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Kill the economy

Wed, Dec 5, 2012

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by John Duffy

I want to start this with the written equivalent of a sigh. Not even a sigh, but a deep expulsion of exhaustion from the very core of my being. Usually I try to write with flowery prose, attempting to adorn logic and rationale with a tinge of poetry. Not today. My feeling as I sit here is that I shouldn’t have to be sitting here. What I’m writing shouldn’t need to be written, because it’s already been written. In fact, rather than writing this, I’d like to be able to look everyone in the eye, and say, “cut the shit.”

We are going to go extinct, and we are going to probably drag a large majority of the other species on this planet into that permanent abyss of nothingness with us if we don’t stop jerking off, and take some real action now. The die off has begun. It is not theoretical. It is not this ethereal “what if” that hovers over some distant tomorrow. Right now, it is estimated that over one hundred species are going extinct every day. Every god damn day. The Arctic sea ice is melting faster than was predicted, positive feedback loops have begun kicking in as methane is released from melting permafrost, and the oceans are rising in acidity killing off the phytoplankton which provide us with the majority of the oxygen that we breathe.

But this has all been said, and still, here we are. So the saying is not enough, because no one is believing it. Even the people who say they accept that climate change is real and that it poses a grave threat, don’t really believe it. Their actions prove that. They still get up and go to work and watch TV and upgrade their cell phones. I’ve been thinking about the economy lately. People seem to love this thing called “the economy.” No one knows why they love it or why they are so interested in preserving it or encouraging it to grow. It’s a self evident truth. One of those unquestioned premises slipped by us so early on that we kind of just assume “the economy” is a naturally occurring thing which must always be protected like some runt lamb weak from an illness at birth.

I’ve been thinking about the types of things conventional wisdom claims are good for the economy. Let’s list them, shall we? Prisons. Drug prohibition. Debt. Wall Street financial wizardry such as derivatives. Bank bailouts. Corporate welfare of many stripes. The pharmaceutical industry. The insurance industry. Unaffordable housing. The college loan racket. Mind boggling wealth disparity. Greed. Materialism. An advertising industry hell bent on making people, especially young women, hate themselves so they will buy a bunch of shit to make themselves feel better very temporarily. Environmental degradation of every kind, from deforestation to toxic waste storage, nuclear power to mountain top removal for coal, tar sands extraction and deep water drilling. Oh, and don’t forget war. Economists and politicians love telling us how good war is for the economy. You know, the mass murder of entire populations? Poisoning entire landscapes with depleted uranium. Yeah, this is all just a real shot in the arm for the “economy.”

So, reigning this all back in for a moment, let’s summarize; all of the worst shit is good for the “economy.” The “economy” seems to feed on the misery of the human species, while also eradicating every other species who is deemed “inconvenient” or “unnecessary.”

When I think about myself, and ask, “What are the things I need to survive and to be happy?” the list is much different. I need clean, drinkable water. I need clean, breathable air. I need clean, healthy soil capable of supporting plant life so I can eat. I need clean, viable wild spaces where animals and birds and fish and insects can thrive. I need community. I need love and laughter and song and spirit.

Notice anything about this second list? None of these things, not one of them, requires an “economy.” In fact, the “economy” is actually quite destructive to all of the things I need to live and to be happy. Looking at it plainly, the “economy” seems to be a giant, insatiably hungry monster that seeks to destroy everything human beings require. It’s a radioactive Godzilla that smashes and devours everything that is wonderful and holy, and instead of sending out the troops to make battle against this beast, we worship it. We feed it. We continually do all of the things that help this monster gain in strength and size, no matter what wonderful and beloved beings and places must be sacrificed on its altar.

This is fucked. Straight fucked. We should be working quickly and decisively to drive a massive stake through this bloodsucking, Earth raping, leviathan’s heart!

If we want to avoid extinction, if we have gotten used to this whole being alive, and living on the planet and like, having kids and stuff thing, then we must see the “economy” for the great evil that it is. All of our attention must turn toward its immediate destruction.

Of course, there are a bunch of people who will read this and feel the need to push up their glasses from the bridge of their snotty nose and then point out to me how “Actually, the economy is just a method by which resources are distributed to the people in a fair and…bla bla bla…” Save it! All the cleverer-than-thou, professional internet assholes can just fucking save it. The “economy” is not just this invisible sum total of our efforts to equitably distribute resources and make sure our needs are met. Look around. A vast, vast minority of the human race has access to wealth beyond measure, while an overwhelming majority has next to nothing. To make matters worse, what very little the global poor do have is stolen from them by the wealthy, as the wealthy claim these poverty stricken people owe them for debts. This is naked insanity. If the “economy” is the sum total of an honest attempt at equitable resource distribution, then it has failed. Game over. It isn’t working. What it is doing is immiserating the majority of the human population while simultaneously wiping out the Earth’s ability to harbor life at all. A quick glance even here in the wealthy west betrays to me that the “economy” is the sum total of our collective misery. Millions of us going to boring, mindless, meaningless, soul crushing jobs every day so we can pay for the luxury of getting to live on the land where we were born, and to pay off further debts that we apparently also owe to the wealthiest handful of humans. Where is a guillotine when you need one?

So let’s add it up, and cut the B.S. The climate is changing even more rapidly than the majority of climate scientists estimated. The land is drought stricken, the oceanic food chain is watching it’s foundation go extinct, methane hydrates are venting from the Arctic Ocean speeding up atmospheric warming, etc. etc. long story short, the shit is hitting the fan. The only reason ever proffered for delaying any meaningful action to mitigate our ultimate demise is some made up fart in the breeze called the “economy.” This false religion, this cannibalistic Wendigo of a deity invented by high priests with fancy degrees and expensive suits subsists on our collective humiliation and death. Now that we get this, let’s stop even discussing the issue within the parameters set by those who profit from our misery. When some schnook tells you that shutting down tar sand extraction or mountain top removal coal mining would be bad for the economy, don’t try to offset his concerns. Don’t try to play to his premise by offering that “green energy” will create X amount of new jobs. Stand tall, look him in his black, soulless eyes and emphatically state, “Good! Fuck the economy!”

While we’re on the topic, so called “progressives” need to get off this green energy kick, this eco-wise fantasy about some future where our lives are exactly the same, but everything we do is accomplished just a little differently with a sustainable twist. If we want to not die, then we need to stop doing the things that are going to kill us. We don’t need to spit shine the assault on life. We don’t need a new brand of exploitation. We need deindustrialization, and we need to wring the bloody neck of capitalism, before hanging it, drawing it, quartering it, and setting the remaining bits of its corpse on fire to make sure it can’t rise from the dead like the unholy zombie that it is. But then again, maybe I’m crazy for assuming avoiding extinction is something most people could get behind.

This is all to say, I can’t fight my enemies and my allies at the same time. Liberals, lefties, environmentalists and everyone else who purports to give a damn has to give up on being capitalism apologists who somehow think we can keep this gravy train of mass consumption going and that there will be joy, abundance, and a hydrogen powered car for all. Recognize that our culture, our habits, and our way of seeing the world and interacting with it are the root cause of the converging crises we face. Recognize it, or else be just as much of an obstruction to life as the “economy” and all those who grovel at it’s blood soaked feet.

________________

John Duffy is an anti-civ writer and an activist who is currently working with the TarSands Blockade in East Texas.

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304 Responses to “Kill the economy”

  1. Jennifer Hartley Says:

    Yes! Fuck the “economy”! Cut the shit! Kill it with steely knives! Apologists be damned. We’re all damned now; all that’s left are the last shreds of love and integrity that can be mustered.

  2. K Klein Says:

    +100 (as he gets put on a few more of the innumerable “lists” now being maintained by TPTB)

    I especially like this line, “This is all to say, I can’t fight my enemies and my allies at the same time.”

    Too many doofuses surround me.

    As James Howard Kunstler penned, We believe in “Too much magic” that will surely save us (from our own stupidity and hubris). Not bloody likely.

  3. Landbeyond Says:

    You missed out the bit about how destroying the “economy” means bringing forward the mass die-off. Funny how that part is often overlooked.

    And one of “the things I need to survive and to be happy”, if I “want to not die”, is, like many others, the pharmaceutical industry, or at least some portion of its products.

    I get a little tired of hearing how we can escape the corner we’ve painted ourselves into just by destroying the life-support system we depend on now that we’re so far into overshoot. If you think that killing most of us now is an acceptable price for the species to continue in a livable environment in the future, then have the honesty to say so.

  4. Tom Says:

    The bottleneck we’re beginning to experience will quickly ramp up to the point that the economy will not be able to sustain itself and the mass die-off (Landbeyond above mentions) will take place ANYWAY. The premise here is that were we to have the bravery to stop this activity called “the economy” now and suffer whatever human losses we get, at least life will continue for a while.

    Now, to be fair, i too disagree that the collapse of the industrial economy will take place “in time to do any good” for the rest of the planet. It’s far too late since we’ve gone well past the tipping points we were warned against years ago. In Guy’s last talk he mentioned that we’ve tripped EIGHT of these now (where it was 5 about 8 months to a year ago). More evidence comes out every day to show that the IPCC completely low-balled their estimates of how long we have to “fix” the damage we’ve done and the (bullshit) climate talks in Doha are producing the same meaningless drivel with which to contine business as usual.

    For the life of me i cannot understand how these big business leaders and government stooges can continue doing what they’re doing, unless they are just not paying any attention at all to the facts right in front of them – Hurricane Sandy, Typhoon Bopha, continuing drought in the Southwest US and spreading (not to mention worldwide), diseases, crop loss, record warm temperatures year after year, and massive flooding worldwide. What, they don’t see the pattern? This is going to effect them and their loved ones too! Nobody is going to survive! We’re looking at next year to maybe 5 years out producing cataclysmic problems for life on earth. As witnessed here with massive tree death, ocean acidification, difficulties raising crops and livestock getting worse and all the rest – all you have to do is “connect the dots” to see that they’re all related and that we’re in for big trouble real soon (and it’s irreversable at this point).

    Nevertheless, i appreciated the essay and completely agree that the economy should be re-engineered to a more localized system of self-sufficiency for as long as it lasts rather than continuing along our same crazy path.

  5. PghPanther Says:

    Ironically the word economy is derived from the word economize….

    ….which as a definition is anything other than what our economy is today……..

    ……..to conserve and regulate for the long term..

    .to economize…

    ….is in direct contrast to a current day economy that is predicated on the short term success of the next quarter’s earnings even if planned obsolesce of consumption is necessary to facilitate that growth……..and of course, all at the peril of the limited resources and environment in which this system of exploitation is exercised.

    …….when you really think about it…….

