and death. I find a lot of what you say to be accurate, certainly your historical references and your appeal to the common sense knowledge of the base abilities of humans to savage one another make a lot of sense to me. But I would reply earnestly, that my piece is absolutely a boatload of magical thinking. And that is the whole point. Part of what turns me off about the doom and gloom (and not in a I-don’t-want-to-know kind of way) is that it casts magical thinking as a negative factor, when in fact, magical thinking is perhaps the only way out of the mess that non-magical thinking created. It isn’t our intellect that is broken; it’s our spirit. Our connection with the Earth. The stories we tell each other about how hard life used to be, the linear cultural narrative of progress and evolution; these are partly just stories we tell ourselves. We don’t know what life was like for people in the past. We can’t know. We tell ourselves stories about what we think their lives were like. And when their own accounts contradict our beliefs about who they were, we dismiss them as anecdotal or reason them away with our biases. These stories are a creation of the mostly monolithic academic perspective of anthropology, which arose from ethnography and other benignly intended but misguided projects of the Western mind. From a desire for what Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls “Platonicity.” To cut reality into discernible shapes without fuzzy edges and spectral overlap for easier digestion. For now, we see through a scanner, darkly, as the line goes. Again, the lack of spiritual depth is the source of the problem. More of the same busted misanthropy will never create anything but more of the same problematic thinking with which it is replete.

    I agree completely that conventional agricultural techniques translate into hard work and shortened lifespans. I don’t believe that conventional agricultural techniques are at all sustainable, and I won’t be living in any way that resembles that lifestyle for precisely that reason. Derrick Jensen has written extensively on the amount of time that hunter-gatherers spent obtaining the nutritional requirements to sustain life, and what that meant for their spiritual relationship with the Earth. The observable data says conclusively, that these societies expended far less energy to obtain food than their agricultural counterparts, to put it in ERoEI terms. In both my more optimistic intention for the future and your prediction/vision, which frankly leaves me staring into the maw of nothingness (and not in a cool Buddhist way), these societies we think of as extinct, will perhaps be the only way anyone will survive into the future at all. Does that mean that lots of people will die in the conversion? Sure. Probably. But the difference between our views of the future is in the numbers, not in the necessary change that must be effected in order to sustain some life on this planet. We need new stories. This is another thing that Jensen has written about extensively. If we tell ourselves broken stories, we create broken reality. Of course, I am not ignorant of the change our way of living has brought to the planet. I am not deluded as to the nature of the problem and its potential solutions, or lack thereof. I choose to respond in a way that allows for creativity and openness, the very things I’m fighting so hard to bring out in every being around me, the very things that are necessary for living healthfully on this planet, and perhaps the only way out of this mess, through the bottleneck or otherwise.

    As to the conversion itself, I’m sure it will be a doozy. I joined the Army (FiSTer, basically an infantryman who is trained to call in artillery fire) years ago having made the decision that I would be able to take a human life. Whether that’s true or not is another matter. You never know until you’re there. And so far I have not had to kill another human being. But rest assured, my children will know how to shoot straight. As to my own preparations, I’m sure Turboguy! and I could talk all day about our favorite mods to our AR-15s, the best way to slice the pie and clear a room, what round provides the most stopping power without sacrificing accuracy, and on and on. To quote my buddy, “When the shit hits the fan, the only language I speak is 5.56.” If we end up in a catastrophic scenario where killer apes roam the streets, I will be one of the ones armed to the teeth, killing as many of those who transgress against me as I need to. I will not however, be one of the ones trying to steal from and hurt others. I live my life by a code, no matter how ridiculous that sounds to the uninitiated. The Samurai used to say that the death-dealing blade becomes the life-giving sword.

    So let’s talk brass tacks: I hear the word “collapse” everyday, but what does it mean? What are we talking about, in minute detail, when we say that? Food deliveries stop? Cops don’t show up for work? The grid goes down? FEMA death camps? Hopi Prophecy? How? Why? When? Where? I need details and an operational plan to look at if I am to take seriously all the chicken-littling. No doubt the Earth is fucked up. Badly. I think we’re in big trouble. But address all the previous questions to fleshing out the details. What will this fucked-uppedness cause to happen? I see a general pattern of feedback loops developing, leading us to an increasing likelihood of a non-linear collapse scenario unfolding. That’s about all I can say within the scope of my current knowledge. But it is not enough to say the planet is fucked, it’s getting worse, it’s our fault, and we can’t deal with it. Proverbial Doom. That isn’t interesting to me in the least bit, other than as a model of antiquated thinking, i.e. realism, which to me at this point in time means acceptance of defeat and doom. I won’t do it no matter what names people call me. Here is a perfect example from Kathy: “John, thanks for bringing things back to the reality of what lays down the pike.” Not only is this dismissive, as if there is one, true interpretation of “reality” but it is only and I mean ONLY the reality of one human being interpreting the available data in the way that is meaningful to them. It has fuckall to do with how you see things, or how I see things. Kathy, no offense, but my world doesn’t revolve around your doomer mindset, no matter what empiricism you rely upon to attempt to put my vision in its place. I make my own reality in playful co-creation with the material world. This is exactly what I meant when I wrote “yet those things which deep down we all know to be utterly, simply true; are that we are powerful and beautiful and free beyond our imagining.” We are powerful and capable of doing anything, including living in concert with the natural limits of our biosphere. The way Kathy states her reality tells me more about her self-perceived powerlessness than it does anything about my own mission in life. Regardless, everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I must say that I find this type of thinking to be a major part of the problem. Dream it, plan it, do it. Too easy. The rest is just coffeehouse bullshit.

    You said that words can become realities unto themselves. I say that’s exactly right. I say that ideas and actions are realities unto themselves too. So what the hell are we doing here on our computers talking, talking, talking? Action is the only validation for all of this mental masturbation. I’m acting, and anyone reading is more than welcome to playfully join in, because these Happy-Monkey-People have guns, and they are not playing around. Fuck the Pope.

  49. Michael Irving Says:

    The REAL Dr. House,

    Old dogs. Sorry to hear that you are going through that. I know that pain.

    Michael Irving

  50. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Dr. House – Thanks for the comment. I really enjoy reading your posts about healthcare and your relationship to it in a changing world. I am sorry to hear about your Dad and your dog. I really admire your love for them both, and would be doing the same thing were they my own.

