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Okay, now what?

Sun, Apr 8, 2012

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by John Stassek

A BRIEF EXPLANATION

Six years ago I stopped at a Barnes and Noble bookstore to do a little browsing and kill some time. That was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. I picked up a copy of The Long Emergency. Up until that time I’d never heard of peak oil. James Howard Kunstler set the stage for what was to become a long, lonely and depressing weekend. I bought the book, went home and discovered the LATOC website (lifeaftertheoilcrash.net). My life divided itself into two parts that weekend: Before I Knew, and After I Found Out. I spent the next few years in a serious state of depression, wishing I could go back to the Before I Knew days. Two years ago I found Nature Bats Last. Guy’s “The End of Civilization and the Extinction of Humanity” was the first essay I read. I followed that little beauty with John Rember’s “A Few Rocks from the Box: A Meditation.” My world view shook with the revelation peak oil may be our only hope to save us from anthropogenic global warming.

What follows is common knowledge for most of you. It’s intended for those readers who have just started this mental roller coaster. Six years ago I wish I’d had someone to talk to, or at least reassurance that I was not alone in my deep despair. Many of the essays and comments on this website focus on what we should be doing to prepare for whatever is coming. I’ve tried to condense some of that. It’s not meant to be all encompassing, but I hope it may prove to be helpful as a starting point. Perhaps you’d like to share how you became aware, how you discovered this website, and advice you’d like to pass along to those just beginning this odyssey. I truly believe we are facing a long and difficult journey. Many paths beckon. The only path that makes sense to me is the one we travel together.

SO NOW WHAT DO YOU DO?

Okay. You’ve become aware that you live on a finite planet. You’ve tried to find a logical way out of peak oil, global warming, overpopulation and an economic system that requires infinite growth. But no luck. That sick feeling in the pit of your stomach means you’re beginning to understand the implications of the difficult journey you face. So now what do you do?

First: Remember you’re not alone. And what you are feeling is normal. Others have already started on this journey and will welcome you. Nature Bats Last is a good place to meet them. In the Archives Section you’ll find over 300 essays with attendant comments that have been written over the past six years. These essays and comments will serve you well, and you’ll come to regard the writers as a part of your family, only more so because, unlike most of the members of your own family, these people actually understand and have gone through what you are only beginning to experience. And there are countless website links and references sprinkled throughout that will add to and enrich your education.

Second: Think of this period in your life as the calm before the storm. You have the opportunity to do some things now that may help you and your family in the future, things that may not be possible later on. But there are a number of paths available. Which path makes the most sense? Only you can decide. Here are a few examples:

Business as usual has two paths:

Denial: Simply disbelieve, ignore or pretend you never heard about this. An easy path, but dangerous because you’re wasting the opportunity to make changes in your life now that may help you down the road, and you will likely regret that someday. And it will nag at you.

Acceptance/Resignation: You believe there is nothing you can do. Unfold the lawn chair, pop the popcorn, open a beer and enjoy the show. Live your life as you have been, for as long as you can, and don’t worry, be happy. This route is similar to denial: easy but dangerous.

Taking action has many paths:

Survivalist/Bunker Down: Move to a defensible position, keep a low profile and prep like crazy. Hope the chaos that comes from a breakdown in civil society does not touch you. Problem is, it’s hard to keep a secret, and every defense can be overcome, especially one with only a few defenders. Twenty-foot-thick castle walls built atop mountains or behind moats have been breached. Read your history.

Hit the Road/Become a Nomad: If you are a free spirit and like adventure, this may be for you. Discard all possessions you do not need, and start walking. This approach is flexible, with more options than staying in one place. But you will always travel with your back exposed. And you will find that some may welcome you but others may not.

Agrarian anarchy: Small, rural communities centered and focused around simple and unmechanized farming. “Anarchy assumes the absence of direct or coercive government as a political ideal, while proposing cooperative and voluntary association between individuals and groups as the principal mode for organizing society. This close-to-nature, close-to-our-neighbors approach was the Jeffersonian ideal for the United States, as evidenced by Monticello and the occasional one-liner from Thomas Jefferson. It was also the model promoted by Henry David Thoreau and, more recently, radical thinkers such as Wendell Berry (farmer, writer), Noam Chomsky (linguist, philosopher), Howard Zinn (recently deceased historian), and Tucson-based iconoclastic author Edward Abbey.” (Quoted from Guy McPherson’s “Toward an economy of earth” here.)

Transition Towns: Try to raise awareness and organize your community to help it become more resilient. Create a power down plan that will allow your town to thrive or at least cope with increasing energy costs, disruptions in social order, and climate chaos. Given the scale of what we face, this approach most likely won’t change the outcome but is doable and will give you some satisfaction and sense of accomplishment. This approach is, in some ways, an organized variation of agrarian anarchy. And you can combine either with Acceptance/Resignation. Do what you can but understand it won’t make much difference so you may as well enjoy the show.

Primitivism: Discard all personal possessions you do not need. Learn the skills of our ancestors from long ago. “The first two million years of the human experience, and the first few hundred thousand years for our own species, was spent with relatively small communities living close to the land that supported them. These humans knew each other and they knew the plants and animals with which they shared the area. They had minimal impact on the lands and waters that supported them. These humans spent a few hours each week doing what we call “work,” making sure the members of the community were well-hydrated, well-fed, and warm. This was a durable set of living arrangements, as characterized by its longevity and minimal impact on Earth.” (also from Guy McPherson’s essay “Towards an economy of earth”, NBL, Feb 2, 2012)

Fight to Change the World: If you believe our present industrial society is doing great harm to us, our children and our world, and if you believe it is possible to change it, then work to change it. It has happened before. Mahatma Gandhi, Susan B. Anthony and Dr. Martin Luther King are good examples. Public organization, politics and social activism. Civil disobedience. Environmental terrorism/freedom fighter. Read Endgame by Derrick Jensen, Walking Away from Empire: A Personal Journey by Guy McPherson and The Monkey Wrench Gang by Edward Abbey. This will take great courage, fortitude and conviction, and may result in your imprisonment or worse. But some believe it may be the only path that leads to preserving this world and preventing our extinction.

And finally, Third: Try to make this as uplifting and satisfying an experience as you possibly can. Enjoy nature in all she has to offer. Enjoy each other’s company and all the other good things in your life. Take pleasure in your accomplishments. And remember: No one knows for sure how this will all play out, but no matter what happens you can’t go too far wrong in following the words of John Wesley, English religious leader (1703-1791): “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.

The trick will be in trying to figure out by what path can you do the most good

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85 Responses to “Okay, now what?”

  1. Mike sosebee Says:

    It’s great to discover people who have had similar experience. My first exposure to PeakOil was “Out Of Gas” by David Goodstein. that was seven years ago and you’re right, once you see it you can’t go back. Initially I believed that sharing that information with other people would change things. What a miscalculation. I now believe that most people will only respond to a crisis that directly affects them. Empathy for those who are now suffering is a non-starter for many if not most people who can hardly be referred to as sociopaths or is sociopathy a disease of our overall disconnect from the natural world?

    I spend little time trying to convince people who are disinterested now. It’is mostly a waste of my time and seriously undermines my personal self-esteem. Often persons who don’t agree will attack with insults and derision. As Guy has often pointed out you need a thick skin for this kind of work. But in absence of that “thick skin” I find the fellowship of other travelers on similar paths comforting and necessary.

    Mike Sosebee

  2. Redreamer Says:

    Moving to a more durable and responsive lifestyle is actually a good way to live. Period. It is hard to go back to the BEFORE I KNEW times… it was actually pretty early on in my life but somehow for me personally the real no looking back final piece was revealed when I recognized that there was no political will to mitigate a power down and that our current living lifestyle was insane.

    Being more resilient is my respnse to what I can control and affect. I have deliberately chosen geographically where I live and how I live. It is a physically and psychologically healthier and I considered it from a liveability point of view.

    It is also hard work. It is satisfying. It is also empowering. Nothing emphasises the difference in lifestyle more dramatically than working the land on your own. I have to say that it truly emphasises the difference that the easy work provided by cheap oil has given us. So back to basics. Water. Food. Shelter for one’s self and one’s critters.

    There are new skills to learn on literally a daily basis. New way’s of looking at how we meet our needs as a priority that affects daily lifestyle and gradually over time reduce dependency on BAU. It is a process that I am deliberately fast tracking. We are all at different stages. But consider yourself as a physical repository of knowledge… that can be passed around your community… not only what you know HOW to do … but also what you have done before. Human library. Skills like tools can be ‘borrowed’ and gifted to other people.

    I think it is important to examine your neighbourhood…your community and see what skills are around.

    But the most important thing to know is start with self. Be clear about what your strengths and weaknesses are and build on them and remember you are not alone.

  3. Christopher Says:

    It is a lonely path, at first. For most of us, it is a solitary path, save for the fellowship we find here at NBL, and which was always there among the trees, and beneath the open sky. It is not for the weak of spirit. The latter may as well stay ensconced in their concrete cocoon of ignorance. For the rest of us, though, hard as the path may be, we may find that the natural world we choose over industrial civilization better reflects our own inner beauty. “Like inside, like outside,” as Theodore Roszak said.

    I will not go back.

  4. Jean Says:

    About 8 years ago someone I respected suggested reading James Lovelock re Global Warming..I caught on that GW overrides all other social justice/environmental issues I care about.Just a few months ago Someone on line mentioned Guy…When I heard him say only financial collapse could save the living planet,I had another “Aha” moment …so Thanks!!

  5. Jaron Lanier Says:

    Via Ran Prieur, a blog post arguing that the “reversalism” popularized by James Howard Kunstler, i.e., a widespread return to small-scale living, is unlikely, but rather that peak oil is strengthening the hand of agribusiness: “What If The Peak Oil Movement Isn’t About Peak Oil At All?”

  6. Kevin Moore Says:

    I had worked out by 1968 that the country I was living in, Britain, was overpopulated. By 1972 I was aware of resource depletion (the Limits to Growth agenda). I managed to get to NZ, not realising at the time that ‘the empire’ had beaten me to it by 150 years.

    By the late 1980s it was clear to me that global warming, rather than an ice age, was going to be a major issue for the future.

    It was in 1999 that I came across ‘The End of Cheap Oil’ (Campbell/Leharrere), whilst doing research for a book I was writing.

    And around 2001 I became aware of the threat that poorly sequestered methane posed.

    Between 2001 and 2008 I tried every avenue I could think of the wake up people and organisation to reality, and found every avenue led to a cul-de-sac.

    It was not until around 2008 that I fully recognised the stranglehold that money-lenders and corporations had (have) on society.

