Praying for peace, promoting war

A Christmas card from one of the in-laws was unintentionally soaked in irony. I’ll skip the rant about celebrating Christ and mass, the two components of Christ’s mass (i.e., Christmas) in which I don’t believe, much less celebrate. And, too, I”ll forgo the equally tempting rant about a religious holiday that promotes conspicuous consumption in an empire founded on secular ideals.

On to that card: It was filled with proud stories of the kids in the U.S. Army, and it closed with, “We pray for peace.” I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

Never mind that the writer almost certainly is fooling herself. If her prayers are answered, that’ll put the battle-ready kids out of their jobs. And, since war comprises the foundation for our entire industrial economy, the empire almost surely would sink to the bottom of the already stinking swamp within weeks of an outbreak of peace. Praying for peace makes as much sense as supporting the troops, and both cases of wishful thinking are clothed in lies.

I can only imagine how many people I’ll offend with this essay. And yet, I can’t seem to stop myself. Any decent social critic points out the lunacy of societal taboos. I’m not suggesting I’m a decent social critic. But I can no longer ignore this most annoying of taboos.

Support the troops. It’s the rallying cry of an entire nation. It’s the slogan pasted on half the bumpers in the country.

Supporting the troops is pledging your support for the empire. Supporting the troops supports the occupation of sovereign nations because might makes right. Supporting the troops supports wanton murder of women and children throughout the world. And men, too. Supporting the troops supports obedience at home and oppression abroad. Supporting the troops throws away every ideal on which this country allegedly is founded. Supporting the troops supports the ongoing destruction of the living planet in the name of economic growth. Supporting the troops therefore hastens our extinction in exchange for a few dollars. Supporting the troops means caving in to Woodrow Wilson’s neo-liberal agenda, albeit cloaked as contemporary neo-conservatism (cf. hope and change). Supporting the troops trumpets power as freedom and fascism as democracy.


Perhaps most importantly, supporting the troops means giving up on resistance. Resistance is all we have, and all we’ve ever had. We say we’re mad as hell and we claim we’re not going to take it any more. But, sadly, we gave up on resistance of any kind years ago. After all, we might get in trouble. We might be incarcerated for protesting without a permit.

When jets from the nearby military base scream over the university campus, conversation stops, indoors or out. We pause awkwardly, stopped in mid-conversation. After the jets pass, in formation, an excuse often is articulated by the person with whom I’m visiting: “It’s the sound of freedom.”

My response never varies: “Sounds like oppression to me.”

The ensuing silence is more awkward than the scream of the jet engines.

It’s as if America’s cultural revolution never happened. It’s as if we never questioned the dominant paradigm in an empire run amok, as if we never experienced Woodstock and the Summer of Love, bra-burning hippies and war-torn teenagers, Rosa Parks and the Cuyahoga River. We’re right back in the 1950s, swimming in culture’s main stream instead of questioning, resisting, and protesting.

In a Tucson coffee shop last week I saw a woman, apparently in her early twenties, dressed in a short skirt, an apron, and high heels. Had she been behind the counter, she would have been the perfect symbol of the 1950s, a refugee from two generations gone by. We’ve moved from the unquestioning automatons of Aldous Huxley and George Orwell to the firebrands of a radical counter-cultural worldview and back again. A generational sea change swept us from post-war “liberators” drunk on early 1950s propaganda to revolutionaries willing to take risks in defense of late 1960s ideals. The revolution gained steam through the 1970s, but lost its way when the U.S. industrial economy hit the speed bump of domestic peak oil. The Carter Doctrine — the world’s oil belongs to us — coupled with Ronald Reagan’s soothing pack of lies, was the perfect match to our middle-aged comfort, so we abandoned the noble ideals of earlier days for another dose of palliative propaganda. Three decades later, we’ve swallowed so much Soma we wouldn’t couldn’t find a hint of revolution in Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.

In short, the pillars of social justice and environmental protection rose from the cesspool of ignorance to become shining lights for an entire generation. And then we let them fall back into the swamp. The very notion that others matter — much less that those others are worth fighting for — has been relegated to the dustbin of history.

The problem with being a martyr: You have to die for the cause. And along the way, you’ll probably be jailed and tortured. But there’s a fate far worse than being a martyr, in the minds of America’s youth. There’s the thought you’ll be viewed as an anti-American freak, out of touch with Lady Gaga and Dancing With The Stars. A fate worse than death: Your Facebook page will be removed, thus “disappearing” you.

A line from Eugene Debs, five-time candidate of the Socialist party for U.S. president, comes to mind: “While there is a lower class I am in it, while there is a criminal element I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.” He was serious. So am I. That I am not taken seriously in these most serious of days pulverizes my ego. That Debs is not taken seriously these days shatters my heart.

When I visit with college-age people these days, they have no idea what I mean, and they believe Debs and I are misguided jokers. Completely immersed in a culture of make believe, mind-fucked from birth by the corporations running the media, the thought of resistance is, quite simply, beyond the pale. Resistance? Against what? And why? Isn’t resistance a form of terrorism?

Every revolution has failed. And if that’s not sufficient reason to launch a revolution, I don’t know what is. The revolution is dead: Viva la revolution!

If any one of those troops we claim to support attempts to bring transparency and reform to this country, we instantly turn on him and support his torture by — you guessed it — the troops. And who’s the commander in chief of these troops? That’s right, the man who promised transparency and reform, but who now seeks to crush the very people trying to bring it to us.

If obliterating transparency means criminalizing journalism, we can live with that. Those journalists are probably terrorists anyway. Or worse, liberals. The First Amendment was shredded by Obama’s predecessor, and how it’s being turned to ash. The U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights are bobbing along the same waves as social justice and environmental protection, sold down the river by a nation addicted to growth for the sake of growth (the ideology of a cancer cell).

It seems very little matters to the typical American beyond economic growth. And for that, most importantly, we need an uninterrupted supply of crude oil. All wars are resource wars, and even our involvement in the last “Good War” was about oil, notwithstanding revisionist history about our compassion regarding Hitler’s final solution. Crude oil’s near-term annual decline rate of 10% means many troops will be needed to secure the lifeblood of the industrial economy. After all, world demand hasn’t peaked yet, although world supply has. If we’re to continue running ruining the world, we’ll need plenty of troops. And they’ll need your support.

You keep supporting the troops, and trying to convince yourself you’re fighting terrorism in the process. If doubt creeps in, turn on the television. Listen to the news anchors and the politicians, the characters and the commercials. Immerse yourself in the ultimate hallucination. Keep lapping up the self-censored “news,” confident the future will bring even more self-indulgent hedonism than the recent past.

And if somebody tries to tell you the hegemony of the U.S. dollar is threatened, thereby causing the price of oil to skyrocket, you just ignore the uncomfortable news, just as the mainstream media have ignored it. That kind of thing can’t happen here. It’s never happened, so it can’t happen (Francis Bacon’s Idol of the Den). If some misinformed fool attempts to point out the consequences of consumerism, shrug him off as a terrorist. And if somebody tries to confuse your happy holidays by telling you the good news about economic collapse, you tell him you’ll be praying for peace. That’ll make it all okay.

Comments 85

  • I always find your words to be a refreshing breath of truth. Exactly what I’ve been needing in this xtra capitalist and commercialized xmas. I’ve been feeling that holiday low down like Charlie Brown. Barbara Kingsolver’s short essay, In the Belly of the Beast, puts her social criticism of our expensively militant United States of America and “support our troops” nonsense into words more eloquently than I could write:

    “The United States is the only nation that has ever used an atomic bomb. Dropped it, on men and women and schoolchildren and gardens and pets and museums, two whole cities of quotidian life. We did it, the story goes, to hasten the end of the war and bring our soldiers home. ‘To protect the rights and freedoms we enjoy’ is a grotesque euphemism. Every nuclear weapon ever constructed was built for the purpose of ending life, in a manner so horrific it is nearly impossible to contemplate. And U.S. nuclear science has moved steadily and firmly, from the moment of its birth, toward first-strike capacity.
    Why, then, are we all so polite about avoiding obvious questions? How is it that a waving flag can create an electromagnetic no-back-talk zone? Any talk of closing down a military base raises defensive and reverent ire, no matter how wasteful an installment it might be. And yet, public debate dickers and rages over our obligation to fund the welfare system–a contribution of about $25 a year from each taxpayer on average, for keeping the poorest among us alive. How can we haggle over the size of a meager life preserver, while shiploads of money for death sail by unchallenged?

    What religion of humankind could bless the travesty that is the U.S. federal budget?” (Kingsolver 218-220)

    The last statement of this passage is a powerful one, and would make a striking holiday comeback greeting to your in-laws. It makes you wonder, with all of this hullabaloo this time of year- the ugly marriage between Christmas and Capitalism- where the real meaning of it all lies. The damned inconvenient truths about our “free and democratic” nation that so many so-called patriots can’t bare to witness. Another relevant quote from Kingsolver:

    “I’m offended by the presumption that my honor as a citizen will crumple unless I’m protected from knowledge of my country’s mistakes. What kind of love is patriotism, if it evaporates in the face of uncomfortable truths? What kind of honor sits quietly by while a nation’s conscience flies south for a long, long winter?” (Kingsolver 225)

    On that note, have a nice winter and a happy new year! I’ll be sending a card in the mail, but it will have little to do with peace on earth or baby jesus. On the upside, it is handmade, recyclable, and a gesture of my true appreciation of your mentorship to me this past year.

    Best wishes,

  • So refreshing, as usual, and right on target, as it were. Nothing about the demise of our democracy surprises me anymore except that we still have any freedoms at all. Give it time. When oil becomes scarce and the military is the only one with any of it, I suspect there won’t be any reason to pretend anymore.

    Recently, I suggested to a colleague that instead of worrying about how many people are abusing social security disability, we could cut 10% of the defense budget and more than make up the loss. He looked at me as if I was about to explode a bomb sown into my jacket.

    I have a nephew in Iraq. When he told me he was joining the military several years ago, I asked him how such an intelligent guy could do something so stupid. He didn’t appreciate it much.

