Making Other Arrangements: I’d Like to Help

Now that my own living arrangements are in order — to the extent that’s possible in light of ongoing, accelerating global climate change, decline of American Empire, and demise of the living planet — I would like to help other people more directly than I am able via the blogosphere, email, and telephone. In most cases, I will work for food and a place to lay my head at night.

Specifically, I’d like to speak with you and your group. I will discuss any number of topics with any group you put together. All I require is a soapbox. A few examples of the topics I address are archived here, and a limited selection is available the NBL YouTube channel.

1. Location. There are many places I haven’t been. Pick one, and I’ll probably visit there if you’ll simply pay my expenses.

2. Civility. After a career in academia, I’ve spent far too much time working with jerks. I prefer people who appreciate what I have to offer, and who are kind. Here’s a model, but you need not be a saint to qualify. And you might need to put up with me not being a saint.

3. Seriousness. I have hosted more than a thousand people in my home. Considerably more people have sent email messages seeking advice. I have responded to each visitor and to each message with free, detailed advice because these people clearly are serious. On the other hand, I have little tolerance for people who are in denial about the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy or ongoing, abrupt global climate change. If you’re serious about changing your life, I’m serious about helping you.


This post, and the underlying idea, were inspired by my friend Cindy Winkelman, an idea-generating phenomenon.

Comments 48

  • Hey, how can I get in on this? I can offer my advice on several hundred things that don’t work, thereby saving you the effort. must be worth something to someone, no? :-)

  • Hey Guy

    Great to see you get in on this since I think it’s a “growth industry” and I believe that many people are looking for this kind of assistance but are a bit timid to admit as much. I’ve been considering a two prong approach to this by developing the framework for community oriented consulting (I’m a planner) as well as the individual along the lines of what some are doing in the Bay Area and Western Massachusetts. I’d love to compare notes regarding what kinds of services and advice you’ll be offering. Best wishes for a successful launch!

  • You’re in, Jan. Anybody interested in Jan’s endeavor can click here. Contact information is here.

  • Thanks much, Chris R. I have no marketing plan, just a desire to help people navigate collapse. I’ve developed a comprehensive set of durable living arrangements, as described in my “What works” series. And, as a lifelong educator, I cannot seem to help myself. If you desire clarification or additional information, please send me an email message and we’ll arrange a time to visit on the telephone.

  • I’d like to publicly thank Guy for giving me advice a while back, and I’d encourage anyone to at least consult with him since he is empathetic, rational, and intelligent. If you are serious, he will treat all of your options and considerations with respect. After emailing some PostCarbon fellows, I ended up not taking Guy’s advice, not because it was wrong — I think he is right — but because each individual must weigh for themselves what is important. Me? I was not ready to move around the world and be so far from my family and friends, and I think island locations heavily reliant on imports will fare worse over the next ten years, than places with continental scale resources (in the longer term, I think moving would have been in my best interests, but the family concerns won out for now, even though the door may be closed tomorrow.) But if you are serious about both energy restraints, resilience, collapse, and climate change, I believe Guy will treat you with empathy and respect no matter what your life situation. When I spoke to him, it was clear he was motivated to help out of genuine concern because I value this pale blue dot we call Earth, and I value relationships rooted in experiencing the wonders of this planet. If you value those things, he will treat you with respect and care whether you intend to squat in the middle of New York City or go off grid.

  • Hey Guy! I’m so glad you are doing this.

    You are the ONLY other person I know who has actually taken action (and drastic at that!) to prepare for the demise of our oil based economy and the future of mankind. Our move to Brazil (for similar reasons) has been a great adventure, but also a major challenge on many levels.

    Before coming here I sought you out because of your writings here on this blog. I was actually surprised to find you to be such a caring, compassionate, reasonable, realistic, FUNNY, and super NICE person! Based on your doomer writings, I though you might be a bit grumpy, but that was hardly the case. Your witty sarcasm never ceases to amaze me ~ I love it!

    Your invitation to show us around your mud hut gave us a head start on our thinking as we set out to prepare for our move to Brazil (we wanted to get the heck out of the US – actually, the entire northern hemisphere).

    Now that Michael and I are here, we think of you often, of the things you showed us, and of the mistakes you told us to avoid. You have been an inspiration to us (and I love the books you recommended!). As soon as we can afford your travel, we’d love to bring you here to show you how far we’ve come and to learn how much further we can still can go ;-).

    Anyone who is logical enough to realize where we humans are headed and serious enough to do something about it will benefit from your experience, wisdom, and quintessential “human” touch. Better still your “payment” is based on helping others and building a community, not a bank account.

    Unfortunately, travel still costs $$ ~ but what a bargain – and what a way to enjoy a meaningful life while the gettin’s still good!

  • Guy, you are an inspiration. You have done it.
    As a small ‘d’ aussie doomer – it is a lonely business here.
    The GFC is now considered a crisis of the North Atlantic.
    Contrary to the crazy optimism and low unemployment here,
    (spoke to a friend recently – he has just leveraged into investment properties to the tune of $1 million. He earns $70Kpa. Obviously he did not heed my advice some time ago)

    You make realise how very little I have done in the way of making ‘preparations’.
    I have small moments of anxiety after reading some of your posts :).
    (I am not being falsely modest here, the below is bugger all really, we all should do the following regardless)
    For the record the things I have done.
    – 20 fruit trees
    – modest veg garden
    – 4500L rain water tanks
    -one car family, I ride to work
    -no debt
    -3 years of cash (not knowing what do with it keeps me up at night)
    -live in an adobe
    -reduced the demand side with regards to consumption.
    Voluntary simplicity is the low hanging fruit in terms of
    ‘preparation’. Frugality/austerity allows you to have some ‘fat’ in the system in case of shocks – mental or material.