    And it was around that time I started to discover that there were thousands of others all around the world who had had similar experiences to me when attempting to challenge the ignorance, apathy and short term self-interest that characterise all western societies. Reading NBL and commenting helped me maintain my sanity in a world gone suicidally mad.

    I have managed to extracate myself from the heart of the beast (at considerable cost) and now find myself low on money and low on energy, (and probably out of time). That is not a cry for sympathy, since, although far from what I desire, I suspect my living arrangements are preferable to those of 98% of the people on this planet.

    Where to from here?

    I wish I knew.

    It is abundantly clear that money-lenders, corporations, governments, district coucils, and the bulk of the population will take society straight off the cliff, almost certainly by 2015, and (depending on location) very likely by the end of 2012. (In Greece, Spain or Portugal I suppose most people are already off the cliff).

    In the 12 years I have been actively fighting the insanity I have seen no significant shift towards sustainable living arrangements, but have seen massive allocations of rapidly dwindling resources into propping up unsustainable living arrangements. I have personally confirmed what Derrick Jensen indicated (and what I wrote in TEW), that most people living in industrial societies are unreachable. The item on the Guardian today concerning the Sixth Great Extinction event attracted just a handful of comments: people turn away from reality.

    I suppose it is now just a case of watching the last section of the fuse burn and watching society explode (implode) over the coming months, knowing I(we) could have done no more.

    That said, I will put in yet another submission to the council’s long term plan, so they cannot profess to have not known about the impending collapse when it finally comes.

    In the meantime, the nightmare continues, the only consolation being that NZ should be one of the better places to survive the meltdown.

  7. Victor Says:

    Further to Kevin’s and other’s remarks on public awareness and sensitivity to climate change:

    Climate scientists are losing the public debate on global warming

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/environment/climatechange/9192494/Climate-scientists-are-losing-the-public-debate-on-global-warming.html

    Quote from article:

    Dr Benny Peiser, director of sceptical think tank The Global Warming Policy Foundation, said governments and the public had “more urgent problems to deal with” than tackling climate change.

    He said: “People have become bored by some of the rhetoric from the green movement as they have other things to worry about.

    “In reality the backlash against climate change has very little to do with the sceptics. We will take credit for instilling some debate but it is mainly an economic issue. Climate change is not seen as being urgent any more.

    “James Hensen has been making predictions about climate change since the 1980s. When people are comparing what is happening now to those predictions, they can see they fail to match up.”

    Though a climate sceptic, Dr. Peiser makes a valid observation – “Climate change is not seen as being urgent any more”. It is the economy. It is always the economy. It always will be the economy. Huge numbers of people and huge numbers of jobs are wrapped up in the current fossil fuel paradigm. In a poor economy those jobs will be perceived at high risk if the brakes are applied to fossil fuel emissions.

    We are going off the edge – not because we doubt the science (though we do as a people) but because we really have no other choice. All paths lead to the Sixth Great Extinction Event.

    To save the planet we have to kill off a substantial portion of our own species. Since we can not make such a choice willingly, we will be faced with pursuing BAU until the end, thus pulling down most of the natural habitat with us – if not all of it.

    Unless God intervenes, I see only a very hot world, one filled with acidified oceans and radioactive poisons distributed across the planet – and a great silence.

    There might be some here who survive to the next stage – but it is doubtful that their children will.

  8. Kathy C Says:

    John excellent essay. May I add one other thing people can do in preparation for what is coming. That is to get in touch with their own mortality. When I first realized about 11 years ago that billions of humans would die in the coming dieoff, I was depressed. Then I reminded myself that ever one of the 7 billion people now alive are going to die anyway. While people may die sooner than expected, and differently than expected death is our fate from the moment we are born. So what is in question is not whether or not we or our loved ones die, but rather does the human species go extinct. And in fact it seems that all species go extinct eventually so once again it is a timing issue.

    People accuse me of being morbid or worse, but I found this self reminder of human mortality to actually be quite comforting.

    However since most do not look forward to what is coming and would rather not die early and suffer deprivation or worse before and early death. Thus I would encourage everyone who still has the capacity to reproduce to take advantage of permanent birth control now while we have it. Post collapse birth control will once again be abstinence, abortion or infanticide. And any children born will have to live in that future that will be quite unlike the present. And having been born will have to die, likewise probably much earlier in life than we have been led to expect a child to live. And abstinence will be hard for women to practice if breakdown of social order unleashes a rash of rape as often happens.

  9. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    John Stassek, excellent essay.

    I can’t say that I remember a specific “a ha” moment with respect to my awareness about collapse. Since a young boy I remember being of two minds when I would see a woods pushed down in order to make room for a new subdivision. On the one hand, I love nature and being in it and hated to see such destruction. On the other, I marveled at the technology and skills involved with construction and building.

    That dichotomy persisted well into my adult life. For a while, I lived near the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. I was so upset by the destruction of the natural world, that the only viable solution I saw was for humans to explore outer space and to leave our world completely so that it could heal (fanciful, I know, but quite a bit of SciFi includes this concept).

    Five or six years ago, I saw Al Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth”. Even though I was already onboard with the concept of global warming, more than anything, that documentary opened my eyes to just how seriously humans are impacting the planet.

    It is noteworthy, however, that until I saw AIT, through more than 20 years of formal education, constant flow of news and information via TV and the Internet, I had never encountered a coordinated effort to inform the public about the negative effect of human activity on the planet. I never heard about peak oil or peak anything. I had heard about water shortages, but always with the implied understanding that with the right adjustment to our actions, combined with a little technology, that problem would be fixed.

    About the same time that I saw Al Gore’s film, a friend mentioned peak oil to me. Not wanting to appear ignorant, I feigned awareness of the concept and quickly began researching it. What I found frightened and excited me at the same time. As to websites, I think I discovered “Rice Farmer” first. From there I found The Oil Drum, and then, somehow I stumbled across Nature Bats Last. Of all the websites, this one is the where I’ve found the most “community”.

    Thanks to everyone for educating me, encouraging me, and helping me make at least a little bit of sense out of a nonsensical situation.

  10. Jb Says:

    John, thanks for a terrific post. For many of us, it’s a good moment to reflect and check our compass.

    While attending a green building conference in Denver in 2009, one of the speakers in my last course nearly broke down in tears when describing her concern for her children’s future. When I got home I began researching climate change and stumbled upon Peak Oil in the process. After watching Colin Campbell’s (et al) lectures on YouTube,
    I panicked.

    It was a horrible feeling that immediately separated me from my colleagues and everyone I loved. I tried to share this with my wife, but it quickly became clear that she falls into the category of people who simply do not want to know – period. My son was 10 at the time; trying to explain this to him seemed cruel and unfair.

    But I try anyway, gently and in small doses. Everytime there’s a bit of news about oil refineries closing or the Brits in the Fauklands, I offer a quick explanation to the headline. Kunstler is right: let’s just start telling the truth.

    Moving to a fortified residence in the country is not a realistic option for us. So the plan is to do what I believe the majority of us are going to have to do: adapt in place. Besides, we can’t predict the future, we don’t know how this is going to play out. I suspect it will be different everywhere.

    In my opinion, Greece and smaller countries are being forced out of the musical chairs game of oil consumption. (Instead of chairs, think barrels of oil). Here’s a thesis written by a Lt. Col. in the Swiss Army that supports this idea:

    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA556169&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

    The thesis suggests, and I concur, that the US isn’t going to change it’s path until we hit the ceiling and scarcity takes hold. Until then, we have time to prepare and adapt.

    My self employment income has suddenly dropped to zero. Sometimes I find myself hoping that new work will come in. Sometimes I admit to myself that I should take Orlov’s advice and become the member of the family that focuses on making the transition.

    Thus, I have begun to realize that prepping isn’t enough. I am going to have to lead my family into the post-petroleum age. And it might not be in a direction that everyone wants to go.

    My best to all.

    Jb

  11. Kathy C Says:

    A comment on the John Wesley quote “Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.”
    As you note:
    The trick will be in trying to figure out by what path can you do the most good
    But the trick will also be to try to see what is “good” in a changed world – In the book “One Second After” about the US after an EMP attack, the “hero” finally finds that keeping alive a beloved pet is no longer good. What is good is to stop sharing food with the pet and instead turn the pet into protein for his pregnant daughter. A good Dr. after Katrina gave morphine to some of the most fragile of her elderly patients. Was she attempting to give them an earlier or more peaceful death? Whatever her intent what she did was good IMO although many saw it as evil http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/p/anna_m_pou/index.html

    Old guidelines will not apply and so I would modify Wesley’s quote to say “Do all the good you can as best you can weigh out the effects for all involved”. In fact emergency people and medics in battle have to do that on short notice, but most of us have been spared facing such hard decisions. Hunter-gatherers have been reviled in the past for infanticide and eldercide but they didn’t destroy the source of their own sustenance nor create a situation in which billions will never live as long as they had previously expected to live. For those who seek to live by Wesley’s quote in the future it will take great courage, for they will be faced with choices they never imagined they would have to make and they may well have to live with never feeling sure they chose right.

  12. john rember Says:

    John:
    A former student dropped off a copy of The Long Emergency, and I picked it up and read it in the ensuing eight hours. That led me to LATOC and Nature Bats Last. It seems to me that many of us have fallen down the same rabbit hole. I see no other alternatives other than the ones you’ve listed here, except for the possibility that NBL consensus reality is actually NBL consensus psychosis, and we’re all in the retinue of the Red Queen. Noting, as Jung did, that “It’s hard to see the lion that has eaten you,” it may be a small cause for hope.

  13. Kathy C Says:

    The US Recorded Its Warmest March In History And All We Got Was This Timelapse Video and rest of the article at http://www.zerohedge.com/news/us-recorded-its-warmest-march-history-and-all-we-got-was-timelapse-video
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 04/09/2012 11:49 -0400

    NOAA just released confirmation that the first quarter of 2012 was the warmest on record. The fact that we rely on ‘seasonal adjustments’ in macro data that are so critical in our seeming belief in the recovery of the US economy (and its extrapolation into how many iPads will be bought next month) when the temperature is 20% hotter than average is simply incredible.
    U.S. records warmest March; more than 15,000 warm temperature records broken

    First quarter of 2012 also warmest on record; early March tornado outbreak is year’s first “billion dollar disaster”

    Record and near-record breaking temperatures dominated the eastern two-thirds of the nation and contributed to the warmest March on record for the contiguous United States, a record that dates back to 1895.

    More than 15,000 warm temperature records were broken during the month.

