Problem solved!

Now that the Fed has cut interest rates as low as it dares and the economy is still in the tank, the Fed is going public with the strategy it’s been using for the last year: printing money. ‘Cause that worked so well for the Weimar Republic. The strategy led to Germany’s fall and Hitler’s rise. In the present case, it’ll probably delay a world economic collapse for a few weeks or months. But the long-term effects will be horrific. Not that any civilized government has ever cared about long-term effects.

Ben Bernanke surely knows the consequences of printing money. But he’s stuck squarely between the irresistible force of an economy in its death spiral and the immovable object of the world population demanding economic growth. Economic growth is possible only with ready access to inexpensive energy. Lacking free will (but not freedom of choice, as I’ve indicated before), Ben is compelled by history and his unrelenting belief in empire to prop us the economy for a few more weeks, regardless of the long-term costs.
People have been calling me a pessimist lately — no, really — and, compelled by my absence of free will, I must respond. Yes, I am fully aware of the unimaginable human suffering headed our way when the industrial economy collapses. And yes, I am fully aware of the associated large-scale die-off on the near horizon (but contrary to this video, I think the demise of Western civilization dictates the continued persistence of our species, rather than our extinction). We cannot help other species and cultures, or even our own species, by extending the population overshoot with a few more years, or even months, of the status quo. A fast collapse is the most humane “solution” for which we can hope, whether we’re concerned about species, cultures, or industrial humans.
I realize there are about a dozen people in the world who agree with me. On the other hand, I cannot find much merit in the arguments of the countless people who disagree. As I understand the arguments, they can be distilled into two categories: (1) we need, and will soon find, a cheap energy source, and (2) we need to get along with each other.
Well, that’s not asking so much, is it? Please let me know if I’ve missed anything, or if I’ve misrepresented the arguments. I’d hate to win this argument. But if I’m going to win the argument, I’d hate to win it by employing the underhanded trick of mischaracterizing the issues.
The odds of discovering, developing, and distributing another cheap energy source in the absence of cheap oil? About a kajillion to one, if I had to give odds. Nuclear was promised as the energy “too cheap to meter,” and, of all the standard energy sources, it’s the most expensive (in every conceivable way). Now that we’re on the leading edge of the Greatest Depression, we’ll need to research and develop this as-yet-undiscovered energy source on the most threadbare of shoestring budgets. Federal and state budgets are far too constrained to spend freely on an energy dream, even if anybody could see one on the horizon (and, by the way, they can’t). When federal and state governments fail (if you look closely, you’ll notice a few of them are staring into the abyss already), and every other large entity follows (ditto), who’s in charge of realizing the energy dream? After we find the miraculous energy source, then develop it so we can put some in our gas tanks, we need to distribute it. And we need to get this done within a year, before the world’s industrial economy completely collapses into a Jello-wiggly mass of yesterday’s fantasies. You might as well put some wishing in your gas tank.
And, since energy too cheap to meter will lead to an increased human population on Earth, we need to overcome all future limits to growth, too. These range from abundant supplies of clean air and water to readily accessible food and, of course, cheap plastic crap. In other words, once we “cure” our energy addiction by producing more energy, we need to stave off war for all future resources as we continue to pile people onto a shrinking planet plagued with too many people and too little biological diversity. Staving off war in light of the burgeoning human population, even with increasingly abundant air, water, food, and I-pods, will require us to overcome 3.6 billion years of evolution. In contrast, keeping the cars running on wishful thinking is the least of our problems.
To summarize, then, here’s the agenda, to be completed within a year or two: (1) find, develop, and distribute an energy source too cheap to meter, and (2) overcome evolution.
I might be stupid (I’ve often been told as much, and I have little evidence to the contrary), I might be irrational (ditto), and I’m undoubtedly insane (just ask any administrator at my place of employment). But the mud hut is looking like a better investment with every passing day.

Comments 50

  • So, why bother with the mud hut? It just seems like a vehicle to prolong your misery for a few years once the crash happens….

  • Prolong my misery? I think you’re confused, Mr. Roboto. I eagerly anticipate the collapse, as a vehicle to alleviate the suffering of species, cultures, and even industrial humans. I look forward to living in the world, instead of apart from it. I think we have a couple decades left, as a species, and I intend to enjoy watching industrialism fail.

  • two caveats for humans to survive the energy bottle neck
    ‘(2)we need to get along with each other’,
    your tone suggests that this is impossible,
    with that kind of attitude, maybe it will
    be challenge for you!
    now you have pushed your doomsday scenario out to
    two years, I may have to rethink my optimistic
    posturing inlight of your new prediction.
    I was going to order another water tank today 4500L/1000G,
    gee wiz now I have second thoughts…
    thanks for the blog, adds levity to my day

  • I for one do not understand the asserted sense of gloom over the doom of our disfunctional civilization. I remember when a local physicist, Dr. Bill Wattenberg, (labeled by some as “the world’s smartest man” carried on his radio program in the aftermatch of spectacular wildfires in Yellowstone Park a decade or so ago. Dr. Wattenbert lambasted the “enviro’s” for not allowing clear cut forestry and thus allowing fuel loads to build up (his misjudgement about what forest management is all about and why). He said that Yellowstone had been “destroyed” by the wildfires. I managed to call in and get on the air during that program, and I had the chance to tell “the world’s smartest man” that he was, in fact, a moron and that Yellowstone had not been destroyed, but would flourish in the aftermath of the long-delayed fires.
    I do not consider the dooming of our civilization to be a gloomy story at all, although it will involve tragedy for many people. But this situation offers a chance for a new start. There is no reason why Guy McPherson should slit his wrists and decide that life will no longer be living in the ashes of metropolitan Tucson. I like the slogan of the Center for Biological Diversity, which says simply: “Life is Good”. It is life itself that is important, not material wealth, sick culture of excess and abscess.
    Doom does not equal gloom. Doom does equal difficulty, with the prospect of emerging into new world in a process not unlike metamorphosis. I find the prospect exciting and invigorating. The band the Moody Blues had some very interesting lyrics that vaguely come to mind in this regard. If I can track them down I will share them forthwith.
    Stan Moore

  • Here’s one Moody Blues lyric I like, but there is another one I still want to find:
    “Late Lament”
    Breathe deep the gathering gloom
    Watch lights fade from every room
    Bedsitter people look back and lament
    Another day’s useless energy spent.
    Impassioned lovers wrestle as one,
    Lonely man cries for love and has none.
    New mother picks up and suckles her son,
    Senior citizens wish they were young.
    Cold hearted orb that rules the night,
    Removes the colors from our sight.
    Red is grey and yellow white,
    But we decide which is right.
    And which is an illusion?