  51. Resa Says:

    Alfie aka pickle:

    Aren’t you a double-edged one. Frankly, when I first read your words I thought to myself, another philosophizing dime-a-dozen “all talk, no walk” freeloader. The planet’s full of them. And then you switch gears and it’s “armed to the teeth, killing as many of those who transgress against me as I need to.”

    So, deep down, at your core, who’s the real you? Alfie or pickle?

    Re: “It isn’t our intellect that is broken; it’s our spirit. Our connection with the Earth.” Speak for yourself. My spirit isn’t broken. Not by a long shot. Neither is my connection to Earth.

  52. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Resa-

    I am likely more than double-edged. I am also likely more complicated a person than my words can accurately transmit on teh interwebz. What you interpret as “switching gears” is only a further revelation of personality. I don’t think that anywhere in the original piece I made myself out to be non-violent, or dogmatic about pacifism. I frequently post on this blog to that effect.

    Don’t be silly. Pickle is just a funny name, not an alter-ego. Geez. And from your posts I can tell that neither your spirit nor you connection with the Earth is broken. Congratulations. “Our” meaning the dominant cultural paradigm. Stop playing at semantics. Neither my spirit nor my connection with the Earth is broken either. Perhaps my connection could be called attenuated. What’s with the hostility yo?

  53. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Perhaps the seemingly impossible contradiction of a Berkeley kid who has a hopeful and peaceful yearning for a livable planet and someone who is willing to use force to defend himself was too much for you upon initial consideration. I get that a lot being from where I’m from and having made the choices I’ve made.

    “Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.” – Walt Whitman

  54. scott Says:

    Alfie- I enjoyed your essay so much that I printed it for the other farmers here. In my mind, it evoked Jensen with a splash of Chuck Bowden….and I say that as a sincere compliment.
    We have been on a path of self-reliance for about 10 years with the motivation being a realization that monkey-business-as-usual may well come to an end. we do not take a fear-based approach but rather a more idealized view so that we may enjoy the process instead of fearing possible outcomes. We do use guns for hunting and killing our pigs etc and would use them to defend ourselves but do not dwell on that potentiality like some do.
    We have learned alot in the past years and have implemented much of it to hopefully cushion ourselves from large changes, and I have to say they have been the most satisfying years of my life….so collapse or not, we are way ahead in the game of life. I would encourage others in this same direction….go out there and volunteer through WOOF or other organizations rather than spending $ on permaculture classes. Be selective where you go and ask LOTS of questions. Enjoy the process and give thanks for the gifts that come from mistakes. Do not think that you need to go out and buy your own place and start from scratch….most people that already own land and share a similiar vision need alot of help to make it happen….try to find them.
    Pickle…if you would like to know more about our small farm and may like to visit (we are in an undisclosed location in southern utah) drop me a line…..

  55. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Resa-

    I would also like to know what you mean when you call me a freeloader. What exactly are you trying to say? A label tells me a little, but not the whole story. Are you saying that people who don’t farm or raise livestock are freeloaders? I find your leap to judgement to be revealing about what you think about people who are interested in changing the way they live. What right have you to call them freeloaders? Do you think you’re better than them by virtue of your occupation? Wouldn’t you want to support them in that effort? Again, I’m confused by your hostility. You know, a lot of folks in the larger conversation we’re having would say that pastoralists and farmers were the the problem in the first place. Just sayin’.

  56. john rember Says:

    Alfie: I don’t doubt that you contain multitudes. Most people do. The ongoing struggle is to resolve their contradictions without being lethal to yourself or others.

    The most eloquent reply to your posts is that of Dr. House, who has intuitively introduced grief into the conversation.

  57. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Scott –

    Thanks for sharing my words with your friends. I respect Derrick Jensen’s work a lot, and I take it as a very nice compliment to be participating in that conversation. I agree entirely about weapons. I regard them as tools, with extremely limited purpose. They frequently serve as a flashpoint for assumptions about the people who own them, and I too try not to dwell on the possibilities of having to use them to defend myself or my family. I guess that’s why I said I want to feed everyone who needs food. If a hungry person comes to me and threatens me for food, I would give them what I could spare.

    My entire point of submitting my essay to Guy was to enter into conversation with all the awesome humans out there in hopes of making connections. This blog is such an amazing source for those connections, (even as the world burns ;) ) and an offer like yours is one of the things I was hoping to achieve as a result of participating here. I would love to visit and am willing and excited to put in some hard work to learn the skills you are putting into practice on your farm. I will send Guy an email so he can communicate my contact information to you or yours to me so we can avoid posting details on the public forum. I look forward to hearing more about your setup and thanks again!

  58. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    John-

    I agree about Dr. House’s reply. It caught me off guard (I try not to be on guard) and brought about a poignant moment of realization of the topic under discussion. No doubt this process is going to be extremely sad and difficult.

    Also, I think that sometimes there is an extremely productive space that exists as a result of apparent inner contradictions. My experience tells me there is. I myself grew up in a space between called joint custody. I don’t take Whitman’s quote to mean that all contradictions will be resolved of themselves. I take it to mean that our understanding will eventually catch up with the reality of our dynamic, changing being. That our multitudes are but facets of the jewel of the dharma. Not to get too poetic about it… ;)

  59. Sean the Mystic Says:

    We are all freeloaders and parasites upon this planet. I still say destroying all life is the only solution, and if we put our heads together I’m pretty sure we could do it. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

  60. Kathy Says:

    Dr House, thanks for sharing. Its funny that sometimes it might be easier to know what to do for a human you love than for a pet you love.

    In One Second After at the end there is a dog pet that has hung on with the barest of portions because the “hero” can’t let go. But a friend points out that his pregnant daughter needs protein and so the dog becomes a gift to the baby she is carrying.

    End of life choices are hard now, but will become harder…

    From all you have shared I know that you and your father are very unique and special humans for you have related well despite many differences.

  61. Kathy Says:

    Meanwhile things keep looking dicey on the food front – Mother Nature is up to bat. My friend in the pig industry has sent several articles about cow deaths (1,000 to 1,500 across ND), turkeys and pig deaths. And this:

    http://beefmagazine.com/cowcalfweekly/0722-effects-heat-wave-corn-prices/

    THE EFFECTS OF THE HEAT WAVE

    Jul 22, 2011 9:59 AM, By Troy Marshall, BEEF Contributing Editor

    I’m no farmer, but I’m a big believer in the marketplace, and the recent run-up in the corn market makes it clear that the current heat wave is harming the prospects of corn yields. This week, heat indices hit 120-129 across Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and parts of Illinois and Kansas.