    The average temperature of 51.1°F was 8.6 degrees above the 20th century average for March and 0.5°F warmer than the previous warmest March in 1910. Of the more than 1,400 months (117+ years) that have passed since the U.S. climate record began, only one month, January 2006, has seen a larger departure from its average temperature than March 2012.

    Note: The March 2012 Monthly Climate Report for the United States has several pages of supplemental information and data regarding the unprecedented early 2012 temperatures.

  14. Michael Irving Says:

    John Stassek,

    About Agrarian Anarchy:

    Just so you understand where I’m coming from, I want to start out by saying that I have put most of my eggs in the Agrarian Anarchy basket. I think it’s the only way forward that preserves some semblance of culture/community.

    Your comments did get me thinking, however, about the musings on the subject by various authors of post-apocalyptic fiction. Since you’ve referred to Kunstler I’ll use him as an example to illustrate some ideas about where we might be headed.

    In his book “World Made By Hand” he illustrates five different societal frameworks, at least as I remember it. First there is the community the protagonist lives in, a village with people trying to hold on to some semblance of a past normality. Many of the folks in the community have vocations similar to, or derived from, what they did previously. Most of them seem to be barely hanging on and are stuck in place without a plan. Second, and also in the village, there is the group of “hive people” that I guess would equate most nearly to what we might call a “cult” or a religious cell. They have a plan, but it is determined via non-rational oracular intervention. They know how to act creatively and decisively as individuals but only within a framework set for them. Third and fourth are the local junk dealers and the traders/slavers in the distant town. In both cases they are acting as gang and organized crime function today, governed by a “might makes right” philosophy. Fifth, and finally, there is the large landowner who seems to have all the “right” kind of approaches to how to live in the new world, how to produce food, tools, and electricity. He has a plan for defense. He has developed a system for securing a good living for a large number of people who have willingly chosen to work with him on his land. However, though his holding is an agrarian wonder like Jefferson’s Monticello, it is run as a feudal manor overseen by the noble lord and powered by the serfs. That the serfs are happy with this arrangement does not take away the fact that they live there very much “by the leave” of the lord of the manor, and he can choose to make other arrangements on a whim.

    So Kunstler has given us a view of the future with small community groups, cults, Mad Max outlaws, and a feudal lord. I don’t see any agrarian anarchy. Of course his ideas are only one science fiction representation of the future, but it seems to echo, or be echoed by, many other writers. In the works I’ve read the future is usually portrayed as a conflict between gangs/armies controlled by a strong-man, or relatively stable agrarian structures, again held together by the will of a strong-man (-woman). There seems little room for autonomous thought and action. In a future remodeled by peak oil and climate change is there an room for anarchy or are we about to re-enter the world of kings and warlords?

    Michael Irving

  15. Rita Says:

    What to do now? Practice. Begin the process of weaning yourself away from anything you are dependent upon, that you possibly can, and if you can’t, then lay in a goodly supply of it.

    The climate is getting more extreme, so another thing to do is prepare a bag to grab as you run out the door from a fire, flood, storm, etc. Think about what you will wish is in there – important papers, cat food, MREs, heirloom jewelry, wool sox, sensible shoes, raincoat, whatever. Maybe a weapon – mace, at least. The experience of thinking about it is the most valuable part. There just isn’t time to do this thinking as the water is rising or the smoke is getting thicker. You are too busy trying to round up the cats and the kids and make the big decision to leave.

    I find it is good to have activities – something to do. It feels like we are all waiting for something to happen. Nobody knows quite what or when, but there are things we can be doing – and it releases some of the stress to be messing around growing food and learning stuff. It gives you a reason to stay sober and keep track of the keys.

    And as far as talking to people about it – I feel like it is similar to encouraging Jews to leave Germany before WWII. Surely that was not a popular topic of conversation, hard to prove, etc. It is only in hindsight that we know. No one wants to believe it. Many wish they had left Bosnia, for instance, before the siege, or Argentina. I know a family that got out of Rwanda in the nick of time. Always keep some cash around, and gas in the car.

  16. Victor Says:

    Always keep some cash around, and gas in the car.

    On an island, you can’t get very far…. :-)

  17. Rita Says:

    Victor – make friends with the ferry guy? Practice long distance swimming?

    In my youth I was a member of our volunteer fire department, and we tried to teach people preparedness. I still marvel at how few people have a working fire extinguisher and fire drills with the family. Recently it has become politically correct to discuss where one would hide in a tornado, but in the past, it was only a topic for wussies. I sense a change in some people.

    Our local news lately is about people dying in fires. Especially trailer homes.

  18. John Stassek Says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading your comments. Thank you, everyone, for your kind remarks. I agree with and second the notion that we enjoy a community here within NBL and thank all for your many hours of dedication, teaching and guiding me these past few years and helping me see I wasn’t going nuts.

    Victor–“Unless God intervenes”
    Like you I think the chances of us turning this around before we get to that cliff are nil. Perhaps something good will come afterwards, after we’ve learned some painful lessons in humility and ecology. If we’re lucky. Divine intervention along the lines of a “Hail Mary Pass” doesn’t seem possible to me. Personally I’m holding out for a little help from the Overlords (from Arthur Clark’s Childhood’s End). (:

    Kevin–I’ve admired your steadfast and stubborn attempts to reach your local council. The video you posted a while back was painful to watch—you doing your level-best to get their attention while they showed complete indifference and apathy to your effort. I’ve only been through a small fraction of that and I’ve already lost heart at trying to convince family members and friends, following along with Mike Sosebee’s comment:

    “Initially I believed that sharing that information with other people would change things. What a miscalculation. I now believe that most people will only respond to a crisis that directly affects them. Empathy for those who are now suffering is a non-starter for many if not most people who can hardly be referred to as sociopaths or is sociopathy a disease of our overall disconnect from the natural world?

    I spend little time trying to convince people who are disinterested now. It’s mostly a waste of my time and seriously undermines my personal self-esteem. Often persons who don’t agree will attack with insults and derision. As Guy has often pointed out you need a thick skin for this kind of work. But in absence of that “thick skin” I find the fellowship of other travelers on similar paths comforting and necessary.”

    John—that rabbit hole you speak of should have a big sign in front of it “Abandon hope all ye that enter here”. Although I probably still would have jumped in. What a dummy!

    Michael Irving—from what I know of human history and behavior I have to agree with you in thinking we’re going to see a repeat of that history. Wide scale anarchy just won’t be permitted or tolerated. Guy notes it’s just not likely we’re going to learn to power down with all the tranquility of Buddhist monks. Just too many sociopaths. And the simple will to survive will drive most of the rest of us to do things we never thought we were capable of doing.

    Rita—Be prepared has always been smart and sensible. You’ve been giving us a good example to follow. And I think we could all benefit from taking the post made by Nikanoru, a 22-year-old, well-informed student of life in his post of Feb 13, 2012 (A rewilding community toolbox) and treating it as a sort of bible for how to be prepared.

    Kathy—When the grid finally goes down and the internet is a memory I think I’m going to miss you most of all! As you are so fond of noting: “In the long term we’re all dead” is also my favorite way of coping. But I have to go a bit further. As Bill or Ted (I don’t remember which one) said to Socrates in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure: “All we are is dust in the wind” (with an assist from Kansas). Really long term each atom within our bodies has been around the block a good many times, perhaps once a part of the lungs of a T Rex, before that within the stem of a giant fern. And before all that, perhaps part of another world. And destined to be a part of another world sometime in the future. Could be many times and many worlds. Geologically speaking, or even better–astronomically speaking, as much as it may hurt to think we’re really going to screw things up here, when you take a long enough view it really doesn’t matter. I don’t know why but somehow I find some comfort here.

    Redreamer: I think you nailed it. Start with that sense of accomplishment that comes from a hard day’s work—satisfaction in it’s most basic and purest sense. From that comes a feeling of worth and purpose, and that’s what gets a person out of bed in the morning. Learning new skills adds to what you can accomplish. And remembering you are not alone gives you the hope and courage to continue when times get hard. Then take a little dab of Emerson– “Life is a journey, not a destination”, add in a little humor, even gallows humor such as the comment from Scott Spence a couple of posts ago:

    “I’m reminded of one of my favorite lines from a movie, “The Eiger Sanction”. As Clint Eastwood and the other climber are struggling along in an impossible situation, Clint says, “Keep going…, we’re going to make it.” To which his partner replies, “I don’t think so…, but we will continue with style.”

    And finally sprinkle in that John Wesley quote about doing all the good you can. The result is the path that I’ve decided upon for as long as ever I can. And then it won’t be my problem any longer.

  19. Arthur Noll Says:

    Victor- how about small boats, fishing rough shorelines and small islands where nobody lives, and large commercial fishing boats can’t get into such places, so it hasn’t been wiped out? You can probably find a place to haul light boats like kayaks out, even with very rough shorelines. A rope ladder for human beings and winch the kayaks up, could be possible, for example.

    As for other places with bigger inland options, I am curious, John, why the option of small groups herding some animals appropriate to the climate, off the roads in remote areas, also doing some hunting and gathering as it is available, is not mentioned? There are many advantages to this that I’ve been over before. It is a time tested, well proven lifestyle for living in harsh places.

    You could say that the small boat-rugged shoreline option fits in the primitivist option, it is basically hunting-gathering and is very old, but herding domestic animals is significantly different to my mind. It generally includes hunting-gathering but adds a significant third leg of stability to it, allows living in places that hunting and gathering by themselves would fail.

    I think in this area, the Central Valley of California, the best strategy would be to lay up a supply of hay for animals in a remote place in the mountains, enough to get through a winter. Snow is often measured in many feet in those mountains to the east of here, you must have stored food for people and animals. But if the collapse goes fast enough, you could be waiting it out during the winter, it is progressing further as you graze your animals in the mountains for spring and summer, and possibly by the next fall, things would have opened up enough that you could winter in the valley, where it doesn’t snow in the winter. That would be a way to make the transition to getting back to ancient migratory patterns between mountains and valleys. Other places you could do something similar but the migration could be longer distances between north and south latitudes, instead of relatively short distances between high and low altitudes.

  20. Victor Says:

    I now believe that most people will only respond to a crisis that directly affects them.

    It is much worse than that, I fear. Often that response is made in wilful ignorance or outright denial of the real problem they face. People will react to direct threats, but often not to the underlying problem that caused those direct threats. We frequently are faced with extended discussion over the indirect threat – just agreeing on its nature is tough enough – agreeing on the solution is near impossible.

