The agenda revisited

All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. (Arthur Schopenhauer, one of my philosophical heroes)


Based on recent comments in this space, and also in my email in-box, I am compelled to provide an updated overview of my proposed agenda in light of the ongoing collapse of the world’s industrial economy. There’s nothing new here, but plenty of people don’t have the time to read what I’ve written in the past so, in spasms of foolish ignorance, they keep asking me to stop driving my car (trust me, I’d love to … and I go for weeks at a time without doing so) or cease speaking and writing about economic collapse because it is not happening (and, in a related issue, there’s an invisible man in the sky who loves us and wants us to be happy).

The other primary topic of conversation, real and virtual, begins with “Okay, but what can I do?” As if I’ve ignored that particular question. “No, but I mean me. Here in Phoenix. With no money and no spare time.”

Sigh. If you’re unwilling to change, you’ll simply have to let change happen to you. And Bill Clinton was correct about this issue: People like change in general, but not in particular. Nobody who is unwilling to change is liable to appreciate the change headed their way.

If you’re willing to change, perhaps you’ll seek ideas and inspiration from sources other than me. Perhaps you’ll test your courage, creativity, and compassion. You’re going to need those attributes soon enough anyway, so you might as well drag them out now.

I think the ongoing economic collapse is driven by declining energy supply at the world level: We passed the world peak of conventional crude oil in 2005. Considering the primacy of oil to the industrial economy and therefore to our way of living, it’s no surprise the industrial economy is unraveling. Fortunately, it’s taking disaster capitalism with it, albeit far too slowly to suit me.

My hope, of course, is completion of the economic collapse in time to save the remaining fragments of the world’s biological diversity and perhaps even habitat for our own species. Call me a dreamer. Recognizing that it’s generally a waste of time to try to convince people we’re headed for economic disaster and therefore environmental nirvana, that, regardless, is my mission.

I have no interest in trying to save civilization, which is irredeemable and omnicidal. But I am interested in extending the lives of the relatively few people in the industrialized world willing to make substantive changes in their lives. Sadly, that leaves out nearly everybody with whom I converse or correspond.

Conservation is irrelevant at this point and, with respect to materials that are too cheap to meter, conservation probably has always been irrelevant. That’s the crux of Jevons’ paradox. Although Jevons’ paradox assumes free markets, and all markets are manipulated, it is not at all clear to me that relaxing the free-market assumption would have a significant influence on the global outcome of energy markets. Furthermore, if you’re really a believer in free markets and lack of governmental interference in those markets, then oil is the premier example of a global free market.

Many people are concerned we’ll respond to Jevons’ paradox with hedonism. As if we’re not already there.

If you think individual conservation efforts scale up to society, consider an incomplete but still stunning overview of the statistics on energy use. For example, the energy in a million barrels of crude oil — the amount gushing in the Gulf of Mexico every ten days or so — will supply your house with power for the next 81,000 years or so but will keep cars on U.S. highways for about four hours. So, at some level we’re all BP (those of you cheering for the industrial economy have company from J.P. Morgan Chase on the BP issue — the spill and cleanup apparently will enhance GDP, at least in the short run). More pragmatically, though, we each bear about as much responsibility for BP’s incompetence and recklessness as we bear for causing planetary ice to melt, the financial success of Wal-Mart, and the microfauna in belly of the nearest polar bear. As much as the media and politicians would like you to feel responsible and guilty, you should feel neither.

I regularly promote the idea of hastening economic collapse. If you’re not on board with that idea, but you still see the huge neon signs pointing us in that direction, perhaps you can be convinced to pursue a modicum of self reliance.

Photo credit: Getty images

The notion of self reliance, long discarded in a nation where we enslave others to do our drudgery, is about to make a profound comeback. When the new Dark Age gets under way, people who are willing to do useful things with their hands and minds will be welcome additions in any community. The contemporary idea of American-style independence is, in Orwellian fashion, the exact opposite of independence. To secure our food, water, and body temperature, we have become wholly dependent on a large-scale system (the industrial economy). This is the diametric opposite of self reliance, and it’s long past time to focus on self reliance within the context of the interdependence of people in communities. We need each other, but we do not need the industrial economy.

How do you provide service to your community? What preparations should you make to thrive during the post-carbon era, and to help your community thrive, too?

