Extinction Event?

The Arctic is defrosting as warm Atlantic waters rush through the Fram Strait instead of skirting the southern coast of Greenland. This is an important event, regardless of the deafening silence exhibited by the mainstream media.

Image courtesy of the National Snow and Ice Data Center, https://nsidc.org/

How important? First consider the background, from the perspective of long-time climate scientist James Hansen and colleague Makiko Sato, who report the disaster awaiting us at 2 C warmer is truly catastrophic (although they downplay the likelihood we’re already committed to this outcome): “We conclude that Earth in the warmest interglacial periods was less than 1°C warmer than in the Holocene and that goals of limiting human-made warming to 2°C and CO2 to 450 ppm are prescriptions for disaster” (the paper is titled “Paleoclimate Implications for Human-Made Climate Change: Draft paper for Milankovic volume”, as described on Hansen’s website). Currently, Earth’s atmosphere contains about 390 ppm carbon dioxide, and simply including methane (one of many greenhouse gases) brings the atmospheric equivalent of carbon dioxide up to about 460 ppm.

At the same time Arctic ice is melting, the planet is losing its lungs. Catastrophic drought in the Amazon has it emitting carbon dioxide more rapidly than the United States. Simultaneously, permafrost is thawing and methane stored in eastern Siberia is venting into the atmosphere at an alarming rate. Methane, by the way, is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

Against this background, it is easy to foresee a rapidly and profoundly warming Arctic as a trigger for positive feedbacks such as release of methane hydrates and reduced albedo. These extremely dangerous feedbacks, which forecasters did not expect until the planet becomes 2 C warmer than the baseline (vs. the current level of ~0.75 C warmer), could trigger runaway greenhouse. In other words, any of these event — never mind all of them at once — could lead directly and quickly to the extinction of Homo sapiens.

Is that important enough for you?

If you’re among the mainstream media, the answer is no. If you’re any politician in the industrialized world, the answer is no. If you want to continue the process of human-population overshoot on an overshot planet, the answer is no. If you’re one of the kingpins of capitalism — or even a defender of capitalism — the answer is no. I’ll go further: If you’re a defender of western civilization, your answer is no. But if you’re among the few people working to terminate western civilization before it terminates our species, it seems we’ve lost this most important of battles.

Like economic collapse, extinction is a process that leads to an event. The last human on Earth will not die today, tomorrow, or even next week. But it clearly could happen within a generation. Indeed, the odds grow with every passing day while we continue to deny our role in our own demise.

What will it take for the people to act? For that matter, what will it take for the people to notice?

Nothing to see here. Move along. This time is different. It can’t happen here. I’m just another purveyor of negativity to be ignored by a world full of happy optimists hedonists.

In the race between collapse of the industrial economy and climate chaos, it seems climate chaos won. Words are no match for the sadness I feel. I can only imagine the agony of parents as they comprehend the horrors we have created for them, and especially for their children. Or perhaps this childless atheist — as I am labeled by every writer who pens me into a story — cares about the future of humanity more than most parents. After all, nearly every parent with whom I speak — failing to notice the dependence of the industrial economy on the environment — is far more interested in growth of the former, for their child’s sake, than with protection of the latter (for their child’s sake).

We traded in future generations of human beings — all of them — for a few dollars more. We worshiped at the heavenly altar of economic growth, and triggered hell on Earth.

Chaos on this planet isn’t restricted to the climate, and it’s going global this year. We’re witnessing not merely a riot but a revolution, and it’s coming soon to a city near you.



Alas, it’s too little, too late. The American Dream long ago morphed into the American Nightmare. It’s too bad George Carlin couldn’t be here for additional commentary. Rationalist voices are hard to come by. Rationalist voices with a sense of humor are vanishingly rare.

The response remains the same, at least for me. As a society, we will continue to value financial profit over life. Therefore, as individuals we should prepare and maintain durable living arrangements in light of ongoing energy decline and ongoing climate change.

Comments 208

  • It gets increasingly difficult to maintain your optimism, doesn’t it, Guy?

  • We’re getting exactly what we paid for.

  • Indeed it does, Wendy. Indeed it does.
    Right you are, Privileged.
    Sadness reigns.

  • so what’s the best response to this kind of news. if we as a species are facing immediate extinction, is it even really a good idea to towards building sustainable community at all at this point. I just signed up for WOOF, but I’m having doubts on whether that’s such a good idea now. What would be your advice in terms of what our course of action should be at this point? I’m at a loss.

  • My advice, PNuge, remains the same: We must terminate western civilization. It may be too late, but we must act as if it’s not. Giving up is not an option. As individuals, we should be striving to develop a durable set of living arrangements.

    Remember, though, to take my advice with a block of salt. After all, I’m an insane terrorist.

  • I must admit Guy, that words like “terminate” and so forth do sound a tad revolutionary. My associations are: barrikades, pitchforks and torches. I can understand why it could be understood as such anyway. ‘

    I think it is important to consider the wording if one wants to have an effect on mainstream media. If one focuses too much on the doom and radical action, people shut down and one misses the oppertunity to introduce relevant themes into national debate.

    To be honest, I think it should be tackled as a lifestyle issue for most poeple. I mean in Denmark and the UK, gardening/simple living programmes are among the most popular. Most people couldn’t give two hoots about saving the planet, but if you make it about improving their quality of life they might just catch on.

    That being said, it is obvious that modern science and industialisation have created a number of unintended consequences which are highly dangerous. There are things like the arctic melt, which is insane this year. Given that winter sea ice growth is at an all time low – this summers melting season is likely to be utterly outrageous. (Incidentally, we had a storm in Denmark last night with hurricane wind speeds!!!! The arctic and north atlantic oscilation are totally out of whack at the moment.)

    But there are also other things, like the collapse of biodiversity:

    “Almost a third of global farm output depends on animal pollination, largely by honey bees.

    These foods provide 35pc of our calories, most of our minerals, vitamins, and anti-oxidants, and the foundations of gastronomy. Yet the bees are dying ? or being killed ? at a disturbing pace.”


    Herbecides, pestecides and genetically enhanced plants, which are supposed to help food production have collapsed the bees habitats making these scientific innovations in industrialised agriculture a very dangerous double edged sword.

    I worry that any invasive techno-sollution to these huge problems will just introduce new unintended consequences. Ive heard of morons who as a sollution to peak oil, want to develop petrol producing bacteria – I can just envision one of these bacteria escaping and breeding in the wild.

  • “When you’re born into this world, you get a ticket to the freak show. When you’re born in America, you get a front row seat” -George Carlin

    Glad to see an insane terrorist include one of my favorite comedians of all time in a post.

    I read that soaring food prices were a major catalyst for the rioting in Egypt. If, or when, food prices do noticeably rise here, I still don’t think it will be enough to push many American fat-asses off the couch and into the streets. When I met with you at the mud hut, I spoke of the TV needing to go black before anything would happen here. Though I didn’t catch the Gil Scott-Heron reference at the time, you replied “Ah, so the revolution will not be televised”. It makes sense to me.

    In Egypt, they shut off the internet as a way to thwart the protesters. Are you kidding me? Some genius in the government sat down and said “Hey, you know all that free time people spend online chatting, watching cat videos, and surfing porn? Let’s put a stop to that. Surely they won’t join the protest in their boredom!” Idiot.

    An internet/TV kill switch would be a fantastic way to get the ball rolling here at home. I just hope they don’t shut the electricity off, as I’ll need my microwave to cook my popcorn to properly watch the ensuing show.

  • Just to make my point about what people secretly desire. This is the winner of the Eurovision best public service programme in Europe:

    “Winner: The Farmer – DR2, Denmark
    A big success story – the most watched programme on DR2 ever and the biggest TV surprise of the year. The simple living of young hayseed farmer Frank inspires and moves people. A young man who lives a simple life at his old, run-down farm, where he wants to realize his dream. The programme is made as pure and simple as the content – one cameraman and Frank.

    The editor of The Farmer, Rikke Lauridsen says “The Farmer is so successful because it is about a young man living his dream, no matter how simple and honest it may be. This is something that attracts everyone because we would all like to live out our dreams.”


    Even popular phenomena like Jamie Oliver have heightened the the understanding for the quality and sustainability. Rejecting agro-industry and growing own produce makes for better easting:


    Positive messages are in great demand in an age of economic decline. This issue must necessarily be how you turn the failure of one idea into the success of another.

  • Dropping out of the insane industrial civilization is NOT a terroristic act! Bombs and pitchforks do not play any role in it. One (or hopefully more) simply stops giving any more of their energy to what needs to be stopped.

  • Guy.

    I must congratulate you. You have definitely overtaken me. For telling unpalatable truths and suggesting sane responses to the insanity of it all you are now ‘an insane terorist’. The best I managed (to my knowledge) was ‘extremist’ (though I was never sure what people said after I left the room).

    You’ve got to laugh, otherwise you’ll cry.

    That said, I have found the past several weeks extremely depressing, to say the least, dealing with uniformed fools who are locked into denial whilst I watched the Arctic catastrophe you have now highlighted unfold.

    Although you and Derrick advocate bringing down civilisation before it terminates us and most other species on this planet, in practice we don’t need to do anything: Nature is now doing it for us. As previously discussed, any direc action we might take would simply get us killed or incarcerated, with no significant effect on the final outcome. ( Robert Atack said it first).

    As you so correctly titled the site: Nature Bats Last and our days amy be numbered.

    As a father and grandfather, I am still coming to terms with it all. And still coming to terms with the fact that 99% of the populace doesn’t know and apparently doesn’t want to know.

    I am in the process of writing another book, which is proving a real struggle because I now realise the masses are just as unreachable as they were a decade ago, when I first stuck my head above the parapet. In fact it’s harder now because when I wrote BBB there did seem to be some hope.

    Anyway, keep doing what you do. If nothing else, at least you will have the satisfaction of doing the right things even when surrounded by those who don’t. And maybe Nature has some trick up her sleeve to give us a mighty kick and then give us some breathing space (I have no idea what, unfortunately).

