Life and Love after Collapse

This guest post is authored by John Rember


I know how to harness a horse to a plow. I know how to do rudimentary blacksmithing and welding, pack a horse, shoe the same horse, and use a crosscut saw and broadaxe. I can fall a big tree in a desired direction, wind permitting. I know how to trap beaver, coyote, and muskrat, build a tight log cabin with hand tools and indigenous materials, kill and skin and cut up elk and deer, build log fences, irrigate, milk a cow, and take care of most domestic animals. I can stay safe and warm while camping in below-zero temperatures and start fires in wet weather. I know wilderness medicine, and can treat gunshot wounds and broken legs.

The usual refrain to this sort of bragging is, “I am W-O-M-A-N” but instead I’m a man, yes I am, one close to sixty, and except for tree-falling — by chainsaw now — I haven’t used those skills in twenty or thirty years. I don’t miss them. They were obsolete when I was born, and I wouldn’t have them except for my father, who, when I was three, quit his life as a hard-rock miner and moved to Sawtooth Valley in central Idaho to become a fishing and hunting guide and trapper. When the guiding business faltered because of the destruction of Idaho’s salmon runs, he contracted to build hiking trails in the Sawtooths, where motorized equipment wasn’t allowed. We had to use draft-animals and hand tools.

I spent several adolescent summers staring at the wrong end of a plow-horse, peeling virgin hillside out and down to make new trail. We were eighteen miles from a road, and our camp had been packed in on horseback. Our stove was a campfire. Our shower was a five-gallon blackened steel bucket with a showerhead welded to its bottom. We ate fish, venison, and, after the fresh greens ran out two days after we hit camp, canned peas and green beans. And lots of potatoes. Food and fuel were not big items in our budget.

All through these summers, shiny B-52s flew over, dropping aluminum chaff, reminding us that in a matter of a few hours, we could live in a wilderness considerably larger than the one in which we were working.

When I got old enough to work for the government I became a wilderness ranger and firefighter and refined my horse-packing and hand tool skills. I got my EMT certificate. I ski-patrolled at Sun Valley in the winters.

My jobs paid my college tuition. After college and a short career as a medical writer I began teaching writing. During my first college writing workshop, a student turned in a story about growing up lonely on a cattle ranch in eastern Oregon, fifty miles from any highway. In subsequent conversations my student and I discovered than neither of us would get on a horse again if we could help it, and that both of us didn’t see much value in rejecting the comforts of civilization. Both of us preferred industrial culture to its alternative, however romantic that alternative might appear to people who hadn’t lived it.

We discovered other things in common, but it was our differences that caused us to marry each other a few years later. Julie’s a sweet young thing and I’m an old fart, and between my caution and skill and her energy and enthusiasm we’ve made it seventeen good years together this August. We like the hell out of each other, is one way to put it. We laugh a lot, is another.

For seventeen years, we’ve had two salaries and no kids. We paid off the house and cars and put one of our salaries into savings. A few years ago we quit our jobs, sold our house, bought annuities, and moved to a house I had built on my parents’ property. We turned our jobs into long-distance endeavors, and the hit we took in income was less than the reduction we made in expenses.

Neither of us had grown up middle-class but we ended up there — thanks to those nonexistent kids — and while we live modestly, we want for nothing. We also, except for a two-month tourist season every summer, live more or less alone. In the winter there are maybe a hundred people in our surrounding hundred square miles. In winter, we don’t go outside unless it’s above twenty below. Some days we don’t go outside at all.

We can’t have a garden because it frosts most summer nights. We don’t watch broadcast TV but we do have broadband and a Netflix subscription. We don’t have a giant pickup like most of our neighbors, but we do have two vehicles that get decent mileage. It’s 140 miles to Costco.

We finish one book and pick up another. We both ski and lately, instead of buying gold or silver, we’ve been heading to Indochina in November, and only coming back when the days start getting longer.