  • Aha! Here’s the Moody Blues’ lyric that I was looking for. It is a positive message emerging from a background of seeming despair:
    “The Dream”
    When the white eagle of the North is flying overhead
    The browns, reds and golds of autumn lie in the gutter, dead.
    Remember then, that summer birds with wings of fire flaying
    Came to witness springs new hope, born of leaves decaying.
    Just as new life will come from death, love will come at leisure.
    Love of love, love of life and giving without measure
    Gives in return a wonderous yearn of a promise almost seen.
    Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream.

  • And here’s yet another one of my favorite Moody Blues’ lyric poems (Face piles and piles of trials with smiles/ it riles them to believe that you perceive the web they weave…)
    “In The Beginning”
    [First Man:] I think, I think I am, therefore I am, I think.
    [Establishment:] Of course you are my bright little star,
    I’ve miles
    And miles
    Of files
    Pretty files of your forefather’s fruit
    and now to suit our
    great computer,
    You’re magnetic ink.
    [First Man:] I’m more than that, I know I am, at least, I think I must be.
    [Inner Man:] There you go man, keep as cool as you can.
    Face piles
    And piles
    Of trials
    With smiles.
    It riles them to believe
    that you perceive
    the web they weave
    And keep on thinking free.

  • Well said, Guy! I think there are more than a dozen who agree with you. Maybe a few thousand. Funny – this crowd needs exponential growth!
    My latest blog post on my documentary’s website addresses the same issue and has links to a couple of good essays about this on Huffington Post:
    Also I just posted last week a short video Public Service Announcement about overshoot:
    Dave Gardner
    Hooked on Growth: Our Misguided Quest for Prosperity
    Join the cause at

  • love vs. fear
    I think a lot of people misunderstand Guy McPherson and his motivations. I see Guy as a man driven by profound love. I think Guy loves nature and he loves his wife and family and he loves balance and biodiversity and he yearns to see a healing for this planet from the ravages of excess and ignorance.
    To the contrary, I think a lot of other people are driven by fear. Fear of the unknown and unfamiliar. Fear of loss. Fear of accountability as a group (civilization). And many people are so paralyzed by fear of change that even positive change and healing is unwelcome. It is sort of like Captain Augustus MacRae in the movie Lonesome Dove who threatened his lifelong friend Captain Woodrow Call over the matter of removing a gangrenous leg in order to save his life. Captain Gus MacRae told his buddy he would shoot him if he allowed the doctor to remove that leg because he associated it with a sense of dignity. The truth is that Captain MacRae could not accept the concept of change, a life without that diseased leg, and he thus chose to die with the rotten leg than to live without it. A lot of people in our society (the majority) like the diseased world we live in and will choose to go down with it rather than to accept life-saving surgery for it.
    It takes a lot of love to maintain the courage of a man like Guy McPherson. I feel it across the ether, and I applaud it. It reminds me of another song, this one by Scottish folksinger Dougie MacLean, who I have cited in the past. Here are the lyrics to Dougie’s song This Love will Carry (Me):
    Dougie Maclean
    This Love Will Carry lyrics
    It’s a thin line that leads us and keeps a man from shame
    And dark clouds quickly gather along the way he came
    There’s fear out on the mountain and death out on the plain
    There’s heartbreak and heart-ache in the shadow of the flame
    [But]this love will carry, this love will carry me
    I know this love will carry me
    The strongest web will tangle, the sweetest bloom will fall
    And somewhere in the distance we try and catch it all
    Success lasts for a moment and failure’s always near
    And you look down at your blistered hands as turns another year
    These days are golden, they must not waste away
    For our time is like that flower and soon it will decay
    And though by storms we’re weakened, uncertainty is sure
    And like the coming of the dawn it’s ours for evermore
    submitted by Stan Moore

  • Memo to Bloody Mary:
    I replied to your last blog on Professor Guy’s previous “Gazing into my crystal ball”, directly under yours.
    Professor Guy is so prolific that sometimes I miss the cut to his newest entry.

  • a brief raptor observation today that went beyond spectacular (so I will label it, instead, as spactecular, which is in my vocabulary an order of magnitude greater:
    Driving south on Lakeville Road, I approached a known golden eagle territory. From my vehicle while driving I saw the male adult golden eagle flying towards a transmission tower which is a frequently used perch, and he flared up and perched right alongside his mate. I pulled off to the sparse roadside apron and looked through binos and decided to try to photograph them together. As I focused through my spotting scope as a “poor man’s telephoto lens”, the female stepped forward and at an angle to the male. The male jumped over and mounted her and they copulated for five to ten seconds. I was desperately trying to focus and photograph the act and my camera was slow to respond. It was like one of those slo-motion moments where each millisecond seemed to be an hour. I think I did get about three photos, though only time will tell if they were focused and framed properly.
    But those Big Birds making love was spactecular! All is not wrong in our world here in late 2008! Later I drove around in the Altamont Pass, about 75 miles away and saw several more golden eagles. I was hoping to see the spactecular undulating courtship flight in open sky, and I did see eagles flying and gliding, but not undulating for my camera. Still, any day in my life that I see even one golden eagle is a good day for me, no matter what else happens. Today was a good day several times over.
    Stan Moore

