Media alert

This Sunday, 12 September 2010, I will be interviewed live on Conscious Discussions. The radio show will air at 1:00 p.m. Eastern time in the U.S. That’s 10:00 a.m. on the left coast. Guests can call in during the broadcast: 646.478.4758. Further details here.

Update: Interview is archived here.

During the afternoon of Friday, 17 September, I will be speaking on the topic Conservation of Biological Diversity in a World of Profound Change: Promise and Peril in the Age of Climate Change and Energy Decline. My presentation will take place at the Silco Theater in Silver City, New Mexico as part of the Sixth Annual Gila River Festival. I will be speaking between 2:15 p.m. and 3:15 p.m., and the daily schedule is here. A nominal fee supports the Gila Conservation Coalition.

During the afternoon of Sunday, 19 September, I will be moderating a session on Economic Benefits of a Healthy Gila River between 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The event will transpire at the Silco Theater in Silver City, New Mexico as part of the Sixth Annual Gila River Festival. The daily schedule is here. A nominal fee supports the Gila Conservation Coalition

I will be speaking later this month in the Chicago area. Details here.


The Facebook experiment is a failure. Mirroring society, most of my Facebook contacts are disinterested in global climate change and energy decline. Among the few who exhibit the slightest interest in either topic, the overwhelming majority dash immediately into denial. I’ve spent many hours trying to inform through that venue, but in the future I will not be spending much time there. If you’re interested in the type of counter-culture news I’ve been posting on Facebook, you can check the websites I list about 2/3 of the way into this post.

Comments 22

  • The greatest lesson of history is that the lessons of history are not learned, so humanity appears doomed to repeat the lesson of Rapa Nui (Easter Island) on a global scale, destroying its own land base (and ocean base) in the pursuit of ridiculous follies which the bulk of the populace have been carefully trained to believe in.

    I may have the quote slighly wrong but I believe Einstein said that the difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits.

    As this whole ‘civilisation’ mess reaches its climax and takes humanity off the cliff (along with countless other species), those who know the truth can at least hold their heads high and say to the next generation: “We tried.”

    Good on you Guy for not quitting.

  • Are we going to get some video of your talks Guy?

  • Good question, Robert … I’m working on it, but I lack a booking agent and therefore the leverage/expertise to extract videos.

  • ‘Dan Maes, the Colorado Tea Party candidate for governor who believes that bicycling is a “gateway drug” to communism’ JHK

    With regards to the Tea Party –

    Why dear reader have white working class Americans been conned into
    drifting towards the right?

  • Is it time to purchase solar panels and a solar water pump ?

  • jimmy, it takes some time to get equipment installed — or to install it yourself — and, based on my experience, it also takes time to master the technology. If you think the industrial economy is likely to reach its overdue terminus by 2012, as I do, or much sooner, as do many of the people I read, it’s time. It’s time to secure your water supply, your food supply, your ability to maintain body temperature without fossil fuels, and your human community. From the perspective of morality, the passed long ago.

  • “‘Dan Maes, the Colorado Tea Party candidate for governor who believes that bicycling is a “gateway drug” to communism’ JHK”

    OH daddy, OH mummy, jajajaaaajaajajajajjajajajajajajaaaaajjaajajaja

    PS–> Jajajaajaajajjaaaajajjajajaajjajajajaaajajajajaaaa.

  • The solar water-pumping technology is evolving fast, with better pumps and panels coming out all the time. My pump can run anywhere between 80 and 330 volts and some of the solar pumps now can pull water up from much deeper than the pumps of 20 years ago.

    Don’t wait to get started. Even something as simple a solar water pumping system involves a learning curve and tweaking it to get it running right. Mine currently switches from solar to AC at night, but it took a while to get that switchover set right.

    When the crunch starts, solar panels will be worth more than gold. I worry more about how I’ll protect the panels than about how I’d protect the year-round garden they water.

  • Helen Snyder raises an excellent point. The DC-powered solar pump on this property fills a 3,000-gallon cistern when the sun is shining. We use a DC-powered pressure pump and conventional (in rural areas) pressure tank to pressurize the water throughout the property. Forgoing the cistern, Helen uses a clever combination of DC and AC power.