    Things I have not done.
    -very little food storage (wife not on board)
    -still live in the suburbs (urban rural fringe – the wife does not want to move!)
    -soil improvements (crap soil – hard to fix)
    -no pv
    -no personal security measures

    A month or so ago a hedge fund manager was asked what one should do with ones money given the profound economic uncertainties. His response was he was buying guns and arable land. If it comes to that, perhaps just buy a bigger gun than the hedge fund manager. If we enter a world where this becomes a reality, then its all over. If law and order break down to such an extant, where property laws, ownership and the rule of law are hard to enforce or none existent, we are kidding ourselves that the human ‘project’ (culture) has a future. Just buy a gun, prepare to move, adapt and take. I don’t advocate this of course, just following the fund managers logic. If you think you need a gun going forward, somebody will no doubt think the same thing, I cant think of any good coming out of this. (Yes, I know it may sound naïve, by and large gun ownership is relatively taboo here).

    BTW – the new aussie PM, the stats –
    – unmarried, in a defacto relationship
    – atheist
    – ex union/industrial relations lawyer
    – female
    – foreign born
    – red head!

  • Man, now I’ve seen everything. You’re citing a link to WorldNetDaily, bastion of Birthers and Teabaggers, as (forthcoming) evidence of collapse in the Mayan year of 2012. Strange bedfellows, indeed.

    Having known Guy all my life, I can vouch for the fact that despite his somewhat grumpy manichean online demeanor, he’s an empathetic, funny, and a hell of a nice guy in person. And he has put his money where his mouth is, quite literally.

  • Court(above),knows of that which he writes about–he’s ProfEmGuy’s nephew.

    I concur Court.My personal contacts with Guy confirm everything
    you said.

    Please go back to my posting of 6/27/10 under the previous Guy
    entry “Mac and Jack:Roughing it in the Sandwich Islands”,and let
    me know what you think.

    Double D

  • I have had the pleasure of visiting Guy McPherson at his current residence as well as hosting his own visit to my home. Never before have I personally seen a more well-rounded and sustainable dwelling than the mud-hut. The number and scale of projects found there is astonishing given the spatial limitations and the few residents involved in their construction. All endeavors were undertaken with attention to both detail and durability. As a result of Guy’s research, foresight, and physical labor, the mud-hut will remain a viable and comfortable residence far into the future, regardless of what that future holds.

    This visit exposed a new set of living conditions, which motivated me to seek similar arrangements in my own life. As part of that process I recently invited Guy out to Hawaii. In addition to his company I hoped to get an educated and open assessment of the property. Both were fulfilled in excess of my expectations. Guy helped clarify and visualize some of my visions and desires, as well as recommending many that lay beyond my knowledge. He is a dedicated, knowledgeable and highly capable resource in a wide array of areas.

    I would like to express my gratitude for years of instructions, inspiration and friendship. I have no doubt that Guy would improve upon and benefit others seeking similar circumstances.

  • Thanks to Jonsi, Cindy, matt!, Court, Frank Mezek, and James for your kind words, and for taking the time to post them here.

    Court, I generally agree with your assessment of WorldNetDaily. But in this case, the idiom appears to be right on: Even a blind hog can find an acorn in an oak patch once in a while. Celente’s record speaks for itself, as the story makes clear. And the evidence for economic collapse rises with every day, including today: “count your days for an impending economic collapse.

    Capitalism is dead, fortunately. The demise came too late to save ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico, or dozens of non-industrial cultures … but, perhaps it came in time to save the remaining shards of the living planet, and even our species. Maybe not, though.

    By the way, when the Mayan calendar is property adjusted to the one we currently use, the Mayan apocalypse is scheduled for 21 December 2008. So much for superstition.

  • Dear Guy,

    How can you help me? Just keep doing what you are doing. The best way you can help me is to keep presenting the truth on NBL …. it very much helps me maintain my sanity in the energy illiterate society that has gone completely mad I live in. (I started saying a number of years ago “I’m on the wrong planet!”)

    Just for background, I learned about resource depletion when studying for my BSc Honours Chemistry way back in the early 1970s, but like a lot of other people got caught up in the system. -in other words trapped by the money lenders.

    It really hit me after I read some of David Suziki’s work and heard him speak around 1999. Since then I have written Burn Baby Burn (2001), The Thinking Person’s NZ Guide to Suviving the Future (2006). Ten Things Everyone Ought To Know (2009), plus mountains of shorter stuff. I have tackled local councils and governments repeatedly on the issues of energy and the environment. I have myself and you on DVD for people to view. And as you can probably guess, none of it made one iota of difference. The government continues with its delusional nonsense and the local council continues to present community plans that read like torusim brochures.

    When matters relating to the squandering of energy and resources arise, I now say:”They’ll just keep doing it till they can’t.”

    It has become abundantly clear to me that everything official is predicated on lies and delusions, with various opportunists manipulating the political agenda and the media for their own short term ends: it is clear that short term vested interest, along with ignorance and apathy, will determine the future of this planet.

    I’m with you all the way in what you say about collapse of industrial civilisation, and for several years have been presenting the period 2012-2015 as fairly terminal for much of humanity, with the distinct probability of ‘the end of it all’ around 2030 if present trends continue. Not what people want to hear, of course. Nor the fact that there are around 5 billion too many people on this planet and that the human population will decline, one way or another, to around 1 billion if we are lucky and a few million if we are less fortunate. However, I’m with you all the way in so far as the other species on this planet need a rapid die-off of humanity.

    I have for a number of years been saying that we are headed for something akin to the 14th century (if we are lucky) and the Stone Age (if we are less fortunate).

    For the moment I have givern up talking to people or writing books: I spoke, wrote, gave interviews and presentations and put a lot into the site with great passion from 2004 to 2008 … and most people just didn’t get it, or weren’t interested. I now conclude for most people it will be just like the Jews who walked into the ‘shower units’ expecting water: carefully trained to be stupid, so they are.