  • on my thursday morning bike ride,
    I spotted a pair
    of ‘wedge tailed eagles’ circling,
    these birds are huge,
    they drift in the air currents at
    an enormous height,
    it is always a buzz to see them,
    (35km from Melbournes CBD)

  • Do you really think we can all get along Matt?
    I know I might be cynical when it comes to human behavior as I tend to only deal with it when it’s at its worst, but I think we’re more like chickens than we think we are.
    If one chicken has something infintesimally different about him, even a tiny little sopt, all the other chickens will sit and peck at it until it’s bloody. If we weren’t after each other for one thing, it’d be another. Republicans vs Democrats, Liberals vs Conservatives, Blacks vs Whites, Rich vs Poor, Haves vs Have-nots, Americans vs non-Americans, Religious vs nonreligious/atheists. No matter what, we’ll find that one thing that makes somebody different and hate them for it. If there’s a collapse the likes of what is being predicted by some, there’ll be a whole new way: Locals vs Outsiders. In the event everything crashes, we’re going to find that the world is a very, very big place. People that aren’t from “Here” would be persecuted, and there’d be loads of people that aren’t from “Here.”

  • Cool predictions found on CNBC!!! Give this a read, anyone think they could be true?

  • Speaking of “getting along” with others, it is my observation that some people do not want to get along with others, some get along for the purpose of engaging in criminal (or harmful) enterprises, and some just cannot figure out how to get along, though they would like to.
    I tried a little experiment the other day and am waiting and watching it play out. I saw a personal ad on Craigslist in the “Women seeking men” section. The ad read “For the man who has everything — a great lady”. I replied to the ad. I started out by saying that I might not qualify at all because I do not have “everything”, nor do I want everything or need everything. But, I said, I might be interested in a home-cooked meal, especially if the meal was chicken parmesana or beef stroganoff. (BTW, the add included a photo of an attractive, smiling lady about my age). I also said that I would be happy to bring along some bubble bath beads.
    To my surprise, I did receive a response. It said that chicken parmesan sounded good, but the respondee did not do bubble baths on the first date.
    A dilemma! Fortunately, I was able to truthfully reply that my intentions may have been misinterpreted. The idea was that I could take a luxurious bubble bath while she cooked dinner. Then we could dine, and she could have her bubble bath after dinner while I washed the dishes. Then we could go for a stroll and look for owls.
    I haven’t heard back from the lady yet. Can we get along? I’m trying to overcome a few obstacles, and it remains to be seen if I am creating more obstacles than I am overcoming :)
    But since I admitted up front that I do not have everything and she replied, I think progress has been made.
    Stan Moore

  • Stan,
    You just told a woman that you want to take a bubble bath while she cooks dinner. Write back immediately. Plead temporary insanity, then offer to cook dinner while she takes a bubble bath. If you feel you need a bubble bath, take one at home.

  • Mike —
    What makes you think the insanity is temporary? Or not funny? (I thought it was hilarious). Oh, you mean you don’t like my sens of humor? Now I get it :)
    But she was the one running the ad. I was just trying to give her some options she may not have considered…

  • Yeah Stan, you could follow up your temporary insanity with a dose of profuse apologetics.
    If you offered to cook, clean the dishes, then wash her hair WHILE she took that bubblebath, you’re going to get a definite yes!

  • Dear Turboguy —
    What would be in it for me? :)
    I don’t think I would want to do a bubble bath with or for some lady my age. If she was half my age and had twice my looks, then I might cook for clean for, AND bathe her and her dishes and her dog if it was an Irish spaniel, a Newfoundland water dog, or a golden retriever. :)
    But I was just trying to offer a lonely lady a little humorous companionship.
    Probably ain’t gonna happen, but it has been fun thinking about it. I can get your her email address if you want to give it a try…

  • Naw, I’m good. I’ve already got two females that are vying to be Mrs Turbo and I still need to sweet talk that waitress.
    It’s harder than you might think being as rediculously good looking and awesome as I am!
    I hope that got at least a small chuckle.

  • lovely story Stan,
    humour is very important,
    perhaps you should offer her
    more than your dish washing
    service. Food can be a very
    seductive prelude to what awaits
    her after, besides the froth
    and lather of the bubbles you
    good luck

  • Well, I did happen to mention a great local restaurant with excellent chicken parmesana, great breadsticks, outstanding caesar salads, and (to my knowlege) no bathtubs. Maybe I spoiled the option of a home-cooked meal (and bubble bath), but might have paved the way for a good meal in a good restaurant, with a great horned owl’s territory within a half mile drive. But if she does not like owls at all, then I can’t think of what we might have in common:)
    Meanwhile, I heard from Monica Bond today. She is an owl person who used to study spotted owls, then worked as an advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity in Southern California. Now she is on the Farallon Islands off the coast from San Francisco studying burrowing owls on that remote island and trying to determine if the owls that show up there stay for the winter or come and go. Some ride on barges right into the port of San Francisco or Oakland. Monica told me she has seen spectacular attacks by peregrine falcons on larger Western Gulls out there. Now that is crazy cool!
    Stan Moore

  • Don’t the Farallons also have one of the largest Great White populations?

  • Yes, Mr. Roboto —
    Great White Sharks are present in the rich waters off the Farallons where seals are at mortal risk every time they enter the water. All kinds of other critters are in those waters at certain times, including orcas, blue whales,
    California gray whales, and many others.
    A decade or more ago, a filmmaker filmed a baby gray whale under attack by either a great white or an orca (or a pod of them) and the mother could do nothing to protect the calf.
    Another day, ornithologist Peter Pyle was observing sea life from a boat in the Gulf of the Farallons and observed a local peregrine falcon chase and attack three other peregrines that trespassed into her territory in a single day. The local hen peregrine dumped all three intruding peregrines into the choppy bay, where they all drowned and Peter Pyle recovered the bodies of all of them and donated the specimens to the California Academy of Sciences.
    It is a rough world out there, with animals acting like the meanest people on the planet at times…
    Stan Moore

  • article cited in LATOC discusses military planning for civil unrest
    Stan Moore

  • did u notice the mention of “marital law” in this article? maybe it will be best to remain single and unattached rather than risk military intervention in domestic life? Or maybe it was a typo :)
    Stan Moore

  • Memo to Total Turboguy:
    Shame on you Total for being so immodest !!
    But since you mentioned it I suppose we have to take your word for it.Since you are in law enforcement I suppose
    you are going to use that as an excuse for not posting your photo here.
    Henceforth you should strive to be humble and self-effacing like Frank.

