Starting over

Judging from my email in-box and the occasional comment in this space, my essays have taken a surprising turn. It seems my efforts are worth alerting the authorities, at least according to comments from anonymous cowards who hide behind online monikers.

Unsurprisingly, the black helicopters haven’t arrived yet. Apparently the authorities are otherwise occupied.

If you click the “tags” button on my blog, you’ll see what I write about, which is what I’ve written about for a long time. Among the largest items: economic collapse and civilization (and during none of this time have I been heralding the advantages of the latter). Here’s a couple lines from my fourth essay in this space, going back to 7 September 2007: “The longer and harder we promote civilization, the worse will be the collapse — more people and other animals will die horrible deaths. So, we need to bring down civilization, now.”

Seems I’ve been calling for termination of civilization for quite a while. So what’s the big surprise, dear readers? Why bother throwing your fits, removing your essays, and calling the authorities at this late date? You could have saved us all a lot of huffing, puffing, and distracting bother if you had paid the slightest bit of attention before you contacted me, unsolicited, to write an essay in this space, or even before it appeared in print pixels. You could have alerted the unnamed authorities back when the police departments had money to track me down and arrest me, instead of waiting until all the relevant municipalities were flat broke.

While we’re all gathered here, let’s take a step back for some definitional clarification. I have adopted and used the definition of civilization provided by Derrick Jensen: “I would define a civilization much more precisely [relative to standard dictionary definitions], and I believe more usefully, as a culture—that is, a complex of stories, institutions, and artifacts— that both leads to and emerges from the growth of cities (civilization, see civil: from civis, meaning citizen, from Latin civitatis, meaning city-state), with cities being defined–so as to distinguish them from camps, villages, and so on–as people living more or less permanently in one place in densities high enough to require the routine importation of food and other necessities of life.”

Returning to a theme I last considered many years ago, again I ask each of you to read, and then re-read, each of the 20 premises underlying Jensen’s 2006 book, Endgame. Premise 4 seems particularly noteworthy in light of recent discussions here: “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.”

And let’s not start with that tired line about the hypocrisy of using contemporary technology while promoting an anti-civ message. If I believed my forgoing this laptop in this off-the-grid house would move us one iota further along the path toward a durable set of living arrangements, I would gladly pull the plug. Indeed, as I’ve indicated countless times, I would gladly give my life, immediately, to terminate the industrial economy. Alas, as my mother-in-law used to say when she was alive, “if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.” Even in a nation based on militaristic force and filled with wishful thinking and dreams of propping up a dying empire, not all our wishes come true.

Can you say the same about your commitment to propping up civilization? Are you willing to die right now to keep the industrial economy cranking along? Or, are you merely willing to keep killing humans and other animals in support of an industrial economy that is making us crazy and killing us while also taking down dozens of species every day? Bear in mind Premise 3 from Endgame: “Our way of living — industrial civilization — is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.” If you’re propping up civilization, even if you claim to believe in non-violence and even if you claim to support non-aggression, your actions are louder than your words.

And, too, let’s not go down the misguided path of referring to my actions as rooted in financial gain or seeking attention. My goals are completely contrary to both notions. I eagerly anticipate the day money no longer matters. Ditto for ego-centrism.

I don’t discuss merely civilization in this space. In the words of the great American poet Walt Whitman, “I am large, I contain multitudes.” Thus, whereas I could easily restrict my writing to the horrors of civilization, occasionally I take a turn toward the pragmatic. I consider, for example, topics as varied as philosophy, war, education, anthropogenic climate change, chickens, ducks, goats, greenhouses, and gardening.

Greenhouses and gardening are evident in the tag cloud because they are among the pragmatic issues worthy of our attention. These and other essays describe how we can muddle through, and even thrive, during and after economic collapse. These essays thus provide an example of my efforts to help humanity while also acting as if the remainder of the world matters. Which, of course, it does.

Ultimately, as should be obvious to even the most obtuse reader, I do what writers do: I experience the world, and I describe my experiences. These experiences include the mundane as well as the horrifying, the boring and the riveting (if only to me). And my writing is, by necessity, a reflection of the way I view the world, as a rationalist, a scientist, a conservation biologist, a social critic, a son, a brother, a husband, an uncle, a teacher, a student, a mentor, a colleague, a friend, and an imperialist who grew up during an era when resistance against the dominant paradigm mattered.

It certainly could be true, as I’m often told, that my efforts are wasteful and even counter-productive. But I am certain my efforts take us in the correct direction, away from civilization and toward a durable and better way of living. Continuing the current murderous path, or even supporting that path, is an activity in which I can no longer participate because I care about non-industrial cultures, non-human species, and future generations of humanity.

What about you? Where do you draw a line in the sand? Where do you say, “enough is enough”? At what point do you stop signing petitions and start fighting back against a culture that is killing us all? Are you so comfortable with your role in the dominant paradigm you are unable to see it for what it is, and then act accordingly? Are you willing to sit back and watch — or stand up and cheer — as the doublespeak continues from the fascists running the show, and destroying our future? As the industrial economy continues to destroy every aspect of the living planet on which we and future generations of humans need to survive, are you working to preserve habitat for humanity, or are you merely preparing an apologetic letter to them?

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This essay is permalinked at Island Breath, Before It’s News, and Kickitover.

Comments 108

  • We’ve moved on from Schopenhauer’s “ridicule” stage to the fighting stage. Blogs representing our fears will be vulnerable, and digital media create faceless crimes. I’ve chosen to act locally where I can see peoples faces, and taking myself at least partway out of the Corporation’s reach financially, to start with. It’s going to get ugly.

  • Heh, well put. Maybe, Guy, now that civilization’s decline is more and more palpable, the anger of some folks will turn more and more against those who deplore this civilization, instead of turning against those who are actually destroying it with their actions: the predatory elites. They destroyed Sumer, they destroyed Babylon, they destroyed Persia, they destroyed Rome, they destroyed Maya, they destroyed Easter Island… they always run things into the ground, eventually. But fingering the real culprits may not sit well with those who are still wishing upon a star.

    Btw, I know another version of the proverb: If wishes were fishes, beggars would feast.

  • Thank You ProfEmGuy,

    You can be so proud of your notoriety !! You summed it up perfectly.

    On another note,some are puzzled by the lack of coorelation between the
    price of gasoline and the WTI(West Texas Intermediate)futures contract traded at the New York Merc.Don’t be–you’re looking in the wrong place.

    The world’s largest crude oil futures trading is in Brent(North Sea)
    crude oil,where more than 2/3rds of all the world’s crude futures trading takes place.Brent is well over $100 per barrell and is almost in
    lock step with our gasoline futures contract and the pump price in the US.

    This is very strange and unexplained,since WTI usually trades at a PREMIUM to Brent because it is a slightly better grade(lighter and sweeter)than Brent.Could our government be manipulating the WTI contract?

    Now that I’ve said that, should I also look for a Black Helicopter hovering above my house Guy ?

    Double D

  • Guy, on another discussion site I got involved in futile discussions about global warming. I asked one time if Al Gore and friends were sneaking out at night with blow torches to melt the glaciers. My sarcasm had no effect of course.

    I haven’t heard that Derrik Jensen has blown up any dams yet to let the salmon swim free. I doubt if he did it would have much effect. What needs to be brought down is bigger than that – just as one man cannot melt a glacier, it takes a whole civilization to do that. However TPTB are big enough to create bubbles and then when they crash bold enough to set about making new ones. They can fail to inform the public of the dire straits we are in and absolve BP of killing the Gulf, then hand out more permits. I believe they are quite up to the task of pulling down civilization faster than the few of us who see the need could do it.

    IMO what we do is more about being true to ourselves. I hope in the end when the grid falls and our chicken flock is no longer sustainable I will have the grace to make a big fire and have a last feast with my neighbors. I hope I will never turn a hungry person away if I have any food, even though I know that de-population is necessary. I am quite sure you will be true to yourself and do or not do what feels right to you.

    I applaud your honesty and courage and for providing a place for the people without the rose colored glasses.

  • Natura may bat last, but the umpires dictate the result.

    The umpires, the PTB, decides what will happen in the end.

    They can call the result in whatever way which suites them, and will explain away the nature.

    It will never end. The game is owned by the House, the PTB, from antiquity till the extinction of human race and beyond. The PTB , the most advanced and most intelligent beings ever to walk the earth, will evolve into something much more powerful; and, after they exterminate the Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Homo Singularitus (or Homo PTB) will expand into the earth.

    The juncture was the 16th century. Nothing anyone does will change the outcome.

  • Huh? The game you speak of, Jaime, is some 6,000 years old. Humans (sapiens) are at least 200,000 years old, and probably older. Why in the world would you assume that a strategy extant for 3% of our history is somehow set in stone?!

  • One explanation for the spread between WTI and Brent is offered here: http://energybulletin.net/stories/2011-02-18/brent-wti-spread

  • Derrick Jensen doesn’t believe that people within civilization will go through a voluntary transformation to bring it down…Which I agree. The only way we will learn from this is when we hit total catastrophe!

  • Coming from the perspective of a gay man who came out in 1969 and immediately became a social activist (to promote gay rights), I have learned that social change can and does occur, but slowly: in fits and starts (with reversals), and that the best way to effect it is from within a corrupt system, rather than shouting from without. I also believe that ownership of anything which will outlast you is a peculiar idea at best, and a delusion at worst. Nevertheless, I am a Realtor, and I help people buy and sell property.

    I have no moral qualms about this dicotomy however, because I see my effect on that part of our culture (the buying and selling of Real Estate) as a more significant push to true stewardship of the environment and our real home – the planet – than simply removing myself from the equation. It seems to me that Stewardship of the Planet (or rather the lack of it) is what is at the heart of the argument above.

    Lastly, some of what this culture is producing might have the effect of short circuiting the very problems mentioned in the premises of Jensen — think Egypt. Of course the tally is not in on that game and the revolution may well eat its own tail, as did the French not so long ago, but there is hope. The hope is that suddenly it is possible for vast numbers of humans to realize a new truth and act on it in an instant. This is something new in human civilization and it has the power to recreate us overnight (well, relatively speaking).