    …the building of wealth has led to the inequality and abuse of all systems……

    ….wealth in its simplest terms is an excess of essentials for the purpose of either expanding material desires or planning of the future. But in order to build wealth an unequal distribution of the use of resources is most often the result……….when you add to the equation of wealth building an exponential population growth then the system will head to collapse in one way or another………is there anymore dramatic example of this inequality when you consider that on this planet, 1 billion humans are overweight/obese while 3 billion are undernourished and starved?

    Humans are a product of their own success……..like the dinosaurs, we are the dominant species on the planet in our time.

    ……….but unlike them, we have the cognitive ability to recognize and manipulate the planet unlike any previous living species.

    Perhaps the evolution to self-awareness coupled with appendages to convert that cognitive ability into tool making material wealth may be the end of the road for most living systems on life sustaining planets in the universe if that self-aware species doesn’t supersede an economic system of exploitation before either exhaustion or collapse……

    In other words………..we are destined to extinction before our time………….and much of the environmental evidence says we may be too late to stop this premature extinction…….

    It is the economic model of a debt based global banking system that will assure us that the engine of economic progress will drive full steam ahead whether it is real or illusioned…….until it flys off the cliff of sustainablity…….taking us and most if not all living species with it……

    Economists always say growth can continue through material substitution and/or increased productivity and they’ve been right for most of the last 300 years….

    ………..but you can only substitute and produce for so long until like bacteria in a petri dish……..you hit the end game of food resources just when it appears you’ve taken over the whole dish.

    This is really sad stuff to contemplate……..I’d like to think I’m completely wrong but no evidence I’ve researched indicates to me that I am.

  6. Robin Datta Says:

    Thank you, Duffy, for expressing your sentiments.

    Animals that have no interaction except mating with other members of their species, not even parental care, are solitary. When the only other interaction is parental care, they are subsocial. When there are other transactions in interactions with adult members of the same species, they are parasocial, but it still falls short of eusociality of ants, wasps, bees and termites.

    Humans fall into the category of parasocial. In the tree from the evolution of our primate ancestors, we have social groupings in all the great apes and our hominid ancestors. Transactions amongst individuals is through a gift economy, the exchange of gifts. With the earliest divisions of labor in human societies, this was still adequate, but increasing complexity necessitated a commercial economy with a medium of exchange. This is the basis of the “economy”, viz. a non-gift economy. The primary economy continues to be the natural resources, the secondary economy continues to be the useable products created therefrom, and “economic activity” is the conversion of resource into product. The tertiary economy is the management (and now the nefarious manipulation of the medium of exchange, which is the symbols or tokens (also mnown as money) that are exchangeable for items of the primary and secondary economies. As long as the division of labor amongst humans is too complex for a gift economy, there will be a conventional economy. Man making money is the better for it. Money making man is the worse for both.

  7. Kathy C Says:

    Land Beyond you wrote “You missed out the bit about how destroying the “economy” means bringing forward the mass die-off. Funny how that part is often overlooked.”

    I guess you missed out on all the essays on this site that say not destroying the economy will bring forward extinction – ie mass die off of EVERYONE forever.

    OTOH Many of us think that is inevitable now anyway so it doesn’t matter if some want to end civ and some don’t.

  8. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:


    Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made … in exchange for a reformed lifestyle.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%C3%BCbler-Ross_model

    Bargaining Nobly

    Good and evil, defined by some sage,
    Are imbued at an early age:
    ‘Tis nobler to suffer
    And show that you’re tougher
    While working the bargaining stage.

  9. John Duffy Says:

    Landbeyond,

    I’m not sure what you need the pharmaceuticals for, but I would be willing to bet a dollar that what ailment you suffer from itself is a product of industrial civilization.

    If not, well, I’ll mail you the dollar. I will also point out that the pharmaceutical industry — indeed, the entire healthcare industrial complex — is reliant upon the fossil fuel industry. This means first, it cannot survive the global peak in petroleum extraction. More importantly though, it means that the healthcare industrial complex while “healing one person” is making another sick. Plastic, vinyl, and latex, biological waste, reliance on fossil fuels for electricity, all if doesn’t vanish after use. It ends up incinerated and in the air, or dumped in a pit and thus in the water, etc.

    So still, killing the economy is a net gain for ALL life in the long run, despite the immediate suffering it would cause those dependent on it now.

    And yes, I long ago accepted that however this culmination of calamity strikes us, it will likely kill most of the people I know and love, including myself. I’m OK with this. Because I don’t believe that I am more important than the web of life on Earth.

    Nothing is free. We have a lot of sins to pay for.

  10. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    “South Park” on the economy:

    http://www.southparkstudios.com/full-episodes/s13e03-margaritaville

    “Margaritaville” reflected Parker and Stone’s belief that most Americans view the economy in the same way as religion, in that it is seldom understood but seen as an important, elusive entity.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaritaville_(South_Park)

  11. Collapse Watch Says:

    Nice rant. You seem to imply that humans have a chance. Is that correct? If so, you are at odds with the premise of NBL and many of the regular posters here. If humans are already doomed, and NTE is in the oven and expected to be done no later than 2030, what’s the point of ranting and activating? What’s to be gained, when the fat lady has already sung?

  12. Conspiracy2Riot Says:

    I feel every bit the despair and anger that you have poured forth in this article. Every ounce of me wants to see this fiscal cliff plunge and as you say, have this man made construct buried once and for all.

    Love and Rage,

    C2R

  13. John Duffy Says:

    Collapse, I think I share Guy’s perspective which is we are likely fucked, but if we do nothing, then we are surely fucked.

    I also think beyond human beings, and want to do everything possible in the hope that something survives.

    Further, I as a matter of personal character, cannot abide bullies, abusers, and/or oppressors.

    I guess a large part of the essay is killing the “Environment VS. Jobs” argument.” Fuck jobs. Fuck the economy.

  14. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    .
    I’m sitting here in my room
    Where it’s pleasant to talk about gloom;
    Once the pain has begun,
    It won’t be as much fun,
    So I’m not looking forward to doom.

  15. Dave Ballance Says:

    Great blog post. I think we’re pretty much doomed at this point. If you read the reports of what’s coming out of the talks in Qatar it’s basically NOTHING. And, true to your blog it seems most nations are either using their economy or their national security as reasons they can’t implement significant changes to, at least, curtail climate change.

    Hopefully several millennia from when we drive ourselves to extinction whatever form of beings evolve to replace us will find evidence of how stupid we were with our environment and do better.

    Oh, by the way. All those TV shows, advertisers and such have successfully ensnared young men now too. There is a rise of young men trying to be thin and “buff” who are buying all sorts of supplements and spending hours and hours at the gym. Also taking illegal steroids.

    Just like the young women; they are trying to change or mask their inherent body type for one that is idolized on TV and in advertisements.

  16. Daniel Says:

    Sorry John, but your essay doesn’t seem to fully take into account the science behind NTE. The exponential ecological dilemmas now at hand, are unfortunately well beyond homo-economicus, it’s nothing but anthropology from here on out. It’s terribly difficult for us to accept the very thing we are attempting to discuss from one moment to the next.It’s a tinderbox of passion and grief all at once.

    But, I see NBL as a forum whose basis is founded on the acceptance that we are now living pass the point of no return. If it’s not, then we have no business halfheartedly discussing NTE. Continuing to jump back and forth between to existing paradigms, only allows us to falsely imagine we’ve the agency to change the very thing we claim is now out of reach.

  17. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    In case anyone missed it, please read Daniel’s post from the last thread again:

    ” Daniel Says:
    December 5th, 2012 at 12:08 am

    Random thoughts on NTE

    Apparently, it’s a strange yet common compulsion to reach out in desperation, to either commiserate or alleviate the unparalleled anxiety that comes with the acute awareness of our collapsing world. I’ve seen this behavior repeated enough times, by countless others, to know that I too, must be acting out of duress far more than whatever moral imperative I once imagined to be my driving force.

    We all get lost in discerning who has and hasn’t the proper credentials, to corroborate all the pieces from specialized fields into a complete picture, so as to distinguish what is otherwise staring us in the face. We are all guilty to some degree, of subscribing to the meritocracy which attempts to shine a light into the very darkness it creates.

    Whether we’re unable to see the forest through the trees, or a tree in a forest, our inculcation has made fools of us all. And for those sentient beings who have seen what was coming for an awfully long time–and there are many–it now appears to have only aided in bringing those of us that much closer to losing our minds in such unprecedented acceptance, that it seems to be defying the act of acceptance itself.

    The relentless internal and external conflicts that consume the lives of anyone who has chosen a similar path, has found only insoluble unprecedence at every turn. Wherein, being intellectually trapped by the overwhelming evidence that has made acceptance and defeatism nearly inseparable, we are but left to individually wrestle with the subtle distinctions between what it means to be completely heartbroken, and just finally fall apart.

    The further one digs for the truth, one eventually must comes to terms with the hypocrisy, culpability and privilege which has afforded us the opportunity to dig for the truth in the first place. And whatever conclusion one draws, it is but an indirect result from such privilege. This is one of the most unidentified and duplicitous aspects of attempting to discern reality from what our culture buries, given we are all mired in the very traditions we imagine ourselves to be living outside of.

    If you look at something long enough, it inevitably changes, you just don’t see it the way you did in the beginning. Often it’s idealism that brings something new to our doorstep, but such rosy romanticism often quickly fades into familiar patterns. The same goes for what we think about. Contemplate anything for long enough, and inevitably, it will alter under the weight of inquiry. Doesn’t matter what it is, just the act of thinking about something, has the power to change the way we see everything. And if one dedicates their life to specifically contemplating the collapse of both civilization and the Holocene for a significant amount of time–as many of us have–inevitably, we’re going to have an entirely different opinion then we did from day one. Study anything for years, and we’ll discover most everyone to be in the dark in regards to whatever lessons we’ve come to learn.

    NTE is a story of what happens when you look at something for too long. When the basic power of deduction eventually distills our entire culture down to nothing but vain meaninglessness in the face of our self-destruction. When perceived solutions to society’s ills, not only fade, but are gradually revealed to have only ever been imaginary to begin with. This is a story about how literally everything that we believe–the very act of believing in fact–is barely removed from most childish fantasies.

    Once reality forces us to examine our obvious failure to prevent the collapse of our biosphere, one discovers only voids in the very places we once “believed” to be filled with potential significance. Wherein absence of sober rational acceptance of our true state, we find only blind faith in comforting fairytales across the entire spectrum of humanity. Where it takes the entire Arctic to melt, before society finally accepts that life on earth, might not be able to magically walk across water.

    When a citizen within a completely unsustainable culture, eventually comes to grasp the depth of our civic invalidity in all respects, there are only two options left us: continue the fantasy or engage in despairing.

