Speaking in Austin Sunday, 9 January

At 4:00 p.m. on 9 January 2011, I will be speaking at the Austin History Center: 810 Guadalupe Street, downtown Austin, Texas. The topic is Durable Living: Preparing for Climate Change and Energy Decline. This event is open to the public and is sponsored by Design~Build~Live and Crude Awakening Austin. Press release is here (pdf).

I’ll post the Powerpoint slides and, I hope, audio. And maybe, if I can figure out my Flip camera, I’ll post video, too.

If you’re reading this and plan to attend, please let me know via comment here or via email message. I’d like to meet you, live and in person.

In unrelated news, my monthly essay has been published at Transition Voice: it’s here.

Comments 25

  • I was asked to give a talk at the local Rotary club a few days ago, I said 2 years ago I would have leaped at the chance, but apathy rules and no one is listening, giving a talk in a room full of closed minded fools would only be good for my ego, it wouldn’t change a single thing in our community. So thanks but no thanks, oh here watch Blind Spot …. as I gave the guy a DVD.

    I’ve given up being infotainment

  • Robert:

    I agree. I no longer try to convince anyone if anything. I keep my mouth shut, and if asked a direct question, make a short and inoccuous reply. Just a waste of my time, and will raise my blood pressure and blood sugar.

  • All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing – or something like that.

    Good luck with the talk Guy, you may wake a few people up. You helped wake me up!

    At least no one can accuse you of not having the balls to give it a go!

  • I’ll be there. There should be a good turn-out; Austin is becoming aware.

  • The sad thing is, that most will ignore ‘us’ BUT they might remember that for example Guy has got something a lot of them will want when it hits the fan, so in effect if you go public at this late stage all you are doing is targeting yourself, it is not going to slow this thing down … or speed it up.
    I’ve given away the per ca-pita equivalent of over 1 million DVDs – New Zealand/USA … the ignorant masses are happy with the current ‘arrangement’ (Kunstalar). Many of my friends have under 10 year old children, the ‘issue’ was just as real pre conceiving of the poor bastards, but the parents wouldn’t listen. If people can be so closed minded to the point of basically chucking their kids over a cliff, what ‘hope’?
    Anyone giving a talk now is in as much denial as Obarma ;)
    Though I still give DVDs away, but more in the spirit of I told ya so suckers.
    I’m using fluoride toothpaste and gone back to reading science fiction, life is a whole lot less stressful for me now, I focus on me and my partner, and stuff everyone else.

  • Robert

    I would agree that there is nothing that can be done by the individual to slow this thing, Collapse. And certainly you take a legitimate stand when you say effectively that life is too short to continually bang your head against the wall for what amounts to a non-cause. Where I would say that efforts such as yours are positive, however, is that if only a few people are alerted to what is going on in the world and are thus made able to make changes to their lives that might improve their lives during the Great Unravelling, then your efforts are not in vain, in my opinion.

    We won’t change anything. If you do what you do to prevent or slow down the inevitable, it simply will not happen, and you will wind up entirely frustrated and embittered. No wonder you are walking away from it. I would too. But if your purpose is simply to warn and inform so that people who have not thought about this before are enabled to think about it and make personal decisions in their lives, then I say that this is a noble effort worthy of admiration.

    Your knowledge can not be denied, even by yourself. It is your knowledge that makes you stand alone among those who have not, even when you decide not to act.

    Your decision to remove the stress from your life is a good one – you will soon be suffering enough. But the reason for that decision should perhaps be re-thought, for perhaps with the right motive, you can both inform the masses and remove the stress.

  • We see what’s coming. You can’t spend much time on this web site and not. I personally believe this was inevitable, ever since man climbed down from the trees. Fighting against it is like sandbagging the levy against the flood. Hard work might gain you a small victory, here or there, but sooner or later it all gets washed away. If not this flood, then the next one.

    Acceptance is a natural part of the grieving process. I understand. But I’m not there yet. Guy is still fighting against this. And I still believe in Michael Ruppert’s life boat analogy. Most of my neighbors think I’m nuts, but a few of us are trying to build it. And others are joining in, bit by bit. It may all be wasted effort, but what else is there to do?

    When you get to the point where life is pointless, when you give up trying to fight against it, you may as well take, as Guy is fond of saying, the Hemingway out. I remember a line from the movie “The Eiger Sanction”. Clint Eastwood tried to reassure a fellow climber that they would survive the dire conditions on the mountain. The climber replied, “No. I don’t think so. But we shall continue with style.” That’s the attitude I’m trying to keep, for as long as I can. I may be delusional, but, hey, it works for me!