    It is entirely a matter of ‘risk management’. If the risk is deemed a small probability, though a huge impact, then we will not take action. Almost everyone agrees that anthropocentric global warming is possible, and that it would cause immense damage to civilisation and to the natural world. They just don’t accept the risk that it might actually be happening right now. They prefer to ‘wait a few more years’ for stronger evidence.

    Such is the case with climate change. We will discuss its underlying causes well beyond the point of redeemable corrective action. Until people are faced with incontrovertible evidence in their minds, corrective action will be out of the question. Unfortunately, the lead times are such that when that evidence finally arrives, they will find that the time to correct the situation has long passed them by.

  21. Kevin Moore Says:

    Victor.

    ‘Often that response is made in wilful ignorance or outright denial of the real problem they face’

    I am having an ‘amusing’ time with the district council (again), and have a meeting with the ‘Manager Corporate Strategy and Policy’ planned.

    According to the Local Government Act, councils are required to ‘determine the significance of issues according to the likely impact on the current and future cultural, environmental and sociel well-being of the district.’

    Also, councils are required to ‘determine the significance of issues on the capacity of the Council to perform its role and carry out its activities, now and in the future.’

    You will be pleased to hear that at this point of time Peak Oil has zero significance both now and in the future, as do climate change and unravelling of fiat currencies.

    If you don’t acknowledge something you don’t have to deal with it.

    How much longer they can keep this game up is anyone’s guess, but I’m picking it can now only be a matter of months.

    Presumably it’s much the same where you live.

    PS. I see that the Eurozone contagion has now spread to Sweden.

    Guardian today:

    ‘Leaving the eurozone briefly, Sweden said industrial production suffered its sharpest fall since 2009 in February. The Nordic country has been relatively sheltered from the crisis so far but looks set to suffer as large parts of Europe – its biggest trading partner – fall back into recession.

    Industrial production dropped 5.2% in February and 7.1% year-on-year. Analysts polled by Reuters expected a 0.2% gain in February, and a 1.1% increase on the year.’

  22. Kathy C Says:

    John, “when you take a long enough view it really doesn’t matter. I don’t know why but somehow I find some comfort here.” Likewise. To quote John Rember “I haven’t given up on hope, but I’ve reduced the time frame it operates in.” I think that when we give up on the long view it gives us the freedom to focus on the short view and perhaps we do more “good” in the end. That we can have any impact on the long view is hubris. That a hug given to someone we love matters right now is good is not up for argument. It makes that moment good. The angst lies in between the now and millions of years, but giving up on the extended future at least allows us to put boundaries on our angst.

  23. Rita Says:

    John – thank you for reminding me about the “Rewilding Tool Box” It is very good.

    Also – that essay Jaron Lanier mentioned “What if the Peak Oil Movement Isn’t About Peak Oil After All” is most excellent.

    My grandmother preached about the end of the world all her life, so my relatives roll their eyes if I sound like her. It is kind of funny. And one thing about economic and resource collapse – not everyone is equally affected.

    My concern, in my heart of hearts, is really more with the natural world. I am hard wired to want to “save” my loved ones, but it is a terrible dilemma when how they are living is the problem. It is even worse when I notice that how I am living is the problem. I once saw a bumper sticker that read – “Save The Planet. Kill Yourself.”

  24. Michael Irving Says:

    John Rember,

    “Consensus psychosis” in the company of the Red Queen. Good one! In the same vein there is the “Red Queen Theory” in evolutionary biology (species must keep evolving just to adapt to incursions on their niche by other species—the Red Queen race; running faster just to stay in one place). In response to the Red Queen, Barnosky suggested instead the “Court Jester Theory” and it seems a more likely future fit us (huge evolutionary changes within individual species are a result of attempts to adapt to disruptive external forces [asteroids, climate change, etc.]). It’s an extension of Gould’s Punctuated Equilibrium (things go along pretty much the same for a long time and then something happens and there are big, abrupt evolutionary changes). So we here at NBL may be crazy or we may be the few who can read the “!” of the evolutionary bottleneck created by anthropogenic climate change.

    Thank for the reminder.

    Michael Irving

  25. Kathy C Says:

    Peak Oil in Egypt (1996) is about changing to net importing after years of net exporting. The only reason Egypt’s population is so large is the revenues from oil exporting. Egypt imports 40% of its food and 60% of its wheat. It has been subsidizing food for its population based on oil revenues. Now as they have little left after at home consumption of oil, their ability to buy food is decreasing and this as much as anything has sparked the unrest now (as opposed to the simmering unrest before).

    Democracy Now had a program today that gets the food part – http://www.democracynow.org/2012/4/10/shock_doctrine_in_egypt_sharif_abdel but the put the declining revenues as being a result of reduced tourism (I am sure the military government is putting that out because it masks the real reason which is not something that can be fixed and places the decline in tourism right in the lap of those demonstrating). I don’t think I have ever heard Amy Goodman discuss or acknowledge Peak Oil.

    After listening to the program I wanted to see if the net importing is now a fact – found this site that is over a year old but has good commentary and charts of the state of export of oil for a variety of countries - “One thing that links Egypt and Tunisia, however — and which forms part of the background against which attempts at revolution might have been more likely in those countries — is that as compared to most of the region, they do not have much oil.”

    http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/31/egypt-oil-and-democracy/

    At that point in time Egypt’s oil exports produced $32 per person in revenue for the country, while Quatar’s revenues produced over $26,000 per person.

    When net oil exports turn to net imports in a particular country with an oil revenue inflated population, the impacts are much more sudden and severe than the general peak oil problems. Further, the instability in one such country can begin to destabilize others sooner than their own situations would.

  26. Victor Says:

    I would be interested in what you good folks think of this:

    It’s over 2 hours in length, so pick a convenient time to watch.

  27. Kevin Moore Says:

    A tiny bit of good news:

    ‘European stock markets rocked by panic selling as debt crisis reignites. Investors demanding high premiums for holding Italian and Spanish bonds as fears of double-dip recession grow.’

  28. Redreamer Says:

    Victor Interesting movie… but to be fair it merely seems to me to be a bunch of pseudo scientific nonsense albeit prettied up in an empathy package.

    http://thrivedebunked.wordpress.com/

    Even if it were true… I doubt I would trust humans with unlimited power…

  29. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,
    You might be interested in this: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2012/04/11-2
    I also invite you to the Easter rant you touched off with your previous links. It’s at the end of Guy’s last post. Nary a sparrow falls without Big Brother’s knowledge.

    Michael Irving

  30. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    You might also be interested in this: “If there’s a threat to the homeland, the United States always reserves the ability to act unilaterally,” said Rick “Ozzie” Nelson, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. http://news.antiwar.com/2012/04/10/us-quietly-plans-to-betray-afghan-pact-on-night-raids/

    Herr Nelson was referring to the need to conduct “night raids” in Afghanistan even though we just committed to not doing so without permission from the Afghani government. So much for “our word is our bond.”

    This “defense of the homeland” language will be changed to “defense of the Fatherland” before too long. Good thing for you that nobody in the British government thinks in those terms and that your non-constitutionally described civil liberties are still intact. Well, maybe. On second thought, you should hope that your government toes the line on all things American. I hear that in 2014 the US will have a whole bunch of guys with nothing to do and who will need to be sent somewhere in order to keep their skills sharp. Might as well be England as anywhere else. Of course if England manages to evade the title “target of opportunity” there’s always Africa. Uganda sounds like a good place to start.

    Michael Irving

  31. Victor Says:

    Redreamer

    Your view is similar to mine….but what interested me was that this was another of a class of ‘projects’ put together to appeal to an assortment of people in the attempt to unify activists globally. It was all started by Zeitgeist of course which has fallen deservedly into disrepute. It tries to appeal to everyone and ends up appealing to no one. It is a very slick and professional production, so I wonder who is behind the money…and why.

    And thanks for the link to the debunking site. I don’t agree with a lot that that fellow seems to support, but he seemed to have some good observations about the film. He appears to be someone with an awful lot of time on his hands, and the energy of a manic-depressive to spend it on.

  32. Victor Says:

    Michael Irving

    Congress, the President and the Supreme Court are all changing the Constitution illegally. People thought Dubya was being humorous when he made the statement at one point, “Constitution? What that? It’s just a piece of paper.” Sadly, he was quite serious.

    They could be challenged in Court, but when you have a Supreme Court full of Constitutional activists who are more than happy to sell the US down the river to the benefit of its Corporate masters, then you have a long, hard battle on your hands, and probably a losing one.

    America is fucked. It will come as no surprise to me when I start hearing of people disappearing in the middle of the night – perhaps even some very high profile folks.

    Britain might go that way eventually, but it appears that they will always be at the beck and call of the US Government whatever happens.

    As for ‘national security’, nothing trumps it in the fascist national security state – not even the economy (as the drained Treasury will witness). Under the psychology of the national security state a small, dirt poor family in remote Afghanistan is just as serious a threat to US national security as a bevy of missiles pointed at Washington. So whatever their promises, it won’t mean anything as the Afghans will soon find out. Of course the Afghan government already knows this and is complicit in it because it is politically expedient for them.

    Using its economic power backed by its military and covert psychological warfare operations, the US is the strongest, most vicious empire ever. There is literally no place in the world to hide from its tentacles. Over 700 military installations spread across the globe. The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and the global banking system all in its pockets. It is now demonstrating clearly (intentionally) for all to see how it can change any regime it sets its eyes on, and destroy economically any nation that stands in its way. And if economic destruction doesn’t cow the target country, then the navy and air force is used to bomb its infrastructure into the Stone Age, rendering that country no longer a threat to America’s interests.

  33. john rember Says:

    Michael Irving:

    Thanks for the reference to the Court Jester theory. You sent me off in search of who came up with the metaphor for punctuated equilibrium that involves twelve-sided billiards balls [I think it was Gould, but couldn’t find a quick reference in Wikipedia]. The gist of the metaphor is that it takes a substantial outside force to move a ball from one face to another, and then it’s just as hard to move it off the new face, and if you do, you probably won’t move it back to the old face.

    All sorts of folks have jumped on the punctuated equilibrium bandwagon because it provides a handy explanation of why fields of study stay stable for long periods and then change radically. I’m generally dubious about this sort of stretching-to-fit, but think the concept applies pretty well to climate: if we stress the current climate patterns by changing the composition of the atmosphere, we may one day wake up with a new arrangement, with no known way to get back to the old one.

    In terms of the present CO2 forcing, it seems clear to me that if we were able to go back to a 350ppm atmosphere, there’s no guarantee that we would go back to what we remember as a 350ppm climate.

  34. Kevin Moore Says:

    john.