    But this was true long before we discovered the reality of NTE. However, we’re now learning this juggernaut, is shooting everything out of the sky.

    So now what?

    That does seem to be the one question we can’t stop asking ourselves, nor can we find any satisfactory answer to. And it’s not as if we should be surprised, we are after all, literally considering the single greatest unfathomable dilemma in the history of the human race. So, it only makes sense that we would be at a complete loss as how to respond. One could easily make the claim, that there has never been a better cause to be completely confused, sad, lost, depressed, defeated and outright miserable, and that these emotions are wholly appropriate given the circumstances. One could argue further, given the staggering loss of life, if it’s at all possible to honestly feel any other way?

    Again, while the empirical evidence is quickly becoming incontrovertible, this window of time in which we are currently commiserating is still being framed as a relative abstract concept. For us, food still abounds, even amidst increasing drought, with worldwide famine looming just over the horizon. We’re presently inhabiting some sort of unparalleled reality between a priori and a posteriori knowledge. While our judgment is based on an event that is currently happening, its dire impact has yet to fully manifest. That’s one hell of a Sword of Domiciles. Nor is this a confident position from which to ponder such life altering phenomena.

    But, regardless of this inescapable dilemma, most of us, I would presume are feeling extremely compelled to make some kind of major life altering change, especially if we are still young enough to undertake it. Particularity, if making that change doesn’t involve having to dash the aspirations of our dependent children.

    If NTE is anything, it is blunt. And for anyone who has the internal fortitude to value truth at all costs, where we allow such communicable evidence to spread throughout our vested interests, beyond the point of self-preservation, bluntly, soon discovers there really isn’t much left to consider once we have. It’s not as if there’s a bevy of options to weigh, as to how NTE is ultimately going to play out. Aside from one incredibly loaded taboo, they’re all gruesome in their own right. They’re all utterly hopeless.

    The awareness of NTE metaphorically has ran from a once lush passive valley floor, up the steep learning cliffs, pass the accredited timberline, into a barren wasteland where the radical air has always been thin. Our lungs gasp and our minds grapple with the unwanted view. The journey has been epic, such sacrifice. But who could have imagined we could now see so far, with there being so little to be seen.

    There is no life up here, only death and indifference. If we remain inaccessible in this awareness, all the living below becomes its own frightening abyss, and we’ll freeze to death in our contempt of it. At some point we must descend back down, pass the raging fires to the flooded valleys if we desire to hold onto what precious moments remain.

    I remember the folly in having something to prove when I started the climb decades ago, that there must be some ultimate truth buried in the crown of our achievements. But now I can see clearly for myself. My guides are all trapped in the ice and I no longer care who’s right, or what that profound truth means anymore. We’ve all been mistaken, there is no more work to be done. There is nothing to prepare for.

    I thought I was somehow escaping, but all I discovered was resignation. Strange that I can no longer tell the difference.

    Death is coming my friends,it’s already here, there is nothing to fear, all we’ve left to decide is how we’ll meet it. I am done resisting. I am done with self-preservation. The inescapable sadness has finally found a way out. Time to let go, and finally live, as we’ll never be again.”

    I wish I could get people to understand your post, Daniel. I’ll keep trying.

  18. Paul Chefurka Says:

    There’s not much point raging against the Fates or the Furies.

    I’m not particularly angry or outraged any more. Once I was, but now I’m just fascinated, amazed, amused, bemused, curious. I attach no moral dimension to this unfolding any more, though once I did. Now there is no blame, no more agonized wishes to rewrite the past, no more fearful visions of a shattered future.

    We are what we are, we did what we did, we ended up here.

    I’v very curious to see what comes next. Aren’t you?

  19. John Duffy Says:

    For decades the excuse for inaction was, “Someone else is working on a solution. Experts will figure it out.”

    Now the excuse for inaction is, “It’s too late. No one worked on a solution. Nothing can be done now, so just accept it.”

    Seems to me that maybe, just maybe, people like to find reasons to avoid doing things that seem hard.

    If I walked into a room and my wife was being stabbed to death, even if I entered at the moment that life was draining from her eyes, I would still beat her attacker to death with my own hands. Even if it was too late to save her, I would fight. Because that’s what we do when we love someone.

    But this culture has us not loving our home, not loving our living family, and not even loving ourselves.

  20. Pilot 17 Says:

    As I drove home from work yesterday, all I could see in both directions were miles of headlights and taillights. All I could think to myself was that “this is unsustainable.” It has become a daily mantra for me as I see the waste and endless environmental degradation that our economy and Western civilization produces. This is unsustainable!!

  21. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    New comments on Arctic News:

    http://arctic-news.blogspot.ca/

  22. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    Starving snowy owls migrate to British Columbia:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/story/2012/12/05/bc-snowy-owl-starving.html

    Just a lack of lemmings this year. No biggie. Oh, and it was bad last year as well. Fancy that. Natural cycle. You know. Happens every so often. Nothing to worry about.

  23. Paul Chefurka Says:

    John, would it be better if I shared your outrage? Why? The world is big enough for us both, no? I have plenty of love for the things that need loving – the moment I live in included. I even love parts of my culture. Parts not so much – like everything else in life.

    I spent 10 years being angry at everything and everyone for being so stupid, docile or venal. Then I realized it wasn’t the rest of the world that was being stupid. I don’t think we need to judge everything in sight in order to work for a better world. So I stopped. I’m happier now, and I actually get more done. My adrenal glands will now last at least until TEOTWAWKI.

  24. John Duffy Says:

    I don’t care if people share my outrage or not. I care whether or not they are defending the systems which are killing life. If you can dance between the raindrops and keep a cool head while fighting the good fight, great.

    Nothing in the essay I wrote is asking people to emote a certain way about this. It’s asking people to smash the acceptable parameters of the discussion. The narrow window in which we are allowed to talk about this is generally in a context of what deindustrializing will mean for us economically. We need to firmly say, “I don’t give a damn!” That’s like watching a professional baseball player rape your kid, and when you try to stop him, people asking you to first think about how that will effect his season.

  25. dairymandave2003 Says:

    I think things could have turned out different for us, given our amount of smarts and lack of wisdom. Some cultures lasted a long time and didn’t wreck their environment. Some still do. What is the difference? In my opinion, they see themselves as a part of nature, doing a dance with nature that we call the food cycle. The partners in this dance, (think of a square dance), are the plants, animals, phytoplankton, air, water, land. All partners are respected and needed and appreciated so they are cared for. They grab their partners and dance while they have the chance to.

    The food chain tells us to kill everything below us, that we are at the top and thus it stops there. And it IS stopping there. We killed our partners.

  26. Paul Chefurka Says:

    Do you see a difference between “defending the system” and “choosing neither to defend nor oppose the system”? Some people believe that’s not possible, and take the Manichean view that one can only defend or oppose. those who try to remain neutral are seen by the defenders as opposition, and by the opposition as defenders. What’s your take on that?

  27. Michael Says:

    Many of us old timers read of our fate in the 70′s. It was clear then that it would be bad now if we did nothing. We did nothing. The minority of us who tried a different path were ridiculed.

    I too see no point to rage. It looks like the projection of the personal responsibility each of us have, and continue to have. We remain a part of the forced march to our demise. No rant spares us from our responsibility.

    Plainly our species is not up to doing the right thing. At its base this problem is about all of us. I agree we should be truthful, but it will not make any difference now.

    We should keep in mind that the studies predicting our demise are about 2 years old. These greatly revised studies of a year or two before they were published. What we observed this year on the ground seems clear — we are exponential now. I doubt we have 10 years left. We don’t need the next 2-years-too-old study to point out what is going on. It is terrifying.

    So what now? Prepare to die, prepare to comfort those who made the wrong choices that made this happen, just as we must forgive ourselves. This is coming on very fast. We are flying blind quoting 2 year old studies. It is not time for rage, it is time for compassion and understanding. Yes, it is time for love that understands we are indeed all fallible, and yes, we all failed. All of us.

    Michael

  28. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:


    Daniel Says: …jump back and forth between to existing paradigms….

    Studying doomer decline
    Makes mental parts realign;
    A new paradigm
    Requires some time
    For the parts to correctly combine.

  29. Paul Chefurka Says:

    Daniel, from where I sit that’s the clear and honest truth. Compassion, love, forgiveness and surrender are the high arts we need to practice now.

  30. Tom Says:

    John: i’m not arguing that your point has validity (ie. trying to stop our ridiculous “economy” as soon as possible – today, if we can – so that at least the planet can continue along), and no one here is simply throwing in the towel and doing nothing. We’re all still part of this mess – even if we’re trying to stop it! Look at all the people trying to stop the Keystone XL pipeline or fracking (which i’m involved in)! We still have to commute, communicate, and consume. Where the problem arises is that a good 90% of the population has NO IDEA that this is coming! All they see are the day-to-day changes (more rain per storm, gustier winds, persistant drought, unpredictable or at least unreliable weather, and effects on plants, bats, bees, birds, fish, etc.) but they’re too busy with their little lives to connect the dots. It would be great to end the economy, but it takes a while to transition to a more local variety and to work out all the details. We don’t have that kind of time any more.

    i believe the powers that be know all this and are actively “prepping” for it, while we are resigned to our fate (but still living our lives).
    The consensus here, i believe, is that no amount of prepping is going to save anyone in the long haul. If you’ve been following Guy’s talks he quotes the science as saying that all this carbon (and now methane and nitrous oxide too) we’ve put into the atmosphere will be there for THOUSANDS OF YEARS and that the real effects of it will make the planet uninhabitable before long (like the middle of this century) – even if all carbon pollution stopped today!

    Your analogies regarding saving a PERSON from harm are far removed from what it will take to even slow this “runaway freight train” of civilization down, what with all the vested interest groups making money off of the perverted, unsustainable way it is and no leadership from the corporatist governments anywhere on the globe. We’re locked in, and the only choice is what you individually want to do with your remaining time and energy. i still fight the fracking in my state actively, but i know that down the road (and the road ain’t that long anymore) it’s all going to stop anyway. Many are waiting for the economic crash to occur, which will have the affect of stopping everything (human) in its tracks. As brought up by many here, one main concern is shutting down (decommissioning) the almost 500 nuclear power plants while we still have the energy,money and time – so that they don’t all go Fukushima on us at the same time. That would be a great place to put your energy. Stopping the economy isn’t going to happen because we ask nicely, or point out that we’re going the wrong way or that we’re killing ourselves and the planet – these soulless corporations don’t care and the 1%ers won’t allow anything to get between or slow down the money they’re making.

