What I hope for

Dr. Day-Ruiner.
Dr. IHAN (short for I Have A Nightmare, wordplay on Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Dream” speech).
Dr. Doomsday.
Prophet of Doom.
These are the names given to me by friends. They are the nicest things people call me. You can imagine what others say.


Such is the cost of dealing in reality when we’re ensconced in a world of make believe.
To repeat, then:
Fossil fuels are finite. Oil lubricates our economy. Without abundant supplies of inexpensive oil, our ideological monorail is headed for a cliff. That leaves our country with two choices: (1) commit to a steady-state economy or (2) go to war to get oil. We’ve been accelerating toward economic disaster since Jimmy Carter committed us to the latter choice in 1980: “Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.” At this juncture, more than three years beyond the world oil peak, disaster is the only option for the economies of the country and world.
And of course I realize the consequences for living humans. Why do you think I rarely sleep? What do you think occupies my mind, every moment of every day and most nights? For starters, unimaginable suffering. Certain death for millions of humans. Probably billions. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse: War, Conquest, Famine, and Pestilence.
Do you really think I want this to happen? Do you really think I’m a fan of chaos, suffering, starvation, and brutal death? Do you really believe I have no empathy for fellow humans, seen and unseen? Do you really believe my goal is to generate fear, anxiety, and tears?
If so, you haven’t been paying attention to what I say and write. For starters, check here, here, here, here, and here. There’s more, but you get the idea.
The collapse of civilization dictates the loss of all the “money” in my retirement accounts. It indicates I’ll be exposed to unimaginable suffering, and ultimately death — likely sooner than later. It requires me to see — and undoubtedly experience — violence on a very personal level. And yet, the collapse of civilization is truly good news, if not for me personally then for all other cultures and species in the world. And also, of course, for future generations of humans on Earth.
To quote half the people to whom I speak, “Whaddya mean?”
As it turns out, chaos and a massive human die-off is better than what’s happening now. The Four Horsemen have ridden into every corner of the globe, and have brought the apocalypse. Civilization has rained, and is raining, fire and brimstone onto the planet.
In short, civilization is the problem. It inflicts unimaginable suffering to nearly every species on the planet (excluding rats, cockroaches, and damned few others). It is the cause of unimaginable suffering for people in “uncivilized” cultures. As the last remaining superpower — or, if you prefer, “hyperpower” — we’re strongly committed to destroying cultures and species as quickly as possible. We need finite resources to grow our economy, and we have the world’s largest military. Therefore, we obtain the resources by the usual and expected means.
As if those consequences of our greed are not enough, we’re killing our own future, too. Unless we stop burning fossil fuels very, very soon, we’re committing our children and grandchildren to a world that is uninhabitable to humans. And we’re ensuring they’ll be the last humans on this planet.
So, do I want to see it all come down? Personally, no. Like everybody else, I do not want to die young after suffering immensely. But I’m wise enough to see beyond myself, and empathetic enough to give a damn about other cultures and species, and even future generations of our own species.
Call me silly. But yes, I do want to see it all come down. And the faster the better, for the sake of everything on Earth that matters.
I’ve written as some length about the sources of my hope. Here’s what I hope for:
I hope we can power down with the tranquility of Buddhist monks. I hope we can get along on far fewer resources. I hope we can occupy small communities in harmony with the Earth and our neighbors. Most of all, though, I hope we can stop treating the world as a colony of American Empire. And with that hope comes the necessity to bring it all down.

Comments 29

  • I have to agree, although I don’t know how quickly anything will take place.
    It reminds me of a nature program I managed to catch–late one night on PBS or possibly Animal Planet.
    Basically, it was about drought and famine in the African savanna.
    What I recall, was that the drought came, animals died–too many, too fast. Then disease spread and many more of the animals died. Things looked very bleak, then the rain came and washed out the disease and what few animals survived went on to live in MUCH better conditions.
    It was amazing to see how nature purged the system and started over.
    I wish I could remember the name of the program or post a link.
    My heart went out to the animals in their suffering, but it was clearly necessary. The descendants were ultimately the beneficiaries.
    Given my druthers, I’d live in the world LONG AFTER the crash, but wouldn’t we all?
    Totally agreed, it is a necessity.

  • As usual Charlene gives us the benefit of her superb wisdom.
    I have a theory I call “Species Prejudice”.
    It’s the arrogant,stupid idea that the human species is all that matters.My solution for Species Prejudice is far too radical to express here,but I’ll give you a hint:in my trip to Cambodia last year I came away with some interesting
    ideas.

  • Evil Incarnate
    The Robber Barons on Wall Street are celebrating because they are about to rip us all off to the tune of $700 Billion.