    The military is absolutely integrated into the fascist state we now have. So, in my own form of revolution, I swore off Consumermas. We’ll see if it catches on. I’m not optimistic.

  • Guy. Thank you for a dose of truth and sanity at this time of nearly universal deceit and madness.

    ‘My response never varies: “Sounds like oppression to me.” A line worth remembering.

    Fortunately you are not alone in confronting the maniacs. (and thanks to Robert for alerting me to the following)

    The War You Don’t See trailer
    The official trailer for John Pilger’s new film, ‘The War You Don’t See’, in UK cinemas from Sunday 12 December 2010 and on ITV two days later at 10.35pm … – Cached

    Not that ‘the empire’ takes any notice of dissent. Dissent is to be ignored, ridiculed, or crushed. Preferably ignored. Tony B Liar is still out there doing what he does best -lying, just as O’Bomber is doing what he does best -authorising bombing. Indeed, if O’Bomber didn’t ramp up the war effort he probably have to relinquish his ‘Peace Prize’.

    The beautiful irony of the outrageous levels of spending and consumption of declining resources by the military is that both bring about a faster demise of the empire and the economic system that supports it. There’s nothing like watching self-important clowns sinking in the quagmire of self-defeating strategies.

    Pity about the civilians who happen to live in countries ‘requiring regime change’.

    Just reflecting on that, I suppose we all live in nations that require regime change.

  • USA, worlds #1 terrorist. Who carries out this state sponsored terrorism? USA troops=USA terrorists. USA troops are no more innocent than the kids sent out with explosives strapped to their bodies killing innocent civilians. This needs to be said and I do not support USA terrorists or their masters.

  • The Empire maintains over 700 military installations throughout the world.

    The Empire have overthrown or invaded or caused economic failure of more governments than any other empire in history. We can only have peace through war.

    So support your troops. Here are some of their notable accomplishments in their efforts to win the hearts and minds of those whose countries they occupy.

    – Troops of the Empire voluntarily join the service of a country they know is conducting an illegal and immoral set of wars to protect the Empire’s interests overseas.

    – Troops of the Empire have intentionally killed more innocent civilians (women, elderly and children) of other countries than any other nation.

    – Troops of the Empire have utilised cruel and brutal phosphorus incendiary bombs on innocent civilians.

    – Troops of the Empire have utilised depleted uranium against whole populations causing untold birth defects and cancer.

    – Troops of the Empire utilise shoot from helicopters and unmanned drones intentionally killing civilians and laugh, celebrate and brag about it afterwards.

    – Troops of the Empire utilise cluster bombs against towns and villages killing indiscriminately, and often blowing up children who later play with some of the unexploded remains thinking they are toys.

    – Troops of the Empire knowingly and wilfully participate in acts of brutal torture and humiliation against all international law.

    – Troops of the Empire savagely break into homes in the middle of the night, terrorising small children and parents with guns and dogs.

    The brave, freedom-loving, defenders against terrorism across the globe.

    Indeed, support your troops.


    Big Sister is Watching You.

  • The best way to support the troops is to repatriate them. Except that with the prospect of being tasked to quell civil unrest, even such a proposition rests on rather tenuous grounds. In either case, they have to prey for peace.

    Indeed, the troops are fighting for peace. As in the remark that once issued from some astute mind, a role akin to pimping for chastity.

    Actually others do matter and are very much worth fighting for: human livestock is the most valuable of properties.

    Eugene Debs assertion “while there is a soul in prison, I am not free” might be taken with a grain of salt when considered against the background of the later Socialist adventures of Josef Stalin. Actions speak louder than words: socialist actions speak louder than socialist words.

    All statists ultimately gain their ends by using a fictional entity, the state, to pose the threat of the initiation of the use of force against any peaceful non-complier. The only logical outcome of the uriversal application of the principle of non-aggression, the non-initiation of the use of force, is anarchy: a stateless society based on voluntary – rather than imposed – associations, as was the case with our hunter – gatherer ancestors from hominid times.

    A constitition is like a bandage placed on a cancerous tumor, the state. On this bandage it is printed “You shall not grow”. The proper approach is to cut out the tumor, the state, in its entirety.

  • For those of you without access to Pilger’s new movie, here is the full version – a bit broken up into Youtube partitions.

  • “And yet, public debate dickers and rages over our obligation to fund the welfare system–a contribution of about $25 a year from each taxpayer on average, for keeping the poorest among us alive.” Would it be ethically proper for that poor person to rob someone at the point of a gun of the $25? How is it different when someone in a costume threatens to do so on his behalf if the human livestock do not comply?

    “We did it, the story goes, to hasten the end of the war and bring our soldiers home.” Every day that the war continued, some allied soldiers died. The Japs were dilly-dallying with the idea of a negotiated surrender when called upon to surrender unconditionally. My father was a regimental medical officer in the British indian Army at the time. Even if the war was shortened by a single hour and we had one less soldier injured or killed by the Japs, it was worth the undertaking of the Manhattan Project. If I were a hunter gatherer defending my band, and I too would use all the force at my command if it would save the life of even one of my tribe.

    I have always believed that Christmas should be for Christians. Therefore since I started working in the uS, I have taken the Christmas shifts every Christmas so that the Christians could have the time off. The only exceptions when I was working were when I was in transit between duty stations, once in the uS Navy, and once in the uS Army for Desert Storm.

  • ‘I have always believed that Christmas should be for Christians’

    Unfortunately Christmas has nothing to do with the birth of Christ or Christianity.

    All teh evidence indicates it was invented by the Romans (as was our dysfunctional calendar system) as a way of hi-jacking the winter soclstice celebrations and bringing populations under control.

    Like practically everything else in maintream culture, Christmas is founded on fabrications and lies.

    People behave like Pavlov’s dogs because that is what they have been trained to do from an early age [by the empire].

  • Hi Guy,

    Given your disgust for war and empire, especially as demonstrated in your most recent article, I find it quite peculiar that you list the “U.S. Department of Defense” as one of your clients on your “Speaking and Consulting Page”


    Happy holidays, Petr

  • “If I were a hunter gatherer defending my band, and I too would use all the force at my command if it would save the life of even one of my tribe.”

    Perhaps, but the damage possible in a hunter/gatherer culture cannot even begin to compare to the damage possible under a modern global nuclear-capable empire. We are looking at the murder of possibly 300,000 Japanese civilians – not military, but civilian deaths, and the agony that followed and is still visible after all these years.

    If the Empire today used the same logic as you suggest, it would be justified in the nuclear destruction of a substantial portion of the world’s peoples to save one more American life from “terrorism”. Indeed, a similar scenario seems to be beginning to take shape in the US where an oppressive police state is being formed to “protect” the citizens from domestic “terrorism”. No price is too high to pay, either in “homeland defence” spending or in supporting the Empire’s foreign military adventures or in depriving the American citizen of Constitutional rights, if it is to prevent the killing of one more American by terrorists. I have something of a problem with that line of thought, I’m afraid.

    The ethical issues behind the Japanese slaughter are still being debated.

  • My husband and I no longer celebrate any holidays. We do note in passing certain days such as the solstice. Of interest is how difficult it is to get grown children to give up giving us gifts. In one case it actually made one child mad. And several still give gifts. I must admit that they now try harder to give useful gifts. Several thankfully have accepted the no gifting policy. I am sure once they did, it made their Christmas a bit easier.

    What a pleasure not to spend hours in stores shopping for something for someone who doesn’t need anything. What a pleasure not to tire oneself with cooking and wrapping. What a pleasure not to spend a day making small talk and avoiding subjects that make people mad or not commenting on subjects that make me mad.

    But celebrating Christmas means a lot to most Christians (even if the day turns out badly for one reason or another) so I applaud Robin for taking Christmas shifts so others can have their day.

    It is good to have someplace where such “heretical” thoughts can be aired and accepted. Thanks for your post Guy.

    My most important holiday activity is staying home – off the road full of celebrating drivers and out of the stores full of manic buyers.

  • Funny thing: while I never considered myself a socialist, I agree with nearly all you say here. And while you don’t consider yourself a Christian, your views reconcile well with my concept of Jesus’ teachings.

    blessings sir.


  • Don, many of us are or were inspired by the words (or most of them) of Jesus (many are also inspired by Ghandi, or Buddah, or the Prophet). I left the Christian fold for many reasons. One was that by and large most Christians totally ignore the words of Jesus. The words of Jesus are however not unique and in fact copies of or copied by other religions. (same with the flood story and the virgin birth story). What perhaps is of interest is why so many religions incorporate these rather universal positive values and then pay little attention to them. No offence meant to Christians who follow the positive ideals of Jesus, but to think that only Christians or more broadly religious people can have these values is just false.
    One of the simplest values Jesus proclaimed is the “Golden Rule”
    Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – Jesus

    Just as pain is not agreeable to you, it is so with others. Knowing this principle of equality treat other with respect and compassion.
    —Suman Suttam , verse 150

    Regard your neighbor’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbor’s loss as your own loss.
    —T’ai Shang Kan Ying P’ien

    “Seek for mankind that of which you are desirous for yourself, that you may be a believer; treat well as a neighbor the one who lives near you, that you may be a Muslim [one who submits to God].”
    —Sukhanan-i-Muhammad (Teheran, 1938)[45]

    Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.(己所不欲,勿施于人)
    —Confucius, Analects XV.24 (tr. David Hinton)

    One who, while himself seeking happiness, oppresses with violence other beings who also desire happiness, will not attain happiness hereafter.
    —Dhammapada 10. Violence

    And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself.
    more at:

    But without a golden rule for the planet (do unto planet earth as you would have it done to you) it is likely that the rule and religion will become irrelevant due to self extinction of the human race. If the religions of the world want to preserve themselves they need to speak up about overpopulation, greed, pollution, etc. (either that or convert the rats and other creatures that might survive the extinction event :) )

  • Kathy

    The rats are ruling already!… ;-)

    Happy Holiday season to all….whether you practice Christmas or not, let it at least become a season of goodwill towards each other!


  • [Kevin]: “People behave like Pavlov’s dogs because that is what they have been trained to do from an early age [by the empire].”

