We’re Toast

When people tell me the dire messages about which I write don’t resonate with other people, I struggle with a coherent response. Would you prefer continued overshoot on an overshot planet? Would you prefer we keep heating our overheated home? Would you prefer we ignore the most important issues in the history of our species? Party on, brothers and sisters, when you bother to extract your head from your asses the sand. As long as we ignore reality, it’ll all be fine.

And then, there’s reality. I’ll go there. You’ve been warned.

We’re irrevocably broke. I’ve made that announcement before. Finally, though, mainstream financial analysts are joining the party of reality.

Perhaps our individual and collective bankruptcy (of every kind) explains why 79.6% of respondents to a Scientific American poll are unwilling to forgo even a single penny to forestall the risk of catastrophic climate change. Scientific American readers undoubtedly are better informed than the general populace. And yet they won’t pay a thing to avoid extinction of our species. Kinda makes you warm and fuzzy all over, doesn’t it?

At the request of corporate CEOs and their minions, high-level politicians, we’ll spend, spend, spend to keep propping up the industrial economy that is making us crazy and killing us. Far be it for me to suggest those CEOs and politicians are killing us directly — I’ll leave that charge to others — but there is no doubt this system is destroying every aspect of the living planet on which we depend for our lives. In return, we’ll throw away fiat currency in the name of infrastructure so we can maintain our non-negotiable, completely disastrous way of life. But we won’t spend a buck a dime a single cent to preclude disaster for our children.

Excuse me, I need to retch into my composting toilet. I encourage you to do the same. I’ll wait.

Mind you, it’s too late to avoid terrifyingly bad climate change, and avoiding catastrophe seems increasingly unlikely, even to the mainstream media. The numbers keep coming at us, too: greenhouse gases are near the all-time peak, at least since the industrial era began. The United Nations concurs: We’re unlikely to avoid runaway greenhouse.

In short, we’re toast. For a brief yet comprehensive overview of recent assessments and projections, take a look at my latest essay at Transition Voice.

The numbers keep pouring in, faster even than we can keep track: 2010 will join 1998 as hottest since 1850. Or maybe it’ll break this most dire of records and become the warmest year ever. In light of this news, emissions are on the rise, and the talks in Cancun are set to fail. As I’ve indicated many times, there are no politically viable solutions to climate change. Politicians who propose cutting back emissions sufficiently to make a minor dent in the predicament will be drawn and quartered. Survivors will be hung. Then shot. If you needed further evidence, and it’s difficult to believe any rationalist would at this point, then consider this: The incoming class of thugs in the U.S. House of Representatives will kill the committee merely studying climate change.

The anticipated response from Homo consumicus: We don’t need no stinkin’ solutions. Overshoot? Not on my planet. Oppression? So what? We’re number one.

As with anthropogenic climate change, I’ve also pointed out the absence of politically viable solutions to peak oil and the attendant economic consequences. A minor example of the economic impacts of expensive oil occurs every time we eclipse $80 oil when, shortly thereafter, sovereign defaults fill the news. Iceland. Greece. Now the Eurozone debt crisis is escalating. Or, to put a finer point on it, the game is up in the Eurozone, with violence is on the rise. And, as it turns out, Japan and the U.S. are circling the same drain as the entire Eurozone, although most Americans haven’t figured it out yet because the fair and balanced pundits at Fox News haven’t told us.

Much to the chagrin and willful ignorance of the mainstream media and also editors at sites that focus on energy, including The Oil Drum and Energy Bulletin, the industrial economy could reach its overdue terminus quite soon. It’s far too late for a fast collapse of the industrial economy: By virtually every economic measure, we’ve experienced a lost decade already. The last superpower didn’t take this long to fall, and few civilizations have hung on as long as this, the worst of them. In the midst of economic turmoil and pathetic models, even economists admit they haven’t a clue.

Evidence for completion of the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy continues to mount. For starters, the smart money is selling out of U.S. stock markets as U.S. banks are hoarding funds instead of loaning. The American love affair with stocks is over. States are imploding one by one (and then, if we’re lucky, all at once). The Federal Reserve is bailing out a surprising array of corporations, foreign banks, and, of course, the big banks in the U.S. (the latter to the tune of $9 trillion). Unemployment compensation benefits just ended for another two million people in the U.S. The U.S. government’s attempts to reflate the housing bubble have been overtaken by economic reality. Meanwhile, we spend money we don’t have on the ongoing, never-ending war in Afghanistan, which — not surprisingly to regular readers here — is not about Afghanistan at all.

If there is any doubt about the moral hypocrisy underlying this empire, consider the governments of the “free world” joining Fox News and Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee in calling for the assassination of Julian Assange because he dares expose the truth about American Empire. In response, Amazon bows to political pressure by pulling the plug on free speech. And no wonder. It’s one thing to mess with Obomber and Chillary, but there’s no way Assange will get away with taking on a big U.S. bank. I’ll excuse you while you take another break to puke.

Increasingly, the blogosphere is filled with people who recognize the increasingly obvious ongoing economic collapse for what it is. Although there is little agreement about the causes, the consensus is growing about where we’re headed. A quick online search of a few of the following names gives a few clues about the breadth and depth of the people and organizations warning about and, in some cases, preparing for near-term collapse of the industrial economy (this list is not comprehensive): Niall Ferguson, Michael Ruppert, Karl Denninger, Rob Viglione, Gerald Celente, Jeff Rubin, Matt Savinar, Catherine Austin Fitts, Charles Munger, Gonzalo Lira, Joe Bageant, Dave Cohen, Jan Lundberg, Matt Simmons (recently deceased), Chris Hedges, Dmitry Orlov, Michael Snyder, Nicole Foss, Paul Craig Roberts, Marc Faber, Bill Bonner, James Wesley Rawles, Tony Robbins, Nouriel Roubini, Max Keiser, Tyler Durden, Chris Martenson, James Kwak, Simon Johnson, Chris Clugston, Kenneth Deffeyes, John Taylor, Samsam Bakhtiari, James Howard Kunstler, Bob Chapman, George Ure, Anthony Fry, Igor Panarin, G. Edward Griffin, Joseph Meyer, Harry Dent, John Williams, Richard Russell, Niño Becerra, Martin Weiss, Eric deCarbonnel, Robin Landry, John P. Hussman, Robert Prechter, Richard Mogey, Peter Schiff, Lindsey Williams, Hugh Hendry, Arthur Laffer, Bob Janjuah, Jeff Gundlach, Société Générale.

I am not suggesting even a slim minority of these fine people understand the good news associated with the ongoing economic collapse, and there is no consensus on the role of peak oil in triggering it. As nearly as I can determine, most of these folks view western civilization as a fine idea and, reflecting society, they prefer extinction of our species to the decline of civilization.

Personally, I don’t care what phenomenon gets the credit for bringing down the industrial economy, as long as it happens quickly. Peak oil? Fine. Overwhelming debt load leading to default? Superb. Hyperinflation? Good idea. Deflation to the point of Dow Zero? Wonderful. Take your pick, somebody’s touting it as the route to the industrial economy’s imminent demise.

As should be clear even to the casual reader, all roads lead to Rome. And Rome is burning.


This essay is permalinked in the bottom half of this post at Island Breath, and at Vancouver Peak Oil and Counter Currents.

Comments 85

  • Yep. In honor of the former The Oil Drum comment rating system. +10.

  • The Scientific American poll was bogus. While it’s not a coincidence that such a poll would come out the month following their issue on peak everything, it was not a site sponsored poll for the readers of the publication. It was a push poll paid for by corporate interests, completely spammed by climate denial websites (and the results were used in congressional testimony by the likes of Patrick fossil fuel funded Michaels.) I believe around 50% of the votes came from one singular denial website.

    This, of course, is surprising to no-one. After all … all writing is propaganda.

  • Well said, Guy.

    Much as I agree with the sentiment that we need to adopt a completely new way of living right now (actually it needed to commenced 30 years ago to have any real chance of success), we know there will be no culture change or paradigm shift: all the rules of governance are designed to facilitate (or actually promote) complete destruction of the planet. Military forces, security forces, police, courts, local councils, government agnecies, climate change negotiators …. you name it … are all charged with protection and promotion of vested interests over the common good. They will all continue to act against the best interests of coming generations until they can’t. Unfortunatley, I don’t see that point being reached for quite a long time unless something utterly catastrophic happens -such as a drought ten times worse that the one that affected Russia this year, which does not seem likely for perhaps a decade. Either that or we will have to wait till oil extraction has fallen 5% or 10% from peak (around 2013-15?)

    Until calamity stikes I am sure those in power will not countenance anything other than the business-as-usual arrangements that provide them with their undeserved and unjustifiable benefits, and will create Ponzi scheme after Ponzi scheme to maintain present oiligarchical arrangements.

    Yes, we’re toast, but only a slight off-white colour at the moment. Speaking from much experience in these matters, I’d say we will have to wait until flames start leaping out the toaster before there will be much response, I’m afraid.

    Another way of looking at this is that religious leaders thousands of yearsa go were on to something when they taked of ‘man’s sinful nature’ bringing about his ultimate demise. There now seems to be a kind of inevitability about it all.