  • Guy,

    It is increasingly difficult to fight off the feeling of desperation that, for me, is rapidly approaching panic. Up here diesel is now selling for $3.79 a gallon and even though that is just one measure of how bad things are getting I was feeling hopeful that it was heralding the collapse but now…

    How appropriate that for Carlin the backdrop is a graveyard. I’ve been thinking about Kubler-Ross and after review (actually Cliff Notes—I mean Wikipedia) I may be beginning to understand why I’m feeling so distressed. Kubler-Ross said that shit happens and then you grieve—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Most (many?some?) of us when faced with death or some other significant life event will go through these stages. Maybe we won’t go through all of them. Maybe we will get stuck in one stage for awhile, or never get out of it to reach eventual acceptance. Often we can flip back and forth through the stages so that the order and duration of the steps in the process is chaotic.

    So, here is what seems to be happening (for me—maybe not for anyone else). Peak Oil is a global (in the all encompassing sense) disaster. It will be The End Of The World As We Know It, TEOTWAWKI, or the death of our way of life on this planet. Everything we know, our way of being in the world, is about to change. As such I should rightly be feeling grief and as a result I should be going through the Kubler-Ross stages. But Peak Oil is a disaster that is made of tens (hundreds) of secondary disasters (no gas, power grid down, no food, health care disruptions, you name it). Each of those is a loss for which I should be grieving and going through the stages of grief. Dealing with all of this, all of the time, locks me in a state of emotional chaos. It is hard to be angry about one thing and depressed about another while I’m bargain about a third and maybe flipping back and forth between stages regarding yet another. For me (maybe not for you) it becomes really hard to keep my balance.

    So to cope I focus on what I can do. How do I get water up to the house without electric pumps? How do I light the house at night and how do I find enough food? Focusing on practical solutions allows me to begin to accept what is happening.

    But then I made the mistake of reading NBL and discovered that on the Climate Change front we’re dead already and just don’t know it. (And they’re shoving a red, white, and blue what up where????????)

    Thankfully this all reminded me about the Kingston Trio. To wit:

    They’re rioting in Africa. They’re starving in Spain.
    There’s hurricanes in Florida, and Texas needs rain.
    The whole world is festering with unhappy souls.
    The French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Poles.
    Italians hate Yugoslavs, South Africans hate the Dutch.
    And I don’t like anybody very much!

    But we can be tranquil and thankful and proud,
    for man’s been endowed with a mushroom-shaped cloud.
    And we know for certain that some lovely day,
    someone will set the spark off… and we will all be blown away.

    They’re rioting in Africa. There’s strife in Iran.
    What nature doesn’t do to us… will be done by our fellow man.

    Michael Irving

  • this link with info about an Antarctic rainforest- i had no idea- i find reinforces Guy’s deep concern….if our more natural, historical cycles include this Antarctic rainforest what of a more extreme CO2 increase.


    thanks to Guy, et al for the dialog!

  • Carlin: “It’s called the American dream because you have to be asleep to believe it!” What a brilliant line!! Carlin was a genius.

    All spot on with this blog, Guy. We are going down as a species, being incapable of collectively perceiving and responding appropriately to risk that is not clear and present. Over and over throughout history, civilizations have become resource limited and died out. In each case I’d bet there was someone “ringing the bell” that they were about to run low on ___, or too much ___. This is just one more, modern-day version of that, only global this time.

    So here we are, a species not well suited to the environment the Earth is about to create for us, along with most other species. Damn shame. Industrial civilization is the culprit, so it must go..sad.


  • Blimey….what a depressed lot we are today! Let’s try to think positively, eh? No more having to wash the car! No more petrol bills! Lots of exposure to air (ok, perhaps not fresh air, but it is a start!), and nature again (ok, so it’s a bit warm outside). An opportunity to cuddle with one’s wife when the heat goes off, and to run about naked when it’s hot (and it WILL be hot!)! For the kids, no more school! For the adults, no more school runs. No more soaps on TV. No more TV! The list just goes on and on….

    Cheer up, mates. The best in life is yet to come.

  • Any spiders and roaches in the audience. Your day comes at last!

  • On a more serious note. Yesterday, we spoke of the relationship between human behavioural characteristics, The-Powers-That-Be (TPTB) and climate change/peak oil/the move to new technologies in the face of the energy corporate PTB. I mentioned that our governments are no longer subject to the will of the people but of the multi-national corporations, and any change to be had would be down to their discretion, not ours, the people. Indeed, they are currently putting into place laws and riot equipment and technology that will constrain the masses should they decide to awake from their psyops-induced sleep and actually complain. They know what is coming and they are getting all they can whilst they can.

    Read today’s article from George Monbiot explainging the new tax rules for big business. Then perhaps you will get an understadning of what he means when he says, ‘If you want to turn this country into another Mexico, where the ruling elite wallows in unimaginable, state-facilitated wealth while the rest can go to hell, you don’t declare war on society, you don’t lambast single mothers or refuse to apologise for Bloody Sunday. You assuage, reassure, conciliate, emote. Then you shaft us.’.


    This will have global impact. Always remember – the government, wherever you are, is not your friend. It is not looking out for you!

  • Guy, thank you.
    Of course, stepping out of BAU is in fact a strike against the empire. A world economy based on growth is endangered if we stop buying and buying in. Refusing to participate in endless consumption may make us terrorists.

    Or we can be terrorists just by talking about bringing down the system.
    Sing a long…..

    But we are irrelevant to what is happening in the world, because we still have something to loose. The fight will come from thosee who have nothing less to loose.

  • Confirming facts to what I believe is a climate change process (i.e. large scale shifts in ocean currents) are very painful to read.

    I do have children. Thus, it is doubly painful to witness confirming facts.

    Nowadays, I try to keep focused on teaching them what I believe they will need to know in order to adapt to a very different future. We garden and preserve food, we learn to care for our bodies on our own, we build and make our objects, we transport ourselves under our own power, and we make our own entertainment. We certainly are perfect in this pursuit – but it creates a framework to see the big picture.

    I call to their attention why parts of our industrial life-ways shouldn’t and can’t be continued. This is my small rebellion – I will not allow industrial civilisation to freely co-opt my children.

    But it still is painful to know and witness. Perhaps that there are still blogs like this, and scientists like Guy, provide evidence that courage still exists.

  • OK Guy, I usually have a very close circle of relatives and friends that I forward alot of your posts to. This one may be too much for them to handle. Thanks again for your tireless work.

    “This is the era where people who have good intentions are considered traitors” Wael Ghonim upon being released by the Egyptian Internal Security Service.

    On an upbeat note you may want to put these on your garden list for the coming spring: Cossack Pineapple, Ground Cherry, Ganrden Huckleberry.

    Keep beating the drum,


  • Perhaps we are headed back to ancient times in more ways than just socio-economic…………..

    In Climate and the Carboniferous Periodthere is this Image:
    Global Temperature and Atmospheric CO2

    and this discussion:

    Similarities with our Present World

    …… atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Early Carboniferous Period were approximately 1500 ppm (parts per million), but by the Middle Carboniferous had declined to about 350 ppm — comparable to average CO2 concentrations today!

    Earth’s atmosphere today contains about 380 ppm CO2 (0.038%). Compared to former geologic times, our present atmosphere, like the Late Carboniferous atmosphere, is CO2- impoverished! In the last 600 million years of Earth’s history only the Carboniferous Period and our present age, the Quaternary Period, have witnessed CO2 levels less than 400 ppm.

    Late Carboniferous to Early Permian time (315 mya — 270 mya) is the only time period in the last 600 million years when both atmospheric CO2 and temperatures were as low as they are today (Quaternary Period ).

    An image from Wikipedia: Phanerozoic Carbon Dioxide

  • “Any spiders and roaches in the audience. Your day comes at last!” I have spotted the occasional spider and a few ants in my abode. All of them quite hardworking – none have ever applied for welfare. When I have a tendency to think of them as freeloaders since they are present uninvited, but I have to remind myself that I am the uninvited one. Both as species, and as local residents, they have me beat hands – or should we say legs – down.

  • Robin Datta,

    Thanks for that video clip above. I was so tired by the time I got done thinking about stuff I didn’t have it in me to see if there was a clip available.

    So last night I went to bed struggling with Kubler-Ross and I woke up this morning thinking about new political slogans.

    Vote CORPORATIST 2012
    Help us externalize our costs!

    I was standing in the shower thinking over the “100 ways to bring down industrial civilization” that Guy linked to some time ago, trying to figure out how that worked for me. But today on NBL Kevin has given me the answer. He says, “As previously discussed, any direct action we might take would simply get us killed or incarcerated, with no significant effect on the final outcome.” That is pretty much my assessment too. Setting myself on fire is not my style. I think that is the source of my frustration, anger, and depression. There is nothing I can do to stop this train wreck. So I guess I’ll be fighting this war from my front porch. Maybe I can teach some of my neighbors a few skills that will help them survive. Maybe they will teach some others.

    In the meantime I’ll be working at having a great day. You have one too.

    Michael Irving

  • PNuge, please be encouraged to move forward with your plan to be a part of the WOOF program. You will be with like minded people and that will be a wonderful source of strength for you.

    Michael, we are here with you. Glad you are sharing your feelings. We gain strength in sharing.

    Andrew, your rebellion is huge. You the most important person in your children’s lives are telling them the truth … they are blessed.

    Guy, thank you for the continual focus and the opportunity you provide for those who read here to stay focused.

  • Pardon the dragging of an item from the last post here, but I do so lest ignoramuses lead others astray:
    ” Go take a walk across the Hoover Dam and tell me it is symbolic!”
    The Hoover Dam is part of the secondary economy. Symbols are part of the tertiary economy.

  • couple of songs … seem to echo our conversation here

  • Last week I was using a friend’s smart phone and saw this story on the Arctic “defrost.” I think it was on MSBC and have seen nothing since then. Even The Huffington Post is more focused on Lindsay Lohan’s latest antics. Folks are so scientifically illiterate, as well as in denial, that they no idea of the implications of these massive planetary changes.

  • Guy,

    I think John Steinbeck, in Cannery Row, succinctly explained why human behavior will probably drive us over a cliff. He wrote that “It has always seemed strange to me…The things we admire in men, kindness and generosity, openness, honesty, understanding and feeling, are the concomitants of failure in our system. And those traits we detest, sharpness, greed, acquisitiveness, meanness, egotism and self-interest, are the traits of success. And while men admire the quality of the first they love the produce of the second.”

