Scale

I’m driving from Tucson to the mud hut, taking a circuitous route that currently finds me staying in my wife’s childhood home in western Nebraska. Along with my spouse and dog, I’m covering 4,300 miles while crisscrossing 11 states and all 4 time zones in the continental U.S. We’ll circumambulate Kansas, and at one point we drove close enough to spit on the state. But it didn’t seem worth the time or the saliva.

We’re driving slowly and stopping often, primarily because the Obama administration’s Keynesian approach to saving the industrial economy necessitates throwing money at the highway departments of every state in the country. The attendant “shovel-ready projects” are clear examples of the lengths to which industrial humans will go to sustain the unsustainable, maintain the immaterial, and generally restore the irredeemable for a few more months.

The many miles and frequent pauses reveal to any sentient animal the sheer lunacy of the living arrangements we’ve built for ourselves. Within the span of a couple generations, we abandoned a durable, finely textured, life-affirming set of living arrangements characterized by self-sufficient family farms intermixed with small towns that provided commerce, services, and culture. Worse yet, we traded that model for a coarse-scaled arrangement wholly dependent on ready access to cheap fossil fuels. Then we ratcheted up the madness to rely on businesses that use, almost exclusively, a warehouse-on-wheels approach to just-in-time delivery of unnecessary devices designed for rapid obsolescence and disposal.

Simply ingenious, wouldn’t you say?

The entire region, formerly abundant with a multitude of edible crops, currently is brimming with a single commodity: #2 corn. It’s Roundup-ready, at that, just to throw a bucket of insulting acid into the face of reason. Roundup-resistant weeds are popping up throughout the region as we bring Farmageddon to the heartland and eventually to the world. Most of the corn, which is essentially inedible until it is processed (i.e., pummeled with inordinate quantities of fossil fuels), is watered with the last remaining drops of the Ogallala aquifer, brought to the surface with the same finite fluid used to power our trucks and cars. Verdant fields of ethanol dreams are interrupted occasionally by a field of soybeans; without rotations of legumes, the soil would be so depleted of nitrogen by king corn, it wouldn’t support even the great corn desert. The corn fills our bellies with death-inducing faux sugar. But we willingly trade some of that “food” for fuel because the associated dependence on automobiles allows us to burn off the final inches of life-giving topsoil to promote our culture of death in rapid-transit, individualized death-traps. Who could pass up a deal like that?

Obnoxiously ubiquitous cell-phone towers line the edges of the cornfields adjacent to the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System (“Celebrating 50 Years, 1956-2006”). Each of these completely unnecessary towers of mortality — which serve only to duplicate extant infrastructure — kills 5,000 to 15,000 birds each year. Yet every imperialist has a cell phone, regardless of the death to songbirds. Don’t even get me started on the col-tan in the cell-phone batteries mined from the Congo, because I’d rather not think about the brutal lives and tortuous deaths of the Congolese women and children we treat as collateral damage along our imperial path.

Seemingly every tenth cell-phone tower marks a casino, yet another ubiquitous structure we’d be far better off without. These businesses extract money from the poor as they pursue the something-for-nothing goal upon which our culture has become based during the last few decades.

If it’s not a casino, it’s a distribution center for this country’s rapidly waning commercial sector. We no longer make much of anything in this country, but we move around ton after ton of cheap plastic crap to the Targets and Wal-Marts that have displaced family owned businesses in every town and city in the country while exporting disaster capitalism throughout the world.

Finally, then, we come to the most ludicrous part of the entire endeavor: suburbia, filled with McMansions. This not-quite-country, not-quite-city living arrangement requires people to buy one of everything for every house — except cars, of which we need at least two — to live far from work, far from play, and far from the things we “need” to buy. Hundreds of acres of shoddily constructed, castle-like symbols of self-indulgence are separated from equally coarse-scaled places we use to grow “food,” conduct “commerce” in our “service” economy, and otherwise live civilized lives. As has often been the case, today’s symbols of gluttony are tomorrow’s death traps.