  • jaime lopez, I had to google “PBT,” and the disambiguation page at Wikipedia was quite entertaining!

    After briefly considering how “Party of Labour of Burkina” and “Portland Trail Blazers” and even “Peanut Butter Torte” might fit in your missive, I settled on “powers that be.”

    Think about that first word: “power.” Where will that power come from? The upside of the end of civilization (as we know it) is that there is going to be a lot less “power” to wield. HT Odum (et. al.) teaches us that complexity is a direct function of energy. As energy declines, who is going to have this over-arching power over our lives? The government? The corporations? The media?

    The bad news (to some) is that complexity is on its way out. But that’s also the good news — fewer building inspectors, less enforcement of raw milk regulations, increasing impotence of national police forces — you get the picture. And while I have no doubt that a powerful few people will manage to hoard certain energy sources, their reach over the common person will inevitably be diminished.

    Guy, the reason you may be receiving so much flack is that “civilization” is one of those words (like “love” and “sharing”) that mean so many different things to different people. Thanks for explaining your definition (from Jensen), but please also consider avoiding the term. The word may be getting in the way of the message; rather, focus on describing the effects. You might be surprised at the number of detractors who become allies!

    And allies are good. I see you adopting fighting language, which only attracts more fighters. Chris Martenson is on the same wavelength, but by focusing on personal preparation, he manages to avoid attracting the lunatic fringe, who are angry and in denial and thus are lashing out at those who imply their way of life is wrong.

    I’m reminded of what David Holmgren wrote about Permaculture, “… it is about what we want to do and can do, rather than what we oppose and want others to change.”

    I’d encourage you to focus on what you want to do and can do, and leave the “battle” of opposition and changing others to those who choose to use dominator tools of fighting and divisiveness. The “Law of Attraction” says that if you use fighting words, you’re going to have a fight on your hands. Is that really what you want?

  • Thanks Guy,

    For a possible explanation of the unusual WTI/Brent spread.Do you buy this ? Should we be skeptical ? As correctly noted here,the world economy cannot stand $100 per barrell crude.The average US price is already $3.15/gallon unleaded as of February 18.Should we be alarmed ?

    Please give us your opinion. Thank you.

    Double D

  • When I first started to raise the crucial issues of our times around 1999 I was totally unaware of many aspects of ‘the system’ and human nature; I naively thought that by talking to people about the scientific evidence I would be able to bring about change.

    I now know from personal experience that Derrick Jensen is absolutely right: most people are unreachable. As far as matters relating to energy and the environment are concerned, they are ignorant of the facts and are caught in the web of deceit that is continuously spun by the empire, so they don’t want the facts, and reject them if they are offered -hence the truly idiotic postings made on this forum by certain individuals.

    It is very clear that industrial civilisation is in the early stages of collapse, so it is just a matter of time before the complex systems that make city living possible break down. Presumably, at some stage the masses will wake up to the fact that they have been lied to.

    In the meantime just keep telling the truth to those who seek it.

  • Jaime, when nature comes to bat this time even the PTB will be powerless, in fact they will be more powerless than the simplest of peasants because they are clueless. They are dependent on the natural world, which they have no awareness at all. They are dependent on their servants for the most simple of needs. They are dependent on their bodyguards for protection (while I never lock our doors nor have I ever hired a food taster to prevent poisoning). They are the most pathetic of people. In the past they even had to worry about their own children or siblings trying to murder them, perhaps some still do. No doubt intrigues are now waging in the house of Saud with the King perhaps close to death.

    You have far to high an opinion of the elite. They shit just like the rest of us you know.

  • Unfortunately, I have to agree with Jamie on this one. TPTB have enough firepower to destroy all life on this planet at least a hundred times over. And just like any twelve-year-old bully: If THEY can’t have it, NOBODY WILL!

  • Natura may bat last, but the umpires dictate the result.

    The umpires, the PTB, decides what will happen in the end.

    It reminds one of what that great socialist, Josef Stalin said: ” It does not matter who votes or whom they vote for; what matters in who counts the votes”. While that applies in the realm of politics, and in the tertiary economy, when it comes to Nature, Nature not only bats last, but it is also sheriff, judge, jury – and jailer, hangman, undertaker and priest.

  • However; I don’t agree this means they are more evolved.

  • John Mijac:

    Lastly, some of what this culture is producing might have the effect of short circuiting the very problems mentioned in the premises of Jensen — think Egypt. Of course the tally is not in on that game and the revolution may well eat its own tail, as did the French not so long ago, but there is hope. The hope is that suddenly it is possible for vast numbers of humans to realize a new truth and act on it in an instant. This is something new in human civilization and it has the power to recreate us overnight (well, relatively speaking).

    Well, it might end with the return of King Farouk’s son(or grandson, whatever) and the Restoration of the Egyptian Kingdom.

    Serbia had its Prince Alexander, who tried to return after the troubles of 1999. Bulgaria also had a former prince who served as a prime minister for a while. And, out of all places, Haiti’s “Baby Doc” also returned to claim power after the turmoil following last year’s earthquake.

    King Farouk’s descendant will try to reclaim the throne. After all, since the line of the last Pharaoh Cleopatra is extinct, the Farouk family has the best claim for Pharaoh as of now!

  • Kathy:

    the PTB will be powerless,.. They are dependent on the natural world, which they have no awareness at all. They are dependent on their servants for the most simple of needs. They are dependent on their bodyguards for protection (while I never lock our doors nor have I ever hired a food taster to prevent poisoning). They are the most pathetic of people. In the past they even had to worry about their own children or siblings trying to murder them, perhaps some still do. No doubt intrigues are now waging in the house of Saud with the King perhaps close to death.

    –And the winners became the PTB while the losers were buried under six feet of dirt.

    The servants and the bodyguards DO need the PTB person for THEIR survival and will fight for their master till their death.

    Plus, the PTB can use every tactic on and off the book to divide the opposition, and explain away any natural anomaly while getting ready to run away to their safe getaways nobody can even imagine how to get to.

    And after it’s all over they will come out from there, with their fully-armed retainers and gold stash, to enslave whatever is remaining and push their rules once for all time.

    The PTB might have to eat and shit, but they do it in a scale no mortal can imagine.

    “The Rich is Different from You and me.” -Scott Fitzgerald, in the 1920s.

  • Yes David, they can bomb the planet to smithereens. They have that power. But then they are dead, their lines are dead. Please don’t tell me they are going to ensconce themselves in underground sanctuaries and stay there until it is safe to come out as some on other web sites have proposed. They would be there a long time, probably kill each other before they could get out, and if they did stay alive and come out all the mutant cockroaches would have them for dinner.

    It is my opinion that the nukes will fly at some point. On other sites I am told “no they wouldn’t do that because they would die too, they are too smart for that” ie that I am underestimating their desire for self protection. Now you are telling me I am underestimating them because they have the power to do this even though it would be their own doom. I know they have power, what they don’t have is life. They are empty shells of human beings.

    BTW you don’t really agree with Jaime who says “The PTB , the most advanced and most intelligent beings ever to walk the earth, will evolve into something much more powerful; and, after they exterminate the Homo Sapiens Sapiens, Homo Singularitus (or Homo PTB) will expand into the earth.” That is not consistent with your statement “TPTB have enough firepower to destroy all life on this planet at least a hundred times over.” Your statement – makes much more sense than visions of Homo Singularitus…..

  • ‘The PTB , the most advanced and most intelligent beings ever to walk the earth, will evolve into something much more powerful’

    I tend to think of TPTB as the greediest, most manipulative and deceitful of beings ever to walk the earth. The fact that they are prepared to annihilate their own life support systems suggests they are also among the stupidest.

  • Jaime, ah no, the Bodyguards do not need the PTB. Dimitry Orlov writes of this in Russia – when TPTB they guarded became irrelevant they became the local strongmen.

  • Three more banks failed. Part of my weekly routine is to check out the FDIC failed bank list. http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/banklist.html

    Collapse looks ever more likely.

    From Feedstuffs an agribusiness newspaper

    Food ‘panic’ tests world
    – Countries urgently deal with soaring commodity costs and food alarms.

    – Corn supplies to be historically tight, with fall ending stocks at 75-year low.

    – Corn supplies and prices driving everything, from grain to sugar to bread to meat.

    By ROD SMITH

    PANIC over food costs and shortages is setting up across the world in both emerging and developed economies as commodities become increasingly tight and expensive….
    “We are entering an era of disruptions in our food supply and food (price) volatility; this is really serious business for the world,” Josette Sheeran, executive director of the U.N. World Food Program, warned last week.

    When it comes down to food and hunger, “the margins between stability and chaos are perilously thin,” she said in a statement.

    One should call the situation for what it is — a panic, said Shawn Hackett, president of Hackett Financial Advisors Inc. in Boynton Beach, Fla.

    Full article at

    http://www.feedstuffs.com/ME2/dirmod.asp?sid=49804C6972614A63A1A10DF54CD95D65&nm=Search+our+Archives&type=Publishing&mod=Publications::Article&mid=AA01E1C62E954234AA0052ECD5818EF4&tier=4&id=32D3A0AE02924C6292442527D1626AD8

  • Guy, back in my DHS day’s I’m not sure I would have been too worried about your writing. Earth First got the attention of the FBI by vandalizing property, not writing about the fact that we are screwing our environment. Whoever is reporting you does not understand the criteria for making such a report, that is making threats to public officials or other citizens, which in all the time I have read your blog I have never seen such. As to black helicopters, they have stopped coming around for now, probably short on money. Seriously, in the fall, I’ve been told they were DEA out looking for drugs, flies all over Appalachia looking in people’s windows and fields looking for pot. What a waste of tax payer money and an invasion of privacy to boot. It was so tempting to watch them through a rifle scope, but I restrained myself. 😉

  • Hey Guy
    Great post mate! Them’s is fightin words….and as the Irish saying goes “is this a private fight, or can anyone join in?”….!