A few years ago I started writing a monthly column for a paper in Ketchum, Idaho. For some time I’ve been an après moi le deluge kind of guy, although for me the deluge wasn’t nuclear, biological, or chemical. I just thought, based on my teaching experience, that secondary education was getting worse and worse in this country, and that a tsunami of over-enthusiastic mouthbreathers — eruptus adenoidae erectus in the literature — was going to make it impossible for civilization to function. More and more it looked like morons were the only people running things, mostly because they were the only people with simple enough world-views to want to.

Anyway, I called my column End Notes, because I could Google “End of Days” and have my pick of four million or so apocalyptic stories. Jesus was riding in at the head of an angel hit squad, or a 14-mile-long asteroid was about to crash into Los Angeles, or the Star-spawn of the Dread Cthulhu was rising out of the Marianas Trench. These things were fun to write about and fun to make fun of, but after a year or so the Doom of the Month Club turned mean.

Jim Kunstler’s The Long Emergency and Jared Diamond’s Collapse were the books that started me researching and reading Richard Heinberg, Dmitri Orlov, John Michael Greer, Guy McPherson, and William Catton. Charles Hugh Smith graphically educated me on economic collapse. All these writers are to the future like blind men are to an elephant, each grasping their sure bit of truth. My late arrival to the party allowed me the benefit of multiple perspectives on the beast.

But it was the credit crisis of 2008 and the subsequent frenzy of incompetence by our elected officials that finally convinced me that Julie’s and my carefully-chosen annuity-and-Internet-fueled rural niche, the one that was supposed to last us the rest of our childless lives, wasn’t going to work out as planned. Our savings would become worthless. The electricity would go out. We’d freeze to death in the dark. Marauding hordes would shoot us as we escaped the house they had set on fire.

I made jokes. “I’m in favor of marauding hoards,” I said. “Let the food, gold, and ammo come to us.”

When I taught at a liberal arts college in the Years of Clinton, one of my colleagues in the psychology department was married to a survivalist. She would lecture all day on the basal ganglia, the limbic system, and the amygdala, and then go home to her husband, whose reptile brain had caused him to bury a Quonset hut in the backyard and stock it with freeze-dried food, fuel, a chemical toilet, and thousands of flashlight batteries and tens of thousands of rounds of ammo. Mean girls on the faculty used to speculate that their sex life was better than their conversation.

I won’t discuss Julie’s and my sex life, but there’s nothing wrong with our conversation either. When I spoke with Julie about my concern that our savings might not outlast our lives, that we might need a stash of freeze-dried food in the crawl space, that I was thinking about purchasing a small arsenal for under the bed — nothing special, you understand, just an M-14, a 1911 .45, a StreetSweeper 12-gauge (I hadn’t even mentioned the RPG or the mail-order smallpox or the black-market suitcase nuke) — she said, “If the shit comes down, I don’t want to live. I don’t want to live in an overshot world in the midst of a die-off, even if we have a fully-equipped bunker to live in, even with solar power, even with a greenhouse, even with weapons that could depopulate this valley in the midst of tourist season. Life would not be worth living.” I paraphrase.

It’s a shock when the person you love tells you they don’t want to make it through the coming bottleneck. It’s depressing, because it means that one serious and solid option is to become a mute victim of circumstance. But it also sparks a round of critical thinking, and out of that critical thinking comes the realization that in the long run, we’re all mute victims of circumstance.

Having an old pump shotgun and fifty rounds of buckshot will do you just as well as an arsenal, unless you want to give your reptile brain full control of your life. When the marauding horde shows up at your door in the form of ten-year-olds with M-16s, the best you can do is take out a couple of them before they get you. That will discourage them from attacking your neighbors. But numbers and mobility and psychopathy are going to be on their side. In the end, it’ll be like tourist season, only with ruder tourists.

A world run by evil men and dangerous boys, is what we’re talking. A social structure suited to a maximum security prison. A place where women are commodities. The female character in Cormac McCarthy’s The Road kills herself in the first few pages, and for the rest of the book the women are dead or meat-on-the-hoof or slaves. Absent rule of law, it’s not good to be queen.

During the build-up to the bombing of Serbia, several of my female colleagues at the college grew unutterably depressed by NPR reports on the use of rape as a tactic in civil war. What one of them said has stuck with me for fifteen years: “The Serbs have proven that the Nazi Holocaust was not an aberration of history. It was a function of masculinity.”