  • Hi everyone,
    I admit to some lurking and I was hoping that maybe some of you can clarify this issue for me.
    I am really struggling with the denial that I see going on — I don’t credit myself with being intellectually more astute than the average person, but how can people not understand the dire straits that we are in? How can the government threaten that we “may” be headed towards a recession, when we are so clearly there?
    I too find that when I try to talk to people about finite resources they dismiss it as being too “depressing” or “glum”. and yet the argument (especially as laid out by Prof. Guy today) is quite simple.

  • Marianne, just wanted to give you a thumbs up and say I’m in the very same, leaky, sinking boat.

  • Marianne, take Guy’s advice and accept that most folks won’t hear or understand the obvious situation we’re facing. Try to prepare as best you can to face the future with those closest to you. You’ll not be able to convert the “average” US citizen.

  • Guy —
    I would say that your predictions of disaster are proof of your rationality and honesty.
    It is those who believe that infinite economic growth is possible on a finite planet who are the irrational ones and who actually make a doomsday scenario plausible and unavoidable at this point.
    Some of the best and most cogent analyses I have seen on the unfolding financial crisis are authored by Michael Hudson, an economist who was advisor to the Kucinich campaign. A good example of a brand new piece is at:
    http://www.counterpunch.org/hudson09252008.html
    Among the issues addressed by Hudson is the potential of rapid collapse. It may be impossible to predict the exact moment of collapse, but when the structures are ripe to fall, they can and often do go down very quickly. Even the Congress knows that — I heard a Republican senator on National Public Radio saying just yesterday that if the Paulson bailout is not enacted immediately, the Dow Jones Average could be expected to drop to 8000 by Monday, and he cited a dissenting colleague as saying that the delay could be till Wednesday of next week.
    Of course, as Michael Hudson and others point out, the “bailout” only buys a little time for the thieves to get a little farther away with their loot. It only exacerbates the theft and the inevitable result and delays impact for a short period of time.
    Recently I raised the issue of “investor confidence” as the telling signal for collapse instead of consumer confidence. Well, the reality is that investor confidence as we have seen it recently is strictly an irrational affair, and made to stay that way by irrational policies coming from government and NGO players who are joined at the hip as Siamese twins or former leaders of the investor establishment.
    Irrationality is so ingrained that even at this dire moment both McCain and Obama keep insisting that making the right moves will get the economy back on track with the goal of more economic growth. They cannot even conceptualize a steady state economy, much less a fair distribution of wealth. They continue to work for siphoning the remaining illusory paper wealth into the hands of the few.
    So, yes, I see Guy as a realist in a world of fantasizers. His is not a fun role to play, either. It is not unlike the fate of the person who receives an ecological education, and who “lives alone is a world full of wounds” as Aldo Leopold described. Guy McPherson sees and feels the ecological wounds, but he also sees the economic and social wounds that so few others see, and more remarkably, he speaks out demonstrably, forcefully, loudly , and accurately to help others see what he sees.
    It is a burden that few carry so well.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Jim Rogers said that the bailout`is “welfare for the rich”. He’s a former Wall Streeter and a very smart man,a billionaire and one of the few voices of reason you hear these days.

  • Just more welfare for the rich?
    Just another depression?
    Ask Ralph Nader — the wealthy and the corporations have long enjoyed welfare and integrated it into business and financial strategies. A major key to business success has long been to externalize expenses, avoid taxes, seek subsidies. The difference in today’s financial collapse is the outright fraud involved in a rigged loan system that was designed to profit by not working at all and to thrust the bad debt on the “little guy” (the taxpayers). I thought Michael Hudson’s discussion about compound interest was very fascinating. When creditors can charge compound interest on debt, knowing that working people tend to earn in linear wage processes and not exponentially as their debt grows, the advantage is clear and it is unfair and tends to facilitate the accumulation of wealth and distribution of wealth on a one-way ride from bottom to top.
    John Michael Greer once again (in EnergyBulletin.Net) analyzes the current financial crises as just another depression, not unlike prior ones for generations of human economic cycles. The difference, as J.H. Kunstler and others have well explained is that prior cyclic depressions occurred in the midst of abundant cheap energy to fuel recovery, in the midst of abundant natural resources to fuel economic growth, and at smaller human population levels with less interglobal competition for the increasingly scarce resources of the depauperized planet. And that is not to mention the pending ravages of global climate change.
    No, I believe this depression will be a tipping point from which the current paradigm cannot recover at the prior scale of human endeavors. The scale of human expectation compared to the availability of resources and the quality of competition will make this an unprecendented ride from the penthouse to the gutter for many, many people and will probably take the lives of many people when all is said and done.
    Maybe the remake of the Forrest Gump movie will include a phrase revised from “Mama used to say: stupid is as stupid does” to something like “Mama used to say: you can’t make gumbo when the shrimp is gone from the bay and the fuel tank is dry anyway”.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Right on Stan !!
    I have to go get a haircut cause the top of my head just looks too messy.That will give me a chance to gather my thoughts on the Yuppie Scum. My studies of the Khmer Rouge while I was in Cambodia last year has given me some fertile insights on how to handle
    the YS.
    So more later.