As usual, I’m quick to point out the silver lining in this otherwise disastrous narrative: Better days lie ahead. How could they not?

In the near future, we’ll return to a durable set of living arrangements. Since we need about 50 million additional gardeners to support the 300 million people in this nation, and because nearly everybody in the industrialized world would rather push electrons in a cube farm than push a shovel in a garden, I don’t foresee us voluntarily returning to the agrarian age. Not only are a majority of people unaware of the predicament we face — thanks to the media, every level of government, and our own self-absorbed preference for the bliss of ignorance — but there’s simply no leadership in the industrialized world as we face an inevitable but unprecedented economic contraction. As a result, I suspect we’ll bypass agricultural pursuits and plunge right back to the post-industrial stone age. Once again, daily life will be characterized by a finely textured, life-affirming, durable set of arrangements characterized by respect for each other and reverence for the land, and accompanied by a solid dose of self-sufficiency.

The point of my circuitous route to the mud hut: a wedding on the in-law side of the family. The newlyweds are twenty-something Army officers, and the event fittingly provided the perfect example of the malevolence needed to maintain civilization. Held in a venue designed and constructed to celebrate American military prowess, the reception allowed the guests to enjoy flight simulators between bouts of gorging on meat, fat, sugar, and alcohol. Each of us was allowed to “fly” a fighter jet and blast the enemy. I was a tad disappointed, though: I didn’t get to bomb a children’s hospital in the name of bringing democracy to a poverty-stricken, oil-rich country.

For those readers who would like to impress upon me that I’m an imperialist, too, or that “freedom isn’t free,” don’t bother. In a heartbeat, I’d give up every aspect of the industrial economy, even if it cost me my life, to know western civilization was dead and gone. And for those who believe we’re really free, take a look around. See the security cameras. Notice the listening devices. Pay attention to the monitoring devices that record and report every transaction you complete. These tyrannies are among the thousands of minor costs we pay for “freedom” from terrorists. The larger costs are borne by non-human species and people in non-industrial cultures every minute of every day.
I took a break from the festivities to spend a little time outdoors as darkness was falling. In a few minutes, I was able to observe far more beauty than marked the cultural ceremony or the route along the way (so far): the cry of a red-tailed hawk drew my eye to two hawks flying low over the treetops. Shortly afterward, a brilliant harvest moon scaled the eastern horizon.
Hope springs eternal in, and from, the natural world: There’s still something worth saving from the ravages of civilization. But is there world enough, and time? And, despite mounting evidence to the contrary, are there enough of us who actually care about saving the living planet?
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This post is permalinked at Energy Bulletin, Counter Currents, how to save the world, Floating Down Denial, One Town Square, Dismantling Civilisation, LOVESalem, The New Beginning, and Island Breath.

Comments 31

  • Since human nature never changes it would be instructive to read/reread Gibbon.The problem is,as Prof Em Guy points out above , that the human has reached such insensate extremes,without knowing it,that in so many ways it has to self destruct.Insanity passes for normality.So long as it feels good it must be good.Everything man made leads to it’s own demise.All technology is self defeating.
    Gibbon describes the decay of the human in Roman times,but that wasn’t terminal then–today it must be.
    Frank

  • A year ago I cut off the cable tv leaving only the internet. Except for the science shows I do not miss it. The three ring circus madness that you see on it was worthless. I do not think that 500 hundred million people if you include canada,mexico and central america can be supported with out industrial agriculture or fossil fuels that are cheap and plentiful. The landing will be a very violent one. I would guess however that the survivors if a nuclear war is avoided over resources will go back to doing much the same thing as we do now with out the excess with far fewer people to support. If we had only a billion people to support instead of 7 billion we would not be in such a mess and either would the earth. I guess we will get there the hard way.