    The idiocy of some of our previous posters indicates that not only is Kevin Moore correct about how stupid they are, but also how interesting and wise most of the others here are!

    As Derrick Jensen said in a recent talk, after the D-Day landings, the French Resistance gained huge new membership, as locals realised that the Germans were not invincible.

    I’m sure we’re likely to witness the same as the Great Unraveling picks up pace. Once some real pain wacks a few more around the head, their ability to wake the f*&k up and grow the f*&k up will really pick up pace.

    In the best traditions of loving our land-bases and driving a picket pin in as a mark of resolve, and taking a stand on the side of Nature, I’m sure many of us might suffer, but right now I’d rather do this’ or die trying…!

    Kia Kaha!

  • Look there is a big difference between wanting the best for the planet and following Guy’s approach in his last post. I don’t wish death on anybody (as Guy does) and I certainly cannot recognize the utopian and extremist discourse presented here. Not only that, “Rage” is hardly a feeling from which Guy is able to implement his “scientific and rational approach”. Anybody who casually dismisses the deaths of millions, even billions, that would result from such a sudden (and very hypothetical) collapse in the near future, has obviously lost his or her humanity and ability to empathize with the many who have not asked to be born, but are merely making their way as everybody else.

    If Guy truly thought that collapse was imminent, he should not spend time arguing the case for “fighting” the system – all energy would go into preparation. You would perhaps try to save some people and improve own preparedness. What is the point of fighting the “system” if it is doomed in two years anyway. It is utterly irrational to engage in active resistance to a collapsing system. This is only a strategy if you want it to be a self-fulfilling prophesy, in which case Guy becomes a demagogue.

    Now if you don’t believe there is going to be an immediate collapse, but more like an on-going stagflation into misery you obviously have time to implement transition, and as the situation gets worse this will happen automatically. As food and energy got more sparse people would not allow themselves to be dependent on failing infrastructures and they would begin to perhaps build allotments, local economies would appear ect.

    Here is the point: if there was a sudden collapse of infrastructures and society, million upon millions of starving, confused, armed and scared people would roam the countryside burning every stick of wood, eating every bird and squirrel, inhabiting every pristine spot of nature left in attempt to flee the cities. It would wreak absolute havoc on the very thing that Guy is trying to protect and that is another reason I why I don’t trust and i don’t approve of it: it is utterly unrealistic, it is utopian and it is extreme. Guy should be doing his best to transitions peacefully, if he honestly believed in what he said. In fact if Guy truly believed in saving the planet he would be praying for time to do this to save nature and humanity.

    I know when I wrote “The Ascent?”it was certainly NOT advocating collapse, rage, wishing death, fighting, revolution or any such extremist notion. I apparently did not check enough articles on this page before submitting to Guy, which is why I asked him to remove it, when I with horror realized the nonsense he was spouting about “wishing death” and dying for the cause. I was attempting to take stock of the situation in science and technology – to see what we can realistically expect from the future of innovation and knowledge. I despise utopias in any mode, form or fashion. I don’t think there will be a society where we drive flying cars, eat food in pill form and wear silver space age clothing. On the other hand- Guy’s vision of the future, which resembles the front cover of a Jehovas witnesses magazine with lions, lambs and people frolicking over a lush meadow is equally moronic, especially if it is to come after an extended battle.

    Let’s flag down a yellow cab and head for Real Street everybody – get your mind into gear and start thinking for yourselves.

    Utopia means “no place” and that’s because they never will or can happen. Looking into history I cannot find one single case of a utopia which brought something good with it. If I in the ascent concluded that mankind was stuck in a highly entertaining hamster wheel going nowhere – minds clouded by illusions, I think this is equally the case for Guy.

  • withdraw from the world and live your values

  • My, what a spirited conversation I have awakened to this morning! Guy, you continue to stir… 😉

    The Powers That Be (TPTB). I don’t personally know any of these, so I do not know if they are evolved super-beings, or mentally ill misfits – I suspect the latter. I do not know their motives as none have ever expressed those inner feelings to me. I do not know their true strategy, if they are indeed acting jointly and globally.

    I do know them by their actions, however. Their actions smell of greed, lust for power, and outright ecological and environmental sociopathy.

    I am more interested in the perception, and I believe it to be widespread, that somehow the Elite will save themselves at our expense, place what remains of the entire world under slavery to themselves, and rule forever with advanced technology.

    The even deeper issue here, however in my mind, is where did we get this idea that modern technology will be available after the Collapse? This idea seems systemic wherever I go, no matter the view of the “End World” (utopia or not) held by the person thinking on such things. No matter your view of the future, whether it be a One World Government, or localised villages working in harmony with farmers, or set of totalitarian governments ruling over their respective regions of the world after Collapse, or whether it is a world trying to pick itself up after a massive nuclear exchange, the answer always seems to be the same, whether explicitly or implicitly – the modern technical infrastructure will always be there to support whoever rules and whoever serves.

    Most people do not see the relationship between humans, resources and technology. They quite often see the relationship between humans and resources. This is a subject thoroughly discussed and understood at many levels, and boils down to this – fewer humans means more resources to go around, more humans means less resources to go around. So if we reduce population, we should be able to stretch our resources out longer and possibly even lift the average standard of living of the remaining few, the few who might be governing themselves or at the mercy of a totalitarian ruling Elite who planned it all in the first place, or…well…whatever YOUR flavour of the future might be.

    What people do not understand properly is the relationship between technology and resources, and technology and population.It is obvious to most people that the less resources you have, the less technology you can support. It is not so apparent, that the more advanced the technology you have, the greater the support required in terms of resources, lower supporting levels of component technologies, and people.

    Few would argue that people today depend for their lives upon modern technology – yes, even TPTB – indeed, even more so. Without modern technology we would in no way be able to support 7 billion people on this planet. What most fail to grasp is that technology is vitally dependent upon vast numbers of people and resources for its existence. A truly symbiotic relationship.

    Reduce available resources (esp energy and food) and you reduce the population. Reduce population and you reduce available technology (through destruction of the cities). Reduce available technology and you reduce complexity. Reduce complexity and you can no longer support cities and the global supply chains that support them. If cities and/or the global supply chain fails, then civilisation and modern technology as we know it disappear.

    In the event of a catastrophic global population reduction, TPTB will find themselves quite isolated as the technological infrastructure upon which they so heavily rely will be suddenly and catastrophically removed out from under them. There will be no escape.

    The REAL global Elite in these circumstances will be those living closest to Nature – likely the current indigenous peoples of the world. It is they who have the best chance at survival as they depend least upon modern technology and have an established community and cultural basis to fall back on – though this can be argued.

    Unfortunately for them, however, the current civilisation is poisoning their waters and lands, warming their world and forcing catastrophic climate change upon the natural world, thus possibly removing from them the ability to survive with the skills and knowledge taught them in their respective cultures. It is a toss of the coin as to whether these folks will be able to survive.

    For the rest of us….well…value each day…enjoy it as you can in whatever circumstances you find yourselves. For those of you who are able, the closer you can live to Nature, the higher your chances of ultimate survival, so if you have the time and energy to invest in such an effort, this is good. But whatever you do today (or not) will have negligible effect upon the current momentum of Collapse.

    You can neither slow nor stop this train. That’s reality. That’s not utopia.

  • The “bottleneck” is a possible reality we must accept with the collapse of our economy and the loss of incoming middle eastern oil. Our whole food production system relies on oil. This is because of the short sightedness of our government agencies who allowed the major chemical companies take control our food production as well as the gullibility of farmers many years ago who listened to the government men telling them how to make their farms “produce more” causing the sudden almost extinction of the family farm. Billions of people could possibly die. I do not take pleasure in that thought. It scares the hell out of me that it could happen and that my family and I could be among the death toll. Still, I find myself standing in Guy’s corner, cheering on the collapse because I find the way we are abusing this planet and the beings upon it is morally reprehensible.

    As for people from the city roaming the countryside eating birds and burning all the trees and such. I find it quite unlikely. People stay with what they know. It is like the zombie movies where the zombies all go to the malls because in their base brains that is all they know. It will not occurred to most that the government will not come and save them. They will stay in the cities and wait for flown in food supplies that will never come. People no longer know how to forage and hunt, even those who leave the cities will soon perish due to lack of knowledge.

    I encourage everyone, right now, turn your yards and balconies into gardens. We can pull ourselves through this if only we stop waiting for the government to fix things, stop wasting our resources and start learning to feed ourselves and our neighbors around us. Support your local food producers and start producing your own. We are going to be hungry and wanting but it will increase the size of the neck of the bottle and pull a few more of us through. Good luck to all! Oh, and buy a couple of warm sweaters for the winters, you are probably going to need them.

  • Too busy with spring to get here often, but what a treat when I do. Two comments resonate with me: Christopher: “For me the greatest victory over murderous civilizations will be survival into a world without civilization” Matt: “Withdraw from the world and live your values”
    For those of you worried about black helicopters, spend some time at Zerohedge when they are ranting. Pretty tame stuff here.
    Springs coming get busy. I get incredibly optimistic this time of year.
    Easy to live in the moment with that February sun on your back.
    Best to all

  • Victor your points about technology are right on. Even a shift to the technologies of earlier ages are problematic. An era’s technology was built up slowly on an infrastructure that supported it. The potter had to have a ready source of clay, and a means to obtain it. The wagon in which supplies were transported required wagon builders and wheel wrights. The metal parts required a blacksmith with forge and a source of high quality fuel. The wagon required horses that had been trained to pulling wagons and a farmer to raise the horse’s food. The potters wheel required a craftsman to make it. All this had to be relatively local and not powered by fossil fuels. This was all built up over time, with tweakings for technological advances but nonetheless built on the past. Rebuilding a fossil fuel free environment for making clay pots requires rebuilding a whole way of life. And that is just clay pots. In the midst of depopulation with in the US at least a population with few useful skills, it is hard to see how this can be rebuilt.