    I like the ‘ball in a bowl’ climate model. Small disturbances displace the ball, but it tends to roll back to the steadiest position.

    On the other hand, a massive disturbance can push the ball right out of the bowl, and it then sits in adjacent bowl until another major distubance (or a lot of slow pushing) gets the ball back into the original bowl.

    We are living in a very different world from the last time atmospheric CO2 was below the apparently safe level of 350ppm (around 1980), in terms of world population and the way most people live.

    ‘if we were able to go back to a 350ppm atmosphere’

    Unfortunately there is no known mechanism to reduce CO2 (other than planting huge areas of forest and NOT harvesting them -and what chance is there of NOT harvesting in an oil-depleted world?)

    As we have discussed many times, there is no way of avoiding a CO2 level well above 400ppm, (current 394ppm) and in all likelihood it will rise to 450ppm unless industrial activity largely ceases this year. Although global financial arrangements look certain to collapse within a year or two, industrial activity is not likely to decline quickly enough to prevent climate catastrophe (some would say we already have climate catastrophe, of course).

    Practically every aspect of ‘the system’ is geared to raising the CO2 level of teh atmosphere (and the oceans), and the system cannot be reformed.

  35. john rember Says:

    Kevin

    I agree that 450ppm is on the way–persistent coal mine fires will accomplish that even in the absence of industrial activity–and that we’re not going to see 350 ppm again. I was just pointing out that going back to 350 doesn’t mean that we’d get the same climate back.

    I think we’re close to an all-bets-are-off climatic phase-change. The computer model hasn’t been invented yet that can deal with a phase-change in a chaotic system.

    We’re in for some big surprises. Probably not of the Jesus at the head of an army of angels type.

  36. Jay Says:

    We’re pretty well up a creek without a paddle with the end of the oil age and climate change, I have to admit I’m scared, saddened that we are so unable to cooperate as a species that we could have steered a global course away from this. The propensity of humans to go mad under stress as individuals and Nations and become violent also frightens me. Perhaps I’m just a wimpy coward,EH?

  37. Victor Says:

    The propensity of humans to go mad under stress as individuals and Nations and become violent also frightens me. Perhaps I’m just a wimpy coward,EH?

    Jay

    I think you will find a lot of empathy for that position here….how could one not fear such a future? We can only learn to accept it, and move on, each in our own way, making the best of the situation we each face in our own lives.

  38. Victor Says:

    I think we’re close to an all-bets-are-off climatic phase-change. The computer model hasn’t been invented yet that can deal with a phase-change in a chaotic system.

    The closest I have seen to this is the relatively simple model that James Lovelock devised which took into account biological systems as well as geophysical and which he described in The Revenge of Gaia. His model showed a relative modest global temperature increase as CO2 levels increased over time. The algae in the ocean have a cooling effect upon temperature, and as CO2 was raised they began suffering until at about 500ppm of atmospheric CO2 they collapsed. Shortly after, global temperature took a dramatic quantum step upwards – virtually overnight in a geological sense.

    His contention is that current models do not take biological systems and their effects into account in the models, and if they did, we would likely see a series of stepwise and significant increased in global temperatures as these biological systems failed over time. I was quite impressed.

  39. Victor Says:

    From: 49 NASA Scientists
    To: NASA

    March 28, 2012

    The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.
    NASA Administrator
    NASA Headquarters
    Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

    Dear Charlie,

    We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

    The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

    As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.

    For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

    Thank you for considering this request.

    Sincerely,

    (Attached signatures)

  40. Kathy C Says:

    Victor, I notice there is one meteorologist in the 49 listed, several astronauts but I just don’t see any who list climate scientist as their field of study :) I don’t think Jim Hansen would claim to know how to fly a shuttle……

  41. Victor Says:

    Kathy

    I just don’t believe that you are raising your chickens properly…. :-)

  42. Kathy C Says:

    Well Victor you can have that opinion, but I have 3 to 4 doz eggs a day to prove you wrong. :) Perhaps this new push is push back against the possibility that a warm March (15,000 temperature records broken in March in the US) might sway the public back to believing that AGW is real. Can’t have that happen eh? I suppose the deniers will still be denying when part of Florida is underwater.

  43. Victor Says:

    I suppose the deniers will still be denying when part of Florida is underwater.

    What I fear is that if you go along with folks like Resa who say something to the effect, ‘Let’s give it another decade or so and see where we are then’, you might well be faced during that time with Lovelock’s sudden and irreversible quantum increase in global temperature.

    I keep saying that it is a risk management issue – not a solely scientific issue. The science has led us to understand that there is a risk here. Risk management says that if there exists a risk, it needs to be mitigated if possible. It doesn’t need to be proven, only identified as a true risk. Any risk that has high impact should be seriously evaluated, be it high probability or not. And with global warming there is no greater potential impact. We are fools for not mitigating now when the expense is much lower than later when the cost is impossible.

  44. Alpha Omega Says:

    I could attempt another elaborate critique of the thinking on display at this site, or I could just offer the following link and let you all read for yourself the text of a very compelling speech which explains why the worldview of Guy and the Eco-Malthusian-Primitivists is so misguided:

    http://lifeboat.com/ex/screw.sustainability

  45. John Stassek Says:

    We are so totally wrapped up by our hubris we simply cannot see. As Mark Twain noted, “History does not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” World attention this week is turned towards an event that occurred a hundred years ago, and provides a good example. Even after Titanic struck that berg all lives could have been saved. Initial damage reports showed their pumps could control the flooding, at least as long as the coal supplies held out. Captain Smith, with continued prodding from J. Bruce Ismay, wrongly assumed they could self-rescue themselves. Instead of taking the prudent precaution of waiting a few hours for another ship to arrive they got underway, slowly, on a course to Halifax. But the forward movement of the ship sucked in more water and further damaged the plates along the keel. The resultant increase in flooding overwhelmed the pumps and the ship was doomed to sink, not within days but within a few hours.

    http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/last-log-of-the-titanic.html

    The evidence is right in front of us. The risk is catastrophic. But instead of doing what’s prudent for the sake of our existence we do what improves the bottom line or what saves face. Over and over we rinse and repeat. Up to now the damage has been localized. We won’t be that lucky with global warming.

  46. Sean Says:

    You guys really don’t seem to get how this world works. Mother nature doesn’t reward miserly sustainability, she rewards outrageous, profligate creativity! Rather than try to make this case myself, I’ll just offer the following link and let you all read for yourself the text of a brilliant speech which explains why the worldview of Guy and other Eco-Malthusian-Primitivists is so deeply misguided:

    http://lifeboat.com/ex/screw.sustainability

    Enjoy!

  47. Kathy C Says:

    Sean/Sean Strange/Alpha Omega/Singluatarian/The Cosmist/Comic Cosmos/Doomer Report and all your other pseudonyms, where have you been. Ah in trying to remember all your names I found a few of your sites – been making upgrades while the world burns I see.

    The thing is that if we are wrong, we have just done with a little less stuff (and found the joy in simpler living), if you are wrong then The Doomer Report http://thedoomerreport.blogspot.com/ will be more than just another Sean web site – it will be reality.

  48. Sith Master Sean Says:

    Kathy, I’m a little disappointed that you didn’t mention the only web site of mine that I wouldn’t mind seeing become a reality: sithacademy.com. I’m in Arizona now by the way, probably not far from Guy. When the first Sith Temple opens here I’m inviting him to come study with us — it’s never too late to choose Empire and turn to the Dark Side!

  49. Robin Datta Says:

    Someone at work who had told me of a Global Warming site also suggested Jay Hanson’s dieoff.com, around 2002 or so.

    http://www.dieoff.com/synopsis.pdf

    The site (and the document) have been updated many times since.

    Browsing about on energy topics got me to the Energy Bulletin, where I found Dr. McPherson’s address to a public health graduating class, and therefrom to NBL. 

    I heard about the Long Emergency when it was first published, but read the book only a couple of weeks ago, because “Long Emergency” is an oxymoron and I have an aversion to such degradation of the language. 

    An emergency is a situation where prompt action may avert high-impact adverse consequences in events occurring in a brief timeframe. With a long timeframe, it is an ordeal rather than an emergency. Loss of nuance, richness and diversity of words makes language less able to carry subtler shades of meaning, somewhat like rendering people colour-blind by painting in shades of grey. Linguistic diversity correlating with the milieu is a characteristic of cultures everywhere: Eskimos have around 56 words for different forms of snow, ice and frost; Arabic has close to120 words descriptive of different aspects of the date-palm, it’s fruit and seed/pit. The forced homogenisation of the French language with the eradication of regional dialects by the heavy hand of the state was carried out in ignorance of these concepts.

    As has been pointed out on NBL, extinction for the individual is for everyone. And considering such physical concepts as the Heat Death of the Universe and the DecY of the Proton, it is true in the collective sense as well. To the question of “whether” (in reference to death or extinction) the only really valid response is “when?”  

    The aversive responses to bad tidings and warnings have been recognised since ancient times:
    Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 7: 6

    Latin Vulgate:
    Nolite dare sanctum canibus, neque mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos, ne forte conculcent eas pedibus suis, et conversi disrumpant vos. 

    King James Version:
    Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.

    I have seen no significant shift towards sustainable living arrangements, but have seen massive allocations of rapidly dwindling resources into propping up unsustainable living arrangements.

    Huge numbers of people and huge numbers of jobs are wrapped up in the current fossil fuel paradigm.

    This is what Janes Howard Kunstler has called “the psychology of previous investment”. People continue pouring resources into a situation well past the time when clearly it has become untenable, driven by an aversion to acknowledging that the resources already invested have been lost. Staying to long in a bad relationship is a similar situation. It is also true when a herd of cattle are in full stampede towards the cliff. 

    I will put in yet another submission to the council’s long term plan, so they cannot profess to have not known about the impending collapse when it finally comes.

    When all mayhem breaks loose, the personal satisfaction of saying “I told you so”, or for that matter, drawing and quartering each & every council member is unlikely to redound significantly to anyone’s benefit.

  50. Sith Master Sean Says:

    Kathy, to clarify the issue you raise, I’ve listed four possibilities below, depending on whether I’m right or wrong about techno-civilization having huge positive potential going forward, and whether my narrative of cornucopian galactic imperialism or your Malthusian primitivist story prevails:

    I’m Right, I Prevail: Galactic Empire
    I’m Wrong, I Prevail: Involuntary dark age, lots of people die, no Galactic Empire
    I’m Right, You Prevail: Voluntary dark age, lots of people die, no Galactic Empire
    I’m Wrong, You Prevail: Voluntary dark age, lots of people die, no Galactic Empire

    So as you can see, the only option which can possibly lead to Galactic Empire is if I am right and I prevail, which means that I have no choice but to push for this outcome, because let’s face it, a future without a Galactic Empire is simply unthinkable!