  • [Robert]”Many of my friends have under 10 year old children, the ‘issue’ was just as real pre conceiving of the poor bastards, but the parents wouldn’t listen. If people can be so closed minded to the point of basically chucking their kids over a cliff, what ‘hope’?”

    I remember watching some PBS program about possible disasters that could end the world. One was asteroids. Various people were interviewed about what they would do if they learned a planet destroying asteroid was heading to earth in 10 years and couldn’t be stopped. One young woman said she would have a child so she could experience motherhood before she died.

    How many prospective parents sit and think about the fact that the one thing they usually dread most is the one thing they absolutely guarantee for any child they conceive – ie death. I know I didn’t. Nor did I consider what life I might be bringing them into – all the potential bad futures along with the potential good futures. I just wanted to have children. Gene programs at work. I would hope that if I had had my present knowledge I could have overcome those programs.

    I was looking for some tie in to post this article http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article27207.htm “Is Free Will a Myth?” In questioning free will it looks not at neuroscience but rather at the Milgram and other such experiments. Of course only 65% of the Milgram prepared to give apparently lethal electric shocks. 35% were not. Wonder if this ties in with the study about difference in brains between left and right wingers that Kevin noted in the previous discussion:
    https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/brain-shape-shows-political-allegiance-2170927.html – as far as I know Milgram didn’t check his volunteers for left and right wing leanings but it would be interesting to know.

    All of which is my way of saying that I don’t think you can change people’s views but nevertheless in any group Guy talks to there might be some who just don’t know about the coming unraveling and will immediately grasp the idea. To get the knowledge out there is good for the few who can hear, just for one reason or another haven’t. That said, I personally have given up ;)

  • A Zen Tale from Japan

    “There was once a man who was being chased by a ferocious tiger across a field. At the edge of the field there was a cliff. In order to escape the jaws of the tiger, the man caught hold of a vine and swung himself over the edge of the cliff. Dangling down, he saw, to his dismay, there were more tigers on the ground below him! And, furthermore, two little mice were gnawing on the vine to which he clung. He knew that at any moment he would fall to certain death. That’s when he noticed a wild strawberry growing on the cliff wall. Clutching the vine with one hand, he plucked the strawberry with the other and put it in his mouth.

    He never before realized how sweet a strawberry could taste.”

  • Guy, I tried to work it out to be there to hear your talk but unfortunately was unable to. All the best!

    In response to some of the above comments:
    I agree that too much water has crossed under the bridge to change the outcome of the future significantly. However, that’s not why I share what I know with others; I do it to find people of like mind. So far, with the exception of my partner who is slowing coming around, the only people I’ve been able to talk to substantively about collapse are online. Not long ago I was unaware – I’m very grateful that I stumbled across the right information to wake me up and enable me to begin my preparations.

    I’m not concerned about becoming a “target”. I’ve been a target of sorts my entire life. And when collapse comes, I suspect very few people will have the wherewithal to come find me. Those that do so with mal-intent will be met with resistance, I assure you.

    The long and short of the situation is that billions of people are going to die – I suspect in the not too distant future. Nothing we do is going to change that. Oil allowed us to enter overshoot many decades ago. Now that cheap oil is over, it’s only a matter of time before the natural order of things is restored. So it doesn’t really matter how many people we educate – we’re not going to save the masses.

    I feel relatively certain that humans won’t become extinct (although it’s possible). So if I can do my part to ensure that the ones who do survive are environmentally aware and spiritually connected to Gaia, then maybe the future of humanity will be less dark. Maybe I’m just deluding myself, but so be it.

    Some of what I’m doing specifically is trying to help people find ways to return to local, non-petroleum based ways of living. One example: I’m launching a barter-based medical clinic. It’s starting in February. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. :-)
    I’ve posted about it on my website, but if you visit in a few days you’ll have to go back to previous posts to find it.

    Best to all of us!