  • Stan – I was reading the post before your “Just Another Depression” post and have something that I need to clarify. It’s in your “Irrationality” paragraph about McCain and Obama.
    The gist of your paragraph is that McCain and Obama actually believe that a major recession or depression can be avoided. I don’t buy into that opinion one bit. Instead I’ll postulate that instead of telling the American people that we’re circling the drain and need to do something drastic right now they’re telling everyone that everything’s hunky-dory, peaches, cream, and gumdrop smiles with rivers of chocolate. If one or the other told the American people to face the facts that we’ve got a major problem brewing, that candidate would be quite literally run out of the capitol with the threat of hanging if he returned. The fact is that people (And not just Americans) don’t want to hear bad news, particularly when it could mean that their lives are going to get exponentially more difficult in the near future.
    Your last paragraph about Guy, though very true, just made me think of Chuck Norris. “Guy once shot down an enemy airplane by simply pointing at it with his index finger and saying, ‘Bang!'”
    Guy, thank you for the clarification to your last blog entry. Please don’t take offense if I point out a problem I might see with one of your comments. I mean no offense at all. I just want you to remember that people are turned off rather quickly to your points when you say that you’re willing to take a Dirtnap to bring about a collapse that will probably result in their death, regardless of whether or not that collapse is a probability or not. I do recognize that this *IS* your blog, and as such, you’re fully entitled to post anything you want, but please read on good sir, for I am making a point!
    It might be time better spend easing people into the belief. I’ll use a bathtub full of hot water as a good analogy. Most people aren’t going to just happily jump into that hot water filled bathtub, knowing that it’s probably going to hurt quite a lot. If they’re instead allowed to ease into it, and slowly acclimate themselves to the reality, they’ll be more receptive and probably have a lower chance of getting burned. (Good metaphor, if I do say so myself!)
    The same goes for the reality that we’re staring down both barrels of double-ought depression and potential economic collapse. People instantly tune out what they don’t want to hear, but if allowed to slowly awaken to this reality that is around them, your mission of enlightenment could be accomplished! “Dr. Doom” quickly turns into Mr. Reality, and you’re audience grows. All good things! There’s just not enough intelligent people in the world giving sage advice, to have them tune out someone with the depth of knowledge you have is a travesty.
    Anyone else pulling for the House Republicans? They’re fighting the bailout! Maybe all hope’s not lost for the Republicans.

  • Hey Frank, you should see what they do over here after your haircut.
    Basically they finish up, take off the sheet that protects your shirt from your hair, and proceed to whoop the tar out of your noggin’! Apparently this is supposed to promote hair growth. I just figure it’s killing brain cells, but you genuinely feel better after they’re done. Whether or not that’s because of the fact they’re done, or because of what they did is still a topic of hot debate amongst the other soliders here.

  • Turboguy, I understand your message. In fact, I’ve been hearing it for a while now. I’m assuming readers of this blog are accustomed to dealing in reality. As such, given the current state of the economy, I’d like to suggest a modification to your excellent analogy: The bathtub is filled with hot water. But the walls have just exploded into flames. Diving into the water certainly will burn the skin, but not nearly as bad as easing in 🙂

  • Thanks Turboguy,
    Tom said he took 5 pounds off the top of my head.Now
    that I have that weight off my mind,I can think better.
    Pol Pot’s methods are a little too extreme for our
    gentle American sensitivities,but we can borrow from his basic plan.First we need to get rid of democracy,which is after all ,just an intellectual conceit.Then
    I must be appointed overlord of the country.Then I’ll give the YS(Yuppie Scum)the opportunity to redeem themselves for their terrible crimes against nature.They plundered and desecrated nature to build their ugly ticky tacky homes.I’ll gather them into
    REC Centers.REC is the acronym for Redemption & Education Camp.Sounds nice doesn’t it–must put a positive face on everything we do.The YS will redeem themselves by tearing down their worthless houses and restoring the site to nature.Their education will
    be in purging them of their
    vain and greedy ideas , and making them aware of their high crimes against nature.We will be very kind,no mass executions,even though their lives are worthless.Instead they will be kept alive to restore nature as we give them the chance for redemption and education.
    This is just a rough outline of my plan,informed by my studies in Cambodia.I invite your comments.