    I must get back to my own Permaculture/Powerdown projects. But before I go, I must ask you: Why have you chosen to ‘set up camp’ where you have? I was living In Auckland (NZ) and fled to New Plymouth on the basis that Auckland is completely unsustanable, whereas the population to land area of Taranki is far more favourable, and there is rainfall throughout the year. You mentioned a rather low rainfall where you are (and I would have thought a somewhat extreme temperature range). Why have you not fled further from The Empire?

    Kind regards

    Kevin Moore

  • Thanks for the kindness of your comment, Kevin Moore. I agree with your assessment of the human condition. Most people simply do not want to know, so they willfully turn from the ever-expanding fire even as the flames of Rome spread to the entire industrial empire.

    Your parting paragraph poses an excellent question, to which I have only this poor answer: My criteria for leaving the empire included “within a tank of gas drive” from Tucson because my wife of many years is unwilling to abandon the empire, so far. I envy the relatively small human population of New Zealand, as well as the attendant physical environment. But that’s love for you — irrational, ridiculous, nonsensical to the core.

  • Hi Guy,
    I just recently found your blog because of LATOC (Matt Savinar’s site) I think many people everywhere are waking up to where we are headed (took long enough though).
    I only discovered Matt’s site last fall and it has given me a crash course in understanding how close we really are to the edge and this past 8 months has been quite an emotional ride. Now everyone I know instead of thinking I’m just peculiar are convinced I’m insane…

    I just think what Matt, you and anyone else out there who is being listened to and who is honestly trying to help people deal with what is coming is a good thing. If you get a few bucks out of it bfd, do what you can.
    I’m just thankful for LATOC, Joe Bagent, you and the growing number of voices out here in netspace so I don’t feel like I’m so alone.
    Thank you and good luck to you and all those who hope to make it through.

  • I am a first time commenter, but wanted to share because I first encountered Guy when he visited a class I was taking on sustainability last semester. Guy is a very entertaining speaker, but I instantly took a liking to him because of his frank and open demeanor and his laugh-out-loud funny way of pointing out just how absurd and unsustainable our lives truely are. He doesn’t pander and he’s not trying to win a popularity contest as he bluntly tells the class, “you are nothing, your lives will be over in a blink.” But if you are ready to stop living according to outdated paradigms, you might learn something that could save a life, possibly your own.
    As a student with a keen interest in psychology and a desire to live, and help others to live more meaningful and sustainable lives I was riveted by his message of hope. Hope, however, is not enough. The first step is to understand where hope is wasted-i.e. political solutions, neoclassical economics, our flawed educational system, and any other entity in denial of the biophysical limits to growth. Guy would be able to explain all this with far more clarity and depth.
    A couple weeks ago, Guy generously shared a leisurely 2 hours of his time with my partner and I while chatting over coffee/tea and answering dozens of our most pressing questions. We can’t wait to visit him at the mud hut and hope to get a better sense of what a sustainable community is all about while absorbing as much “how to” information as we can. I’ll be taking notes!

  • I would like to say that Guy allowed me to visit the mud hut in feb. he was a very gracious and kind host. He showed me all the things he had done to mitigate the effects of peak oil and collapse. I am forever grateful for the doors he opened for me. If I had money I would not hesitate to inquire and procure his services. He is a teacher at heart and therefore is willing to exchange ideas with any willing person. Do not pass up the opportunity of having Guy help or shed light on what is actually going on.

    To Guy: I am sorry I missed you when you were in Tucson the last time. If/when you come back please please send me an email as I would love to have coffee (milkshakes) with you again.

  • The rate of change in our world is accelerating. Old paradigms are on the verge of collapse. Those who are still focusing on where to get the best return on their investment are missing the elephant in the room.
    Dr. Guy McPherson is one of the few who really understand the far-reaching extent and seriousness of our current major crises, how they are connected and what they mean for our future.
    More importantly, he understands what we need to do as individuals, as well as a community and society in order to survive them.
    Guy is someone special – someone who not only knows what he is talking about, but, through personally putting solutions into action himself, has answers for the rest of us.
    Let’s not give up on trying to save the world, but it needs to start with each of us getting serious about saving our piece of it.
    Guy can show you how.
    This is not something you want to put off. Get in touch with Guy now.

  • Hi Guy,

    You probably have never spent a summer in Florida. No white person really wanted to, either, until the advent of Air Conditioning which is why the Seminoles are the only tribe never to be conquered outright by the Union Army- they simply couldn’t handle the swamp. It’s perhaps even worse than Arizona, which is also difficult to imagine (for year-round humans) without Air Conditioning. Same for Texas, Louisiana, parts of Alabama. Absolutely brutal. Historian Shelby Foote is old enough to remember what it was like when people suffered through Summers in the old South without air conditioning. Today from his air-conditioned study, he waxes romantic about how friends and neighbors under Summer’s Assault bonded together under shade with cool drink. Fortunately it only went on for a few months.

    But now there are tens of millions in places that have this brutality 9 – 12 months out of the year. Moreover, they also depend on A/C in their cars.

    If the collapse (most likely spasmodic, with partial interruptions of service everywhere…it will not be an all or none phenomenon) you foresee does occur, reliable A/C will fall by the wayside for 50,000,000 – 100,000,000 Americans producing intense discomfort (not to mention plenty of acute health problems and some life-threatening emergencies).

    How do your scenarios include disruption of reliable Air Conditioning service to places that otherwise are far less habitable, like Arizona, Florida, Texas – indeed, much of the Sunbelt? I’m inclined to think that some mass out-migration would be inevitable; the heat would simply overwhelm too many to stay. But for the individuals that do not have the wherewithal to have an alternate location in cooler climate ready (their numbers will constitute a majority), do you have plans/ideas to help them sustain themselves with some measure of physical comfort where they are?

    Would be grateful for your reply on this.


  • Scott Schneiger, I’ve never spent a summer in Florida. But I spent one in southern Georgia, on Cumberland Island, without air conditioning. It was uncomfortable to the extreme. And I was in my late twenties then.