    Face it – civilization was a big mistake and now we’re going to pay for it. Where we should have been like the Native Americans or the Caribbean islanders when Columbus found them, we (the “dominant” invaders) only saw “opportunity” – and look where it got us. The christian church funded these trips! It’s all so twisted and wrong, but that’s what happened.

    Live your life out as best you can (everyone) and go down fighting to bring awareness of our predicament to those who have the ability to change the way we, as a society, live. No matter what way we go a lot of humanity is going to die in the process, and most of us here think that, at this point, all of us are relegated to the dustbin of history (just another failed civilization) because we never heeded the warnings when we had time (look at Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich, and many others).

    So, to conclude: it’s not sitting by and doing nothing. It’s changing the way YOU want to live so that YOU feel better on the way out.

  31. Paul Chefurka Says:

    Sorry, I meant Michael… My apologies.

  32. Michael Says:

    @ Paul, I thought you were talking to me. That sort of thing does not bother me, it’s the thought that counts.

    Michael

  33. Goodness Says:

    So, basically, the author of the essay hates everything and everyone who’s allowed this “economy” thing to exist. That begs the question: what would he have the objects of his hatred do? Bitch and moan? Blow stuff up? Drop what they’re doing and follow his example? What is his example, anyway?

    The fact of the matter is: humanity existed long before any of us were around, and will continue to exist long after we’re all gone. Each generation faces what seem like insurmountable perils, and then somehow surmounts them — only to wind up as worm food, of course. It’s wishful thinking that leads to a belief that everyone else will join us before their respective times are up.

    My advice would be to just enjoy life. If the Earth eventually succumbs to man-made disease, so be it. There’s nothing you can do about it, anyway. In the meantime, there’s still plenty of drinkable water, breathable air, healthy soil, etc.

    Nothing lasts forever — even cold November rain.

  34. Todd Cory Says:

    but my friends keep sending me these links about a urine powered electrical generator… you mean that wont save us… sigh

  35. Robin Datta Says:

    NTE:
    A certainty, a probability, a possibility, or an impossibility. It can’t be all of these, it either will be or won’t be. Dieoff or not. But even among those who say not, some will concede a coming dieBACK. And amongst those again there are vastly differing opinions on HOW FAR back.

    Few who think that corrective action is necessary would posit that the window is wide open. The main point of difference is on how far that window has closed (and if shut, whether there is indeed a “bottleneck” that some can squeeze through, escaping extinction).

    With Dr. McPherson’s essay “We’re Done” the premise of NBL shifted to a shut window of opportunity for rectification. The idea of a bottleneck past a closed window had already been discarded.

    This does not mean that heretics should be burned at the stake. One man’s believer is another man’s heretic. Indeed for those who consider NTE a done deal, it is as pointless to oppose BAU as to oppose the advocates of corrective action. All that matters now is how to minimise and mitigate suffering (h/t to the virgin terry for first mentioning it on NBL).

    Those who grouse about the inconsistency of proposing corrective action with the premise of NBL have their own inner conflicts that provoke the grousing. The inconsistency does not bother confirmed NTErs, since to them the inconsistencies no longer matter. That is why Dr. McPherson puts up such an essay.

  36. OzMan Says:

    A recent national newspaper headline in Australia:

    Sydney Morning Herald

    ‘The End Of The World As We Know IT’

    http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-20121202-2ap4l.html

    This has a video segment on the website, of which is not going to shock any regulars here, but interesting it is on the front page now.

    A snippet:

    “The world is on track to see “an unrecognisable planet” that is between 4 and 6 degrees hotter by the end of this century, according to new data on greenhouse gas emissions.

    As United Nations climate negotiations enter their second week in Doha, Qatar, an Australian-based international research effort that tracks greenhouse gas output will release its annual findings on Monday, showing emissions climbing too quickly to stave off the effects of dangerous climate change.

    The new forecast does not include recent revelations about the effects of thawing permafrost, which is starting to release large amounts of methane from the Arctic. This process makes cutting human emissions of fossil fuels even more urgent, scientists say….

    Emissions are growing in line with the most extreme climate models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, according to a paper in the journal Nature Climate Change that explains the Global Carbon Project’s findings.

    The trajectory means a temperature range of between 3.5 and 6.2 degrees by the year 2100, with a “most likely” range of between 4.2 and 5 degrees.

    Although the climate has changed due to natural influences in the past, human emissions superimposed on top of natural variation is now driving change 20 times faster, according to NASA estimates. Civilisation evolved in a more moderate environment.

    The new data is beginning to confirm what scientists had been warning people about for decades, said Andy Pitman, director of the Centre of Excellence for Climate System Science at the University of NSW.

    “There are papers that should come with a warning: ‘do not read this if you are depressed’, or ‘please have a stiff drink handy as you read this’. [This] paper is one such example,” Professor Pitman said.

    The greenhouse gas emissions path the world is taking “is not a tenable future for the planet – we cannot be that stupid as a species,” he said.
    …”

    That stupid?… Don’t bet!

    Also, see how far off 2100 is….and this is how we arrived here, listening to those with some social ‘authority’.

  37. OzMan Says:

    BC Nurse Prof

    In the comments from the previous post you wrote:

    “Sometimes I wonder: who will be last? Will it be someone who is rich now? Will it be a poor person hunting and gathering to the end? Someone who gathered slaves from the starving masses to produce the last of the food for them? Or someone who has never encountered civilization.

    A moot point, to be sure, but I’m reduced to wondering anyway.”

    My take is that it will be the Aboriginals here who will finally get their land back, because they have so many hundreds of thousands of years of memory of how to survive on this huge continent that will sustain them, if anyone can make it.

    BTW, it seems obvious to me the whole European concept of individual ownwership, and then property ownership, is one key root of the development of the industrial way of life.

    Shared ‘ownership’ or interdependence between human and land worked well for so long.

    Maybe it will be again somtime?

  38. Infinitea Says:

    Well written John. I was reading in Permaculture: A Designer’s Manual today and Bill Mollison says something very similar to what you say.

    “Although this book is about design, it is also about values and ethics, and above all about a sense of personal responsibility for earth care. I have written at times in the first person, to indicate that it is not a detached, impersonal, or even unbiased document. Every book or publication has an author, and what that author chooses to write about is subjective, for that person alone determines the subject, content, and the values expressed or omitted.” p. 1

    Bill is advocating personal responsibility for what we are doing to ourselves and the Earth. Personal Responsibility. That means taking on our share of the burden, no matter what the results will be. If we manage to save anything, that’s ok. If we don’t manage to save anything, at least we tried to redeem ourselves for our foolishness in disconnecting ourselves from the world we live in and attempting to rule over all when we quite obviously lack the wisdom that idea requires.

    It’s time to get back to values rather than putting a $ sign on everything we see.

  39. Ripley Says:

    I thought I would post this, from a right-wing website to show you the typical attitude of many on the right in the US towards efforts that shows any concern for the environment. In this case Portland OR, which is trying to reduce water waste into its rivers in order to save the Oregon salmon from extinction. Note that the author of this story never bothered to find that out. To them all such efforts are only done to annoy conservatives or restrict their freedom. The pure horror of having to pull the lever on a toilet twice is just too much of a restriction on their freedom to waste. It’s common to see ridicule of people who drive electric cars or rage against people who ride bicycles, which only get in the way of their massive gas guzzlers. I remember reading some joking that when they see electric cars it makes them want to idle the trucks in the driveway just to waste gas in response. Judging from the Romney vote, you have to figure at least close to half the people in the US have these kinds of attitudes.

    http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2012/11/brief-adventures-in-portlandia.php

  40. Ripley Says:

    On John’s article:
    The ice cores from Greenland revealed that abrupt climate change has happened before, with temps fluctuating as much as 20F in spans of time as short as a decade. Let’s just say that this coming year, temps stay 10F or even 5F above average over most of the US, I’m no expert, but wouldn’t that mean that by Sept/Oct the entire country will have burned to the ground in Dresden style firestorms, thus putting an end to the industrial economy? Won’t climate change put an end to the economy long before any activism could be able to do it?

  41. Riding Down to Shiloh Says:

    Dave balance says says:

    “Hopefully several millennia from when we drive ourselves to extinction whatever form of beings evolve to replace us will find evidence of how stupid we were with our environment and do better.”

    Interesting notion, but highly unlikely. In the darkness (of consciousness) in this part of this galaxy following the closing of the human chapter, it will be many thousand millennia before any species will even be close to having the kind of self-reflective consciousness capable of entertaining the kind of thought processes you suggest. The reason being he many likely species to evolve such consciousness will be taken down with the extinction of Homo sapiens sapiens. Given this vast length of time, it will be more than enough tome for the continents to move and the geological processes to completely scour the surface and bring down any record of the human race into the deep crust of the earth to be crushed, melted, and churned out of existence. No one will know we were here unless some passing Alien traveller or their robotic ambassador happens by this part of the galaxy before such time as the aforementioned geological scouring has been completed. Thanks for all the fish.

  42. Dave Pollard Says:

    Thanks John, and also Guy, Paul, Michael, Tom et al. This is the most honest and advanced discussion of this subject I’ve found, and reading it filled me with relief. I am torn between becoming an activist devoting what’s left of my life to smashing the system that’s killing us, and just giving up and living my life to the fullest every day (while still doing my small and totally inadequate part passively to minimize my contribution to the destruction). I’ve realized that there’s no ‘right’ answer as to which to do. We each need to find our own answer, and do our best to inform others so that they do too. As Derrick Jensen says, we need it all. Even though we know it’s hopeless, we still need it all.

  43. dairymandave2003 Says:

    Here on the dairy farm, I have one full time employee. He knows what I think of the situation but takes the position that “I might be wrong”. I told him I just didn’t know what action to take. Currently, we use lots of fuel, electricity, chemicals etc. to produce lots of food. Should I stop doing that? I tend to think I should go all out to produce food until I can’t. He wants to convert to a grazing operation. That would require lots of electric fence, lots of plastic pipe to pump water lots of different places. What’s the point of even trying. I told him my main problem is I don’t have the ambition, motivation required to do changes. It doesn’t matter any more, especially if the changes still use technology. We agreed to stay flexible and adapt to the “changes”. That’s a loaded word if ever there was one.

  44. Kathy C Says:

    OZ man, I used to think like you that some hunter-gatherers would be last. They have such incredible skills. Of course we have to look at the map of where the nuclear power plants in the world are http://blogs.ft.com/energy-source/2011/03/16/the-nuclear-world-interactive-map/#axzz2EGYHKjKl and this too gives many hunter-gatherers a chance to be last as they are clustered in the Northern Hemisphere.