  • Turboguy–
    I couldn’t agree more about the politicians. Although, I think a lot of people in the States are still smart enough to tell the difference between a river of chocolate and a river of excrement (the smell is a BIG giveaway).
    http://www.congress.org/congressorg/headlines.tt
    91% Oppose the bailout.
    Frank, Don’t even joke about that. After seeing all kinds of strange rumors of “Rex84”, FEMA camps, and secret congressional meetups alleged to cover the topic of “collapse”…well, let’s just say I feel nervous. I’m not sure if the things I’ve read were posted by “moonbats” or people who have a firmer grasp on reality than I do.
    A few more hours of the “news” and surfing the net and I’ll be fashioning hats out of my aluminum foil instead of cooking things in it.
    Things are getting stranger by the minute. Frankly, I don’t think anything is completely outside the realm of possibility at this point.

  • Has anyone else run across this yet?
    http://www.armytimes.com/news/2008/09/army_homeland_090708w/
    Great timing, don’t you think?
    I hope I’m just being paranoid, but it is a little uncanny in my book.

  • Are they really planning for civil unrest requiring homeland help from the army? Or is this just business as usual?

  • Charlene — I’ve seen the article you posted about the army division in a couple places. There’s little question in my mind they’re being deployed to counter civil unrest. It seems we’re headed for a fast crash, and Michael Ruppert thinks Citigroup will be the next bank to fail. Add bank failures to the increasing geography of disruptions in supplies of diesel and gasoline, and you’ve got great potential for irritated Americans. When TSHTF in an even more massive way is anybody’s guess, but I’d bet we have days or weeks, not months or years. Hang on, everybody.

  • Hi Turboguy —
    I see both Obama and McCain calling for fixes of the economy to promote economic growth. Neither have acknowledged even the presence of recession that I know of. Both are trying to avoid recession by propping up the crumbling structure created by their own financial advisors. Penny Pritzker of Chicago, a “Queen of Subprime Mortgages”, is said to be the most likely candidate for Secretary of the Treasury if Obama is elected President.
    Niether candidate and neither party is facing or telling the public the reality of what we are really facing.
    I agree that Americans do not like to hear bad news, but denying bad news in favor of worse news later is hardly a favor to anyone.
    And democracy is supposed to work on the basis of an informed public having their needs and desires driving policy, as in the case of government of the people, by the people and for the people. Politicians have not even begun to tell the full truth and continue to represent “solutions” that are actually protections for the problem-makers at the expense of the uninformed.
    Yes, Americans don’t like to hear bad news. But withholding bad news in order to soon avoid predictable catastrophic news is like cutting off your nose to spite your face. It is like a woman with breast cancer being told by her doctor that he decided she didn’t want to have the option of a mastectomy because it would be uncomfortable for her, and now her option was what color coffin to buy and where to put it underground.
    A “little d” democratic government is supposed to be of the people, by the people and for the people the electorate need to be informed to make the system work and the politicians need to tell the truth and listen to the public will. The media needs to serve the public interest. This is all turned around backwards now with the media serving as stenographers to power, the corporate and financial elite driving policy and misleading the public, and the people taking it up the old yazoo time after time.
    Isn’t it interesting that the bad news is continually being withheld in order to avert “panic”. I believe that there are plenty of signs that both parties are laying the groundwork for an effective police state so that when panic arrives, the 101st Airborne or other military units will be on hand to quench dissent and the Posse Comitatus Act be damned.
    I see the occupation of Iraq with case histories like Fallujan as test procedures for U.S. government control of the U.S. public when the shit hits the fan, and it could be very soon. A good sign will be when everyone is asked to have their retina scanned into government databases, national identity cards are required for public “protection” and when people like Guy McPherson start disappearing from the face of the earth.
    Mark my words, this is the future of our nation. I will more likely meet Guy in a concentration camp than at an ecological symposium, unfortunately.
    My comments are not based on irrational paranoia, but on published news on enacted legislation already on the books and infrastructure already reported to be in place. I see the day coming soon when dissidents will be considered national security threats and that can include peace activists, environmentalists, policy critics, and anyone who dares speak out and question authority openly. I also see the government taking control of the internet, and we all know that right now essentially all email conversations are able to be monitored by the government with complex algorithms able to detect “problematic” speech. I predict that at some point, especially in the event of a proclaimed “national emergency” our internet access will be cut off or controlled and blogs like this one will probably cease to exist.
    And it will happen as easily under Obama as under McCain.
    If the Reagan-era political ads were rephrased to reflect the current situation, we would see ones like “It’s evening in America and the night looks cold and dark…”
    Sorry friends, but bad news is the only news I see for the mid-term future.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • My apologies for redundancies and lack of editing of above message. My excuse is not that I want a haircut, but a simple shampoo and hair conditioning treatment would provide me with a better focus. Right now my scalp is itchy but I don’t feel like driving to town to get a new bottle of conditioner. I don’t think John McCain or Obama has THAT problem …
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Memo to Stan:
    Thank you for thinking of me.It was not that I wanted a haircut.If you could have seen the rat’s nest on top of my head,you’d recognize it was a necessity.
    I used to write,then edit,tnen parse,then rewrite,then correct,ect.Don’t have the`patience any more,justs comes off the top of my head,like my haircut.