  • As this story shows http://oilcrash.com/articles/struggle.htm I spent the best part of 8 years looking for people like me – people willing to go to prison ‘for the caus’ people willing to go outside their comfort zones and put their money were their future lies (informing the community would have improved their futures) people wanting to spend 2-4 hours a day, people willing to get de-sexed to prevent more children … and promote the fact.
    So what did I get ?
    Well one friend who spent 2 days with me traveling up to Auckland to give Al Gore information http://oilcrash.com/articles/algore01.htm did a lot to ‘promote’ the facts … then went and had his 3rd child.
    Another friend put on movies in her local hall (ran a weeks worth) got involved in setting up her local Transition Towns – then went flying around the world on a ‘march for peace’
    Another guy who had peak oil all over his website when he was running for local council – got in – promptly voted in favour of a burnout competition http://www.youtube.com/user/oilcrash1#p/u/96/NLrm03soPHg and then help promote (to the point of defending them in the letters to the editor) CFL light bulbs … as if there was going to be an electricity supply to wear them out?
    Apart from Kevin Moore, who was doing as much as me (including time in the police cells) nearly everyone else turned into armchair sports people, cheering from the side lines.
    I think the problem was mine, those I had informed who got it then did nothing, had worked it out better than me, IE nothing will help the future, the water is pasted steerage and lapping at the gunwales so play on fools.
    My ego comment in my first post was directed more at me than the likes of Guy and maybe Kevin, as they are competent public speakers, it takes me weeks to prepare for the talks I’ve given in the past http://www.youtube.com/user/oilcrash1#p/u/86/nyMEFiHriAM (got paid $50.00 for this one) oh and I don’t think they listened so they are all stuck with real estate and mortgages now LOL

  • Dr. House: I just read about your barter-based clinic. That is awesome!!
    We gave up preaching a while ago, but we haven’t given up feeling that we can help change things even if it is only in a small way. Growing and saving seeds, propagating, and grafting what we already have, and giving them away to neighbors. As we stumble along we learn skills that will be valuable on the other side. You gotta do something!

  • Thanks Ed, and glad to see that you’ve added some more posts on your blog (I follow it regularly but haven’t posted anything yet).

  • Dr House, we have chickens – wish you were closer so we could barter :) Good for you – one thing one can never have too much of in the coming times is good will and I am sure you are well on your way to stockpiling a whole lot of that most valuable of commodities.

  • Kathy, it seems that chickens are in the cultural consciousness as the legal tender for bartering healthcare. :-)

    You may have noticed my prohibition against live animals . . . for now. It’s sounds really cool, but I just don’t have the facility for them yet. Hopefully soon, tho. Who knows, maybe I’ll have a fully-stocked farm yet!

    As to good will, I agree completely – can never have too much of that.

  • For many years we have speculated which of the ‘tsunamis’ would strike first and hardest.

    The NSIDC reports:

    ‘December 2010 had the lowest ice extent for the month since the beginning of satellite records. The linear rate of decline for the month is –3.5% per decade.’

    Interestingly, although NSIDC talks of a linear rate of decline, in fact the rate of decline has been accelerating in recent years.

    As with Peak Oil, we won’t know for sure till after the event, but we must face the possibility that there has already been a fundamental shift in the way climate systems operate around the Arctic.

    Of course, those ignorant of the facts and uninterested in learning them (as Robert says, 99% of the population) will interpret the recent cold weather in Europe and the NE of America as clear evidence global warming is a myth and that it’s all a conspiracy as per ‘Climategate’. The mainstream media will continue to give disproportionate coverage to any fringe group that can foster doubt, whilst underplaying the seriousness of the environmental predicament we face: the proles must be discouraged from connecting the dots, whatever the cost. Even a largely uninhabitable planet seems ‘worth it’ to TPTB. Hence, we are totally screwed. The time for mitigation on any front was at least 5 years ago, and arguably the time for mitigatioj of population overshoot was at least 50 years ago.

    That all must pose considerable challenges to any public speaker at this late stage in the game.

    The last time I spoke publicly (October 2010) I pointed out the various tsunamis were starting to impact and there was nothing I could do to stop them, though I could help the community reduce the impact. Most people were not interested.

  • I just loved this: http://cluborlov.blogspot.com/2011/01/lifeboats-memoir.html Folks we can make it through.

    We lost a couple of ducks to a mink about a week ago. We have a trapper that lives close to us that traps for the DEC in NY. Poor guy every morning he showed up to check the traps I was waiting for him. Trapped 8 muskrats, an oppossum, and the mink in 3 days. It really is not all that complicated. The process taught us how to tell the tracks of all those mentioned above along with a racoon. From experience I know you I can smell a fox, but you can also smell mink. Strange what you can learn when you have to, and when you have someone to teach you. BTW all the furs that he traps this time of year go to China.

