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Adventures in Ecuador

Wed, May 21, 2014

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I’ve spent the last several days in rural Ecuador. I consulted with my hostess regarding her homestead, delivered a presentation, and facilitated a grief-recovery workshop. Embedded below is the introductory portion of the workshop, with the presentation to follow in a future post. Both clips were shot and edited by Pauline Schneider, who also facilitated the workshop with me. You can support Pauline’s work by clicking here.

Grief Recovery Workshop from Pauline Schneider on Vimeo.

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Choices, by John Hechtman

It’s a question of degrees
On your feet, or on your knees
To survive, or to resist
The price you’ll pay, just to exist
We all die, you must allow
Only, some of us choose how

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I was interviewed by Michael Welch for Global Research in early May 2014. The resulting audio can be found here, with my segment beginning at the 45:07 mark.
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My work is featured in an essay at Dissident Voice. It’s here.

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I’m mentioned in the song embedded below

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If you have registered, or you intend to register, please send an email message to guy.r.mcpherson@gmail.com. I’ll approve your registration as quickly as possible. Thanks for your patience.

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4 June 2014, Wyoming, debate with H. Leighton Steward, who often represents the fossil-fuel industry. Read about Steward here.

Wyoming debate flyer

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Going Dark is available from the publisher here, from Amazon here, from Amazon on Kindle here, from Barnes & Noble on Nook here, and as a Google e-book here. Going Dark was reviewed by Carolyn Baker at Speaking Truth to Power and by three dozen readers at Amazon.

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36 Responses to “Adventures in Ecuador”

  1. CatCampion Says:

    Thanks for being the first humans to share your wisdom with Terra Nova. I hope many more lovers will volunteer their skills, knowledge and time over the years.

  2. Bud Nye Says:

    Good work Guy!

    Some here may have an interest in this comment that I recently posted to Scott Johnson’s Fractial Planet blog under his “How Guy McPherson gets it wrong” discussion.

    Regarding Mikeroberts’ request for what I think about the near term future: given the chaotic nature of the universe (see Prigogine and others), given that we cannot predict the behavior of complex systems, and given the rapidly accumulating evidence, making claims of continuing short- or long-term stability of Earth’s climate and ecosystems seems childishly naive to me. I think that about the best one can reasonably say is that major changes are very rapidly occurring in all of Earth’s ecosystems, including the climate systems, those changes will almost certainly have profoundly adverse effects on most, if not all, life on Earth, and we will soon experience famine, war, and disease on a scale unlike anything our species has ever experienced in its entire evolutionary history. Will this produce near-term extinction of humanity? Probably, but I don’t presume to know—and academically arguing that trivial point in the midst of the mass death unfolding around us and including us seems a ridiculous (and desperate) distraction to me. Extinction, or not, I think that at least 95% of humans will soon die, probably within the next 20 to 30 years. If I am wrong about this probable time-line by 20 or 30 years, does it really matter? And if Guy McPherson is wrong, will you please explain how, presumably, “his message is counterproductive” as you claim?

    I enthusiastically agree with Cloudwalking Owl that with much of this “…people are ‘pussyfooting’ around here.” I agree in this way: I think that much if not most of the science-focused conversation here and elsewhere consists largely, at its roots, of managing anxiety through maintaining our present and historical cultural sense of dominance and control over nature that we wish to believe natural science and mathematics confer. But in reality, despite the apparently blinding “successes” of science and technology that the power-elite have produced over the past few thousand years, they provide us, ultimately, with a false sense of dominance, control, and security. Ah yes. Feeling in control. It works for a while. But then reality catches up with us. And reality is rapidly catching up with us, in spades, now. Many, if not most of us, can feel it in decidedly unscientific ways in our guts. (Given that we have conscious awareness of less than one millionth of what goes on in our brains, and given that we can solve far more complex problems non-consciously than we can consciously, perhaps we would find ourselves well advised to pay much closer attention to our decidedly unscientific guts?)

    I think that the fundamental truth, the fundamental reality, exists that we have no “control” and certainly no “dominance”, over Earth, and our science-based technology that has so strongly supported our 10,000 year-old civilizational exploit/ expand/ exploit/ expand cycle has come to its final, gasping, global-scale climax, which will soon end horrifically for even the richest and most powerful of us in this country just as it already has in the past and presently does for so many other human and non-human living beings on Earth. We will ALL soon lose our wealth and power. Correct: this exists only as my opinion: my best judgment based on my education, experience, and reasoning about the evidence (plus what my guts tell me). I think that few writers and readers of this blog wish to acknowledge these brutal realities, strongly preferring, instead, to distract themselves, to “pussyfoot around”, with playing the technotopian “Science, math, technology (and nuclear energy) will save us!” game. Presumably, and with childish naivety, many people love to believe that “If we just stay firmly and clearly with the science and technology, they will save us.” (Or permaculture; or learning primitive skills; or whatever.) In our ignorance and anxiety we need our contingency plans in order to help ourselves feel powerful and in control. I don’t think so. In my experience this strategy of power and control created and/or supported by science, mathematics, and technology does not lead to peace in the world, and it certainly does not lead to personal peace, which I prefer over fear, anxiety, anger, depression, and other painful emotional states in my life.