    Carrie, you are right, steps in this direction will be useful. But more importantly steps in this direction by gardening your own yard or balcony will fill your soul and feed your stomach. Soil is not dirty, it is a beautiful life filled resource. Rich soil smells good, feels good, grows good. Do it for the joy.

  • Cleitophon you wrote [Anybody who casually dismisses the deaths of millions, even billions, that would result from such a sudden (and very hypothetical) collapse in the near future, has obviously lost his or her humanity and ability to empathize with the many who have not asked to be born, but are merely making their way as everybody else.]

    The old death of the billions argument, which often comes from people who don’t care at all about those billions while they are living. They are useful for the argument and nothing else.

    Please don’t forget that every 6+ billion person alive today is going to die and every child they have is going to die. That is what being mortal is. The question is never IF they die, but rather WHEN they die, HOW they die and if they leave progeny.

    Guy has explained this all, I don’t understand why people refuse to get it. Actually I do, it is personal fear for one’s own life not caring about the billions. Global Warming if not stopped in its tracks will lead to the extinction of most life. The late Permian warming led to the extinction of about 95% of life on earth. The survivors had a lot of evolving to do to give rise to homo sapiens. It is certain humans would not have survived the extinction. This will happen to our planet once again and perhaps nothing short can stop it in its tracks but perhaps the quick collapse of the Industrial Civilization could.

    So billions are going to die untimely deaths regardless of whether we get collapse now or industrial civilization putters on. We might get untimely deaths of every living human or perhaps we get untimely deaths of most but not all humans. Which will it be.

    The question raised is can we hurry this along by direct action so that the likelihood of some humans going forward and some other species going forward is increased. Some think we can, I don’t. But you pose an irrelevant question. Billions were going to die even if we were not in this state because we are mortal. Billions are going to die from Climate Change or collapse of Industrial civilization. That is not the question. The question is will humans go extinct and can anything be done to prevent that.

    Meanwhile, since you care so much about the billions that might die I can tell you of a place where you can personally save a few. Head right out to the Children’s Home run by Mother Theresa in Port-au-Prince Haiti. I am pretty sure it didn’t collapse in the earthquake. They always need help and now more than every. You care so much about billions dying go rescue a few. I don’t expect you will, or that you will go anywhere else to help the billions because you use that argument so casually. The death you fear is your own. But you are mortal and will die regardless of what any of us on this site have to say.

  • @Kathy: I have never in my life read so many fallacies upon fallacies. You write: “Please don’t forget that every 6+ billion person alive today is going to die and every child they have is going to die. That is what being mortal is.”

    Well its not merely a question of dying or not is it- obviously we are all going to die in the Camus/Sartre sense of the word – your little reminder completely elides the moral issue. There is a huge difference between dying fulfilled in your bed as an old man or woman after an admittedly hard life and dying an unnecessary death at the age of 35 because some moron hastened events when it was not necessary. If you cannot see the difference in that you truly have become dehumanized hench-person of a cold at unfeeling ideology. There real world has shades of grey – you cannot (even hypothetically) just write off the death of billions and say “ah well – thats how it goes” and still call yourself a moral person.

    And the old – “if you care about people, you must become jesus” – argument! It is just as ignorant as the one sided perspective you have of death. Utterly tasteless, extremist nonsense. This is why it is called extremism, because it can only see the extreme perspectives in an argument without regard for the real implications. There are no pragmatic perspectives on the human level. For you there is only the end goal and every individual is expendable in that cause. How is it different from communism, nazism, islamism and every other political movement that has put an idea above real people (in this case some utterly unattainable abstraction called “nature”).

    Everybody wants to live just as much as the next – do you think you are special because you have some sociopathic cassandra syndrome? No you are not. You think “the capitalist bourgeoisie system” is cruel and evil. Well guess what so is the claptrap thats being spouted here.

    Ah well, I suppose its in the nature of crazies that they don’t know whey are crazy or are even able to reflect upon the implications and assumptions involved in their insanity:

  • Just to keep in mind, bloggers may not be who they claim they are – the may be hired. I am quite sure a host of bloggers on the Oil Drum during the spill crisis were paid by BP. And of course the other companies and our own gov’t do it too.

    By the blog Washintonsblog
    http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2011/02/government-and-big-business-gaming.html

  • Clep – Gee thanks, how nice to have my time in Haiti be compared to being like Jesus. But actually if we all lived at the level that Jesus lived at we wouldn’t be facing extinction via global warming. So living like Jesus would be a really good idea. Just to check it out I did an ecological survey on how many earth footprints Jesus would use. When I did it for myself I found that if everyone on the planet lived like I did it would take 2 1/2 planets to provide my simple lifestyle. So I did it for Jesus as best I could given that not enough options are given to match his lifestyle. Even then for Jesus I came up with .56 planets. So living like Jesus would most certainly allow for humanity to go on for a while.
    http://myfootprint.org/en/

    you wrote:
    [Well its not merely a question of dying or not is it- obviously we are all going to die in the Camus/Sartre sense of the word – your little reminder completely elides the moral issue. There is a huge difference between dying fulfilled in your bed as an old man or woman after an admittedly hard life and dying an unnecessary death at the age of 35 because some moron hastened events when it was not necessary.]

    Actually once you are dead it doesn’t matter when you died. Nothing matters once you become non-existent. So the mattering about when you die is rather temporary. Right now lots of people die early deaths because of the industrial culture. But it is quite obvious that you have no concern for the billions who live at the edge of existence. You care about your own skin. Your fear shines through everything you write. Get a grip on it. Go do some volunteering at a nursing home and see how living a good long life ends up for most in the first world (from my years doing that I can tell you it is not a pretty picture) and maybe an earlier death in the prime of life won’t seem such a bad idea. Or a more gentle way to look at death, as you wake in the morning and wish you could go back to sleep contemplate on how peaceful sleep is, how hard it is to wrest yourself back into wakefulness and then realize that that is all death is, the long sleep of non-existence. Not really so fearful as you make it out to be.

    Basically what you are saying is that anything that hastens your death, even if it saves humanity from extinction, is immoral.

    Morals are tricky ground. When a mass disaster happen, medical personnel do triage. The first round puts a color tag on each of the injured. The ones who very likely cannot be helped are not treated. Is that immoral?

    At any rate if Derrik Jensen blows up a dam or two it won’t hasten the fall of industrial civilization UNLESS industrial civilization is already teetering on the edge. I prefer to let it collapse on its own – the time is so near I hardly think any direct action will make any difference. If you die young it will not be because of the words written on this blog, but because civilizations always collapse and this one will be no different.

  • Here I am again!

    It’s a pity that this kind os essays and complex ideas vanish in the air after the collapse. I think that the most complex thinking will be: “How the Hell shall I force this tomato to become red?”

    89 dollars per barrel: a few months and prepare for the next credit crunch!

    (Thank Satan I’ll already have my own harvest, and I got 10k bullets).

    PS–> If you have rabbits, never put two males in the same cage: they start fist fightings every 5 minutes.

    PS PS–> Beating Salomon worked as intended. Now he’s a hard working and willing donkey.

  • Jean I would never have thought beating your donkey would work, but I could have told you putting two male rabbits in one cage would probably not work 🙂 Your tomato is not your donkey and it will get red when it gets red. However green tomatoes are quite good too. We had a lot at the end of last season and rather than frying them which adds lots of grease to the diet, we sauteed them quickly and added eggs. Yummy.

    Always glad to hear that your project is moving ahead.

  • The hungry among us in the human community must, absolutely must be fed now here because we can do so and we are bound to care for them. But how do we begin to move toward the achievement of this goal? If we hold steadfastly to the necessity of assuring a sustainable population in a sustainable world for the children, how do we feed those who are hungry and starving, and simultaneously not keep ‘feeding the problem’ posed to the family of humanity by the human overpopulation of Earth?

    If the outrageous per-capita overconsumption and individual hoarding, the reckless large-scale corporate overproduction of unnecessary stuff and resulting pollution, and the unbridled overpopulation of Earth are occurring synergistically, then the human community is soon to be confronted with formidable global ecological threats. Somehow the human-induced global predicament, however colossal, that all are observing and some are discussing has got to acknowledged as well as addressed and overcome as a whole. Think of the global predicament as a rope made from three colossal strands. Because overpopulation, overproduction and overconsumption activities by the human species are occurring synergistically and on such a gigantic and soon to become patently unsustainable scale, taking hold of one of the strands will not change the course of events. All three strands will have to be simultaneously grasped carefully, skillfully and humanely somehow. What appears before us is a super ordinate challenge, unlike anything seen in the course of human history, I suppose.

    Perhaps what we need, even if it is not all we need, is an adequately functioning democracy, but first ordinary people will have to liberate ourselves from the pernicious, widely shared and consensually validated thinking of a tiny minority in the human community who extol the virtue of greed mongering as good, as an activity to be valued most highly.

    Even an enlightened dictator is not a person in whom I could place much faith. We need for duly elected, common people who are chosen by a society to accept the responsibilities and fulfill the duties of leadership by meaningfully embracing democratic principles and eschewing greed, by not “selling out” to greed mongers.

    It appears that the most arrogant, foolhardy and avaricious, self-proclaimed masters of the universe among us rule the world in our time, and rule it absolutely. This situation is bold evidence of a corruption of democracy, not an example of the reasonable exercise of democratic principles and practices. These circumstances are not only a colossal insult to humanity, but also are a clear and present danger to global biodiversity, Earth’s frangible environs, its limited resources and to a good enough future for the children.

    Democracy requires representatives who reject the entreaties and bribes of greedmongers. They also need to embrace principles and practices that promote long-term well being of the great majority of people and not only the short-term desires and fantasies of masters of the universe.

    By the way, where did the ‘Homo hubris hubris’ idea for the name “Homo sapiens sapiens” originate?