    In view of the total falure of our so-called leaders to deal with anything of substnace, the only question seems to be: what tiny portion of the human populace might make it through the immediate peak oil bottleneck in order to face the environmental bottleneck a few decades later?

    Around 6 years ago Sir David King (chief scientific advisor to the UK government) suggested Antarctica might literally be the only habitable land mass at the end of the century. Maybe the elites have got the land divided up and allocated already.

  • Aaarrggh …

    I just washed my mouth out after the recommended wretch back into Nature’s realm. What an insult to good soil!

    Funny how I come to read at a place that makes me want to lose all my cookies.

    I’m sorry, Doc. Even those old timers who went back into the woods to find a way are sick at the sadness and stupidity of this story. Yeah … I’m sick to death too. Ashamed to admit I’m any part of it.

    So I turned my back a long ways back and went looking for my own reconnection. Its made me softer and quieter over time. The only revenge seems to be in living well while living simply. Living free … even in these last disgraceful moments is our only recourse.

    I’m sorry for my children and my grandchildren. Old too soon. Smart too late.

    Thanks for being such a steadfast and resolute witness. Sometimes the wretching can make us feel better … even a little bit.

    Do not succumb to fear, nor allow your anger to consume the pleasure still in the forests.

  • Love it, Guy, but how could you miss Lovelock off the list?

    “…he fears we won’t invent the necessary technologies in time, and expects “about 80%” of the world’s population to be wiped out by 2100. Prophets have been foretelling Armageddon since time began, he says. “But this is the real thing.””


  • There is an image that sticks with me from one of Douglas Adams book – the heroes visit a planet where the elite are on a floating platform above the planet. It is one long continuous party fed by those on the planet below. Of course what holds it up is beginning to fail… I have no doubt what party Adams was referring to. In the words of Richard Heinberg “The Party’s Over”. While we may dread what the end of the party means and realize that life is now going to be much more arduous (and quite likely shorter than we expected), we shouldn’t forget that many have never done more than slave for the those at the party.

    Hard work? Watch the Devil’s Miner, the documentary about a 14 and 12 year old Bolivian boys who work in the silver mines. http://www.thedevilsminer.com/hauptmovie.html

    Drought – well there is the Sahel -“From the late 1960s to early 1980s famine killed a 100,000 people, left 750,000 dependent on food aid, and affected most of the Sahel’s 50 million people.[2] ”

    Disease – most recent cholera in Haiti, but also increasing Dengue “The national minister of health, Juan Manzur, yesterday expressed his concern about dengue (not a disease you want to get). “We are in a more serious situation than last year, due to the magnitude of dengue in the frontier region,” he said, referring to Brazil and Paraguay, during the meeting of the Federal Health Council….And hardly a whisper in the North American media about its neighbours’ problems with dengue.” http://crofsblogs.typepad.com/h5n1/2010/10/argentina-concern-about-dengue.html

    Anarchy – Congo – children abducted to serve in rebel armies. Arms, legs, noses cut off by rebels, women and young girls brutally raped (sometimes with broken bottles). Not a good idea to live in a country with a plenitude of natural resources. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/524613.stm

    Homelessness – don’t have to go to another country – tent cities already in the US and with the end of unemployment benefits that will increase http://www.dailymarkets.com/economy/2010/11/19/tent-cities-pop-up-everywhere-in-the-u-s-as-homelessness-skyrockets/

    Famine – 925 million are said to be going hungry already – almost 1/6 of the humans on planet earth are food short http://www.wfp.org/hunger

    There is a whole community of people in various countries who get their sustenance from combing the garbage dumps – 45,000 children in Brazil live that way http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/brazil_1920.html – while shoppers in the US still run to get bargains at Walmart in the wee hours of the night, children run to grab whatever they can when the trucks arrive at the dumps in Brazil. “The dump in Olinda consists of several mountains of garbage. In 1997, there were 350 children and teenagers who worked with their parents at the dumpsite. When a municipal garbage truck arrives to dump its waste, the children, adolescents and adults who live and work there rush to the new heap of trash to pick out what can be used or sold. There is a lot of competition, and you have to be fit and fast to get to there first. The work is dangerous and some children have lost limbs due to accidents with the trucks and other heavy equipment. Whenever something edible is found, it is eaten.” See similar behavior on Black Friday at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article26958.htm (a one sided view of what people don’t know in the narrative – no mention of climate change or peak oil – but the images are instructive)

    So our party is over…well we had the party at least – some never did. Some have always from birth inhabited the world we are heading to. So no tears for what we are losing that others never had, let us just be glad that the collapse MIGHT save the planet and we live in a land where we can at least make a stab at once again living close to nature.

  • Brilliant article, Guy. But you are such an optimist! We’ll have to change that…. ;-)

    I think two fundamental issues you bring up need to be more fully examined and understood. First, the issue of runaway climate change, positive feedback loops and tipping points. Secondly, the issue of the fall of industrial civilisation and species extinction.

    As I understand none of the current climate models adequately address positive feedback loops. For those who do not understand what a positive feedback loop is, let me briefly explain. When “A” produces “B” which in turn produces more “A”, then we have a positive feedback loop, or self-reinforcing loop, or vicious circle, call it what you may. An important distinction with positive feedback loops is that they are not just self-reinforcing, but that they are also exponentially driven, continually gaining in magnitude over time until they are spent. In the case of ice melt, the positive feedback loop occurs when the temperature rise due to the forcing action of CO2 in the atmosphere overcomes the ability of melting ice to recover fully during winter, thus causing more dark water (dark water absorbs more heat)to be exposed year round, thus causing more temperature rise above and beyond that caused by CO2 alone. As you can see, this is a “vicious circle” that can only be stopped when a new equilibrium state is reached by either the action of some negative (ultimately, “cooling”) force external to the process acting to interfere with the feedback, or when the process runs out of resource (ice, in this case).

    In the case of Arctic ice melt (and you can extend this to ice sheet melt or glaciers), it is important to recognise the “tipping point” of the process – that point at which once crossed, results in the self-reinforcing action of the loop. This point can be seen to be a continuing tendency for reduction of the total ice mass year over year, both in terms of area and thickness – and always accelerating over time! When the Arctic ice shows such a tendency over time, you can be certain that the positive feedback has begun, and importantly (!) that the loop now has a life of its own beyond humanity’s ability to stop it. Once begun, it must accelerate to a final and new state of equilibrium – it is all melted.

    That once begun by means of human action (CO2), it cannot be stopped (reducing CO2 emissions), means that the process passes out of human control. Current situation we find ourselves in today? The ice has begun to melt. The Greenland ice sheet is melting at the fringes and breaking up and accelerating its path to the sea. The glaciers are disappearing. The Arctic tundra is beginning to release its methane (leading to another positive feedback loop involving methane gas, a much more powerful forcing agent than CO2).

    Bottom line? Connect the dots. The ice will melt, more methane will be released, causing an accelerated speed-up of global warming and significant rising of the seas. The process is now out of our hands.

    The other issue is that of the idea of “convenience” v “dependence”. When we make use of something in our daily lives, it might be from “convenience” which implies that though it enhances our ability to do something, we can still do without it. Or it might be out of “dependency”, which obviously means that we MUST have it to accomplish whatever must be accomplished. Most people, even die-hard environmental activists talk and act as though modern technology and a globalised (inter-connected, inter-dependent, just-in-time resource supply) civilisation is a “convenience”. If either get in the way, simply dispose of them and change to other means of survival. If we don’t think global capitalism is working out, we should change to a steady state economy based upon local industry.

    My point is that modern technology and modern civilisation are not “conveniences”, but “dependencies”. Modern technology and the global economy are now necessary to human life. We really must have it all to survive. Even rural areas of the world are dependent now upon the food, clothing, tools, building materials, and economy of the rest of the world to survive. No one is completely free of the influence of modern society. No one. And all are impacted by the actions of modern society. When we handed in our horse and plough for the tractor, industrial fertiliser/herbicides/pesticides, and diesel-driven irrigation techniques, we lost the skills surrounding those original tools to support the masses. Now those ancient tools and techniques are in the hands of a relative scattered few upon the earth, who themselves might not survive the coming bottleneck due to climate change, disease, pestilence, or social chaos. In other words if you are lucky (?) enough to get through the bottleneck, you might not yet have the skills or be located in the right place on earth to continue, nor will those around you most likely.

    Today’s population depends upon resources and technology. Today’s technology depends upon a huge population of mass producers and mass consumers. When one goes, the other goes as well.

    Transition is a hopeful wish, I fear. In betting terms, a real long-shot. Transition should have been started back in the 19th century before our commitment to fossil fuels. Now tipping points have been passed. Positive feedback loops generated, both environmental and social feedback loops. We are all caught up in a cascading and degenerative spiral which is no longer within our means of control. The only remaining questions being how long will it take, and what is the final prognosis for mankind and other species? Only time will tell now.

  • and George Monbiot

  • Victor, Yes, well put as is Guy’s article.

    “In other words if you are lucky (?) enough to get through the bottleneck”

    ? mark is most appropriate. Unlikely that any will get through the bottleneck without killing others (directly or by hoarding) in order to do so. Not the way I want my life to end. Not something I want to see. Good to be old in these times.