  • Kubler-Ross aside, I think we all need a good dose of Zen detachment. You can’t change the world — hell, most of us struggle just to change ourselves!

    So focus on that last bit: continue the struggle to change from within. The Earth is going to do as it damn well pleases, regardless of what you or I do.

    And although humans are apparently the change agent driving the process, fretting about it or condemning it or spending all your energy trying to get others to change is still part of the mistaken paradigm that humans are somehow separate and distinct from nature.

    Did one prokaryote say to another, as they changed the earth’s atmosphere from methane to CO2, “Hey, I think future generations of us will suffer for this?” Did one giant fern say to another, as they changed the earth’s atmosphere from CO2 to oxygen, “Oops! What are future ferns going to do?”

    Nothing is constant but change. Will your children (if you have them) have as good a life as yours? Well, first you must define “good,” then teach your children to see the good in everything, and they will have such a good life. If we romanticize how good life was for hunter-gatherers, or pre-petroleum, surely we can fantasize about how good life may be in the future!

    This fretting and sadness and depression is not what we are here for! Something will carry on, and some five billion years from now, the whole thing will go up in smoke as the Sun goes nova anyway.

    We are here to have joy in our existence. Go out today and plant a flower — or a food-bearing plant. Smell the air — hopefully, you’re within walking distance of good-smelling air. Think about how privileged we are to be living in this time of great and interesting changes.

    “Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice.” Robert Frost goes on to note that, although he has a preference, either one will do. Adopt that attitude. And then go out and do something good.

  • If we start maneuvering ourselves now some may just squeeze through the bottleneck.

    WWOOF is where I’m headed for the simple reason Sarah posted above. I need to be around some peeps that have vision and live with intent. If I let the doom consume me I’ll be of no use to myself or anyone else for that matter. All I can do is find my way through this mess moment by moment.

    I am thankful for this blog and the information it provides. Are there times when I wished I had never heard of NBL..you betcha! It does feel Matrix like at times and like many of you I wonder if my despair is justified. I am excited for the changes I am making and hopefully that excitement will provide some motivation when those dark times creep in…daily.

  • I agree that climate change is real and serious, but there are solutions that don’t require the destruction of civilization — which is a “solution” worse than the original problem! Our big challenge for the next hundred years is getting global systems like the climate under control. We can’t do this by retreating from industry, technology and globalism, but we should be able to if we aggressively pursue geoengineering, space solar power, nuclear fusion, weather control technology, etc. What Guy and friends are suggesting is that we give up on modern civilization and consign billions of people to death. This is never going to happen! A better approach is to use our intelligence and our technology to begin operating as a truly global species; climate change is forcing us to begin operating on this level, so in that sense it may be a blessing in disguise which helps us progress toward Kardashev type one civilization.

  • “Our big challenge for the next hundred years is getting global systems like the climate under control.”

    Once you give up the illusion of control, you shall be free!

  • Guy,

    Thanks for the link to the Hansen paper, scary stuff there. His conclusion that it would be “foolish and dangerous” to use the European plan to limit warming to +2 degree C is awash in understatement. It would be saying in effect “we’re okay with flooding most of the world’s major cities.” As for the American BAU model he is figuring on a 5-meter sea level rise this century. But wait, he says, all this melting will cool the oceans near the poles, slowing global warming. That’s a good thing, right? Nope! Really warm temperate oceans bumping up against really cold polar water is just asking for really HUGE storms. We aren’t going to win this one.

    Michael Irving

  • Constance,

    Huffington just sold out to AOL. You know where they are going.

    Michael Irving

  • Cosmist,

    You’ve got to be shitting me. Review the Carlin clip.

    Michael Irving

  • Kevin,

    More validation of your statement, “Any direct action we might take would simply get us killed or incarcerated, with no significant effect on the final outcome. ( Robert Atack said it first).” See the essay by Chris Hedges “Recognizing the Language of Tyranny” here http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/recognizing_the_language_of_tyranny_20110206/?ln

    Michael Irving

  • Sarah,

    Thanks for that.

    Michael Irving

  • Privileged

    That seems to me to be a really good decision on your part. We carry on as if there is a tomorrow – which there is. Live your life to the full doing what you think is intelligent and right. Good luck to you.


    ‘We are here to have joy in our existence. Go out today and plant a flower — or a food-bearing plant. Smell the air — hopefully, you’re within walking distance of good-smelling air. Think about how privileged we are to be living in this time of great and interesting changes.

    “Some say the world will end in fire. Some say in ice.” Robert Frost goes on to note that, although he has a preference, either one will do. Adopt that attitude. And then go out and do something good.’

    Well said. I totally agree. Hard news is..well…hard to accept. I have a wife, children and grandchildren. Life is good right now. I intend to keep it that way as long as I am able.

  • You know, Robin, as my wife is prone to say when I get a bit impatient with the creatures who get in my way at times, “Every creature has its purpose and its work. Try not to interfere.” It was her who introduced me to the better side of spiders.

    Did you know that the Russian language has no word for “it” with regards to a living creature? It is always he or she….I like that.

  • Gary, when I was a young man (eons ago), I read everything Steinbeck wrote. He introduced me to the injustices of the world, I think.

    [Kathy] ‘But we are irrelevant to what is happening in the world, because we still have something to loose. The fight will come from thosee who have nothing less to loose.’

    That might come more quickly than you imagine…

    Michael Irving

    The Kingston Trio….Good God… a Blast from the past!


    You are not an insane terrorist…you are a ‘home-grown’ terrorist!…LOL And thanks for the article. Hadn’t seen that one. Dear me, things are accelerating all over the world. BTW, the world might have to wait on the nuclear reactors for a bit. They need lots of water which is generally why they are placed near the ocean. Perhaps when the water is done rising, they can give it a go. Of course, they could go on and build them now, but they might end up with egg on their faces after they are under 3-5 metres of water…. ;-)

  • Wow, lots to discuss and I am tied up today. Cosmist, every one of the billions now alive is going to die as are you – we are not cartoon characters we are mortals.

    Kevin I do want to pick back up on the discussion of why agriculture won out over H-G from the last posting. Just can’t today.

  • Great news. We are saved! Biochar.

    Sorry, just kidding.

    Further confirmation things are way out of balance, with temperature projections in line with discussion on this topic over recent months.


    I just cannot get my head around the idea of digging up coal and burning it, and at the same time trying to convert vegetation into carbon.

  • I have a serious question for the NBL folks: do you want human civilization to be saved? At what level of population and technology? If we do find a way to continue our technological progress without destroying the biosphere and are able expand indefinitely into space, would this somehow offend you? What I’m basically asking is this: do you like human life, intelligence and its creations, or do these things fundamentally repulse you and would you like to see them stamped out?

  • Cosmist please go away
    And do not come back until you have grown a brain.
    Your questions are idiotic and offensive.

  • Kevin, your only response to my posts is vicious personal attacks, which suggests to me that it is not I who is the idiotic and offensive one…

  • To continue my response to Kevin, I’ve noticed this everywhere in the doomosphere, from NBL to the Oil Drum to the Archdruid Report to Matt Savinar’s old site: people simply won’t tolerate dissenting views and quickly attack you personally in a cult-like fashion. Guy is actually the most tolerant of the lot; if you engage in even mild debate with the Oil Drummers you are quickly banned.

    Understand that I have no political agenda and I have nothing against anyone here personally, I am simply a philosopher and an ex-doomer interested in getting at the truth. When people are attacked and censored it suggests to me that the attackers’ position is not tenable in the light of honest, rational debate. I think this was made abundantly clear yesterday when Guy admitted that he is in favor of using all available tools to destroy civilization. Similarly, today at the Oil Drum someone responded to my post by saying “I go to bed every evening praying that we are visited by an asteroid. It would solve a lot of problems.” To me statements like these suggest extremely deranged and dangerous worldviews, and I feel that I have both the right and the obligation to bring such dark thinking into the light so people can draw their own conclusions…

  • Sorry to feed the troll, but when Cosmist writes (as though the answer were self-evident), “Do you want human civilization to be saved?” I have to answer, “What’s so great about human civilization?”

    One of the rules about having a discussion with an arrogant person is that you must never imply that they are so, but I cannot resist. Any “species-centric” approach to our problems is doomed to failure. Our technology is self-serving, at the expense of all other life on the planet. That’s arrogance.

    Samuel Butler wrote, “The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, and pride and arrogance.” Cosmist, you display all three, and then claim “vicious personal attacks” when someone rightly accuses you of ignorance.

    We cannot separate human life from life in general. We cannot “continue our technological progress without destroying the biosphere.”

    “Do you like human life, intelligence and its creations, or do these things fundamentally repulse you and would you like to see them stamped out?” Cosmist asks, again as though the answer is plain and clear to all.

    Talk about a polarizing statement!

    “So,” the lawyers asks the witness, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Please answer yes or no!”

    Yea, human life is kinda neat, in a frustrating way. I like it — within limits.

    But I’d be happy to see it go extinct, and give the bonobos or canines or cetaceans a chance to realize their potential, without the dominance of human civilization holding them back.

    Perhaps in millions of years, when bonobo culture flourishes, their archeologists will discover our mistakes, and choose to avoid repeating them…

  • Cosmist.

    We had a great forum with highly intelligent and highly moral discussion of crucial issues that was based on the best scientific evidence until you arrived.

    You have received zero support from contributors here and the owner of the blog described you as a troll.

    To persist, as you do, indicates psychosis.

    psychosis: a severe mental disorder in which thought asd emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality.

  • Thank you for your serious and honest reply, Jan Steinman. You say:

    “But I’d be happy to see [humans] go extinct, and give the bonobos or canines or cetaceans a chance to realize their potential, without the dominance of human civilization holding them back.”

    This position is kind of a debate-killer. I’m not really sure how humans are supposed to have a meaningful debate about the pros and cons of their own extinction…If you feel this way that’s fine, but if you seriously try to act on such a philosophy then we may have a problem…

  • Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

    Maybe we should arm the bonobos?

  • Michael, “Huffington just sold out to AOL” was not happy to read that either … has been a brief daily stop and agree with you probably we do know where it’s going, but found this there today

    “With a new wave of demonstrations in Tahrir Square on Tuesday — by some measures the largest anti-government protests in the two-week uprising — Egyptians loudly rejected their government’s approach to political change and renewed their demands for the immediate resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.”