  • Guy, didn’t your post originally say that human beings have only a couple of decades left? If so, why the revision? Regardless, I can’t imagine it’s more than 100-200 years.

  • Jeremy, The post you see is the original version — I have not revised it. In the past, I have indicated our species likely has only a few decades left if we do not stop burning fossil fuels very, very soon. That is, I think an economic collapse is the only way to extend our species beyond a few decades. Even so, I doubt we have longer than a century or two, given the profound, nonlinear changes in global climate currently under way. In my darker moments, I’m inclined to believe we have only a couple decades, or at most a few, so those thoughts undoubtedly sneak into my posts now and then. Regardless how much time we have left, as a species, I believe we should act as if our lives are very finite and our species is not … that is, we should appreciate the moment (Mike’s comment above is spot on), and through our daily actions try to retain as many options as we can for other species, cultures, and future humans.
    Turboguy, I’ve seen the predictions at CNBC, and they seem plausible to me. Oil priced at $25 per barrel might seem outrageous, but during the Great Depression oil was selling for $6 to $8 per barrel (adjusted for inflation to 2008 dollars). During a depression — and there’s not much denying we’re in one now — demand destruction is pretty severe. When nobody’s shipping anything, because nobody’s making anything, there’s not much demand for oil and its distillates (and other commodities, such as copper, gold, and silver). Thus, China’s dramatic slowdown, Iran’s simmering populace, the collapse of stock markets, and the resulting collapse and renegotiation of currencies,
    As always, thanks to everybody for their comments, with a special thanks to first-time commenter Dave Gardner for the links.

  • financial collapse itself need not be terminal
    Guy has already mentioned the financial/economic collapse of the Weimar Republic as a lesson of history of the ravages of hyperinflation and economic collapse. But the last time I checked, Germany is a viable nation right now, with problems, but intact.
    Argentina and Chile had severe problems in this regard, but they emerged and in some ways, new and improved.
    Zimbabwe is struggling to print 200,000,000 notes so people can buy a loaf of bread, but the damage is still mainly limited to discomfort and suffering and not permanent collapse of the nation.
    America is destined for a period of very hard times. But the financial collapse itself cannot doom the nation permanently, in my view. But the reaction of the people to this period could be catastrophic. And the combination of financial collapse, caused by graft, greed and intentional mismanagement of the economy could integrate with Peak Oil and global warming to provoke terminal collapse for the nation, or for large numbers of people. In fact, I think we can safely say that food production and thus survival for many people within the living generation will be compromised by the effects of Peak Oil within the generation of people now alive, and possibly very soon.
    In short, the bottoming out of the economy is a problem, but not THE problem that I am most concerned with. If it leads to more wars for resources, retaliation by competing nations, or distraction from problems such as Peak Oil or climate change, then we could see terminal collapse of the nation and perhaps dumb moves that lead to human extinction. And not a century away, either.
    Stan MOore

  • reference:
    Here is an analysis of the global financial crisis and the realities that the public is largely unaware of. As I have stated several times, governments are fully aware of these issues, but are striving with all their might to avoid largescale public panic. But panic will be inevitable, along with anger, chaos, turmoil, and very possibly insurrection.
    And this is cause for a lot of suffering by the people of the planet who have long been considered the world’s most prosperous citizens.
    But financial collapse could be managed with honesty and equity, which would be unthinkable to the elite who never, ever, consider equitable distribution of wealth and resources.
    Nor does this analysis consider ecological consequences of overshoot. Fish stocks in the open ocean are already decimated. Topsoils and fresh water resources ditto. We are at Peak Everything. This means that economic growth and the notions of prosperity that many hundreds of millions of humans consider to be their birthright are going to be impossible to meet in the mid-term.
    If a mindset of “poverty is precious” along Biblical lines was anchored to the psyche of intelligent people, and people prayed for sustenance and cover instead of wealth, they Peak Everything would be a blessing in disguise except that the world population of humans would have to be reduced to live within our endowment of planetary resources. No matter which way we look, we are bounded by resource limitations and printing paper money will not be a solution for very long. But since we are also heavily armed and invested in the science and mechanics of human death, a bad frame of mind could lead to literaly annihalation in a short period of time.
    Go listen to the old Cream song “Born Under a Bad Sign” with the bass player pounding those rhythms of dark pondering and one can get the feeling of the despair we will not be able to avoid because the accounting for our past sins of consumption is going to be reckoned with very soon. “Born under a bad sign, I ‘ve been down since I began to crawl. If it wasn’t for bad luck, I wouldn’t have no luck at all.” Well, we were all unlucky to inherit this civilization during its crash — sort of like catching a ride to the Titanic in mid-Atlantic and then taking the final ride.
    Stan Moore