    Steven Earl Salmony
    AWAREness Campaign on The Human Population, established 2001
    Chapel Hill, NC
    http://www.panearth.org/

  • Steven

    I think it too late now to clean up democracy and initiate a managed population reduction. Nature is set to do this for us in the next few years? A properly managed population reduction would take several generations to bear significant results. As another thread indicated, we are one poor harvest away from a severe food disruption and the outlook this year is not good anywhere. There is no reason to believe that between the accelerated cost and ultimate shortage of affordable fuel and the weather-related poor harvests arising out of increasingly severe climate instability that we will not experience significant food supply disruption, and we will soon be witnessing mass starvation in many countries about which we will be helpless to do anything about, as much as we would like to.

    The solutions you discuss should have been addressed 60 years ago. They weren’t, and now we have to face the results of our inaction, of our completely unwarranted hubris.

    I never cease to be amazed at the expectation on the part of people that we can simply make a decision to do something and it can then be done. This is not an American movie. There is no cavalry on its way. There will be no last minute reprieve. There is no happy ending. There is no hiding place.

    I fear we are on the edge of something that will literally overwhelm us on both a global and a local scale. our species has never had to deal with such an event.

  • Well done, indeed. Thanks for these powerful ideas.

  • Robin Datta,

    Re: Kill the Buddha- Feb 18

    I am sorry that you misunderstood my reference in the previous post. I was probably being too subtle by half. I was thinking of Lin-chi I-hsüan’s teaching from the mid-ninth century that has been interpreted to mean that dependence on dogma and authority is a mistake and that we should look to ourselves for wisdom.

    Michael Irving

  • Well, Kathy, my project is already working. In fact, I have adressed some young people in this little village who already trust me.

    Usually I live in my farm house: it’s a lonely life. So, one time a month I rent a room here in a small mountain hotel, surrounded by the snow, and spend a whole day eating well (I ate 5 times today), drinking good wine and reading. This afternoon I watched a film called “Man from earth” (in stagevu.com, I hardly recommend it).

    I must confess that mental adaptation into new life conditions is hard, but I feel stronger every day, both physically and mentally.

    Become farmers: it’s the best life, once you get used to it. 🙂

    PS–> Right now I’m looking for a young wife. Any 25-yr old woman is interested in having healthy kids with a farmer? 🙂 😉

  • Jean – you wrote [“Man from earth” (in stagevu.com, I hardly recommend it).] I think you might mean “heartily” recommend it as in do watch it rather than “hardly” as in don’t bother with it. 🙂
    I checked it out on Netflix and found I had watched it and given it a 4 out of 5 stars. Took me a bit to remember the plot tho, combination of old brain and lots of movie watching since we got Netflix. Movie watching suits us better than socializing. Once you join TEOTWAWKI crowd it seems, at least to us, that ordinary conversation is boring and what we want to talk about is verboten.

    Turning swords into plowshares and soldiers into farmers is a project I endorse. Farming is a good life. I know you are well prepared in many ways to defend, but from now on you will be defending your own land and work and hopefully a wife and family. I don’t think you need to worry much, in the coming times your skills will be most attractive.

  • My first post on here. I’m finding myself increasingly torn between knowing that my BAU life can’t continue, and fearing the outcome of attempting to step sideways into something new. I’m tearing myself in two, lacking the courage to make that leap of faith and free myself from the suffocating comfort of work and city life in order to give myself the time to learn the knowledge we’ll need if some of us will survive.

    All the while, watching the news, looking at the latest graphs that all point to the same conclusion, the next step down the ladder looming closer. Or will the next step be the slip that sends us tumbling?

    And I’m sat here, alone, unable to share my thoughts with most of the people in my life, the people I care about because I’ve tried so many times, and they can’t hear what I need to say.

    Even the peak oil aware group I’ve found in my town, it’s hard to talk to even them.

    I’m trained as a counsellor, I know about denial, that doesn’t stop it being any harder to see the blank looks, the avoided glances, the switching of the channel to something that distracts. I’ve lost so much faith in humanity over the past few years. I used to believe that given a piece of obvious, urgent information, that people would act. It just aint so. Now I see the insanity, and the fear in my friends and family, and I can’t get through it.

    And here I am, knowing I need to leap before it’s too late, but scared, so fucking scared of the consequences – either way.

    It doesn’t help that I know I’d be making that leap alone, something that has only just sunk into realisation.

    Am I any better than the people in denial? I know all this stuff, and yet here I am, sitting alone, typing this like it’s going to make things better.

    I’m toying with the fantasy of quitting my university work and travelling around like the ‘Littlest Hobo’, wwoofing my way around the country (UK), to learn, to make contact with something sane. Giving up security, the known, the safe, the probably doomed for the big leap of faith, the chance of something different. FUCK!

    Writing this I guess I’m hoping some of you will say “Go, leap!” and maybe I’d pluck up the courage to do so. I’m also hoping no one does. I’m hoping for someone to say it’s all been a long, elaborate, fucked up dream, and I can go back to thinking about the old future, the one where things would be getting better, rather than worse. Jesus, life gets more like the matrix every day.

    Thanks for all the inspiration on here, for this little corner of sanity in an insane world, and the chance to write this down and have it read by people who might understand.

    Dave.

  • Thanks Dave, now I can just show your post to my friends and family and save my breath ; )

    For a different perspective search “A horse-drawn trek toward a ‘do-over’ in life” and have a good relaxing read.

  • I have come to the conclusion that Cleitophon just does not understand our predicament at all.

    ‘There is a huge difference between dying fulfilled in your bed as an old man or woman after an admittedly hard life and dying an unnecessary death at the age of 35 because some moron hastened events when it was not necessary.’

    At the moment ‘only’ about 30,000 are ‘dying an unnecessary death at the age of 35 because some moron hastened events when it was not necessary’ every day. Meanwhile, in other places where additional overshoot is still possible, mouths that cannot be fed long term are being generated, leading to a population increase of around 200,000 a day, as I understand it.

    There is no evidence whatsoever that the Earth can sustainably support a human population in excess of 2 billion, and there is plenty of evidence that a sustainable population might be as few as 500 million. (The calculations for the effect of population on positive feedbacks of abrupt climate change cannot be done at this stage.)

    The death of billions by starvation, disease or violence in the near future is inevitable. That is a mathematical consequence of overshoot. In that sense we are no different from the reindeer that were introduced onto predator-free St Matthew Island and went from 29 to 6,000+ and back again (eventually reaching the starting figure of zero.) We are already seem to be at the inflection point as far as human population goes.

    BBC World reported on the situation in the semi-desert of Kenya, where drought used to occur once a decade, but now occurs every 4 years. Tribes are now literally fighting to the death over resources and nomadic cultures that existed for millennia are in their final collapse phase. Something like 10% of the population in the Ethiopia region are on permananet food aid, courtesy of cheap oil.

    The rapid demise of industrial civilisation, though bringing horrific consequences, will result in less overall misery than the continuation of present economic and social arrangemnts, which will simply allow a slightly greater degree of overshoot to be achieved at the expense of a little more of the Earth’s ecological capital. It’s rather like seeing the 6000+ reindeer on St Matthew Island starting to starve so delivering masses of fodder from the mainland to allow the the population to go to 8,000. Maintaining current economic and political arrangements solves nothing and simply exacerbates the difficulties. (Can you exacerbate a dillemma?)

    What is amusing. in a very black sense, is that those who wish to minimise the forthcoming misery are labelled ‘extremists’, while those who actively promote present day suffering and promote additional misery in the future are celebrated. It really is too surreal for words.

    Anotehr little discussed aspect is that the present standard of living enjoyed in ‘developed nations’ is predicated on keeping most of the world in a state of destitution, and is predicated on stealing from future generations. I personally think it is it quite evil.

  • Kevin,

    I have not had time to really keep up with this discussion, but I think your first sentence – “that Cleitophon just does not understand our predicament at all” -is correct.

    It is quite literally like living among sleepwalkers – their minds are clouded with dreamy delusions.

    Here in Wisconsin the sleepwalkers are waking up and they are anything but rational, thoughtful, calm adults they pretend to be while peacefully sleeping with a Government Nipple in their mouths.

    Now they are starting to squirm and bite each other…

    The time to try to work with the sleepwalkers is over as far as I am concerned. The won’t wake up until they have nothing left to eat but their neighbors ass. Good luck with your Transition Town and victory gardens then.

  • Dave.

    I can empathise. ‘I used to believe that given a piece of obvious, urgent information, that people would act. It just aint so. Now I see the insanity’

    The entire system is insane and most people who subscribe to it are either totally blind or are insane. Welcome to our nightmare.

    Your mind/body will tell you what to do. At some stage you will either be driven from society by its insanity and will ‘run for the hill’, or you will accept the insanity of it all and start preparations for collapse within an urban environment. Much depends on age and circumstances.

  • Dave:

    A bit of advice
    given to a young Native America
    at the time of his initiation:

    “As you go the way of life,
    you will see a great chasm.

    Jump.

    It is not as wide as you think.”

    Jean, your last post about the wife you are looking: 25 something and having kids with a farmer. You might want to think a little bit more about those qualifications.

    Ed

  • Dave, life WILL get better… after a fashion. 🙂 My wife and I are currently packing our things, getting ready to sell our house in the overpopulated South (US) and move to a more remote locale in the northern Rocky Mountains bioregion. We don’t know where, exactly, or what jobs we will be able to find, or where our daughter will go to school. Hell, at this stage, we don’t even know if our house will sell, given the gravity well the US real estate market has become. Through it all, we have moments like you, arrested by self-doubt. I don’t know that those feelings will ever go away, even after the grid goes down for the last time, even after our cars are parked for the last time, tanks never to be filled again.