  • I was going to say “very insightful”….. but then it’s all becoming so bleeding obvious isn’t it?
    I just hope those of us who are aware and are taking steps to deal with reality (before reality deals with us) can survive the violent landing…
    Nice read
    Mike

  • Did it occur to you while waiting for roadworks that Obama has to keep fixing up the roads because people like you want to go for a 4,300 mile drive ? What kind of car do you drive ? How much fuel did it use on the journey ? Do you have any moral responsibility to use the precious resource carefully ?

  • I had to smile at the caustic comment from Dave Kimble, it’s so ironic I nearly choked on my weetbix. I desperately hope he was kidding – that’s exactly the type of mindset we are all up against every day – the petty-minded who think of every excuse to denigrate any efforts to recognise/address efforts to live in a sustainable way by saying – well, sucks to you, you shouldn’t be using the internet then or you shouldn’t drive a car etc. It’s exactly the same mindset who used to say to anyone of the slightly ‘red’ outlook “Why don’t you get back to Russia then if you love socialism so much?” Don’t even bother to answer his comment Guy, he’s too far gone to care what you say.
    Meanwhile here in NZ my husband and I watch the lies and propaganda spilled from the News programmes daily and try to prepare ourselves for the future – new chickens last week, woodburning stove and water barrel coming up soon. Found a really interesting new (to me) blog by Michael Bunker, called ‘A Process Driven Life’. I don’t share every view but it’s very informative about the new agrarianism you have there in the States.

  • Army officers and jet aircraft? That’s a rather unusual combination. Either the Army is trying to ratchet up its advertising, or the Army officers were stationed at an Air Force base, or unbeknownst to me (the Army put me out to pasture in 2005) the Army is now into jets. I did do jets, but that was a 3 year stint in the Navy, so I have no regrets either way (although with hindsight – I should have been buirding a Mud Hut then.

  • Dear Guy —
    I am glad that you and the Missus got to take a long drive and see the decadent civilization of the Great Heartland before the Long Emergency takes hold and we revert to a World Made by Hand. The interstate highway system will no doubt fade into obscurity rather quickly once the asphalt plants shut down and the tanker trucks are idled and parked in huge fleets in some of those cornfields you saw.
    I am especially glad you saw and recognized the red-tailed hawks. I saw one cross the road this afternoon and land in a fallow field, just standing there with its wide stance, wondering what happened to that prey item it had been watching. I love redtails and every time I see one I verbally greet it with “Hey Beauty!”. Of course I do the same greeting with red-shoulders, which are ubiquitous here, too.
    And when I see the occasional golden eagle, I flash the peace sign to the big bird, stop, get out and watch it as long as it allows me the view.
    Yes, mankind scaled up everything but the support system. And with the increased scale came increased complexity, which means that the fall downward will be much more traumatic than the climb up. A new speech by Joseph Tainter on complexity of our unsustainable civilization was on energybulletin.net or theoildrum.com and Tainter has pointed out that it is not just resource scarcity, but the failure of complex systems of organization and infrastructure, etc., that will force overall collapse. There is an intermingling between the two, but when a society grows in complexity to the point where maintaining the complexity itself costs more than the benefit of the complex systems, then the crash becomes inevitable. The industrial world now is a big Ponzi scheme and the stress fractures could occur at any of many different stress points before the whole shebang comes tumbling.
    We’ll know when it is time to stop driving across country. It will be pretty easy to tell when that bridge has been crossed. Then you can hoe the corn, pump the water, and hope a redtail flies across and screams at you to let you know that someone cares you are there…
    Stan

  • Hi Daphne
    I didn’t denigrate any efforts to live in a sustainable way, I only denigrated driving 4,300 miles and whinging that Obama was fixing the roads and it was holding him up on his drive.
    I also denigrated Kunstler when he wrote just recently that he drove the family to Cape Cod (?) in his Toyota Tacoma ( a 236 HP muscle car)
    and there was so much holiday traffic he did half of it in first gear! It didn’t seem to occur to him that he was part of the problem.
    That is the typical American outlook – if I can afford the car and the gas, it’s my right to drive wherever and however far I like. And I can complain at Obama bothering to fix the roads up too.
    I was thinking of having a caustic comment about the criticism of cell phones towers too – but I’m feeling in a good mood today. 🙂
    Instead let me ask again, do we have any moral responsibility to use the precious oil resource carefully?
    Dave