    Contrary to your assertion, Scott, I do NOT hate or reject science, math, and/or technology. I love them(!), and I have loved them for my entire life, including BOTH “reductionist” AND “holistic” science. How can I write the previous paragraphs followed by this sentence? Because I have aged enough and had enough experience, now, to have passed THROUGH them while still including them in deeply, cognitively, and emotionally accepting MY personal lack of dominance and control in life, as well as OUR COLLECTIVE lack of dominance and control in life—our hundreds of years of human supremacist, Cartesian and Baconian hubris and magical thinking notwithstanding. I passionately agree with Carl Sagan that “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”

    I find it fascinating (but certainly not surprising!) that some here insist that I think in all-or-none ways while they fervently and rigidly believe that natural science can and does exist separately and disconnected from the political, social, religious, philosophical, and economic forces that produce the scientific researchers, processes, and content. They wish to proceed based on a fantasy that mathematics and science, with their specially qualified, “objectively independent” and anointed priesthood, can and does, presumably, inform us about Objective Truth. And Guy McPherson, or anyone else who does not fit the presently accepted anointment criteria, definitely does NOT belong to this exclusive club! Meanwhile, it seems obvious to me that ALL purveyors of natural science, present and past, express their culture’s values and ethics to at least as great an extent as they construct and express tentatively held “truths” and “laws” about how the universe supposedly works. It seems blindingly obvious to me that we consider scientists as “objectively separate” and somehow “above” or “outside of” today’s insane, out-of-touch with biological reality culture that produced and supports them only at our great peril.

    Jane: Despite the qualifying comments that you made afterward, I felt shocked by your first two sentences firmly stating that, presumably, “Guy McPherson has not earned the right to hold his views on extinction of humanity due to climate destabilization. Unlike Peter Wadhams’ 40 years of continuous involvement in Arctic sea ice research (University of Cambridge), and unlike James Hansen’s 35 years of continuous research in global warming (NASA), Guy McPherson is primarily a social critic.” Only a specific, highly educated, specialized and experienced intellectual elite has the right to hold views on human extinction due to climate destabilization? I do not have that right because I do not belong to the elite club? Derrick Jensen does not have the right? The Africans and many others dying of drought-related famine do not have that right? The approximate 200 species each day that we drive to extinction do not have that right? On one hand, I doubt that you consciously meant that. But on the other hand, look at the obvious, power-elitist implications of what you wrote: we, the anointed, should ignore any ideas and thinking that does not come from within our specially qualified club. I see a very strong current of that kind of elitist thinking and valuing on this blog.

    As I wrote in March, it seems to me that ALL speaking and writing has a bias based on the thinking and world-view of the author. This includes all articles published in the most prestigious scientific journals, it includes Guy McPherson’s writing and speaking, Michael Tobis’ writing, everyone writing here, and it certainly includes mine. It strikes me as both supremely naïve and dangerous for anyone seriously to believe, often with religious fervor, that natural science eliminates social, political, philosophical, religious, and/or economic bias. For sure, scientists for the most part work hard to do that—probably better than any other group of people in history—but they most certainly have not succeeded in the past, and they do not succeed today, despite the popular, seductive, magical, wishful belief that they have and do. The strong, character-attacking, kill the messenger trend of many of the comments here, with no comments by Scott to the effect that “This comment is pointless, or that these comments are pointless” as he did with my summary of Tobis’ credentials, very nicely serves as just one, trivial example that emphasizes the bias that all speaking and writing contain (yes, including all published scientific papers). How could they not? They always project onto the world the world-view, thoughts, stories, and emotions that the writer or speaker has constructed.

    Jane did not mention that over a year ago two friends and I started a group in Tacoma that we call an Eco-collapse Support Group (ESG). We meet once a month in order to provide social and emotional support for those of us who understand what is happening and coming soon here. For most people these come as emotionally difficult and painful realizations. The group is informal and very easy to manage. If anyone would like a copy of our agenda as a help in starting a similar group of your own, I will feel glad to send you a copy if you send me an email request at bud.nye@gmail.com .

    I will close this long comment with one of my favorite quotes, this one by Jared Diamond in The Third Chimpanzee: “The past was a Golden Age, of ignorance. The present is an Iron Age, of willful blindness.”

  3. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    W_’R_ F_CK_D

    The letters are only a few,
    So the puzzle is easy to do:
    No overall view
    Was ever more true—
    Please give me three “e’s” and a “u.”

  4. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Pat Sajak says: “I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night.”

  5. Tom Says:

    Welcome home Guy! Good to have you back. i’ll be back tomorrow to throw some observations on the thread and make a statement or two.