    Regarding timing, it took nearly two years to figure out our water-distribution system and make it work properly. The original installation employed conventional pvc unions in the pump house, which we replaced with schedule 80 pvc and, when that also failed, with galvanized unions. We tried to focus on durability throughout the entire process, but installers are slow to get on that boat.

  • Too true, Guy. There’s a big difference between talking the talk and walking the walk (or in the case of plumbing and gardening, crawling the crawl).

    I find myself wondering things like how we’d pull the pump again without the use of the fossil fuels needed by my water guys’ crane truck, and where we’d eventually get replacement lengths of 20′ galvanized steel pipe which turn to crusty rusty flaky brittle things after 20 years down the well. A lightning strike or a hungry packrat with a taste for Romex could shut us down quick.

    You have me worried… we’re all schedule 40 around here…

  • Helen Snyder,

    I’d be interested to know what your worrying has come up with regarding protection for solar. Solar panels just shout out, “Look at me, I’ve got stuff!”

    Yet again we are faced with the dilemma of trying to figure out “when” and “how bad,” and then picking an appropriate strategy to deal with it. Guy’s ideas don’t even leave us the luxury of knowing what to wish for, as he points out that anything short of the immediate collapse of industrial civilization will likely result in an uninhabitable planet.

    I don’t have solar yet. I’ve been trying to work out a system that would work without it (gravity or rams), but have not got it sorted out yet. My well is 525 feet deep and would require a really expensive solar system, and my spring-box is below garden level.

    Regarding plumbing, I’m schedule 40 too, inside that is, with cpvc for the hot. I’m not dead yet and it doesn’t leak after 30 years. Galvanized in the well, of course, and into the house. I don’t have any idea about how to lift 500+ feet of galvanized without oil, a come-along maybe, but what a pain. I have a friend that believes in rolled black PVC, with the pump suspended on a 3/8ths stainless cable, but that was only about 200ft. Of course with no (little>less>none) oil, just having any kind of pipe is problematic. I have another friend that gravity feeds ¼ mile from a spring-box, an only slightly upgraded system that was installed before 1920 using wire-wrapped wooden pipe (cedar) to supply the house and garden, irrigate a two-acre orchard, and water the cows and horses. The trouble with that is there are just too few springs in the world to support our current population.

    Also, I was dealing with a packrat (bushy-tailed woodrat) just yesterday, luckily not a Romex lover.

    Re-reading this just before sending, I was struck again by the huge changes that are facing the next couple of generations, even if the fall off the cliff takes decades. Even the rosiest estimates are that there will be essentially zero oil available within 50 years. That’s with no resource wars, no mass migrations resulting from climate change, all our food is raised locally, every problem is solved using “appropriate” (read 1970’s hippy) technology, and if everyone turns into a friendly Buddhist-communist who is completely willing to share rationed food and water equally, even if they are semi-starving and severely dehydrated. Even with that ………………………………Nah, not going to happen. We’re toast.

    Michael Irving

  • Michael, good to hear that another someone is actually doing and not just talking. My panels are mounted on a 15′ post that I can see from the computer, but solar panels used to be more attractive to thieves than they are now; they are common around here and mainly announce “I’ve got water”, not “stuff”. We live 40 mi n of the US-MX line in Cochise County, which if you believe Fox news is a hotbed of criminal activity. I’ve never been broken into and don’t lock vehicles or the house. If job-seekers heading north want in, six of them pick up a master key, aka a railroad tie, and take out a door so I save them the trouble and me the hassle.

    My neighbors won’t be coming over for my “stuff” because we pretty much all have the same things – big water storage tanks, open sheds full of hand and power tools, fencing supplies and generally enough stowed food to live off of for 6 months or more, and plenty of scraps of pipe, lumber and all that leftover material you don’t throw away when you have to drive 65 miles to get more. Availability of useful PVC cement is likely to be a limiting factor before PVC is itself, in a future with no trucks or commerce.

    The local drilling and pumping guy says almost all of his work is installing solar pumping systems for ranchers, and that the ranch pumps he installs now can draw from 700′ plus. These ranch water sources are more attractive to illegals than are water supplies at houses because they don’t have to deal with lights, dogs, etc.

    But as you know, getting a pump with that much pipe up or down a well is the problem. I can barely lift my old pump now sitting on the ground, no pipe attached. Add the 200′ of pipe… even with a comalong I’m not looking forward to it.