  51. Kathy C Says:

    Sean, not only are lots of people going to die, everyone, you included are going to die – Galactic Empire or Dark Age. You see we are mortals. Denial doesn’t change the fact.

    Suggested reading
    Ernest Becker – The Denial of Death

    Further reading so you understand why we are headed back to the stone age.

    Joseph Tainter – The Collapse of Complex Societies

    Craig Dilworth – Too Smart for our Own Good

    I realize that up to now comic books and movies have informed your world view, but we aren’t characters in a comic book or a movie, we are biological beings that live in a real world with finite resources.

  52. Justin Nigh Says:

    Sean,

    I read “Screw Sustainability.” I’ve got a waste to wealth transfer facility in my backyard; it’s called a compost heap and the energy I invest in harnessing the power of bacteria to turn it into black gold with which I feed my vegetable garden is nil, rather than the 15 BTU to 100 BTU of Changing World Technologies’ Thermal Conversion Process. Go ahead and pay these guys to do what I can do for free. Using the technology nature already provides for us is far more efficient than your man-made technology, but it seems there will always be lazy people ready to hand over their money to become reliant on someone else for their own survival. I agree that we should mimic the technologies of nature, but not in a way that requires another interface layer that generates profit for those providing it. You talk of another worldview, yet your suggested use of technology simply perpetuates the worldview of profiteering.

    You’ve got it backward, surviving in a system means fitting into that system, not outside of it as empire does. Clusters of autonomous groups are far more resilient and capabale of adapting to a changing system than the centrally planned and controlled organisational structure of empire.

  53. Arthur Noll Says:

    So we are not repeating history, but rhyming with it, and are metaphorically rhyming with the Titanic. But having read about the Titanic, and the lack of any thought for the problem of triage with the lack of sufficient lifeboats, we can rhyme slightly differently, and instead of people getting to the lifeboats by chance, we invite them to the lifeboats, knowing that many will not like the odds and will chose to stay with the ship and glorious promises of galatic empire, among many other promises. Just about whatever makes you happy these days, you can find someone promising it.

    But it is also a matter of first come, first served. As mentioned by Jesus in the parable of the young women and the bridegroom, the doors will open, and the doors will shut. If you haven’t learned enough about the situation and can’t make up your mind fast enough what the reality is, too bad for you, the chance will be gone. The “lifeboats” will be full, they will be gone. Nothing left for those too easily fooled by wonderful stories told by people with no evidence, and hesitating too long. There will be “wailing and gnashing of teeth” when many people realize beyond doubt what a serious mistake they have made.

  54. Robin Datta Says:

    First there is the community the protagonist lives in, a village with people trying to hold on to some semblance of a past normality. Many of the folks in the community have vocations similar to, or derived from, what they did previously. Most of them seem to be barely hanging on and are stuck in place without a plan.

    If these people are working together as equals, they could constitute a tribe/anarchy. 

    Really long term each atom within our bodies has been around the block a good many times,

    Stars in a size range approximating the sun have sufficient mass so that their gravity can squeeze their cores enough to produce some of the lighter elements from hydrogen. When we get into elements in the range of carbon or nitrogen, the atoms have to be squeezed together at the centre of the star. This happens when the star is dying, with most of its bulk exploding in all directions. The overlying layers explode both outwards an nd towards the centre, overpowering the centre. The squeeze on the centre created the heavier elements( the explosion is called a supernova. 

    “Life is a journey, not a destination”

    Looked at from Eastern traditions, it is a motel or an inn or maybe a caravansary. A place to make the arrangements for the next leg of the journey. 

    Victor- how about small boats, fishing rough shorelines and small islands where nobody lives,

    It may be prudent to select islands that rise sufficiently above current sea levels to be safe even after the anticipated sea level rise. And in a place where th fish do not have too much mercury or radio- strontium/cesium. 

    small groups herding some animals appropriate to the climate, ……
    ……It is a time tested, well proven lifestyle for living in harsh places.

    The reason it works well is because they are factories converting marginal vegetation into high-quality food; they also are effectively self pro relied and self-propagating caches of nutriments. 

    You will be pleased to hear that at this point of time Peak Oil has zero significance both now and in the future, as do climate change and unravelling of fiat currencies.

    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

    Foster Gamble’s “Thrive” is definitely an improvement when compared to the 1960s Japanese science-fiction movies. A lot less grainy, for instance. 

    I also invite you to the Easter rant you touched off with your previous links.

    The Constitution does NOT give the citizens anything. It RESTRAINS the state from taking away what the citizens already had BEFORE there was a Constitution or a state. And it does a mighty poor job at that.   

    You might also be interested in this: “If there’s a threat to the homeland, the United States always reserves the ability to act unilaterally,”

    When there is a threat to the Homeland it is a threat FROM the united States, with smallpox-contaminated blankets and Hotchkiss guns. Once again, praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

    “defense of the Fatherland”

    – in a land where a very substantial fraction of those born today are bastards?

    Sith Master Sean / Alpha Omega; Dmitry Orlov gave you very sage advice some time back to have kinky sex with chickens on an alfalfa roof. It would also befit you to move the last-placed letter of your first name into second place. 

    if England manages to evade the title “target of opportunity”

    The united States invaded Britain in preparation for the Mormandy landings. Britain went along with it because the alternative would have been eventual landings FROM Normandy. The Americans have continued to occupy Britain with thousands of troops and many bases. (In Roman times, there were Iraqi occupation troops in Britain – soldiers of the Empire, from Mesopotamia.)

  55. John Stassek Says:

    Arthur–I’ve learned enough over the past six years to believe things are going to change and those changes won’t be pleasant. Emmulating Guy’s durable living arrangements seems like the wise and prudent thing to do. But we may be blindsided, wishing we had done x, y and z instead of a, b and c. Given the chaotic nature of our society and the almost infinite number of black swan events possible, how do you know for sure which lifeboat to get on? You don’t. Certainty is impossible. So you wind up doing what seems to be a good idea at the time. And hope it is.
    Sean/Cosmist is doing the same thing. Preparing as best he can for that future he believes is likely. I suspect he is wrong. And I don’t intend to go there. But I’m smart enough to know I don’t have all the answers and I accept the possibility that I may be wrong. Guess that’s how it works. We do what we think is best, for ourselves, in the short term and hope it works out well for the long one. Wait a minute! Isn’t that how we got into this mess in the first place?
    Nevermind!

  56. Justin Nigh Says:

    Sean,

    I wonder if you may be missing a key element in your search for meaning. For example, you claim the following:

    Honorary Sith master Bruce Lee said “As you think, so shall you become,” and this is one of the core tenets of the Sith Path – to which I would add: “As you will, so shall you think.” If your will is to become a Sith master, you must make your thoughts subservient to that desire; you must condition your conscious and subconscious minds so that they may make of you a Sith Superman.

    How can this be achieved? Here is the approach I recommend: expose yourself only to those ideas, individuals, arts and activities which promote Sith consciousness. Strive to remove all anti-Sith influences from your sight and to effectively brainwash yourself to the cult of the Dark Side. Below are some resources I use for this purpose.

    My interpretation of the opposing forces of dark and light represented by the Sith and Jedi is that they must be balanced. The Star Wars story is all about restoring the balance to the force which was unbalanced by the Sith abusing their powers to seek control of the universe. You rightly acknowledge that forces of dark and light are required for life, growth, progress, but seek to choose the dark side to the exclusion of the light. This is your fatal error. True knowledge, power and understanding come from balancing the opposing forces. You’ve simply taken your refusal of the judeo-christian message of “good” and have sided with the opposing message of “evil,” and so become no different than those you oppose.

  57. the virgin terry Says:

    ‘what Janes Howard Kunstler has called “the psychology of previous investment”. People continue pouring resources into a situation well past the time when clearly it has become untenable, driven by an aversion to acknowledging that the resources already invested have been lost.’

    robin, do not underestimate human aversion to admitting to extreme foolishness, particularly when said foolishness has been a long tradition, in the failure to acknowledge surreality and change course.

  58. Victor Says:

    do not underestimate human aversion to admitting to extreme foolishness

    From our perspective it might be considered foolishness. It is simple for us to proclaim the world as foolish. But from the perspective of the rest of the world it is simple economics – money and jobs and lives are involved. If you close down the coal power plants and the mines, you destroy an entire industry – the livelihoods of many, many people are intimately entwined with such action. It will naturally receive great resistance by those affected both directly and indirectly.

    You can say that this is the way of life and that there will be jobs associated with the new technology, but that is saying nothing to those whose lives and fortunes are at stake.

    You can criticise those who offer this resistance, but I wonder how many of you and your family and friends would not resist as well if you were directly affected?

    The world is not simple. Civilisation is not simple. And solutions are never simple. Inertia is inertia, and in the case of a base industry or set of industries, the inertia offered by an advanced civilisation is great indeed.

  59. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Let’s see if this will turn off the italics someone left on :-)

  60. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    Ok. I guess not. Oh well. Guy, I guess it’s up to you.

  61. Victor Says:

    Italics test

  62. Victor Says:

    another one

  63. Victor Says:

    TRDH

    Agreed….it’s over to Guy now

  64. Guy R. McPherson Says:

    I’ve posted anew, here. I’m traveling, and I’ll work on this italics issue when I’m back at the mud hut late today.

  65. Farmer Chuck Says:

    Hi all,

    I haven’t chimed in here since shortly after Guy started this site. The site has evolved, which is only fitting as the world has changed. It’s great to read and share thoughts with a group of folks who have empathy, intelligence and the ability to face a very uncertain future with courage, equanimity and a determination to make that future world a better place than the world we currently live in.

    I don’t drop in here as often as I should but when I read John Stassek’s post from April 8th and all the great comments down the thread I just had to jump in. So please forgive me for what I’m about to do…share a bit of my story with you. You won’t hurt my feelings if you scroll all the way to the point where you see “the end” but I’m going to write a good bit between here and there anyhow so for those who bear with me…thanks kindly.

    I’ve been a business guy by trade since graduate school but my heart always resided in nature, wilderness and in growing things. When getting my MBA in Boulder, CO they tried to hammer into us that it’s all about growth…eternally, unlimited, forever. Even back then, in my naivete it didn’t feel right in my gut or my heart..hell, even my mind.