    I have a couple comments about your comment, and I foresee a few scenarios:

    1. Most people will not recognize collapse when it happens to them. They will not recognize that the power is out and the water is off for the final time. Waiting for the lights to come back on — waiting for the government or utility company to save them — they’ll die of thirst or heat exhaustion in their homes. I have many friends and family members who will fall into this group. I do not relish the thought.

    2a. Several people will know it’s time to leave the city/town, and will hit a crowded road, thus creating a traffic jam filled with frustrated, edgy drivers. This is a prescription for the world’s largest case of road rage.

    2b. A few people will recognize what’s happening, and will get out of town while they’re still able. They will try to fine a place to “take them in” even though they haven’t nothing to offer. Actually, this is already happening throughout the country (and throughout the industrialized world) as families pack an uncomfortable number of people into their homes. But if there’s nobody to take you in, and fiat currency is worthless, and you have no skills, I think you’re in for an uncomfortable experience (and maybe a series of them).

    These are among the many adverse consequences of ecological overshoot. There is simply no way for the continental U.S. to support 310 million people, living well-fed lives of comfort. The typical response to this
    hard-nosed (i.e., realistic) assessment is that we cannot let it happen. In other words, already in dire overshoot, most people want to continue the overshoot. I guarantee that keeping the industrial era rocking along while we blithely add >200,000 people each day will NOT improve the situation.

    A return to a more sane human population will occur. I prefer it to happen soon and suddenly, rather than later and even more tortuously. In return, people call me malicious (or worse). As if extending overshoot is a kind and loving approach to ourselves or the living planet.

  • I will join the other posters here in support of Guy and his efforts to address the imminent and dramatic changes that threaten our future (and our present). Who can deny that the cascade of recent events regarding the three E’s, so fundamental to our way of life (Economy, Environment, and Energy), are anything less than the results of a culture/civilization unraveling.

    I first encountered Guy through his guest editorials in the Arizona Daily Star, years ago. It was heartening for me to learn of someone (a colleague at the university no less) who was not only thinking similar thoughts, but also was trying to do something about it. Since then, I have come to view Guy as a leader and a pioneer working toward ‘the new paradigm’. His decision to leave academia in order to dedicate himself fully to the cause is in itself courageous and inspiring. (He has done what many professors only dream of doing. We whisper to each other in the hallways about how much we’d like to quit, and of how idiotic the university system is, but, of course, we continue on, semester after semester for fear and complacency. Guy rubs our faces in our hypocrisy and points out our ruse.)

    I have had the pleasure to visit the mud hut and will vouch for the extensive work and planning that has gone into the effort. There, one can learn how to integrate systems in a coordinated way that fosters resiliency and durability. Just as Guy has outlined in his many posts on this blog, work at the mud hut demonstrates a comprehensive approach to the fundamentals: water, food production, body temperature and community.

    No one can truly predict what the future will bring, but it is a safe to bet that increasing our self-sufficiency will go a long way toward mitigating the effects of whatever it is the Fates finally throw at us. Contact Guy to learn how.

  • Scott Schneider:

    If you can get above 4,000 feet,and away from ordinary human settlements in the South-West where Guy’s Mud Hut is located,
    you can live fairly comfortablly without A/C.

    Average temperatures drop 3 to 5 degrees,for every 1,000 feet
    of elevation above sea level. The heat island effect of asphalt and
    concrete is also significant.60 years ago,the average night time
    temperature in Phoenix was 74F, in July, quite nice.Humidity,or lack
    thereof is the key.Arid areas,like deserts,cool off quickly after sun

    In fact,Guy will probably tell you,and I don’t want to put words in his mouth,that keeping warm–not cool–is his main problem as far as the climate is coccerned.

    Double D

  • Just because capitalism has reached zombie status doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t want to devour everything in sight. There are plenty of capitalist-spawned organizations that will adapt readily to the structures of feudalism and continue looting the planet until the last warlord or party boss is no longer left standing.

    People who assume that anarchy will prevail underestimate the lengths that organizations will go to survive, be they states, tribes, or DAR chapters.

    Just got back from my MFA residency. Have noticed that many of my writing students have serious trouble projecting their narrative characters into the future–they write about the Clinton era and call it the future, which is a weird form of denial. I think a kind of generational intuition about cause-and-effect is involved. There’s a thin layer of vacuum between their present and their future, and linear sequences don’t always compute for them.

    I think a kind of cognitive phase-change is involved. The fact that so many couples have a man who is trying to prepare for collapse and a woman who refuses to countenance the defensive measures means that there are a bunch of women out there who see things some things that their men are missing. I wouldn’t confuse this phenomenon with good news.

    I’ll try to get these jumbled thoughts into an essay and see if Guy will let me post it. In the meantime, here’s my latest contribution to doomer-porn:


    If I could have a ten minute talk with the person I’ll be in twenty years, I’d pay him my annual salary in Federal Reserve Notes, just to find out who I’m going to be.

    I hope he’d take the money. I hope he wouldn’t want a gold watch or a silver fork or a bag of walnuts instead. Or canned pudding. If he’d want canned pudding that would mean he wouldn’t have teeth anymore, and was hungry.

    Whatever he wants, I’d pay it. But I’d start with hundred-dollar bills.

    Then maybe he’d tell me about the Great Migration, when everybody in the Gulf Coast states moved north, about the same time the Libertarians took over the Western States Federation, dissolved the provisional government, and put all the governors and congressmen and senators to work digging free-market potatoes.

    I’d tell him I really didn’t want to know about politics, I just wanted to know about what happens to me. He’d snort and giggle and say, “What’s to know? You’re old. Old and decrepit. You think your brain is stored in a hard-drive somewhere and you’re going to live forever as ones and zeroes? They tried that. It destroyed the brains, and it didn’t do the hard-drives any good either.”