    So happy to see the demonstrations continue!

  • Cosmist “if you engage in even mild debate with the Oil Drummers you are quickly banned.”

    Hmmm I have engaged in heated debate on the Oil Drum and never been banned. Who has the problem.

    I suggest if you want anyone to take you seriously you disassociate yourself with your other personas. A quick look at your various blogs would convince anyone that you are stuck at about age 16. From your comics cosmos blog we read “More great stories followed, including the “Sise-Neg Genesis” story in Marvel Premiere #14, in which Dr. Strange follows a 31st century sorcerer-turned-God to the very creation of the universe.” You spend time writing comic reviews and you expect anyone here to think you have anything to bring to this discussion? In fact you seem unable to distinguish Science Fiction from Science. Take your contrails and leave for the stars PLEASE.

  • Regarding Human extinction, it is a subject worth contemplation. We are possibly the only creatures on planet earth that can anticipate their own death. Other animals can fear things that are expected to cause them harm or death, but we don’t know if they actually are able to look at one that is dead in their own species and say to themselves that is going to happen to me one day.

    We humans are able to do that but generally find it painful to contemplate and thus go into various forms of denial. We talk about survival as if it were an absolute. We say Doctors “save” lives instead of saying Doctors “extend” lives. We paint the cadavers and fill them with noxious chemicals and then stand around and say oh doesn’t she look good. We imagine afterlives. Clearly this is a deep discomfort that humans carry from the age that they are able to internalize the reality of their own eventual death.

    Is this pain worth it. Would the world be better of with only creatures that fear harm, rather than those that fear not only harm but fear the one inevitable event of their life so much that many cannot even bring themselves to write a will. Knowing that they have to die and not knowing if they will have a life that makes up for the dying, what makes us want to bring new humans into life.

    Might it be better to have a world without creatures that in their personal angst reach out and hurt others in cruel and sadistic manners.

    I am not clear what I think – I change my mind daily. But I think that contemplating whether or not it would be best for humans to go extinct is a valid subject to discuss. Of course since we seem quite clearly to be sending ourselves to extinction perhaps it is a moot point.

  • Kevin,
    Here are some theories on the start of agriculture from wiki
    I am inclined to think that something had to change in the climate and environment (megafauna extinction? over hunting) that moved people to gaining calories in different ways in certain locals – I understand agriculture arose independently three separate times at least. However technology could well be part of that. Better hunting tools would lead to increases of population and less game, as well as set the stage for creating agriculture tools. Once started down that path it created more humans regardless of the personal health, length of life etc. And more is what self replicating creatures do until something reins them in eh?

    There are several competing (but not mutually exclusive) theories as to the factors that drove populations to take up agriculture. The most prominent of these are:

    The Oasis Theory, originally proposed by Raphael Pumpelly in 1908, popularized by Vere Gordon Childe in 1928 and summarised in Childe’s book Man Makes Himself.[7] This theory maintains that as the climate got drier due to the Atlantic depressions shifting northward, communities contracted to oases where they were forced into close association with animals, which were then domesticated together with planting of seeds. However, today this theory has little support amongst archaeologists because climate data for the time actually shows that at the time, the climate of the region was getting wetter rather than drier.[8]
    The Hilly Flanks hypothesis, proposed by Robert Braidwood in 1948, suggests that agriculture began in the hilly flanks of the Taurus and Zagros mountains, where the climate was not drier as Childe had believed, and fertile land supported a variety of plants and animals amenable to domestication.[9]
    The Feasting model by Brian Hayden[10] suggests that agriculture was driven by ostentatious displays of power, such as giving feasts, to exert dominance. This required assembling large quantities of food, which drove agricultural technology.
    The Demographic theories proposed by Carl Sauer[11] and adapted by Lewis Binford[12] and Kent Flannery posit an increasingly sedentary population that expanded up to the carrying capacity of the local environment and required more food than could be gathered. Various social and economic factors helped drive the need for food.
    The evolutionary/intentionality theory, developed by David Rindos[13] and others, views agriculture as an evolutionary adaptation of plants and humans. Starting with domestication by protection of wild plants, it led to specialization of location and then full-fledged domestication.
    Ronald Wright’s book and Massey Lecture Series A Short History of Progress[14] makes a case for the development of agriculture coinciding with an increasingly stable climate.
    The postulated Younger Dryas impact event, claimed to be in part responsible for megafauna extinction, and which ended the last ice age, could have provided circumstances that required the evolution of agricultural societies for humanity to survive. The agrarian revolution itself is a reflection of typical overpopulation by certain species following initial events during extinction eras; this overpopulation itself ultimately propagates the extinction event.

  • Kathy.

    Thanks for that.

    Regarding animals being aware of death, I am no expert on elephants but have seen stuff suggesting they know they are going to die and head for a particular place to do so. Myth?

  • Thanks for the sobering post, Guy, and thanks to all responders.

    The point is being driven home that humanity will not save itself. I get that, and it’s terribly depressing. No, that’s not really true; I suppose part of me appreciates the clarity of knowing our species probably cannot be saved. Too many of us for too long have wallowed in ambiguity, arguing “if only” and “yes we can” and any number of cliches to be found in the feel-good speeches of Ronald Reagan. Meanwhile our species continues its headlong descent, and all the old paradigms shift slowly into irrelevance.

    The human race is going to die out. Or, if not die out completely, then devolve as the living conditions devolve. Such knowledge triggers a “flight and/or fight” response in me. This is good. I can’t save humanity, but maybe I can save myself and a few others, for a little while. That’s do-able.

    In the past few years, I’ve turned my little 1.33 acres into a nice little mini almost-farm. It was fun, and I’ve learned a lot, both from the experience and from knowledgeable folks like the regulars here at NBL. Now my family is going to take a next step: we are moving. My state (Mississippi) is overpopulated, severely undereducated, and is prone to devastating tropical cyclones. We are moving to the northern Rockies. We will be poor, but will have a better chance at survival, especially as climate change continues its shenanigans. Better to get out now, while there is still largely freedom of movement here in the U.S., and states are not reacting to hordes of climate refugees.

    Some of our extended family are supportive; mainly in that they have romantic old American notions of moving. (I see it more as “fleeing.”) Others, to coin a phrase, “act as if they’d been gut-shot.” Neither group really gets it, and I know that although I love them, I cannot save them. I can save me and my immediate family, though, and I’m going to try.

    It’s all come down to one thing: survival. Best of luck to Cosmist, and all the others who still believe in the possibility of a United Federation of Planets. It may happen, I don’t know. Hell, I love the thought of it. But our species has some hell to go through first, and I intend to do my part to see that it might actually make it through to the other side. (You keep on with your comics, though, Cosmist. They will be quite valuable once the grid goes down permanently. I’m a DC man, myself.)

    Best wishes to all here.

  • LMFAO…United Federation of Planets!

    Best of luck Christopher.

  • Christopher

    The very best of luck to you and your family. You and yours will always be welcome to return to the Federation… ;-)

    Kathy/Kevin/All Others Interested

    We discuss extinction a lot and collapse of civilisation. I suppose many would get the impression that we relish such thoughts in some perverse sort of way. I don’t think anyone here looks forward to extinction, though several seem to be becoming resigned to its real possibility. We talk about it because we must talk about it. Because talking about it is a part of the grieving process, and whether we wish to admit it or not, we grieve at the thought of extinction.

    Collapse is different, I think. A large part of me does NOT want collapse to happen. Let me be clear about that. But the reasoned part of me realises that though mankind has the capacity for civilisation, yet it need not be its destiny. What is so wrong with advanced technologies, growth, and higher standards of living for the human population? It all comes down to balance of Nature for me. We are all, flora/fauna/mankind, part of a balanced natural environment. We each do what we can to survive. Unfortunately, mankind has the intellectual power to devise tools to upset that balance. If we were truly homo sapiens, we would know that to do so is unwise – you don’t mess with Mother Nature and expect to receive forgiveness. And unlike an American movie, such actions do not end well. When we devised the tolls of agriculture and domestication of animals, we began the long process of technology development and opened the door to population overshoot and a highly complex, extremely fragile civilisation. I maintain that this was a poor decision on our part. We could well have remained in much our original state and helped to maintain the balance as many indigenous peoples did before the European stock overcame them and mostly wiped them and their cultures from the face of the earth. But we are now where we are. Our numbers, our complexity, and our technologies are destroying the environment, depleting non-renewable and slow-renewable natural resources, and distorting the fast renewable natural economy thus driving a huge loss of biodiversity in our competition with other species. This can in no way continue. Nature is distorted. It must regain balance at our expense and of others, I fear. All because of us.

    I don’t want the deer population to suffer, not caring to see deer die-off. But on the other hand, as any conservationist would tell you, intelligent management of that population would prevent much pain and death inflicted upon that population. Humans are more than happy to manage other populations, but not their own. Peculiar, is it not? And because we as a species have not done so, we are in deep, deep shit now.

    All this to say, that although I do not wish to change my lifestyle, yet I deeply believe that the only way we can act to save humanity and the natural world as we know it, is to bring down that which acts most significantly to distort Nature – modern human civilisation. This is the right thing to do. This is what we must do. We have no other choice except to let Nature Bat last which is truly inevitable and can in no way be avoided.

  • kathy, in response to your meditation on the virtue or lack there-of of human life, our propensity for cruelty and destruction, and whether surreality might be better off without us, i recently wrote a relevant post, copied below, titled ‘perverse paradise’, to some local/regional peace and green email groups. it’s a bit lengthy, and mentions official suppression of medical cannabis use in support of the idea that at least so far as officialdom goes, humanity is perverse. (p.s. to those of u who may not be familiar with me, i write as an american.)