    As one old dog to another, let us lift our legs in salute to each other and best wishes for the New year!…. ;-)


  • Petr, I’ll speak to anybody who’ll listen. Oddly, the Department of Defense hasn’t asked me back.

  • Guy, are you willing and able to tell us what you said to the US Department of Defense? How much did they pay you for the talk?

    Would you go speak to the Nazis if they listened and paid?

    Just wondering…..

    Regards, Petr

  • I don’t want to hijack this thread with a religious discussion. Let it suffice to say that Jesus wasn’t a Christian.

  • Petr

    Do you have a problem with speaking to anyone who is willing to listen – good guys or bad? I would think that Guy’s message needs to get out, no matter who it is who is listening. Dialogue is good. Polarisation is bad. What do you think?

    Just wondering…


  • The “nuclear destruction of a substantial portion of the world’s peoples to save one more American life from “terrorism”” doesn’t quite cut the mustard; the perceived adversary is not quite as monolithic as Tojo’s Japan. And foreign military adventures one ultimately has to have boots on the ground: the nuclear option has little role in that gambit. They have to prey for peace; nuking the prey does not gain them their objective.

    There are no American Constitutional Rights – the constitution does not give us any rights. The rights existed before the constituiton. The constitution attempts to prevent the state from taking away those rights. How effectively it does this may be a matter for debate.

  • Victor.

    Thanks for the kind wishes. The new year commenced on 22 June where I am, and on 22 Decemeber in the Northern Hemisphere. Few people noticed. :)

    Presumably, like most innovators in the past, Harrison thought he was doing great work for humanity by producing ever more reliable clocks [that facilitated the establishment a global time system and expansion of the money-lenders empire]. Can the same be said for those who design and manufacture land mines or any other of the systems empires use against opponents?


    ‘I left the Christian fold for many reasons. One was that by and large most Christians totally ignore the words of Jesus.’ And ignore the teachings of the Bible …. there is the very inconvenient matter of being good custodians of the Earth, as opposed to looting it as quickly as possible and wreaking environmental havoc upon it.

    Such matters are unspeakable or conveninetly not understood in most ‘Christian’ circles.

  • Petr, I’ve never been paid to speak to DoD. When I spoke to them, upon their request at a conference many years ago, I spoke about fire ecology, fire management, global climate change, and the impacts of energy decline on fire regimes.\

    Don, thanks for your ongoing, infrequent, thoughtful comments.

    Robin, of course we must take the words with a grain of salt. Debs was not Stalin, but he was serious about socialism. Stalin was serious about totalitarism, not about the love of society (which, as I understand it, is the basis for socialism, just as love of the environment is the basis for environmentalism).

  • Thanks for the explanation about the US Department of Defense reference Guy. In your bio, you might point out that this was only a conference to avoid any future confusion.

    I thoroughly enjoy your blog, which has contributed to us getting the hell out of Vancouver and becoming as self-sufficient as possible. I have also looked up several of your scientific papers as we share some common professional interests around conservation and land use planning, though the likelihood of some kind of rational collective planning for the future is extremely remote.

    All the best in the new year.

    Regards, Petr

  • ‘The problem with being a martyr: You have to die for the cause.’- guy

    indeed so. not only that, u must do so, imo, not knowing whether your ultimate sacrifice will be in vain. in this surreal world, it’s hard to imagine that thousands of martyrs can make a difference. u may effect many lives, but with 7 billion people, many apparently addicted to dogma (closed minded, not very smart), the best u can hope for is to be a part of a larger spiritual emergence.

    i’m not routing for collapse. i prefer a more conscious voluntary retreat from peak everything. unfortunately convulsive collapse seems nearly certain at this point. i don’t see how anyone’s martyrdom will hasten the process.

    imo, if u’re going to be a martyr, be a martyr in an attempt to educate as many as possible re. our dire predicament and the necessity of radical change including some major personal sacrifices, like young people forgoing dreams of having multiple offspring, and older folks hoping for long, comfortable years of retirement. that’s not at all an easy message to sell. it probably would be in vain.

    ‘That I am not taken seriously in these most serious of days pulverizes my ego.’- guy again

    i’m not sure i take anything seriously that doesn’t affect my immediate survival. surreality is too absurd to be taken too seriously. tragic as it is, it’s also funny. perhaps our purpose is to provide gaia with belly laughter. laughter beats crying, which we also supply generously.

    i take u totally seriously wit regards to good intentions and a sincere, profound desire to be heard and understood by multitudes. as for talk of martyrdom, i don’t know my own heart in this matter, and i certainly don’t know yours. it’s one thing to speak of it, quite another to actively pursue it. perhaps u’ve already set off in that pursuit, but i think u have far to go to attain it in that case, and plenty of opportunity to change your mind. if in fact u ever do attain it, your ego will be obliterated. maybe pulverized is better.

  • [Terry]: “i’m not routing for collapse. i prefer a more conscious voluntary retreat from peak everything.”

    Would that it be so. I believe that, unfortunately, if we were to do the ‘right’ thing, pulling back from peak everything, there would be a resulting mass die-off and economic chaos. Our entire world is built upon an infrastructure that is fully dependent upon constant growth and fossil fuels. We can no longer go forward, and we have no hope of drawing back from disaster. I believe the best we can hope for is an early collapse so that the natural world can be saved.

    There are forces at work today that can not be resisted without a massive (and impossible!) change in social and technological inertia. It is like we are in free fall, no longer capable of pulling back or changing direction. And this is a critical point to communicate – we have ALREADY gone over the cliff: we simply don’t recognise that as yet. As a society, we have not yet met our “coyote moment”. The only remaining questions in my mind are how far is the fall and how quickly will it bottom out.

    And perhaps the real need here, as you have hinted at, is for spiritual preparation, to seek peace in the midst of looming chaos, to accept the present for what it offers, to prepare oneself not to fight but to embrace the accelerating winds of change and the place they are likely to carry us as a species.

  • When reflecting upon Collapse, we often find ourselves in near despair over the possibility of facing the worst that is in human nature – roving gangs of thieving cannibals looking for breakfast. I would suggest that there is another view that co-exists with this ‘reality’ – that we will also come face-to-face with that which is the best that is in human nature – real sacrifice, real human compassion, selfless generosity. When faced with disaster, much of what we really are, much that has been suppressed by a sick social and political structure in which we are immersed from birth, has a way of suddenly surfacing. I would encourage you to read the following article by Rebecca Solnit writing on TomDispatch:

  • When reflecting on collapse I often remember how crosses were burned on our lawn in TN and the sign said “get the hell out of Morgan County or we will get you out the hard way”. I remember my neighbor who was a friend telling me with tears in her eyes “I can’t help you, if I do they will burn our barn”

    In the news this week is Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi. Apparently he has some Presidential aspirations. He recently said positive things about the white Citizen Councils that were a sort of robeless Klan in the 50’s and 60’s.

    In 1981 a black man named Michael Donald was lynched

    7th August 1930: A crowd gathering to witness the killing of Tom Shipp and Abe Smith, two victims of lynch law in Indiana. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Looks like a party to me. Ordinary white folks out celebrating a hanging.

    A neighbor is the daughter of a former Grand Dragon of the Klan. I heard her say recently that the Klan was good and should be restored.

    I have been called a “nigger lover” for asking a co-worker not to burn down on my account a McDonalds (black owned) that shorted my order of french fries.

    The feeling against Hispanics is likewise very negative. Racism never went away it just went underground a bit. The more the economy goes down the more I hear the racist remarks.

    So maybe elsewhere in the world things will go compassionately. Down here the stirrings of prejudice and racial hatred are smoldering and need only a bit of breakdown of authority to make a fire. I don’t hope for compassion and generosity in the South, just for myself courage to stand up for my neighbors who have a little more pigment in their skin than I do.

  • Two reading assignments for those of you who may have some time off. First, The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe: Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times. May have already been recommended here, and if so sorry for the repeat. I’m jumping around in the book, and have just finished the section on corn. Some of the most informative reading that I have experienced, and that after 4 years of farming, and 3 years preparing for the task. This is the knowledge that has to be passed on, these are the seeds that have to be saved. Seemingly simple things like drying squash and pumpkins (we have tried both, and failed) are explained in detail. Dried squash will last longer than beans.
    I haven’t read any of the other book but Carol references it throughout hers, and I thought with all the discussion here about indigenous culture that all of you might find it interesting.
    It his available on line here:

    Kathy: Thank you for your comments on Christmas. You have a wonderful way of putting things in writing.
    Jean: It’s 6:15 AM and I’m waiting for the sun to come up so I can run. I know we all have to learn to “own the night” but that will have to come later.
    Victor, Kevin, vt, and all the rest and especially Guy. Thanks and best wishes for the coming year.


  • I feel a bit guilty on Christmas day for throwing cold water on thoughts of human kindness, but being a perverse sort of person I will forge ahead.

    When I was in Haiti, there was one child I helped who I felt good about. Saving lives seemed such a mixed bag – but this child was well fed just sick with boils on her body. We had had to hold her down and clamp nose to get her to open her mouth to take medicine. But as she began to heal I started getting her up to walk – she had developed a contraction in one knee that had had a particularly bad boil. Gradually it was stretching out. I knew she would live, but felt good knowing she would walk normally if I got the leg stretched. One morning when we came with the medicine I just looked at her and she at me and I saw a look that said OK, and she opened her mouth to take the medicine.

    So not long after some of the sisters who had been on retreat were coming back and the sisters who hadn’t gone wanted to make little welcome back cards. They decided I could draw (I can’t) and insisted I make them. I finally said OK and put my little friend on my lap while I started to draw. She was not impeding me in any way, still the sisters took her away from me, crying, because their little cards for their friends were more important than the feelings of this child or me for that matter.

    Small little stuff. But compassion for one (the sisters for their friends) can easily become a total lack of compassion for others (very few of the sisters showed any emotion to the children, they seemed to do their good works more for God’s notice than the children’s benefit).

    There are many children who were adopted in Argentina during the time of the disappearances. They were taken from the disappeared. No doubt their adoptive parents were very kind and compassionate to them even though they didn’t care at all about the real parents being tortured and killed.
    Nazi guards were often fine and loving parents.
    And then there was the Milgram experiments
    and the Standford Prison experiment.