    Fast forward about 25 years. My family has moved to a quiet little suburb of Portland, Oregon and while I know we have been and continue to f#@k up the world in a wide variety of ways I still have this cocoon of security around me because while more aware than most I had not quite put it all together. It must have been in the mid to late 90’s that I ran across Mike Ruppert (From the Wilderness), Matt Savinar (Life after the Oil Crash), Richard Heinberg, Jim Kunstler, Matt Simmons, Ken Deffeyes, John Michael Greer, ASPO and a few other sources which served as my introduction to “peak oil”. Being an analyst by profession that was all I needed to finally put all the pieces together.

    It was akin to being hit by a lightning bolt. I still remember reading every word on the LATOC site about peak oil and what it’s impact on the world as we know it would be. As I read those words it felt almost as if someone had literally pulled them, verbatim, directly out of my head and put them to paper (or more aptly to computer display). In the roughly 15 years since then I’ve read damn near every scrap of literature on peak oil and energy issues. Over time that naturally led to an increasing interest in my following a wide variety of other natural resource issues including all other fossil fuels, fresh water and the worlds major agricultural commodities. What I saw in almost every case was simply that each of those resources was rapidly depleting and/or being degraded.

    There have been moments of abject sadness at what we have done to this amazing planet, at the short sightedness of the human race, at the greed, ignorance, complacence and sheer lack of ability to see the inevitable outcome of our current societal way of living. But there have been many more moments when I have envisioned a better future. Simpler…yes. Less convenient and less consumptive…absolutely. Fewer people, less mobility, less energy, less technology…yes, yes, yes and yes again. But I don’t view those necessarily as negatives. And the positives which will almost certainly have to come into play to replace our current economic and social paradigm will include much more emphasis on truly local (as in our immediate neighbors) community building and sharing, small local economies, a life much more focused on the daily activities of providing food and a modest level of amenities, but also around building and maintaining relationships with family, neighbors and friends. I could write a book on what I think can happen if we do this transition the right way…proactively, with forethought, compassion and a acknowledgement of our need to live in harmony with the earth.

    You may be thinking “what is this guy smoking, talking about this Utopian BS”. I still think that myself when I see what the bankers, politicians and big corporations are doing to the earth, and to us. Occasionally I go down the Kunstler “Long Emergency” route, sometimes the kinder, gentler JM Greer “Long Descent” route, sometimes the Heinberg power down path and most often my own imperfectly perceived path of contraction. There are so many variables, so many potential black swans and so much inertia built into our systems that it is close to impossible to gage the exact timing or the speed with which the collapse of industrial civilization will occur…but occur it will…sooner or later.

    I’ve come to terms with peak everything and collapse (I know I haven’t mentioned climate change but it’s right there in the mix as well) and I feel like I’ve come to terms (as much as that is possible without actually experiencing the changes to come) with it. While by no means ready (can any of us truly be ready) for the day when the gas pumps shut off, the lights go out and the food isles in the supermarkets become empty I have had time to contemplate, cogitate, plan and prepare to a degree.

    With regard to preparation I must confess to being blessed in a few key ways. My parents, brother and spouse, sister and partner all get it. They understand not only peal energy, climate change and resource constraints, but also how these issues all intertwine and connect to population, the global growth economy, consumption, politics and an array of other issues. My own wife and companion and our three young adult sons also get it. We are further blessed by living in the upper Willamette valley in Oregon, a place of relatively mild (so far) and temperate weather with an abundant portfolio of natural resources from timber to fresh water to great soils. Even a few progressive souls who also understand our impending predicament.

    As a family we started discussing these issues when our boys were just entering high school. No doom and gloom but facts and concerns based on science and trends in supply and demand for various resources. We initially started with a few little changes as we lived in suburbia and were not going to move until our youngest finished high school. Our bet was that collapse and the most dire manifestations of peak oil would hold off for at least the 5 years or so we were hoping to get so our lads could finish high school and college (I know there are a lot of folks out there who question the benefits of college and I concede many of their points but we still believe in the value of education for it’s own sake, and for the life experiences young adults can gain from it).

    About 10 days after the twins graduated from high school our suburban house was on the market and we took a lot less than we might have to sell quickly. We then lived, in town, for another year while we scoured the countryside between Portland and Salem for a farm. Last August we found our farm and we now have 10 acres of flat, highly fertile Willemette valley land to begin building our lifeboat and community around. Currently we produce Marion berries in commercial quantities but that will be going away starting this fall after the harvest. Our goal is a self-sustaining integrated, diverse family farmstead where we grow our own fruits, nuts, hops, grains, veggies, honey, eggs and chicken and who knows what else. We’ve got a great well but need to install a hand pumping system. We have substantial food and water stores but we’re not even close to having the farm ready to sustain us when things really go south…and they will at some point.

    Ironically we find ourselves once again hoping that we gain a 2-5 year reprieve from the collapse so we have time to turn the farm into a semblance of our vision of it…a nurturing, sustaining place where we derive much of our food needs while at the same time repaying the land with love, hard work and enough biomass to make it healthier with each passing year.

    Yes we have a few firearms and a diesel tractor but our focus is on reaching out and building a community and preparing for a life without fossil fuels.

    The tradeoff for all of the above is that my wife and I have to work long hours in “mainstream” jobs although teaching young children (her) and helping manage a biodiesel refinery (me…and no, we don’t use virgin vegetable oils, only nasty used cooking oil)don’t give us too much cause for sleepless nights over what we do. Given my druthers I’d spend full time on the farm…but then we wouldn’t have a farm so there is my conundrum. I pretty much need to keep working in “the system” until the system fails to realize our bigger, longer term goal of self-sufficiency and a degree of safety.

    I’ll wrap up with a shameless pitch in our bid for building a progressive little community. The 20 acre farm next door is available for a very reasonable price and while it’s currently only being used for horse grazing it’s got awesome potential. I’d buy it myself if I could afford it. The next best thing (maybe even a better thing) is having great neighbors to build a community with.

    For anyone that made it this far…gold star…you crossed the finish line. My best to Guy and all the residents of NBL. Keep communicating, keep sharing and most of all…keep HOPE alive.

  66. Victor Says:

    Chuck

    Great story…thanks! You seem to have it all together – you and your family. That’s unusual. I wish you the very best and hope you can realise your dream of building a community around you. I wish I could afford that land!

    BTW, it wasn’t a problem at all getting through your writing…really enjoyed it!

  67. Farmer Chuck Says:

    Thanks for the kind words Victor. I only wish we had the resources to fund a community here outside of Woodburn. Many things in place but one family does not a community make.

    All the best to you.

  68. Michael Irving Says:

    Farmer Chuck,

    Seconding Victor, thanks for the story.

    It’s interesting that John Stasseck’s post has triggered so many self-reflective accounts of the struggle to understand and the hardship involved in treading the path through the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. That is, as many have noted here at NBL, what most of us have been doing over the last decade (and for some much longer than that). Grief for a personal dream lost, a dream that there were no limits to what we could do. Grief at coming to grips with the idea that most of the people on earth now would never get to live the techno-utopian life that the accident of fortuitous birth has given to a few of us. Then with a deeper understanding, grief over the fact that soon hundreds of thousands, then millions, then billions, of people will have their lives cut short, and deeper still that humans as a species may soon cease to exist and that the entire biotic community is being reshuffled. And finally, that it could be even worse than that.

    Then we realize there is nothing we can do about it, that we are helpless.

    But somewhere along the way we start picking ourselves back up and we try to figure out a way to help some part of our species through the bottleneck to a future in a changed world. Somewhere along the way we figure out that while it is often good to prepare ourselves against the worst case scenario, there is no benefit in preparing for total destruction. So, I think most of us, you included, do the best we can to prepare for the collapse of civilization as we know it, in the hope that whatever is on the other side of that bottleneck will be better than total biotic destruction. I think it’s all we can do.

    Michael Irving

  69. Michael Irving Says:

    Victor,

    I’ve been trying out some of that socialized medicine the last few days. The new drugs are a knockout!

    Michael Irving

  70. the virgin terry Says:

    ‘from the perspective of the rest of the world it is simple economics – money and jobs and lives are involved.’ -victor

    making the point for the umpteenth time that at this point there is no easy painless way down the mountain, and that the economy always comes first because the economy must come first, or else (according to victor) the result will be virtually instantaneous, collapse/chaos/die-off. this is ridiculous. it’s precisely the mindset that prevails now, has always prevailed, which is why our predicament exists. it’s precisely the mindset that is a recipe for the most devastating collapse possible, and almost certain extinction not too many generations down the road.

    ‘The world is not simple. Civilisation is not simple. And solutions are never simple.’ -victor

    depends on one’s viewpoint. up close and personal, chances are die-off will be anything but simple (and painless). however, from a psychological/physical distance, it’s a very simple, straight forward concept. couldn’t be any simpler. nor could it be any more plain that holding steadfast to ‘disaster as usual’ (guy’s term) to the bitter end is suicidal madness.

    victor, u’re missing the point. perhaps u’re too much of a surrealist while i’m an idealist, but solutions always begin with ideas, right? that is, solutions of our own choosing, as opposed to the solution of die-off/extinction?

    the point is that sheople/people have too fundamentally change the ideas which form our cultural foundation. it must be recognized that a healthy ‘economy’ needs a healthy ecological environment, and that therefore the latter’s concerns always trump the former. it must be recognized that population and ‘resource consumption’ must be held in check volutarily, or it will happen involuntarily when nature comes to bat. it must be recognized that nature is more powerful. it must be recognized that we either cooperate or compete to death. either we share more equitably, or have class warfare and general chaos as the have nots struggle to survive while the haves struggle to hold on to privilege/security. it must be understood that in any case, population/consumption must soon contract sharply.

    of course, it appears certain that very few sheople are able/willing? to get on board with what i’m talking about, including most importantly the myopic ‘elites’ who are in charge of this funny farm. thus it appears that ‘saving the world’ is not an option. saving your own ass, at least for a while, may be an option. for most it won’t be easy, for some it may be possible.

    the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the titanic is about 24 hours away. eerie parallel between that ‘unsinkable’ ship and our ‘unsinkable’ technologically advanced civilization. unfortunately very few of us are aware of that immense iceberg dead ahead. almost everyone is essentially clueless.

    of course, bad as the titanic sinking was, nearly 1/3 of those on board were saved, and ‘only’ 1,514 or so died. how many billions will die by collapse? almost certainly more than 2/3 of the 7 billion alive now. we’re talking a disaster millions times more deadly, perhaps spread out over many decades.

    some of the best advice/role models for facing collapse are here on nbl imo. combine kathy’s advice/attitude with the practical preparations of guy and others (including my own thoughts on suicide, taking charge of life/death matters if u can). try to live life to the fullest if possible. and for gaia’s sake get divorced from mainstream madness, like believing short term economic concerns should/must trump long term environmental ones.