    But given coming extinction it seems like being last in a world killed by others is a terrible fate…

  45. Kathy C Says:

    We don’t even know all that will go missing….a beautiful love story, but so very sad. Thanks for all the fish

    The Deep Sea Mystery Circle – a love story

    http://www.spoon-tamago.com/2012/09/18/deep-sea-mystery-circle-love-story/

  46. The REAL Dr. House Says:

    One quality that I see in almost all humans I encounter is the need to “do something”. It seems to be a unique quality of ours. As I watch the animals on our little farm, none of them seem to have the same compulsion. Sure they are driven to eat and drink and sleep and mate, and the young ones seem to love to play. But as far as I can tell none of them worry about anything. They just live in the moment. While I can certainly appreciate the feelings you express in your essay John, I’m not convinced that “doing something” isn’t exactly what caused humans to have problems in the first place.

    To be clear, I have the same compulsion myself. I have felt the need to “do something” my entire life. Whether it involved my career, my relationships, my social life, my home, the environment, those with HIV, “doing something” has been my mantra.

    There is no evidence, however, that “doing something” has made the world a better place. In fact, to the contrary, all of this “doing something” is what has led us to where we are.

    Following that train of thought, I am convinced that nothing we do now will make things any better, but rather will simply worsen our current situation. For me, I’ll just relax and try to stop “doing” so much.

    If I can. Man, not “doing something” is a tough thing to “do”.

  47. Tom Says:

    According to this person, the cell phone industry is causing much more damage than they acknowledge, from brain tumors to widespread pollution of the environment. He also says microwave technology has the capacity to induce physiological, neurological, mental and physical damage and that it’s been perfected into a weapon for control and decimation of populations. Sounds paranoid and far-fetched, but he makes a valid point.

    As John Prine says: “blow up yer tee vee, throw away yer papers, go to the country, build you a home . . .”

  48. Collapse Watch Says:

    4 Most At-Risk Foods for Radiation Contamination

    Experts believe that the foods most at-risk for radioactive contamination include:

    -Cow’s milk. This product can be particularly vulnerable if cows graze on grass exposed to radiation. As one expert explained:

    Cows are like vacuum cleaners, picking up radioactive iodine that lands over a wide area of pasture, and then those particles very easily are concentrated and pass into the milk.

    This can be particularly dangerous for children, who on average consume more cow’s milk than adults.

    Considering John Duffy’s point and Kathy C’s consistent pounding home of the 400+ Fukes, is it wise and ethical to continue on as a dairy farmer? The Jews who cooperated with the Nazis and led their fellow Jews into the gas chambers and shoveled their bodies into the furnaces did so with the idea in mind that they would survive……somehow. With the certainty expressed with NTE, saying “it doesn’t matter anyway” falls a little too loosely from the lips. Considering the article, to be a dairy farmer when in agreement with the certainty of NTE, is worse than leading fellow Jews into the showers. It’s the Nazis dropping the Zyklon B, meaning you are administering an early and heinous death via the delivery of radiation-tainted milk to people’s doorsteps. Sure, you can rationalize it away, but so too did the Nazis rationalize it away, and if the Nazis were successful, it would have been seen as a positive thing throughout the entirety of history thereafter. Only because the Nazis were defeated, did history attach a stigma and stern admonishment, but had the Nazis won, history would have looked upon them as saviors.

  49. Riding Down to Shiloh Says:

    Kathy C.,

    Thanks for sharing that story. The immensity, variety, and beauty of this living universe constantly amazes. And think of all the species that have come and gone in the eons before human time, and all the planets circling all those stars spread across this galaxy that have amazing forms of life that have come and gone, and all those galaxies spread across this universe, and all those universes bubbling up and expanding forever from the very quantum foam that reality is made of…

    Does it sooth the soul to know that Sub specie aeternitatis, we are but a very brief light, a firefly in an infinite ocean conscious beings going back to infinity and forward to infinity. And though as we perceive time this is all a “very long time”, this flowering of life and consciousness Sub specie aeternitatis is continual, like an eternal summer.

    How to act if you know that our story, the human story, though may (or may not) be ending soon, is just one of an infinite number evolving, flowering, and eventually passing and spread across eternity?

    With dignity, joy, love, laughter, sorrow, hope, despair, and all the other jewells that are the gift of the infinte flowering of consciousness.

  50. Michael Says:

    I am interested in a thread that attempts to get a better grip on how this all fails and when. We understand many basic facts. Reality is closing in now, I feel much like it must be when huge bombers can be hear coming at a distance. We know it is coming, we imagine it might not get us.

    My guess is that we have 10 years, and quite possibly less. Here is my thinking:

    1. The technology that got us into this mess, cannot get us out of it. There is no human project that can scale up to the global scale required, if it could, there is not enough time. No technofix. We must lose this line of bullshit, it clouds our thinking and displaces our personal responsibility. There is no “they” who will “fix” the “it” we really don’t understand very well. There is no political will anyway.

    2. The self-reinforcing methane feedback loop is impossible to characterize, and to understand. Recent studies have all been quite bad in predicting timetables, not only because they ignore the positive feedback loops, but I doubt they understand how whole climate systems operate, or for that matter how whole systems operate. We are flying mostly blind, it is the best we can do. The feedback loops are far worse than we predict. We are always surprised in the wrong way.

    3. Because we congratulate ourselves as being the top of the food chain, we somehow imagine we will be the last to die off. If we know that roughly 200 species go extinct a day, then when can we expect the faltering ecosystem to kill us? If the total extinction of all species projected about 2030 (or so) is correct, our reliance on other species will kill us well before 2030, I think 2023. Also, our die-off does not require a complete die-off of all other species. It only requires a significant contraction in the total population of those species. This is what I think I am seeing first hand by the way. Witness the bee die-off for example.

    4. Some of us, because of wealth or our survivalist strategy (pick one), imagine the “other people” will die before we do. Perhaps, but looking deeply I don’t see how this holds up to careful examination. A brief tour of badly stressed populations around the world does not reveal a willingness to just die, they will do what they have to do to survive. We are all in this together, we will live together and die together. I am not advocating “bullets and beans”, none of that will work.

    5. Lack of compassion and community are our Achilles heel. Will we share when others have no way of reciprocating? Do we have the emotional maturity to be compassionate in the face of emotional outbursts or attempts to steal from us (to survive)? Perhaps this is the most difficult ground, it is hard for us to face up to it. Pointing the finger is easier.

    I would be interested in what others think on this. My essential points are 2,3, and 5. These take me to 10 years to lights out for you and me. This makes it up close and personal. If 2030 something is when extinction of all species is complete, surely we will be gone well before then. What do you think?

    Michael

  51. John Duffy Says:

    There is a great joy to be had in breaking your cages. I’ve dangled high up in a forest canopy, I’ve laid hidden in full camouflage tracking the movements of police and loggers, I’ve ducked for cover from helicopters circling my camp, I’ve worked all night in the dark to rig a tree sit attached to construction equipment, and I’ve done things I’d never admit to.

    Even if it can’t prevent the extinction level event, it feels really good to fight back. It feels RIGHT to no longer spend my days trying to blend in with the “productive members of society,” and to fully embrace my place as an enemy of this society and everything it stands for.

    For Christ’s sake, do you really want to be at work when the end comes?

  52. Robin Datta Says:

    To have an idea of how long evolution takes, one may use the unit of millions of years (my).

    4,500 Earth
    2,000 single-celled life
    600 multicellular life
    420 fish
    300 terrestrial vertebrates: amphibians
    250 reptiles
    200 mammals
    160 placental mammals
    60 monkeys
    30 apes
    2 genus Homo
    0.2 Homo sapiens

    How soon replacements will be found depends on what goes extinct. If all terrestrial vertebrates go kaput, we :-o will have to wait till another fish crawls onto the land.

    To approach the size of humans, circulating haemoglobin contained in cells and lungs are necessary to carry the oxygen to structures far removed from the atmosphere, unless Nature comes up with another system.

    Earthworms have free haemoglobin, but free haemoglobin in the concentrations found in vertebrate blood will make the blood too viscous. Gills are not as efficient as lungs at oxygen exchange, and moreover the development of technologies involving combustion and electricity are not possible in an aqueous environment: dolphins and whales may be intelligent, but they are out of luck in this regard.

    And even if some mammals were to survive, the next ones up might not be mammals. Other reptiles did not replace dinosaurs as the dominant group.

  53. Paul Chefurka Says:

    Michael, that’s a very good starting point for a sub-thread. Here’s my two cents’ worth.

    I’m currently focused on climate change running faster and more severely than expected, impacting the food supplies and infrastructure in various regions through accelerating extreme weather events. Methane feedbacks will be part of this, and I think their additional impact could be noticeable in two or three more years (and measurable before that of course).

    Reading Hansen on paleoclimate has convinced me that we’ve drastically underestimated the impact of relatively small rises in global mean temperature. As a result I think we’ve just passed the threshold of dangerous climate change.

    I expect the resulting ripples of social disruption to turn into waves in the next three years, then into a storm in ten. The cracks in GlobCiv 1.0 will become really serious around 2030 as nations begin to focus on worsening internal problems to the exclusion of international ones – with the exception of spreading regional wars over water and refugees. I figure the wheels will finally fall off the GlobCiv enterprise in 2040 or so.

    I don’t project NTE for this century, though I think it’s distinctly possible next century as temperatures continue to soar past +6C. Depopulation to 1 billion or less by the end of this century is possible-to-probable.

    We’re going to keep burning fossil fuels at all costs to try and prevent the end of GlobCiv, which will simply make it more certain. We will probably burn through all 1,000 GtC of available fossil carbon reserves before the end of the century, which will introduce a rather interesting bump into the decivilization process.

    Somewhat related to your question about compassion and community is my rumination on how we can achieve equanimity in the face of all this, for without equanimity there can be little compassion. I think there are two roads to peace of mind, and which road one chooses depnds on whether one is more left-brained or right-brained, more scientific/concrete or artistic/abstract.

    The left-brain road to equanimity is typified for me by my father. He spent his working life as a research biochemist and biologist as well as being a classical violinist and a deeply, broadly curious free-thinker. This combination has given him an evolutionary, deep-time perspective on the human situation, into which he has been able to integrate his son’s growing awareness of the impending collapse with very little sturm or drang.

    I have also run into a growing contingent who find as much equanimity by moving towards an Eastern philosophical perspective founded on an awareness of the spiritual/ecological interdependence of everything, with lashings of non-dualism and Buddhist non-attachment. This group has become my tribe.

    What I have not found is any significant number of people who have achieved lasting peace of mind while remaining psychologically attached to standard Western anthropocentric cultural concerns, values and arrangements. Interestingly, whether they remain attached in support of, or in opposition to, the mainstream paradigm seems to matter little. Both positions seem to generate a similar level of disturbance in the psyche.