  • “A man whose message is doom for the people he loves not only forfeits his own capacity for joy, but also provokes the hostility and outrage of his contemporaries. The sights of woe, the anticipation of disaster, nearly crush his soul.” Quoted from Abraham J. Heschel The Prophets

    Seems we are engaged in an ancient/timeless communication … journey on fearless traveler

  • Is the grid our Achilles hill. From Wikileaks released today – Positive feedback? Fragile infrastructure? Vulnerability from excessive complexity? Trust that black swans don’t exist?
    Full cable at:
    Excerpt below
    “On November 10 at 22:13, Brazil experienced a blackout that plunged 18 of Brazil’s 27 states into darkness for periods ranging from 20 minutes to 6 hours. …

    ¶4. (C) Based on those detailed discussions, the following is what the government now says occurred. The source of the outage was a substation close to Sao Paulo called Itaburi on the Tijuco Preto powerline, which supplies Sao Paulo and then Rio with power from the Itaipu dam (a binational hydroelectric dam on the border with Paraguay responsible for 12,600MW of energy or 20 percent of Brazil’s energy supply. Brazil’s energy matrix is heavily hydro dependent – 80 percent – with the rest a combination of thermo, nuclear, and some bioelectricity.). At that point in the system there are three separate power lines that connect Itaipu into Sao Paulo carrying 765 kilovolts of 60HZ AC supply. There is a separate supply line from Itaipu into Sao Paulo north of the Tijuco Preto power line, which carries 50 Hz of DC power. The Sao Paulo/Rio region is also linked by separate lines to the southern part of the country, as well as to the north and north east, which are also interlinked with one another. Overall system consumption for the day was 60 GW, well below total system capacity of 105 GW.

    ¶5. (C) At 22:13, there was a short circuit in one of the three Itaburi lines in what they call the “B” cycle. 13.5 milliseconds later, cycle “A” experienced a short circuit in the second line. 3.2 milliseconds after that, the substation at Itaber went out, knocking out the third and final line, completely disrupting the flow of the southern supply line from Itaipu into Sao Paulo. When this happened, automated controls took over to preserve the system. The generators at Itaipu shut down when they detected the disruption in BRASILIA 00001383 002 OF 005 transmission, thereby also shutting down the northern supply line to Sao Paulo. The interlinked systems in the northeast and northern regions of the country, detecting oscillation in the supply coming from Sao Paulo, shut off the transmission lines to protect those regions. In the southern region of the country, which was also providing energy supply to Sao Paulo, the sudden changes in frequency triggered ERAC (an emergency system in each substation monitoring balance between the supply and the load) isolating the southern section from the rest of the grid. These changes preserved the rest of the system and permitted a quick return to service for most of the country, but left the major population centers without power for up to six hours.


    ¶6. (C) Geraldes described the events of November 10 as unusual, not in the interruption of the system, but in the confluence of events that led to the overall catastrophic scale of the blackout. He said that a similar disruption taking out the same line had occurred in the past but the system had been operating in such a way that the flow was redistributed with very little disruption. In the November 10 case, reservoirs were full due to recent abundant rainfalls and the thermal plants, which are often tapped to augment flow, were not operating. The interlinked system which allows electricity from any part of the country to be distributed to any other part was exporting power from the primary hydroplants in the South to the Sao Paulo/Rio region. According to Geraldes, in prior instances, the situation was reversed, with flow exported from Sao Paulo to the south during periods of less plentiful rainfall and the disruption had very little effect on the overall supply. “

  • Nice idea. We’ll have to wait until next summer to see if it works.



  • As we usually have two heels, I would suggest that the other Achilles’ heel would be the transport system. If either goes down, we go with it. I would also suggest, however, that though the grid is vastly important, from a global perspective it is a rather distributed system having n single point of failure – each country is relatively independent of the others. Peak oil will impact that considerably.

    On the other hand, when the global transport system goes due to severe price spikes in oil due to peak oil, everything will essentially shut down.

  • Thanks for this essay, Guy. I read it before bedtime last night. A couple of years ago, it would’ve kept me up much quite a while, but I slept good. Thinking of a world beyond cheap oil seems to soothe my soul.

    Oil’s pushing $87 a barrel again, as the stock market “rally” heats up. I wonder what the crash point will be this time — $125/barrel? $100? $90?

    Seems I cannot find any joy in “normal” society any more. It’s all become just an illusion for me. Everywhere I look, beyond the seasonal trappings and hysteria, I see signs of imperial rot and decay. I can tell family and some of my friends are beginning to be careful of the subject matter discussed in my presence. I do not mind too much, and it’s become almost comic, though it saddens me a little as well that it is in them, primarily, that I find most of the happiness in this world these days… along with, as Jay suggests above, in the natural world, and in my daily adjustments to our post-peak life.

    I think I’m done grieving for the old ways, thankfully, and may be at peace with it. We’ll see, as it gets tighter in the bottleneck.

    Best wishes to all here.

  • Dear Friends,

    There is something I fear and I fear it terribly. If the human community
    loses its primary faith in science as the best available guide for making determinations regarding what is adequate enough knowledge of the “rules of the house” in the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit as well as regarding the most accurate placement of humankind within the natural order of life on Earth, then a keen sense of foreboding overtakes me
    because it appears that we could end up destroying, however inadvertently, that life which we claim to be protecting. In the course of a single lifetime, human beings will have done so much irreparable damage to something millions of years in the making, something we believe we are preserving.

    That is to say, if the family of humanity does not accept out of necessity that even a uniquely and superbly gifted species so splendid as Homo sapiens lives according to the “rules of the house” in which we live so well, but instead chooses to deny the directions and guideposts provided to us by God’s gift of science and refuses to live within the biophysical limitations of our evidently finite and noticeably frangible home on Earth, then woe will be onto the children who follow my generation of elders, I suppose.

    Have the self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us determined that their arrogant, avaricious and soon to become unsustainable way of life is the one and only way to the ‘good life’? Can mortgaging the children’s future and threatening their very existence somehow be cleverly construed as the best way to live? It appears that the very children for whom the world is supposedly being made into a better place are the same people from whom their elders are willfully stealing life as we know it, relentlessly dissipating Earth’s resources and recklessly degrading its environs.

    Please note the silence of so many on this topic, both inside and outside the NBL community and well as within the communities of top-rank experts. That silence is also something to be feared and fearly terribly. There is no global threat so great as our so-called leaders’ elective mutism with regard to notifying the public about humanity’s central role in recklessly depleting Earth’s finite resources and degrading Earth’s ecology as well as to helping the children sensibly prepare for what could likely occur in the offing. Such unconscionable behavior by my generation could have the effect of ruining the planetary home God has blessed us to inhabit as a place for habitation by the children.

    Good people, the willful silence of knowledgeable leaders and followers is a colossal mistake with profound implications for the future of life on Earth. Please, speak out loudly, clearly and often. Say whatsoever you believe to be true and real regarding the human predicament in which
    humankind finds itself in these earliest years of Century XXI.

    More voices….. we need many more voices. Time is being wasted because
    those with wealth and power and their super enriched minions adamantly
    defend and righteously pursue overconsumption, overproduction and
    overpopulation activities. Because these activities could soon become
    patently unsustainable, necessary behavior change has to occur fast. If
    more members of the human family do not speak out to resist what the
    richest and most powerful in the human community are seducing all of us to do now as we strive to ravenously consume Earth’s resources, to
    relentlessly hoard wealth, and to overproduce unnecessary stuff, then the planetary home we are inhabiting and overpopulating could be made
    uninhabitable for our children and life as we know it in the fairly near

    One day our children may look back in anger and utter disbelief at many too many leaders and followers in my not-so-great generation of greedmongers, who had the chance at least to try and mitigate the fully expected damages of pollution, climate destabilization, environmental degradation, resource dissipation, biodiversity extinction and unbridled overpopulation but abjectly failed because we chose to play around the edges of the global challenges before us and refused to take demonstrably responsible action in the face of clear and present dangers.

    Being honest and personally accountable; earning wealth the old fashioned way by actually providing something of value; exercising moral courage; and making necessary changes toward sustainable lifestyles, was too damn hard for so soft, satisfied, sanctimonious, selfish and stupid a generation of elders, I suppose.

    For me, it is impossible to believe that a species so wondrous as Homo
    sapiens will not find a way to continue rather than to induce its own
    extinction as we appear to be doing now. Somehow the miracle of life as we know it, with all its beauty and biodiversity, has to be preserved. At least we have to try, whatever the odds.

    Sincerely yours,


  • Ed

    An intriguing idea. I wonder if this concept could be used on an external wall as a layer of insulation? In the UK we have many, many houses that were built in the early part of the 20th century (and prior) without wall cavities. This of course complicates the process of trying to insulate a house and save energy use.

  • Steve,

    Don’t be too hard on recent generations. I hear this complaint frequently – “the Boomers have destroyed all for their own selfish ends”. I believe that every generation of human that has ever lived has been driven by the need to survive and even prosper. Recent generations, including the current one, are no different. It is just that they are the recipients of millennia of progress (?), and have carried on as our ancestors have with the same motivations, only with the cumulative effect of vast power gained and inherited over the ages.