  • Our Stan sums it up beautifully.
    In Asia they don’t have ugly cellphone towers because it’s done by satellites.
    As much as I criticize modern technology,still have to wonder in amazement of what has been done.In Shanghai there is a 20 mile train line.There are no wheels on the trains–none needed–the trains never touch the ground and go 300 MPH.
    Frank

  • Dave Kimble, we definitely have moral responsibility in this case. Specifically, we have the moral responsibility to terminate the industrial age before it causes the extinction of more cultures and species, and also before it causes the death of further humans. As such, we should consume oil as rapidly as possible, along with many other moral imperatives. Therefore, I drove my Saturn Vue instead of my Prius on this long journey. The sooner we cause completion of the ongoing economic collapse, the safer the world will be (and the sooner we’ll be, too).

  • Dear Dave
    Ok, I got you wrong and I apologise, you’re not a baddy nay-saying contrarian and you are right we do have to “take the beam out of our own eye before removing the mote from others'”. And I also remember your comment to Kunstler and did also agree with it. But it’s so hard to be perfect, isn’t it? We (Westerners) are all part of this terrible system and unless we choose to become hermits we are all partially responsible for the crap that is happening. I feel guilty every car ride I take, the litany of my green misdemeanours could go on and on – flew from NZ to the UK in March, thereby negating every bit of recycling etc that I’ve done for years, had 4 children therefore I am guilty on the over-population front etc etc. But we can’t beat ourselves up over this forever.
    Guy gave quite a clever answer, but I don’t agree with it – if that was truly the answer then we could all just be hedonists and let TEOTWAWKI just happen, but we’d bring down even more species and ruin even more ecosystems. Perhaps all we can do is to live as ethically as possible and maybe acknowledge that ‘Western’ humans have messed it up for everybody. I liked the Keanu Reeves movie where he tells us that our planet is rare and precious and that humans don’t deserve it. And anybody read ‘Black Monday’ by David Reiss? Sudden oil catastrophe, very chilling.

  • Frank, have you been to Asia? Evidently not the parts I have. Asia is choking with cellphone towers. And power lines. And factory-spewed chemicals. And etc.
    Guy, I passed on a link to this post to someone I know who prefers to remain anonymous, which response made me giggle, and I copy and paste it thusly (I mentioned you’re married, hence the wife reference):
    i can imagine that a road trip with this guy would be utterly terrible. alternatively crying, barfing, and punching the dashboard out of anger.
    “Those damn suburbs are so ridiculous and terrible!” (punch)
    “A little piece of me dies everytime a bird is ruthlessly murdered by a cell tower” (sob)
    “Corn is…is…so… bad for you. I can’t look at it without…” (barf)
    and repeat for thousands of miles. his wife is a saint, evidently.

  • Reply to 5N a/k/a Court.
    Re: cell phone towers in Asia.
    Yea buddy,all satellite in China.Been to asia a few times but don’t recall seeing cellphone towers.Where in Asia did you see the cellphone towers? Didn’t recall seeing any in Japan,China,Viet Nam,Cambodia,Indonesia,Singapore,Thailand.My guides all had cell phones in the most remote areas,so In assumed all of Asia had satellite service.I’d really be interested in a reply to this for my own education.
    Thanks,
    Frank

  • Court, thanks for the good-humored comment. I agree about my wife being a saint (and so does she), but for other reasons. As you have observed, and I hope you passed on to your anonymous friend, I find abundant humor and very good news in our dire economic straits. Of course I’m angry — I’ve been paying attention, after all. Of course I’d sad — we’ve created a mess of the planet for everybody. But I haven’t puked in years.