In the summer of 2010, NPR news is still unutterably depressing, this time because of the gusher in the Gulf and serial rapists who masquerade as banking executives. British Petroleum has proven that Minimata Disease, Bhopal, the asbestos industry, the flattening of Appalachia, the current mass extinction, resource wars, the destruction of the middle class, and depleted uranium munitions are not aberrations of history. They’re functions of masculinity.

It’s an intuitive judgment, but I’ll make it anyway: post-collapse, a woman won’t be running Thunderdome.

The old Schopenhauer joke goes like this: Socrates said that the unexamined life wasn’t worth living. Two thousand years later, Schopenhauer discovered that the examined life wasn’t worth living either. Actually, the phrase Schopenhauer Joke is a joke.

The non-joking part of the joke is that when people say that a kill-or-be-killed life after industrial collapse won’t be worth living, some of them have reached that conclusion after carefully examining the implications of collapse for their own lives and the lives of the people around them.

Antique skills are looking more and more useful these days. I’ve been inventorying harnesses, horse-collars, hand-tools, wood-stoves, nails, traps, and fishing gear. I bought a .22 rifle with a scope, because these days my eyes can either see open sights or a target but not both. I’m buying lightweight camping gear. I’m buying a new chainsaw because I’d pay $25 or five pickled beaver-tails for a liter of saw gas rather than go back to a misery whip to cut firewood. Chainsaws will be around long after cars.

I know from my early life in this valley that people can live through the 40-below winters here, even in the absence of electricity. You have to keep a stove going 24/7, and that takes cords and cords of firewood. You have to be able to kill and store enough food to get through the winter. It’s a lot of work just to stay warm, and you don’t have much time left over for the finer things in life. But there will be books, and candles, and home-made soap, and in the summer, edible wild plants. Small joys, but joys. If the tourists leave you alone.

Yesterday an executive of the company Julie works for called us up from the lodge at Redfish Lake, a local 6-mile-long glacial pool and said he wanted to take us for a boat ride. He picked us up in a gorgeous 20-foot aluminum jet-boat powered by a Ford 360 cubic-inch V8, a motor that would get 9 miles per gallon when it was installed in a F-150, half that in a jet-boat. It had leather upholstery, cupholders, a convertible top, a depth gauge and thermometer, and because it was a calm afternoon, we could cruise at 50 mph on the glassy swells of the lake. Eat your heart out, Thorstein Veblen, I thought.

We roared by the shore, leaving canoeists and kayakers struggling to stay upright in our wake. We shot between fishermen and their bobbers, and violently rocked a little houseboat that was anchored in a peaceful cove.

I wasn’t driving. I silently drank an oaky Australian chardonnay and waved at people in other powerboats, checked out the sunbathers who looked like so many whales stranded on the beach, ate hummus and chips and hung my head out into the clear cool wind. When we had finished weaving around the lake, the odometer indicated we had gone 22.5 miles. We had just burned enough gas to cut enough firewood for three winters.

We said good-bye to our host. As the boat roared off, the beach, the trees, the lake, the water-skiers and sunbathers and the boat’s owner and his wife flashed sepia in my eyes, became an old cardboard-mounted photograph, cracked and frayed at the edges and full of people long dead.

Here’s what I think the elephant looks like: the electricity will go out first in New York. Gasoline will disappear from the Atlanta suburbs before anywhere else. Food riots will happen in west Chicago. In Idaho and Utah, the Mormon Church will provide a measure of cultural stability and community, even for us Gentiles in its midst. Our lights will go on at night because of Northwest hydro and wind power.

The brutal repression of mobs by military force will happen elsewhere, but we’ll be shown what it looks like. The counter-revolution will be televised, and we’ll have a government consisting of military men dressed as civilians. But no one will mistake their iron fists for velvet gloves. Think Thailand. Think Burma. Think Zimbabwe. Think Gaza. Think turning off the power in winter as a political measure. The United States of America will exist as a pretense, but God help anyone who demands the protection of its Bill of Rights.