    The Boomers are no different from any other generation. And no other generation, including the current one, would have made choices any differently, I believe. We are where we are because of many millions of decisions, big and small, over the ages. Humanity indeed, is not really different than any other species in its inborn need to survive and procreate. It’s just that our intelligence (rightly directed or not) give us huge advantage over other species and allows us to work around Nature – at least temporarily….

    Do we have the capability as a species to see beyond the pressures of today and take care of our children tomorrow? Mostly not, I’m afraid – our history is a witness against us. We neither look ahead, nor do we make decisions based upon any such vision. We see only the immediate. React only to the current crisis. Take and use what we can today because tomorrow we might not have it. This is survival. And yet we live in a world where decisions today affect our children and their children tomorrow, and forever.

  • Amen Jay, that was well put. If you haven’t already read it, you would really enjoy The Way of the Human Being by Martin. The softer, the quieter, the return to the forest. I only wished I made the discovery years ago.

    Best hopes,


  • Victor.

    ‘I believe that every generation of human that has ever lived has been driven by the need to survive and even prosper. Recent generations, including the current one, are no different. It is just that they are the recipients of millennia of progress (?), and have carried on as our ancestors have with the same motivations …..Do we have the capability as a species to see beyond the pressures of today and take care of our children tomorrow? Mostly not, I’m afraid – our history is a witness against us. We neither look ahead, nor do we make decisions based upon any such vision’

    Your agrument is valid until perhaps 40 years ago, but after 1970 it had become perfectly obvious to all thinking people that the direction society was being pushed in by the elites was entirely the wrong direction, i.e. overpopulation and squandering of energy and resources. Many ordinary people chose to have small families or no children because they could, and did, plan for the future.

    None of this is about improving the lot of ordinary people: the welfare of the populace has always ranked very low on the agendas of governments; as long as there are sufficient breadcrumbs falling off the edge of the table to prevent revolution and the people can be given false hope of a better tomorrow, that’s all that matters.

    The primary game is about consolidaation of wealth and power by a very tiny minority. They (along with all the opportunists they have installed in positions of public office) are the ones who, despite irrefutable evidence, refuse to accept reality and continue to generate policies based on selfishness, greed and desruction of the planet. Sadly, there is now an entire generation of youngsters who have experiecned nothing other than consumerism based on gross misinformation, and the dysfucntion it generates.

    With respect to positive feedbacks, I’m with you all the way (having been writing about such matters for over a decade). There is one tiny reason for hope: the higher the average temperature of the Earth, the faster it radiates heat into space. One new thought occurs to me: if we manage to to turn most of the land currently covered in vegetation into desert (which seems to be the ‘plan’), we should anticipate more incoming radiation being relfected back into space during daylight hours and a lot more being radiated into space during the night. That might just make extreme northern latitudes and extreme southern latitudes habitable for a few million humans a few decades from now.

    I am more concerned about acidification of the oceans than anything else, since dead oceans do imply a largely dead planet. There again, nature may have a solution, since the higher the ocean temperature, the more CO2 will be driven out of the oceans and into the atmosphere.

    Don’t you feel so much better knowing the die-off may only reduce the number of humans by 99.9%? 7 million may a manageable number for Gaia. And with all the easy resources long gone, there would be little prospect of any ressurrection of industrialism.

  • On the matter of dying oceans:

    ‘Scientists fear the planet is on the brink of another mass extinction as ocean dead zones continue to grow in size and number.

    More than 400 ocean dead zones — areas so low in oxygen that sea life cannot survive — have been reported by oceanographers around the world between 2000 and 2008.

    That is compared with 300 in the 1990s and 120 in the 1980s.

    Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, a professor at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and the University of Queensland in Australia, says there is growing evidence that declining oxygen levels in the ocean have played a major role in at least four of the planet’s five mass extinctions.

    “Until recently the best hypothesis for them was a meteor strike,” he said.

    “So 65 million years ago they’ve got very good evidence … all the dinosaurs died because of smoke and stuff in the atmosphere from a meteor strike.

    “But with the four other mass extinction events, one of the best explanations now is that these periods were preceded by an increase of volcanic activity, and that volcanic activity caused a change in ocean circulation.

    “Just as we are seeing at a smaller scale today, huge parts of the ocean became anoxic at depth.

    “The consequence of that is that you had increased amounts of rotten egg gas, hydrogen sulfide, going up into the atmosphere, and that is thought to be what may have caused some of these other extinction events.”

    Hoegh-Guldberg says up to 90 per cent of life has perished in previous mass extinctions and that a similar loss of life could occur in the next 100 years.

    “We’re already having another mass extinction due to humans wiping out life and so on, but it looks like it could get as high as those previous events,” he said.

    “So it’s the combination of this alteration to coastlines, climate change and everything, that has a lot of us worried we are going to drive the sixth extinction event and it will happen over the next 100 years because we are interfering with the things that keep species alive.”

    Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2010/11/30/mass-extinction-dead-zone.html#ixzz16zV61ehI

  • Victor, agreed that the transportation system is an Achilles heel as well as the grid. And of course each are specific to each country. But in the US and probably all first world countries the grid and the transportation system are interlinked. When a grid goes down, within that area no fuel can be pumped as we no longer have hand powered pumps. If all three US grids go down at once transportation will cease, including getting repair trucks out to fix the problem. OTOH if we loose transportation fuel we can’t get coal to electricity producing plants. That is of course a simplification of what might happen. Both suffer from failure to maintain infrastructure. I think the grid has more complexities that might cause dramatic total failure such as the North East grid failure in 2003. I suspect that third world grids are probably less vulnerable – when I was in Haiti turning on and off the grid was not a big deal – they did it every day. And they still use donkey’s in Haiti not to mention feet for transport. The electric system faces another problem that transport does not – aging workers – I have read that the average age of a power lineman is 50…
    “Shortages of competent personnel exist in the electric power industry and will grow in the future. These shortages exist at all levels from hourly skilled workers to executives and in all organizations from the government, to the electric power industry, to our universities. The causes of these shortages have been:

    1) Industry restructuring, focused on earning immediate profits and not long-term needs.
    2) Early retirement programs to transfer payments for personnel from the company’s balance sheet to the pension fund.
    3) The halting of the manufacturing of much electric power equipment by industry in the United States, and sales of businesses to foreign companies to improve short term profits.
    4) Perceptions by young people that there is more challenging work in other industries.
    5) Inability of technical personnel to advance into senior management ranks in the power industry. ”

    It will be interesting to see how things play out, until of course daily living becomes too difficult for us to have interest in anything other than daily bread. :)

  • Finance seems to be a neck ahead of energy and environment for bringing the house of cards down.

    ‘States are scrambling to close $114 billion in budget shortfalls over the next year and a half. For now, they can borrow at curiously low rates in the bond market — but they better hurry.

    Lenders are still throwing money at the federal government despite its trillions of dollars of debt. But when it comes to states, cities and local governments deep in the red, their generosity appears to be running out.

    Prices of municipal bonds, which are issued to build schools, lay water pipes and pave roads, dropped last month at one of the fastest clips since the credit crisis two years ago. Shares of mutual funds that hold the bonds have fallen hard, too.

    Some experts worry that problems in the municipal bond market could spread to other markets. Their worst case: A plunge in muni prices triggers panic among investors and widespread selling of other financial assets. That happened during the 2008 credit crisis, when the market for mortgage-backed bonds collapsed. Credit markets froze and stock prices plunged worldwide. A recession that had begun nearly a year earlier became the worst downturn since the Depression.

    “It’s a Molotov cocktail,” Envision Capital founder Marilyn Cohen says of the muni market. “It could explode.”

    The causes of turmoil in the $2.8 trillion muni market are myriad, but critics say one was misplaced investor enthusiasm.

    State and local governments have rarely been in worse shape, but the average investor was convinced they would always pay back what they owed anyway. So bonds were scooped up, prices rose and yields, or the interest paid each quarter as a percentage of those prices, fell to the lowest in decades. New buyers of muni bonds earned less in interest even as the risk grew that a state or city or town couldn’t pay it.

    At this point after a recession, the economy typically would be growing strongly, raising the tax revenue needed to close budget gaps. And if the economy snaps back, city and state tax revenues will grow quickly, making the crisis a memory.

    But so far, that isn’t happening. As a result, local governments are turning to states for emergency funds to pay for services and salaries. Others are looking at plans to sell or lease public property to raise money fast. And some have taken the unusual step of using proceeds from muni bonds to meet payroll or other immediate expenses instead of funding big projects.

    “It’s like using your credit card to cover living expenses,” says Richard Lehmann, an investment adviser and author of the Distressed Debt Securities Newsletter. “It’s a quick path to ruin.”

  • “Your agrument is valid until perhaps 40 years ago, but after 1970 it had become perfectly obvious to all thinking people that the direction society was being pushed in by the elites was entirely the wrong direction, i.e. overpopulation and squandering of energy and resources.”