    ‘we aren’t reaching a point of mere economic collapse. this is economic armageddon, the end of the world as we know it (teotwawki). according to paul chefurka and relatively few others (although they seem to have science on their side), there’s a strong correlation between global (fossil fuel) energy usage and food production. he just published an article on his website about a week ago demonstrating this, and adding, as relatively few others have, that the primary and most vital fossil fuel, oil, has peaked in production and now faces a relatively swift decline, so that it’ll be reduced to 1/2 peak probably in less than 20 years, or by 2030. what’s more, the international trade in oil will dry up even faster, as it becomes too valuable to trade. thus nations heavily dependent on imported oil (gee, i wonder which nation is most dependent in terms of volume?!!!!) are either going on a severe energy diet which will necessarily entail severe economic contraction, or they’re going to use force and intimidation to steal oil from others. (it seems we’ve probably already begun treading down that path!) not a happy choice there. it seems tragically obvious which course ‘our’ leaders will choose, based on recent history. might the u.s. at some point not too long from now get a lot crazier both internally and in an increasingly hawkish foreign policy, just as the rest of the world faces similar pressures? will economic armageddon bring americans to our senses, or will it usher our (probably very painful) political demise and disunion? will extreme right wing insane fanatics seize power, as has happened at least once before (most notably in the case of nazi germany, a similarly highly ‘civilized’ nation)? or will ‘radical’ progressive greens prevail upon a suddenly enlightened public the need to voluntarily undergo a revolution to a peaceful, cooperative, scientifically enlightened and freed from repressive dogma sort of lifestyle which recognizes the necessity of drastically scaling down our ecological impact (resulting in necessary drastic economic decline)? it seems to me one or the other or a mixture of both is very likely. very unfortunately/tragically, based on past history and the present, i’m afraid our immediate future is very likely tilted much towards the former, a bitter pill to swallow. our nation is already far down the path of concentrated economic and political power. we already have a dominant culture of official violence and deceit, working in tandem with highly concentrated corporate ‘mass media’ which serves as a propaganda arm and public relations partner to official power, while also providing plenty of circus-like entertainment to keep the public occupied and pacified. it’s worked quite well thus far.

    so economic armageddon is upon us and a vast majority of the public hasn’t a clue. i know there are at least a few people on these lists who do have a clue, and yet, do u surreally? how are u preparing, and who are u discussing/sharing this with? do u understand that this issue dwarfs all others? must virtually everyone, including perhaps many on these lists, be blindsided by what’s to come, probably in your lifetime if u expect/hope to live more than a few years more?

    the almost complete lack of public discourse in this matter surreally astounds me.

    that’s not all.

    since first taking a personal interest in medical marijuana over a decade ago (actually even before then), i’ve read a good deal about it, including some entertaining autobiographies of the first 2 officially recognized federal medical marijuana patients under a special program. it was terminated as soon as it became apparent that a great multitude would soon be submitting very compelling medical arguments in favor of marijuana use. more on that later.

    one of them is irvin rosenfeld, a jewish american born around 1950. he learned as a 10 year old child he had a terrible and rare disease which caused tumors which could turn cancerous to grow all over his limbs, bringing on severe pain and disability, sometimes requiring devastating surgery. he was told he might not live to adulthood, but he did. he became a college student, succumbed to peer pressure to smoke pot, and soon discovered, to his utter amazement, that it had a very pronounced medical benefit. much of his pain subsided, the tumors stopped growing. he didn’t experience a high like most people do. he was able to function much better with it than with less effective (except for undesirable side effects) conventional legal medicines. he convinced some doctors and lawyers of this, even enlisted the help of his congressperson and local and state law enforcement officials in lobbying the federal government to make an exception of him in their ‘war on (some) drugs’. why, it only took about 10 years to persuade the decision makers at agencies like the fda, the dea, and nida (about as formidable a bureaucratic hurdle as there is), that he should be granted the right/dignity/compassion of the most effective medical treatment available without the threat of arrest, and without having to pay exorbitant prices on an unreliable and sometimes unsafe (he was robbed at gunpoint once) black market. whatever tiny shred of compassion they possessed, he got a bit of it. shortly after, as i alluded to above, this program was terminated abruptly for ‘political’ reasons under the first pres. bush.

    marijuana is surreally mind blowing in it’s medical benefits. it can take diseases rare and common and provide relief to many sufferers that conventional approved medicines can’t approach. if legalized, it could/would? be of great benefit to millions of americans suffering from a myriad of maladies, from glaucoma to depression, insomnia, ptsd, aids and cancer patients, people with multiple scherosis, muscle spasms, women with menstrual cramps, asthma sufferers, pain relief… the list goes on and on. it’s close cousin the hemp plant, which is also banned by dogmatically ignorant officials, also has many potential uses and benefits.

    it’s surreally bizarre in a nightmarish sort of way that ‘our’ federal government official decision makers in grand and powerful blind stubborn dogmatic ignorance deny us, the people, the right to life enhancing/saving very affordable medical treatment and other botanical gifts in favor of maintaining rigid, heartless prohibition (again, greatly aided by corporate ‘mass media’ disinformation and demonization). a family of plants which should be viewed with great and wondrous gratitude is instead treated worse than criminals, driven ‘underground’ by official (expensive) attempts at eradication, at great expense and human suffering.

    that’s just the beginning. i could go on, but hopefully i’ve made an impression. nature is wondrously delightful in many ways. our species, otoh, is wondrously wicked/insane/idiotic/ in many ways, culminating in this surreal moment, teotwawki, facing severe natural resource depletion and degradation, increasingly severe, unpredictable, and potentially fatal climate change, population overshoot, economic armageddon, all in a milieu of official corruption, ignorance, and unaccountability, a history of horrible warfare, and a public which almost couldn’t be any more clueless and deceived. the natural world in some ways is paradise, but our presence is perverse.’

  • Christopher,

    How does it feel to be a pioneer?

    I know you know this but I’ll say it out loud anyway, “Montana and Mississippi may start with the same letter but all similarity ends there.” I know you just said “Northern Rockies” so I just guessed Montana. Be ready for a steep learning curve. A few hundred feet in elevation can make all the difference in what you can grow. So will a north facing vs. south facing slope. The west side and the east side of the mountains are very different. In some places winter comes really early, and “winter” does not mean a little rain. In Wyoming I got snowed on (4”) during a mid-September fishing trip last year. Here in northeast Washington, balmy compared to Wyoming or eastern Montana, our last spring frost is usually the first week of June. Our first autumn frost usually arrives on the back of a thunderstorm during the third week of August. Global Warming? What’s not to like? We just have to know how to work with the conditions (the learning curve). It’s no big deal, just different. Lots of people around here have amazing gardens.

    Another thing to remember is that native people lived here for a long time with limited, but appropriate, technology. Keep in mind that even though winters are crushingly cold in North Dakota native tribes living there had agricultural systems. In the northern Rockies hunting and gathering were more the norm. In each case, smart people were making decisions about how best to survive and then building a set of skills to ensure that survival.

    You’ll do great. Anybody who can garden in Mississippi can probably garden anywhere. Just make friends with the locals and ask a bunch of questions, they’ll help you make the adjustment.

    Good luck.

    Michael Irving

  • Here is a podcast that I believe is worth hearing, from Firancial Sense NewsHour – James Puplava incerviews two heavyweights on our side of the fence:

    FSN The Bigger Picture with Chris Martenson and Gerald Celente 02-08-2011

    “I think we all need a good dose of Zen detachment.” If detachment refers to something like taking a shower and towelling off, then Zen is more like plunging in and living like a deep ocean fish. In fact the metaphors of
    “Did one prokaryote say to another……… Did one giant fern say to another………….” are quite appropriate. Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water: the difference is in how the act is perceived by the performing self. As is described in “The Mind of Clover”, a masterly exposition on Zen Buddhist ethics, clover grows and follows its nature. The enlightened one does the same – follows one’s nature – even with the mind doing what is natural for a mind: yet every thought thought, every word spoken and every act performed is non-volitional. The difference is that the prokaryotes and the giant ferns do not have the thought and speech part of it (at least as far as ordinary human awareness goes). It is detachment in this sense that is also described in Hinduism as “pravahapatitam karyam” – “falling into action” or rather “action fallen into”.

    “Every creature has its purpose and its work. Try not to interfere.” In a wider sense, every creature is just another aspect of the Self. I am mySelf fulfilling myriad purposes through the selves of all these creatures.

    “I have a serious question for the NBL folks: do you want human civilization to be saved? At what level of population and technology?”

    No question about it: Kardashev type IV (KT-4) civilization. Anyone who “wants” anything less is an idiot. But if such is indeed in our cards, then we need take no specific action towards that end – or at least no such action has been suggested on this blog (yet). If the KT-4 civilization be indeed inevitable, then I do not need to concern myself with it now.

    “So,” the lawyers asks the witness, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet? Please answer yes or no!” The only honest answer in my case would be “No”. Poorly formed question: inadequate even if accurate answer. Actually in my situation, it might have been interesting to be able to answer yes, considering that I have never had a wife.

    Sooner or later hunter-gatherers had to notice that seeds that fell in certain places sprouted into new plants. The difference in outcomes with such intentional plantings could lead to the realization that the planting sites (and their preparation and care) mattered. The perception of ownership of the plants growing from such planted seeds might have seemed reasonable, but it would have taken a paradigm shift to perceive ownership of the more fertile sites, when theretofore there was a socialist anarchy. Even the transition from hunting to herding would not entail an acknowledgment of the private ownership of land: even until recent times nomadic Arabs and central Asians had camels, and others nomadic peoples had horses, yaks and reindeer (a domesticated ungulate with an extant wild form: the caribou). With the dawning of the realization that ownership of human livestock was so profitable, came the fiction of the state: a convenient façade for the ruling elites.

    “I am no expert on elephants but have seen stuff suggesting they know they are going to die and head for a particular place to do so.” The paucity of sites with elephant bones led to the conjecture that elephants have some secret dying place. It has since been noted that whenever elephants come upon a group of elephant bones. they seem to recognize those bones as from one or their own kind. They seem to mourn about it and pick up and carry the bones for some distance before letting it go: this results in wide scattering of the bones. Hence the difficulty in finding places where elephants have died.

    “With a new wave of demonstrations in Tahrir Square……….the largest anti-government protests………..”: au contraire they are not anti-government protests: they are protests in favor of continuing government, only with a different set of human livestock farmers.

    But let us be joyful and plant a <a href="http://www.procreo.jp/labo/flower_garden.swf"Flower Garden:
    (click the mouse button and drag the cursor across the black field).

  • Extinction?

    With the 6th Mass Extinction running at a rate never seen before in the geological records, extinction is all around us. I’m convinced that homo colossus (modern industrial “civilised” humans are going to go extinct.