Order will be restored, but rationing will be the order of the day. We will have patriotic scrap-metal drives. Victory gardens. The Reader’s Digest will come roaring back from bankruptcy. We will party like it’s 1943. It will not be good to have much of anything worth stealing. Gold will become a crime again.

Old age will get us in the end. Julie and I both have Alzheimer’s in our families, and one of the benefits of collapse is that neither of us will end our days witless and drugged in a nursing home. The saying goes that there are no pockets in the shroud, which usually is taken to mean you can’t take your money with you, but after taking care of a parent with Alzheimer’s, I’ve realized there are also no pockets for memories, stories, relationships, or selves.

So I won’t mind getting back to hard physical work, because it generally kills you by age 75, no matter what you eat. As a medical writer researching heart disease, I discovered that hard-used hearts simply wear out. As a cement worker between bouts of teaching, I saw what the old guys on the crew looked and acted like, and how many ibuprofen they ate. Steroids aren’t the only reason that pro athletes die young. One day I’ll be top-packing a mule, and I’ll just fall over.

The problem is, of course, Julie. I keep offering to buy her a Ladysmith .38 and a thousand rounds of ammunition for her birthday, but she refuses to learn to use it. When we first got together I made jokes about her throwing herself on my funeral pyre, which caused her to joke about running off with the young strong guy who had built the funeral pyre.

But lately she’s been saying, “We’ll ride this life for as long as we can, and then it’ll be on to the next great adventure.” She has a faith in an afterlife that I don’t have. She has a faith in human decency that I don’t have. She knows that life is worth living until it isn’t. She has more courage than I have, and I suspect that because of that courage, she’s more conscious than I am.

Seeing the world through her courageous and conscious eyes, I’ve realized that my old skills won’t last forever, that our world could end tomorrow, that my scientific-material prejudice limits my perceptions, and that if I can unfence my perceptions and forget my prejudices, it’s all an adventure. I realize that Julie will do well for herself until she doesn’t. That’s a good thing.


This essay is permalinked at Island Breath.

John Rember has been teaching writing for thirty-five years. He’s the author of two collections of short stories and a memoir. His next book, to be published in 2011, is MFA in a Box, a Why-to-Write Book. You can read more about him and his writing at

Comments 21

  • Thanks for this beautiful essay, John. Not to pick nits, but:

    Julie says, “I don’t want to live in an overshot world in the midst of a die-off …. Life would not be worth living.”

    We’re already there. I’ll not raise the stick of empathy, but if you haven’t felt the pain, it’s only because you’re a financially wealthy human (by world standards) in an industrialized country. Nearly every other culture and species is experiencing the oppression, suffering, and death.

    What will it take to alleviate the oppression, suffering, and death? Termination of the industrial economy would be a good place to start.

  • I have to sympathize with Julie. As to knowing when is when, I guess that would be the last possible moment, when there is no food and no power. Any why not until then? Morbid curiosity. I know this is coming and yet so many are in denial — what will that look like when we are faced with it? Why else? Hope, too. Maybe we can make it through the termination of the industrial economy.

  • John, I think your picture is so bleak because you drank the rugged individualist cool-aid.

    A reasonable future lies in a return to the tribe and community. Much of your writing assumes a Mad Max future, where it’s every man for himself, and every woman for the strongest man.

    There is an alternative. Think of the final scene from “Witness,” where all the Amish stand around the bad guys, curious more than fearless, lending Witness while Harrison Ford shouts, “What ‘ya gonna do? Kill them all?”

    Here’s what I think the elephant looks like. The people who will make it will band into groups and use rich people’s property laws to protect themselves. You can bet that rich people’s property laws will be around as long as there are people they can hire to enforce them.

    And if that elephant looks nicer than yours, we could use some help getting from here to there.

  • It’s hard to know what’s coming — and what we should have in our pockets. Scarcity and loss doesn’t bring out the best in people — though neither does our current spectacle of conspicuous materialism cross-hatched by inequality. If and when collapse (or terminal decline) reaches our various redoubts, luck and nimbleness will probably count for much — and whatever preparations there are that can contribute to either.