  • Huh, Frank. Guess that massive cellphone tower in my neighborhood in Thailand, to say nothing of them everyfreakingwhere in Japan, etc., must have been something else then.
    Guy, well, I’ll tell my interlocuter you didn’t quite hit the trifecta, then.

  • Are satellite cell phones more sustainable than tower-fed phones ?
    Are you seriously suggesting that it is better to put a phone tower into orbit rather than put up with a little bit of visual pollution, which might just remind people of the damage they are doing to the environment ?
    Oh yes, I was forgetting that you are so angry that we’ve created a mess of the planet that you want to make even more of a mess of it as fast as possible.
    Why not get serious and go to your local gasoline station and pour the stuff straight onto the ground and then chuck a match onto it ? It would be so much more efficient than your way.
    Why on earth do you have a Prius ?

  • Dave Kimble, I did not indicate satellite cell phones were remotely sustainable (of course, sustainability is an impossibility, but I’m trying to bring the conversation down to your level). Indeed, these phones represent one more ridiculous, unnecessary redundancy.
    Pouring gasoline on the ground is a violation of the federal Clean Water Act, and with good reason. We need to bring down the industrial economy with minimal disruption to the living planet, not continue polluting and otherwise destroying life.
    The Prius was a mistake. I’ve made many, large and small.
    If you want a more balanced view of the anger you believe I hold, read my magnus opus. If you prefer ignorance, which encourages unconstrained ranting, please ignore it. And reason. And logic. And evidence.

  • OK now:
    Prof Em Guy is correct about cell phones–we don’t need them.Tower or satellite,what’s the diff? 5N a/k/a Court, must be correct,but satellite phones sure come in handy.
    What did I just say,a Freudian slip? Am I being ambivalent or hypocritical? Are we all guilty of this? No,superior minds are entitled to say “Do as I say–not as I do”.I need my car for the mobility to see and record the demise of civilization for posterity.
    We would be much poorer without past historians.
    Pardon please my stream of consciosness musings.
    Frank

  • OK, I’ve now read your magnum opus, and I agree with it generally. I couldn’t find the bit where you talk about actually “bringing down” the industrial economy, but going on long-distance drives clearly isn’t part of it, so I think my original criticism still stands.
    However I think I can add a little to help us focus on the big picture. Firstly I don’t think Global Warming is anywhere near as urgent as Peak Oil – the IPCC scenarios they model all involve us burning fossil fuels at a MUCH faster rate than what we can actually get the stuff out the ground. The lowest carbon scenario in IPCC’s AR4 is called B1-minicam, and sees carbon emissions peaking around 2040 and temperatures reaching +1.8°C by 2090. If Peak Oil was 2008, Peak Gas 2020 and Peak Coal 2026, then we will see Peak Carbon in 2021 and peak temperatures of +1.4°C around 2070. The modelling could be wrong, of course, but we are not certain to see a run-away greenhouse effect simply because we could’t burn the stuff fast enough, even if Peak Oil doesn’t bring things to a more abrupt halt.
    Secondly, despite your use of the term “conservation biologist”, I didn’t read anything about carrying capacity, which is a critical concept, surely ? Peak Oil will lead rapidly to a collapse in the availability of other forms of energy, through a process known as “deadly embrace”, where you can’t fix one thing due to lack of another, repeated in a circle. Without electricity, you can’t have water, sewerage, telephones, radio, TV, computers, the internet, banking, refrigeration, transport, etc. This will make the cities unliveable once the supermarket shelves have been looted, so there will be a mass exodus of hungry, desperate people to the country.
    The landscape will then be stripped for short-term food supply –
    cattle will be butchered with bread-knives and eaten raw in the paddock; orchards, Permaculture farms and wild food in the forests and hedgerows will be stripped; fish will be fished out; trees chopped down for firewood, and it isn’t even winter yet.
    All this talk of a gentle powerdown while we switch to alternative forms of public transport and medical treatment is wishful thinking. The population will crash rapidly until the post-fossil-fuel carrying capacity is reached, and the carrying capacity itself will be reduced in the short term by the ravages of hoards of desperate, dying humans, who are nothing if not tenacious. If people are able to live at the standard of a Bangladeshi refugee camp, they will consider themselves lucky.
    If anything is to be done about this, it should be to crash the population without crashing the carrying capacity (the health of the environment) as quickly as possible. No wonder everyone wants to look the other way.
    I should just add that I am actually more flexible than my writing style might imply, and look, I didn’t mention a single 19th century philosopher.
    Dave