  • Memo to Professor Guy:
    First things first–can’t survive W/O water.What’s happening with your well at the Mud Hut?

  • Memo to Charlene:
    Please don’t misunderstand. I would treat the Yuppie Scum with the upmost kindness and consideration.That’s why I would relocate them to REC Centers.Doesn’t that sound nice? You can get away with anything so long as you phrase it properly.
    Form is far more important than substance.

  • Congress just gave the US auto companies a $25 Billion loan.Think it will be repaid? Can we cure Stan’s itchy scalp?

  • Frank — I answered the question about the well back at the last post, but we’ve moved on, so … the well is drilled, but the pump is not in the well. Everybody’s a specialist, it seems, so it takes two companies to get water out of the ground. One of the problems with living in a rural area is the paucity of specialists … and they’re all busy. Seems everybody in the area wants a new well. Hmmm … think they know something?

  • thoughts on Paulson as conservationist:
    In WyldlifeConservation Stan Moore wrote:
    You might be surprised to learn that U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson considers himself to be an environmentalist and a conservationist. And he has some credentials if you look at the matter superficially. Henry Paulson was formerly Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Peregrine Fund and head of The Nature Conservancy.
    And these credentials help explain the failure of conservation in this country, because of the interconnection of organizations such as these in ways that prostitute their claimed mission in exchange for money and prominence amongst the financial elite.
    The underlying issue is can be understood in the following paper:
    Czech, B. 2000. Economic growth as the limiting factor for wildlife conservation. Wildlife Society Bulletin 28(1):4-14.
    The problem is that we throw dimes at wildlife conservation and dollars at habitat acquisition for its own sake, species restoration for its own sake or habitat loss and degradation for society’s sake. The Peregrine Fund has done some nice things in terms of restoration of charasmatic raptors that are beloved by the members, but little for the underlying habitat for wildlife in general. The Nature Conservancy sets aside lands at great financial benefit to its operations, but does not recognize the harm of economic growth itself.
    In effect, this sort of conditional conservation raises the economic tide while sending out a few lifeboats to try to rescue some of the drowning individuals. We could do better and I have a hard time picturing Henry Paulson as a hero of conservation, though he probably does love some of the critters that I love.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Memo to Stan:
    And he(Paulson)collects live snakes.As a snake lover myself that is heart warming.

  • CONGRATULATIONS PROFESSOR GUY !!!
    Like the new look.My computer automatically takes me to your latest article when I log on.I missed your answer to the well concerns because it was posted on the previous article after “What I Hope For” was posted,and I didn’t think to check back at the previous “Dodging the Bullet”. I hope the water table is not sinking to the point that
    everyone thinks they need a deeper well.The ramifications of The Tradgedy of The Common in your case could not be more dire.Please don’t wait,but try to figure out what is happening in the Mud Hut area and keep us posted(forgive the pun).

  • With the market in shambles recently, it is becoming tougher and tougher to get a loan. The standards for getting a loan are getting harsh, and limits on credit cards are going down. The worst part is that this might only be the beginning of an already bad situation. Some fear that consumer and businesses will stop borrowing money all together. Most people with good credit can still get a loan if they have a steady job and are not currently in debt. But not all people meet these qualifications and can be accepted for a standard loan. But thankfully for them, payday loans are still readily available to consumers to provide extra cash when they are in need. If something unexpectedly goes wrong and you need money to fix it, but are currently facing financial difficulty, you can still apply for a payday loan with a very high chance of being accepted, much higher than a standard bank loan. All you need to be accepted for a payday loan is a steady income, so that you will be able to pay your loan back. You usually don’t even have your credit checked. The best part is that in most situations you will likely pay only about 15% interest on your loan.
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