    Best to all,


  • Ed
    Torturing and killing innocent animals is not ‘making it through’, it is business as usual, why don’t you build adequate fencing, or maybe you shouldn’t raise ducks, what next? killing starving people who happen to be looking for food on your land? Because if you are hoping to ‘make it through’ that is exactly what you will be reduced to.
    I tell friends they can come to my place with their children … just make sure you bring onions, it makes them tastier ;)

    I ‘love’ my ducks http://www.youtube.com/user/peterpannz#p/u/10/oQl86pBa5es

    I also feed ‘my’ ducks innocent fish … but then I know I will not ‘make it through’. Once the fish meal/corn pellets stop coming the ducks are on their own … or some pochers dinner.

  • Ed

    Whilst the community described is certainly a fine example of the best we can do to “de-couple” from modern society on a temporary basis, it is simply not sustainable after Collapse. Collapse is truly “collapse”, a sudden and vicious breakdown of modern infrastructure. What is described on Orlov’s site is merely a “transition community” – the really hard part is yet to come – and they are not prepared for that – not even close.

    Many who think in terms of collapse, do not carry that thought far enough. They refuse or are incapable of accepting the real truths that follow from collapse. Somehow we need to get away from this idea that collapse will simply lead to a slowed down, localised economy where if you have a nice garden, ducks, chickens, and maybe some farm animals or such, you can live a relatively comfortable life, with minimum need of modernity.

    When I say that modernity breaks down (modern infrastructure), I mean ultimately things like electricity, roads, bridges, water supplies and purification, sanitation facilities, medical services, petrol disappears or is made too scarce to acquire at a reasonable price, parts for machinery become unavailable, fire and police services disappear as well as the rule of law, gas for heating/cooking disappears, propane supplies are gone, internal combustion transport (land, sea, air) is minimised or disappears completely, wind turbines/pvc/other alternative technologies break down over time for lack of parts and expertise, the ability to process the highly dilute metal ores we have today are gone, the ability to cut and cast metals is gone as the tools and equipment and fuel sources and expertise will not likely be available to a local community, the Internet/phone lines/other communication facilities will break down as global electrical grids begin failing due to die-off (removal of human expertise) and lack of parts and the breakdown of manufacturing and transport facilities.

    The “transition society” will be a society based upon re-use and re-cycling, living off intermittent electricity and scarce fuels for a while. They will be very creative at recycling available parts, at least for a time – until a part critical to many community functions dies and can’t be replaced.

    In the end, however, the “transition community” either dies out or gains the ability to lead a more primitive lifestyle – one more closely aligned with the hunter/gatherer lifestyle – IF they live in an area that would support such a lifestyle, and IF they develop the tools and skills and cultural outlook that will insure survival.

    The community described lived almost entirely off the current modern infrastructure. As described, it could not possibly function under Collapse”.

    I really don’t want to throw cold water over your obvious excitement over Orlov’s community, but I think it is most important that people gain a true understanding of just what it is we are faced with here. It is not a “Power Down” society as Heinberg and others might say, but a “Power Off” society – huge difference – the former involves a slowdown and localisation of society, whilst the latter implies a total destruction of society as we know it.

    This is not a Long Emergency. It is rather the Final Emergency.

  • Victor, what Ed was describing was not Orlov’s community but rather The Farm, one of the largest and most successful communities started by drop outs from the 60’s. It has changed but reading about it on Orlov’s site was a memory trip and enjoyable but clearly not sustainable as the unraveling fully unravels. I think your analysis is correct about this being the Final Emergency that ends as The Prophet Richard Duncan says in the Olduvai Gorge – back to hunter-gathering in the end.

    Robert “I tell friends they can come to my place with their children … just make sure you bring onions, it makes them tastier” I too enjoy a perverse sense of humor. The situation we are in it seems demands it. I fear you are exactly right – no one is going to “make it through” without being willing to kill a whole bunch of people, directly or by not sharing. For my part I don’t want to do that to make it through. After you make it through you still die sometime. I prefer to die not having taken other human lives to extend mine. And our 100 chickens will like your ducks shrink to a few or none due to our electric netting fence no longer deterring fox and wild dogs and not having feed or being able to grow it for 100 birds. I think we will just invite the neighbors over at some time for a big chicken stew party.

    Ed I suggest that you enjoy your lifestyle for the pleasure it gives you, not for dreams of making it through. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. In fact you might get struck by lightening tomorrow. Enjoy your lifestyle for what it is. If making it through is your goal, when will you say you have made it? If your goal is enjoying the day you can achieve that and if not try again the next day.