    While the corn crop has always been important to the cattle industry, it’s become even more so with the advent of the federal ethanol subsidies and mandates. Corn prices have doubled as a result of ethanol, but we have been fortunate in that we’ve enjoyed record crops year after year. The latest USDA projections were for yet another record crop, but also extremely tight inventories.

    This type of ongoing heat stresses the crop but, as in most things, the timing is the crucial factor, and we are just beginning to enter into the critical pollination stage. Between the floods, drought and heat wave, many experts are downgrading the yield prospects for this crop.

    Through the heart of the Corn Belt (Iowa, Illinois and Nebraska), the crop is still in pretty good shape. But, in the short term, nearly all of the risk in the corn market is on the upside. After all, it was just last month that USDA projected a record harvest of 13.47 billion bu. If nothing else, the market’s reaction to that report was telling as “Dec corn” never spent much time below $6/bu. The upside certainly remains gigantic compared to the downside in the corn market.

    Maybe Mother Nature is just reminding us of her power this summer. Certainly, with the drought gripping the Southwest, at least she is proving that she’s every bit as powerful as the politicians or bureaucrats in D.C. who have been the major drivers in the marketplace for quite a few years.

  62. Kathy Says:

    Not to mention this

    http://www.meatpoultry.com/News/News%20Home/Business/2011/7/Deadly%20heat%20wave%20fuels%20bird%20losses%20reduced%20weights.aspx

    Deadly heat wave fuels bird losses, reduced weights
    MeatPoultry.com, July 25, 2011
    by Meat&Poultry Staff

    WASHINGTON – The deadly heat wave gripping the US’ midsection is resulting in unusual bird losses and reducing liveweights on growout farms, especially in the upper Midwest, a region unaccustomed to the triple-digit temperatures that used to cause extensive losses in the South, according to the July 22 edition of the National Chicken Council’s Washington Report. Turkey and egg production is also being negatively impacted by the heat.

    “A total of nearly 100,000 broilers have been reported lost to the heat on numerous grow-out farms across the affected region,” relayed the USDA Poultry Market News Service. “The true extent of losses may not be known for several days as reports continue to come in. Particularly hard hit were grow-out facilities in the North where extreme and prolonged temperatures are less common and existing ventilation systems have a difficult time maintaining an ambient environment for the birds.”

  63. Kathy Says:

    Sean, “We are all freeloaders and parasites upon this planet. I still say destroying all life is the only solution, and if we put our heads together I’m pretty sure we could do it.” Wow every once in a while you say something I agree with. But not to worry, TPTB are working hard to extinct the human race, with all their nukes, global climate change, etc. We just have to sit back and do our part by letting it happen :)

  64. vera Says:

    Pickle, hi right back at ya! I like Possibility Alliance in La Plata, MO. Check them out… no web site, but various write ups by others. They run their farm according to permie principles. Yes, we got a lot of healing to do, and it’s good that you are with us. More and more people know… now we gotta all really start doing it. Lotsa luck! (Thank you for your good words about da blog…) :-)

    John Rember, no pope said that thing about the Albigensians. It is said of the besieging general who was there in that city (?), but historical sources do not support it. It is easy to imagine he said it though…

    The whole thing about violence… I don’t agree. There is plenty of evidence that crises bring out radically cooperative behavior. It is the elites who fear the aftermath and send in the troops, and often get in the way of the locals helping one another. Another bit of evidence, is the American Revolution. People organized local militias and protected their communities, gradually taking over from the royalist bigwigs. There was some violence against the royalists, but most of it was just intimidation. Apart from the war eventual itself, of course. In any case, none of the craziness of the French revolution replicated here. I think what happens depends on what the communities do. Mad Max types do not thrive well in the midst of a countryside that is against them and which they know poorly.

    And btw: taking down people’s hope, what is the point? Pickle’s dream is a good dream; he’s finding a way to walk the path. And another btw: the Amish lifestyle is much closer to sustainable than most of us, and they are neither worn out prematurely nor scrabbling for roots. Community makes all the difference. (And a mule or two.)

    Dr. House, why won’t there be antibiotics and surgeries? The ancient Egyptians had plenty of the latter, rather competently done (trepanations!), and antibiotics, I have heard can be made low tech. At least some. (Hugz… losing our beloveds is so hard…)

    Pickle, “I see a general pattern of feedback loops developing, leading us to an increasing likelihood of a non-linear collapse scenario unfolding. That’s about all I can say within the scope of my current knowledge.”

    You get an attaboy in my world for that. It seems like a lot of doomers lose their epistemic humility along the way.

    P.S. Resa did not call you a freeloader. She thought you were, at first. Then changed her mind. Right, Resa?

  65. Ed Says:

    RDH: A wheel chair? I wish I had known. I carried our chocolate in and out for months. She still had her bright spots so for me it was worth it.

    Vera: You make an interesting comment about the Amish and how they don’t wear out prematurely. We have gotten to know some Amish and Mennonites, not very closely, but perhaps enough to see a trend. The women wear out early. I have seen middle aged men with very young wives. Our closest Mennonite friend has 9 children, and an Amish family that we have gotten to know have 4 children under the age of 8. There are some very positive things about their lifestyle, but there are also some downsides. My 2 pennies.

  66. Brutus Says:

    I stopped reading the main post above after only a few paragraphs. It’s just so much twaddle. Similarly, I skip over comments by some contributors (more than I’ll admit, actually) because I know by now to expect little of worth from them. But I zero in on a few contributors, especially John Rember and Dr. House. I wish Prof. Guy participated more actively. I also hope I add something worthwhile as a commentator and erstwhile essay writer. This comment is undoubtly not in that category.

  67. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Brutus-

    Your comment means nothing to me without explaining WTF so much twaddle is. If you’re going to call it crap, then do so. Let me see if I get it, you skip to comments without reading the post, zero in on posts by your “favorites” which are taken out of the larger context of the discussion and call it knowledge? You can criticize all you want, but at least do it intelligently. Your comment is indeed useless.

  68. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Vera-

    I love what you said about violence. I also see radical cooperation as just as likely an outcome, if not more so than violence, of a societal breakdown. We’ll see both, I’m sure.