    “That’s not what I mean,” I’d say. “Will I be happy? Will I be rich?”

    “Where you’re concerned,” he’d say, “what will be, will be. You were never what I’d call a player on the stage of History. Sure you don’t want to know about the Eastern Idaho Glow In the Dark Zone? The Chinese-Brazilian Empire? We’re part of it, you know. Actually, we’re part of both of them.”

    “I’d like to know what to do with my life,” I’d say. “And maybe some stock tips.”

    “Stay out of stocks,” he’d say. “The only kind we have anymore is the kind they lock you into in the public square so they can throw eggs at you. They’re usually out of eggs, so they throw rocks. The rocks hurt, and you have a stiff neck from sitting in one position all day.”

    “What should I do? I paid you all that money. I want some answers.”

    He’d shake his head. “The things I do for toilet paper. Okay. You want to make yourself useful? Here’s a list of some very bad people. In your time, they’re still running around without their security details. Nobody knows they’re evil. They haven’t killed millions of people yet. I want you to see that they get into the art schools they’ve applied to. Or are hired as county zoning inspectors. Try to talk them out of working for Goldman Sachs.”

    “You’re scaring me.”

    “Kid,” he’d say, “you don’t know what scared is.”

    “What can I do to make you a happier and gentler person?”

    The question would rock him back on his heels a bit.

    “Let’s focus on the happy,” he’d say. “Gentleness is being selected out of the population in unpleasant ways these days.”

    “Happy,” I’d say.

    “Blankets,” he’d say. “Buy me a bunch of blankets. Enough blankets, I’ll be rich. You can trade blankets for cheese. Seems like everybody wants a blanket. Reminds them of when they were kids, dragging their binkie around the house. Costco’s still around, right? See if they have a special on blankets. Buy me about fifty of them. Wrap them in plastic and put them in the trunk of your old car.”

    “Then what?”

    “Then nothing. I’m living in that car. I’ll just go back and open the trunk and Bingo! Binkies for all my friends. At least the ones with spare cheese. I’ll keep one for myself.”

    “You don’t even have a blanket?”

    “Binkies are hard to come by. And it’s tough and cold without them. Remember when we were a kid, running around our parents’ house, using our binkie like a cape, feeling secure and protected, wrapping ourselves up in it and thinking we were going to be safe and warm forever?”

    “I don’t remember that.”

    “You will, boy,” he’d say. “You will.”

  • I think I am going to have to follow in the footsteps of Guy and others here who are making plans to leave behind this illness we call a civilization.

    My first step on this path started thirteen years ago when I left the biomedical research world to teach at a small Tribal College near my hometown (the native americans here still refer to my home town as a “border town”). Here I could raise my three children among their extended family and also teach at a Native American college that at the time I believed could be a focal point or catalyst for change. Change that would help mitigate the effects of collapse on the network of small communities in the surrounding area.

    Unfortunately, it is clear the local Native culture has been corrupted by our industrial disease (long, sad story) and that they, as well as the many small local communities in the area have every intention of holding on to this dead paradigm we call industrial civilization.

    I will be leaving within the next year or two (assuming we have that much time left to make and implement plans). I just cannot remain a part of this culture and remain a sane at the same time. And leaving this area will be easier for me now since I no longer recognize the people I knew, loved and grew up with over the past four decades.

    Thanks to all here for your contributions, and to Guy for setting a great example and for providing a forum for those of us who can no longer live in this Mass Delusion.

  • Hi Folks,

    I’d like to add another testimonial about the good professor as Dr. Guy’s generally quieter partner at the mud hut. My first compliment to Guy is the fact that he did/does indeed put his money where his mouth is. Jumping the ship of empire, particularly when you are enjoying its fruits, is not easy. Unlike myself, an abject failure in the cubicles of empire, Guy thrived and enjoy a great deal of success. The willingness to let go of the shore is impressive.

    Secondly (and I shouldn’t have to state this because Guy states it in almost every post), Guy gets it. It’s not about collapse. It’s not about escaping. It’s not about fear. It’s about being fully human and living in a way that gives the ongoing pageant of life on this planet a decent shot at a future. It’s about other species and cultures. The epihany for Guy, I think, was not an understanding of peak oil and what that means for the imminent end of western industrial civilization. It was, rather, an understanding that western industrial civilization had costs to high to bear. Guy is not a survivalist, he is an ethicist. So, I might add, are many of the people in the community where he landed. That, for me, was and remains the biggest draw of the mud hut’s location.

    To all of you that have read about or visited the mud hut, thank you for your interest. We are surely getting there. Most of the fruit trees are now taller than Guy (a considerable feat). Shelter and water are largely secured with durable arrangements. We are about three years into the project and it is indeed impressive. But, of course, we are not “there”. There is no end point. There is only an endless series of chores, much of it physically demanding, often resulting in failure and the spilling of blood. In another ten years, we might even know something about soil and the growing of food.

    So, if you want to begin this journey and you want Guy’s help, my recommendation is to grow up; drop the survivalist crap and fall in love again with the planet. Let go of collapse. Let go of fear. It is what it is: classic overshoot, and despite your best efforts, you’re probably going to die much younger than your parents. Your’e probably going to suffer. Yes, Guy can tell you, if you ask, how to buffer yourself somewhat and make more durable living arrangements. That, alone, will surely be worth his fee. But Guy can also tell you why you should choose to make those arrangements and how, as a adult, potentially human, you might be of service to the world. That is priceless and comes for free.

  • Andy, Paul Huddy, and Mark, thanks for taking the time to provide complimentary comments. john rember, thanks for the story, which has me laughing out loud … I’ll post your guest essays any time.

    Navid, thanks for your uniquely informed, long-term perspective.

    Mike, thanks for your wonderfully insightful comment. It’s a reminder about the moral imperative we face, and its relevance in a world gone mad.

  • Say it like it IS Mike!