    This tells me that freeing oneself psychologically from the current paradigm of civilization is more important than precisely what worldview one adopts in its place.

    In my opinion the quasi-Buddhist path is more likely to bring about the compassion and altruism we’ll need, because they’re explicitly built into the philosophy. However, some people are allergic to the frankly spiritual orientation of this path. For those whose minds require a more concrete worldview, the evolutionary, deep-time perspective definitely grants peace of mind.

  54. Riding Down to Shiloh Says:

    Robin Datta,

    Yep, a long time if ever for self- reflective consciousness to come into being again on this particular planet. But what is time, after all? Oddly, that self-reflective consciousness brought about the civilization and “the economy” which were the seeds of its own doom. A brief flowering in this part of this particular universe, with infinite more before us, and infinite more to come.

  55. Kathy C Says:

    Earth is a big beautiful planet in the sky, partly because of the life it contains. But we look out at the stars and find them beautiful too, even though they are just burning balls, and the planets we know of seem not to hav life. So perhaps it helps to think of this immensity of beauty as unchanged by whatever happens on this little ball we call home. The viewers (or this set of viewers) will be gone, but the beautiful star filled skies will still be there. While that doesn’t matter to us when we are gone, I find it a bit comforting to know the moon will still shine, the sun rise and set, and the myriad of stars still sparkle….Funny the comforts I can find having rejected the comforts of denial, belief in an after life etc. But there you have it

    The stars will shine after we’re gone
    The sun will still mark the dawn
    Tho the viewers disappear
    We need not fear
    The moon stars and sun will go on.

  56. Paul Chefurka Says:

    I’ve speculated that the seeds of our eventual, inevitable downfall were sown in our development of self-awareness. The ensuing separation of the perceived universe into self and other is what made it possible for us to exploit the other for the benefit of the self, on every level. This turned the universe (including all the people who are not-me) into a bag of resources. The rest, as they say, is history.

    This sense of separation has to be overcome, but in order to do that we must first recognize it as a problem. Western science is “unhelpful” in this regard.

  57. Kathy C Says:

    Michael, good thoughts.
    Re 3. The species that will do well for a while will be bacteria and viruses that will find humans an easier target once sewers and water systems fail and starvation set in they will thrive (see the book suggested by BC Nurse – The Coming Plague

    Re. 5 – My hope is that just before I die I reflect on my actions and am not ashamed – well not too much. Plenty to fault oneself over for living the good life in Western Civ. But I hope to not try gaining a few days or even a few years by turning away others. I don’t believe in an afterlife or judgement, but I would like to die feeling I didn’t do too badly. Won’t matter after I die, but at the moment when I know it is near I don’t want to be ashamed.

  58. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:


    In an previous thread, Kathy C Says: For me being able to say over and over NO ONE DIES WHO WOULDN’T DIE ANYWAY is the way I stay sane with this knowledge of the end coming.

    Elephants

    Elephants, wondrous and gray,
    Because of their tusks become prey;
    Suppressing dismay,
    I tell myself, hey,
    They’ll all be dead soon anyway.

  59. Landbeyond Says:

    John,

    You would probably lose that dollar, but never mind. I’m aware of all you say in your article. I share the satisfaction, as well as the trepidation, many feel at signs of the decay of industrial civilization, and when I look at a hospital I see an energy sink. I see that in the comments you recognize that what we are facing cannot be cured (Guy no longer doubts that “we are surely fucked”), even if the economy, however defined, could be “killed”, and that you do appreciate what the consequences would be.

    Now it’s clear where we differ. You say: “killing the economy is a net gain for ALL life in the long run, despite the immediate suffering it would cause those dependent on it now”. Your attitude is similar to Guy’s, and one I’ve never understood. Why place such importance on “ALL life”? Animals and plants all die, and all species become extinct. What does it matter, if there is no one to appreciate or benefit from them? I cannot see that any species, including our own, or even the biosphere, has moral “rights”. Rights apply to individuals, singly or in groups. Does it bother a koala if koalas are going to become extinct? What bothers a koala is being too hot, or too cold, or hungry or in pain. Dogs will in time be extinct, and all dogs die: that doesn’t make it okay to kick a puppy.

    Unlike you, I’m not okay with “most of the people I know and love, including myself” being killed. I have no romantic attachment to “the web of life on Earth”, any more than it does to me.

    What concerns me is that we are heading for incalculable suffering and premature death for billions of human beings, including people I care about personally. I would like this to be mitigated as much as possible. I’m hardwired to want our species to persist, but perhaps it would be better, morally, if it did not.

    So rather than effectively committing mass suicide (and we know anyway that the “economy” is safe for the time being), I advocate “powering down”, localization, population reduction etc: containing the economy, if you will. If we are going out, the moral approach is to make our extinguishing as pain-free as humanly possible. Fat chance, though.

  60. Michael Says:

    I hope you are correct Paul about the timetables. Certainly it is OK to disagree on these points. I do defer to science, my training in general systems points to the real possibility of a phase change event. As I suggested, I don’t think our science is up to whole systems. There are always unexpected nonsummative emergent phenomena.

    On the spiritual side, I tend toward earth religion and buddhism, both reasoned views from my core sensibilities. Ultimately we need to detach from concern about our own mortality. I believe I am there, and from this perspective a lot of issues about the conduct of one’s life become clear. This is the legacy stage of my life.

    I don’t see my point of view working in our society or catching hold at all. Our media of cultural transmission are computer screens and TV. As this crisis unfolds, we already know it is being masked and denied outright. As we continue to lie to ourselves, there is little prospect for widespread change. This will not go so well. I am just speaking plainly here.

    Whatever happens, and whenever it happens, I will do the same thing I did last year. I think what we might do is understandable. For a couple of years now I think what remains for us is to promote real community and to work inside the art of the possible. I am constantly redesigning my gardens with the primary criteria coping with of water limitations and excess heat. I believe we have moved 2 planting zones in the last 2 years. As they say, all you can do is all you can do.

    Michael

  61. Gail Says:

    Last night I had dinner with my daughter, who is married to a guy making a lot of money in a very energy intensive transport and rigging enterprise which utilizes huge equipment. Her hopium thought is that there are some creatures who evolved to survive deep in the sea or hot geysers and so forth – and so all life won’t be extinguished. When I asked her why she and her husband are doing nothing to prepare for disaster, even though they could easily afford to, it became clear that they are convinced the expected catastrophes will occur far from them and/or far in the distant future. I suspect that is the attitude of many wealthy conservatives – they know it’s coming but they think they personally will be insulated by distance and time.

    I have no such illusions since I am convinced that, accelerating catastrophic climate change aside, the ecosystem is collapsing even faster from pollution. Trees are dying from ozone and coral reefs are dying from ocean acidification, both of which are roundly ignored by climate modelers. I have a friend who spent this week at the AGU conference in SF – he says out of 100 papers about the ocean, not one was focussed on acidification.

    It’s idiotic. Long before low-lying areas are swamped by sea-level rise, everyone will have starved or left because there will be no more fish in the sea, and that is mostly what they eat for protein. Long before drought kills off all the trees, they are already dying from toxic gases, even in places that climate change has made wetter, and crops are likewise reduced. To say nothing of the wars that will ensue as food becomes more and more scarce.

    So there is little doubt in my mind that we face NTE, and soon – although my opinion could of course be premature. What I worry about – aside from how to live life in the interim, a constant conundrum – is, when the zombies who didn’t bother to stockpile food are howling outside my door about to break it down, that I’d rather arrange to be dead BEFORE they start chewing on my flesh.

    Is anyone besides me thinking about contingency plans for that?

  62. Paul Chefurka Says:

    Michael, I see it as a phase change event too. The end of GlobCiv over the next 30 years is phasey enough for me, even though it might look downright gradualist to others here.

    I’m finding a lot of evidence of an expanding, coalescing mind-shift taking hold out there. It hasn’t hit all the soccer moms yet, but it’s even making some small ripples there. It all depends on where you look and the questions you ask. Maybe it’s just confirmation bias, but that really doesn’t matter to me. I’m going to act as if it’s real and try to facilitate it, because I think the “alchemy of consciousness” is a crucial component in whatever the heck this is.

    Some of us think there will be a phase change in our physical situation, some think there will be a phase change in our consciousness. I think we’re seeing both, with a feedback between them. If it doesn’t happen the way I think (and what ever does), at least I’ll go down having worked for something I think is important.

  63. BC Nurse Prof Says:

    As they do in life, people will prepare for death in many ways, even by denying that they are doing so. But when it really gets down to it, those ways will be pared down to a few, IMHO. But true to our basic programming as the planet’s most cruel and violent species, the way that physically overpowers and negates all others is:

    “May you die today so that I die tomorrow.” Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
    The Gulag Archipelago

  64. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:


    Michael Says: We are all in this together, we will live together and die together. I am not advocating “bullets and beans”, none of that will work.

    Bullets, band aids, and beans
    Could fail hypothetical scenes:
    If we have a fast crash,
    You won’t need a big cache,
    And they won’t help preserving your genes.

  65. Michael Says:

    @ Gail

    I agree that eco-collapse is in front of global warming. I am a professional wildlife photographer and I see signs, I see what is missing. It is unsettling.

    I am planning my Arkansas garden as though it is Zone 9, not 7.

    Re: zombies. Zombies are people too. :-) I will feed them. We cannot forget those might be relatives, and conservative relatives who live in the “me first, and only me” space. They have been enculturated to this point of view. Like addicts, they will only come off it when they hit bottom. Hitting bottom is an untidy road to enlightenment. Many never make it. That is what we face.

    The saddest part is the truth of our situation is not on our cultural radar. All the “green” BS is telling folks we can have it both ways, be green and be a consumer. It is a sea of marketing BS, a crime against posterity.

    We can hold fracking up as an example of how much we care about the environment, how little our politicians lead, and how insignificant community has become. The fact that lifelong neighbors will sell out to drilling concerns and doom their neighbors for money is astonishing.

    Perhaps the hardest part is being patronized for our knowledge and vision of the future. There is a terrible mismatch between the timetable for cultural adaptation and the pace of eco-collapse. Nobody wants to hear it, and we are judged as nut cases. I think a lot about how to reach these people and keep my spiritual center.

    Michael

  66. Paul Chefurka Says:

    I see no point any more in trying to awaken those who are still asleep. We have all been overtaken by events. It may be a kindness to let them keep sleeping – like dying unconscious on the operating table. It’s enough to help those who are already waking up.