    In fact I would posit we notice the good when it occurs because it is unusual rather than because it is usual.

    So I think if we want more compassion in the times that come, WE have to decide to supply it ourselves and not count on the general population to supply it. We have to steel ourselves to not be drawn in to self protection but rather be willing to give up even our own lives for good, kindness, compassion. I would like to die feeling I have done that. I am not at all sure I am up to it.

  • I’m in agreement with the thrust of this post about the “support the troops” trope. I’ve never served, nor do I have a veteran’s appreciation for the good that is done by servicepersons, but the irony that the U.S. military creates the enemies it fights isn’t lost on me. If the ruling ideology behind military service in past generations was patriotism and service, I fear that those motivations are a distinct minority now. Many who now serve have few choices but to risk their lives in service. Even if they survive, they frequently come back scarred, mutilated, and psychologically damaged, only to be vilified as torturers and oppressors. Some deserve it, to be sure, but I can’t believe all of them do.

    Robin Datta sez: Would it be ethically proper for that poor person to rob someone at the point of a gun of the $25? How is it different when someone in a costume threatens to do so on his behalf if the human livestock do not comply?

    Redefining the terms of debate to distort the ideas is facile. Our choices are not between robbery and forced compliance. They’re more nearly about caring for each other or abandoning and killing each other.

  • An aspect that has not been touched on yet [here] to my knowledge is the matter of the pack of lies told the American people (and the world) by the Bush administration as a pretext for the various invasions … everything from the non-existent weapons of mass destructionto missiles ‘ready to be launched at a moment’s notice’ to the non-existent connections with the events of 9/11.

    As thinking people, many with scientific backgrounds, can we accept that steel and concrete structures can fall to the ground at free-fall speed in their own footprints as a consequence of short-lived, low temperature fires? Indeed, in all of history only three such buildings have ‘fallen down’, and all on the same day. Other buildings of similar construction have been recored as burning for many hours or days without collapse.

    Can we really accept that commercial aircraft could fly off-course and unchallenged for long periods of time in what is arguably the most heavily defended airspace on the planet?

    Or that a large commercial aircraft could crash into a concrete and steel structure and leave virtually no wreckage? Or crash in a rural setting and leave virtually no wreckage? Or that security camera footage that might shed some light on events could ‘disappear’?

    Until such time as someone can present evidence to the contrary (the official enquiry into 9/11 provided more questions than answers) we must conclude that 9/11 was a false flag operation, designed to stir the American people into patriotic fervour, whilst at the same time disposing of buildings with asbestos problems at a considerable profit, via fraudulent insurance claims and put options on airlines etc.

    Is this topic too hot for discussion (like the pool of molten metal generated by the thermite charges that lay under the 9/11 site for weeks)?

    Thinking about this kind of stuff does rather confirm why TPTB are not very interested in permaculture.

    What scares the hell out of me is the ‘either you’re with us or against us’ dialogue. In other words, it seems that if you are not pro-mindless-flag-waving and pro-destruction-of-the-habitability-of-the-planet you could easily be designated an enemy of the state.

  • Kevin

    I think part of the problem here is that few people can digest the fact that their government would be willing to kill a substantial number of their own people to further a cause. People laugh at me when I suggest that the next false flag operation will be directed against an entire city or region, possibly even the use of a small nuclear bomb detonated in a medium sized city – doesn’t have to be New York or Washington DC – maybe some place like Detroit or one of the “iron-belt’ cities of the mid-West, places already under a state of severe deterioration.

    And when people call anyone who proposes such a false flag operation “conspiracy theorists”, then I have to ask how plausible is the conspiracy theory that a small group of non-US citizens, who have limited knowledge of the intimate details of the US geography, its defence systems, airline operations, little airline pilot training, and probably limited English speaking capabilities have outwitted multiple layers of the entire US defence shield, gained control of 4 commercial jets on the same day using only box cutters, and guided these planes in manoeuvres that even skilled airline pilots claim would be difficult even for them. How plausible is that – really?

    And in the case of the Pentagon, they flew the plane in what very experienced pilots claim was an near impossible trajectory for a plane of that size. Indeed, these pilots say that you cannot possibly fly a large commercial airliner that low to the ground at 550 knots (unless you violate the laws of physics), and even if you could, you could not expect to follow the precise low-level trajectory necessary to hit a relatively low building. And as you mentioned, how could you do so and not leave remnants of the plane behind (we are talking titanium steel engines here – virtually indestructible!), with none of its passengers recovered and a hole in the building not much larger than the nose of the plane itself. And if the Pentagon is under the surveillance of around 85 CCTV cameras, how is it that there remained only 5 frames of the action?

    As for the buildings, how is it that WT7, which was not even hit, was able to collapse straight down into its own path at near free fall speed? And how is it that the testimony of so many of the first responders, professional observers in their own right, could have reported lower floor explosions in all the buildings well after the planes hit, and their testimony kept out of the official version?

    And how is it that advanced technology nano thermite components were found at the scene in the dust surrounding the entire area?

    Indeed, the questions go on and on. But without an official criminal investigation (which was never carried out – conveniently), all the American people (and the people of the world, as they are involved as well!) have is the report of a corrupt congressional commission and a lot of speculation.

  • Kevin, Victor, It seems clear that 9/11 is a false flag attack. However just as most left liberals won’t accept peak oil (how can their causes go forward if life is going to go backwards) they don’t accept any alternate theories about 9/11. This is hard for me to understand. I have friends that go annually to protest the School of the Americas. They accept the idea that our government trains people from other countries for all sorts of evil deeds. They know what our government has done in Latin America.

    I didn’t seen that falsity of the stories for 3 months until someone sent me an e-mail. At first I thought it was just another blame the Jews for everything story, but quickly found out differently (although Israel well may have been complicit). Then I couldn’t understand how for 3 months I could be so blind. But getting others to look is hard.

    I tried telling people that if this wasn’t exposed all their causes would certainly fail. A number I know are strongly opposed to the death penalty. I tried to tell them that if the gov’t got away with this the push backwards would begin. This was where all the good causes needed to start. Even those who accept 9/11 for what it is, a false flag, go on with their other causes and don’t broach this seemingly unbroachable subject to the masses for fear of being discredited. This was the story that if revealed could bring down the powers that be. But even most activists won’t look at it. Michael Moore won’t look at it. Democracy Now won’t look at it. OTOH Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth is gaining some ground…

    Then I quickly learned that peak oil was almost upon us (article by Stan Goff) and I realized that it just didn’t matter about 9/11. This was bigger than anyone’s plans and was not something TPTB could do anything about. Add in climate change and oh well, so it goes….

    I am re-reading Jim Douglass’ excellent book, JFK and the Unspeakable, Why he died and why it matters
    I respect Jim Douglass as one of the more sincere Christians around so I can handle him pulling in Thomas Merton. Merton was actually in correspondence with Ethel Kennedy during the Kennedy administration and may have had some part in his move towards peace. That move was stronger and making more headway than I ever thought. Even while his Joint Chiefs of Staff were encouraging even using nukes against Laos or Vietnam. They assured him that then we would win. He was noted to say that they said they would win with nukes because after that they had no further escalation.

    A few years back at one of the decadal anniversaries of the coup that took Kennedy’s life, Jim Lehrer and Mark Shields and David Brooks on PBS had a brief discussion – went like this, Lehrer asked the others if they thought there was any other killer than Oswald. Both immediately said no and said nothing else. I have never seen any of these men so unable to flesh out a conversation :) As Terry would say it was surreal.

    Perhaps we humans have never been able to stop the trend of the history of our species… While we can make individual acts, once we made our first tools perhaps the die was cast.

  • The conversation is very much appreciated.

  • A friend sent me copies a few days ago from The Book of the Lion by Sr. Alfred Pease on page 14 is this quote
    “I remember a speech of Mr. Chamberlain’s when he urged the importance to the Empire of evoking WANTS among African tribes; he wanted Kaffirs to want WANTS – it is good for Trade, and so good for the Empire.

    I had a friend when I was working with Habitat for Humanity – a Southern Baptist minister – he once said that earlier he and his family had struggled to get their wants but then realized that what they needed was to “get their wanters fixed”. And yet the empire trys to evoke wants to sell stuff and then keep it all for themselves when it starts to run out.

    So here is a holiday sentiment – lets get our wanters fixed. :)

  • Victor. Thanks. You said what I implied, but did not actually state. Many aspects of the official 9/11 narrative contravene basic laws of physics and chemistry, or do not match known facts of materials science.

    That should have been BIG NEWS. We should have witnessed widespread questioning of the whole official narrative. Instead we got complicity in maintaining the lies and myths, year after year, even from supposedly independent media. It does suggest TPTB have an unbreakable stranglehold on society (which we have alluded to previously), and that most people are incredibly uninformed and stupid. No wonder they are so easily misled.


    ‘just as most left liberals won’t accept peak oil (how can their causes go forward if life is going to go backwards) they don’t accept any alternate theories about 9/11.’

    Isn’t it strange that people believe the laws of mathematics, physics and chemistry do not apply in their neighbourhood or in the country they live in.

  • ‘Then I quickly learned that peak oil was almost upon us (article by Stan Goff) and I realized that it just didn’t matter about 9/11. This was bigger than anyone’s plans and was not something TPTB could do anything about’

    There is a general acceptance amongst the tiny minority who are awake around here that Peak Oil was the prime motivation for 9/11. (Getting rid of the asbestos problem was a bonus). The Cheney gang knew that gaining control of Iraq’s oil fields offered the best pathway to speculative profits and ongoing supplies of oil into the future -they were all oil men after all. And occupation of Iraq provided (provides?) a perfect platform for control of the entire region’s oil … leading to the war without end that Cheney and Bush refered to. Obama is obviously following the same script.

    The escalation in Afghanistan-Pakistan does suggest the oil pipeline to extract oil from Central Asia via the Indian Ocean is still on the agenda. Just where revitalised Russia, China and India fit into the picture from the western perspective is unclear to me, but I cannot see them being keen to watch large quantities of oil flow away from the region. They are content to watch the US thrash itself to death in the ‘graveyard of empires’ for the moment.