    I wish I could agree that we engaged in a period of collective insanity and we might return to something reasonable. However, after reading Jared Diamond’s _Collapse_ I no longer agree–it is painfully obvious that we have been exceptionally capable at causing massive extinctions throughout history, and even with only simple stone tools–our only hope is to reduce our scope to more local levels of destruction.

  • The title of his blog is quite instructive of the perceptiveness of James Howard Kunstler

    “Time is being wasted because …… (of) overconsumption, overproduction and overpopulation activities.” Actually, the clock has already been run out. To quote the latest post in
    http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2010/12/in-wake-of-victory.html“>The Archdruid Report:

    “as the Hirsch Report pointed out five years ago – ironically, right around the time global oil production peaked – adapting to peak oil without drastic social disruptions requires major changes to begin twenty years before the peak. We missed that chance”.

    And while “these activities could soon become patently unsustainable”, unsustainability could be figured from the time when King Hubbert’s forecast of peak oil was manifest for the uS.

    Oil was formed in two eras, 90 milion and 150 million years ago. Taking the average of the two, 120 million years for the formation of petroleum, and a century for the petroleum usage from start to peak, we have depleted half the easily-accesible oil in 100 years: that is about 600,000 years of formation worth of ealily-accessible oil each year (on the average; much higher now than about a century ago!) Seen another way, it would take 600,000 years to replace 1 years’ petroleum consumption – provided the right geologic conditions occur again at the right time.

  • Kathy,

    When I suggested transport, I really had in mind not just the national transport systems but specifically the global transport system. The global system (primarily shipping traffic) carries 98% of international commercial goods. We are heavily dependent today upon goods produced in other countries. The shipping industry almost tanked in 1998 after the oil spike. It is at serious risk when that happens again. So both national and international commerce is at high risk as Peak Oil takes hold.

  • “Don’t you feel so much better knowing the die-off may only reduce the number of humans by 99.9%? 7 million may a manageable number for Gaia. And with all the easy resources long gone, there would be little prospect of any ressurrection of industrialism.”

    As always you fill me with words of comfort and encouragement…LOL There will not only be little prospect of industrial resurrection, but indeed there is significant risk of species failure, as those remaining would be faced with poor quality soils in the northern regions, limited wildlife and who knows what kind of new weather patterns. I’m not as optimistic as you, I’m afraid. I don’t think Gaia has any intention of managing us – it might be more a matter of “So you are the masters of the universe, eh? Well, master THIS, assholes!”

  • “So you are the masters of the universe, eh? Well, master THIS, assholes!” – thank you Victor – my smile of the day. :)

    And ah yes global transport will be a biggie when it goes, and affect the ability to create electricity in many countries as well.

  • There are people who consider the Wikileaks saga a “distraction”, or some kind of government covert operation to misinform or distract, but I believe we are witnessing the first salvo launched by the Empire to demonstrate its power to cut off Truth to the masses when it deems it appropriate. Julian Assange is an honourable information warrior who is no government dupe. He knows what he has and he is fearlessly releasing it. Whilst the Empire is attempting to gloss over what has been released as “harmless info that everyone knows anyway”, it is behind the scenes flexing it muscles and determined to show the people of the world its power to shut down any source of Truth it feels inclined to.

    Starting with an information blitz by the media world to discredit and trivialise the release of the State Dept cables and the Iraq war logs, subjecting Mr Assange to character assassination and putting pressure on the Swedish government to arrest Mr. Assange on a questionable and suspiciously convenient and timely rape charge, the Empire has now opened a new front. It has launched a huge Denial of Service attack against the Wikileaks site, effectively preventing people from accessing it. It has also pressured US corporate power Amazon.com to remove the site from its servers, forcing Wikileaks to return to its Swedish provider. And now, last evening Dec 2 2010, the US-based company EveryDNS.net domain services provider as used the DoS attacks as an excuse to completely remove the Wikileaks domain from the Internet, thus destroying any chance of accessing the site. Wikileaks is no more.

    We should all be outraged at such bald-faced criminal thuggish use of power against our rights to information and the obviously brutal attack upon Internet freedom. Yet I hear very little in the way of objection from the media and even from the blogging community. Indeed, it might well be the alternative news sites and the blogging community that are next if the Empire is successful in this latest effort. They have declared without judicial process that the Wikileaks site and its spokesman are persona non grata who have acted in a criminal way threatening the “national security” of the Empire, and therefore are due the appropriate level of government response. This arbitrary use of government power to skirt the legal process by declaring an action to be a criminal threat on “national security” should be a matter of deep concern for all free people.

    This is NOT a distraction. I believe it to be the first direct heavy-handed strike against Internet freedom. And it needs to be stopped in its tracks or we will all suffer future blows.

  • I agree largely with you. Indeed I can’t help but think that there is indeed a limit to global economic growth. Even though technology may increase productivity and energy efficiency, we are depleting natural resources and destroying the environment. Sometimes I think people need to take some inspiration from biologist, growing germs on a Petri dish and see how germs grow exponentially, only to die out massively later as soon as they eat up the nutrition.

    Also sprach Analyst

  • Russian Permafrost Melt

    “we are too late to my mind – we have not any opportunity to stop it, we only have time to delay it maybe, to make the results less horrible.”

  • “Arrest Warrant for “Sex Crimes” Against Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Is for “Sex Without a Condom”, NOT Non-Consensual Rape Using Force. Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for “sex crimes”. Everyone assumed it was for rape. But it turns out it was for violating an obscure Swedish law against having sex without a condom.”

    Oh my our press is at it again. Half truths to tell lies.

  • “But it turns out it was for violating an obscure Swedish law against having sex without a condom.”

    Almost laughable if it weren’t for the implications of this whole thing…

  • Ed,

    A question if I may regarding the ice storage. Why not just build a spring house or ice house like our ancestors? I visited both Monticello (Jefferson’s home) and Montpelier (Madison’s home)recently and took note of their methods of food preservation. Both relied on snow pack and pond ice kept in deep ‘wells’ underground lined in stone. Just curious; thanks.

  • We are toast as a society, as Guy observed. There has been, will not be, and cannot be an honest, fair and equitable solution because the control of society is not based on honesty, fairness or equity. Lies will continue to be told. Spinners will spin their stories, whether they be Glenn Beck, Mike Huckabee or Barack Obama.

    But the ecological and geological limits that frame our lifestyles are being reached and exceeded and those limits are resolute. Things will begin to get ugly> Prosperity will be forever lost for millions in the US and survival will ultimately be at stake.

    Panic will ultimately come and extreme control of society will be implemented.

    This is happening right now in front of our eyes and global warming will only make things worse and even more extreme in every way.

    The future is now.

    Stan Moore

  • Christopher,

    Thanks for your comments; they ring true with me as well. I use this excuse to go spend some money on very practical things like Pendleton wool blankets!

  • JB, ice houses and spring houses are all possible. We have considered both of them, but then we have 3 springs and a couple of ponds to work with. Part of the attraction is the fact that you are working with salt water which freezes at a lower temperature. The meats and other things that you store with the frozen salt water will actually stay frozen or at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. We planned to put in a root cellar this coming year, and now we are looking at some way of combining these functions. Kind of just at the early stage with it all right now.



  • How ironic that Orwell’s ‘sex-crime’ and thought-crime should emerge at this point of time in connection with Assange.

    Needless to say, we are now all guilty of thought-crime -daring to think that 2 + 2 = 4. And saying so is public is obviously more than the empire can possibly tolerate.

    Victor:’And it needs to be stopped in its tracks or we will all suffer future blows.’ I agree with the sentiment, but the empire is too strong and the people too weak for anything to be stopped. We WILL all suffer future blows. That is clearly the plan: tightening the noose the fascist states have around the necks of the general populace in the name of ‘freedom and democracy’.

    With oil up $5 in one week and gold breaking $1400, maybe we will be subjected to the next economic jolt quite soon.

    The baking heat continues here (unprecedented at this time of the year and quite rare in February). And I see bush fires are out of control in Israel after 6 months of virtually no rain. As we all know, neither the people nor the planet can endure indefinitely the kind of pounding the elites are giving both on a continuous basis. However, it does look as though the planet is ‘waking up’ before the people.

  • Kevin, what part of the country or world do you live in that is having baking heat?

    Wikileaks up again at http://wikileaks.ch/cablegate.html

  • Kathy. Taranaki -west coast of the North Island of NZ, a prime darying dstrict which normally has rain throughout the year. The mountian is normally something of a ‘rain magnet’. But not this year. August and September were extraordinarily wet, but Octover and November were extraordinarily dry and as the Sun gets higher in the sky its getting hotter and drier. There is still a little snow left on the mountain to melt and a little more water to seep out of the forested ring around the lower splopes of the mountian, but once that’s gone ……..?

    If present weather patterns continue they will will knock a huge hole in the NZ economy (at a time when we are struggling to pay our bills anyway. And the recent rise in the international oil price will add to the burden, since we are 80% dependent on imported oil).

    “We’re toast.” (But perhaps not as ‘burnt’ as other places around the world just yet).

    From a recent mews item: ‘Another month with only a spattering of rain has nudged Taranaki towards a full-blown drought.