    For one, I’ve noticed that both gas and food prices are up and the mainstream media is now firmly documenting climate change in terms of its cost to humans. Cereal, for one, is expected to rise sharply due to low grain yields – a by-product of climate change.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/breakfast-cereals-more-expensive-thanks-201829149.html;_ylt=A0LEVzUkTH1TfGsAT0lXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0aGMwMW5vBHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDM5OV8x

    Breakfast Cereals to Get More Expensive, Thanks to Climate Change

    The price of popular breakfast cereals is set to soar over the next 15 years as a result of climate change, argues a new report from Oxfam International. [feel free to read the obvious]

  6. Grant Schreiber Says:

    Squeal of Fortune

    The tweet of a game show host
    From out of his grave
    to give us a wave
    declaring a denial of toast.

  7. EtyerePetyere Says:

    The audio on that grief recovery video is terrifyingly crappy this is what happens when you have no dedicated microphone for the speakers and place a cheap videorecorder with in built microphone in the middle of the audience .. This is happening over and over with these videos . It is regrettable that because of this especially the message which is so important is being lost

  8. pauline Says:

    @EtyerePetyere,
    yes the audio is straight from the 6D camera. And yes, it sucks. There were also little kids
    near the camera playing with their cars. And nature… Both hard to control.

    Sound was deliberately not dedicated. Due to the strict confidentiality of the workshop,
    we only wanted to grab the very first few minutes of our intro.
    Mostly to just show that we held the workshop.
    It was not intended to show the actual workshop. So you didn’t miss much.

    You can learn more about the workshop and the methods at
    http://www.theGriefRecoveryMethod.com

    I think you’ll appreciate the sound on the Collapse presentation much more. :)
    I used a cordless Sennheiser ew 100 G3 lavalier mic on Guy. It’s a nice microphone.

    Thank you.

  9. Tom Says:

    http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/americas-morning-headquarters/california-drought-cracked-20140521

    California Drought Threatens Food Supply of All Americans; Collapsing Aquifer Sinking the Land

    Walk into any grocery store in America and there’s a good chance the fresh produce you see there was grown in California. Up to half of the nation’s fruit, nuts and vegetables are grown in the Central Valley, one of the planet’s most fertile growing regions, between Los Angeles and Sacramento.

    Now, for the first time this century, the entire state is in severe to exceptional drought.

    “It’s really depressing for us to leave ground out. We’re still paying taxes and payments on everything that’s non-production,” said Gene Errotabere, whose family has farmed the valley since the late 1920s. “I mean, it’s this whole valley. It’s just a breadbasket of our whole country here, and to see this much ground being fallowed is not something I like to see.”

    [listen to the series of 2 min. videos and read the article]

    The downward trend is accelerating. Crop loses around the world combined with severely diminished marine harvests will lead to rioting, chaos and disease. When it gets worse governments will begin to fall and the rule of law (as fickle as it is) will cease.

    We’re at the precipice of a multidimensional calamity that is completely beyond our control, being threatened by so many different problems converging. Among them are rampant pollution of all kinds, food scarcity, disease outbreaks (novel and otherwise), increasing military action and conflict, water scarcity and flooding in various parts of the world, sea-level rise due to melting ice, stronger storms and aberrant weather, economic troubles, resource scarcity of all kinds, continuing habitat loss (including species die-offs), higher temperatures, nuclear problems, and on and on.

    http://planetsave.com/2010/05/05/future-temperatures-could-exceed-human-liveability/#FUWzrfDFTFsPD4kO.99

    Future Temperatures Could Exceed Human Livability [take a look]

    According to new research findings, reasonable worse-cast scenarios for global warming if rising greenhouse gas emissions are not stamped out immediately could see Earth’s temperature exceed that which humans can tolerate in coming centuries. [Because we aren't stopping our greenhouse gas emissions, we don't have centuries - this is happening too quickly, they should have said decades.]

    Their research shows for the first time the highest tolerable “wet-bulb” temperature that humans can withstand and the fact that this temperature could be exceeded for the first time in human history if greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rate of increase. The research shows that humans and most mammals will suffer a likely lethal level of heat stress at wet-bulb temperatures above 95 degrees Fahrenheit if sustained for six hours or more. [The article goes on to explain wet-bulb temperature and more.]

    In another well-written article, occurrences in space impact Earth’s weather in myriad ways we’re just discovering:

    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/05/scientists-discover-new-mechanisms-space-events-effect-earths-climate.html

    Scientists Discover How Events In Space Effect Climate On Earth

    Events In Space Effect Earth’s Climate More than Scientists Believed

    Our understanding how much the sun and other things occurring in space effect Earth’s climate is still in its infancy.

    Why?

    Because – as NASA explains – interactions between the sun, sources of cosmic radiation and the Earth are very complicated, and takes an interdisciplinary team of solar physicists, chemists and others to quantify what is really going on.