    To qualify my comments in my first reply to John, what human being would sit idly by in the nightmare scenario he depicts and let themselves become a victim of “killer apes?” Maybe some would, but I wouldn’t. It sounds all tuff ‘n stuff, but it really is just a rigorous application of logic from a being intent on survival. But I won’t be the one starting the funk. Thanks for the backup. :)

  69. Michael Irving Says:

    Alfie,

    Get back to me after you’ve tried that hunting/gathering thing in Phoenix for a month. Until then, give me a break.

    Michael Irving

  70. Matthew Says:

    Personally, I really enjoyed the essay.

    I relate to much of what was written, including and especially the concept that we are going new ways of thinking to survive this. This ‘we are dead already and be ready kill or be killed when they come for your food, and they WILL come for you food’ mentality is the same mentality that got us in this mess, namely the mindset of fear, hoarding, and competition amongst ourselves. While this works well for a developing a society of consumers and corporate profits, it’s a lousy way to live. I know this may sound like wishful thinking, or being a dreamer, or even ‘twaddle’ to some, but really, somebody has to make the jump to a different way of behaving, as obviously more of business as usual is not the answer. I, for one, appreciate the vision for a world worth surviving in, even if we need a miracle to get there.

    I’d much rather spend whatever time we may have left working to manifest that miracle over making bullets in the bunker, waiting for the meandering hoards to come.

  71. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Matthew – Bingo. Thanks.

    Michael – Not once did I say anything about hunter/gatherer lifestyles being viable in their previous incarnation as a way out of this mess. Please give ME a break. Haters gonna hate. Some of you seem to emote hostility for anything that has beauty and possibility to it. To me it says more about you than it does about me. Rock on with your sad selves.

  72. vera Says:

    Michael Irving, where the heck did he say he was gonna forage in Phoenix? Some of you are going out of your way to be rude. Brutus, are you just a cranky ol’ fart? You sure sound like one, and hoity toity besides…

    Matthew: “This ‘we are dead already and be ready kill or be killed when they come for your food, and they WILL come for you food’ mentality is the same mentality that got us in this mess, namely the mindset of fear, hoarding, and competition amongst ourselves. While this works well for a developing a society of consumers and corporate profits, it’s a lousy way to live.”

    Yeah! Could not have said it better. Sometimes they sound like wanting to bring on their worst fears… There is that chaos theory bit that says that a butterfly flapping its wings in one part of the world could have quite an effect in another distant part. I’d rather be a butterfly flapping on the odds that it will make a difference than a professional pessimist curmudgeon taking pleasure in smacking uppity butterflies with a flyswatter.

  73. Kevin Moore Says:

    Alfie aka pickle

    We were all born into overshoot. None of us had any say in the matter.
    Catton postulated the overshoot commenced in the middle of the nineteenth century. And there is a mountain of evidence to support that postulate.

    The younger one is, the worse the future will be. Hence, I feel very sorry for you. Indeed, I feel very sorry for anyone under the age of 60. There are few places I can say that, of course, even though we are on track for a largely unihabitable planet by the end of this century, if not well before then.

    Over the past four decades I have witnessed everything that matters get worse. And now the rate at which things get worse is accelerating. The only ‘good’ news’ is that industrial civilisation is destroying itself.

    We can talk as much as we like about living within the bounds of the natural environment, and I fully agree with practically everything that Derrick Jensen says, but when the global population is arguably 6 billion more than the Earth can sustainably support and most of the natural environment has been destroyed, talk about living within the natural environment becomes meaningless.

    I have been actively fighting ‘the system’ for over a decade and have made negligible progress in waking up the general populace to reality. And when it comes to changing any official policy, forget it. As Derrick postulated, the system will not voluntarily transistion to a sustainable way of living. That is not to say there cannot be a turn-around if enough people DO wake up. But I am not holding my breath. All the evidence suggests the toxic, corrupt, insane, omnicidal system that the majority of people in western nations support will continue to destroy the habitability of the planet we live on until it can’t.

    If you can start a cultural revolution that will alter that reality without being incarcerated or murdered by ‘the system’, then go for it.

  74. john rember Says:

    Vera:

    I stand corrected. “Kill them all–let God sort them out,” was said [in Latin] by Arnaud Almalric, the papal legate sent to convert the Albigensians. Convert them he did, burning and hanging and putting them to the sword to the tune of 200,000-1 million. His job was made easier because a good many of them believed in non-violence.

    In the end, God may have sorted him out, along with his boss, Innocent III.

    I don’t delight in taking down anyone’s hope, but false hope is false hope. Magical thinking is less than magical, and articulating a dream doesn’t make it true. Reality sets the parameters for dreams, and a careful empiricism is a pretty good way of determining where those parameters are.

    The laws of physics cause dream marriages to fall apart, bubbles to go bust, battles to be lost, and too-cheap-to-meter cornucopias to end up as the smoking ruins of power plants. Even granting that human beings can create their own reality, there are good reasons–among them the law of unintended consequences–to avoid the practice.

    Kathy has discussed the violence it takes to insulate the first world from the realities of the third. If we’ve reached a zero-sum world, as seems likely, having a first-world child is killing a number of third-world children.

    My point about post-collapse violence is that it takes only one person to start it, no matter how determined everyone else is to cooperate. The lowest common denominator rules. Among our seven billion, there’s undoubtedly someone who will prefer violence to cooperation, and then we’re all back to killer ape status. Thought experiment: post-collapse, what would you to to the Norwegian mass murderer if you had him alone and naked in a room and you had a baseball bat?

    I value the NBL community because it is mostly clear-eyed about the pickle we’re in, and has begun the painstaking and difficult work of imagining a viable future in the face of near-impossible odds. It’s slow going, but so far we haven’t fallen into nihilism, which in my experience with idealistic young people, is the next stage after magical thinking. Far better to let them down gently by exploring the realities of climate change, population, and human nature than to deal with their rage when they find out the world they’ve dreamed up isn’t the one they’re stuck in.

  75. vera Says:

    Kevin: “As Derrick postulated, the system will not voluntarily transistion to a sustainable way of living.”

    Derrick’s right on that one. Therefore, tilting at the windmills of the system is silly. But this is not what pickle wrote about, is it? He wrote about another space.