  • Hi folks
    As long as slightly awakened ‘civilised’ humans argue about who’s doing a gooder job of living a life of individual purity, TPTB have won.
    This is NOT about humanity
    This is NOT about human nature
    This is Not about us as a species….
    Until so-called ‘civilised’ humans wake up and realise they swim in an insane pathological and suicidal dominant culture, nothing much can change IMO.
    Until folk wake up to the Great Unravelling (Peak Everything) and the underlying Cultural Crisis, collapse is inevitable, to be embraced and yelled out about.
    If the GDP (general dumb public) can be snapped out of the consensus trance bubble, taking down industrial civilisation via any means necessary will possibly start to happen. Then there may be some glimmer of hope for the future of life for every species here.
    Individual persuit of greenwashed lifestyles does not cut it, and the rest of the planet knows this, and holds those in the ‘developed’ world in contempt for this level of masterbatery crap.
    “We” (‘civilised’) will have to start doing what remnants of indigenous cultures have done forever in the face of empire…fight/resist for the sustainable life of our communities and our landbases/ecosystems.
    Pissing competitions on an internet blog about our individual purity is the very last thing I think we could be doing, how about we educate ourselves to the level of our entrapment as we are being farmed to death (as are our landbases) for the enrichment of an insane dominant culture and an elite who deserve to be taken down…huh?
    We need to grow up, and start facing this as a community who will speak truth to power, and do whatever it takes, including laying down our lives for each other, and by that I mean laying down our lives for other species in our communities too.
    Don’t get me wrong, I have logs in my eye, I still occasionally use a car, but I realise it’s as communities we’ll need to take back our power, not as goody little individual greenwashers…
    Regards
    Ted Howard
    Nelson, NZ

  • Thanks to Guy McPherson for this terrific read, I urge you to do many more, kick up a stink, get people talking, this needs to happen.
    After reading these posts I really just felt like putting here “And that was the end of the human race.”
    Not saying there aren’t valid points, there are and always is, it’s just that i get up in the morning and become more and more aware that we are wrong and the we are heading in the wrong direction, we are trashing everything we touch, everything needed for life.
    Like being children cowering in a darkened corner while this drunken father of a culture rages, we (me included) sit dumb at the spectacle and do nothing. The question is not about sustainability or what level of violence is acceptable, in hindsight many years form now when the destruction is far greater it will be why didn’t I do something, why didn’t I try to stop the violence. Try looking into the eyes of your kids with this knowledge.
    I am with Guy and Ted Howard here, something needed to be done yesterday. As a child growing up I would have loved my parents to have taught me the lessons I now have to teach my child, there is no excuse really for us to discuss ‘acceptable’, ‘sustainable’ only why are each of us condoning this and continuing to live the way we do.
    AT

  • Dave Kimble, I didn’t mention a lot of things in the magnus opus, including carrying capacity and tools for terminating industrial culture. I write about those frequently on this blog, though, as a quick perusal will show. I’m all about bringing down our omnicidal culture without further degrading the planet. Regarding global climate change, let’s not take the ultra-conservative, long-outdated view from the IPCC as gospel. I’d prefer the ultraconservative, slightly newer update provided by the Hadley Centre, which indicates we need to terminate the industrial economy by the end of this year if our species is to make it through the bottleneck: http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/policymakers/action/emissions_270908.pdf (warning: this is a large pdf file). A 2 C increase almost certainly causes loss of all planetary ice and extinction of our species. And the “baseline” is 1990, indicating the 47% reduction in the optimistic scenario (relative to 1990) translates to at least 60% today.
    Ted Howard and AT: What’s this? Two sane voices in the blogosphere? And on this particular blog, no less? (With no offense intended to my regular readers and posters.) Thanks for your first-time comments. Thanks, too, to Dave, for keeping the conversation going and for reading my older post.