    I think I most dread a lingering, half-assed decline that leaves the assholes in state capitals and corporate boardrooms with enough residual power to grind it all out into a banal and stupid archipelago of podunk tyrannies. (Sort of like what happened in the rural areas of the former Soviet Union in the mid 1990’s.) And that it will turn out that our people’s preference for being led by fools and charlatans is deepset and fatal.

    What I most hope for is an awakening of the good in people. Or not quite that, because I think most people are good, or would prefer to be, but rather a world (or tribe or community) where the good and joyful in people had more place and more scope. And I think it is even possible (however unlikely) that a collapse of our System could make a space for that.

  • Scarcity and loss may bring out ugliness, but they don’t equate to a life not worth living. I don’t have faith in an afterlife. I’ve buried enough dead organisms to know what remains a year later. I do have faith in resilience. Mother Nature’s a tough bird to kill, and yes, she most definitely bats last.

    My plan is to ride this life out as long as I can, and then ride it out a while longer. Partly out of morbid curiosity, but mostly because of the unknown unknowns. Our predictions and future models and prejudices and conjectures only scope out those uncertainties we know about—the known unknowns. It’s what we don’t know that we don’t know that will shape the backside of the coming bottleneck. My guess is it will be less than romantic. My guess is it will be the next great adventure.

  • It seems that quite a large portion of those who live in the wilderness are childless.

    Which basically means that any skills which might have been learned by those people will die out, barring an unlikely adoption of a kid with nowhere else to go. Kids don’t go to these areas.

    The prediction of human extinction might indeed come to pass – survivors live a quiet, child-free life till they all grow old and die, and new species unlikely anything we may know will take humans’ place.

  • John,

    Thanks for that.

    I was just out stacking wood and thinking about the things you said. While it doesn’t get as cold here (a couple hundred miles northwest of you) as there, it does get pretty nippy and plenty of wood is necessary. Your comment about chain saws got me thinking about how many hundred cords I’ve put through my old saw. I agree from experience that cutting a year’s worth of wood by hand is no fun. As you get older “no fun” starts to look more and more like “impossible.”

    Much as I would like the RPG and the nuke, I agree with your assessment that 50 rounds of buckshot and an old pump are about the limit for an arsenal. It would serve to convince someone of your intent should they stray into your yard. If the psychopathic boys arrive at your door in force, determined to have everything you own, they will have it, no matter how many black rifles you have in your gun safe.

    I’ve been thinking quite a bit lately about the “big men,” the ones who consolidate power in the wake of civil unrest (a.k.a. chaos). History shows they have always been with us and one would be foolish to think it will be different this time around.

    Regarding your “elephant.” I agree with much of your assessment, without the specifics. I do like the idea of the lights staying on here at night but when the military men in civilian clothing (more “big men”) take over they are just as likely as not to shunt all the northwest water and wind generated electrical power to California and leave us in the dark. What do a few malcontents out in the woods matter when the big angry mobs in the big cities are being considered?

    Your post and the fact that the older guy (now that’s the pot calling the kettle black) I cut wood with had five bad teeth extracted yesterday reminded me that we had all better see to any dental work we need to have done before it’s too late. I’ll bet in the past the local barber did not practice gentle dentistry.

    I agree that life is worth living until it’s not. I do hope for the “drop dead while packing a mule” kind of end. What could be wrong with that?

    Michael Irving

  • Michael:

    Ditto on the misery of cutting a year’s worth of firewood by hand. I just finished up three cord: cut, split, and stacked for two winters down the road. A little bit of everything. The toughest was the madrone. Great firewood. Burns hot, but heavy as hell, and definitely not one you want to whittle down to chunk size without a chainsaw and in my case, a log splitter. I’d give up a dozen pickled beaver tail to keep those two in gas.

  • I still feel quite bizarre about this kind of stuff… in 1999 I found the article by Campbell and Laherriere “the end of cheap oil”, so we can say I’m a long-way-“peaker”. But it’s still inevitable thinking the amo0unt of human pain and death that are about to come over the brutalized and ignorant masses of population. It’s sad dying in a miserable way, but even more if you do not know why you die!