    It would be better, I suppose, if the current collapse weren’t happening in slow motion. This can be an advantage, though, for those who are aware that it is actually happening… it can give one a leg-up, if you will. That’s much of what Guy’s message is here, and Jean, and so many others. I suspect that your mind and spirit will eventually become so aware of what is happening, and what you need to do, that you will “just do it,” and it won’t feel so much like you are “running for the hills,” as Kevin said, even if (like me and mine) that’s what you’re actually doing… a survival instinct will kick in, maybe. Perhaps you are already in the beginning stages of the latter.

    Are you single, or do you have a partner to share the burden?

    I am sad to leave our garden and our chickens and our little woodland. I’ve got to learn how to garden all over again, almost.

  • live small, modest, quiet and be generous

    I have just made 20 jars of jam from confiscated/rescued japanese plums!

    compost and modesty

    car free matt

  • ‘Here’s a couple lines from my fourth essay in this space, going back to 7 September 2007: “The longer and harder we promote civilization, the worse will be the collapse — more people and other animals will die horrible deaths. So, we need to bring down civilization, now.” ‘-guy

    i feel very ambiguous about your last sentence there. on one hand ‘free’ cuer, the activist kathy referred to in a post who got a 23 year sentence (later reduced to 10) for direct participation in property destruction, is extremely inspirational. on the other hand, i agree with kathy and others here: ‘we’ are far too few in numbers/influence to play any significant part in the coming collapse, which is being assured by those who do have the numbers, influence, and surreal stupidity/dogmatic ignorance. so, i’m just another interested spectator.

    if a spectator’s opinion is worthy, here’s mine: don’t encourage admirably but naively idealistic young people like ‘free’ to become martyrs or partial martyrs (years of imprisionment being one variety). don’t engage in eco-‘terrorism’ or encourage it.

    on the other hand, in surreality desperate times call for desperate measures. i just violated my own advice, with a statement which could encourage vandalism. ambiguous, indeed. but mostly, i lean towards pacifism and preparation for economic collapse. i’m not sure if this is cowardice or conviction. probably both. i fear establishment wrath, and basically embrace the freedomain non-violent anarchism of robin. perhaps it’s ridiculously naive to think our species will ever eliminate institutional aggression/exploitation, or the human nature behind it, but we can dream, can’t we?

    ‘I’m toying with the fantasy of quitting my university work and travelling around like the ‘Littlest Hobo’, wwoofing my way around the country (UK), to learn, to make contact with something sane. Giving up security, the known, the safe, the probably doomed for the big leap of faith, the chance of something different. FUCK!

    Writing this I guess I’m hoping some of you will say “Go, leap!” and maybe I’d pluck up the courage to do so. I’m also hoping no one does. I’m hoping for someone to say it’s all been a long, elaborate, fucked up dream, and I can go back to thinking about the old future, the one where things would be getting better, rather than worse. Jesus, life gets more like the matrix every day.

    Thanks for all the inspiration on here, for this little corner of sanity in an insane world, and the chance to write this down and have it read by people who might understand.’

    Dave.

    dave, i don’t understand!!! (just kidding) thanks for the most eloquent personal post of the day, if not the week/month/year.

    how about holding on to your ‘secure’ university position while in your free time persuing knowledge, contacts, and experience in economic independence? or don’t u have enough free time to do so?

    welcome to surreality, and nbl. i also recommend kathy’s oft repeated advice to enjoy life while u can, to the extent u can.

    kevin moore, as usual thanks for the most well informed and persuasive surreality check. it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture without such checks. u consistently provide solid ones.

  • Dave thanks for some really honest sharing. Its not only hard for others to hear what we want to tell them, it is hard sometimes to believe ourselves. While things are obviously falling apart, here we still are typing out comments and blogs and life seems obviously to be holding together. I know a crash is coming, but it still seems unreal. Since I am already living rural, retired, and doing what I love I don’t have big choices to make (how many boxes of matches, should I learn to make fire without matches, do I have enough candles and saw blades, do I have enough rum and whiskey stashed – these are the big questions in my life 🙂 ) For anyone like you still employed in the unreal real world the question of stepping out of that world is a difficult one.

    I don’t know how it might turn out for you, but I am guessing it would be freeing for you even if it turns very difficult and different from what you expect. When I went to Haiti I had no idea how long I would stay. I had a few thousand dollars in the bank and some friends to stay with. It turned out to be the hardest thing I ever did, I have no desire to go back, but I did something others thought crazy that I had always wanted to do and I have never regretted it. And her I am 15 years later, alive and kicking and quite happy with how my life changed after that. No one can promise to anyone else how things will turn out for them, but for me at least stepping out into the unknown felt pretty darn good.

  • Perhaps what we need, even if it is not all we need, is an adequately functioning democracy…..

    We need for duly elected, common people who are chosen by a society to accept the responsibilities and fulfill the duties of leadership……

    We need two wolves and a sheep to vote on what to have for dinner.

    Re: Kill the Buddha- Feb 18

    I am sorry that you misunderstood my reference in the previous post. I was probably being too subtle by half. I was thinking of Lin-chi I-hsüan’s teaching from the mid-ninth century that has been interpreted to mean that dependence on dogma and authority is a mistake and that we should look to ourselves for wisdom.

    There is really no misunderstanding: enlightenment – the Great Death – is the way to look to ourselves for wisdom.

    Am I any better than the people in denial?

    Well, maybe not, if one considers the others’ sanguinity. But it may arguably be an advantage to be aware of the crocodiles in DeNile.

    Human communities need resources to sustain them, like a fire needs fuel to sustain it. Putting fuel in a lamp or stove keeps the fire going. Pouring fuel on an open fire without constraints will increase the size of the fire.

    The usual tendency is to pour fuel on such a fire to “reduce its suffering now” and postponing any consideration for constraints until later. (That does not mean that I would choose to rationalize away any need that I or anyone else may have for urgent assistance: it is just that it is built into the genetic makeup of all life, in over a billion years of evolution of DNA).

  • “Turning swords into plowshares and soldiers into farmers is a project I endorse. Farming is a good life. I know you are well prepared in many ways to defend, but from now on you will be defending your own land and work and hopefully a wife and family. I don’t think you need to worry much, in the coming times your skills will be most attractive.”

    I have my plowshare and my sword, nobody will touch them! Yes, farming is a good life. And no, my dear, I’m not prepare to defend: I need a militia, and young men need training and discipline to be effective fighters.

    The best model are traditional swiss peasants. Even nowadays, most swiss families own war weapons (at home). They’re farmers and soldiers, AT THE SAME TIME. That’s the point.

    In addition to that, nearly everything must be done now. I have to get space, lands, tools and houses for the incoming people. I have to teach them many things. We must install some workshops and distribute the tasks. We must get more arms and ammo. We must build a schools and perhaps a secondary school, we must build a huge library, and collect as many (selected) books as possible, not just about architecture, maths and engineering, but also literature, poetry, art, philosophy… If we don’t save that, in one or two generations our children will be ignorant servants ruled by landlords.

    This community will be the work of my life. And I expect that it become the seed of a new (small) world. Perhaps not a perfect one, but certainly a good place to have kids: a place where the word “future” makes sense.

  • I think the comment above is from Jean to me – as only the quoted words at the top of the comment are mine 🙂

  • I wonder why it says, “Kathy Says:”?

  • Oh, no doubt Jean just wrote that in the “Name (required)” slot instead of the body of the comment. Too much good wine in his once a month retreat?

  • Correction and my sincere apologises to Guy:

    When your hostess exposed the crack of her a- -, that was not “going commando”.Commando only refers to frontal exposure of the genitals,as when a woman is wearing a skirt sans panties.

    An example of the utter depravity of our society,is the attempt by the publicists of Miley Cyrus to convince us that she goes out in public Commando style .

    What next ?

    Double D

  • Kathy,

    You may not have noticed that the Swiss, within the week, had a vote on whether or not to allow citizen soldiers to continue to have their weapons in their homes. The measure was defeated but not by a very large margin. I am sure the anti-home defense people are thinking it is only a matter of time before they get the guns. The alternative to storage at home would be to have all military (read homeland defense/national guard) weapons stored in military facilities, the reasoning being, presumably that a militia needs to be kept under tight control by the authorities (TPTB). It appears that many of the Swiss have ingested the same pill as US citizens, i.e., “Please protect me Big Brother, I’m too afraid to do it myself.”

    Michael Irving

  • DIE-OFF IMMINENT…HUMAN VIRUS SOON TO BE ERADICATED…INDUSTRIAL CIVILIZATION THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL…FIGHT THE POWER…UNPLUG FROM THE MATRIX…SHARPEN YOUR MACHETES AND PREPARE TO FIGHT FOR YOUR PATCH OF EARTH…BECOME AN INDIGNANT, INDIGENT, IGNORANT PEASANT AND AWAIT THE ASTEROID…BLOG RIGHTEOUSLY ABOUT IT ALL FROM YOUR COMPUTER, WHICH WILL SOON BECOME A PAPERWEIGHT POST POWER-DOWN.

    NO CREATIVE THOUGHT HERE…NOTHING TO SEE…THESE AREN’T THE HUMANS YOU’RE LOOKING FOR…MOVE ALONG.

  • Guy, you ask us to reflect on where we draw the line in the sand … the essays here and many of the comments are helping me figure that out – thank you.

    Dave, I went out to listen to music this weekend and on the way there I’m thinking ‘this 10 mile trip would take me a day if I were walking’, I am listening to the husband and wife duet with the acoustic guitar and I’m thinking ‘they will be able to take this through collapse’, and looking around at all the lights and tv screens I’m thinking ‘we blow the tops of mountains off to access coal for this?’ … none of these thoughts can I share with the people near me … as you put it “they can’t hear what I need to say.”

    Terry described your post as an “eloquent personal post” and I agree. I can relate to the struggle you are describing with “suffocating comfort”. My thoughts have brought me to the realization that living closer to the land is a good way to live regardless of collapse. This perspective takes away the reactive quality to decisions I may make … helps to harness the tendency Robin referred to of pouring ”fuel on such a fire to reduce its suffering now and postponing any consideration for constraints until later.”