    Big changes coming for sure. I’m reading Tipping Point right now and am at the part discussing community size; humans evolved to function ok in groups of 150 of fewer, and above that things break down. Has to do with the number of people you can expect to notice and care about what you do, and who will judge whether you’re leading a life that’s good or bad for the group. Our community here is about that size (three pages in the phone book). People already spend time and energy looking out for one another, and I wonder how this will change and manifest itself when it’s crunch time.

  • Great points, Helen, and they remind us that community matters — a lot. I cannot be reminded of that point frequently enough.

  • Helen Snyder,

    Thanks for the comments, Helen. I am reminded once again that just because things look a certain way here does not mean that is normal anywhere else. Maybe one out of one hundred houses have solar here. It may have something to do with the fact that we don’t see the sun for a month and a half during January and February, unless it’s below zero. It could also have to do with cheap (even though we bitch about it) hydroelectric power.

    Glad you live in a crime free section of the country. I used to think that about this place too, but last week my neighbor lost $1000 worth of tools out of his truck. It was parked outside his house. Even though it was unlocked the thieves broke out the back window anyway, just to add insult to injury I guess. Tough for my neighbor who lost his job and was trying to put bread on the table by working on people’s cars.

    I’ve often heard it said that locks just keep honest people honest. That implies that a thief will get your stuff no matter what you do and that even an honest person can’t be trusted to resist temptations. I agree with the first part, but strongly disagree with the second half. I would hate to think the world is made up only of bold thieves and timid thieves (honest people). I think your description of your community gives the lie to the old saw. However, maybe your community is just an anachronism left over from frontier days and is simply the exception that proves the rule.

    Wow, I’ve just had so many “old timey” sayings running through my head that I’m starting to get a headache.

    Michael Irving

  • Community is critical here. We all know each others’ vehicles, and if we see a familiar one sitting by the road, we stop to see what’s up. We have no cell service here so many carry radios, and almost everyone is armed, invisbly for the most part.

    I’m not in a crime-free area by any means, but the crime here is of a quite specialized kind and mostly has to do with illegals and drug smuggling. We are between I-10 and the US-Mexico line, and just to the left of the solar panels out my window I have a view of a smuggling lookout point, where they can watch for law enforcement and radio when it’s safe to load people or drugs into a vehicle.

    But it’s not part of the smuggler’s business model to go provoking shootouts with the citizenry. The guy who shot a neighboring rancher in March was most assuredly not given a hero’s welcome when he ran back home (he was tracked there). The death of gentle Rob Krentz, on his ATV and unable to walk without a cane after surgery, resulted in a huge amount of media coverage and political outrage as a wave of law enforcement scrambled to land here. The smugglers surely would be happier without the attention.

    Here’s a link to an interesting 3-part video for USFWS, Forest Service and other agency people who work along the border. While you watch this video, you might find yourself thinking that it provides a glimpse into the future, to the days when our own population will go walkabout in search of basic life support necessities, and the social chaos we will face. If the whole thing isn’t an active link, cut and paste into a browser:

  • Thanks for the info on the solar powered pumps. It’s our next big task. We have done our research but had become convinced that 12V solar couldn’t pull the water the 50 feet uphill to where we are building. I wish there was a site to go to where like minded individuals could exchange ideas and hopefully prevent making the same mistakes. Just on our house construction we have gone from slip form to haybale to PIP concrete, ending up with ICF’s which for us has worked very well. We joined a local PO awareness group and then dropped out after we realized there was way too much talking and not enough walking.
    We got stuck in the permaculture arena. Good info to keep in the back of your mind, but not a real plan for what we are trying to achieve. Forest Gardening is another area where we may have dug too deep. Once again some really good ideas, but pick the ones that work and move on.
    Once again Guy I enjoy your site. The following is a hopelessly outdated blog about what we are trying to achieve.

    Best to all of you, and thanks for the information.


  • I’m not sure how we got to the topic of smuggling drugs, but it allows me to make a recommendation. I recently finished reading Contrabando, by Don Henry Ford Jr. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Subtitle tells you all you need to know about the subject: Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy. It’s riveting stuff. I’m currently reading Ford’s latest, Ruminations from the Garden.