    And john Rember, you seem to have read something else than I have. I looked at his essay again, and this is what I see: “I think I speak for the majority of Earth’s living beings when I say I’m over it. I want to walk outside my earthen berm house that I built with my hands and pick fruit for my family’s breakfast. Trade vegetables and comedy gatherings and beer. Artwork and hand tools. Salvaged battery systems that enable diverse art forms and certain life-affirming technologies to continue. Street corner forums on the continental philosophers. Cheese and herbs. Scrap metal and books. Medicine and massage. I want to feed everyone who needs food. I want to figure out how to grow avocadoes at temperate latitudes.”

    Now which part is it that you think is false hope? It must be those avocadoes… ;-)

    As for violence, you answer your own question. Viable cultures kill their sociopaths who are stupid enough to act out their pathology. Considering that they are vastly outnumbered, this is not hard to do. Unless you live in a social system that goes out of its way to protect them. But that social system is not long-term viable, by definition, as we see all around us.

  76. Resa Says:

    Vera:

    Yes, when I first read Alfie’s words, freeloader immediately popped to mind. My position changed somewhat based on his follow-up comments, although I still have reservations (see below).

    Alfie aka pickle:

    Re: “What’s with the hostility?”

    Nope, no hostility. Just my normal peaceable self, questioning conflicting statements.

    Re: “Are you saying that people who don’t farm or raise livestock are freeloaders?”

    Absolutely not. There’re a dozen different ways to expand outward. As you say, many on this site consider my type the problem. I accept that and move on.

    Re: “I would also like to know what you mean when you call me a freeloader.”

    Right here is where I pick up that vibe, one I’ve read over and over and over again: “That is where I’m headed. The inner spiral, the rooting down, and the outward expansion. I’ve transferred my loyalty. What’s left in the intervening space between this place and a place where I produce my own food, my own hot water, and my own happiness, is the time and effort required to prepare an escape trajectory from the orbit of a death-culture with immense mass and spin.”

    There’s an abyss between words and action. One’s easy. Requires little effort other than consciousness and tapping a keyboard. The other’s laden with blood and sweat. Most people never make the leap.

    Show me the essay of your leap and you’re off the hook.

    BTW: I have no problem with Berkeley kids defending themselves. I fully expect such to happen.

  77. navid Says:

    Wow. Geez, just like christmas again.

    Pickel: “Some of you seem to emote hostility for anything that has beauty and possibility to it.”

    Some days only One facet shows ? Mama said there’d be days like this, there’d be days like this my Mama said ….

    Also, thanks for the excellent essay.

    I strongly second/third/fourth “One Second After” as a must-read.

    Also, I just finished FERFAL’s “Surviving the Economic Collapse” – recommended here by several people. Again, a must-read. If for no other reason than to see things from the perspective of someone who has lived through financial collapse and chose to remain in an Urban setting. IMO, it makes you question if the “conveniences” of urban life is worth the costs. OTOH, I think his book is full of very, very good advice. (note- Argentina’s ‘collapse’ occurred when the rest of the global economy was healthy – i wonder what it would have looked like if the rest of the global economies were collapsing too… how sweet the city then ??).

    Another possible road less traveled:

    “The Final Frontiersman” by James Campbell.
    Heimo Korth left Appleton, Wisconsin and went north, to Alaska. A very good story about what it really takes to be a wilderness trapper (his family’s treat was fried beaver tail).

    http://www.jamesmcampbell.net/

    About Asshole-the-Hen. My wife called that little event “a gift” the morning after while she smiled and told me about it. But at the time, according to my daughters, she used the F-word and said “A-hole is **** broth tomorrow.”

  78. Jan Steinman Says:

    Alfie aka pickle wrote: “I will likely be applying to enter a natural building and permaculture internship somewhere in the PNW or CA… Any suggestions would be most welcome.”

    Well, I’m pretty biased, but you’re welcome to come be a part of our experiment. It might not prove to be the right thing to do, but we’re gonna have fun working at it, anyway!

    We have a volunteer FAQ that would be a good place to start, which has a link to a simple application form, which is mostly for stuff like emergency contact, special medical or dietary needs, etc.

  79. Jan Steinman Says:

    Alfie aka pickle wrote: I also think that there is an artificial distinction between the city and the country that needs to be abolished.

    Ever looked into Christopher Alexander? He invented a “pattern language” that covers everything from the design of entire regions to post-and-lintel construction. Anyone with an interest in natural building needs to get very familiar with Alexander!

    His pattern #3 is “City-Country Fingers:” “Keep interlocking fingers of farmland and urban land, even at the center of the metropolis. The urban fingers should never be more than 1 mile wide, while the farmland fingers should never be less than 1 mile wide.”

    Alexander argues convincingly that cities are wonderful and necessary. They were around for perhaps 9,000 years before the use of fossil sunlight, and I’m certain they’ll be around as long as humans exist — there just won’t be so many people in them, both in absolute numbers, and as a fraction of the population. Before fossil sunlight, it took fifteen families on the land to support one in the city; I expect that ratio will return. But don’t write off cities completely!

  80. Jan Steinman Says:

    Ed wrote: “Today was my once a month visit to Sam’s. I go there because about once a month I need seed starter mix and vermiculite. I’m down to pistachios, two types of cheese, and a couple more garden hoses.”

    Sounds like you’re pretty much down to essentials.

    I look for stuff that is hard to find in the local dump. I got some stainless steel piano hinge for some chicken tractors I’m building. I also splurged on an air stapler this trip — tendonitis doesn’t get along with swinging a hammer, and it isn’t too difficult to compress air without electricity, even. We picked up over 4,000 sqft of expanded stainless steel that will go into various projects, and a staples are the best way to attach that mesh to wood.

  81. Victor Says:

    pickle

    First, let me take the opportunity to thank you for your essay. It has been quite interesting reading the resulting comments. Whilst there are probably several ways your essay could be interpreted (and has been!), I prefer to read optimism into it. Dreams are good. Keep dreaming and keep honing your creative energies. Survivors in the future will need all of that and more to carry them day to day.

    As for “doomers” being overly pessimistic and defeatist, many certainly are. However, I believe there is another side to that. Many doomers are simply trying to bring a heavy dose of reality to the table upon which people like you can begin the creative process. They would maintain that overshoot has placed the human species in an impossible position – as a society, it can’t hang on, and it can’t let go. As a result Nature will in the end be the arbiter of last resort.

    With this in mind the difference between “magical thinking” and “building new realities” is the context within which the effort is expended. One must acknowledge and accept the truth of where humanity stands today and where that truth is inevitably leading in order to gain the perspective needed to understand where creative building has possibilities. Incorporating false ideas and suppositions into your dreams turns them into “magical thinking”.