    I am reading “Shantung Compound” which is a memoir of life in an interment camp – reading about the way this diverse group of people came together and formed a functioning community has been encouraging.

    You wrote, “scared of the consequences – either way” … the importance of conversations like the ones here are that we have the opportunity to understand more clearly the consequences … of jumping or not jumping – borrowing from Ed’s quote.

  • Guy, I can’t think of a website or blog which has affected me more positively than NBL – and I’ve been using the internet since the late 80s. I’ll be eternally grateful for your commentary and insight. This is the only site other than my own on which I comment regularly and the only one that I make time to read. Thanks for what you do.

    As for the others who comment regularly, whether I agree with what you say or not, you too have had great impact on me. You’ve helped me to form and shape my understanding of our collective future. It’s not pretty but at least I’m aware. And for me, that’s the most important aspect of consciousness.

    On a related note, I am reminded continually of how improbable it is that more than a handful will survive collapse. As some of you may know, I started a barter clinic 3 weeks ago alongside my regular clinic. It’s going well and we’re seeing lots of patients, but I’m amazed at the number of people who have no skills that fall into my criteria for bartering: something the patient made, produced, or grew, or a skill they can provide. Fewer than 1 in 10 can come up with anything that qualifies. So most are just paying the reduced rate for clinic fees.

    My guess is that as collapse becomes tangible and inescapable for the average person, the die-off will be rapid and bloody.

    It’s a beautiful sunny day in the low 70s here, so it’s back to the garden for me! Have a great day everyone!

  • Michael, no I did not notice any action by the Swiss concerning citizen soldiers. If you will note, the comment about Swiss citizen soldiers is a comment TO me by Jean. He apparently wrote my name in the “Name required” box instead of his own. If you look at it again that should be apparent.

    I have no interest in guns (any FBI agents monitoring this site please take note). I have never shot a gun. My husband has a shot gun and occasionally takes out a garden rabbit raider for me. We are not planning to stand and defend. Jean certainly is. Different choices for different people.

    I had an argument with co-workers one time about guns. They maintained that we had to allow any sort of gun including machine guns to be held by the citizens in case they needed to defend themselves against the government. I said “the government has tanks!”. They replied that the government would never use them against the people. Well I was at college at Valparaiso University – near to Gary IN. When the first black was running for mayor of Gary they stationed tanks on our campus just in case.

    A little known fact is that our government once aerial bombed US citizens, many soldiers who had served in WWI at the Battle of Blair Mountain – I have no doubt they might do such things again, in which case private arms will be of little use against the gov’t.

    “The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest open class war in United States history and was the second largest overall armed insurrection next to the American Civil War. For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, between 10,000 and 15,000 coal miners confronted an army of police and strikebreakers backed by coal operators in an effort to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. Their struggle ended only after approximately one million rounds were fired,[1] and the United States Army intervened by presidential order…By August 29, battle was fully joined. Chafin’s men, though outnumbered, had the advantage of higher positions and better weaponry. Private planes were hired to drop homemade bombs on the miners. A combination of gas and explosive bombs left over from the fighting in World War I were dropped in several locations near the towns of Jeffery, Sharples and Blair. At least one did not explode and was recovered by the miners; it was used months later to great effect during treason and murder trials following the battle. On orders from the famous General Billy Mitchell, Army bombers from Maryland were also used for aerial surveillance, a rare example of Air Power being used by the federal government against US citizens. ”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Blair_Mountain

  • Thanks for all the thoughtful and generous replies to my earlier post. As a bit more context, I’m in my mid thirties, single, renting and living in a large UK town.

    I guess what makes any decision harder is being torn between wanting to stay in the town I was born, and fight the good fight here, try to make a difference, and my gut feeling that big towns/cities are going to be bad places to be, and if/when things kick off, I’ve got no more of the skills required to thrive/survive than the average person on the street. I don’t know how I’m going to help myself, let alone others.

    I did a permaculture design course last year, which was two weeks of hard work but utter bliss. Despite the simple, commonsense nature of the basic principles, what the course taught me the most was how much there is to learn, and how little I know. That’s what I feel I need, to be able to immerse myself in learning some of the skills and knowledge that might just matter as we move forward.

    Instead, at the moment I’m coming home shattered after a day at work. A day of teaching people who don’t care, things they don’t need to know. Or having to jump through petty ‘health and safety’ paperwork hoops, while the subject of something that’ll genuinely threaten all of our health and safety remains strictly taboo.

    I do know that if I don’t try something different – break out of this rut one way or another, I’ll regret it, somewhere, somehow.

    I’m at the stage where I know that I need to jump, I just don’t know where I’m leaping, or how I’m going to land yet.

  • Watch out folks, The Cosmist has pulled out all stops now. We are doomed. Who can stand before a deluge of CAPITAL LETTERS?

  • Kathy,

    Sorry for that. I did not notice that the names did not correspond.
    I sometimes do not have time to do more than skim NBL trying pick up the essence of what is being presented. Sometimes the conversations are of a more-or-less personal, party-to-party, nature and sometimes after I figure out what the conversation is about, and if it does not ring some bell in me I will skip on to the next comment.
    I think what threw me off was the following:
    And no, my dear, I’m not prepare to defend: I need a militia, and young men need training and discipline to be effective fighters.
    Now the “my dear” had a feminine tone to it and from that I understood that you, Kathy, were saying that you were not prepared to defend your place but were rather hoping for the establishment of a local militia of young, trained fighters. The follow-on about the Swiss made perfect sense to me in the context.
    Of course coming from Jean it means something quite different. Historically he has voiced his intention to pull together a small private army of like-minded souls to protect the local fiefdom against the Visigoths.

  • Dave,

    Live frugally, disengage from mainstream as much as possible, reduce consumption of processed foods, walk as much as possible and at the next opportunity visit some place you think might be more survivable. We are headed into uncharted territory, so nobody knows how this will play out, but in your shoes I’d be looking at Ireland, Cornwall-Devon or a Scottish Island. If things really ‘hot up’ maybe Norway.

    Frank.

    ‘An example of the utter depravity of our society,is the attempt by the publicists of Miley Cyrus to convince us that she goes out in public Commando style .

    What next ?’

    We all know that in mainstream culture making money is the thing that matters, and sensationalism is a route to money. The more interesting point is that most western nations are close to 100% dependent on China, India, Pakistan etc. for imports of clothing and footwear; we can only guess what is next, but we can work out what is a bit further down the line. A fast die-off = plenty of clothing in the system; a slow die-off = a shortage of clothing.

    The ‘uncivilised’ tribes of the Equadorean jungle, where clothing is minimal and food is still plentiful, look set to fare better than the rest of us, provided they do not get exterminated by the savages who are invading their homelands, and provided the Amazon doesn’t turn to desert.

  • Hello all,

    This is my first post here, though I have been reading the blog for a while. Dave’s message really struck home with me and inspired me to finally join the discussion.

    Dave,

    The was a wonderfully written post, which really summed up my situation as well. I find myself in a very similar set of circumstances- working a job that pays well, has good benefits, and as much security as a private sector job can have these days, and yet I am constantly at war with myself about leaving it to go learn some skills that would have some practical application on the other side of the collapse. My current job in the semi-conductor industry doesn’t require such skills, though it does require nearly all of my time.

    I have been peak-oil aware for a few years now, but live in a nice, comfortable, suburban apartment without a garden and with very little connection to nature. For the past year or so I have been fighting a battle in my head, daily, over whether I should ditch this high-tech, high-stress job and go WWOOF around the NW, learning skills and meeting people more suitable for the post-peak lifestyle that I’d like to start living sooner rather than later. Or, I could stay at my job and save up enough for a piece of land and an off-grid cottage in only 5 more years (do we even have 5 more years?). And so back and forth I go, should I stay or should I go, every day, all the time- in the back of my mind at every meeting at work, or every morning when I get out of bed. It’s exhausting and more than a little bit maddening.

    I just wanted to let you know that you are not alone with these struggles. I doubt I’m the only one out there who shares this paralysis with what to do. Something tells me that there are many of us in the same leaky boat of civilization, who know it’s sinking and yet are finding it difficult to muster up the courage to jump out and start swimming on our own. It goes against everything we’ve been taught, against all social convention, it takes great courage to turn your back on the security of the system, even when you know the system is failing. I suppose it’s normal to be scared, to hesitate, but in the end I don’t think there is much choice.

    Ditry Orlov said it well on a recent C-realm podcast, when he said that you ‘don’t have to run out the clock. You don’t have to wait until the last possible instant to make the change in lifestyle.’

    But most people will run out the clock, myself included at the rate I’m going.

  • I had an argument with co-workers one time about guns. They maintained that we had to allow any sort of gun including machine guns to be held by the citizens in case they needed to defend themselves against the government.

    The Geneva Conventions limits medical personnel and formations to carry non-crew-served weapons: that is, weapons are expected to be carried and operated by individuals. This would include automatic firearms and grenades, but would exclude mortars and such. The same privilege should be extended to individual “citizens” of “civilized” “countries” as long as such exist.

    I said “the government has tanks!”.

    When I served, the basic weapon of the Army was the M-16 and the basic weapon of the Air Force was the F-16: since then the latter has rolled up a couple of digits. In fact the state has these and ICBMs, aircraft carriers, WMDs – the whole kit and caboodle. Trying to take on the state as a block is sheer folly. One should rather seek an alliance with sane humans. Nature, which inevitably bats last, will hopefully select against the others.

    I guess what makes any decision harder is being torn between wanting to stay in the town I was born, and fight the good fight here, try to make a difference, and my gut feeling that big towns/cities are going to be bad places to be, and if/when things kick off, I’ve got no more of the skills required to thrive/survive than the average person on the street.

    In the Biblical traditon, Adam was cast out of his birthplace, Noah was very much on the move, and even Abraham was specifically ordered to a – shall we say – new duty station:

    Genesis 12:1–3

    Indeed, there is hardly any historical figures who achieved any deglee of prominence that had not left their birthplaces – even in antiquity, when people customarily lived and died where they were born.