  • Dear Professor Guy and all —
    As an ongoing periodic viewer of this blog, I am pleased to hear some fresh, informed voices. I think that Guy is happy to be questioned from various angles and he stands up well to such scrutiny. No one essay, even a Magnum Opus is so comprehensive to cover everything at once.
    I do agree that the system we have now is engineered for the benefit of the few. and has always been so. Howard Zinn pointed out as much in his People’s History.
    I would not be utterly surprised to see an engineered human die-off with targeted survivors holding an unfair edge. This could involve use of bacterial warfare, for instance. I don’t know of any such plans, but I know that those in power are ruthless and apt at self-preservation.
    I think Guy’s message is that people need to be informed and to work for self-survival and survival in community/tribal settings locally all over the place.
    I think Global Warming is far more dangerous than Peak Oil in that it can drive us to extinction. Peak Oil can drive billions to early death, but that is not quite as bad as the worst-case scenario for climate change. However, Peak Oil COULD lead to nuclear war and die-off in its own worst-case scenario, as per Jay Hanson. Either way we are screwed, but we have a more of a chance if we can still diminish the very worst of climate change. I have seen new reports that the Arctic may already be forever altered, based on a series of ecological studies. The Germans have just sailed a couple of merchant vessages across the Arctic, for another first in planetary alteration for the worse.
    The worst prospect is for synergetic and cascading effects of everything ecological, economical, and political and not enough mud huts for everyone who would like one.
    Stan Moore
    San Geronimo, CA

  • Obama’s Critical Role —
    How to bring down the house without panic? Mesmerize the inhabitants with smoke and mirrors and happy bullshit so that they think the walls are sound and the foundation is secure, even as the demolition charges are being set.
    Dick Cheney did his job; now it is Obama’s turn. The wars continue and even increase, even as hired mercenaries in Iraq make the expense to the US taxpayer even higher than when using the US military.
    Obama would not send Cheney to prison — they are players on the same team and Obama is the Fourth Quarter quarterback.
    Stan

  • Dear Guy,
    This was a very interesting post, but the back and forth on the comments really made me think. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to get in on it earlier but I was sans internet for a week and then I was busy building a fence and digging beds trying to get my garden established.
    Here’s my take:
    Reading the entire piece reminded me of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ steps in dealing with death and dying.
    We are dealing with a type of death and all the comments including yours seemed to fall into and overlap several of the categories.
    Guy, you were so angry(rightfully so) and the level-headed , diplomatic Stan seemed to be in the “acceptance” stage. Several of the other contributors were in various other stages. Personally, I fluctuate between all of the following stages on a daily if not more frequent basis.
    Denial- which most Westerners are in, if they even have any knowledge of the issues you write about.
    Anger- I think this post personified this stage
    Bargaining- Maybe Ted was doing a little of this- and I think we all do this in our own ways. For example- don’t eat meat, but drive to the beach for a holiday. Kind of a justification for not going “all out” as some of you have.
    Depression- I think there is a lot of that going around. I know that I suffer from it when I think of the world I am leaving for my only grandson(5 months old)
    Acceptance- Sooner or later, probably sooner, we will all have to accept the world of shit we’ve created and tending to agree with one of the other comments I unfortunately believe that “we’re all fucked”.
    Sometimes I think this is the hardest place to be because then we have to say “now what?” and actually do something. Guy is providing us with one scenario and it is up to us as individuals to make our own decisions and plans.
    I’m thankful for this blog and only wish I could write half as well as most of you do. I do much better at talking and listening.
    thanks, Carol