    If you are counting on a future involving fossil fuels and/or high technology, you are living in a fantasy of your own ultimate undoing.

    If you are counting on the widespread acceptance by human society that we can and will build a new world, declare world peace and feed the hungry, you do not have a proper understanding of historical human behaviour; thus, your created reality will again fail as it was built upon shifting sand.

    But if you recognise a darkness is approaching that no one can possibly avoid, that all the rules of current life will be broken and cast aside, that flexibility and resourcefulness and ingenuity will rule the day, then dream on! We need that. We need real solutions based upon hard reality, not fanciful solutions based upon wrong thinking and relying on behaviour, technologies and infrastructure that simply will not exist in the future.

  82. Victor Says:

    resa

    I’m still not certain what you mean by “freeloader”, even after you explained it to pickle. A typical definition of freeloader (this one is from answers.com and seems as good as any) is One who depends on another for support without reciprocating: bloodsucker , hanger-on , leech , parasite , sponge.. This doesn’t seem to explain your idea that a freeloader is somehow one who doesn’t turn ideas into action.

    But even if I accept your definition for argument’s sake, why do you think so negatively of a person who advocates for a position but for reasons perhaps known only to themselves do not or can not turn those valid ideas into action? After all, many of us recognise what needs to be done, but for many reasons are unable to make the transition. Why would you judge such a person without knowing them more intimately? Why not simply judge the worth of the idea they promote and avoid personal attacks altogether?

  83. Victor Says:

    I look for stuff that is hard to find in the local dump.

    Jan

    That sounds like a really good idea. There must be all sorts of things you would find at a dump. One man’s trash is another’s treasure, and all that?

  84. Victor Says:

    Interesting idea….a litre of solar light.

    http://www.commondreams.org/further/2011/07/26-0

  85. Ed Says:

    Great stuff, all of you. Thanks. I usually try to catch up on the reading end of it in the AM, then take it outside with me. Helps when you are picking weeds for a couple of hours.

    Resa: “There’s an abyss………” Very well put.

    Jan: Can you share a bit about the airgun that works without electricity. We use a Pasload for just about everything, but I don’t think that’s what you are talking about. Pistachios are essentials, God, I hope they never go away.

    Best to all!

  86. Michael Irving Says:

    Alfie,

    Sorry if I had a difficulty with reading comprehension. I’m sure you were perfectly clear; I just had some difficulty sorting out your meaning. You may not have said anything about hunting and gathering, however, there’s this:

    “I don’t believe that conventional agricultural techniques are at all sustainable, and I won’t be living in any way that resembles that lifestyle for precisely that reason. Derrick Jensen has written extensively on the amount of time that hunter-gatherers spent obtaining the nutritional requirements to sustain life, and what that meant for their spiritual relationship with the Earth. The observable data says conclusively, that these societies expended far less energy to obtain food than their agricultural counterparts, to put it in ERoEI terms.”

    I must have misread it. I jumped to the conclusion that you’re saying agriculture won’t work in the future, that Jensen says h/g does, and you will be going with the latter rather than the former (h/g rather than agriculture).

    So you’re saying no agriculture for you, and no hunting/gathering. So your plan for feeding yourself, and yours, is what???

    As for this:
    “Please give ME a break. Haters gonna hate. Some of you seem to emote hostility for anything that has beauty and possibility to it. To me it says more about you than it does about me. Rock on with your sad selves.”

    Pot/kettle.

    Michael Irving

  87. Michael Irving Says:

    Alfie,

    I’ll try again. I had trouble sorting out your plan for how to get from where we are now to your utopian future world. There are few on this forum (NBL) that would not love a better world in the future. Most, however, feel that the chances of that in the short-to-medium term is simply wishful/magical thinking. Most here believe that forces are lining up in a way that a catastrophic collapse is not only possible, but probable (for some the probability is near 100%). I’d venture that very few (none?) of us here want that. Looking just a short way into the future and seeing the collapse of civilization staring back at you is not pleasant; it does look like Doom. Most contributors at NBL base their thinking on a review of the evidence. Many here are doing their best to develop the kind of existence you postulate; growing food, building things with their hands, reducing their impact, etc. The tone of your comments implies that we do not have a good grip on reality, while you do. So, if you have a plan to get us from here to there, what is it?

    Remember, if wishes were horses, even beggars would ride.

    Michael Irving

  88. Kathy Says:

    Ed, no bananas are the essentials and they are going away.

    http://the-scientist.com/2011/07/22/the-beginning-of-the-end-for-bananas/

    The Beginning of the End for Bananas?

    Oh well just as well, when I can’t get them I won’t have to worry about my part in the exploitation of labor south of the border – free from guilt by extinction of the Cavendish….. :)

  89. navid Says:

    Minority Rules: Scientists Discover Tipping Point for the Spread of Ideas

    “When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority,” said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer.

    “Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame.”

    The research is part of a much larger body of work taking place under SCNARC at Rensselaer. The center joins researchers from a broad spectrum of fields – including sociology, physics, computer science, and engineering – in exploring social cognitive networks.

    http://scienceblog.com/46622/minority-rules-scientists-discover-tipping-point-for-the-spread-of-ideas/

  90. Robin Datta Says:

    Dr. House, why won’t there be antibiotics and surgeries? – John

    Kitchen-table appendectomy in 1916 Alberta

    The first recorded appendicectomy in Australia, done on a kitchen table in Toowoomba, did not occur until 1893.
    Lee AE. The history of appendicitis in Australia: a window on abdominal surgery. Med J Aust 1944; 26: 653-660.

  91. navid Says:

    **MEDIA ALERT** Military Training Exercises to Take Place In and Around Boston

    Joint federal military training exercises will take place within and around the Boston area between July 26th and August 5th. Military personnel will conduct training exercises to ensure the military’s ability to operate in urban environments, prepare forces for upcoming overseas deployments, and meet mandatory training certification requirements. Helicopters will be used in some exercises.

    The Boston Police Department is working with military personnel to coordinate training sites that will minimize negative impacts on our Boston citizens and their daily routines. Safety precautions have been taken to prevent risk to the general public and the military personnel involved. With that, training site locations are not open to the public and will be guarded by uniformed personnel to provide additional safety.