I have written at length about the preparations I’ve made, with a focus on water, food, body temperature, human community, and living a life of service (in this case, four out of five gets you the equivalent of a cake with no flour). Securing these elements has been done by humans for about two million years in the absence of the industrial economy. Only recently have we become dependent on a system that is making us crazy and killing us. I suggest we get out of this system. If that cannot be done in your specific location — and I’m thinking about places such as Tucson, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California — I strongly suggest changing locations. The other obvious alternative is to re-arrange the deck chairs as the cruise ship of empire takes on even more water. There are many approaches to be pursued on this front, including recycling, joining a CSA, riding the bus, and volunteering in the local literacy movement. These are noble causes, but they won’t save you or your community. And if you don’t save yourself, you won’t be able to help anybody else.

People often ask me how they can make the kinds of changes I’ve made, without actually making those changes themselves. That is, how can they turn their lives upside-down without actually changing a thing? They blame lack of finances (which, as I’ve pointed out with my own example, can be overcome by joining others in a community-based effort). They blame an unwillingness to leave the apex of empire, the large city they occupy (i.e., they do not agree with my view that industrial economy is inherently immoral). They blame the marauding hordes certain to find them if they get out of the city (i.e., they use any and every excuse to avoid taking action). Comfortable with the immorality of their lives, unwilling to forgo empire in exchange for the difficulty of self reliance, brainwashed by culture to keep pursuing this particular version of culture, they are hopelessly trapped in a hapless situation. Although I recognize the power of culture and the lack of free will for human animals, I’m beginning to lose sympathy.

Empires don’t break up, they break down. And American Empire is obviously breaking down, with abundant evidence to be found in the striking absence of any appeal to the common good from governments at any level. There has been no semblance of morality emanating from the fascists running the corporations, and therefore the country, since at least 1980. I don’t expect a vast outpouring of empathy and compassion any time soon. Faux compassion, of course. But the real deal? I hardly think so.

Digital art courtesy of Hock on the Behance Network

Although some insist a slow descent is likely, I have yet to understand how that can possibly work. Feel free to fill me in. Do we dim the lights one percent annually so that, in one hundred years, the electricity goes out without our noticing? Do we reduce our extraction of finite materials a few percent each year, even as the human population grows by more than 200,000 people daily, until we simply, peacefully, stop using everything needed to maintain the industrial economy? Do we slowly, painlessly, with no suffering at all, reduce the human population to a viable number? What is that number? A billion? Fewer?

All these outcomes seem quite unlikely to me. I think we’re so committed to unlimited, exponential growth on a finite planet that we’ll do whatever it takes to delude ourselves into believing that impossibility. If that means we have to destroy everybody and everything so we can have ice cream and cookies every night, that’s exactly what we’ll do. We’re an industrialized world of overfed clowns and we think others are laughing with us instead of at us. In short, I need somebody to show me another way. I’m eager to learn how we can prevent unimaginable suffering and catastrophic die-off on a finite planet. Sans miracles, of course.

Looking back, and relying on a plethora of economic metrics, it’s evident we’ve experienced a lost decade. So we can trace the economic decay to 2000 or so. It’s easy enough to can go back further, tracing the imperial decline to 1979 with the Carter doctrine. Or 1956 with the Interstate Highway System. Or the late 1940s with the federal government’s promotion of suburbia. Or 1789 with the unrelenting thirst for empire at all costs exhibited by the founding fathers. With respect to any of these temporal benchmarks, the decay clearly has accelerated in recent years and months.

From the day I predicted the new Dark Age would begin by the end of 2012, the criticism has been continuous. Most critics, citing no evidence and no understanding of peak oil and its economic consequences, claim we’ll surely adjust and adapt and generally demonstrate our big-brained brilliance with a long descent into peace, prosperity, and infinite good times. Adding balance in a mainstream media kind of way, the occasional critic optimistically — without recognizing the optimism — claims the Dark Age will begin well before 2012. We should be so lucky.


This essay is permalinked at The Gable Grey, Counter Currents, Rebel News, and Island Breath, and it gets a shout out at Unconventional Ideas and it is discussed at the LATOC Forum.