  • Resa,

    Man, wouldn’t I like some madrone right now. Any kind of hardwood would be nice. I’m cutting lodgepole. Better than yak dung, I guess.

    Michael Irving

  • You’re right, Guy, it’s already here, and empathy–particularly for non-humans–has become hard to tell apart from pain. One of the reasons I resigned tenure was the realization that I’d end up with the emotionally autistic after too many years of being totally insulated from the world. For many of my former colleagues, There Be Dragons outside the ivory walls, and the deaths of species and people are for them, as Stalin said, a statistic.

    I use the empathy stick myself–hence this last attempt to pull two names and faces from the millions who won’t make it through the bottleneck, and my conviction that at least some of what we write should be elegy.

    Anubis, your second paragraph gives words to my worst nightmare.

    Michael Irving, my childlessness and your grandchildren put us on opposite sides of the elephant. I’ve been deeply moved by your concern for your grandchildren–it informs your writing and makes me think that you see things invisible to us folks who have consigned our genes and skills to extinction.

  • Michael: Especially if you don’t have yak dung.

    John: What constitutes “unbearable” is a moving target. (Been there, done that.) It comes down to state of mind. Unless you’re solidly boxed in … think miners in a collapsed mine … I suspect you and Julie will be pleasantly surprised how far through the bottleneck you can forage. Elegy has its place, but that doesn’t make it an ending.

  • John,

    Thank you for your gracious reply. It struck a chord that has been reverberating around in me all afternoon and has left me all in a muddle, which is also what this reply is.

    Your use of the “elephant” in your original post was an excellent way to characterize the differing viewpoints of various members of the peak oil blogosphere. I registered it, and filed it (as we do), as your way of showing that more than one “truth” can be valid, as I suspect you intended. It was a good illustration for the often-contradictory ideas of the peak oil commentators. We all have that picture in our minds of blind Indians unable discern the true nature of what they are describing. It helped put the commentators in perspective.

    However, reading your use of the “elephant” in your comment struck me like a fist, the shear hugeness of the beast, and the dark mass of it creating such a divide between us. Extinction is a hard word. It’s as if, with a few words, you opened death’s door in front of me and forced me to look in. It scared me. I have grandchildren, its true. I also have children who have chosen not to procreate. What of them? Are we, Homo sapiens, the wise men, in the end governed only by our animal roots? Is passing on our genes our only contribution to mankind? Or, by virtue of our level of self-awareness, have we made a jump to a different plane? I think I have to reject the idea that our value is only in the genes we pass on, or don’t. Each person you’ve touched, and as a teacher you touched many, carries forward some part of you. It also carries the species forward, incrementally. Your comments here have informed and changed the readers, probably in ways you couldn’t predict. With seven billion of us on this rock rushing toward destruction just passing on a few genes is rather a dubious accomplishment. You’re helping some of the seven billion get through the bottleneck by sharing values, ideas, and skills for living in a changed world. Now that has value.

    Michael Irving

  • I must say that I lost faith in any positive change able to rescue industrial civilization a long time ago. That includes the faith in decent conduct from most people. When mass starvation start to proliferate, people will not simply sit on their ass to die: they will be a competition, which is also a natural mechanism to determine whether you’re fit or not. The point is this: with no fossil fuels, the carrying capacity of planet earth (for human beings) is about 1000 million, being optimistic.

    We’re about to reach 7.000 million humans… 6 in 7 will NOT make it. 6 in 7 human beings will die within the next 30-40 years. But when I read this kind of articles, I suspect that many people is missing something extremely important: the ability to fight will be as necessary as the ability to grow potatoes.

    The average human takes 28 days to die of starvation, in total absence of caloric supply. Far enough to try many things, and cause a lot of damage to others, I’m afraid.

    In conclusion, if a community wants to survive, they need lands, many traditional skills plus the ability, organization AND weapons to prevail against plunderers. Starvation will be the main killer, but direct violence will be the second one.