    Backyard watering restrictions announced yesterday by the New Plymouth and Stratford district councils come after one of the driest Octobers on record and an extremely dry November where rainfall was between 12 and 52 per cent of normal levels.

    The last significant rain was on October 1.

    South Taranaki has not imposed restrictions yet, but the situation is being watched closely.

    Taranaki Regional Council resource management director Fred McLay said most of the 22 river sites monitored were now at levels which were not expected until the end of summer.

    “October is traditionally one of the wetter months in Taranaki, but this time rainfall was between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of normal. November was even drier in places,” Mr McLay said.

    Three water suppliers the Taranaki Daily News spoke to yesterday all reported a rush for orders for residential and rural Taranaki residents.

    One company had three days of orders backed up.

    Taranaki Federated Farmers president Peter Adamski said farmers may need to take extreme measures to ensure they get through the summer.

    “Hopefully people take action now and that will save us a lot of heartache later on,” Mr Adamski said.

    Such measures included culling cows early, not carrying excess stock, moving to once a day milking and in some cases stop milking altogether, he said.

    “The message we really want to get out to our farmers is `be prepared for the worst’.

    The ground was still moist from September’s heavy rainfall but the hills were becoming visibly drier, he said.

    “We’ve still got good grass levels at the moment but it’s disappearing day by day.”

    Those who could had already made hay and silage but when Mr Adamski cut his grass on Tuesday, he got half the amount of last year’s harvest, he said.

    A drought would not be declared until feed levels were dangerously low and farmers required government assistance, which would probably come as a relief to some farmers, he said.

    NPDC water and wastes manager Brent Manning said low river levels forced them to impose watering restrictions.

    “There simply isn’t enough water in the rivers for us to meet the increasing demands.

    “We’re looking for everyone to play their part because if we do then we may not have to face further restrictions,” Mr Manning said.

    There would need to be a decent period of heavy rain before they were lifted, he said.

    Ad Feedback New Plymouth and Stratford residents must observe a complete ban on the use of sprinklers, irrigation systems and unattended hoses.

    Residents can only use hand-held hoses based on the odds and evens systems, which allows odd-numbered houses to use hoses on odd dates and even-numbered houses on even dates.

    Stratford residents will need to seek permits before lighting fires.

    Met Service weather ambassador Bob McDavitt said the La Nina weather patterns New Zealand was experiencing were particularly strong this summer.

    “It’s showing signs of plateauing at this stage but it has got enough momentum to keep it going through the summer,” Mr McDavitt said.

  • Way to go Guy! Keep it up, I agree with you on everything, let it all come tumbling down. It’s the only thing that’ll save us.

  • Kevin, sorry to hear about your weather. This summer was hotter longer than I ever remember here in AL. Sucked the soil dry even where mulched. Water is one of the most necessary, but increasingly scarce resources that will limit our population in the near future. Thanks for the info on your part of the world. Keep us updated.

  • Kevin

    Thanks for that. Blimey, I thought that NZ was next to paradise! Little to fear from climate change. Why am I getting this queasy feeling in me tummy?

    Speaking of climate change and global warming, I think a real misconception people have about global warming is that the resulting climate change equates to warmer weather. This is simply not true, though it might be true for large parts of the world. What results from global warming is what we call “abrupt climate change”. “Abrupt”, because it can happen extremely quickly as geological time goes – even within decades. And climate “change”, not climate “warming” necessarily. In other words, on a day to day, month to month basis folks in various parts of the world will begin to experience relatively severe changes in their usual weather patterns. Lots more moisture (snow, rain), lots less moisture (as NZ is apparently experiencing). Expansion of the desert into previously unaffected areas. Severe droughts. Severe floods. Unusual weather patterns of all kinds. Though the globe experiences an overall warming affect in climate, the weather in many places goes crazy.

    Many in the UK, as an example, look on our recent cold winters as evidence that the world is cooling, not warming. Not true at all. The warming of the Arctic is releasing cold, moist fronts and winds that used to be relatively confined to the far North (at least as I understand it). Whereas in Northern Siberia and other Arctic areas, huge warming has taken place, and a tundra melt is in progress and glaciers receding. It’s like the coldest air normally confined to the Arctic is being more widely and thinly distributed geographically, causing warming effects in some far north areas, but significant cooling in other northern hemisphere locations like Europe, and the northern USA.

    Any climate specialists are welcome to jump in here to correct me!!!

  • Did you say, NO?
    I can’t think of a better parting word.

    Practice makes perfect.

    See you around the Universe!

    Over and out…NOW

  • Victor. Yes, NZ was arguably as close to paradise as one could get (other than the destruction wreaked upon the landscape by clearing forests to make way for pasture, and a few rather nasty chemical plant) until the ‘traitorous’ Labour government of mid-1980s opened it up for high-speed looting. Superficially things look better -railway yards redeveloped into artsy recreational facilities etc.- but deep down it has never been in a worse state than now. But where isn’t?

    Compared to many places around the world it still is ‘paradies’, I suppose, being one of the last major land masses on the planet to be conquered and ‘developed’, it has a higher ratio of rural-to-urban than most nations. But the powers that be are working furiously to destroy what remains of sustainability as quickly as possible.

    50 years ago in this region there was a small dairy factory in every locality (corresponding to a safe horse and cart trip on an unsealed road with unchilled milk)…. literally scores of them; all closed down and centralised to just one processing pant for the entire region, everything getting transported by road scores or hundreds of kilometres coutesy of cheap oil, and processed courtesy of cheap natural gas. Not to mention the imported phosphate needed to maintain fertility.

    The empire is practically everywhere and is attacking everything it can as fast as it can. Hence, it does seem that the sooner the empire falls the better off most of us will be.

    On the matter of climate change, a better term would be climate instability: that would take away the perception many people living in cooler zones have that warming will somehow be good.

    The higher the ocean temperatures, the greater the water vapour pressure, the greater the possibility of intense precipitation. And local overheating is likely to result in more rapid shifting of air masses. Yes, increased snowfall is counter-intuitive, but is indicative of general warming.

    One thing I forgot to mention: all the wet, windy weather in September played havoc with blossom, so fruit production looks set to be well down.

    Climate instability is nobody’s friend.

  • Let us hope that the forces of freedom and truth prevail:
    Alternative Wikileaks sites

  • Kevin, I had read that increases of heat reduced grain yield. This summer many of my plants had good growth thanks to my watering them, yet still set less fruit than usual – Pumpkins down by about 2/3. Green beans down by almost 1/2, field peas worse. Tomatoes did well tho. I attribute it to not how high the heat got, but how long it was that hot. Something was surely wrong. Climate instability means we won’t know what to plant among other things. Nature can adjust over time its just that humans don’t individually live long enough to adjust to wide swings in weather.

  • RAGE ON! If the rest of your blog is as spot on as this first post I’ve read, I’m going to be a major fan. I’m posting this to stumbleupon.

  • there have been several first time or recently infrequent posters who made valued comments. thanks for sharing. nbl’s remarkable imo as a source of well informed, talented, inspired non-dogmatic writing from the distinguished professor and most contributors. it’s refreshingly free of flame wars and loony lurkers. it’s participants seek enlightenment, primarily. if u can/must deal with doom, ’tis a congenial congregation with whom to share this surreal moment.

  • “if u can/must deal with doom, ’tis a congenial congregation with whom to share this surreal moment.”

    My dear, this is a very realistic moment; and collapse is real as a pain in the ass. In fact, people who still live in ignorance/denial are living in a surreal world.

    Well now, people: I have a young donkey! I’ll call him Salomon.

  • Holiday thoughts. This is the time of year when I avoid all unnecessary shopping. Having canceled gift giving among relatives there is nothing to buy and only frustration at long lines. In the words of Terry, surreal is the best word to describe the current world of mindless behavior when the underpinnings of civilization are cracking.

    The following YouTube clip speaks to the problems of the holiday season. If you love Christmas or see it as a sacred holiday DO NOT click on the link below. If irreverence and abhorrence of senseless consumption is your cup of tea, do enjoy the clip :)

    Irreverence is another person’s disrespect to your god; there isn’t any word that tells what your disrespect to his god is.
    – No. 44, The Mysterious Stranger

    Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.
    – Notebook, 1888

  • Irreverance shares with sarcasm the dubious accolade of being the lowest form of wit.

    To those of you who are not planning on getting a visit from the ghosts of Christmas past,present and future I say have a great time and God bless you one and all.

  • Please Sue, I want no blessings from a god who lets this world go on as it is going on. And I don’t believe in ghosts.

  • Sue/Kathy

    I’ve hear the words ‘bless’ and ‘blessing’ all my life, but it suddenly occured to me I didn’t really know what ‘bless’ meant. So I looked it up:

    1. to make holy
    2. to ask divine favour for
    3. to endow [with] (blessed with good health)
    4. to make happy or prosperous
    5. to glorify
    6. to make the sign of the cross over

    I don’t think it is possible for any human to make anything holy. Either it is already holy or it’s not.

    I guess it’s allowable for anyone to ask for divine favour, but in my experience such requests are never granted.

    If someone gave us something we actually needed, such as the ongoing finanace to set up a environmental education centre, or honest politiican who actually listened and implemented policies that promoted the common good, I suppose that would be a blessing.