Comments 35

  • Love the Schopenhauer quote, but I think Ghandi said it better: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.” I wonder if Ghandi read Schopenhauer?

    “They blame lack of finances (which, as I’ve pointed out with my own example, can be overcome by joining others in a community-based effort).”

    “Although some insist a slow descent is likely, I have yet to understand how that can possibly work.”

    What about Heinberg’s energy descent protocol? He wants governments to agree to reduce energy usage by the amount at which energy declines — forcibly match demand with supply, if I understand it correctly.

    Whether that’s practical or not is a different question, but if it were to happen, wouldn’t it work?

    During WWII, people voluntarily changed their way of life. Of course, after the war ended, gas got cheap and women left the factories and resumed making babies, but the fact remains that people did voluntarily reduce their use of resources for a while. With the proper leadership and motivation, why not again?

    Meanwhile, back on the farm, we’re desperate for a financial partner who wants to live a sustainable life. We are already a carbon sink, through our use of limited amounts of self-made biodiesel and organic farming. We already supply more than our own protein needs — next, we work on carbs. I hope, Guy, that you don’t mind a self-plug now and then, but here is how someone could start the sustainable life.

  • The Yellow Brick Road of Conservation is a euphemism for not actually having a plan. You know: ‘In light of not having the will to actually budget, we’ll conserve and hope for the best…’ Which gets most people (Americans?) through life, especially when they are surrounded by goodwill and plenty. Yet most of us know that most businesses fail within the first year. Something makes the successful succeed, and I do not think that the reasons are all random or stochastic events.

    As was clearly evident in Obama’s oval office speech, he has no idea what the plan is or where the road is taking us, but he is willing to listen to suggestions, because faith (coercion?) in the future is what holds us together as the wonder that is America.

    He doesn’t want suggestions. The AP reports today that he is warning Europe not to be too austere. I’ll bet that BP could not wait to get off the hook for $20 billion. (Thanks Dems! Sincerely, Tony Hayward) If I were running an oil company, I would see that as a green light for going full-speed ahead. Remember: BP is a stronger financial entity than the United States in the eyes of many economic forecasters.

    So, to have a plan and a budget, we enter the realm of centralized authority and power. (At least the opposite of de-regulation and free market wealth wet dreams.) It is a situation sort of like how the organs in my body all have to face up to the fact that they are each only one part of a greater, *living* organism. The brain is the boss, because otherwise we’re dead. -If I only had a brain!

  • The extent of ignorance is remarkable, but what is more amazing is the extent of Egyptian water sports: deep in de Nile. It may be reinforced by the Hope™ shoveled out in the inchoate stages of the present administration. Perhaps it would be wise to follow the advice non jacere margaritas ante porcos.

    The present administration’s accession to power was predicated on Change™ which will be delivered (with or without their acquiescence) in spades, as seen in a picture on this post.

    And with regard to the Gulf of Mexico oil “spill”, there are now suggestions that it may continue till the quarter to half billion barrels in the reservoir have bled out, with associated settling of the seabed.

  • Excellent read…and I agree with the majority of it. I’d not heard of your blog before but if this is any indication, it is one of the better ones.

    “Although some insist a slow descent is likely, I have yet to understand how that can possibly work. Feel free to fill me in. Do we dim the lights one percent annually so that, in one hundred years, the electricity goes out without our noticing? Do we reduce our extraction of finite materials a few percent each year, even as the human population grows by more than 200,000 people daily, until we simply, peacefully, stop using everything needed to maintain the industrial economy? Do we slowly, painlessly, with no suffering at all, reduce the human population to a viable number? What is that number? A billion? Fewer?”

    I have been making this argument myself for quite a while. Our civilization is not structured in such a way as to allow for a controlled downscaling. That will not happen. We will not transition back to some bucolic 1800’s style of living. We will have an abrupt, but asymmetrical collapse that will leave some areas in much better shape than others. The optimistic scenario for the majority is the dark ages…the less optimistic is being forced to be hunter gatherers in a world where there is increasingly little to hunt or gather.

  • One step that makes sense to me is to become well versed in the history, mindset, worldview and everyday skills of the First Americans, the Indians.

    Will this save me?

    Probably not, but I think a person who seeks to live in harmony with the earth and its resources is probably in as good a place as any to make a chain of decisions that will lead to some tolerable to good form of survival in the years ahead.