  • Pablo,
    Your last comment stimulates two thoughts for me, one pessimistic, one optimistic. The pessimistic thought: (and maybe not everyone will see this as pessimistic) is that somewhere in the depths of a Colorado mountain, military computers are running simulations on the future you describe, and if it really seems inevitable, someone is going to come to the conclusion that it makes sense to segue from 7 billion to 1 billion not with the biosphere-destroying starvation of 6 billions, but with the tidying help of one of the super-viruses they have doubtless cooked up.

    The optimistic thought: In times of desperate competition it is not the strongest, most ruthless individuals who survive, but the members of the most successfully knit social groups. Thus, even in the nightmare scenario you describe, there are human relationships of mutual reliance and reciprocity. Generosity and compassion toward “outsiders” might be a fatal luxury, but generosity and compassion itself will not be.

  • Hey Dad,
    You got me sniffling there.

    My dad (Mike) is right. I have two children but have failed to teach them the things they will need to make it through the coming change in life even though I have the knowledge given to me from my parents. The biggest lesson being “You don’t want to have to gather wood in the middle of winter” which translates to “Take the time to prepare for the future or you will be in a whole world of hurt.” Sure, I procreated, but I have not taught my progeny how to survive. What good is my contribution if it just dies off? You, on the other hand, have taught many how to move forward into this brave new world we are about to be thrust into. Your spirit will carry on while mine will just be gone. Fortunately for me, I have read this article and its comments and through you and my father, I realize that perhaps it is time to get my rear in gear and pass on the knowledge that I have to give. My thanks to both of you.

  • None of them seems to have read my link above. It clearly says all efforts are futile, and humans will go the way of dinosaurs before the end of this centuries.

    Survivors won’t procreate, because according to the author of that website few people would have the patience to wait for the gestation period. In fact the survivors would want to eat the babies.

    Cockroaches will rule the world for a few million years until a new species arises from the dust.

  • Resa: Didn’t know you raised yaks.

    Michael and Carrie: Some of my earliest memories involve going out with my father to cut firewood, haul firewood, and stack firewood. I learned that a completed woodpile projects you into the future, at least for a winter.

    Maybe the care and feeding of a woodstove should be the first item in the curriculum. Robert Bly has an interesting chapter in The Sibling Society where he talks about human brains not developing higher functions such as empathy unless they get out in the woods and practice object lessons with real objects.

    Anubis: the problem with super-viruses is that we all share that same old DNA. You’d think that mutual reliance and reciprocity would be easier than it is, given all our similarities on the molecular level.

  • Well, Anubis; I’m afraid that military machine of the empire is devoted in soul and body to the preservation of imperial power over sources of oil. There are many possible ways to eliminate 6 in 7 human beings, but while capitalism exist, while corporatocracy rules USA, they will now eliminate 6 in 7 consumers. In conclusion, the whole system is doomed to collapse; the scenario I describe is not a nightmare at all: in fact, it’s the best possible scenario. The worst one is nuclear war for recources, or even extinction of mankind.

    But it has already happened: the mayans, the khmer, the first abo culture in Australia… they abused on their environment and then collapsed. The case of the collapse of western roman empire is quite clear: western Europe took 1000 years to regain the amount of population lost in the collapse: is the same scheme is repeated, we can expect ghost cities (I’ve seen some roman ghost cities, it’s scary), people going to the country, looking for a way to survive (could be a semi-slavery contract with landlords), massive deaths due to starvation and violence (mainly done by bands knowns as bacaudae), and the absolute weakness of the government in the final phase will even boost the process.

    In all those cases, feudalization was the main consequence, politically.

    Human beings are extremely resistant (as species). We will stay here, but in a lower consumtion profile, with a lower material standard; with a little luck, having learnt the lessons from the trauma. There will be a whole mythology about the way “the ancients used to live”.

  • Yes, Jaime, I’ve checked your link. Pero no habrá extinción para los humanos… aún. We shall simply reduce our number. This collapse process has occurred 25 times in history, according to archaeologists.

  • Moreover, it’s the biggest mountain of BS I’ve seen for a long time. I don’t know who wrote that, but he needs some serious scientific education, and some knowlegde of economics and history… do not believe this. We shall not extinct: our population will simply suffer a brutal contraction, as usual in history.