    Indeed, scientists have been stunned in recent years by the following discoveries:
    ◾Flares from the sun change the rate of radioactive decay of elements on Earth
    ◾Sounds generated deep inside the Sun cause the Earth to shake and vibrate in sympathy. They have found that Earth’s magnetic field, atmosphere and terrestrial systems, all take part in this cosmic sing-along
    ◾“Space weather” causes “spacequakes” in Earth’s geomagnetic field
    ◾There is even some evidence that can solar activity cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions on Earth

    Newly-Discovered Mechanisms: Lightning, NOx and Ozone [read the rest]

  10. Wester Says:

    I would like to comment here, but I am currently living through the middle of a military coup d’etat in Thailand. The internet is shaky and it looks like I am not going to be able to access this video. If they shut down the internet. I wish you great progress in your personal problems. And again, let me assure you that there are plenty of useful things you can still do. And I am sure that pretending that this post doesn’t exist is bound to be one of them.

  11. Tom Says:

    Some Anthem

    Oh , say! Can you see by the dawn’s early light, how the trees all seem to be withered and dying, and where there used to be amber waves of grain are now parched fields? That the purple on the mountain, your majesty, is a concoction of our smog among the smoke from forest fires, while the almonds and oranges are not fruited this year, it’s plain. America, America God shed his grace on thee and we took it to mean grab as much as you can, use it up as fast as possible, don’t take care of anything (including each other), that everything only has meaning or value if it’s viewed as potential benefit, income or in terms of money, and that we should kill everything that gets in the way of whatever we’re doing. You’ve crowned thy good deeds with a pall of insidious greed, and with no regard for brotherhood or the environment we went and polluted everything from sea to now radioactively shining sea.

  12. Sabine Says:

    @Tom
    You posts are ALWAYS relevant,
    and I love your “Some Anthem”

    Don’t forget though that all other westernized humans have been infected and could sing a similar anthem
    Don’t beat yourself up too much for being American. Greed is a human disease.

  13. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Pat Sajak says:

    J_ST K_DD_NG

    The help that a vowel purchase buys
    Adds hope that on one of these tries
    There’ll be some kind of prize
    Before our demise—
    Please give me a “u” and two “i’s.”

  14. Paul f. Getty Says:

    Oh, what we have missed……
    It is too sad to me that a beautiful way of life and such beautiful people are vanishing.
    I feel a real loss, when I learn about these remaining hunter-gatherers, that I did not live out my days, my 65 years, like these beautiful humans.

    http://www.survivalinternational.org/awa

  15. pauline Says:

    Further signs of degenerating times (to add to Tom’s very depressing list above).

    Feds stockpile of munitions over past five years.

    http://americanfreepress.net/?p=5788

    Not sure how reliable Natural News is as a source, but they did the footwork on Dept of Ag stockpiling submachine guns:

    http://modernsurvivalblog.com/government-gone-wild/usda-goes-paramilitary-buying-submachine-guns-night-sites-30-round-magazines/

    And let’s not leave out the gun toting, uber racist, conservatives who fail to see the resemblance of the Bush Administration with the Obomber administration; the first launched the unPatriot Act while the second sustained and advanced it, bringing a tear of joy and pride to the Bush crime syndicate’s members’ eyes.
    These armed, militia “patriots” will happily shoot you between the eyes because of your party affiliation and blow up your town “defending the constitution” (shoot first, ask questions later) forgetting that it was written by rich white men and designed to disenfranchise anyone else, including them. Many bled and even died to add those few and pathetically weak amendments.

    http://moonbattery.com/?p=45853

    It won’t be long before this nation is not only starving, but also shooting each other.

    Sighhh. :(

  16. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Pat Sajak will say:

    H_LY SH_T

    Soon nobody can deny
    That everything’s going to fry,
    Resulting thereby
    In no food supply—
    Please give me an “O” and an “I.”

  17. OzMan Says:

    I count Sydney having 13 consecutive days in a row above 22 C, with the next 7 days porcast to be in the mid twenties. For may that is a record.
    System dwell, jetstream wandering…
    we have heard it all before, but here is the evidence:

    http://www.weatherzone.com.au/station.jsp?lt=site&lc=66062&list=ds

    That’s just the way it is.

  18. Librarian Says:

    Bud Nye, accusing scientists of being religiously rigid is an old trick, used (ironically) by mostly religious people to shut down scientists’ right to talk.

    The charge is almost impossible to defend against, and frankly it’s kind of a PET PEEVE of mine, because almost nobody who makes this charge ever tries to submit proof of their claims, they just make personal attacks.

    “Uh, I’m not going to listen to anything those scientists have to say, because they’re just beliefs, so I’m not going to weigh and consider any evidence they might present! La la la la la, I’m not listening, I’m not listening!”

    I’ve talked to a couple such people on public transportation, and frankly they seemed much more rigid than the scientists they were describing.

  19. Tom Says:

    more on the El Nino:

    https://robertscribbler.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/global-sea-surface-temperatures-increase-to-extraordinary-1-25-c-anomaly-as-el-nino-tightens-grip-on-pacific/#comment-13835

    Global Sea Surface Temperatures Increase to Extraordinary +1.25 C Anomaly as El Nino Tightens Grip on Pacific

    On May 22nd, 2014, global sea surface temperature anomalies spiked to an amazing +1.25 degrees Celsius above the, already warmer than normal, 1979 to 2000 average. This departure is about 1.7 degrees C above 1880 levels — an extraordinary reading that signals the world may well be entering a rapid warming phase.