  • Guy,

    Nice post. You remind me that Mark Twain got it right:

    “Sacred cows make the best hamburger.”


  • ProfEmGuy:

    “the new dark age will begin before the end of 2012”.I don’t know,but how often have I and your recalcitrant nephew,5N,warned that you should
    never put a time line on anything ??

    That said,personally,I feel that the death stage is so horrible,that I
    don’t see how I can bear the wait.

    No more talk / nonsense about BP please.Everything you need to know about BP,I explained in my posting of 6/18/10,in Guy’s previous essay,
    “The power of television in Asphaltistan” under my heading “The BP Effete Syndrome”

    Double D

  • Frank,

    Although I share your reluctance about the attachment of dates to specific predictions, Prof. Guy need not worry about this one.

    The fact is, like peak oil itself, the new dark age is clearly visible in the rear-view mirror.

    Hubbert’s curve is best understood inverted. Peak oil is a nadir, the lowest darkest moment mankind has ever known. Western industrial civilization will be judged as the darkest of ages. 2012, or there abouts, is only the moment in time when we might begin the hard climb out of that dark pit back into the light.

    Guy, I’ll buy “stone age”, but “dark age” seems to present an inconsistent message; one of those sacred cows to be ground into hamburgers.


  • Robin Datta:

    “non jacere margaritas ante porcos” = don’t cast pearls before swine,but
    is that in some kind of pidgin Latin ?

    Double D

  • Mike,

    In 2009, ProfEmGuy predicted the end would come before 2009.He has a sassy nephew,who uses the nom de plume of Court a/k/a 5N ,who berated him for that rash prediction,and I chimned in also by also expressing
    my doubts that the end would come in 2009.

    On 1/1/2010, I was unkind enough to remind Guy that we were still here,
    and his predictions have become an inside joke ever since.

    Double D

  • I’m fascinated by the cultural difference between the French and the English.

    The French soccer team has mutinied against their coach in typical
    French fashion.The English would never act that way.

    The French know how to do luxury to perfection,and take delight in their
    pursuit of it.The English must always feel quilty about doing the same thing–a hangover from their Victorian past.The difference between the
    French Concorde and the British Concorde illustrated this to perfection.
    Flying on the French Concorde was the ultimate in luxury,elegance,and

    The English Concorde was just the opposite–a total disaster that the English fucked up in every conceivable way.It was amusing to see the British in their obligatory sack cloths,and stiff upper lips,being abused and having to pay a ridiculously high price just to save a few
    hours crossing the Atlantic.Those poor souls almost have a martyr complex.Needless to say,I was not amused.