    So, everything seems to be lining ‘nicely’ up for higher energy costs, ever greater climate instability, and some weird combination of deflation of property values with inflation of the price of the essentials of life.

  • “According to the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), “Iraq holds more than 112 billion barrels of oil – the world’s second largest proven reserves. Iraq also contains 110 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and is a focal point for regional and international security issues.”

    The world uses 30 billion barrels a year. Looks like Iraq gives us BAU for about 4 more years.

    Last gasps of a dying civilization.

  • An acquaintance describes mainstream as hilarious. it certainly is Orwellian.

    Your link: “We don’t take our forces and go around the world and try to take other people’s real estate or other people’s resources, their oil. That’s just not what the United States does,” he said. “We never have, and we never will. That’s not how democracies behave.”

    Actually, invasions are relatively rare. Ususually saboteurs in governments around the world facilitate required transfers of resources or publicly-owned assets.

    Slightly off topic, the headline of the Independent UK announced ‘Nine days to save the economy’. That’s the spend-money-on-stuff-you-don’t-need economy, of course. People haven’t been doing so to the required extent, apparently. I wonder why. Full system implosion some time after 4th January, when VAT rises?

  • I only provided the link for the numbers, didn’t even read the other stuff – Some think the invasion was more about selling oil in euros rather than dollars.
    “What prompted the U.S. attack on Iraq, a country under sanctions for 12 years (1991-2003), struggling to obtain clean water and basic medicines? A little discussed factor responsible for the invasion was the desire to preserve “dollar imperialism” as this hegemony began to be challenged by the euro.”

    Last gasps of a dying empire.

  • “Looks like Iraq gives us BAU for about 4 more years.” That is at its most optimistic. There is no way wtih even the best of technology that all of that can be extracted in 4 years – one can expect flow rates an order of magnitude less, and the significantly large flows for about a couple of decades or so.

    “Many aspects of the official 9/11 narrative contravene basic laws of physics and chemistry, or do not match known facts of materials science”. Their acceptance is consonant with the belief that miracles do happen. The Facts Speak For Themselves by Jon Gold

    A most impressive feature of the WTC7 collapse is how the first part to visibly collapse is the penthouse: 9/11: Building WTC7 Compilation. “Then I couldn’t understand how for 3 months I could be so blind.” Fortunately, I neither watch TV nor read newspapers or magazines.

    Having lived for an age (seven years, in the Vedic and Judaic traditions) in Kentucky, the idea that “crosses were burned on our lawn in TN” is not unknown to me. I wonder whether the Christians are aware that Mr. j. Christ was a Sephardic Jew. That is ethnically about the same group as the arabs. To have some idea of what he looked like, one can look at the photographs of the inmates at Abu Ghraib. Indeed, Abraham was born and reared in what in now Iraq. If he showed up without proper identifying documents, Mr. J. Christ and his disciples – or for that matter, Abraham – would also be run out of Morgan County, TN. “The feeling against Hispanics is likewise very negative.” In Kentucky there are only two races: whites and niggers. I, of course, wasn’t white.

    There is a reason that “they seemed to do their good works more for God’s notice than the children’s benefit” (Matthew 25:40) “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me”.

    “In fact I would posit we notice the good when it occurs because it is unusual rather than because it is usual.” In the Indian tradition it is not customary to thank anyone. To thank a person is to imply that they have done something that is better than their usual level of behaviour: tantamount to stating that their usual behaviour is of a lower level than what they have done.

    “Our choices are not between robbery and forced compliance.” Indeed. As long as the state exists, the only option is compliance, whether forced or not. The distinction between forced compliance and robbery is one of attire rather than ethics. A costume is worn in the former, but not (necessarily) in the latter: the former is called law enforcement. “They accept the idea that our government trains people from other countries for all sorts of evil deeds.” Well, they train a lot more uS citizens.

  • [Kevin]: “Actually, invasions are relatively rare. Ususually saboteurs in governments around the world facilitate required transfers of resources or publicly-owned assets.”

    In Confessions of an Economic Hit Man John Perkins, who used to work in this line of business for the USA, indicates that men like him were paid to convince foreign governments to accept huge loans that they could not possibly pay back in order to gain unfettered access to that country’s natural resources, labour force, and infrastructure. If their attempts at economically enslaving the country did not bear fruit, then the CIA sent in its shock troops to destabilise the government, in order to replace the regime with those more friendly to the USA. Only if that did not work out, would military invasion be considered.

    It is all about economics and foreign resources, though, is the bottom line. Under predatory capitalism, the biggest dogs are always the winners, and all is fair in the capitalist game. The World Bank, the IMF, the WTO, the government, the military – all are mere tools for the promotion of international corporate interests.

    Theoretically, the ultimate endgame will be one giant global corporation ruling all.

    In my opinion, the greatest thing we could do as a world community to fight these big dogs is to outlaw the multi-national corporation, preventing foreign ownership. This would constrain all corporate activity to a particular country, act to re-localise much of the national economy, open international trade to true competition, and relieve pressure on Congress and the Military to support and promote multi-national corporate interests.

  • Which will be the last standing corporation? Well, the initials probably contain the letters, B-A-N-K… ;-)

  • Just saw about 7 turkeys outside our bedroom window. Little celebrations. This is the closest we have had any wild turkeys to our house. :)

  • Kathy.

    ‘the greatest thing we could do as a world community to fight these big dogs is to outlaw the multi-national corporation, preventing foreign ownership.’

    A fine sentiment, but have you been sucked up by a twister and landed in the world of Oz?

    Sorry to be so provocative but speaking of the NZ experience, there was no need for an economic hit man like Perkins: opportunists and saboteurs walked (and still walk) the corridoors of power. And from what I see of the world, that applies in Canada, Australia, Britain, the US, Japan, Spain, Iceland, Poland …..

    Through the 80s and 90s state assets were sold to international coporations at bargain-basement prices; restictions on foreign ownership were largely eliminated. Two decades later, when our rail system had been looted run into the ground [by its American and subsequently Australian owners] the government bought it back at an inflated price! Presumably, if they ever get the thing running properly again they will sell it at a discount price to a multinational corporation. (Collapse of the industrial-financial complex may negate that possibility).

    I have witnessed nothing in my lifetime that refutes the contention that the prime purpose of government in the western world is to facilitate the agendas of corporations (and those who control and profit from them).

    It seems to me the UN is also ‘owned’, which is why it is ineffective in preventing war, poverty, genocide, climate change or anything else, and why the UN fails to abide by its founding charter.

    In my experience the only thing we can do to fight ‘these big dogs’ is minimise our participation in their economy. OTOH it seems that masses will continue to participate fully in the fraudulent economy (that is making them sick) until they have run out of money/credit/food.

  • Kevin, Victor wrote that not me. I said the empire is toast, civilization is toast, we don’t need to fight the good fight, just enjoy the show. Sort of like being on the Titanic and realizing the ship is going down. No need any more to warn that the ship is not unsinkable, just listen to the band play its last song (and either go down with the ship or try for a life boat)

  • Energy bulletin ran some predictions for the new year. Two were of interest concerning communities. Sounds like the transition community movement is running into the same problems many of the communities I was either around or a part of did. I still maintain that to last the community must be seen as absolutely essential to each members survival. Until we reach that state divisions will arise. If you want community do it small with room for expansion would be my suggestion. Or just be ready to welcome a community (not necessarily the one you envisioned) when folks realize you know how to make a go of it without fossil fuels.

    Here are the quotes – the first seems a recognition of the depth of the problem, the second well…I will just put it out there for others to comment on if they want :)
    Not only have American social networks become sadly deteriorated, but so have the skills needed to support them: the fundamental ability to build and maintain the healthy long-term relationships that are critical for community success. Just like planting a garden or cooking from scratch, these skills have to be learned and practiced, and they have to work well in order for coalescing community groups to stay together rather than fall apart. In 2011, community facilitators will increase their focus on helping groups of people simply learn how to get along.

    – Christine Patton is co-chair of Transition OKC and author of the Peak Oil Hausfrau Blog.

    Rob Hopkins’s application of Alexander’s -A Pattern Language‖ to Transition Town initiatives will be accepted as a coherent way to organize and disseminate the emerging insights from the many small experiments being conducted. As an -open source‖ framework, this language will grow organically. Far-reaching ideas (e.g., sacredness as an essential and central feature of all community transitions, Brownlee, 7 Nov 2010), once tested and found true and useful, become new patterns for practitioners to consider for adoption in their community.

    – Raymond De Young, associate professor of environmental psychology and planning, University of Michigan

    Praying for peace, promoting war

    One of the more successful recent communities is the Broederhoef. They have a strong, male dominated, authoritarian, religious community and share an origin of fleeing Hitler. I visited there once. Fine people but I wouldn’t want to live there
    The religious authoritarian model seems to hold intentional communities better than free love.

  • Ooops. Sorry Kathy. Too much scrolling with tired eyes.

    ‘either go down with the ship or try for a life boat’

    Five years ago I thought lifeboats were feasible, but five more years of ignorance, apathy and denial on behalf of almost everyone around me have convinced me lifeboats are likely to get dragged under unless located well away from the maelstrom.

  • Kevin

    I too am a bit pessimistic about lifeboats. Firstly, those who promote them are, I suspect, city dwellers for the most part – people who do not live near others who feel the same and therefore must form “virtual communities” Lifeboats are like a military conquest – you must have “boots on the ground” to really conquer. Therefore, you must have land, and people to live on that land for starters.

    Secondly, those folks need to be in possession of a certain range of skills. Having 50 people who do gardening is good, but there is much much more involved with “independent living”. All the things we have mentioned before, plus proper organisation of community security measures and the ability to maintain the rule of law when it breaks down.

    And then there is location. Location, location, location. Climate instability will have significant impact here. You must be near water, arable land, and not be cursed with frequent droughts or flooding.

    You must be able to produce enough food for the community to insure survival in bad years – and there WILL be bad years. This means food must be produced that can be preserved for long period of time, like grains.