    From the feedback I’ve received from remnant indigenous peoples, they do not want to be lumped in with “us” and are appalled to see the discussion framed in a ‘human species, humanity or human nature’ context. They have argued for a very long time that “we” are crazy!


  • Let us be joyful and plant a Flower Garden:
    (click the mouse button and drag the cursor across the black field).
    And pardon the syntax error, if you will.

  • Ted

    I believe that what you say is only partly true. From what I have observed though indigenous people believe we are crazy and seem to recognise our deep and necessary connection to Nature, yet over the years they have taken on important trappings of the larger civilisation – guns/ammunition, metal boats with outboard motors, cars even. They often live in towns that have roads or other transport connections (for supplies and tourism) to civilisation. Many of these peoples are losing their old skills and infrastructure as they are gradually absorbed into modern civilisation, albeit at the fringes. Global warming is having a huge impact upon their abilities to continue living as they are where they are.

    Most from what I have seen seem to have kept a significant piece of their ancient culture and old knowledge in place, but even that is eroding with more and more exposure to modern civilisation.

    So whether they wish to be lumped in with us or not….they are…

  • Victor.

    I would hazard that some indigenous people have extraordinarily high carbon footprints and are now totally dependent on civilisation. I recall seeing a documentary some time ago which examined the lives of Inuit in (I think) northern Canada. They lived in wooden houses, which one must assume were heated by natural gas or oil. Apart from the small quantities of meat obtained by occasional hunting (using rifles, boats with outboard motors and snowmobiles) practically all their food was flown in and sold in a supermarket.

    We cannot condemn them, of course: they are just victims of empire, as are most of us.

    Ted’s comment could apply to many of us in that we were born into empire but no longer identify with it. Yet most of us we are dependent on it for our continued survival at this point of time.

    Life’s a bitch sometimes.

    Most of the time.

  • Dear all.
    Having been concerned for decades about how things, driven by mankind, develop around the world, I only came to understand fully about a half a year ago what is about to unfold.
    Before that I tried to change things in getting involved, but it turned out as an illusion to be able to change. As this would have meant reduce, less, turn back to agriculture as done at least a century ago.
    Still shaking when realizing what is going to happen to mankind as so many other species already, I still hardly find a way to accept. Not for myself, that would be a lot easier, but family, kids. At times I’m just trembling by the thought.

    So that is what I want to tell you. People over (Austria) here are not aware at all. And unwilling to listen to – very careful – made statements. Lately I found some people who understand and try to act, but by themselves they also are trying to erect some kind of illusion, saying it can’t get worse than at WW II and the following famine.

    Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and insights, I’m very grateful to share and being able to even tell myself.
    Kind regards,

  • Climate Change and Peak Oil, Backed by highly reputable people,therefore certainly true.Population and economic growth proven to be madness: Driving us to an inevitable wall and forced collapse. Personally,I find it very painful and have gone through a grieving process, not only for humanity but for a spoiled and over exploited World. One reason I don’t worry more and prepare more is I’m 62, only another 13 years for average life expectancy. When I was a teenager in the “Swinging sixties” there wasn’t a hint of CC and PO and the World seemed infinite. One of the first wake up calls came when reports talked of the devastating overexploitation of the Oceans,now 90% of all large fish gone,some types of Tuna near to extinction, the hunting of Whales in a protected treaty zone. As a species we behave as if we’re exempt from growth limits and its taboo to suggest voluntary population control. Climate change predictions are coming true with freakish weather round the Globe. I’d rather we were a successful species fully intelligently in harmony with the Planet with a bright future,but fossil fuels have made us like Gods temporarily with the release of their astronomical trapped energies giving us a temporary ability to increase our numbers, not to last.Also the love of money and wealth and profit is our undoing too as it eclipses any restraint on our exploitation of our World: Another example the demand for ivory from China is endangering the African Elephant’s very existence. If the Elephant and Tiger disappear we will be very lonely indeed.

  • Christopher: I enjoyed your blog. You really should check out permies.com The guy that runs the site lives in Montana, and there are couple more folks that post regularly that live in the Rockies. Great on the ground information. Forget what you normally think about permaculture. Lots to learn on everything from housing to alternative energy and on and on. One book we wouldn’t want to be without is, Country Wisdom and Know-How by Storey Publishing LLC. Another great source of info is Backwoods Magazine which keeps a huge number of their articles on line for free. On being poor. We took a 70% cut in income when we moved and we have more money leftover at the end of the month now. You will be surrounded by poor people, and we have found that with very few exceptions poor people are good people.
    Good luck to you,


  • wikileaks latest! saudi’s overstated crude reserves by 40%.

  • Thanks, craig moodie … a link to the story, which fails to reveal the kingdom peaked in 2005, is here: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2011/feb/08/saudi-oil-reserves-overstated-wikileaks

  • @Privileged: Thanks!

    @Victor: I appreciate that. I think we’ll take our chances elsewhere, since the Federation has been taken over by the Borg. :(

    @Michael Irving: Your words hearten me! Yes, Montana; specifically, the western edge, near Idaho. The wife likes Missoula, while I lean towards the Kalispell area. I’ve spent some time there, though it’s been over ten years ago. Thank you again.

    @Ed: Great info. and much sound wisdom. Permies.com looks to be most helpful, especially if we end up in the Missoula area. I will look into the book (I like the Storey titles) and Backwoods magazine.

    @Kathy: We have a flock of 4 Dominiques who will be needing a good home in 2-3 months. The hens are good layers! ;)

    Best of luck to all.

  • Christopher, good luck on your move. Comics may be useful in the future as toilet paper, but the plant lamb’s ears is much softer. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stachys_byzantina . They also attract pollinators – I think comics don’t. Once the grid goes down we may have to work all day and have no light at night to read by. I realized that my comment to Cosmos might offend someone else but I wasn’t addressing the reading or enjoying of comics, rather the time devoted to a blog on the topic rather than seriously learning things such as the laws of thermodynamics or preparing to be an astronaut.

    I have moved all over the US and gardened in NYS, California, TN, GA and now in AL. It is useful to check with the locals who are gardening, they may not have the best practices but they know their climate. However with climate changing I feel like I no longer know the climate I have gardened in for almost 20 years…. Best to you and yours…

  • Terry, thanks for sharing what you wrote to local groups. Let us know how it is received.

    Victor you wrote “We discuss extinction a lot and collapse of civilisation. I suppose many would get the impression that we relish such thoughts in some perverse sort of way. I don’t think anyone here looks forward to extinction, though several seem to be becoming resigned to its real possibility. We talk about it because we must talk about it. Because talking about it is a part of the grieving process, and whether we wish to admit it or not, we grieve at the thought of extinction.”

    That about covers it. We in the first world have a cozy lifestyle to grieve and while that is real to us, it perhaps helps (or not) to remember that every awful thing that we might imagine coming down the pike in the future is a reality to millions if not billions today. The Congo – women raped with knives and broken bottles as well as the usual equipment, lips cut off, arms and legs cut off, children kidnapped to become soldiers. Throughout the world children kidnapped or sold into sex slavery – boys and girls having their small orifices plundered by adults. Starvation. Dengue fever increases worldwide- a nasty disease that has made it to the Tex-mex border. Fathers and Mothers separated from children as they try to make a living as an “illegal” in another country, constantly fearing the law. Child labor in mines and factories. It goes on. We have lived on the top of this heap of human misery. One may look at their early demise as something evil to contemplate but many of them may well see it as a relief. Farmers are drinking pesticides in India when they have a failed crop and cannot buy more seed.

    Everyone of us now alive is going to die anyway so mourning the loss of life in collapse is foolish. We can morn the lost of years of life, but our lives are destined to end the minute we are born. But an early collapse of the economy is perhaps the only thing that can bring the population down and the fossil fuel burning down in time to allow the species to continue. I don’t know if that matters sometimes, but if it matters, if there is some good reason for our species to continue then we have to welcome early collapse and know that we won’t face anything in the coming years that someone on earth is not facing now.

    If justice means anything then perhaps it is just and good that we who have lived well have a taste of what the bottom of the pyramid have endured for so long.

  • Robin,

    One of the things you said did not ring true to me. Or rather, I think it might be looked at in a different way. (Of course this is just a mind game based on zero evidence.) I’m addressing the development of the concept of private ownership. You were discussing a paradigm shift by nascent agriculturalists, i.e., learning that plants grow from seeds and that seeds grow best under specific conditions leads to taking possession of the best spots for growing seeds, hence the shift to “private ownership.” You then note that ownership was not part of the pastoralist paradigm thus suggesting that the idea of private ownership of land is a direct result of the development of sedentary agricultural activities. I would like to suggest that the roots of “private ownership” go back much farther into our collective past. I think there is evidence that part of the function of the tribal unit in hunting/gathering societies was to provide physical strength (in numbers) to claim and hold choice pieces of territory. Tribes spaced themselves out through the landscape in much the same way song sparrows establish and control breeding territories by singing. “Sparrows with the most moxie control the choicest breeding territory” is equivalent to “tribes with the greatest strength control the best hunting territory.” I’m suggesting that the jump from “I control a choice hunting location where caribou are abundant,” to “I own the richest bottom land for growing wheat” is only a change in degree, not a change in paradigm. Perhaps the development of sedentary agricultural is not the source from which all the subsequent evils of civilization flowed. Perhaps our desire to own things comes for a more primordial source, the same place songbirds get their desire to control territory. Or not, you just got me thinking.

    Michael Irving

  • If we were living in tents or a yurts, moving them to other locations as needed at short notice, I would certainly have a sense of joint ownership with the rest of our tribe for our geographic range: I might be willing to defend it against intrusion by other tribes. I might ever have individual ownership of animals it the tribal herd. None of these would be quite like claiming a particular piece of ground as mine.

  • Kathy, if you’re still upset about me promoting Dr. Strange ahead of Thor in the cosmic pecking order of the Marvel Universe I can understand — I’m the world’s biggest God of Thunder fan too! You seem to have an obsession with the most horrific extremes of human behavior and society, as if they somehow imply that such conditions are inevitable for all of us. The solution to such horrors is not for all of us to descend into barbarism, but for us to create a prosperous world where such things are not possible. This will not happen by returning to the Stone Age!