  • Yo Stan,
    First off, I love your quoting lyrics in thoughtful and appropriate ways. It’s a form of poetry vastly underrated these days, and writing. reading, and sharing it are some of the many talents that will actually be our future forms of “wealth.” When campfire storytelling was the humans’ nightly form of entertainment, there probably weren’t such words as “wealth” and “prosperity.”
    And now, a perspective from an eternally and irrationally optimistic believer in Peak Everything:
    Yes, all those scary riots and fear-based what-not will occur. Hollywood has been teaching us how to be in a post-apocalyptic world for decades. And their version is not pretty. But there are other things that have been happening that we don’t hear much about on the mass media. And they are only the brief color moments of the movies, like the huge dance scene in the second Matrix movie. And the occasional campfire storytelling scene that seems to happen in so many of those movies.
    These things will help various people to various degrees. The one I’ve been hearing about since the (mid?) 90s is voluntary simplicity. Starting with a book, Your Money or Your Life, it has become quite a movement. It’s been my way of life almost my entire adulthood (even before the book came out). Lots of folks are onboard philosophically, but have just never had the need or opportunity (maybe the same thing?). Now they’ll get that chance.
    And of course, there are those who have learned to live with self-provided and self-sustaining FEW resources: Food, Energy and Water. I live in an area (Mendocino county, Californa) that was settled by back-to-the-land hippies in the mid-70s. They’re not living minimalistic lifestyles anymore, because they have had 30+ years to build physical capital in the form of organic orchards, gardens and vineyards. (Some pretty good wines, too!) Everyone I know has lived off the grid the entire time, except for phone service. They got land lines in the early 80s which most still have.
    Then there are the tens of millions of Cultural Creatives (in the US and more in Europe and Australia/NZ, and probably includes everybody reading this blog) as explained in the book of the same name from 5-7 years ago. One of the shared values of life is their expressed preference for the environment, and supposed commitment to making the world a better place. These are the folks that need to be educated to the benefits of this economic collapse and avenues of addressing the discomforts, inconveniences and fears. There are even enough activists among us to successfully advance restructuring of our cultural, economic and political systems in sustainable ways, such as productivity-based complementary currencies and barter systems, a return to the Victory Garden concept, etc.
    But wait, there’s more! (Inching out onto that limb…)
    There’s a hypothesis that this is a moment of potential human evolution, an opportunity for growth that starts a new “branch” of humanity. This is based on a punctuated equilibrium view of evolution. The metaphor for this is the bird in its egg. When bird starts to peck its way out of its egg, it’s not because it thinks, “It’s a great day to birth.” It’s more of a “It’s a great day NOT to die.” (Thanks, Whorf.) By using up all the food and other resources conveniently placed inside the egg by Mother Nature, and excreting its waste as we all do, the baby bird has completely poisoned its environment. Let me repeat that familiar sounding line: “The [fill in the blank] has completely poisoned its environment.” Are we as humans pre-programmed to do that, too? And if so, are we being birthed into some new way of being?
    Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed some philosophical ramblings of the “growth opportunity” sort. Thanks, Guy, for providing a forum for spewing such ramblings and Everyone for the thoughtful responses to them.

  • Margaret,
    Humans are not pre programmed to poison the environment,
    as a species we have lived sustainably on this planet for 99% of our existance.
    Guy, you way off on your predictions for gold and silver.
    Stan, love and misanthropy dont usually go together.
    It seems the analysis has shifted somewhat from peak oil
    to the financial crisis being the catalyst for
    massive change. Where is the objective analysis?
    or is it all doom everywhere the bloggers look?
    Turboguy, yes I do believe we can get along.
    That’s my perspective from where I live.
    The US may be very different.
    Matt, melbourne

  • a couple of comments —
    First, I think Matt is completely wrong in stating the humanity has lived sustainably for 99% of our existence. Hunter/gatherers may have while living in limited numbers. I would say that the advent of agriculture began the eventual process of the dooming of humanity. People changed from sharers to takers, from collaborators and cooperators to competitors. Agriculture allowed cities to develop, hierarchal structures of governance to become necessary, and people to accumulate wealth in ways that precluded equity in the social contract. Richard Manning wrote an excellent book called “Against the Grain that discusses this in historical detail. Human civilizations based on agriculture have failed probably thousands of years. But it takes a long time for the earth to be depauperized, it is a very big job, but we are finalizing the process now.
    I don’t get what Matt means when pairing love and misanthropy. In the Bible, God is said to BE love and he promises to destroy the wicked and cleanse the earth and Christians are taught to pray for that to happen. God’s love in a biblical sense is not to be used as an excuse for misconduct, but as a basis to reject sin and turn around, repent, and seek righteousness, if you take the Bible seriously. I don’t think Guy is raising microbes of anthrax to solve population and resource dilemmas. He is trying to warn people of what the consequences of their own actions are, and his love of healthy human society and a healthy planet leads him to welcome the coming changes, if I understand Guy correctly.
    Thanks for the compliments Margaret and I join you in lauding the lively discussions here.
    I do agree that individual humans can find ways to lighten their footprint on the planet, to collaborate for mutual safety, encouragement, and cooperation. I don’t think society as a whole will find this sort of solution, and I don’t think any of us have guarantees that doing the right or the best thing individually will save us from the random doom that lies ahead. But we can definitely increase the probabilities of survival while enriching our lives and helping others. I think tribalism is a good word to describe the best approach for survival and voluntary simplicity is a very good key to attaining sustainability.
    I have seen mention in the biological literature of “rapid evolution”, but I question in my own mind whether that term accurately describes some of the phenomena to which peer reviewed authors have accounted it for. I have seen “rapid evolution” used to describe population demography changes or habitat use changes in animals under some form of stress, but I personally consider that to be adaptation and not a pathway to a new form of speciation.
    In short, society and culture may evolve as a consequence of success in dealing with various stressors, but I am more worried about real evolution as a consequence of young people getting less excercise and not using their muscles very often than the thought of species persistence because we learn to eat less meat or abandon petroleum as fuel while reverting back to wood as fuel.
    I happen to think that successful living by humans on this planet will hinge on de-evolution, and relearning successful ways of the past, than by evolution unlocking new secrets based on future conditions and experiences.
    Hopefully we will be able to save or retain as much of the biodiversity from the past and have as much as possible to work with. For instance, modern agriculture has de-emphasized the use of so many strains of vegetation, so many varieties of apples, tomatoes, forms of rice, chickens, corn, etc. simply because of the desire for expediency and profit. Indian farmers up till very recently grew thousands of varieties of rice, for instance, until multinational corporations forced them to work with one or two.
    I think that if we can learn to return to good ways of living known by civilizations in the recent past, we can really benefit. A good example, I think, can be taken from trained herbalists who have learned how to use plants and plant products to heal people in amazing ways of both physical and mental/emotional maladies. I listen to the radio program “Herbal Highway” on Pacifica Radio when I can and am amazed at the practical things that knowledgeable people can share that will REALLY come in handy when our pharmacies are no longer open and when medical doctors are hard to come by.
    And on and on we go. There is much to learn, much to observe, and always more to discuss. I again thank Guy for making this forum available to us.
    Stan Moore

  • yes agriculture is unsustainable,
    for 99% of our time prior to the
    advent of agriculture we lived relatively
    sustainably, except for perhaps
    a few extinctions of megafauna
    in australsia and north america,
    that took place perhaps 40 – 100,000 years ago?
    as modern species we have been
    around a long time, except
    if you believe in creation
    theory. Quoting the bible
    devoids the discussion of
    any objectivity, now I see
    where you are coming from
    thanks for the ‘clarity’.