  • Hi Carol
    You think I may be in bargaining stage…why?
    Because I call the cultural insanity for what it is?
    And leave humans as OK?
    I back this up with comments from indigenous people who really appreciate not being lumped in with ‘us’ as a species problem.
    As I’m not indigenous, I doubt I will survive what’s coming, and I’m OK with that. I accept I’m probably as stuck as the next person in this shit-aweful culture, my chances of surviving the increasingly evident Great Unravelling for the next few years are very slim. But I’ll do what I can to make a difference, and go down fighting for the love and life of my landbase.
    Personal lifestyle changes don’t really cut it and most of the rest of the world, including the 200+ species going in the 6th Mass Extinction today have no time anymore for this sort of crap. Time to decide what matters: http://culturechange.org/cms/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=523&Itemid=1
    Regards
    Ted

  • I think the title says it all — Nature Bats Last.

    We are all part of a constant evolutionary process. It’s been going on for billions of years, and it will continue for the rest of time. Everything on earth will ultimately be recycled. There will be new species to replace the old — more survivable and perhaps even more beautiful than those before them.

    For all we know there could have been another time before the dinosaurs when humans dwelled here. Perhaps they did the same things we did and met the same fate we could be facing.

    I don’t see any way we can reverse what’s going on here. There are simply too many vested interests for the uniform consensus we need to act decisively and effectively as a species, and no one knows if even that will solve the problems. Perhaps we shouldn’t do anything and simply believe in the ‘purity’ of the process itself, accepting that this is a necessary part of the larger evolutionary process.

    Maybe one day my fossilized remains will be found by a being more advanced and caring of the cradle of his existence.

  • Hi Ted,
    OK, maybe you are not in the bargaining stage, just trying how to work out how you can promote community,humanity, and life and not succumb to civilization, progress, and death.
    That is what I am trying to do as well with my limited amount of energy. I want to keep a positive attitude, which is becoming increasingly difficult, but if I want to affect a change on any of the people around me I can’t be all doom and gloom. The doors will be slammed in my face.
    I know my chances for survival are probably slimmer than even yours- I am a woman approaching late 50’s and sometimes just getting out of bed is painful. I’ve recently moved and am starting my little homestead from scratch. It was easier 20 years ago when I had a support system-now I have to build the community part as well.I agree with most everything you said in both your posts but
    I don’t think this blog is a pissing contest about who is doing the most good- it’s people sharing thoughts and ideas and trying to connect with like-minded others. I welcome it because to me being a peak oil believer is kind of like being an atheist in an overcrowded conservative christian environment. We are all(most of us anyway) quiet,maybe too quiet and too tolerant as well. Of course PO and religion do not compare-I’m just trying to make a point. Anyway, thanks for your reply.
    Carol

  • Hi Carol
    I meant some of the commenters here were having a pissing contest, not Guy’s blog.
    I identify as a radical anti-civ doomer, and at the same time a positive biophiliac. I love my work as a permaculture gardener, and find great joy in doing something tangible/physical for the benefit of landbase and community. If that switches a lot/most mainstreamers off, so be it. The dominant culture is insane and unreachable, as are most of it’s inhabitants. It’s about tipping points. I trust that I’ll reach the right people, help awaken them, and the virus of understanding will spread.
    I hope you can surround yourself with supportive community because that’s the only true sustainability. If you’re in a situation where you have to pay money for any/all help, it’s not a good sign. Building social capital right now is very important. When push comes to shove, who you can trust to support and protect you may be based on this rather than money…
    The hyper-individualism I see all around me within the Global Industrial Civilisation (aka Empire) is a clear indication of how challenging it’s going to be to survive once manure really hits the windfarm. Most of my relationships are still linked to moneterisation…that’s just plain insane.
    I’ve been peak oil activist at local and national level for 12 years…Yeah, I know what you mean about being too quiet. It comes with the new awakened mindset/heart space though. I like to inject my joyful radical ideas wherever possible, but the ripple effect is small. It’s got to get bigger, and must move out of individual lifestyle choices and changes.
    Regards
    Ted

  • Links and Tweets of the Week: September 20, 2009