  67. Riding Down to Shiloh Says:

    After the Permian-Triassic Great Extinction event, it only took about 10 million years for life to come roaring back. This is a mere blink of an eye. And then, some 100 or 200 million years later, self-reflective consciousness may develop again and then a new civilization and then…

    And so it goes…that eternal cycle…that awesomely beautifully ugly terrible captivating eternal cycle.

    I watched my Cosmo flowers grow from seed this year, finally blooming in August before bowing their heads and fading in September until their death in October. They passed with dignity and grace, somehow knowing thier seed would grow and bloom again. This planet is life’s seed in this particular region of this particular universe. All things have seasons. Live with the simple acceptance of passing season as at least the flowers are wise enough to. That you, and we humans ever even had a season is wonderful enough in the face of the incredible improbability of it all.

  68. Michael Says:

    @Paul

    I understand that POV, let them sleep, we can awaken only very few anyway. When they awaken they will be hungry. I will feed them. I have that much worked out.. After that, we shall see.

    Michael

  69. Riding Down to Shiloh Says:

    Paul,

    As we observe the hoards descend upon the stores this season, in their mass-consumptive driven frenzy, you are correct– do we wake them or even attempt to wake them? If a sleepwalker is headed for an inevitable cliff– that is a cliff you are sure they are going to go off– do you attempt to wake them at the last minute and scream, “wake up and watch your death!” Or perhaps it is more kind to let them enjoy that last few moments of whatever dream they are having, before the passing of wind by their face and the horrified feeling of falling naturally wakes them just moments before death mercifully releases them…

  70. Tom Says:

    First, a quick update from Japan:

    http://www.pakalertpress.com/2012/12/04/almost-half-of-fukushima-children-now-have-thyroid-disorders-from-radiation-poisoning-officials-blame-too-much-seafood/

    Now, about this “timetable” thing we’re currently speculating about.
    My humble opinion is that significant human die-off from the interaction of all the factors we’ve mentioned on this site [and some we haven't dwelled on much, like the economic collapse and natural phenomena like earthquakes and volcanic action which have increased greatly over the past few years, war and disease] will occur within the next year to 10 years from now interval, max. i’m 90% sure things will drastically change in the food growing, harvesting and distribution sector and our biosphere will fail to support most life within 2 to 7 years and that we’ll more than likely be reduced to well under a million total worldwide after 8 to 10 years, if anyone is still around at all.

    i base this on my own back of the envelope statistics (more like intuitive differential equations) and see our species dealing with the coming crises (plural) with the usual ineptitude, violence and stupidity. Military responses like nuclear, biological, chemical, microwave, EMP, and “secret” weapon warfare only make it more likely to happen in a shorter timeframe. A pole-shift (it’s been moving for a while) is also possible as early as next year (or even before this year is out, according to some) and could wreak havoc.

    i’ll leave it at that for now. i’d like to hear what everyone else thinks about this – again, it’s only speculation and no one is holding anyone to their guess. Hell, i hope i’m dead wrong and look like a damn fool in the coming years, since it all turns out just fine . . . (fat chance).

  71. Gail Says:

    Paul said:

    “I see no point any more in trying to awaken those who are still asleep. We have all been overtaken by events. It may be a kindness to let them keep sleeping – like dying unconscious on the operating table. It’s enough to help those who are already waking up.”

    That’s one of the most sensible things I’ve seen in a long time. I have wondered what is the point of trying to get people to recognize the destruction all around them – they will most likely panic and be miserable and it won’t do any good anyway.

    I can’t get into the “spiritual” response to ecopocalypse, so I guess I’m left with the “well at least the stars will still shine” response, which is more than nothing, after all.

    However my question about marauding zombies was a serious one. They are difficult to negotiate with no matter how willing you are to share. Has anyone here ever been physically assaulted and in very literal fear of their life? I have, and survived obviously, but someone they attacked the following week did not. I know how those people who jumped out of the tower windows felt because I tried to do the same thing, and I never want to feel that way again. I don’t want my children to ever feel that indescribable terror.

    It seems to me that the breakdown of civil society to be replaced by Mad Max – and/or a fascist response to that – is at least as likely an outcome as people just sitting in the dark waiting for their teevee’s to come back on, as Guy once so evocatively suggested.

    It seems that not preparing for such an outcome is sort of arm-chair doomerism. I’m not sure what to do – if I could afford it, I would stockpile a supply of potentially lethal medication.

  72. wildwoman Says:

    I think 2013 is going to be a bad year for the deniers. Drought, fires, water rationing, a worse food harvest and maybe another big storm or two are going to wake up the people who aren’t comatose and who’s brains haven’t been fried by Faux News.

    It’s going to be a very bad year for those who’ve been thinking that technology will save us (which is practically everybody I know). It will become very clear to those people that the ecosystem that is earth is way more complex than our intelligence has yet grasped and that there is no more time for whatever technofix they have in mind.

    No one else has mentioned this, so I’m going out a limb here, but I’m having a really hard time with the “Merry Christmas” shit and the “next year” hopium shit and yet, I still want to be a civil and kind person. What the hell do I do? We’ll be around family, breeders with small children, and I have nothing to say to them except “we’re doomed.” No one wants to hear that.

    I read somewhere recently, and I can’t remember where, of course, so don’t know if this is accurate, but something to the effect that there are 300 million guns in private hands in America. You all seem committed to feeding the hungry when the shit hits the fan. I admire this and hope to emulate it, but I’m really scared about potential violence.

    My very uneducated guess is that each year will get worse than the previous one (for humans, and for humans in the USA) and that by 2018 or 2019 the writing will be on the wall for even the Faux News team.

  73. wildwoman Says:

    Gail,

    There are poisonous plants you could cultivate, instead of stockpiling pharmaceuticals. What trips me up is preparation.

  74. Kathy C Says:

    Gail, you wrote “… I’d rather arrange to be dead BEFORE they start chewing on my flesh. Is anyone besides me thinking about contingency plans for that?”

    People write living wills to keep others from making them into the living dead. Some people who live in progressive areas choose Dr. assisted suicide rather than suffer the pain of a drawn out dying. Making plans for early exit from end of the world as we know it suffering are really no different in kind than making plans for early exit from terminal disease.

    See the book Final Exit by Derek Humphrey for some possible options

    http://www.finalexit.org/

  75. Myles Says:

    …”one of China’s biggest construction firms will spend £2.2bn to flatten 700 mountains” which “…”could increase the area’s gross domestic product to £27bn”…

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/dec/06/china-flatten-mountain-lanzhou-new-area

  76. Kathy C Says:

    Wildwoman – christmas – we don’t celebrate it, we have mostly educated our kids not to send gifts (hard but we are winning), we don’t go anywhere, we just treat it as another day.

    If you have to do the Christmas thing, maybe pretend they all have a terminal disease and the best thing you can do is bring some joy into their remaining time. I have been working on that and everyone is happier for it. Since I no longer think any plans for preps will buy much time at all, it has become easier to just not talk about it any more.

    Ron Currie’s Everything Matters deals with the issue of what to do if you know and others don’t.

  77. Robin Datta Says:

    However, some people are allergic to the frankly spiritual orientation of this path.

    There is nothing spiritual about apprehending Who One Really Is. Not looking at objects – and even the subtlest of concepts is an object – and even past the subject, for the “subject”, the “I”, is also a mental concept.

  78. dweebus Says:

    There were bees flying around my yard the other day. Bees in Dec.

    Yet my associate told my proudly, with his arms crossed, and his chest puffed up, that CO2 levels were at 1992 levels. The article he referenced in USA Today had a headline that emissions fell to ’92 levels in the first quarter of ’12 in the US. But by golly, all he saw was 1992 levels. All is good. I briefly tried to point out the flaw in his argument, but apparently all my info comes from CNN (Communist News Network). Gee, I haven’t have cable TV for about 4 years.

    You can’t awaken those who are intentionally comatose, nor should you. It just pisses them off.

    Perhaps, years hence, he will be stung by a December bee.

  79. Kathy C Says:

    Tom you forgot the New Madrid Fault which could take a good part of civilization in the eastern half of the US down….is it related to the Louisiana sinkhole?

    http://endoftheamericandream.com/archives/monster-sinkholes-an-indication-that-major-earth-changes-are-coming-along-the-new-madrid-fault

  80. Robin Datta Says:

    If you feel an earthquake, here’s where to report it:
    Did You Feel It? — Unknown Event

    (In ‘mericuh, of course.)

  81. BadlandsAK Says:

    @Kathy C. I don’t believe in an afterlife or judgement, but I would like to die feeling I didn’t do too badly. Won’t matter after I die, but at the moment when I know it is near I don’t want to be ashamed.

    I used to practice/teach an esoteric (my description) branch of yoga, and my teacher advised to live as if someone is always watching, because there is. No, not God. You. You are always watching, and you alone will be witness to your own life when it flashes in that moment before death.

    @wildwoman re: the “Merry Christmas” shit.

    Well, as a breeder with small children who has denounced Christmas, I find that I can still embrace the spirit of giving. I have to share a funny story with you. I picked my son up from pre-school on Monday, and his teacher pulled me aside to ask if we had ever had a real Christmas tree. For one split second I panicked, thinking omg, she found us out! Then I realized she was asking because of his numerous severe allergies. They were planning on getting one for the classroom and didn’t want to do so if he was allergic. Last year I started a new Christmas tradition of NOT celebrating Christmas, but celebrating winter solstice, instead. I guess this year it will be a double celebration. Winter solstice/armageddon. Anyway, I like to keep things simple, and I find people always appreciate homemade things, especially food. A good batch of cookies never goes to waste.

  82. BadlandsAK Says:

    @Collapse Watch
    You addressed the issue of the dangers of cow’s milk, but when you think about it, all milk is dangerous. Chemicals, pesticides, etc…, accumulate in fatty tissue, so most mammals, including humans, likely have contaminated milk. You will find women who are vehemently pro-breastfeeding, who think formula is poison, but I wonder if they ever considered the poison in their own breast milk? I think about it as I just weaned my youngest, and each of my three babies were breastfed for well over a year apiece. How much harm did I do? I’ll never know. As long as there are babies, they will need nourishment.

  83. ulvfugl Says:

    An amazing thread. So many fearless people gazing at the spectre that confronts us all.

    Seems like the old trees are deciding it is time…

    Alarming Increase in Death Rates Among Trees 100-300 Years Old

  84. Riding Down to Shiloh Says:

    “Seems like the old trees are deciding it is time…,”

    Lots of wisdom in old trees. When you lie under one, grand thoughts seem to fall down on you and infuse you with their wisdom…

  85. wildwoman Says:

    Kathy C and BadlandsAK,

    Thanks. I’ve read Everything Matters, but sounds like I need to read it again. I do make a mean, kickass cookie that is much in demand. Maybe I’ll go crazy this year.