  • Matt —
    If you can find a significant roster of people, in Australia, North America, or anywhere else who are willing for even a millisecond to revert to a pre-agricultural, pre-industrial level of existence, then maybe your comments would have some semblance of relevance. Most people would absolutely cringe in horror at the thought of living off the electrical grid, much less obtaining their own food. Most young people under the age of twenty (or thereabouts) in the U.S. (and probably elsewhere) are already disconnected from wild nature, are addicted to technology as if it was the stuff of life itself, and if they had to give up their text messaging capability might not be able to communicate meaningfully. Just yesterday I heard a program on National Public Radio about the dangers of toxins in skin and body care products, which young girls use in huge amounts. One fifteen year old girl described her use of two or three types of moisturizers every day before going to school, a mix of different fragrances she would prepare for herself each day, her shampoos, fingernail polish, eyeliners for the upper eyelid and the lower eyelid, etc. Scientists have analyzed many of the ingredients in those products and have found their composition to be troubling, but the U.S. Food and Drug Administration absolutely refuses to regulate this class of products for safety. The young girl said she and ALL her friends believe that the use of these products is an important part of their “being girls” in today’s world, and would have no consideration for limiting their use of these products based on safety concerns. That is the modern way of life for a huge proportion of the emerging young adults of the current generation. Not exactly sustainable, nor wanting to be.
    I also think Matt’s feelings that somehow Australians are immune to pressure and problems due to their societal makeup is likely to be false. Reports in the news recently claimed that Australian Special Air Service military men in Afghanistan were particularly brutal in their dealings with Afghan civilians. I can think of a couple of famous young Australian men who seemed to have fame, fortune, glamor and everything most young men in today’ world might want, and yet they killed themselves because they could not function in that “no worries” mindset when times got hard for them. I am talking about Michael Hutchense and then Heath Ledger. When desperate pressure in on, I think Australian society will break up similarly to other societies. Their may be a difference in boiling points, but I feel pretty confident that there is a boiling point at which Matt and his ilk will start heaving rocks at police cars or doing whatever other uncivil disobedience comes to mind.
    Regarding biblical citations, I am not religious and do not consult the Bible any more in normal situations. But since you connected love and misanthropy, I was simply showing that the biblical concept of god includes actions of violence and judgementalism that you would seem to connect with misanthropy. Maybe I should have used the illustration of “tough love” programs in the penal system, which connect “love” with punishment in a formal societal setting.
    I am seeing a continuing pattern here with our friend Matt. I see contrarian thinking and information of a sort, but a paucity of relevance and realism. In other words — Matt seems to continually say — “you can’t be right, but maybe you are, but no you can’t be”, but never able to make a significant argument other than “I don’t believe you”. How about some significantly relevant thoughts, Matt!
    BTW, I saw a beautiful adult male Richardson’s merlin yesterday, which duplicates some of the same hues as the Tasmanian peregrine falcon. He was digesting a recent meal while perched on the periphery of a commercial business park and I pointed him out to an outdoor furniture salesman and petted the big black dog while the merlin watched and snoozed ten meters above us with a full crop.
    Stan Moore

  • anyone who makes prophesy should expect
    to be challenged, par for the course I say,
    yes I am a contrarian on the discussion,
    how could anyone not be with the amount
    of ‘poetry’ (I was going to say bullshit,
    but manure is actually useful) expressed.
    Michael Hutchence – WTF! thanks for the ‘relevance and realism’!
    Using the bible to underpin your misanthropic
    perspective, hmmmm…
    The point is we dont know what will happen
    on the other side of the bell shaped curve.
    We both see a different future, I can see
    possibilty, others see oblivion.
    The discussion reminds me of two movies,
    The New World and The Ten Canoes, both
    of them a such a lament for human societies
    prior to white invasion. Both are beautiful
    The discussion here often hinges on the irredeemable nature of man.
    No Stan, none of us could live a pre industrial life nor
    would we want to, thanks, another revelation!
    Stan, given the length of entry you must spend hours writing your blog,
    either that or you dont give much thought to what you
    are saying.

  • Sounds like Matt has got his feathers ruffled and cannot even begin to think straight. If there is a bell-shaped curve, as Matt says, that corresponds with what Guy has been saying, and with which I concur. Matt refers to that bell-shaped curve and then argues that the trajectory is a long, descending slope. You can’t have it both ways, my friend.
    The rest of Matt’s venting is jibberish and a waste of my further time in reading or debating.
    Stan Moore

  • oil production and usage is believed to be a bell shaped curve,
    our reponse to energy descent could be ‘long and descending’,
    anyway blah blah blah,
    given your marital status,
    I would say you would
    make a great master debater

  • and another thing…
    you suggest that being a contrarian
    somewhat implies a poverty of the intellect.
    (you said realism, god knows what this means)
    Your Sir Guy is a contrarian, come to think
    of it we all are, including you Stan, my
    young padewan, if we were not this blog would not