  • Ed, good to know there’s more DO IT peopleout there. Those shots of greenhouses and plants are impressive! You have freezing issues that we don’t here but that lift should be possible. Static water level at our place is 95′ and the pump makes a gusher like a fire hydrant when the sun it full on the two panels.

    I learned I can’t find the critical details of how to grow our own food tailored to exactly where we are. It’s not written down anywhere on the internet or in books; we just have to experiment. I find the best way to find out what works is to try lots of varieties of something one year, another the next – I did 17 tomato varieties one year, found four that worked. Ditto winter squash – 8 kinds, now grow three. And spinach, same thing tho every kind did well so it was a matter of selecting for taste, and being open pollinated (Melody’s the favorite, but it’s a hybrid).

    Timing is another issue: grasshoppers come on strong in mid-August, so anything they like has to be under metal screen by then. And I learned the importance of microclimates: Planting against south-facing stone walls gives weeks if not months more time for frost-tender plants. Some things like cilantro that all the catalogs tell you to plant in full sun do far better in complete shade, and some years I have to put shadecloth over that most sun-loving of plants, the mighty tomato.

    My own climate, soils, and insects are the best teachers. Oh yes, and the UPS man: when I first started gardening here the UPS guy was also a gardener, and he knew that kiwis won’t work – he’d delivered plants every year to somebody for five years because they always froze. He said blackberries and grapes would do fine. And figs: he said they would work if you heavily mulch the crown in winter – sure enough, mine quit freezing back to the crown when I did that.

    When I first started the garden I had a friend with a backhoe come over and dig a trench to bury chicken wire in and deep holes for 8′ railroad tie fenceposts. Everything wants in: coyotes and two species of deer over the fence, gophers under it, and javelina, snakes, lizards, rodents and skunks come through it. I set out live traps once when rodents were eating things and caught a different species every night for 7 nights. But it’s the biodiversity here that attracts us to the area, and we enjoy it. We discovered a solitary digger wasp this year that’s cleaning up on a squash-blossom-eating bug, and find ourselves creating nesting fields of damp soils for the wasps, mini-mudflats that they quickly discover and use.

    I’m in real estate these past two years, after being retired from wildlife biology for over 20. I specialize in properties for naturalists, birders, retired biologists and astronomers. I had a young client a month ago just out of college determined to buy land he could live off. He was so naive I cringed at his stated goal of growing everything from citrus to blueberries (neither can survive in this high desert). I cringed inwardly at first at the frustrations ahead for him, but then found myself mentally cheering for him – what a learning curve he faces, but at his young age, he’s got time and energy on his side. It reminded me of the energy and innocence apparent in Guy’s class project that he gave us a link to a year ago or so. Guy, is that still online?

  • Helen, I believe you’re referring to, and it’s still online. I am working with three students this semester as they work on various aspects of the human community in our post-carbon future. They’ll have a blog ready soon, and I’ll announce it here.

  • Guy, I’m going to get that book. Have you read Down By The River by Chuck Bowden, and God’s Middle Finger? can’t remember the author of that one, but he’s English and apparently set off for the Sierra Madre determined to have adventures and get into trouble, which he did. I read it and figured it at first was one big outlandish exaggeration – but then came across some accounts of people I know down there, which were right on. My husband did the same thing: he recognized other people he’d met in the Sierras, different from mine, and said while the rest of the book struck him as preposterous, those people were correctly presented.

    This reminds me of what a future would be like without libraries. Long before the internet, we lived in Puerto Rico for four years and while I loved it, the one thing that almost brought me to tears after we got back was walking into the Prince Georges County library branch by the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center where we lived. There was SO many riches there – newspapers and books surrounded me again. I had really missed that.

  • Guy, have you ever figured out what one form of calorie you could grow in one season that would sustain you till the next garden season? are you growing any grains?

  • Helen, I haven’t read the books to which you refer, but they’re on my list. Bowden was Ford’s mentor. Ford served 15 years in prison, and now he’s a doomer living in southern Texas. Ruminations contains his thoughts about farming without fossil fuels, among other things.

    Regarding calories, we are not growing grains (but we have some stored) and we are trying root crops and beans to sustain us. Last year was our first, and it was a smashing success. Just when we thought we had it figured out … this year is an abysmal series of failures. When the lights go out and the game warden can’t make the trip, I’ll renew my efforts at hunting game. In preparation, I sighted in my rifles last week.