    I can get behind the Solstice idea, especially as an act of resistence to the Catholic Church, since they co-opted it anyway. Talk about a marketing marvel!

    Kathy C, the link to the bad news about the Madrid Fault line made my day. Our Kentucky property sits pretty damn close to it. I miss Roseanne Rosannadana.

  86. Michael Says:

    We are getting together with friends and eating too much. There will be good natured bitching about how FUBAR Christmas is, while ironically celebrating our feast of friendship and love. All of us might be considered atheists, but we are more nontheists. We just pass on the whole deity issue and smile. And feast. Why not?

    Michael

  87. Gail Says:

    I doubt the old trees are deciding it is time…I think we’re murdering them. In return, they are falling on houses, cars and people at rates never before heard of.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/04/us/storms-topple-new-england-trees-and-raise-fears.html

  88. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:


    wildwoman Says: I miss Roseanne Rosannadana.

    Ah, Gilda!

    A Mr. Richard Fader,
    Fort Lee, New Jersey tenth grader,
    Says, “Hey, what’s the deal?
    Is doom really real?”
    And he asks how to be an evader.

    Inspired by watching some flick,
    He insists we should do something quick;
    So I said, “Mr. Fader—
    Big fucking crusader—
    What’cha trying to do, make me sick?”

    “It just goes to show you,” I said,
    “It’s always something to dread;
    The news that I bring:
    If it ain’t one thing,
    It’s another makes sure you drop dead.”

  89. Ken Barrows Says:

    Gee, I thought I could consume until Jesus returned. Jesus wouldn’t let the human race go extinct, would he?

    A ridiculous view? Yes, and tens of millions of Americans probably hold it, even if they won’t admit it.

  90. ulvfugl Says:

    Gail : I doubt the old trees are deciding it is time…I think we’re murdering them.

    I guess it was a figure of speech. I don’t think trees make decisions in the sense that humans do. But after surviving the centuries they have decided that now the abuse is too much for them, and so they leave, and that means that the ecosystems that they are a part of are collapsing, which is an indication that the whole biosphere, the sum of those ecosystems will collapse, which means we are also leaving, because without forests, so much that we depend upon will vanish, including rain and oxygen.

    Someone above ( forgive me for not scrolling through the thread again, it’s late ) said that a koala doesn’t see any moral aspect to extinction, or some such sentiment. I think that the moral aspect lies in the fact that we are murdering the thing that created us.

    Whatever you want to call it – it doesn’t even need a name – it took all that time, and it produced us, and supplied everything that we needed.

    And yes, this murdering of the trees is just part of murdering of the entire living biosphere. Murder is immoral.

    In my conception of what is moral and what is immoral, I’d say that marks the extreme end of the scale. There is no greater, more heinous act that is possible than the annihilation of most living things. Whether our own extinction is a just punishment I really don’t know. The whole business is so far away from ordinary human notions of justice and ethics I don’t know how to think it through.

  91. OzMan Says:

    Paul Chefurka

    You wrote:

    “I see no point any more in trying to awaken those who are still asleep. We have all been overtaken by events. It may be a kindness to let them keep sleeping – like dying unconscious on the operating table. It’s enough to help those who are already waking up.”

    Look, I appreciate and respect your position on this, but how did you get to be ‘awake’ on these issues?

    Somewhere in your lifespan you had someone influence you, and yes, I bet you worked pretty hard to keep your sanity, and develop the independent thinking that has enabled you to ‘wake’.

    I suggest it is by centred engagement in life, amidst this maelstrom of death and ‘change’ about us, that wakes people in proximity.

    My point here is I feel it is hubris to pre-suppose people are not influenced by others they know or briefly encounter, especially as I suspect many people are anxious under the social verneer of civility and pride, about all these issues here.

    In attempting to regenerate, in a small way, understanding and acceptance of the Gift Community in my location here in the Blue Mountains, West of Sydney, I encounter the attitude often that “We can afford to pay you”, and some slight chagrin that I may have insinuated that they ‘need’ charity.
    I grew up on social welfare, after my father abandoned us for an easier existance in his adolescent stomping grounds in seaside Sydney back in the mid 1960′s. My mother scrimped and worked her arse off to provide, and she lost a son to Leukemia from the fallout from French and other nuclear testing in the Pacific.
    I am not ashamed to have been supported by the greater community, albeit in some financial manner delivered without human contact. Many others find it socially demeaning, and have all sorts of made up justifications for never needing to rely on others.
    My other brother is a school teacher, and I retrained too, later, to do the same, and it was in part because we wish to give, not give ‘back’, simply give.

    One of the founding lies of industrial civilisation is that you can live independently, full stop. A prerequisite is the accumulation of wealth, but personal wealth and social power especially.

    As many would know, that lie is now debunked, but, I suggest it is not true that people will not wake up.

    If they see or encounter someone ‘going for it’, in a creative and open sense, and not strategically to ‘get back’, they notice, and are often surprised it is possible to live differently, and an opportunity to change is created. That is the authentic chain of events that brings love and growth, inner growth, into the world, regardless of your ethical/spiritual beliefs.

    I just think that to conceptualise the ‘deaf’ and ‘blind’, metaphorically, as the ‘other’, reinforces some unnecessary differeces, and I’d be willing to bet all who feel themselves to be ‘awake’ were influenced by others along the way.

    That is not preeching, it is just saying when you centre yourself and grow in your own time, not only do others see it, you notice the greatness in others as well, and can access it.

    Some will never wake up in this lifetime, but who are you to judge who they are?

  92. OzMan Says:

    As an addendum to my last comment, I think it is far more sane to get on with life knowing these events are coming, and changing the biosphere, and remain open to all people, (and non-people), because we don’t know what strategies, behavious and type of subsistance may work in the near term, and many many many people are going to need help.

    Those who can will, and I want to be one who can, no matter what the ‘heat’ I get for it now.

  93. Carol Says:

    I think I have a dilemma that has been touched on a little in the above comments. I have people that I love and care for very much but I cannot bring myself to mention NTE even though I am believing it myself.
    When I first found out about peak oil and shared what was possibly going to happen I was wounded by the person I shared it with-they couldn’t believe that I had the nerve or whatever to think that things could get so bad. Now, I have something that is so much worse, even for me, even for many of you,but especially for all of us to even think about-that I just don’t know what to do.
    I find solace, of a sorts from reading all your responses, Daniel,Jennifer, Kathy C, U,Michael,BC Nurse,others but it doesn’t help me to address the practical question of how and should I even go there with my special people!
    By the way, there is more than one Carol commenting and I have a partner of 37 years who is totally on board with NBL and we are making changes as quickly as we can together and we know we are NOT kooks!

    From the previous stream, about nightmares. I have been having them regularly, but when I wake up and remember the truth, the real nightmare begins.
    Anyway, thank you all, I just wanted some empathy too. I guess that I will just keep doing what quite a few of you recommend-showing love and compassion to all that I can.
    thank you for listening
    carol in alabama,

  94. Daniel Says:

    @ Ulvfugl

    At this stage of the game, I would think we’re sadly accustomed to compartmentalizing almost everything out of necessity, in lieu of becoming a danger to both ourselves and others. Your death of older trees link, however, cut through the armor and ran right through my heart. Trees were the alpha and omega of my early ecological awaking. I’ve slept under them, slept in them, chained myself to them, even spiked them to keep them from being destroyed. Life without trees, especially old growth has caused me so much grief over the years, it’s wound that won’t ever heal. Even now, as I contemplate NTE, and how I might live out the world’s end, all I know is that I’ll be surrounded by trees when the time comes. Never quite had to think about it, but what makes life worth living, if not the love of trees?

    This quote from the article struck me as somehow being symbolic of number of things:

    “The alarming decline in old trees in so many types of forest appears to be driven by a combination of forces, including land clearing, agricultural practices, man-made changes in fire regimes, logging and timber gathering, insect attack and rapid climatic changes, says Prof. Jerry Franklin.”

    As if “rapid climate change” is somehow just one of any number of factors.

    FUCK!!!!!!!

  95. Michael Says:

    It is interesting how few will ID a date when it all comes down. If I recall from reading all the replies, maybe 4 ID’ed a time frame?

    This timetable is so hard to face. On the way home this evening my wife wept at a sunset, feeling (knowing)this is all running out. Of course there is more, there are our children, and our grandchildren who will be swept away.

    I do want to face this head on. On the matter of an early exit, I have thought about that. You all are probably aware now that more of our young are suicidal because they see no future. Perhaps that must be our project, to help them understand life is a moment-by-moment project.

    If you decide to leave by your own hand how many years do you lose? How many moments of joy and compassion do you abandon? I do not personally believe that a moment’s joy is lost or pointless if we die in the next moment. We can chose to live life in a granular way with deep compassion, nurturing and love moment by moment until there are no more moments. I want to face death with a passionate embrace having fully lived.

    I have listened and I still think it is 10 years to lights out, that is what my gut and daily observations are telling me. If I am given 10 more years, that is a good run to 73. For the young, acceptance of a significantly shortened life will require of them deeper spiritual work to not die bitter. Perhaps there is a role for me in there. I like to believe that elders are not obsolete, but I am prepared to accept that as well. It is worth a shot.

    Michael

  96. Carol Says:

    If I can make it to 73 that would be a gift but how do you wrap your mind around the fact that your children will not live to be the age you are now and your grandchildren will not make it to their teens.
    I love the trees too and spent many hours today raking their leaves and just being outdoors.

  97. Daniel Says:

    @ Ozman

    Your last response to Paul.

    What wonderful writing, I read it twice. Whole lot of truth there. Though we stand on different footing when it comes to the role of spiritual practices, I love what you bring to the conversation. Keep the faith friend.

  98. Ryan Says:

    I love this recent thread, and all Guy has posted on his blog as well as all the thoughful comments by you kind folks, but I often despair after reading each one as reality puts a boot straight to my head.

    Let me explain:

    As I type this comment I am in a home where my 12 year old brother is in his room with his television, light and probably ipod on, my 23 year old brother and his girlfriend with the living room television on and an ipad going and my mother who is in her room with a television on.

    My brother and his girlfriend just recently moved in and the entire time they are home they watch television (I’m taking 12+ hours a day!!!) – as my brother broadly understands climate change as well as peak oil. When these two get even more bored they either find somewhere to drive to or they go to a local fast food source to get their food.

    These are just a few members of my family while I could describe stories of mostly all the people in my life who share the same lifestyle. It angers me and at the same time makes me sad. This is all they know!

    So threads like these are beautiful and I support the message all the way, but I’m sorry to disappoint anybody by saying that nothing is going to change in the forseeable future. Either this thing called an economy crashes or we can all seriously just say goodbye.


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