  • Matt continues to reveal his intellectual poverty, which is NOT a byproduct of contrarianism, but which makes his contrarianism unproductive, irrelevant and non-beneficial. I am without a doubt a contrarian, as is Guy McPherson. Our contrarianism is not based on shallow examination leading to half-baked considerations, but on deep research. So, contrarianism can be good if it is defensible, or it can be valueless when it is empty opinion expressed for the sake of being different or for the sake of unjustifiable arrogance.
    A good and recent example of Matt’s shallow contrarian thinking is the fact that he assumed that my mention of contrarianism implied intellectual povery. To the contrary, if Matt had read with understanding he would have taken note of the fact that I linked his contrarianism with “information of a sort, but a paucity of relevance and realism”. Indeed, Matt made a very weak argument that “humans have lived sustainably for 99% of our existence”. This is a very shallow argument for several reasons. First, if you look at a graph of human population since the Stone Age, you will find that 99% of the existence of humans the population levels were very low and thus it would be virtually impossible for humans NOT to live sustainably in such conditions. The relevant fact has to do with the period of time in which 99% of humans have lived on this planet, which is within no more than the past two hundred and fifty years, or even less. In fact, a graph of human population over human history shows a near-vertical ascent of human numbers even in the last century, during which time humanity veered completely, wantonly, and purposefully away from sustainability. This is the relevant aspect of human history as relates to sustainability and even to future sustainability. Today’s humans by and large are programmed by evolution AND by culture, both nature and nurture, to live unsustainably, which bodes poorly for a systemic transition towards sustainability in the future at anything approaching current population densities. In fact, the number of humans living right now in 2008 no doubt represent a significant percentage (possibly somewhere between 20 and 30 per cent of all humans who ever lived). The peak of oil and other non-renewables coincides with the peak of human population, with no place to go but down. Somehow Matt thinks that a bell-shaped energy curve can coexist with a human population curve that descends slowly, but he offers no explantion for his thesis, which is illogical, unrealistic, and essentially impossible. That is EXACTLY why doom is confronting us!
    But Matt admits under questioning that almost all humans have no desire to return to a pre-industrial, pre-agricultural existence. In short, his argument about human sustainability over long periods of human history is not only irrelevant, but lacking in realism because real humans at this point in time are not going to willingly make a transition towardsd sustainability in the same sense as was true for the time period he seems to celebrate.
    Thus, while Matt had information, he seems to have little intellectual capacity to understand how things relate, what causes and effects are in play in the current and forthcoming environment. So, Matt can tell us he has a vision, but he cannot describe it, cannot discuss it, cannot explain it and cannot defend it. He just asserts that he disagrees and expects that his contrarian nature will win him credit of some sort. Matt has has no plausible arguments, just opposition for the sake of being different. He does not even try to account for the illogical nature of his arguments, and seems to feel that all opinions are of equal value.
    If Matt had a contrarian argument that he could base on logic, explain, and defend, then his views would hold some weight. Without doubt, I would welcome arguments that held weight, that looked at relevant facts and evidence I may have missed, and which have something to teach me. Instead, he makes absurd statements and then attacks his critics with sexual innuendo, with personal attacks unrelated to the subject under discussion and proves that even Australians cannot always get along with others when something (like pride) is at stake.
    So, there is at least one lesson Matt has taught us, but his lesson as revealed by his actions is opposite the teaching that he asserted by words. He says he can get along, but instead he attacks with nasty, vicious rhetoric in defense of his weak, indefensible positions. If that is how Australians “get along”, then I don’t think I want to see how they act when they are not getting along.
    And while I cannot determine why this blog exists because I did not found it, I doubt seriously that it was founded for the purpose of baseless dissent of the owner’s arguments. My guess is that Guy formed the blog to share his thoughts and arguments and probably welcomed informed dissent. The problem has been that those who seriously disagree with Guy seem to have no arguments that Guy has not already considered and accounted for. But the dissenters seem to have never understood the basis for Guy’s arguments or put in the effort from background research to fully understand why Guy believes what he does. I have noticed that Jay Hanson, the founder of the blog at and some followup blogs, actually refuses to admit people to join his discussions if they are not up to speed and familiar with his background data. The reason is that uninformed people tend to impede serious discussion because of their lack of background in the subject matter.
    Certainly this is Guy’s blog and he can manage it as he wishes and work with people at any level of understanding that he chooses. I can understand why most people don’t get involved in the discussions at all, and Matt’s personal attacks will tend to make timid people afraid of speaking up at all. This is unfortunate.

  • now that I have come up for air…
    contrary to what was said above I have not insulted you,
    although you do find it necessary to do so.
    To suggest that you are a ‘wanker’ is not an insult,
    we all do it Stan, some are better at it than others.
    No doubt we have all read the same ‘deep’ stuff ie heinberg, wiesman, tainter,
    simmons, diamond, hanson, suzuki, chomsky, derrida, lacan, virilio,
    homer-dixon, kunstler and bit of Zen etc blah blah.
    Whats new in your message young Stanley? Your vision is an amalgam
    of the above authors. There is no point in regurgitating thoughts
    belonging to others. Proverbial pavlovs dogs.
    What are you bringing to the discussion besides the forlock
    you doth protest too loudly,
    smells like dogma to me
    warm regards
    I am sure we would be great friends in ‘real’ life

    Please chill everyone.Maybe you got bored preaching to the choir,so have to turn canabalistic.Internecine bull shit–that’s all it is.Hurt feelings–get mature.You
    are arguing about minutiae.
    Now stop it–I want to switch gears all,to argue about something much more important:
    How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
    SO STOP IT NOW !!!