    ###

    http://www.cityofboston.gov/news/Default.aspx?id=5212

  92. vera Says:

    Michael Irving, you backpedaling nothwithstanding, I don’t know how you could mistake someone who wants to breed a new kind of avocado as anti-ag. Clearly, he is against *conventional* ag… and aren’t we all here?

    Sahlins and Jensen and Godesky and many others have shown that there have in the past been lifestyles much more in line with EROEI than this one, in terms of food. Ag by itself is not a miserable scramble. What makes is so is the superimposition of an aggrandizer class that begins to siphon off resources from the rest of the population. You know. The invention of the treadmill.

    I suspect that the ag of the future will be neither a simple return to semi-nomadism or foraging, nor a scrabbling kind of ag that is misery on wheels. The efforts made by permies and others point in the direction of a new amalgam of techniques from all over the world that produce food, enrich ecosystems so that foraging can once again play a role, that changes the nature of dense settlements via food growing in situ, and so on.

    As for the Amish women having a hard time of it, bearing a dozen children is not easy. Though I have not seen stats that show their mortality rate is worse that the rest of us. Have you (whoever posted back at me)? I am betting that it’s not, since in many ways their lifestyle is health-promoting with its low stress, fresh food and community back up. I think that for the rest of us, imitating their model makes sense, but instead of a huge family, to build a band where work is shared. The band is the social arrangement that has seen us through all sorts of crises as sapiens, not the least being the ice ages. I think the time is coming when it will again become key to functioning human societies.

    And finally, where does pickle say that we here do not have a good grip on reality? The fact that he is hanging here with us seems to counter your claim. Do you have a quote, Michael? I seem to have missed that part.

    I think it’s more likely that those here addicted to uninterrupted doom are hankering for their fix, what with Aleigha and now pickle coming in with two doses of brightness. Ha!

  93. Victor Says:

    Here is the organisation behind the organised effort in the USA to prohibit climate change action by the EPA and other federal and state agencies. And apparently their work is extremely effective.

    ALEC Exposed: Warming Up to Climate Change

    http://prwatch.org/news/2011/07/10914/alec-exposed-warming-climate-change

    Quote:

    ALEC’s campaign against any regulation of greenhouse gases began long ago, when the U.S. was in the midst of debating the Kyoto Protocol, an international effort to rein in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to control the climate crisis. In the spring of 1998, ALEC ratified a model resolution for states to pass calling on the U.S. to reject the Kyoto Protocol and banning states from regulating greenhouse gases in any way. With ALEC friend George W. Bush entering the White House in 2001, the energy interests that sit on ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force – easily got their way on keeping the U.S. out of Kyoto.

    With a Board of Directors that includes lobbyists from ExxonMobil, Peabody Energy, and Koch Industries, ALEC’s interests in avoiding any regulation of greenhouse gases is easy to understand. ALEC’s Energy, Environment, and Agriculture Task Force is currently chaired by the American Gas Association, an organization that promotes natural gas “fracking,” and was previously chaired by Peabody Energy. Other ALEC members include BP America and Chevron.

    ALEC also receives substantial funding from fossil fuel interests. It has received at least $600,000 from Koch Industries, between 1997-2009, during which time it fought vigorously against greenhouse gas regulation, which would no doubt help Koch Industries’ bottom line as the company profits handsomely from oil and natural gas, so much so that it was named one of the nation’s top 10 air polluters in 2010. ALEC received an additional $1.4 million from ExxonMobil since 1998. Both companies, and many more whose funding is harder to trace, are getting their money’s worth as ALEC member and Congressional alumni parrot corporate talking points on the dangers of reducing America’s GHG emissions.

  94. Sean the Mystic Says:

    No Kathy, I’m not just talking about ending all human life, I’m talking about *all* life, including kittens and other cute furry creatures. We must kill everything down to the last microbe to ensure that the life virus never again threatens the world. To quote the Emperor Palpatine: “Wipe them out. Wipe them all out.”

  95. Kathy Says:

    Sean, yeah now you are talking. All life wants to stay alive. All life individually fails as living things are mortal. So if we eliminate all life then no creature will ever have to fail again. No fish will ever have to try escape the shark full of teeth. No bunny will ever have to fear the fox. No chicken will ever have to search the sky for fear of a hawk.

    One can make a good case that life is an endless unwinable battle and therefore not good. At any rate TPTB are working hard to make the world uninhabitable for most if not all life. Who knows what happens to planet earth if all the nukes fly? Anyway planet Nibiru may be hiding behind Comet Elenin (Extinction Level Event Nine) and smash into us, cause massive earth quakes or allow the Nepthelim to land – perhaps with their cook book for preparing humans. Heck Sean, why stop with Star Wars imagery when there is so much more out there to play with. And play of course is all you are doing. Well I stepped in your sandbox for a while. Now I will return to adult conversation.

  96. Victor Says:

    Our Green radical Nicole would be interested in this, I think. It is Climate Change Activist Tim DeChristopher’s statement to the court before sentencing:

    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/07/26-13

    Quote from the last paragraph of Tim’s statement to the court:

    I’m not saying any of this to ask you for mercy, but to ask you to join me. If you side with Mr Huber and believe that your role is to discourage citizens from holding their government accountable, then you should follow his recommendations and lock me away. I certainly don’t want that. I have no desire to go to prison, and any assertion that I want to be even a temporary martyr is false. I want you to join me in standing up for the right and responsibility of citizens to challenge their government. I want you to join me in valuing this country’s rich history of nonviolent civil disobedience. If you share those values but think my tactics are mistaken, you have the power to redirect them. You can sentence me to a wide range of community service efforts that would point my commitment to a healthy and just world down a different path. You can have me work with troubled teens, as I spent most of my career doing. You can have me help disadvantaged communities or even just pull weeds for the BLM. You can steer that commitment if you agree with it, but you can’t kill it. This is not going away. At this point of unimaginable threats on the horizon, this is what hope looks like. In these times of a morally bankrupt government that has sold out its principles, this is what patriotism looks like. With countless lives on the line, this is what love looks like, and it will only grow. The choice you are making today is what side are you on.

  97. Alfie aka pickle Says:

    Good morning all,

    I would first like to apologize if some of my comments came across as defensive or offended people in any way. The real truth of it is that I would rather have almost all of you here as allies than not.