  • I can honestly say that Guy is one of the only reasons I stuck through college for the time that I did. He has a way of engaging students and guiding the flow of conversation while still letting it feel like a free discussion of ideas. Despite his somewhat grim subject matter I have met few educators who feel as deeply as Guy, even being brought to tears at points while we taught poetry together in the correctional system in Tucson. I would strongly suggest that anyone who is seeking an honest and in depth analysis of their home and property for sustainable living seek out Guy’s services, you will not be disappointed. My only advice is to watch his sleeves if you ever play cards with him, he can be quite tricky.

  • I’m happy to vouch for Guy’s seriousness and genuine concern for his fellow man. Unexpectedly he emailed me a little while ago with some unsolicited, though welcome, advice for the post-industrial future.

    In my continuing exploration of the oil crisis, I’ve come across the researcher Vaclav Smil, a polymath at the University of Manitoba who denies any imminent peak oil-induced cataclysm. His thoughts on this issue seem to me woefully underdeveloped, surprisingly so for such a distinguished scholar. He says that “contrary to alarmist claims about the end of oil production, the transition to renewable energies will be a protracted affair” (Global Catastrophes and Trends, p. 77), but then goes on to document that there’s no ready substitute for oil and that most observers fail to comprehend the difficulty of the transition to a post-oil economy. Along the way there are appeals to “human inventiveness and adaptability,” “price shifts,” (with no mention of the unpleasant societal discontinuities that will be their likely cause) and the “inertia of modern energy systems.” He also reproduces the well-known bell curves of the standard peak-oil theorists, and labels them as “failed forecasts of global peak oil production” because they placed the all-time peak around the year 2000, without dealing with the fact that being off by a few years is quite remarkable considering how early some of the curves were originally set forth. The crux of his thesis is that the doomers are crackpots, but those who look to renewables are deceiving themselves. He doesn’t seem to have a problem claiming both at the same time. Smil is an exceedingly intelligent man, with genuine expertise in multiple fields, but even I, as a non-expert, was shocked at the glibness of his treatment.

    As for my own preparation, I am sad to say I have done nothing. I want that to change this summer. My present commitments end in August. My biggest obstacle is lack of funds (although I have no debt). Practically speaking, any venture that requires expenditure of more than a few hundred dollars is inaccessible to me. I’ve begun to consider several options. 1) I’ve been looking around the internet for a community that is producing all or most of its own food, and generally has solved the four “musts” Guy always lists. One site with many listings is that of the Fellowship for Intentional Communities. I’ve read through a lot of them to get a feel of what’s out there. 2) I would strongly consider moving to a country that did not depend on the industrial infrastructure. For a long time I’ve read the Health Ranger, Mike Adams’s site. He moved to Ecuador to take advantage of its year-long growing season for the healthiest fruits and vegetables, but has since discovered that it could also be a haven from financial crisis and peak oil. I’ve read an article saying that one of its cities has the lowest living expenses in the world, but has decent living standards. Perhaps that could serve as a jumping-off point to life in a sustainable community in a rural area. However, in the case of the tropics, I’m concerned about insects, snakes, global warming, and population growth. 3) I’m also wondering about locales in the industrialized world that are less tied to industry than say, American suburbia – possibly the rural Mediterranean (Sicily?) or Australia/NZ. Or, will these places be crushed by financial collapse and then cooked by global warming just like the rest of us? 4) I could move in with my parents, who live in hardiness zone 4, and attempt to convince them launch a homestead. But how this would be done in their frigid climate and how they, baby-boomer denizens of empire who laugh off my constant warnings of impending doom, would even agree to it, are beyond me. 5) Forest gardening – is this worthwhile? Can one survive from it? What if one owns no property? And won’t the animals eat everything? 6) I’ve thought of trying to get a “real” job and working for a year. Just one year of a regular salary would dramatically change my situation. I’m not sure if I have that kind of time, though.

    All in all, I don’t have a lot going for me. However, I did graduate on a merit scholarship from a top university and then took up math as an undergraduate at another university; I also have extensive experience teaching and tutoring part-time. While my accomplishments pale in comparison to those of many on this board, they do show that I am capable of conscious, long-term, serious effort. I want to start that effort this year.

  • Jeremy ~ I feel your pain! The younger generations have to deal with such a different perspective on the future than did our generation. If you would like to check out Brazil, please feel free to come visit us here.

    The difficult thing for you, though, is $$ I’m sure! We, like Guy, are retired from academic life, but unlike Guy, we have benefits from the Arizona State Retirement System. As long as the system hold out, we are sittin’ pretty, not rich, but certainly wealthier than most here (we are in our early 50’s).

    We are making investments and building a life that will sustain us even when the system crashes and the paychecks no longer matter. For someone your age, however, it is VERY difficult to make a living here. On one hand you can live on next to nothing, but on the other hand, if you are a “nobody” getting work at a decent wage is very hard to come by, especially when you, like us, want to live away from the city. Exchanging resources and talent is another economy that we are exploring, but ???

    We do not live in the “tropics” or the Amazon. We are in a small town called Pirenopolis located in the state of Goias and in an ecozone know as the “Cerrado”. Growing food has been pretty plentiful for us so far ;-), but the language is a challenge that we continue to struggle with, which also hinders us in the “community” perspective that Guy talks about.

    I would say that the most important thing for you is to know how to grow (hunt?) your own food, have some staple food and drinking WATER stored (maybe your parent’s place?), and stay away from cities! Stay connected with like minds and keep looking for opportunities to help you reach your dreams. A good option might be something like the Peace Corps or other such volunteer opportunities that would give you more global connections.

    Just some thoughts. Best of luck to you!

  • matt:

    Congratulations !!

    Your new Prime Minister is an avowed atheist who lives with her boyfriend.

    She could not be elected a dog-catcher in the US.I have long said that of all the so called advanced nations of the world,Americans are the most
    ignorant,backward,and barbaric of all.This is a great example of that.