    Double D

  • And Also … A Parable
    “And after the time of the exodus from the Great Rift Valley, the Uprights came to roam new parts of the
    earth and …These ways did so favour the Uprights that they came to divide all the face of the earth into
    their nations. And in the nations, the settled places grew and multiplied and in the many tongues of the
    Upright Ones the settled places were called by the names of cities. And in the cities there came among
    the money-keepers some professionals who called themselves economists. And though their name was
    born of the same word, they knew nothing of ecology, for they moved only among their own kind and
    knew little of the numberless things of the earth and the waters, which had not been measured by
    money. So they knew not that ecology was the mother of economy and in this way did they treat their
    mother shamefully, for the creed of the economists was eternal growth.
    “The cities grew wondrous with the learning of the Uprights, who had come to set their thoughts on
    paper with machines for printing. And they gave themselves the name of Homo sapiens, Wise One, for
    they knew that only Uprights could be wise. And the Wise Ones learned to make use of oil that lay in the
    earth from the forests of times long past, even before the making of the Great Rift Valley, when the
    earth had been warm and the waters plentiful. And those nations with oil held in the earth beneath them
    did trade with it so that all nations might grow with its use. The dwellings and work-places came to be lit
    with shining globes, and notwithstanding their host of garments and fabrics, the Wise Ones kept their
    dwellings to their comfort with machines for keeping warm and machines for keeping cool. And they
    travelled swiftly over the land and waters, and above the clouds, with machines fed by the oil of the
    long-dead forests. And mighty were the industries for bringing food unto the cities and taking away the
    dung and other waste.
    “Having begat all these marvels, the Wise Ones had become
    such creatures of the city that some saw the fields and
    plantations as wild places, and most knew nothing of the toil of
    growing their food, nor of the time long past when all had lived
    as one wild kind among others. Many of them grew fat and
    heavy for their limbs were little-used. But they conquered their
    sicknesses in ways ever more wondrous, and some had their
    failing bodies mended with parts from other beasts, even from
    swine, in the knowledge that all kinds of life had grown from
    one flesh. ‘Behold’ said the economists and the rulers, who
    were now of many kinds, ‘behold, it is the year we call second
    millennium and our numbers have grown astoundingly, for we
    are now six-thousand-million Wise Ones. Our kind is in every
    quarter of the earth, and where there were forests we have made it into fields, and where there were
    wild beasts we have made that place for sheep and goats and cattle, and even the vastness of the
    oceans have we made into fishery. Let us rejoice,’ they cried, for in the thinking of the rulers and
    economists there could never be too many Wise Ones. And there was much rejoicing in the cities.
    “But there were multitudes among and within the nations who grew thin because they were without
    machines, and even without food, and their numbers were great. And they who were in famine and had
    no machines, and cried out for help, and the rich among the nations of the Wise Ones gave their help
    but let it be known that without more growth their help could not be great, for the creed of the
    economists, even above all other creeds, was eternal growth. Yet even among the rich there had come
    a fear. Some who did not rejoice were troubled, for such was the use of the fruits of the earth, and such
    was the waste from that use, that the land was becoming barren and the vast oceans were being
    poisoned. The catch of the fishers was poor, and even the vapours of the heavens were not as they had
    been before, so the earth became warm. And among the young, some who were troubled made their
    trouble known unto others with music that was loud and angry.
    “And among the many kinds of rulers were those who paid heed and were also troubled. ‘We must
    change our lighting globes’, said some, ‘and use smaller machines for our travel’. ‘We must make more
    use of the winds of the earth and the beams of the sun’, said others, ‘or the oil that lies in the earth will
    not be sufficient for our needs’. And the economists agreed that changes must be made in the ways of
    living so that growth could be eternal.”
    Ockham’s Razer, ABC Radio National, 14/3/10

  • Praise be to growth.

    And so the Wise Ones began to find new ways to tread more lightly upon the earth so that each used less and put out less that was wasted. And those who followed best in this way became the New Righteous.

    And it came to pass that the multitudes who had no lighting globes or machines, also begat these things and worked them in the new ways that were less hungry for the oils of the earth. And the growth was exceedingly great and the cities multiplied. But in this, the Wise Ones had multiplied the cities and made less the joy, for their greater numbers had cancelled out the lighter tread that each had come to make. In full tally, the new ways were not without taking from the earth more than the earth could give, nor without giving back that which the earth and waters did not want. And so the troubles were also multiplied.

    And in the year that they called twenty-fifty the number of Wise Ones was nearly nine-thousand-million, and great multitudes were journeying from the lands of the many to the lands of the few, until all were lands of the many. Raging tempests had brought down that which had been built, and the seas had brought salt unto land which had been fertile, and the cities were beset with robbers and those who were without homes or food. And there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, for in the crowding there was much fighting and suffering and many perished.

    And thus it came to pass that the Wise Ones fell quickly in number and a stillness descended upon the earth. And in their learning, the children of the Wise Ones which remained, came to know of the time long past when the earth had been bountiful with many wondrous kinds of life, when the waters had teemed with fishes and the heavens had shone with the purity of their vapours. And they marvelled at this learning.

    But there came among them at that time, some money-keepers and economists who looked upon the land saw the stillness upon it. And they saw the openness where once there had been forest, and they saw the spoiled places where once there had been flowers and wild creatures, and they saw the waters which had become empty. They saw all these things and they said it was good. For in these ways, they said, verily had the earth been made ready for growth.

  • I have been a reader, never a comment poster, of several collapse oriented blogs and sites for a few years. I have come to value yours in the top tier of what I read (along with The Archdruid Report and Club Orlov).

    I too, look forward to the collapse of industrial civilization. I worry, however, that though mortally wounded, the beast can still inflict serious and fatal damage. My worry is not that we will have too little resources in the near future, but that we will have enough remaining resources and the foolishness the inflict the greatest amount of damage. Failure has its own intrinsic capacity to destroy.