    It would probably make us happy. Well, a lot happier than we are.

    Glorification seems to be a dirty word these days -what with all the glorification of war and glorification connected with celebrity culture.

    The sign of the cross seems to be astronomical/astrological -the division of the year into seasons and/or the association of the [apparent] movement of the Sun with a group of more distant suns.

    A local church was recently advertising a ‘pet blessing’ service.

    I suspect people will be eating other people’s pets in the not-to-distant-future, if not their own.

  • Sue, better response upon reflection
    “Twain is considered the greatest humorist of 19th Century American literature.” http://www.lucidcafe.com/library/95nov/twain.html

    Yet Twain, especially in his later writings and writings he would not allow to be published until after his death, used sarcasm as part of his humor. His sarcasm was particularly biting when it came to war, politicians and god. His War Prayer was hard hitting sarcasm http://warprayer.org/ and yet one of the finest anti war statements ever made.

    He wrote “Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense.” which is a refrigerator quote in this household. His point is that if we hold our politicians up as holy and do not question them then we loose our liberty. Same with religious leaders. Would that the folks of Salem had become “irreverent” enough to put a stop to witch burnings. Would that the people who had power but stayed silent had been “irreverent” enough to stop the Inquisition. Would that the young boys raped by priests had shook off fear and reverence and told families and authorities and that the families and authorities had shook off reverence enough to investigate the Holy Fathers, men hiding behind the reverence their parishes held them in.

    Christmas is the most opulent example in our society of conspicuous consumption. We buy, not because someone needs something but because we must match gift to gift. Last year a man was killed in the stampede of eager shoppers to a store (Walmart I think). It is an ugly spectacle this shopping mania. We eat until we are full even though bodies are already overweight and then well we have to have a piece of pie so as not to offend the host. Or we sit in tent cities and have nothing to warm our hearts but envy and hate.

    To have celebrations is fine. We have little celebrations when a pullet lays her first egg. No not a party, just the joy of finding the egg and sharing it with each other. Little moments of celebrations. But this one, Christmas, is totally out of hand and has become an example of the disease that is killing the planet. So the party goes on one more year…and a little bit more of the planet dies. How many trees loose their lives for wrapping paper not to mention to be tree for a week?

    I worked and lived at a community that was attempting to develop appropriate technology for the third world years ago. A man stayed with us for a while who was from Mexico and had gotten stranded when a job offer didn’t materialize. It was Christmas so I wanted to go out and cut a lovely tree for the housing where we lived with several families. He went with me. The electric company had cut down some pines under the lines, and he kept saying here is a tree already cut. But oh I wanted a pretty tree. Finally I yielded. It was a scraggly tree but lovely because of the lesson I learned. I began to look at Christmas much differently after that. I celebrate what he and so many have taught me about what really matters.

  • Kathy, what a blessed post.. ;-) Your Christmas lesson is a beautiful one. We should be thankful for what we are provided, even if a bit scraggly. I gave up the taking out a home mortgage for Christmas gifts many years ago. I have never really been in need (real need) for most of my life. And though, by Western standards, my wife has known great need in Russia, she has never once complained about it and always has something either humorous or complimentary to say about her past -but I read between the lines, and often wonder if I could have borne her burden.

    Today, we exchange a small gift between us on Christmas, sit quietly and reflect how blessed we each are to have found each other, and raise a glass of vodka to toast our lives. We both understand quite clearly how quickly what one has can be taken away – in a day – in a moment. So we are thankful….for this moment.

  • “I suspect people will be eating other people’s pets in the not-to-distant-future, if not their own.”

    Kevin is the only person I know who can be a better doomer than myself….I love it….with your permission I will have to use that quote in the future……LOL

  • irreverence is treasured by the enemies of dogma. if not for dogma, who knows? perhaps we wouldn’t have the gift of humor. thanks for that video link, kath. LMAO! passed it on to others under the heading ‘holiday cheer’. but i also cringed a bit at the line: “and we shall pay forever and ever”. i wonder if the writer of this lyric was thinking beyond finance, to the possibility future generations will pay for this culture’s dogmatic commercialism/consumerism with their lives?

  • One use of “god bless you”, this from wikpedia:
    Another version says that people used to believe that your soul can be thrown from your body when you sneeze,[1] that sneezing otherwise opened your body to invasion by the Devil[2] or evil spirits,[4] or that sneezing was your body’s effort to force out an invading evil spirit.[1] Thus, “bless you” or “God bless you” is used as a sort of shield against evil.

    This is what I heard from my history teacher 49 years ago at DePaul University!

  • Ok, we are getting away from our topic, but this is the best chance to put this up.

    Be warned, this is the ultimate scandalous video, or the most irreverant, laughing your ass of while rollng on the floor piece you will ever see. Pay close attention, to the end particularly. If you enjoy this as much as I did (no appologies), you will watch it several times, and probably burn it into your brain.
    A new pope.

  • Are the Natives getting restless?


    Strong hearts to the front, weak hearts to the back

    By Waziyatawin
    December 06, 2010

    Some of us have not been so suckered. Actually, one of the things I spoke about that night in Winona was global collapse.

    Regardless of anything I have said or done, or what any Indigenous person in the U.S. has said or done, the American way of life is coming to an end.

    Given the realities of peak oil and peak debt, we are simultaneously facing the collapse of a civilization based entirely on cheap oil and the collapse of the American economy. This coincides with growing crises emerging from global climate change and collapsing eco-systems due to hyper-exploitation.

    Everything Dakota people have been told about the superiority of Western civilization is a lie, as is everything we have been told about progress and technology. We have experienced a unique period of global history only possible because of fossil fuels, and that era is about to come crashing down.

    From my perspective, it is no coincidence that we are experiencing the re-birth of the Dakota nation at the same time this civilization is coming to end. This means there will be unprecedented opportunities for Dakota reclamation.

    But, because of the destruction to our homelands that continues every single day (including the loss of entire species and the collapse of ecosystems), it is in the best interest of everyone to put a stop to this civilization as soon as possible.

    Every day we wait means our future survival is increasingly threatened (and this applies to Dakota and non-Dakota people alike).


  • Navid,

    Are the natives getting restless? I would seem reasonable to think so, and for good reason. All across America and in other lands as well, the indigenous peoples of the world are facing a unique opportunity in history to correct many of the wrongs committed against them by European and American Imperialist colonialism. As civilisation collapses, these folks are uniquely positioned to mount a reclamation effort to take back much of what was taken from them over the years. It is these people who have the best chance at survival in the new world that humanity faces. They don’t have a GOOD chance, but they do HAVE a chance, which is far more than I can say for the likes of most of us. Many of these peoples have been able to preserve much of their community, old skills, knowledge and folklore, and are best prepared to recover old ways of life.

    But they have stark realities they must face – in many cases much of the land, water, wildlife and resources they once had are gone or spoiled or depleted beyond repair. They face a collectively contentious and highly dangerous national government that will become extremely violent, desperate and unpredictable as collapse closes in. They themselves are often over-populated now for the lands that they will occupy and might face extreme famine for some time until wildlife, rivers, lakes and forests return to normal. Their communities are often repositories of poverty, disease, alcoholism and cultural repression, and though to some that might give the appearance that these folks are even less prepared than ourselves to face collapse, I believe that there exists enough pride and inherited cultural strength to overcome these obstacles when the time arrives to rise up from the ashes of the colonial powers around them. But I am not optimistic that they will be able to overcome the damage already done through the coming drastic changes to be imposed by growing climate instability and the already deep hooks of dependency of their communities upon the failing global social structure.

    I believe we should support their efforts at independence and reclamation as much as possible, because it is these that have the best chance (for whatever that is worth) at surviving.

  • Curtis, loved your youtube. To relate it to topic, note the number of people from all over the world at the event, the opulence of the raiment, etc. What would you guess the carbon footprint of that one religious event to be? How about the carbon footprint of all religious activities.

    True some religious groups try to help equalize out things in the world, although very few accept their own impoverishment as part of the equation.

    I read a quote some years back that said “we must ask the poor to forgive us for the bread we give them”. Our institutions that keep us well off, impoverish others and then we “nobly” go and help them. I showed this to a man who I thought would understand. He was a former monk of an order that lived simply. He became an unbeliever, but kept his vows of poverty and chastity and went to Haiti to serve the poor. I thought he would understand and like the quote. On the contrary it made him mad. Interesting….

    Navid, thanks for the article. I have hopes that some of the indigenous peoples of the world will return to their roots and perhaps make it through the bottleneck. It seems that all over the world they are beginning to understand that perhaps the time of the colonizers is over. I hope they remember or have saved enough knowledge. Of course they have to use that knowledge, not in the world in which it was gained, but in the impoverished and poisoned world we leave. And of course the nukes…perhaps we will neutralize global warming with nuclear winter…

  • Wikileaks Unveils Over 300 Foreign Sites That Are Critical To U.S. National Interests

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/wikileaks-critical-foreign-dependencies-2010-12##ixzz17QuhI6NQ

    When you look at the list it is hard to figure out how most of them would ever be considered secret. However that fact that the US considers them critical is of great interest as it points out how utterly dependent we are on a global network. As Victor noted the global transportation system has become critical to the survival of industrial civilization.