    Double D

  • DD,

    She is childless and a red head (‘ranga’) as well.
    Although, I must say her accent makes every educated
    Australian cringe. She sounds like a truck drivers wife.
    She is welsh born, came out when she was 11 years of age.
    Perhaps she picked up the worst characteristics of the Aussie
    accent. Lets face it the Aussie accent is pretty shitful!
    Give me a female french accent any day. Apols Guy, bit off topic.

  • I write from beautiful central Texas (Austin) where awaking to the hum of multi-ton air conditioner compressors is the sound of survival. Last year we had 68 days over 100 F. I realize that without AC we are screwed; remember, the houses, not to speak of the high-rise glass clad office buildings, are not built for natural ventilation.

    Guy, the Archdruid writes this week of a new free lance intellectual, proficient in the skills of the appropriate technology movement of the ’70s, offering life saving advice for adaptation. What do you think? Is there a new calling? Green wizardry??

  • Thanks for mentioning Greer’s essay, John L. Stanley. I don’t usually follow his posts because I find him humorless and too self-contradictory. But I agree with him about this issue. We desperately need people who have thought about what’s coming, made appropriate arrangements to deal with economic contraction and climate change, and are willing to help others deal with profound changes ahead of us. Fortunately, any number can play, and most people have a skill or set of skills that should prove useful. I welcome all such volunteers to “register” here, as did Jan Steinman in the first comment on this essay, so we can (1) lend moral support and (2) help each other in pragmatic ways.

  • On various peak oil sites lately, there has been a bit of a discussion about ‘spouses that don’t get it’. I am definitely in one of those relationships.
    Perhaps I married a contrarian, perhaps she did too. Following is a brief list of some of the obstacles.
    *no PV on the roof – ‘they are ugly’
    *no more rain water tanks (only have 4500L) – see above
    *modest veg garden only – see above
    *modest number of fruit trees – see above in Autumn
    *we wont be moving – she has found her ‘retirement home’ (840sqm block),
    adobe in a bush suburb. She is in love with the house.

    Peak oil? – here is a list of quotes from the better half – (she is a genetics major, graduated from Australia’s most prestigious university). Currently teaches science and math at high school.

    *‘We will come up with an alternative, if not we will deal with it when it arrives’.
    *‘No more doom and gloom, I have enough on my mind already’.
    *‘You are just catastrophising (sp?) again’.
    *’Do you trust everything that you read on the internet?’
    *’That is just one persons opinion’.
    *’Continuously rolls her eyes’.
    (I know it is not a quote, but worthy of quotation marks)
    *’If what I say is true how come (almost) everybody we know has never heard of it’.
    *’You are so negative’.
    *I don’t want to think about’.
    *How can you continue to read that stuff?’
    *’You have been banging about this stuff for 4-5 years and nothing has changed.’ She gives me a quizzical doubtful ‘hmmm’ like the one Cheryl gives Larry David in Curb your Enthusiasm whenever he prattles on about something.
    I could go on…

    Guy, I will be digging the well when she is thirsty!

    The point is I no longer mention PO, the online community is my secret hobby.  Thanks one and all for the ‘conversation’.

    Back to the very important business of managing consultants who design playgrounds…..

  • matt:

    Then I’ve never heard an Aussie accent,and I’ve met,talked to,many Aussies.They must have all been educated people ??

    Please send a link,so we can hear what it sounds like.

    Also her bio says she has slept with many men in her party—she’s
    quite a woman.

    So your PM is an atheist,living in sin,demimondaine.

    I never realized Aussies were so tolerant.

    Double D

  • matt:

    I just listened to her.She just (I don’t mean to insult you)sounded like
    an Aussie is supposed to sound like.

    Please give us a link then to yourself,or another educated Aussie,so we can tell the difference.


    Double D

  • Frank,

    when I posted the critique of her accent, I realised later perhaps
    you blokes may not tell the difference between various Aussie accents.
    Her voice is akin to finger nails down a blackboard. It is truly appalling.
    To our ears Cate Blanchett sounds very different to our PM. So does Nicole Kidman, I guess the PMs accent comes across as very coarse working class ocker ‘bogan’ type of an accent. Our comedians here are already taking the piss out of the way she speaks. To be honest I dont know anyone who speaks like that. Having said the above, Russel Crowe puts on a bit of a ocker type accent, bare in mind he is from Sydney, the south is little more cultured than the north. :)
    Listen to Cate and then Julia, to see whether you can spot the difference.
    Also, our PMs boyfriend is a hairdresser!
    I dont vote for the Labour party – they are too right wing for me!
    I dont agree with everything the greens say either, at the next
    election, I will just get my name marked off the electoral roll.
    We have compulsory voting here, you get fined if you dont vote,
    consequently our society as a whole leans more to the left
    than the US would. Her atheism and marital status has barely registered a blip in the popular/tabloid media. They talk more about the fact she is a ‘ranga’. Aussie irreverence.

  • It’s taken me a while to figure out what to post here, but what I really wanted to share is this: if you don’t know how to milk a goat, you ought to learn. Guy taught me in May and his patience with my efforts made me feel confident in our ability to learn whatever practical skills we’ll need as we continue down this path. So, if for no other reason (but there are plenty), we’ll be indebted to Guy if we’re eating chevre post-collapse.

  • in the end it is only through SHOWING people and passing on skills that matter change can occur. It needs to be rooted in the daily routine and thinking of people… and while it is always useful to read another’s opinions… the biggest change and sharing of knowledge comes through DOING.

    It seems fairly obvious to me that there are TOO FEW people offering an alternative way to both live, learn and recreate (or redream) how to live. Why is it we spend so little time focusing on HOW we live and just exist as we see other’s do so around us?

    It is time to live the more thoughtful life. I am glad to hear about your intention to pass on that knowledge Guy. The world needs more doing the same.


  • Guy, You are so kind to offer your services in this way. People who can afford his help should do it!