    Naomi Klein had an article in the (UK) Guardian this weekend that was chilling on this point. She said that BP’s Hayward had told a group of Stanford graduate students that he has a plaque on his desk which reads: “If you knew you could not fail, what would you try?” Sadly, we all now know how BP under Hayward’s leadership answered his question. It seems to me there is great possible damage to be done by those who are indeed failing, but in denial that failure is even a possibility.

  • reference link =

    Dear all —

    I have not had a chance to read Guy’s latest piece yet, and this remark is just to share an old video that I mentioned on Guy’s blog some time ago — it is a performance of Joni Mitchell on the old Dick Cavett show and she sings a capella a song lamenting the warlike friend, America (Joni is Canadian). It is refreshing to see the young, innocent-ish Joni Mitchell in 1969 and the rest of the video includes live songs by Jefferson Airplane, the old San Francisco sound of rock and roll that moves me as much now as ever. A different world then!

    Stan Moore

  • another video mentioned some time ago is Paul Simon singing “American Tune”, which can be seen at:

  • For another and most excellent piece on how collapse is likely to unfold, listen to Stoneleigh’s (from the Automatic Earth) address to the recent Transition Town conference in the UK. The talk and the Q and A session that follows is nearly three hours long, but worth every minute. Guy, I’d love to get your take on her talk.

    Here’s the link:

  • With a nearly infinite number of variables you get a nearly infinite number of possible outcomes. No one can know for sure exactly how we will do ourselves in, I suspect that the ‘Mad Max’ scenario will be fairly close to what we can expect, but your guess is as good as mine.

    In any event if you are self sufficient and well armed you will have a better chance than an unarmed city dweller. The farther that you get from civilization the better because they will need supplies and are not above taking yours.

    Whatever the new reality is you had better be able to adapt to it if you want to avoid being on the wrong end of the culling of the herd. The bright, the strong and the adaptable will be all that are left of the family of man.

  • Only those with your kind of big-brained brilliance, mixed in with a little practical action and determination, will descend into peace, prosperity, and infinite good times.

  • After reading Guy’s latest comments, several things come to mind:

    1) Many members of our consumer-oriented unsustainable society prefer to live this lifestyle and have no interest in reform or in living in a scaled-down world. They may view a sustainable lifestyle as one of suffering and deprivation. Since this is the emerging reality of the world, those people will either have to change their own worldview and desires or they will be non-existent when forced to fend for themselves in a world that is not friendly to them.

    2) Others are possibly paralyzed by the reality of this crisis and unable to break out of old patterns yet and strive for survival in a new paradigm. But while there is life there is hope that individuals can change and fight for their own survival and the fact that they recognize the new realities works in their favor at some level.

    3) Some are making preparations now and continuing in their patterns of self-education and appropriate reaction. There are no guarantees at the individual level despite preparations, but the odds for survival definitely favor those who prepare mentally and physically (and socially as Guy suggested).

    4) Guy is a great role model and educator in all of this…

    Stan Moore

  • reference link =

    To all —

    in my never-ending search for music of the post-collapse period, I present for your pleasure the most upbeat song of this gendre imaginable — Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel singing “The Only Living Boy in New York”, proclaming that the only thing to do is smile…

  • and a gloomy song of the pre-collapse period by Dougie Maclean is “War”

  • reference link =

    “Gloomy Winter” taken from a Robert Burns poem and sung by Dougie MacLean has a powerful lesson for the pre- and post-collapse periods. Times of stress are best born by humans with the love of other humans, including spouses. No matter how gloomy the present outlook may be, things get better and love not only aids endurance, but prepares the bearer for shared better times ahead.

    this is a beautifully sung and accompanied song with typically Scottish feel

  • Guy,

    I am coming more and more to your line of thinking that the only thing that will save us is complete collapse of industrial society. I have just been reading Tom Englehardt’s reporting on the Pentagon’s extrapolation of the drone war. They think by 2050 they will have pilotless drones capable of running themselves; flying, targeting, killing without human controllers, not even the little shit video game killers we have now. Soon several, then many, other countries will have the same technology and will claim the same right to kill anyone, anywhere, that displeases them, just like the US does now. I suppose we could come to a mutually assured destruction stand-down at some point, like the cold war, but I doubt it.