    It is very rare that land or ocean surface temperatures spike to values above a +1 C anomaly in NOAA’s Global Forecast System model summary. Historically, both measures have slowly risen to about +.35 C above the 1979 to 2000 average and about +.8 C above 1880s values (land +1 C, ocean +.6 C). But since late April, sea surface temperatures have remained in a range of +1 C above 1979 to 2000 values — likely contributing to NOAA and NASA’s temperature indexes hitting first and second hottest in the climate record for the month. During May, ocean surface heating entrenched and expanded, progressing to a new high of +1.17 C last week. As of this week, values had exceeded +1.2 C and then rocketed on to a new extreme of +1.25 C (See Deep Ocean Warming is Coming Back to Haunt Us).

    Should such trends continue, and with little more than a week left for this month, May of 2014 is likely to set a new record for global surface temperatures. And with El Nino continuing to tighten its grip on the Pacific, potentials for new all-time record high global temperatures for 2014 keep increasing. [read the rest of this]

    Substituting Guy for the fictitious Dr. Malcolm (in Jurassic Park):

    “Inevitably, underlying instabilities begin to appear.”

    and

    “I hate being right all the time.” – Ian Malcolm

  20. pauline Says:

    @Wester

    If John Kerry is “disappointed” in the military coup, it can’t be all that bad.
    When the leaders of a violent, conquering empire (USA) are upset, you’re doing something right.
    By the way, when was the last time the US sent protestors from both sides safely home in military cars?
    Never.
    I remember the Republican convention in NYC and the thousands of peaceful protestors arrested like dogs and treated worse than….

    “Domestic reactions
    The PDRC protesters who were at their sites expressed their applause for the coup.[52] Phra Buddha Issara, a Buddhist monk who is a PDRC co-leader, went on a protest stage and proclaimed the victory of the anti-government protesters before requesting his protesters to disperse and go home.[53] Some of the pro-government protesters dispersed at the behest of the military, whilst the others initially refused to leave.[52] The last group of protesters left Bangkok in the evening of 23 May 2014.[54] The NPOMC provided seventy military cars to send the protesters from both sides home.[55]”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Thai_coup_d%27%C3%A9tat

    Good luck

  21. Grant Schreiber Says:

    The house is on fire, the house is on fire.

    There is no proof to this. That smoke could be caused by anything.
    And that light is good. Without light we couldn’t see. The sun is on fire and that’s a good thing.

    There’s no time for this, the house is on fire.

    Oh you’re one of those alarmist. You hear people screaming and sirens wailing and instantly jump to conclusions. I’d rather wait until all the facts are in.

    How much more information do you need? Death by smoke inhalation? Or you need to be physically on fire yourself to grasp the fact that the house is on fire?

    Now you’re being morbid. All this talk of death and doom and gloom.
    Listen to this irrefutable evidence that everything is okay:
    One, I have a lot of money. In fact, I’m very well off.
    Two, there’s no way the fire department would let anything happen to me. I’m very important.
    Three, it is inconceivable considering how much money I paid for this house for it to be on fire.
    And finally, if this house was on fire, we could simply move to the roof and build a new house that wasn’t on fire. Easy. So stop worrying and most importantly, stop bugging me.

    Have it your way. I’m going to go back to watching the flames.

  22. Librarian Says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha, that’s very funny! In a black comedy sort of way, admittedly, but still, Grant, you just made my morning! ^_^

  23. Tom Says:

    Nicole Foss, over at Automatic Earth, wrote her second in a series of posts on food insecurity (both here in the U.S. and globally).

    http://www.theautomaticearth.com/physical-limits-to-food-security-water-and-climate/

    Physical Limits to Food Security: Water and Climate

    [begins]

    This is the second installment of Nicole’s series on food security.

    Nicole Foss: In part one of this series, we looked at finance as a major causal factor in the development of food insecurity. The boom and bust cycles that result from over-financialization are, however, only one aspect of a food crisis already present for many, and looming for many more in the years to come. Finance can, and does, generate artificial scarcity, initially through the manipulation of land and commodities for profit and, and latterly by over-reaching itself and crashing the human operating system, with tremendous negative impact on the supply of all goods and services. Food is one of the vital factors that will be substantially affected in a financial crash where connecting producers and consumers will be extremely difficult due to lack of money in circulation.

    The inherent instability of our human operating systems is only one of a large number of limiting factors for food production and distribution. The very real scarcity coming as a result of limiting factors grounded in the physical world is far more serious in the longer term. While we can make changes capable of addressing both human and physical limits, we are highly unlikely to do so in a timeframe, or on a scale, that would prevent us from experiencing the consequences of of over-shooting our natural carrying capacity. Nevertheless, whatever we can achieve in the time available will be an improvement.