    Kevin-

    Thank you for your reply. Your post is a stark depiction of what is going on in our biosphere right now, and I understand your meaning clearly. We are facing a problem which has extremely scary solutions. I can’t say that I disagree with your conclusions, and your knowledge of working against the system greatly exceeds mine. You said: “All the evidence suggests the toxic, corrupt, insane, omnicidal system that the majority of people in western nations support will continue to destroy the habitability of the planet we live on until it can’t.” I agree with this statement and it feels like I’ve been punched in the stomach and can’t breathe. I guess the second part of my reaction involves the statement you made immediately following the previous one. A widespread cultural revolution is the only thing that can begin to mitigate this disaster. I don’t think it’s likely, but I’ll work to that end anyway. Some of us working towards that end will likely be murdered or incarcerated (which is another kind of murder) in the effort, but that’s what happens in a war. I appreciate your thoughtful comment and look forward to reading more from you.

    John- I would just like to say again, that I see a world of difference between magical thinking that is totally detached from empirical reality, and magical thinking that is in co-creation with that reality. One will never be real, and the other strives to create new ways of being by interacting with its environment to manifest tangible change. You are wise and correct to take the stance you’ve taken, as I also believe the former type to be damaging in so many ways. Thanks for your thoughts.

    Resa- Thanks for the clarification. You are 100% right. Talk means little without action, and you are doing an excellent thing by holding me accountable to the words I wrote. I intend to make good on my statements, and will be documenting that journey the whole way. I personally don’t think that agriculturalists (the Earth-conscious kind) are the problem. We all need to eat, and my food comes from farmers right now. There is absolutely an abyss between words and actions, and I am grateful to you for writing that for the world to see. I won’t let you down.

    Jan- Thanks for the links and the info! I think this internship idea is turning into something more like a skills tour of sustainable living setups. I would love to come volunteer and learn with you.

    Navid- Thanks for the recommendation and the compliment. The book is in the queue.

    Victor- Thank you for your awesome reply. I am definitely not counting on a future with high technology and fossil fuels. In fact, the thing that terrifies me the most is that technologies like fracking will allow us to rape and pillage even more of the natural world into the future. I want them to run out as quickly as possible. I understand that statement seems to contradict my desire to see as few humans die-off as possible, but sometimes when dealing with these issues, contradictions are the best I can do. My essay may not have reflected it, but it represents an effort on my part to engage with the creative and positive energies in the world instead of the hopeless doomerism with by which I have been irrevocably influenced. In order to save my mental stability, and my marriage, and my relationships with the humans and non-humans I love with all my heart, I have had to make peace with the approaching darkness, and get to work shining my own light as far into the maw as I can. Most people I know cannot even begin to deal with these thoughts. I guess that’s what I was talking about when I wrote, “It’s so catastrophically profound of an idea, that I won’t waste another second thinking about it.” To lapse into despair threatens everything that I currently have left in the world, and my recalcitrance towards doom-thinking comes from that knowledge. It’s not that I don’t believe we’ve overshot, it’s just that whatever it is inside me that can still believe in mitigating the collapse won’t give up. If I’m faced with certain death, I’m going out laughing. I think we are totally fucked, but I still love being alive, and I still love working against that perceived inevitability. I don’t think I have an explanation for that, as such, but it feels right. I look forward to more of your great commentary.

    Michael- Apologies for my last comment to you. I was cranky and on my way to work to manifest my subservience for the Imperial Citizens of Scottsdale. You are right to point out that hunting/foraging is not a viable option. To propose that it is viable is more of the unicorn rainbow-fart thinking I railed against in the last thread. The truth of it is that I don’t know how I will feed myself and my family in the future. For now, I’m going with another Derrick Jensen idea, that we need it all. Agroforestry for foraging, small-scale sustainable agriculture, hunting, wild foods, living on mountain air like the hermits of yore, etc, and things I haven’t even thought of. I don’t know that Jensen says explicitly that h/g living is the only way to go in the future, but the historical experience of h/g groups is a valuable tool for looking for a way through the bottleneck. My wife and I eat a primarily vegan diet (just the food, not the ridiculousness) but I am truly an omnivore. I would eat a rock if it gave me the energy needed to find more rocks for eating. We eat that way because we feel better and it takes less energy to produce sustainably grown vegetables than it does to produce meat. We eat almost no grains, with the exception of brown rice and superfood grains like quinoa and amaranth. When the SHTF and the food trucks stop rolling in, well, by that point I hope to be in a better spot than we are in now.

    You wrote: “The tone of your comments implies that we do not have a good grip on reality, while you do. So, if you have a plan to get us from here to there, what is it?”

    I am truly sorry that my comments came across that way. I think the people who contribute here have an excellent grasp of reality. And that’s what is so scary. I have endeavored to take all hubris and arrogance out of my writing, and I’m afraid that sometimes my ferocious enthusiasm gets the better of me. I really don’t see my ideas as utopian. The word Utopia means “the place that can never be.” That is magical thinking at its most harmful. But I know in my bones, that there is ALWAYS another way out. A famous line from military strategy states: “When faced with a situation in which there is no way out, look for a way farther in.” The only way out is through, I guess you could say, and I certainly don’t see a way “back” in our current predicament. My plan, if you could call it that, is to stay extremely light and extremely mobile. To learn and accumulate knowledge while I still can. I don’t have a plan to get us from here to there, much as I wish I did. I am reaching out to develop that plan pluralistically with my fellow awake beings. My essay was written more as a musing of possible future and a condemnation of imperial lifestyles than it was a plan of action. I guess you could sum it up by saying, “we start by beginning.” The people here who are so much more knowledgable than myself as to the state of the biosphere and our probable collapse are right on the money, as it were. So while I am in full agreement with their prognoses, I want to look at this as a moment of peak possibility rather than its polar opposite in despair. This stance is as much for my own mental stability as it is an effort to inspire others to get to work repairing as much of the biosphere as we can. I have no problem admitting that it functions for me as a psychological coping mechanism. I don’t think this necessarily means that it is unreal thinking. I’ve been down the doom path that leads to the voluntary human extinction movement type-of-place, and I don’t like it. It isn’t who I know myself to be.

    Also, in Phoenix there are many wild foods that can be found. Saguaro fruit and mesquite pods and grasshoppers abound. Not that it can sustain 4 million people, but for the ones willing to live off bugs, the eatin’ is good. Water, that’s another story. :)

    Vera- I hope we end up in the same nomadic survivor tribe. You rock.