    The Stone Age would be a place of horror which no person on this forum could ever be prepared for or would prefer to life in modern civilization. Those who say they would are *delusional*! Derrick Jensen, who I know many here consider some kind of prophet, is a *total fraud*. He is dependent upon industrial civilization for his very survival due to a medical condition — he would last about five minutes in the Stone Age! I know the kind of group fantasy people are engaging in here because I’ve been there, but please admit that it is fantasy. The very fact that you are sitting at a computer connected to the internet posting about the need to destroy civilization is absurd hypocrisy. If you are serious about life beyond civilization, the first thing you need to do is stop posting at this blog and throw away your computer forever!

    On the subject of indigenous people, it may surprise people to learn that I live on Indian reservation land, and believe me, no one here is interested in going back to the Neolithic! I’ve travelled all over this planet, and the idea that there is some great longing among aboriginals to return to their old ways is nothing but a white man’s fantasy! No one ever goes back to that lifestyle once they have become part of the Matrix. Maybe you should all ask yourself why that is instead of romanticizing a lifestyle that none of you has even experienced!

  • @Craig Moodie—Seen any elephants lately?

    @Bernard—You said, “Lately I found some people who understand and try to act, but by themselves they also are trying to erect some kind of illusion, saying it can’t get worse than at WW II and the following famine.” What a revelation. First the acknowledgement that some people in Europe think things will get really bad; as bad as the worst they can think of–WWII and the post war famine. Then, second, your assessment that it will be worse than even those times. Yes, you are right to be “just trembling by the thought.” We all should be. As Kathy notes later, “We in the first world have a cozy lifestyle to grieve and while that is real to us, it perhaps helps (or not) to remember that every awful thing that we might imagine coming down the pike in the future is a reality to millions if not billions today.”

    As Victor points out, NBL has given some of us an outlet to think about things and to share our thoughts. The assessment, by many here, that we are facing the worst kind of future is not a valid reason for not facing it or talking about it. Thinking and talking about the future helps us to prepare our minds to face the physical ordeals that lie ahead. People around here, in the testosterone overdosed American West, have a term that describes the act of steeling themselves to face their fears, be it riding a wild bull or speaking to a large group. They say it’s time to “Cowboy Up!” It’s that time for all of us.

    Michael Irving

  • “We must terminate western civilization.”
    No! you are very wrong!
    We must terminate ALL civilization, we must terminate the whole concept of civilisation! No civilization is compatible with life on eart.

  • Greetings, this is my first time commenting on this blog. How do you do, everyone?

    Personally, Michael Irving, I’m far more worried about Kathy’s comment about us possibly having no time to read all day than I am about whether or not we need to “cowboy up.”

    A people who do not have the time to read, or are illiterate and incapable of reading, are a people who cannot learn from their past mistakes because they do not have past knowledge.

    A non-reading people are easily manipulated through “control of information,” as feudal serfs were during the Dark Ages by the Catholic Church. Without the ability to read, without the knowledge of philosophy, literature, science, etc., they cannot engage in the “critical thinking” necessary to leave the world a better place than they found it. The feudal serfs, for example, believed that working like slaves for their lords was a necessary part of life. It was because of readers and thinkers like John Stuart Mill that we even started to believe that all of this violation of human rights in Africa and so on was a BAD thing. Without the idea of human rights that books made possible, all of you on this blog might still be arguing as feudal peoples did that indigenous people were “savages.” Non-readers do not care about the world or what happens in other countries, because they lack the “childlike curiosity,” as Einstein put it, for knowledge.

    If we’re actually reduced to working for so long that we can never read anything, as Kathy suggested might happen, that would be a catastrophe…because then we might REPEAT our mistakes. With the loss of Greek and Roman knowledge, for example, the society that replaced the Roman Empire was a pessimistic society, where people were resigned to whatever their lots in life were upon birth.

    So, Kathy, you may be right, it may be inevitable that we’ll lose a lot and undergo physical hardship, but do we have to resign ourselves to a life without books, since as Thomas Jefferson said, “I cannot live without books. They are my food and drink. Without them I would die.”

    I don’t know, a life without knowledge and, more importantly, curiosity sounds like a much worse life than a life without material comforts.

  • Woody, why are you using an internet-connected computer, the very apex of industrial civilization, to post your juvenile screeds? I think you’ll find that simplistic civilization-bashing is a phase that some young people pass through, but as you get more life experience and spend some time in nature and realize how dependent you are upon this matrix for your survival, you eventually grow out of it. The ones who don’t grow out of it tend to become extreme misanthropes like Ted Kaczynski (or Guy McPherson?), making insane terrorist threats from cabins in the woods (while still depending on the Matrix for their survival). This isn’t how you want to end up, is it?

  • Cosmist, a lot of people on this blog, as well as other “doomers,” really are living lives off-the-grid, so your charge of hypocrisy does not work. Please contribute something more helpful to the discussion if you’re going to make a post.

    I, for example, at least tried to raise the issue of whether or not we think we should preserve reading and knowledge for those who will have to “work all day,” as Kathy put it.

  • I love how Cosmist thinks we all want to go back in time. He just can’t see past the idea that life is more precious than human life. Sure we all use computers and many of us drive cars and depend on modern medicine. This doesn’t however change the fact that the planet is still being devoured. Because I have a car doesn’t change the fact that we live in a car culture. I will get rid of my car and the car culture will still be around. We are all aware that civilizations demise will likely be our own as well.

    Tell James Tiberius Kirk I say hey.

  • Librarian.

    Good to see new names appearing. Might that mean a lot more people are reading NBL and discovering the truth about our predicament?

    ‘A people who do not have the time to read, or are illiterate and incapable of reading, are a people who cannot learn from their past mistakes because they do not have past knowledge.’

    Unfortunately the most important lesson of history is that the lessons of history are not learned. As has been said manmy times before, history doesn’t repeat, but it does rhyme.

    ‘they do not have past knowledge’

    Unfortunately they do not have present knowldege either, particularly when it comes to scientific matters. Western societies are essentially scientifically illiterate, I’m afraid. My experience of people in general is that if you offer them some vital information pertaining to their future their response is often to tell you they don’t need it.

    ‘feudal serfs, for example, believed that working like slaves for their lords was a necessary part of life’

    Unfortunately, people in modern western sociieties believe exactly the same thing. As a consequnece of the control of information and self-censoring, most ordinary people lack knowledge of the workings of the political-economic-monetary system and are totally unaware they are ‘slaves’ who are continuously manipulated.

  • Hello Librarian, I like to read too. Have your read about the oral traditions? What impresses me is the feats of memeory required prior to our written word.

    You wrote “A people who do not have the time to read, or are illiterate and incapable of reading, are a people who cannot learn from their past mistakes because they do not have past knowledge.” Often knowledge is gained with out the aid of a book and I wish it were so easy for us to learn from our mistakes just by having knowledge from reading books.

    Also, “Non-readers do not care about the world or what happens in other countries” … then again maybe they do, they just can’t read …

    The term ‘bottle neck’ is used here and you lamented that “I don’t know, a life without knowledge and, more importantly, curiosity sounds like a much worse life than a life without material comforts.” … I think it is safe to say that if a few of us humans do make it through the bottle neck we will be taking knowledge and curiosity with us … books or no books

    Thank you for sharing your love of reading, appreciate your post.

    You also wrote “Without the idea of human rights that books made possible” … as you probably know from your reading the U.S. constitution was to some degree based on Native American ideas of governance.

  • Librarian, it seems to me that despite reading and extensive histories (which are often lies) we continue to make the same mistakes over and over. Dark Age people were part of a civilization. Un-civilized people, ie hunter-gatherers had a long run – about 200,000 years minus the 10,000 in which we became “civilized”. Since they persisted for about 19 times as long as it looks like we are going to persist as a way of life and they did it without books, and despite the pressures of civilization a few H-G tribes still exist, I have to conclude that books are only important to people who choose agriculture and cities. Yet every civilization before us has fallen and we are making the exact same mistakes they made, just bigger and with extra hubris.

    One thing that will be different when all the books rot away is that old people will be respected again as repositories of knowledge.

    I am reminded of a story by Jared Diamond. He was out with some of the native Papua New Guinean H-G’s and they got delayed getting home. So they set about to gather mushrooms for food. Jared got nervous and told them that some mushrooms are poisonous, were they sure these we safe to eat. They got very indignant because they were the ones taking him to see new bird species, telling him their names and behavior. How could he think they didn’t know what mushrooms were safe to eat.

    I love my books and read all the time. But I love learning from my garden, learning from my chickens, learning from just experiencing the world. Sometimes books get in the way of that. They make you think you have to look everything up instead of using your own reasoning to figure things outs.

    At any rate, IMHO we are back to the stone age per Richard Duncan’s Olduvai theory or we are extinct – no other choices. Civilization has never worked. It destroys the world and lets us forget we are mammals.

    Only question is when does the collapse start and how long will it take to return us to the state we evolved to live in.

  • Sarah, Oh my chickens (I think I will elevate them to god status). The ice things confirms Guy’s post. This statement from your link however rattled me “The US Grain Council, the industry body, said late on Thursday that it has received information pointing to Chinese imports as high as 9m tonnes in 2011-12, up from 1.3m in 2010-11.” I am speechless.

    I guess in answer to my own question, the collapse starts now.

    By the way don’t forget ya’ll that this year and next Option Arm and Alt A mortgages are due to reset their payments – about 1 trillion worth. see the chart at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2010/03/new-credit-suisse-arm-recast-chart.html

  • Kathy you say we have no other choices but the Stone Age or extinction. I’ll give you two other choices:

    1) We keep pushing forward, expand into space and overcome our terrestrial limits by harnessing the orders or magnitude greater energy and matter available to us in the solar system. Remember that the sun produces more than 20 trillion times our current global power usage, and a single small asteroid may contain precious metals worth more than the combined GDP’s of the USA and China. You may dismiss this as fantasy, but many with high intelligence do not, and consider the idea of an imminent return to the Stone Age a much greater fantasy.

    2) We re-engineer ourselves genetically and/or cybernetically, or create an artificial intelligent, and these posthuman beings create a civilization that we can’t currently even imagine. This might look to us much like the explosion of homo sapiens across the planet in the last 200,000 years looked to the rest of the animal kingdom. No one said evolution was pleasant!