    This series is not meant to be a comprehensive assessment of each limiting factor in relation to food supply, but an overview of vulnerability in its many forms, clarifying the imperative for re-engineering our food systems. Given the extent of the over-stretch of the current model, the possibility of rapid collapse in response to very predictable system shocks is uncomfortably high. We are at risk of cascading system failure. We cannot expect facilitation of this transition to come from the top down, however – far from it. The larger scale centralized human construct, highly over-stretched and inflexible, can only be expected to look after itself and defend the status quo at the expense of decentralization initiatives. Meaningful change will have to come from the bottom up, one local initiative at a time.

    There is a considerable urgency to making this transition to a human-scale food system. While many are generally aware that our current means of producing and distributing food is unsustainable, few seem to realize that what cannot continue will not continue, that the limits are already being reached, and that the effects will most certainly be felt in our lifetimes, even in what are now wealthy countries. This is not an issue where we can continue business as usual and expect the impact to be felt only by distant populations or by subsequent generations. It will be one where we must take personal responsibility for change, both for our own benefit and that of society in general.

    We are facing non-negotiable physical limits in terms of water and climate, which are the subject of this instalment, but also energy, soil fertility and carrying capacity, the subjects for the next part of the series. Our human systems for trade and agricultural regulation are frequently exacerbating the scope of the problems we face and will be covered subsequently. Ultimately we are going to have to face the root of the problem, which lies in the inherently expansionist nature of agriculture itself, as practiced not just in the industrial age, but from the dawn of the neolithic period. We will need to develop polycultural food production systems along permaculture lines if we are to avoid the worst consequences of over-reach. We will need to learn to live within limits.

    [read it all; our NBL conclusion is different to her "hopeful" one]

  24. Bud Nye Says:

    I know that for the most part this amounts to preaching to the choir, here, but I have copied below another long Fractal Planet comment I posted under the How Guy McPherson gets it wrong discussion:

    Cloudwalking Owl, you have confused me greatly here. (But then, I do easily get confused! :-) ) I thought you emphasized that you have a degree in philosophy. So, based on your own comments here, you obviously have less “right” to comment on this blog than I do. Why? A comparison of our academic degrees and experiences (I have science-related degrees and experience, after all, while yours lie “only” in philosophy, and I taught high school physics, chemistry, math, and biology for eight years in Texas, Washington State, and Alaska) demonstrates that I must have far more “rights” to comment here than you do. (I would never even think about or consider making any such claims, which seem ridiculous to me, but your comments imply exactly that.) Based on your comments here, as well as Jane’s a day or two ago, no one on the planet, except a handful of the most highly specialized experts, presumably have any “right” to express their opinions and judgments about the global warming and other ecological collapse evidence.

    It appears necessary for me to emphasize that, in the end, expert’s opinions–which include all published scientific papers–remain just that: their highly fallible, human opinions, and ALWAYS biased by the author’s culture, emotions, and world-view. They do NOT amount to “objective” pronouncements of Omniscient Infallible Truth from God about how the universe presumably works, as you and some others here appear strongly to wish to believe with religious-like fervor. McPherson looks at, reports, considers, and states his opinions about evidence based on his (significant!) academic background knowledge and experience–knowledge and experience significantly greater concerning these issues than most of us commenting on this blog, most of the time, I would wager. Many pseudoscientists (which McPherson most certainly is not!) do that every day: make many alleged, but false, scientific claims. As disagreeable and hurtful as the pseudoscience stuff is, in my opinion the purveyors have every right in the world to express their opinions, just as Guy McPherson most certainly does concerning the ecological collapse and global warming issues–whether he gets it all 100% right, 100% of the time, or not–just as you have that right, just as I have it, and just as everyone else on the planet does, no matter what degrees or expertise they may or may not have.

    Hmm. Will someone here please provide a list of the world’s scientific experts in history, or today, who have always gotten everything 100% right, 100% of the time? Perhaps I have it wrong, but something tells me that we have a null set with this list. Yet many here demand that standard of McPherson–including holding it AGAINST him that he may experience a profound sense of grief and loss over what we have done and continue to do to most, if not all, life on Earth, as well as his desire to help others as they experience similar grief and loss issues! Amazing. “We should kill the messenger because he experiences human grief and loss emotions (I mean, what kind of scientist must he be if he experiences and expresses actual, human EMOTIONS!)–and he even wishes to help others who also experience those emotions; and he even speaks openly about his concerns in direct opposition to the power-elite and our military-industrial establishment. Horrors! Completely unacceptable for any ‘real’ scientist!” (Completely unacceptable, or setting a new and badly needed standard of self- and other-honesty and behavior? Might McPherson be getting the usual whistle blower treatment?)