    I thought it of interest when we were worried about an H5N1 epidemic that no one pointed out that if it became easily transferable Human to Human Asia would be hit first and no doubt that is where our examine gloves and surgical masks are made. When it hit us it might have become impossible to get these supplies that we depend upon in our hospitals. Lots of other aspects of a pandemic that people don’t think about, such as with our paring down of workforce in the name of efficiency, critical services (water, electric, sewer etc) would be much more easily disrupted by an outbreak among their workforces.

    BTW H5N1 is not gone and perhaps could still erupt if it manages to adapt to Human to Human transmission http://www.cidrap.umn.edu/cidrap/content/influenza/avianflu/news/dec0610newsscan.html
    And another flu variation H3N2 has become more lethal at least in first nation tribes in Manitoba http://www.recombinomics.com/News/12061001/trH3N2_Garden_Hill_Spike.html

    So many ways to end the empire, so little time to save the planet.

  • Navid, thanks for the article! Please keep them coming. While looking for more by Waziyatawin (Angela Wilson) I found the following. Angela had been interviewed by Jesus Radicals. This isn’t the interview. Some of you may already be aware.


    Best Hopes,


  • Curtis. It is important that we have some amusement during the descent, so ‘bless you’ for that link.

    Navid. ‘Everything Dakota people have been told about the superiority of Western civilization is a lie, as is everything we have been told about progress and technology’. I wonder what proportion of indigenous people fully recognise that everything is a lie, and reject civilisation entirely. And what proportion understand how close we are to the bottleneck? We see reports from Alaska/Canada/Greenland of indigenous people being dependent on imported food, often flown in. And when they do go hunting it is usually courtesy of cheapp oil. So presumably when the price of food and flying increase substantially they will be squeezed like the rest of us … as are peasant farmers in numerous locations who are suffering the effects of climate change or lowering of water tables.

    Victor. Well said. There is only the question of how ‘we should support their efforts at independence and reclamation’. There seem few ways we can actually do anything, other than tell the truth. For instance, yesterday I was asked by some visitors why the city was established where it was. My reply: “To steal the land from the Maoris.”

    Kathy. Interesting contributions, as always. Unfortunately even a nuclear winter would not neutralise global warming. Sure, all the dust thrown into the atmopshere would block much incoming solar radiation, so the temperature would plummet for a while, but the CO2 would still be there (plus whatever additional CO2 was generated through combustion of forests etc.) and the lack of sunlighjt would suggest CO2 removal by photosynthesis would be exceedingly slow.

    President Armoured-dinner-jacket still seems unfazed by the inanae rantings of HiLiar, but has agree to more will-we-have-a-nuclear-war or won’t-we-have-a nuclear-war talks. Perhaps the are purely to keep the participants amused. Or do they work out the next round of the game at such meetings?

    Still waiting for Tony B Liar to re-emerge as an overpaid peace negotiator. Or is it the Shrub’s turn?

    Apparently the German natives are starting to get restless, now that they are increasingly required to subsidise ‘marginal nations’.

    By the way, two petrol price rises in a matter of a couple of weeks (presumably the same everywhere). And no rain to speak of.

  • Kathy, you are tough and on the mark, thanks.

    Kevin, great remark.

  • The Oil Drum has one of its saner posts up on Cellulosic Ethanol.
    I credit the author for his startling conclusion
    “It is great to have lofty goals, but when you start to base your energy policy on fairy dust, you are setting yourself up for massive problems down the road. Conclusion – Technological Breakthroughs Can Not Be Mandated”

    Poor Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions – he so had his heart set on switch grass….

  • Kathy and anyone else who might be interested.

    David Mackay in the UK, a high profile and trusted energy expert in the UK wrote a book, free to the public to download, Sustainable Energy Without the Hot Air:


    In this book he looks at many of the alternative energy sources being proposed, their pluses/minuses, and discusses the mix of these technologies that might provide today’s equivalent energy in the UK. An eye-opening book – relatively easy to understand, a masterful job of communication. About 250 pages of discussion, and another 100 of technical detail.

    I highly recommend it to give one true perspective on alternative energy v fossil fuels.

  • Kevin,

    I believe the way we help the indigenous of the world is to refuse to co-operate with modernity, and to act in every way we can, even on a minor personal basis, to detach ourselves from the globalised social structure and to contribute as opportunity arises toward the earliest possible collapse of modern civilisation. We will be doing the natural world a big favour, and hopefully, maximising the chances of some few people and wildlife.

  • On the matter of cellulosic ethanol, we (the scientific community) have known for well over 100 years that cellulose is one of the most resistant-to-decomposition organic substances on this planet. And David Fridley pointed out 4 or 5 years ago that transporting low energy density material long distances was an exercise in futility.

    I have not checked the details in the article, but presumably the successful production of cellulosic ethanol in the past was based on ample supplies of inexpensive (no cost?) wood to provide energy for the distillation stage.

    Victor. Haven’t checked the link yet but we do know that no combination of any proposed ‘alternatives’ can possibly replace the energy density and convenience of fossil fuels and keep present arrangements intact.
    Most ‘alternatives’ are fatally flawed from the outset: usually it is silly little things like the bond energies of the atom combinations or the laws of thermodynaics that get in the way.

    However, when have scientific realities ever hindered government-sponsored scams? According to the Bush doctrine of the early 2000s, the transition to ‘the hydrogen economy’ should be well underway by now.

    MANKOFF cartoon: “And so, while the end-of-the-world scenario will be rife with unimaginable horrors, we believe that the pre-end period will be filled with unprecendented opportunities for profit.”

    Presumably David Blume is still making plenty of money promoting ‘Alcohol can be a gas’.

    It all adds up to confirmation that we are governed by criminals, clowns and opportunists. As if we didn’t already know.

  • “Personally, I don’t care what phenomenon gets the credit for bringing down the industrial economy, as long as it happens quickly. Peak oil? Fine. Overwhelming debt load leading to default? Superb. Hyperinflation? Good idea. Deflation to the point of Dow Zero? Wonderful. Take your pick, somebody’s touting it as the route to the industrial economy’s imminent demise.”

    Heh. Well put, Guy. Those wonderful elites… they are doing everything right after all. Who woulda thunk? ;)

  • Thank you all very much for your thoughts – all of them. There is no one here to discuss this with – so I sit and watch the melting pot myself. Very frustrating. I don’t have time right now to respond to all, but did want to note that looking at the bright side, as Dmitry Orlov would remind us, the Natives have had lots of practice at being poor ; )

    (speaking of Dmitry, he has a very good new post up at his site.)

  • Victor, thanks for the link to the book. Looks like good resource material.
    Kevin – that cartoon is one of the all time greats. It can be seen at http://www.cartoonbank.com/2002/and-so-while-the-end-of-the-world-scenario-will-be-rife-with-unimaginable-horrors-we-believe-t/invt/125540/

    Vera, here is more confirmation that the elites are doing the right thing for once. Reuters: Republicans Are Trying to Intentionally Bankrupt California and Illinois to Weaken Unions by Washingtons Blog http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2010/12/reuters-republicans-are-trying-to.html
    His conclusion “But I hope that people on both sides of the aisle can agree that intentionally bankrupting any state is as stupid as cutting of one’s nose to spite one’s face. There is no United States without the states. And the unintended consequences intentionally driving a state into bankruptcy would be enormous.”

    Navid – yes, good post on Dmitry’s blog. That is another reason why relocating to another country now might not work well. Some places in the world have such a different was of being that adjustment to that while time is short may be much harder than folks think. Our way of perceiving the world seems so “right” until we relocate to somewhere with a different “right” way of perceiving the world. Learning a different culture can be harder than learning a different language because languages are just different while cultures are often perceived as being “right” on a very deep and often unconscious level.

  • Having lived and prayed with the Lakota Sioux, I think they would ask us to kindly remove the nukes from their ancestral homelands and leave them alone; we’ve done quite enough already.

  • Interesting stuff about expats and arguments pro and con. I have been of late toying with the idea of returning to my old homeland in the middle of Europe, and getting cold feet considering the culture shock I would suffer despite having grown up there and speaking the language. (Culture shock amplified by all the changes that my old homeland has incurred during all those decades I have been gone, and my inability to cope initially with all the “ways of doing things” I am now completely unfamiliar with. Not to mention having to face again the cultural habits that drove me away in the first place!)

    I still remember the profound and painful culture shocks moving from there to the U.S., a country inhabited by and large by former Europeans. People who have not done it have no idea how unpleasant and stressful the long transition can be.

  • Guy’s “warm and fuzzy” line from the above essay is quoted in Joe Bageant’s latest at http://www.joebageant.com.

  • “People who have not done it have no idea how unpleasant and stressful the long transition can be.”

    Honey, I’ve seen people blowing away in pieces, children dying of starvation, I’ve seen a mother killing her own baby for desperation in Tchad. I’m ready for everything.

    Do the same and DO NOT COMPLAIN. Self pity will drive many people into suicide in the dark times coming.