    I would like to comment on the body temperature issue. Heating degree days and cooling degree days inform you of the average severity of the local temperature regime. To keep a 98 degree body temperature is the goal. Basal metabolism generates heat as ATP is converted to ADP. We start to sweat at aboout 90 degress because we need a heat sink.
    In the southwest humidity is generaly low so sweat is very efficient at cooling. I found that in a very sunny climate where average July high is 103 that having a shallow 18 inch to 2 foot deep pool can be used for cooling because it has a large surface area to volume ratio I found that even in the full sun that it stays below 99 degrees. Due to the thermal condunctivity of water, your body will not overheat if you are in it. I can recall many a pleasant sunset with a Margarita in hand in the pool with the air temp over 100. Leaving the pool, you almost feel cold esp with a breeze blowing, which was common, as the water evaporating off your skin has a massive cooling effect. The water evaporates rapidy due to low humidity.

    The same principal is how an evaporative cooler works, You can cool a small house with 300 watts or less. PV can be a good match.esp if you had a dc motor (for the squirrel cage blower and dc pump for the water. It could be done without batteries or an inverter in the daytime hours.
    Even with grid power $20 to $30 bucks a month in the very hot weather is for most people not that high. In the future however, as net energy declines, cooling costs will go up.

    Since the sw in general cools off decently at night, due to the low humidity people used to build with large amounts of themal mass to modify the temperature swings. Open the windows at night, close them when the outside temp is higher than the inside temp. You can buy modern effecient 20 watt dc fans for which can cool you if the air temp is lower than 98 degrees…

    If the house it too hot to sleep, a cot works wonders outside. Use the kind with a mesh underneath and you can sleep even if the temp is in the low 90s, esp if there is breeze which is very common.

    In the low elevation sw of the deserts of AZ and CA with a bit of south facing glass and some thermal mass, one needs no heating system in a home. I used less than 20 gallons of propane over one winter in a house with low thermal mass and little direct south sunlight. use down blankets at night…

    When you compare cooling degree days from he east of the US to the west keep in mind the humidity difference. There is big difference between a 35 degree dewpoint and an 80 degree dewpoint on comfort and the ability to do work.

    For heating degree days keep in mind the average hours of sun when comparing locations and also windspeed.

    Cutting cordwood by with an ax and a saw is possible. You will triple or quadruple your caloric needs. The lumbercamp cook(cookie) in Maine served about 8000 calories a day to the crew in the winter. I found that spitting wood by hand at 10 degrees, that I was comfortable in a light jacket. When it is warmer than about 25 it is harder to work at a good pace due to overheating. The big trick is to have a woodlot that is uphill from your shelter and, with sleds on snow, the moving of cordwood is easier. You need 2 acres of hardwood forest to give about 1 cord a year. Cordwood has about a 40 EROEI from what I have read.I am not sure of the methodology used to derive the figure, I assume that it was with chainsaws. The bucking up of cordwood is better with 2 people as the 2 man saw can be used. Learn how to sharpen axes and saws and how to use mauls and steel wedges. It is also more safe to have 2 people working in the woods than one. Dead branches are called widow makers for good reason. An electric chainsaw could be used for bucking up the cordwood. I do not know if they make a dc one.
    With the massive caloric needs to get cordwood you will need more area to grow food in a colder climate and spend more time in the summer growing that extra food. Passive solar homes, small in size, are needed to keep the suplemental heating needs down. Also designing one that you can close off rooms in the winter and not freeze pipes by doing that is an important strategy. Having a dug well under your home with a pitcher pump can alleviate the need for keeping the home above freezing…

  • Well, what can I say – I’d love to see the mud hut, and moreover, the surroundings, the garden, the solar cooker and I’d definitely would love Guy to teach me how to milk a goat (!) (since I’m anticipating keeping one in a not very distant future). But, the trip from Sweden to the mud hut is just a bit over the top. Too much CO2 and the money is better spent on actually buying the goat – when [if] I’ve managed to prepare my own garden and mud hut.

    Thank’s Guy, for your care and advice, and for
    (1) making it feel more sincere and trustworthy because it doesn’t cost me my shirt (in fact nothing) and
    (2) giving very cheap advice (or “sheep” advice, as many Swedes would pronounciate it ;o)) which enables me to reach my goat-dreams faster.

  • Hi,

    What can we do, if we are already broke?

  • This blog brings to mind, wondering if there is a singles network for us Doom Bats? I like the humor in that name, and of course I am even more interested in ideas around human consciousness that recognize its role in the evolutionary journey of our species. To me, that has a lot of creative possibility in the face of all the dire and depressing probabilities. Anyway, so often one person in a duo is interested in these ideas and her/his spouse or partner isn’t. Shall we see what we can do to bring together others who share the vision and the hard truths of What a Way To Go? Let’s begin or join in that conversation. Namaste.

  • Guy, I heard you speak in Louisville 2010 or so, but I’ve been thinking about transition since attending Community Solutions Conference in 2008. What I lacked then were the means and the collaborators to enable me to undertake a durable, sustainable lifestyle in a suitable place. I’ve been blessed, in the past year, to find a life partner who is several steps ahead of me. I’m leaving the job and life in the subdivision this summer (perhaps just in the nick of time). Your example and your book, along with assorted other nudges large and small, have helped me to keep moving forward and to let go of a life I cannot keep in any case.

  • I wish we could afford to bring you to Sweden and hear your input on our ongoing project.


  • For those looking for the exit let me suggest New Zealand – lots of arable land and only 4 million people (most of them in Auckland) Cindy Winkelman’s description of Brazil also sounds like a good destination.

    If you can’t leave the country (USA) at least leave the city – a small community near farmland is probably a good bet, and a good place to start looking is for a Transition Town ( many of those folks “get it” and even if some don’t, they are still moving in a durable direction.

    Community is the key. As our anthropology professor told us “A lone wolf is a dead wolf”

    – Deck

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