    This anti-emotion idea probably comes from the popular, but false, belief that “people exhibit their best judgment with minimal emotion”. Wrong. Much psychological and neuroscience research demonstrates clearly that people exhibit best judgment WITH significant emotional arousal, neither too much, nor too little. Look at it this way: based on the idea that “people have the best judgment with minimal emotion”, we must conclude that psychopaths–people who from birth experience no or strongly blunted emotional responses, with a rate of about 1 in 100 in the general population, and about 1 in 20 among business, political, and military leaders (and scientists?), would have the best judgment. Do you really want to trust the judgment of the psychopaths in our business, political, military, and scientific leadership functions? Do we want to trust the judgment of psychopaths concerning the global warming and ecological collapse issues? I don’t. I will trust the judgment of a Guy McPherson who experiences emotional responses to what is happening, any day over the judgment of an emotionally cold psychopath. But perhaps many here prefer the psychopath’s judgment. (Though it is true that about 80% of the murderers in prisons are psychopaths, it is also true that most psychopaths, by far, are not murderers. They are just incredibly destructive people.)

    As I reflect on this, it strikes me that perhaps this denial and avoidance of emotions attracts many people to science based on the false belief that science should, can, and does work without emotions (with a psychopathy rate of 1 in 20 or higher?). Along with this, when we don’t know–as we certainly do not with global warming and general ecological collapse issues!–and we think we need to know–as many of us strongly believe we do, concerning these issues!–we feel out of control. We feel frightened. Then, perhaps, many of us distract ourselves with authoritarian science as a way to manage our anxieties and fears through–we hope!–dominating and controlling the world around us. Meanwhile, much more effective ways for coping with our anxieties and fears exist.

    It seems clear to me that everyone on this blog does exactly that: state their opinions based on their background knowledge and experience. Some of us, though, rather than just stating our arguments, further claim that “My opinion is better than yours because mine comes from a better authority, and since my authority is better than yours, you don’t have the right to express your opinions.” Religious zealots and fanatics commonly do exactly that: quote their interpretations of allegedly infallible authorities, insist that others should and must follow their interpretations of those alleged authorities, and do their best to stop others from expressing ideas that differ. I don’t think so. I disagree.

    But perhaps Scott wants this blog to work that way, which would seem fine with me. Why fine? Because it IS his blog, after all, and he can do pretty much anything he wants to do with it, including banning me and others from posting on it, or censoring the views and information posted, which at least some, here, attempt to do through peer pressure, including character attacks and elitist claims. I guess I have been a bad boy in not bowing to that “expert” pressure, here, concerning the alleged “one right way” to interpret the evidence.

    Meanwhile, the simple truth exists that, like it or not, the way we see things, what we think about them, and the meaning of it, all differ for each of us, and the wonderful processes of natural science simply do not eliminate this reality no matter how strongly some may wish it. Do some sources have more reliability than others? Certainly! Should we argue about the various sources, reliability, implications and meanings? Of course! Should we stifle ideas because we disagree, sometimes strongly, and resort to subtle or not-so-subtle personal character attacks and elitism when we consider those argumentation tactics “necessary”? I don’t think so, but I feel certain that at least some, here, will disagree with me about this as well as about many other things.

    Finally, it seems to me that many of the posts here clearly demonstrate and emphasize the belief and hope that we CAN and SHOULD, presumably, continue using science and technology to attempt to dominate and control Earth for just as long as we have any ability, at all, to continue with that agenda. The idea seems to look something like this: “‘The science’ does not REALLY say that it’s over, yet! We still don’t know that with absolute certainty! So, we should continue the exploitation of other humans, other species, and Earth for just as long as possible–at least until our scientific elite tell us, with absolute, mathematical, scientific certainty, that we really cannot continue the exploitation processes any longer.” Sorry. I disagree. I think that we find ourselves experiencing the end of a cycle that started with agriculture about 10,000 years ago, a global-scale, capitalist industrial climax turbocharged by science and technology. It is ending. But for many deep psychological and emotional reasons–we evolved as short-term hedonists, a species hard-wired for immediate gratification, not as long-term hedonists, after all–many of us continue to insist that we can, should, and must pour our efforts into continuing the science-based and supported exploitation processes until the last possible, mathematically determined second.

  25. Bud Nye Says:

    @ librarian: I did not “accuse scientists of being religiously rigid”. I do not believe that and did not write that. Please read more carefully and/or find another straw man to attack, or, much better yet, don’t construct and attack any straw men at all.

  26. BenjaminTheDonkey Says:

    Ann Coulter says “The worst thing and I think the most offensive is that ‘global warming deniers,’ comes from people who are ‘Holocaust deniers.’”

    http://www.salon.com/2014/05/22/ann_coulter_jumps_to_the_defense_of_pat_sajak_climate_deniers/

    TH_ H_RR_R
    TH_ H_RR_R

    Collapse will surely expose
    Every hatred the human heart knows
    As cruelty grows
    Unrestrained. So it goes—
    Please give me two “E’s” and four “O’s.”

  27. Guy McPherson Says:

    I’ve posted more information about my trip to Ecuador. Catch it here.

  28. artleads Says:

    Bud Nye

    I appreciated much of what you said. But I get a little unclear here:

    “But for many deep psychological and emotional reasons–we evolved as short-term hedonists, a species hard-wired for immediate gratification, not as long-term hedonists, after all–many of us continue to insist that we can, should, and must pour our efforts into continuing the science-based and supported exploitation processes until the last possible, mathematically determined second.”