    Most importantly, the community must be in possession of the right state of mind – individualism as most city dwellers understand it, will likely be detrimental to the community. An “all for one, and one for all” attitude must prevail. Not likely given our modern culture. You will find this state of mind more nearly in rural areas of the world. presently – which is why I feel that the most likely survivors will be those who already have an established culture amenable to group survival, like many of the indigenous peoples of the world. Certainly not city dwellers. “Culture” takes many years, even generations, to blossom and bear fruit. Unless something peculiar happens, I doubt we have that kind of time.

    In my opinion, it is one of the great tragedies of human history that we live in a time of instant global communications, unfettered knowledge, efficient information flow, and have at our hands in books and digital form the collective knowledge of the ages. And yet, we as a species, stand perilously close to the edge of extinction in the face of that.

  • I am not optimistic about the so-called transition movement. A fine idea in theory, like many ideas are, but the strength of an idea depends heavily upon those who execute it into reality, and how realistic and comprehensive their approach. So far I am not impressed when reading of the progress of many of these. Facilitators are simply not going to be enough. You need a serious change of culture.

    That takes generations.

  • The thing about authoritarian communities is that more often than not they tend to break up as soon as something happens to the leader. Or in the case of religious communities, they end up splintering over some doctrinal issue.

    The community needs to be able to weather at least two transitional periods as I see it. The first is the transition to a more localised, carbon-reduced life. This one will be the forced shedding of modernity as we know it today – the destruction of predatory global capitalism and its supply chain, the conversion from autos to mass transit (if practical), the fall of many technology producing industries, a severe cutback in government services, the transition to more authoritarian forms of government, and the rise of militancy as governments spend their remaining resources to grab what they can from the world whilst they can.

    The first transition might take a couple of decades to happen, or it might happen extremely quickly, perhaps within a decade.

    The second transition will take place as mass global human die-off (especially in the cities of the world) removes the remaining modern technology from us – the Internet, the electrical grid, tools and parts, industrial agriculture and so much more. It will be characterised by a growing industry of re-use and re-cycling by communities and individuals growing more isolated and localised. This is where die-off accelerates as we are suddenly cast into a world where we have lost electricity and modern industry. Even surviving communities will find themselves deprived of replacement parts and skills for the remaining technology available. And whilst there will be a lot of glass and metal sitting around to reuse and refashion into practical implements, it will be extremely difficult to do so without the underlying technology to convert it. Steel can be cut, if you have the cutting tools necessary, but even if you do, those tools will wear out, and it is not likely that they will be capable of being replaced. Blast furnaces won’t be in operation. The remaining metal ores require huge amounts of energy and operational plants and equipment to extract the metals – energy and equipment that will no longer be readily available, and probably won’t have the skilled people to support it anyway. Travel will be extremely limited as cars and mass transport will no longer have the skilled people, parts and fuel to run them. Load-bearing animals will take on great value. Food will become extremely difficult to come by as those who know how to grow food locally and process animals will find themselves being the victims of theft and intimidation. Access to potable water will also be a severe problem for most,as pumping stations break down. Waste disposal technologies such as garbage removal and sewers will no longer work over time – again, because of lack of an effective supply chain and skilled people. Whilst there will likely be plenty of housing, it will be houses without water and energy feeds. The general rule of law will break down and communities will be on their own to provide police and fire support.

    The survivalists among us will have prepared for sudden breaks in goods and services, having stored ample supplies for up to a year (or perhaps even two years!). But in the situation they will be faced with, permanent disruption of the global supply chain and mass human die-off, their supplies will run short or be stolen. And in the end, they, too, will be scrounging around for survival like the rest. The immensely rich will suffer the same fate as the global supply chain breaks down and technology fails. They will have stored up lots of gold and supplies and land and equipment and armies of people to protect them, but they will find that gold is not edible and it provides no water or fuel or electricity.

    It is an outside possibility that we might be fortunate enough to develop the culture and infrastructure we possessed a thousand years ago, but it is not likely that we will have the time to do so.

    At the end of the second transition (which might take several decades), the remaining human population will be scattered among areas of the world that are least impacted by climate instability. Unfortunately, if the first transition period lasts long enough, there will remain few places in the world that are not susceptible to severe weather fluctuations.

  • Nothing like necessity to clear the mind. When all are needed to row the lifeboat or all will die the small issues will likely become non-issues.

    Khrushchev once wrote to Jack Kennnedy “with Noah’s ark where both the ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ found sanctuary. But regardless who lists themselves with the ‘clean’ and who is considered to be ‘unclean’, they are all equally interested in one thing, and that is that the Ark should successfully continue its cruise.” pages 24 and 25

    If the crash comes soon many transition communities will cease to need facilitators as the task of keeping the ark or lifeboat (pick your analogy) afloat will erase many petty differences.

  • [Kathy]: “If the crash comes soon many transition communities will cease to need facilitators as the task of keeping the ark or lifeboat (pick your analogy) afloat will erase many petty differences.”

    Or exacerbate them… ;-)

  • [Victor] Or exacerbate them

    Well yes, just trying to be positive here :)

    I have seen a co-housing group need a facilitator because the hard core vegans do not want anyone to even bring a dish that has eggs in it to community dinners – while they can choose not to eat it, someone might use the serving spoon from that dish in a vegan dish and contaminate it with a atomic particle of egg. Well that wasn’t the only problem for the group, but it gives an idea of how rigid (and self righteous) people can be and therefore destructive of what is more important, the ability to work together.

    All of which seems incredibly silly in the light of what we think is down the road for humanity as you outline quite well.

    It is a good time to be old and no longer expecting many decades of life. We who are old have much less time to loose.

  • [Kathy] Well yes, just trying to be positive here

    \\\you? \positive?…. LOL….. :-)

  • Whilst I might agree that people find a way to get things done when under threat, I do not necessarily agree that they will identify the threat in time to do anything about it as a community. Slow cooking frogs come to mind here….even frogs that have prepared for all this will still not agree when it is actually happening to them until it is too late.

  • Victor, I am positive about lots of things. For instance I am positive that our chickens are the finest chickens in the world :) Humans I must admit I am not very positive about. Small groups that already have a handle on how bad things are probably have a better chance to persist until the manure hits the solar fan. The more they are in denial about how low things might go the more they will let little stuff become divisive. And then once the collapse comes, those that have a functioning community have to decide about letting others in and defending if they shut others out.

    Me, I am going to parcel out my match stash and let people get water from our hand pump well and see what happens. :)

  • Back to the theme of mindless consumerism and promoting endless war, some of you may not have seen this recent piece:

    Chris Hedges: Brave New Dystopia

    It was around 5 years ago that I started to fully appreciate the Huxley-Orwell connections …… not as fast as some, faster than others.

    At a 2007 sumposium I pointed out that neither resource depletion nor environmental degradation featured in BNW or 1984 …. those helicopters just kept flying and the electriticy kept arriving.

    If we are looking for good news, we can at least look forward to collapse of consumerism, followed at some stage by demise of the complex surveillace systems and misinformation systems our neo-fascist controllers use to oppress us.

    I suppose pessimists will assume TPTB will resort to cruder methods, whereas optimists will assume TPTN will lose control altogether. I really have no idea, but I am sticking with the ‘ultimately largely uninhabitable planet’ scenario until someone can provide evidence to the contrary.

  • there is much written in this blog worthy of comment. i try to occasionally pick out something exceptionally noteworthy to add dos centavos. like kevin’s emphatic assertion(s) that we live under gangster government whose primary purpose is to promote economic growth and private wealth accumulation for those in least need of it.

    ‘I have witnessed nothing in my lifetime that refutes the contention that the prime purpose of government in the western world is to facilitate the agendas of corporations (and those who control and profit from them).’ -kevin

    here’s a question: how intelligent and sane are human beings on average? recognizing the things that are commonly recognized at nbl is in fact very uncommon, both in the official (and unofficial) halls of power and among the public. we know there’s nothing more important than spreading our knowledge, and we all know the bitter frustration of failure to do so.

    it seems we suffer now as a species from a surreal deficit of sanity and intelligence and possibly everything else (hope, courage, resolve, etc.) we need to get off the train to oblivion. it seems the best adaptation to this surreality is to seek distance and independence from a collapsing civilization, as has already been pointed out by others, and to start considering our mortality and the possibility/likelihood? that most now living shall see their lives cut short one way or another in the decades to come, which doesn’t begin to express the tragedy of it all. eventually the surreal question will be not how many survive the bottleneck to come, but whether the ongoing ravages of industrial civilization’s legacy will allow any to survive at all.

    i cling to hope that uncivilized humans are superior to civilized ones, which is speculating that a less fettered human nature may be highly therapeutic. i’m sure i won’t live to see it, but i dream of a day post-collapse where wisdom, knowledge, and reason are our guiding lights, for then, unlike now, anarchy will rule! anarchy means freedom from dogmatic oppression, and i suspect a culture of relative stability and durability, justice, improved physical and mental health, happiness/fulfillment.

    anyhow, my question about human stupidity and insanity relates to a particular sub group of humans, ‘elites’. of course, there are issues re. access to ‘elites’, who tend to small, exclusive social circles. it should be recognized that influencing ‘elite’ opinion has exclusive benefits, access to the halls of power. oh, wait. people like robert atack have already tried that route, whose reward has been the death of hope/inspiration, and considerable economic sacrifice. discouraging, indeed. this is why my comments are limited here, and everywhere.

  • Kevin, I too hope that the “uncivilized” are an improvement on the civilized. Some writers indicate that that is so and some the opposite. I suppose the circumstances of the “uncivilized” and the bias of the writers all play a part. But then we also have to ask the question “does it matter if any humans are left on the earth”. Once we are dead it won’t matter to us. It may matter to other life, but as far as we know most if not all other life find such matters as mattering to be beyond their intellectual capacities. It is hard to even put the human mind around the question.

    Meanwhile some people are beginning to realize that resources are finite
    Paul Krugman “What the commodity markets are telling us is that we’re living in a finite world”

    Bryan Walsh – Time Magazine
    “the global economic growth that we’ve witnessed since the Industrial Revolution has come on the back of ecological destruction. Humans are richer, longer-lived and healthier, but rainforests have been destroyed, species have been driven to extinction and the oceans have been spoiled. The planet is not infinite, and its reasonable to wonder just how much we can take from it, just how many people Earth can support. ”

    Paolo Bacigalupi, New York Times
    “I suspect that young adults crave stories of broken futures because they themselves are uneasily aware that their world is falling apart.”