  • Dear Matt —
    Obviously you are either an idiot, or a drug addict, or have some sort of attention deficit disorder. I have repeatedly commented on situations as they emerge, including the election of Barack Obama and its significance in light of his own rhetoric. And I took a contrarian view when every outspoken person on this list, including the owner, were saying something opposite. I have commented on emerging realities of all sorts that were not discussed by others, although commonly the analyses I produce are arrived at by others. I have commented very recently that the financial crisis is not the ultimate, terminal crisis of society, but will interact with peak energy and other resource crises.
    Either you have not paid attention, have not understood, or were too stoned to follow these discussions.
    On the other hand, you have sat around and said: “No — I disagree” with no intelligent discussion, no accounting for facts of a contradictory nature, and an obvious lack of understanding of the issues you pretend to confront. You are an intellectual dilletante with signs of intellectual impairment, perhaps from a chemical source.
    You obviously have never understood the ramifications and the mechanics of Peak Oil, social impacts of crises, and the patterns of history and of human behavior that allow us to conditionally predict what lies ahead. And you continue to conflate prediction and probability with prophecy, indicating your own strange perceptions that are routinely lame to the point of intellectual poverty.
    The real question is: What are you doing here? You have nothing to offer but cynicism and error. Is that what you are here for?
    Stan Moore

  • Stan: Why the name-calling? That’s weak

  • more with the insults?
    There is no error in not predicting the future.
    That is all I am saying.
    Perhaps we should part company.
    Maybe you should start your own blog
    and vet anything you find disagreeable.
    Perhaps burn some books while you are at it as well.
    Unfortunatley for you and your spurious attack,
    I do not have any of the impairments you state,
    other than constantly questioning lazy assumptions.
    (and having a sense of humour).
    I cannot confirm any of your afflictions
    other than the aforementioned indulgence we are all
    guilty of.
    Language is often imperfect and my obvious intellectual
    impairments aside, this is just a blog, take it easy.
    thanks for ‘clarity’ and the dogma
    best wishes to you this christmas

  • Matt is like a blind bomb thrower engaged in warfare and wondering why the people he tosses his grenades don’t like it. There are and have been no “lazy assumptions” by me and not by Guy McPherson. Matt is the lazy one who says “I disagree” and cannot offer a rational explanation that has not already been accounted for. He just wants to disagree for the sake of disagreeing, and then call the counterarguments “less valuable than shit” and refer to unmarried debate opponents as “great (in effect) masturbators” who have no debate skills in real life. Matt makes one weaek, even stupid argument after another, and when the latest is shot down, he completely abandons that argument for the time being and skips over to some other nonsense.
    I thought thas was Guy McPherson’s blog on a subject of his choosing, and Matt’s arguments are even more focused against Guy than against myself because I am fundamentally echoing what Guy believes because I believe basically the same thing.
    Matt is the one who should part company since he has no grounding in the subject matter here and is mentally incapable of understanding cause and effect or even his own language.
    Matt casts a wary eye at me for merely mentioning the Bible and God, but he considers Guy and myself to be “prophesying”, which is defined as making predictions based on mystic knowledge or diving guidance. He completely discounts the enormous effort I have made to research the subject matter so as to have an opinion and to justify it. And his analysis of my arguments are as lame as his own arguments, if not more so. Matt says there is no error in not predicing the future, but he turns around and states he has a vision of the future (a prediction) that is more benign than Guy’s or mine. But he refuses to describe, explain, or define his own vision other than to say that there is no error in not speaking it. Brilliant Matt! And so he tosses his little bombs of disbelief and accuses others of having spurious arguments.
    Matt has nothing of value to offer here. Why does he not take his own advice and part company? Maybe he could get a gig as a blind bicyclist — physically fit and unable to see where he is going, or not even to make a plausible prediction.
    Stan Moore

  • Matt says this is “just a blog”; in other words, don’t take the subject matter seriously. Clearly he doesn’t.
    I consider it to be a subject matter literally of life and death. I DO take it seriously and take offense at Matt’s relentless refusal to do so. I think it is time for Guy to vet this blog and determine if it is worth carrying people who find its subject matter of no consequence.
    If there is a soft landing to be had, if there is no cause for alarm, then professors perhaps should not be carrying dire warning messages to the unappreciative.
    Matt insults our intelligence by using the word “dogma” which my dictionary defines as “a point of view or tenet put forth as authoritative wihout adequate grounds.” In other words, he is calling the Professor a quack and saying I am full of “poetry” that has less value than shit.
    Yet, Matt has not insulted me and wants to be my friend. Friends like Matt are worse than enemies and I certainly do not need such people to be my friends, nor want them.
    Stan Moore

  • Memo to all:
    That is the key to the stupid blow-up between Our Stan and Matt of Oz,and Everyone else on this blog site.Or more correctly–the lack of it.
    Let’s face the fact:We are all egomaniacal narcissists on this blog site.And I mean ALL,including me.At my age the only thing that matters is truth and reality–especially
    about myself.Please look up the meaning of introspection.Please consider that word before you start to type.That applies to Matt of Oz and Our Stan especially but not exclusively.
    If there is anyone that doesn’t understands this ,please let me know.

  • just one retort, there are no insults here,
    where to begin and when to end, (I am having too much fun)
    yes, I am an intellectual dilettante. To assume
    otherwise would be the height of arrogance.
    The lengthy posturing and prose by
    some suggests that they have no such qualms.
    To be accused of being an amateur, you
    see derision I can only see praise.
    To be an amateur (a sporting analogy comes to mind)
    suggests exuberance, potentialality, (such a word?)
    hope, the willingness to learn, listen and question.
    ‘Certainty’ gives me no comfort. Perhaps you can
    find solace in certainty, given, the misanthropic,
    nihilistic and somewhat rabid blog entries I can
    see no evidence of it.
    What can I bring to the table. Except for the
    aforementioned slow descent, as a landscape architect
    I can bring compost, at the right carbon nitrogen mix
    I might add. I dearly hope you compost Stan, you
    dont want to be seen to be letting the ‘home team’ down.
    I would like to bring some hope to the discussion,
    I almost feel apologetic saying this. Unfortunately,
    this says a lot about the tone of this site. And
    suggests/implies some responsibility on your part Guy.
    ‘Intellectuals’ can be wrong and ideology can be blinding.
    One of Chomsky’s (‘greatest living intellectual’)
    linguistic theories relating to the evolution of language
    has recently been proven to be incorrect. He is showing
    some resistance on this however.
    perhaps this blog is your avatar, a place where you
    can exist, sing and find a voice
    I hope you find a real bird Stan
    kindest regards to you