    I find that people who aren’t taught to think critically (even to a limited degree) won’t understand what is good for them. Since I see how this syndrome operates in myself, I understand how easy it is to dictate most people’s behavior. But maybe I’m being too optimistic.

    There’s also a paradox in NTE. Without it, we tread carefully lest we make mistakes or reap disapproval. With it, mistakes and disapproval have less importance. Denial by others is something you expect. You e3xpect your efforts to come to naught. Anything else would be a miracle. People who seemed larger than life no longer seem so. All the false gods drift away. Vanity is seen for what it is. One can resist for the sheer undiluted pleasure of resisting. Especially when so much of the field of understanding and interpretation is up for grabs. Especially when there is scant possibility of success.

    So I don’t know how much hard wiring has to do with it. And we need not make the fear of it limit us, IMO. It just might be irrelevant.

  29. pat Says:

    @Artleads.

    Right on! Scary that I totally connect with what you said! I don’t care anymore about what anybody thinks! I just wander around, experiencing each moment as it comes – no care for the past, no care for the future. Last week, I bought a pair of jeans at a Goodwill store for $2. Totally happy. My foodstamps for May are worth $180. The only downside is that you can only use them for food – I can’t buy a toothbrush or a Q-tip.

    Just sittin’ on this runaway train, staring out the window.

    The Voluntary Extinction Movement
    Thou shalt not procreate.

    The Church of Euthanasia
    Save the planet, kill yourself.

  30. OzMan Says:

    “…13 consecutive days in a row…”???

    oops.
    whee else would one find consecutive days….but in a row.

    Forever saved on a server, or as long as it has electrons flowing.

    Bud Nye and Artleads

    About the hard-wiring….
    No hard-wiring exists. Anything we consider hard-wired can be transcended, or if you like, just re-wired. Consider personal individual survival.
    It is given up in an instant when giving one’s life to save another.
    Thirst and hunger?
    Remember all the hunger strikers in the Irish prisons? They too can be given up for another realisation.
    All native cultures, perhaps many of them remnants of civilisations that were scaled back when competition got serious, have elders who look after the long term. They are less motivated by personal concerns, personal ego cycles, and include a real assessment of their impact on the living communities of other creatures around them. This is not Disney, it is actually how they survived.
    I would be willing to bet that the so called hard wiring to be selfish is the result of the biggest advertising campaign in human history, put out over the TV and Screens for the last 60 years.
    Watch little children, they naturally share. But put them in our rat experiment and they very quickly learn to compete, for everything.
    I call that CONDITIONING, not hard wiring.
    Just sayin.

  31. zbawienie Says:

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  32. Librarian Says:

    Bud Nye, that is exactly what you said. And I quote:

    “I find it fascinating (but certainly not surprising!) that some here insist that I think in all-or-none ways while they fervently and rigidly believe that natural science can and does exist separately and disconnected from the political, social, religious, philosophical, and economic forces that produce the scientific researchers, processes, and content. They wish to proceed based on a fantasy that mathematics and science, with their specially qualified, “objectively independent” and anointed priesthood, can and does, presumably, inform us about Objective Truth.”

    You accused scientists of being dogmatic, of being just another religion, complete with priests, and you accused them of rigidly thinking they know the Truth, just as religious people do.

  33. artleads Says:

    Pat,

    Thanks! Sorry to hear about the hard place you find yourself in.

    The closer I can come to advocating euthanasia (while still living in the good old days) is to advocating killing ourselves symbolically. Since I take the marks and effects humans make on places to be just as or more germane than the people themselves, I propose (for who cares what I suggest?) that humans leave no marks or effects–no roads, no houses (on raw land), nothing.

    What’s wrong with “do what you love?” First off, “Do what you love” reads as an insult to the vast majority of people globally who have to work shit jobs to get by. It implies great privilege. But on a deeper level the idea that we should all do what we love ultimately implies that self is at the center of the universe. This is a view that conforms very well to our current culture. But it’s over. The era of ME must transform into an era of “WE.” Community must now be the outcome of innovation. Because we will need community to survive.

    Do what you love is no longer appropriate. When you graduate into this new era, I say find your best skills and do what you must. I say do what you must because the planet is in your hands, and if we’re going to save it we need everyone to do everything that they can. We need to very quickly change our culture, and to rewire our economy.

    This is a revolution.

    BE THE REVOLUTION.

    No sane person “loves” revolution if they already live in relative comfort. We may love the idea of it, the principle of it, but the process is usually much more tedious and much less glamorous.

    But today I am saying screw the comfort. Its over. The house is on fire. We need to act. Do what you must. If we’re going to have any love left we MUST take back the future of this planet from those that conspire to ruin it. We need a revolution.

  34. artleads Says:

    Sorry. All the type after the second paragraph above was from a link Tom supplied. I had to shut down the computer quickly and forgot it was there. I meant to respond. Not sure I agree that doing what you love is selfish.


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