    Of course this dawning revelation could just be part of the plot by TPTB to prepare us for austerity – plots within plots. Think I will go back to thinking about mattering. :)

    But as Kevin notes, the future plans of TPTB will be cut short by resource depletion sooner or later. The way down will be IMO much like the way up only faster.

  • On 12-17-2010, Kevin Moore told us here that”The World economy grinds to a halt very quickly above $100″ (price per barrel of crude oil).
    The futures market for crude is treating that figure like it is a fait accompli.The folks at CNBC are very sanguine about and fully expect $130 oil.

    If Kevin is correct, then collapse is imminent.

    We have a Wily Coyote stock market–wonder when it looks down.

    Double D

  • —-respondents to a poll on CNBC’s web page:

    66% expect $100 oil in January.

    Double D

  • Frank.

    One of the many problems we have is defining what constitutes collapse.

    In the 2006 version of Surviving the Future I used the subtitle: ‘Or how to protect yourself from the worst effects of the coming collapse.’

    In the 2008 edition I revised that to ….. ‘the collapse that has commenced.’

    (I have had limited success in protecting myself, not having the resources necessary to get where I’d like to be! As you all know, I am increasingly of the opinion very few are going to get through the bottleneck, but we have to do something until the last door closes.)

    What I did not see coming in 2006-7 was the incredible spike and subsequent plunge to ridiculously low prices.

    Oil now trading at $90 to #94 when numerous nations are admitting to 10% to 20% unemployment and out-of-control deficits is food for thought. However, oil prices are misleading when the loss in ourchaisng power of fiat money is left out the equation. The loaf of bread that cost $1.04 four years ago is currently $1.54 ….. so as far as bread is concerned money has effectively lost 1/3 of its value. Against gold the story is similar. Fortunately not everything has risen at quite that rate.

    Do we take property values as a measure of collapse? Depending where you are the figure could be anything between +80% and -80%, with most western nations apparently recording an average decline of something like -20% since the bubble of 2006.

    When the Dow was around 11,000 a decade or so ago, oil was around $25 to $28 a barrel. By that measure, the Dow needs to attain 33,000 to 40,000 to achieve ‘recovery’.

    Anyone who follows this stuff, as obviously most people here do, understands that we are in uncharted territory: never before have so many Americans, or Irish, or Spanish ….. been so underwater financially; never before have so many nations run deficits of the magnitude currently witnessed. And there is a very long list of ‘never befores’ that suggest the time frame we have discussed so often [of 2012-15] will prove correct.

    This may be of interest:

    The Oil Juggernaut


    Several years ago your question was posed as: ‘Are humans smarter than yeast’ [in that they consume nutirents to explode the poulationa and then die en mass from the poison they generate].

    The asnwer seems to be that some humans are much smarter than yeast, but collectively humans are not smater than yeast.

  • My friends, brace yourselves for some good news! Our problems are all but solved, every curve is up, fusion is on the way, as are genetically engineered biofuels, cheap solar power and radical expropriation of billions years of evolutionary tricks and tools stored in the DNA of every living creature. We have entered the Anthropocene, and are fast approaching a singularity driven by Moore’s law and the digitization of all information. Once we’ve moved to post-scarcity economics, achieved immortality, artificial intelligence and brain uploads, we can move on to the really exciting phase: the Joyularity! That is the project to eradicate suffering from the biosphere, the point of hyper-exponentially increasing joy, the “happiness explosion” which will result in a universe which is nothing but a giant bundle of joy! Nature may bat last, but guess what: from here on out we make the rules and it’s a whole new ball game!

  • LOL, WTF?!
    I’d like to think most visitors/posters here are on to it, but Sean Strange is…wrong.

    If there’s to be a singularity, it will be set in ecological/biological/geological/geo-chemical reality.

    All the rest is modern “civilised” bs at best, and a toxic mimic of intelligence at worst. Really OTT hubris!

    Collapse of Global Industrial Civilisation is good news for us, our communities, and the rest of the biosphere.
    Get with the program!


  • No sir, you get with the program! If the global collapse of civilization is your idea of good news, then I would suggest that you are insane, and not in a good way! Like it or not, we are the apex of this biosphere; we won the evolutionary battles, and as the saying goes, to the victors go the spoils! This means that you are now living in the Anthropocene, so I suggest that you learn to like the products of human ingenuity, because we’re here for the long haul (or at least until we engineer post-humanity) and “die-off” is nothing but a deranged doomer fantasy! This may be hubris, but nature rewards hubris a hell of a lot more than it rewards meekness and self-hatred. I see hubris everywhere I look in nature; I only see self-disempowerment among a rather unhealthy subset of homo sapiens.

  • Kevin,

    You bring up an interesting point. Is there a valid measure of Collapse? Indeed, an even deeper question is what you led off with – just how is “collapse” defined? The Oxford Dictionary defines several aspects of “collapse” as in one relevant manner to “suddenly fall down or give way” as in a structure, and in another as a “breakdown, failure or disintegration” as in a process.

    In my view from the above definitions of collapse, we have not yet collapsed. Collapse has been initiated, however, in that a trigger event has occurred which will lead irreversibly and irrevocably to collapse. That trigger event, as you rightly suggested, was the 2008 oil spike which resulted in the bursting of the real estate bubble in the Empire and the resulting near collapse of the global financial services industry. Everything from that point in 2008 will be seen to have entered an undulating series of recession/recovery cycles with an overall downward trend. That trend will take on new and ominous proportions in the 2012-2015 period, as you again rightly surmise. At that point the process should enter the stage we have affectionately called the “cliff event” where we have a visible and accelerating disintegration of the global processes that maintain today’s modern civilisation (financial services, global transport, failing distribution systems, failing agribusiness, etc.). At some point after that (who knows how long??) the whole structure caves in suddenly and permanently.

    Those things you measure today (GDP, property values, the DOW, et al) will suddenly disappear altogether, as panic and chaos hit the global social order.


    I believe the Singularity is little more than a dream of the technophile. Whilst the technology you suggest is possible, it is likely not achievable as I believe there is a direct correlation between population and supportable technology and resources to support both. We have already run short of cheap and available resources to drive the Singularity. There will simply not be the huge investment nor the necessary population levels available for success in this area. Nor the time, as from 2008, we have entered the no-growth stage of the Great Unravelling, which means in effect that the economy will never be able to support the necessary effort to achieve what you propose.

  • I took Sean’s first contibution to be a spoof, a parody of everything mainstream that we see falling apart before our very eyes.

    His second makes me wonder.

    If you are at all serious Sean, you clearly do not understand evolution: the battle is never won. Just when a species appears to be ‘at the apex’ it gets wiped out by a rapid change in its environment, often a consequence of planetary catastrophe. Check the fossil record.

    What makes our species unique is that ‘we’ are the agents of our own demise.

    I don’t think there is a lot of self-hated here. We just hate Yahoos and what they are doing to our home.

  • Sean
    Pride comes before a fall and humanities many assets do not include real intelligence. We are like the fool who cuts the branch off the tree while sitting on it.
    Hubris is rampant in the human species and unfortunatley it is rarely justified.
    I am assuming that your post was tongue in cheek because no one with half a brain can imagine that what we have done to our planet was smart.
    Kathy said a while back that we are killing ourselves with our own stupidity and she is right.
    Whether the shrewdness of our collective minds can pull our asses out of the fire at this late date remains to be seen but frankly it seems less and less likely as time goes on.

    You are of course right in that as the dominant species we do indeed reap the spoils and “spoils” seem to just about sum up what we have done.
    I for one take no pleasure in the idea of humanities demise but I cant see how anyone can argue that we dont have it comming.
    Humans tend to learn the hard way and with the implications of the myriad different challenges we face as a species it will be interesting to see just how steep a learning curve we can deal with.

  • Well Sue I respectfully suggest that you jettison your moralistic, legacy Christian thinking, because human beings don’t have anything coming except whatever fate we decide to create. This idea is still too radical and frightening for most of us, who cling to primitive notions of angry gods and original sin. If there is anything sinful in man, it is ignorance and impotence, not hubris!

    I believe we are living at the beginning of an age that marks the end of all tradition, all received religion and all ancestral rules. An entirely new set of rules is being written, thanks to our discovery of the scientific method and the ongoing explosion of our knowledge and power. The next step will be the application of this knowledge to man himself, and the emergence of post-humanity. As Sri Aurobindo said:

    “Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from man to superman is the next approaching achievement in the earth’s evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature’s process”.

  • “No sir, you get with the program! If the global collapse of civilization is your idea of good news, then I would suggest that you are insane, and not in a good way!”

    This website, and those of us who follow and support what Guy is doing and saying, says the opposite. Our definition of sanity: deeply/fully connected with physical reality.

    Why are you here?
    Trolling your pastime?
    Nothing better to do than this?

    The dominant culture is pathologically suicidally insane. Your post shows how embedded you are in it.

    ““die-off” is nothing but a deranged doomer fantasy!” Yeah, right! Go tell that to the 120-200 species a day, going extinct. They are your kin. The more they go extinct, the higher probability you will too. The 6th Mass Extinction is now running at a rate never seen before in the geological records.

    “This may be hubris, but nature rewards hubris a hell of a lot more than it rewards meekness and self-hatred. I see hubris everywhere I look in nature; I only see self-disempowerment among a rather unhealthy subset of homo sapiens.”

    The hubris I’m talking about is that of modern industrial “civilised” humans, not the type I also see in nature, and in indigenous humans too.
    This newer hubris is toxic, poisonous and deeply anchored is a very sick way of looking at the world and being in it. Indigenous peoples have seen this and pointed it out for some time:
    Wetiko Disease

    Right now, you and I are not really homo sapiens, we’re homo collossus. Read “Overshoot” by William Catton. We, or our descendants will be homo sapiens again, if we are to survive The Great Unraveling. We will take our place again as a keystone species fully integrated into our land-bases/ecosystems.