  71. John Stassek Says:

    Farmer Chuck,
    It was great to hear your story. You’ve done well and should be proud. And you are very fortunate that your entire family is on board and living closeby. My wife shares my concerns which is a big help and great comfort. But I worry about my son and daughter. They’re great kids, bright and living on their own, my son married and living in Portland, Oregon and my daughter living up in Seattle, both places that they love. But they are two thousand miles away. (we live in Michigan). So what really concerns me is a sudden and serious collapse, which I know is possible but which I also know might mean losing contact with them, maybe forever. This is my recurring nightmare. As I’m sure is the biggest worry of most people going through

  72. John Stassek Says:

    (Sorry–bumped the submit button before I was finished!)

    Farmer Chuck,
    It was great to hear your story. You’ve done well and should be proud. And you are very fortunate that your entire family is on board and living nearby. My wife shares my concerns which is a big help and great comfort. But I worry about my son and daughter. They’re great kids, bright and living on their own, my son married and living in Portland, Oregon and my daughter living up in Seattle, both places that they love. But they are two thousand miles away. (we live in Michigan). So what really concerns me is a sudden and serious collapse, which I know is possible but which I also know might mean losing contact with them, maybe forever. This is my recurring nightmare and I’m sure it’s the biggest worry of most people going through this. I just don’t know what to do about it.

  73. Victor Says:

    VT said:”this is ridiculous. it’s precisely the mindset that prevails now, has always prevailed, which is why our predicament exists. it’s precisely the mindset that is a recipe for the most devastating collapse possible, and almost certain extinction not too many generations down the road.”

    It might be ridiculous, but it is the way things are. It is not my mindset – it is our society’s mindset – I am only reporting.

    “nor could it be any more plain that holding steadfast to ‘disaster as usual’ (guy’s term) to the bitter end is suicidal madness.”

    It is a rather simple deduction to arrive at the conclusion that under ‘disaster as usual’ circumstances civilisation will collapse. The problem lies in the fact that most people do not believe that their actions rep[resent ‘disaster as usual’. They feel that their actions are wholly rational and reasonable, and that there lies a technical solution for anything we are faced with.

    “the point is that sheople/people have too fundamentally change the ideas which form our cultural foundation.”

    This will simply not happen, and if it ever does, it will be far too late to take advantage of the change.

    “and for gaia’s sake get divorced from mainstream madness, like believing short term economic concerns should/must trump long term environmental ones.”

    Nor for the vast majority of people on this earth will this happen either. You, VT, and other NBLrs are the freed prisoners of Plato’s Cave. You cannot convince others of the reality of their predicament because they have no other reference to consider in their lives. You have now seen the light outside. They are still watching shadows on the cave wall.

  74. Victor Says:

    Fungal Threats to Biodiversity, Food Supply at ‘Unprecedented’ Levels

    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/04/13-6

    Quote from article:
    “An “unprecedented” number of fungus-caused diseases are threatening biodiversity and the global food supply, scientists say in a study published yesterday.

    “In both animals and plants, an unprecedented number of fungal and fungal-like species have recently caused some of the most severe die-offs and extinctions ever witnessed in wild species, and are jeopardizing food security,” the study warned.

    In the research published in the journal Nature, scientists from the University of Oxford, Imperial College London, and institutions in the US say fungal infections destroy 125 million tons of the top five food crops – rice, wheat, maize, potatoes and soybeans. In addition to food crops, fungal infections are destroying trees, amphibians, bees, sea turtles and corals and bats.”

  75. Justin Nigh Says:

    Clearly I am not alone in the realisation that the process of coming to terms with our predicament is an understanding that there is very low probability of responding to projected threats as a species. While we’re undoubtedly in some ways more intelligent than other mammals, we mustn’t forget that we are still mammals and have been conditioned to respond to immediate threats. As frustrating as this is when we can see the iceberg ahead and those around us cannot, perhaps it’s important to have compassion for those who don’t see instead of cursing their ignorance. Since most of us agree we’re too far gone to avoid significant consequences, this is probably the best way of dealing with the matter. As I’ve said before, I see the crisis as necessary and the best we can hope for is an evolution rather than an extinction of the species to one that increases it’s capacity in the future to respond to projected as well as immediate threats.

  76. Justin Nigh Says:

    I took the following quote from a presentation by Dennis Meadows, the video of which can be found here.

    At every single stage – from its biased arrival to its biased encoding, to organizing it around false logic, to misremembering and then misrepre-senting it to others, the mind continually acts to distort information flow in favor of the usual good goal of appearing better than one really is.

    -The Folly of Fools; The Logic of Deceit and Self-Deception in Human Life, Robert Trivers

    He used it to illustrate the logic behind continual support for the growth paradigm by those who believe in it. I suggest it can also be used to understand the frustrating behaviour of people that just don’t seem to ‘get it.’

  77. Victor Says:

    EIA: We Just Revised Two Decades Of Global Oil Data

    http://www.businessinsider.com/global-oil-production-update-eia-revises-two-decades-of-oil-data-2012-4

    The Article:
    “With the most recent release of international oil production data, EIA Washington has revised figures back to 1985. This is one of the most comprehensive revisions I have seen in several years. Generally, the totals were revised slightly lower, and this was especially true for the past decade. Data for the full year of 2011 has now completed. | see: Global Average Annual Crude Oil Production mbpd 2001 – 2011.

    Since 2005, despite a phase transition in prices, global oil production has been trapped below a ceiling of 74 mbpd (million barrels per day). New production from new fields and new discoveries comes on line, but, it has not been at a rate fast enough to overcome declines from existing fields. Overall, global decline has been estimated at a minimum of 4% per year and as high as 6+% a year. Given that new oil resources are developed and flow at much slower rates, the existing declines present a formidable challenge to the task of increasing supply. I see no set of factors, in combination, that would take global production of crude oil higher in 2012, or next year, or thereafter.”

  78. Victor Says:

    Strangely enough, Justin, there have been peoples throughout human history who took the ‘long view’ of things, judging future impact against immediate impact. The Iroquois of North America, many tribes of South America, and others have long histories of doing just that. Unfortunately, in all cases they were overwhelmed and overrun by those with more aggressive, short-of-sight genes, and by the demands of an always growing civilisation which must expand or die.

  79. Kathy C Says:

    I have been away a bit as we prepare for our annual town BBQ where we feed 2,000 people – its insane on multiple levels, but I don’t bother telling folks that. Just hope my participation weighs against my lack of church attendance come the collapse :)

    I am about 1/2 through Craig Dilworth’s book “Too Smart for our Own Good” a detailed explanation about why we are where we are at – he calls it the Vicious Circle Principle. A short summary of his book is here http://candobetter.net/node/2755 A quote “The vicious circle principle (VCP) is both easy to understand and in keeping not only with modern science but also with common sense. Briefly put, it says that in the case of humans the experience of need, resulting e.g. from changed environmental conditions, sometimes leads to technological innovation, which becomes widely employed, allowing more to be taken from the environment, thereby promoting population growth, which leads back to a situation of need. Or, seeing as it is a matter of a circle, it could for example be expressed as: increasing population size leads to technological innovation, which allows more to be taken from the environment, thereby promoting further population growth; or as: technological innovation allows more to be taken from the environment, the increase promoting population growth, which in turn creates a demand for further technological innovation.”

    We seem to be on the last round of the previously endless cycles and it would look like this is it for civilization if not humanity. RIP

  80. Justin Nigh Says:

    I agree with you Victor, and meant to allude to the fact that there are those here who have demonstrated the capability to be forward looking and respond appropriately; unfortunately we represent the minority. I do share your sense of having lost the battle against the expansionistic group. I wonder if parallels can be drawn between these groups and previous competing groups of hominids. Is it possible our group will succeed in a world of much lower available resources beyond the bottleneck, while the expansionistic group will necessarily fail due to their lack of ability to adapt?

    Kathy, I too am reading Dilworth’s book. Perhaps my abovementioned theory is relevant as another option to species extinction, the emergence of a new variant of the homo sapiens, or a new hominid genus altogether? I know Dilworth believes we will go extinct in the very near (relatively speaking) future, but I don’t know if that necessarily precludes a bifurcation event. I think I’ve posted this before but here goes again if you missed it.

    Interview with Craig Dilworth

  81. Farmer Chuck Says:

    Victor and Michael I., thanks for the kind words. They are much appreciated.

    John S., thanks as well to you, both for your response and for posting your essay which prompted my re-entry to sharing the occasional thought here at NBL.

    I share your worries about children and the distance between you and them. Once you become aware of the potential for sudden collapse that becomes a constant background fear for your distant loved ones. Our oldest son attended Arizona State and my wife and I were always trying to work out contingency plans to get him back up to Oregon should things go bad rapidly. When our younger twins were planning for college we pushed pretty hard for a school in the Pactific NW, preferably in Oregon. We consistently had look dinner conversations with all our boys about the state of the world (as we see it) and the possibility of societal collapse so they all “get it” and both an intellectual and a visceral level.

    One thing I have not seen touched on too much here at NBL or on other peak oil sites is that catch 22. We all have to keep bringing in money doing things the old earth killing way (some more so and some less…but all still part of the old paradigm based on continual economic growth and consumption) even though we know things are going to change in a way that will likely make most of our current jobs cease to exist. We do the little things we can to prepare but we don’t know when the switch will actually “flip” to the new way of existing.

    As tough for my generation as that is it is even harder for my college age kids. Do they invest 4-5 years of their time and a big chunk of money (or debt) to get that college degree in marketing, law, etc…only to find themselves unable to get a job with that specific credential or do something else. We have always placed huge value on education for the sake of education itself (as opposed to just prepping for a vocation) and for the socialization aspect of college life. It’s a tough question both for the parents and for the young adults but one that has to be addressed in this day and age.

    At any rate John, try to rest a bit easier knowing your children are living in a couple of hotbeds of sustainability in places where many natural resources are still abundant, the soils are mostly good and there is large progressive, peak oil aware communities. I still have good friends in Georgia and relatives in Colorado. Nothing against either of those places (I still dream of the rockies) but neither state is conducive to sustainable living on the land nor are they particularly progressive mindset places.

  82. John Stassek Says:

    Farmer Chuck–thank you for your reassurances concerning my kids. I believe that the Pacific North West is a good place for them to be and I do rest easier knowing that.

    And for everyone who commented–I thank you and wish you all the best. Even you, Sean(or Cosmist)!