    In all the ways you’ve suggested we are behaving like a cancer. I’m not ready to embrace a Homo sapiens-ectomy yet, but I am queuing up for the radical industrial-ectomy.

    Michael Irving

  • Jan Steinman, I haven’t read Heinberg’s Oil Depletion Protocol, but I know its implementation requires leadership. We don’t have any of that around here. Dubya knew we passed the peak of conventional oil in 2005, and Obomber knows, too. So do governors and local politicians. If they trusted the people as much as they love the banksters, they’d spread the word.

    Mike, my differentiation between the Dark Age and the post-industrial Stone Age is intended to illustrate the time during which various components of western civilization will be evident, if scattered: electricity (including from solar panels and wind turbines), fuel at the gas stations, and so on.

    John Ludi and John Anderson, thanks for the first-time comments. And thanks to everybody for playing :)

  • Guy, as a new reader, I have to say I like the merciless tone you set. Especially since if collapse arrives as it’s been sketched, mercy isn’t something we should expect to rely on.

  • Guy, I talked to you a LONG time ago. I still read you. I excitedly check every day just to see if you’ve written more. I so believe what you are doing and saying. BUT, I can not figure out HOW to do what you say-below is your quote: “I suggest we get out of this system. If that cannot be done in your specific location — and I’m thinking about places such as Tucson, Arizona, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California — I strongly suggest changing locations.” Where do you suggest I find like-minded people? Seriously. There are lots of websites that tout similar establishments but how do you know who to trust? Just wondering…….. (don’t reply to my email, that is work ONLY and very bad for me!)

  • Mike, I failed to compliment your insightful comment … thanks for it: “Peak oil is a nadir, the lowest darkest moment mankind has ever known. Western industrial civilization will be judged as the darkest of ages.”

    Mark, I listened to Stoneleigh’s talk. Great stuff there. Her understanding of monetary issues is staggering.

    Joy Calhoun, thanks for your complimentary comment. Please send me an email message (; use one of the widely available free email services, if desired, such as hotmail or gmail) or leave me a message in my office telephone (520.621.5389) letting me know a few times/dates you are available to talk. I’ll pick one and send a phone number. In the meantime, think about family, friends, and an environment where you can make a contribution to your community. I know far too little about your personal circumstances to provide anything beyond the most generic of comments, but I would love to further pursue this conversation.

  • Mr. McPherson, I just had to tell you how much I appreciate your work… I’m a relative newcomer to you but I’ve come across your online essays from time to time, in my attempts to read TEOTWAWKI tea-leaves. I’m 100% convinced that life on Earth has its best chance of going forward if industrial civilization tanks. I live in south Mississippi, an hour’s drive from the Gulf Coast, and it’s amazing to see the gigantic disconnect in the minds of the locals between the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and the unraveling of our industrial life… they cannot connect the dots; indeed, they refuse to even try. They will sacrifice clean water, clean air, and all the creatures around them for the sake of jobs. They’ve made a deal with the Devil, and the whole damned country is right there with them.

    I’m nobody, just a video store manager with a small family and an acre and a half of woods. (I brought in Ruppert’s “Collapse” DVD to my store, which is seeing a little circulation, so that’s something, I guess.) My family and I are moving away after Christmas, headed for the northern Rockies, where I hope collapse will find us in a community that values education and tolerance and self-reliance, all qualities lacking here; and I hope the sparse population there will ease the horrors of collapse somewhat. I cannot imagine what it will be like here, in the overpopulated South.

    Anyway, I had to throw in my 2 cents. Please continue your excellent work, sir, and know that it is having a positive impact, even if among a scattered few. Your honesty and frankness, like that of Carolyn Baker in “Sacred Demise,” are what is needed as more and more of us come to embrace collapse as inevitable and necessary. Thank you again.

  • This struck a massive chord with me. In the UK things will only be far worse I fear, given how small we are. I wonder sometimes if I’d be better off not knowing about peak oil at all and wondering blind through life like everybody else.

    A hard rain is gonna fall indeed.

    Off to peruse the rest of the blog now, literally found this place 10 minutes ago. Already bookmarked.