  • Sean, you remind me of my favorite baptist cousin. He has only a small, dangerously naive grasp of science and history, and he believes in a The Coming Rapture too.

  • No navid, my religion has little in common with that of your baptist cousin. It’s doomers like Ted, who speak of an apocalyptic “Great Unraveling” and see civilization as man’s original sin which cast us out some aboriginal Garden of Eden who are echoing the Iron Age religious thinking of Christians.

    I’m quite educated in science, and understand that it is the most radical and disruptive belief system in human history. Starting a few centuries ago, science has revolutionized human life far beyond anything in history, and the process is just getting started. Many who fear these changes hope that “peak everything” can reverse this revolution, but the scientific facts argue otherwise. This planet is capable of supporting tens of billions of humans at an industrial standard of living without difficulty, but it does require us to be adaptive and to let go of much of our cultural baggage.

    For a rational overview of “peak everything” problems and a technologist/cornucopian approach to solving them, see, for example, this video:

  • Oh My Science – Sean you act as though you know something about science and yet you obviously don’t. You just believe in its magic. You may not align with any God based religion but you sure as heck sound like any other evangelist.

  • Sean. ‘I’m quite educated in science’, Does that mean a PhD in environmental science or at least a degree in in chemistry?

    If not, bond energies, enthalpy, entropy and thermodynamics would be good places to review your science education.

    Once you really have a good grasp of those (it will probably take a couple of years), move on to Energy Return On Enmergy Invested and Abrupt Climate Change.

    Then you either will be able to demonstrate to us poor souls with degrees (and higher) in sciences where we are amiss, or join us in understanding how little time is left. That is if ‘the system’ is still functioning 3 years from now, which is looking increasingly unlikely.

  • Happy New Year to you.

    Outrageous per-capita overconsumption and excessive individual hoarding are problems, just as you suggest. On a finite planet with the size, composition and ecology of Earth, there can be no reality-oriented doubt of your perspective. As Kenneth Boulding said years ago, “Only madmen and economists think otherwise.”

    While it is necessary to discern this aspect of the global predicament, it is simply not sufficient to focus narrowly on this understandable problem, all while denying other aspects of the human-induced predicament. By doing so, we may win a battle but lose the larger struggle to assure the children a good enough future in a planetary home fit for them to inhabit.

    Now here and in very many other places, many too many so-called experts have consciously and willfully chosen NOT to openly discuss the root cause(s) of the global predicament resulting from human overpopulation of the Earth because they did not think it would be helpful, I suppose. But look at what silence during the last 60 years has wrought. Elective mutism by so many experts regarding outstanding empirical research of certain human population issues, particularly human population dynamics, has effectively and perniciously vanquished science. This outcome could be the most colossal failure of nerve in human history. The consequences of this incredible mistake do not simply threaten a civilization with collapse. Collapses of civilization have occurred before. Sometimes on a smaller scale and other times on a larger one. But at no time in history can I find records of the precipitation of a human-driven collapse with such profound implications not only for a civilization, but also for life as we know it and the integrity of Earth as a fit place for human habitation. The ‘brightest and best’, most knowledgeable people, those in positions of much influence and great power, have not spoken out loudly, clearly and often enough.

    When scientific knowledge is deludedly regarded as a threat to human wellbeing, and intellectual honesty, moral courage and personal accountability are everywhere eschewed, how on Earth do we ever give ourselves so much as a chance of mitigating damages, much less “solving” problems for which we bear a large share of responsibility?

    I do not know what the future holds for the children. I am hoping they will find ways to muddle through. If they manage to do so, it will likely not be the result of the efforts of those in my not-so-great generation of elders. We have failed them so far “on our watch” and will continue to do so as long as we continuously choose to keep reckless engaging in the same unsustainable overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities we adamantly advocate and relentlessly pursue in our time, I suppose.

    Shouting out about human overconsumption of Earth’s limited resources is a good thing; but remaining mute about human overpopulation of the planet appears to be a misguided strategy, one that will not serve the children well.

    Silence will not save anyone from anything, and surely will not save humanity from itself. Perhaps we can agree that the Earth will go on, with or without the human species.



  • The human-induced global predicament that looms before the human family today has been allowed to rampantly grow in my lifetime from a challenge that was manageable to a leviathan of a much more forbidding size. With every passing day, the worldwide challenges resulting from, and driven by, the overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities of the human species become larger, more formidable and much more difficult to address and overcome. The demand characteristics of this unprecedented situation appear to require the active involvement of “all hands on deck”. We have to stop denying what is visible to naked eyes as well as ignoring that which we need to confront, and immediately begin changing the ‘trajectory’ of the predominant civilization from what is soon to become patently unsustainable to an alternate path marked by sustainable lifestyles and right-sized human enterprises.

  • u talk a lot of shit, steven. we must do this and that and this other thing as well. we must change the world before the world changes us. we all know this. the question is what of a practical useful nature are u going to do about it, besides preaching to the choir? what can u do about it?

    i think i’ve already pointed this out, maybe not. most people, elites and commoners alike, appear to be incorrigibly stupid and or crazy. how do u think we got into this predicament in the first place? at least as far back as malthus, a few intelligent and sane people have seen the need for self restraint in human endeavors, have understood the dangers of unchecked population growth and violating ecological limits. a hundred years ago similarly it was known by a few that burning massive quantities of fossil fuels could alter atmospheric composition and climate, with potentially deadly consequences. there have always been sane, intelligent people, but i imagine for a long time now, we’ve been vastly outnumbered by less mentally competent folks. i’d be surprised if u don’t know quite a few personally, in fact, if the vast majority of your relatives, friends, and acquaintances are among the dogmatically ignorant and delusional majority.

    don’t get me wrong, steve. how can one forget knowledge like ours? how can one not do something with it, try to share and discuss and wake some people the fuck up! but it seems to me that preaching to the choir is about all we do here, which isn’t necessarily bad. makes us feel better, but we all know, or should know by now, that addressing these problems effectively means addressing the surreality that the vast majority of people we know, as well as the ones we don’t know who possess much more wealth and influence, are, shall we say, incredibly stupid and/or crazy? that they possess severe intellectual (perhaps psychological also) flaws and limitations which can’t be addressed as easily as if we’re dealing with people similar to ourselves. perhaps they can’t be addressed at all.

    what exactly does ‘all hands on deck’ mean? it’s a military term, and when used in an emergency situation it implies danger and a need for courage in facing that danger. it means certainly going beyond the safety and comfort of preaching to the choir.

    i don’t know that i’m with u, steve. what your phrase means to me probably involves at least flirting with martyrdom, for giving one’s life to a cause, figuratively and/or literally, is surely the most effective way to possibly wake a few dumb and/or crazy fuckers up, if such a thing is even possible, in terms of making them more intelligent and less insane. these are the underlying problems our species must at some point overcome. this overwhelms me. they seem genetically determinate, beyond the scope by far of whatever free will i may possess. don’t u think if anyone could come up with some amazing formula for improving intellect and reasoning ability, that person would be famous, the formula in high demand?

    we’re screwed. we’re not going to change voluntarily, the world is going to change us involuntarily. if we don’t go extinct, who knows? perhaps evolution will work another miracle and our surviving descendents will be much smarter and saner. but clearly such an outcome is in the hands of ‘god’, not any one of us.

  • sorry about the reference to evolutionary miracles. i should know better. evolution is all blind chance, no miracles involved, unless everything’s a miracle. in surreality, one never knows.

  • Dear virgin terry,

    How about joining a conversation on the coming of a ‘population storm’?

    “Talk of the Nation Special on Population January 6”

    What an opportunity!

    It is the willful and pernicious silence of so many experts as well as broadcasts of ideological idiocy by clever sychophants and duplicitous minions of the wealthy and powerful for the past 60 years that make the mere chance for an intellectually honest and morally courageous conversation on “Talk of the Nation” so potentially valuable now here. Opportunities like this one have been occurring for many years but were routinely missed. A catastrophic failure of nerve by many too many of ‘the brightest and best’ among us who chose, instead of presenting scientific research as was their duty, to foster belief in erroneous preternatural theories; to say whatsoever was politically convenient, economically expedient and socially agreeable; to go along with global gag rules as well as ignore and censor exchanges of sound perspectives regarding human population dynamics and human overpopulation of the Earth. This failure could be one of the great mistakes in human history. I fear our children will come to see it in just that way.

    The growth of the human species worldwide could be the proverbial “mother” of human-induced global challenges. If that is so, then failing to acknowledge this predominant challenge will render efforts of humanity to overcome other human-driven, increasingly complex challenges to human wellbeing and environmental health ultimately irrelevant, I suppose.

    Please consider that both those who believe human population numbers are exploding and those who believe human numbers are collapsing are correct. Globally, human numbers are undoubtedly increasing, but in some places on the surface of Earth human numbers can easily be seen decreasing. It depends upon your scope of observation. I am perceiving and thinking globally when I report human numbers are skyrocketing. In a similar manner, I can certainly recognize that human numbers in many places (eg, Italy) have been declining. But in order to make that report it is necessary for me to change my scope of observation.

    Imagine that a change in one’s scope of observation is like the difference between looking at the forest or the trees. Looking at the forest is like looking at absolute global human population numbers; whereas, looking at the trees is like looking at the population numbers in a place like Italy. Global human numbers can be increasing, while the human population numbers in Italy are decreasing.

    So much of the Earth’s environs are being degraded and so many of its natural resources dissipated. So many people are coming. So much time has been wasted. So many opportunities missed. Time is precious….and short. Windows of opportunity are closing, one after another at an accelerating pace. Let us agree not to let this “Talk of the Nation” opportunity be another missed opportunity like so very many others in my lifetime.

    We could begin this week by talking to all nations. After all, what are we waiting for? The clock to run out of time, so as to relieve us of human distinctly human responsibilities we can assume and duties only human beings with feet of clay can perform?

  • We certainly share a lot in common, in terms of our ideologies.

    Well written.

    By the way, as an aside, let’s hope Wisconsin’s battle is finally picked up by the mainstream media and contagion occurs in the rest of the states and hopefully Canada too.