  • [Kathy]: “enjoy your lifestyle for the pleasure it gives you, not for dreams of making it through. Maybe you will, maybe you won’t. In fact you might get struck by lightening tomorrow. Enjoy your lifestyle for what it is. If making it through is your goal, when will you say you have made it? If your goal is enjoying the day you can achieve that and if not try again the next day.”

    True words of wisdom.

  • I know I should keep my mouth shut, but sometimes I just can’t. I believe as much as anyone else that posts on this site that things are going to get really bad, but discussing what bad means over and over again doesn’t (in my mind at least) get us anywhere.
    My comment about we can make it through meant simply that here is a group of people that have adjusted, that have learned new skills, and found some old ones, and crafted a life that works for them.
    Robert, I’m a vegetarian, and one of the reasons is that I abhor the slaughter of animals. The ducks that were killed are part of a flock of 7 drakes and 7 hens. We have no reason to keep the drakes, and the typical on farm solution would be to process them, but we don’t have it in us to do that. Fencing, we have it, in fact our friend that raises chickens for a living and has forgotten more about fencing tactics than most would ever know lost 80 chickens in 3 nights to a mink before they finally were able trap him. Now on the muskrats, I guess we can fence the ponds and none of the wildlife can come there to drink which is one of the primary reasons we built the ponds. Even if we did fence it muskrats migrate up the spillways, and would just dig under the fence to get to the pond. A muskrat will drain a pond as they burrow through the dikes.
    2-3 years ago, I would have said the same thing as you, but we now have a different understanding of how a farm works. We still leave huge areas in the fields where the birds can nest, the ponds we built have increased the number of swallows 4 fold in 3 years, and we now have pheasants, along with a huge frog and turtle population that didn’t exist when we moved here. There are trade offs. Everything we do from using organic practices to establishing forest gardens is done with the intent of trying to establish a healthy balance.
    Finally, if it comes to starving people showing up at our farm, I have a pretty good idea what we would do, but then no one really knows how they will react do they?
    As always we really enjoy all the comments. Thanks


  • Ed, you dislike how dismal some of us sound about the future. I understand that. But “Folks we can make it through” has a tad of the evangelist ring to it. I thought Victor outlined pretty well what The Farm had that we won’t have in the future. I can’t make myself believe in something my mind has examined and determined to be wrong just because of an assertion to the contrary. But beyond that, which “folks” do you mean, all of us, all communities, all transition villages, all Americans, all humans? and when do you say you have “made it through” – 10 years, 20 years, to age 90 – when the die off slows and settles into a regular number of humans dying each year?

    You wrote ” Everything we do from using organic practices to establishing forest gardens is done with the intent of trying to establish a healthy balance.” Frogs, swallows, turtles. I like that. They are in the now, the only moment in time we are assured of. I am glad you have made a place to live in that has room for lots of creatures and hope you enjoy it fully every day of your life whether long or short.

  • Interesting discussion here folks. I thought I’d throw my two cents in . . .
    I’ve been studying my family’s genealogy for many years. I’ve been able to trace it back more than 1000 years. What impresses me so much about what I’ve learned is how resilient the human race is. Remember, we got along pretty well without any “modern” conveniences up until the last 150 years or so. My American ancestors lived in pretty harsh conditions, fighting disease, insects, wild animals, aboriginal who weren’t too happy about being displaced, etc. Yet they survived.

    There are many obvious differences between people of that era and today, not the least of which is that few of us were raised in that type of harsh, technology-free world. When you throw in that their population was not in overshoot (at least here in the U.S.) and their environment was not polluted and their forests not yet turned into parking lots, the differences may just be sufficient enough to make our future survival questionable.

    Who knows what the future holds? I sure don’t. I can speculate and commiserate over possible outcomes, but ultimately what will be, will be.

    For me, I’m working to build a place where I and others (how many is uncertain) can survive – hopefully with a little happiness and a modicum of dignity. By my definition, that world must include a place for wildlife to flourish and nature to return to some semblance of balance. Idealistic? Probably.

  • I agree with Robert Atack’s viewpoint entirely. Stopped blogging, discussing or even acknowledging that there is any problem facing us, be it peak oil, global warming, financial disaster, overshoot – whatever. I have come to the painful conclusion that the mainstream (where almost all people reside with conciousness) is completely uninterested in dealing with reality.