    The problem with the doomer community is its total lack of imagination, and its strange disregard for the power of science and technology. Like it or not, technologists make the rules on this planet, because technology *is* power, and people who voluntarily return to the Stone Age are simply making themselves irrelevant to any discussion of humanity’s future. If you do decide to go off-grid, you will have absolutely nothing to say about our future on this planet!

  • Kathy, do it – elevate them LOL … yes, those mortgages, another rung on the ponzi ladder, … from thin air to thin air (you know, dust to dust)

    Robin, Celente seemed even more wound up that usual … good audio, thanks. Also am checking out the “Mind of Clover” … really appreciate the Bhuddism you sprinkle in. Also, I agree “only with a different set of human livestock farmers.” but the mass of people coming together to make a change is a positive step … just need to go from ‘we want someone else to have the key to our cage to this cage is history.

  • TC. Please seek treatment for your psychosis.

  • Kathy: Prepared to get even more speechless:


    Not only is China experiencing an incredible drought in their wheat growing provinces, but they are the number 1 producer of wheat in the world. Follow the thread above, and you will see the US is way behind in 3rd place. 40% of our corn production goes to ethanol. God knows what will happen if we switch to 15% of the stuff in the gasoline we pump.

    Question for Kathy: Our chicken flock is 100% RI Reds. I want to introduce 1 Rooster to our flock of 15. Best just to get the same breed or is there a better solution. We want to begin to slowly expand our flock of egg layers, while culling some on the odd occassion.



  • Michael.

    Thanks for raising the matter of ownership.

    In the distant past our ancestors were picking up and throwing away stones and thinking of them as stones. Presumably, at some point one got the idea that a stone he was carrying was ‘his stone’. Hunter-gatherer societies nevertheless coped with personal ownership. It does seem the be the need to defend and recoup the time and energy invested in growing crops that set us on the path to self-destruction.

  • Ed if you add a RI red get it from a different supplier than the one you got your original one from. I would add a different breed as that would be a more sure way to avoid inbreeding. What are you looking for – eggs, meat, both. Do you like variety in color of chicken? color of egg? If you would like ask Guy to send me your e-mail and we can talk chickens off the blog. Here is fine though too but I can send you some pics of what we have accomplished via e-mail.

  • Also, let me add something:

    I actually understand, a little bit, where the Cosmist is coming from, although I do not agree with his conclusions.

    Unfortunately the Cosmist has little experience in his own position and is primarily motivated by a caricature of what he thinks we ourselves believe, but what I think he meant, if I were to represent his argument in its STRONGEST form, is that in order to gain knowledge we have to acknowledge that we are but one planet among the vast and quasi-limitless expanse of outer space. I think he is arguing that we should be looking up at the stars more in appreciation, as Carl Sagan did, and that any guide to the future must acknowledge that, in actual reality, compared to most of the universe our dealings are a dust speck. If we had done this earlier, as sci-fi writers like Arthur C. Clarke argued, we wouldn’t have been divided by phony human divisions by race, religion, etc., and we wouldn’t have been in this predicament to begin with.

    The Cosmist would have us leave this planet behind, but even if we do not agree with that argument, why don’t we look for “that small grain of truth” that all arguments have? The Cosmist may be mostly wrong, but when he says that we should appreciate the beauties of outer space and the subtle art of the stars in the sky, I don’t think he’s completely wrong about that.

    I myself often go outside at night and look at the night sky, just staring at it in awe.

    In fact, ironically to the Cosmist, we might do that much better without certain parts of civilization, since with less light pollution in the city it would be easier to see the stars.

    Also, Kathy, it was not my goal to insult you, especially not with my very first comment on this blog. I didn’t mean that I thought books alone justified the abuses of Western civilization.

    What I meant was that if we’re serious about preventing future cruelty like this from happening again, we have to arrange conditions that would preclude any possibility of another oppressive empire emerging and TAKING OUR PLACE. For example, stopping China from becoming the next empire once America is gone, etc. What’s the point of bringing down Western civilization if Eastern civilizations like China simply copy our mistakes and “do us one better?”

    And in order to prevent such things from happening again, what I meant was we can’t afford to collectively forget our history or forget how to really think critically, and I’m worried that if books disappear, we’ll be in the position of “not even knowing what we do not know,” and we won’t be able to help ourselves.

    That was what I meant, Kathy. I was not intending to personally attack your comment.

    Oh, and in response to something else you said on this blog: you said it may be just and good that we’ll have to suffer the same things everyone else has suffered, such as broken bottle rapes in Congo, disease in the Tex-Mex border, and child labor in factories for everyone.

    Well that may be justice for us, and I can perfectly see where you’re coming from, but that is NOT justice for all the little children born after us. It may make everyone in the world equal, but if everyone becomes miserable instead of only some people, I’m not sure that’s a real solution. Real justice, in my opinion, would be getting rid of these problems for everyone (even if it means bringing civilization down) rather than forcing everyone to be burdened with these problems. Real justice, in my opinion, is spreading joy rather than spreading misery.

    If you are correct, Kathy, and Western civilizations like America and Europe will be punished by experiencing the same problems as everyone else…

    …then from the point of view of a future 3-year-old-toddler, he’s going to think, “But *I* didn’t go into Iraq and bomb their children! I wasn’t even born then so I had no power or resources to influence that outcome! Why must I be punished by working myself to death in a coal factory for sins I was born too late to fix that were generated by my parents and grandparents? I did not choose the time of my birth, nor did I choose the place, and I did not make the decision to force Western Virginians to perish in coal mines! Why tell me that I must suffer exactly the same fate as I made other suffer, when I did not personally make others suffer that fate? Was the reason for my birth to take the punishment of my fathers?”

    Do you have an answer for that future 3-year-old toddler? It’s okay if you don’t, but I thought I should raise the issue for clarification’s sake.

    Also, have I been of any use on this blog at all? I realize that McPherson gets a lot of flames because of his stance, and I hope I did not come off as a flamer.

  • Librarian.

    Do you have an answer for that future 3-year-old toddler? It’s okay if you don’t, but I thought I should raise the issue for clarification’s sake.’

    My answer, for what it’s worth, is that our public officials are worse than the very worst of war criminals because they have promoted, and continue to promote, in the face of irrefutable evidence that they are wrong, the very systems which will lead to utter misery for those who follow them.

    Don’t forget, this battle to have public policy based on reality has been raging for a decade and follows stern warnings given many decades ago.

  • Thank you Librarian for being the first person on this blog with anything positive to say toward me. Fundamentally, all I am arguing for is greater knowledge and bigger horizons for humanity, a longer lifespan for our biosphere, and against a return to ignorance and a retreat from the larger Cosmos. When I hear people say that we should return to being hunter-gatherers it violates my deepest values as a human being and I simply can’t remain silent. What these people are in effect calling for is a return to darkness, to a world governed by superstition, where the stars overhead are campfires, disease is caused by evil spirits and the world is a flat surface sitting on a turtle’s back. It is particularly strange since many people here are highly educated scientists, yet they seem to want to abandon everything we have learned so far and embrace the most pessimistic view of human life imaginable.

    I continue to post here not because I am a troll but because I want people to see clearly where this kind of thinking leads, and to ask if that is really what they want or if they are just suffering from a personal crisis or an emotional response to certain aspects of our current civilization. I was once lost in the darkness of doomerism myself, but the condition is curable and you can be “born again”.

  • @Kathy: I hear what you’re saying, and mostly agree. I would only say (with a nod to Librarian) that ‘some’ reading is better than ‘no’ reading; and reading material of any kind may become very valuable once the electricity goes off permanently. I understand that eventually even books will turn to dust, but in the meantime people are going to want and need some form of escape from their day-to-day, work-filled existence.

    Before TV and the Internet became ubiquitous here in the US, comic books and dime-store novels (westerns, romances, etc.) were incredibly popular. I imagine that was due, in part, to their inexpensive-ness and ready availability, but also to the fact that working people had much less time to spend on leisure than we generally do today. That’s changing, as more people have to work more hours or pick up a second job to make ends meet. When we pass the Great Bottleneck, I imagine leisure time will become almost nonexistent. People will, however, still enjoy a good tale, and will have moments when they want to be enterained. Comic books, Harlequin romances, and westerns by the likes of Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey (and other so-called “pulp” works) can be quickly enjoyed and put down in those brief moments between the end of a work day and bedtime; they may become treasures passed among family members or used in trade — brittle, yellowing reminders of a lost world.

  • Kathy, Ed, Sarah,

    You must at least consider the idea that some KT-4 group or the Borg planted chickens here with malevolent intent. Perhaps they have been trained to soften-up the inhabitants of this planet for eventual assimilation. My girls are adept at some mysterious form of mind control. Any time they want something my response is complete compliance. Yes Master, I hear and I obey.

    Michael Irving

  • Christopher, I deeply apologize, but I would hope that people will still find value for something other than dime-store novels, such as for example the works of Voltaire the philosopher, Hippocrates the doctor, Arthur Rimbaud the poet, Luigi Pirandello the playwright, or even such marvelous works of pure fiction such as the British/French Le Morte D’Arthur or the Chinese Journey to the West or the Spanish Don Quixote.

    My main concern is that without leisure (in the classical sense of the word), there is no intellectual life. Socrates, for example, could “find time” to inquire into ultimate truth in part because he didn’t have to work ALL day, just MOST of it.

    So if that actually happens, if we lose our leisure time to such an extent that we can never “contemplate” anything but dime-store novels, we will not just lose our possessions, we will lose much of those qualities of mind that make what Morris Berman in his book Dark Ages America called “the good life.”

    Is that an acceptable critique of your ideas, or do you believe I am being unfair to you? I’ve seen your blog, and even you realize that there are more things that “make life worthwhile” than work, although in your case you offer nature and mountain views and poetry about gables rather than books.

    Am I phrasing my concerns in an acceptable way, or am I not raising an issue anyone cares about?

    Please let me know, I don’t wish to unintentionally turn into another Cosmist.

  • Librarian.

    If you can picture yourself in a cave with some companions and some materials to carve pieces of wood, or to paint images on the walls of the cave, you will have some idea of the best long term cultural arrangements likely to eventuate if we continue along the path we are currently headed.

    I was looking forward ot something akin to 14th century Europe after teh crash of industrial civilisation, but as time goes by that looks increasingy unlikely.

    Please do not feed the troll.