  • Dave and William,

    You might check to see if there are any local transition initiatives in your areas. These groups may not be the ultimate answer to your situation, but at least you’ll be able to talk to others near you who have some of the same concerns. It’s worth a shot, anyway. I just got back from a meeting, and I feel better. I don’t think we’ll be changing the world anytime soon, but as Guy and others here have said, you do what you can on a local basis to help others, and your work is likely to be repaid down the line. Just my two cents worth.

  • Michael, No problem. I skim myself sometimes. I was a bit stunned this morning to see what I had written in my sleep but then realized what had happened. 🙂

    BTW to Jean when I said you are ready to defend, I didn’t really mean fully armed with a small force of other defeneders, but that you were ready in your mind – it is pretty clear that you INTEND to defend and that was what I meant.

    Oh no the Cosmist has infected me with the capital letter disease – pretty sooN EVERYTHING I WRITE WILL BE IN CAPS.

    OR IN BOLD CAPS IF MY ATTEMPTS HERE WORK LIKE THE DO ON TOD

  • William,

    Thanks for the reply, I totally resonate to what you’ve described, and I also hear the tick, tick ticking of the inevitable clock. The days and weeks fly by, and before you can say “Where should I plant my potatoes?” another year has gone, and we’re still doing the same things in the same way – except the ticking’s got subtly louder, and those potatoes are still unplanted.

    Unfortunately fantasies are cheap and easy. Reality’s a touch more expensive and not nearly so easy.

    I shall however, raise a glass to reality, and bravery, and the thought of meeting you around a campfire, somewhere down our unknown road.

  • Here lies the crux of the issue; resource growth lags population growth, which is the Achilles heel of industrial civilisation and discussion of either, or of any limits to growth which may impinge on business, is taboo. Almost along the same lines as talk about incest.

    This is an unforgivable sin on our part as realists of the human condition. As if talking about impending doom somehow bring it about, or hasten it, when in reality our civilisation is on the road to destruction, buttressed by huge doses of denial and cognitive dissonance by the overwhelming majority of people around the world. To quote Diamond, this kamikaze-like death wish that we are ensnared by will never, ever, end, until;

    “Civilization and the planet experiences a sharp and rapid curve of decline that cannot be stopped.”

  • John,

    I think Transition groups are one of our best shots at the moment. Not perfect, but a step in the direction at least.

    I am already quite heavily involved in the one in my town, but I see where we are, and where we need to be, and the distance between those two points is terrifying. We’re doing what we can though, and although it’s small and frustrating, it’s better than nothing at least.

    You are right though, my circle of peak oil aware friends has increased, and that makes a big difference to my sanity levels! 🙂

  • SaturnV.

    I have to disagree with your. ‘resource growth lags population growth;.

    Surely there is no growth of resources, just consumption of resources captial. The only growth of organic resources that has ovccured in the past has been at the expense of some other resource, e.g. chopping down forests to create pasture.

    Anything ‘which may impinge on business, is taboo’. It has to be, of course. No corporation or money-lender can possibly permit discussion of reality. That the taboo extends to government indicates who is in control.

    Maybe you have missed some of the discussion. I would say the crux of the issue is that visible meltdown of the planet lags greenhouse gas emissions.

    Kathy.

    I too was amused by the antics of TC, who delcares there is NOTHING TO SEE, yet cannot resist looking and cannot follow his own advice to MOVE ALONG.

    Maybe he is so deranged he thinks such a posting will deter intelligent discussion of the issues of our times. Or maybe he subconsciously knows everything we say is correct and is terrified.

  • Kevin, I think like a few others that have come and gone he is TERRIFIED. There is this magical thinking that humans have that if you say something it might come true. Thus damning someone is a serious offence and if you mention something bad that might happen you say “knock on wood” to avoid tempting fate. It seems to infect us all a tad, but the more rational among us, laugh at ourselves when we want to “knock on wood (or wood grained formica as the case may be”. It would seem that the very fact that we are having this discussion leads our Cosmist friend into a tizzy of fear and he seems to hope that if we would all say “I believe you are right after all” the fanciful dreams he has might come true. As I said before this is the Tinker Bell phenomenon – “If you believe,” he shouted to them, “clap your hands; don’t let Tink die.”

  • Kathy,

    You know, rereading TC’s last comment reminded me a bit of Guy’s song of the goat. Sort of a tragic, bleating noise. No one pays attention to him at his site, and now here. It really is sad, when you think about it.

  • Seems there are Black Swans wintering from Morocco to Iran, and points between…

    Brent and WTI crude are ticking up in electronic trading tonight.

  • Dave, I was very moved by your post. Just wanted to say, in terms of leap or no leap, there are risks either way, and none of it is exactly predictable. You could also try half-leaps, temporary leaps, etc. My experience has been that I can’t seem to ever slough off the system as much as I would like. My husband, in particular, is a little more attached to functioning within civilization. But I’ve learned there are quite a lot of ways to mount internal and external forms of resistance. I’m not sure I can return to conventional “work” again (and being a full-time parent of a nearly 4-year-old helps me avoid that world, as does the artificial construction of the nuclear family with a working dad and a “homemaker” mom). But more and more I’ve found ways to take radical action: being involved in various local movements like permaculture, transition, local food activism, homeschooling, homesteading, etc. (And how I love the term “Radical Homemaker”- suits me to a T.) It helps to be in contact with some people I can meet with face-to-face who really GET the trajectory we’re on, who are willing to name the insanity for what it is, who are plucking up their courage moment by moment. I don’t have nearly as much contact with such people as I would like (I would prefer to live in a small interdependent tribe), but I know they are around and sometimes we get to muddle through some stuff together.

    I sympathize with the agony of “what do I do now”- the surest way I know of to break through that is to just DO something, even if it’s small, for the sake of showing yourself that you are capable of breaking through to action. Action is a good antidote to that kind of struggle, I find, whether it’s the “right” action or not. You don’t have to get it right the first time. You don’t have to ever get it “right”, actually. Walk into your fear and be curious about it. As you already know, there is a lot to fear from doing nothing.

    For me, what I return to again and again as a touchstone is the idea of integrity. It guides me well. I don’t have a lot of faith that I will live a long life, but I have great faith that I can choose to live a life of integrity, as best I can. I think that’s the only real power I’ve got.

  • To those who’ve mentioned internal conflict about “what to do”, I thought that I would offer my two cents. About 10 years ago I made the decision to leave the mega city (sunny South Florida) and return to my rural Arkansas roots to restart my life here – unrelated to climate change, peak oil, etc. I left my high paying corporate job, my house on the beach, my partner of many years and moved back here to setup a small town medical clinic. It cost me a great deal – emotionally and financially (I’m still paying off the bills), but it has been worth it. Now as I’ve become “collapse aware” I’m even more grateful that I made the change. So, while my situation is probably different than most, I can offer a few guidelines I used to help with me that decision, as well as pretty much any decision in my life. Maybe you’ll find them useful.

    These aren’t original with me, btw, but they’re pretty basic stuff which can be very helpful:
    1 – What: You have to know what you want – be very clear. Do you want to live completely off the grid by next December? Do you want to reduce your carbon footprint by 10% within 12 months? Do you want to grow all your own food this year? You can’t reach any goal without knowing what the goal is. So get clear on this one.

    2 – Why: You have to know why you want your what. This is what gives your goal power. Is it to save your life or that of your family? Is it to save the planet? Or is it to save a few dollars on your utility bill? Doesn’t matter, but the more powerful your why, the more likely you are to reach your what.

    3 – How: No destination can be achieved if you don’t know how to get there. I suspect that this is the step with which many here are expressing frustration. Be very detailed. Break it down into simple steps. If you want to grow all your own food, figure out how you’re going to get from where you are now to complete independence from the food chain. Do you start with a few flowerpots on your patio/balcony? And then what? Do you start looking for a community garden? Then what? Keep going with your plan until you’ve reached your destination. It may not work out just that way ultimately, but the more thorough and complete your plan is the easier it will be to get there.

    4 – Take Action! This is the step that trips up most people. The most powerful what/why and the most elaborate plan don’t mean a thing if you don’t take action. Action starts with the simplest steps; once you get going, your momentum builds and the next thing you know you’ve made enormous progress toward your goal.

    5 – Monitor your progress. From time to time, take a look at where you are and the actions you’re taking. Are they helping you achieve your goal? If so, great. Keep going. If not, figure what you need to do to get back on track.

    So, a vestige of the industrial economy works its way into our discussion. But maybe you’ll find it as helpful as I have anyway. 🙂

    Have a great day everyone!

  • Robin,

    You comments regarding the invincibility of the state are somewhat off the mark. One has only to look at Afghanistan; 10 years, hundreds of billions of dollars, gazillions of tons of munitions and they are winning. Of course we only have M-16/F16s and they are all the way up to 47, as in AK47.

    I know, I know, if they would only fight fair. That’s what the British said in 1775.

    Michael Irving

  • The REAL Dr. House,

    Thanks for that. Of course on some level we probably all know these things, but knowing and doing are two different matters. Having you remind me is helpful, particularly at this time of the year (plans for spring and summer need to be developed) and for this time in the history of civilization. For example, planning dietary changes that would be healthiest must be balanced by what dietary changes would be healthy AND sustainable in a changed future (depending on oranges for vitamin C may be wishful thinking here in the north if the trucks/tractors stop running or transportation costs make buying them prohibitively expensive). Anyway, it is always good to be reminded. I guess it is just your #5 poking me in the ribs.

    Michael Irving

  • Guy, although I am no sage, I do observe. I have noticed in watching animals, they more cornered they feel, the more they lash out. When the truth is presented to someone of little or no ability to balance what they belive is true with what is slapping them in the face, they tend to start hating. Hate will never do a good thing for anyone. Yes, we all “hate” at times, but a small number of us can move beyond that to a new place, it’s called “understanding”. Until something “bad” happens, we will this lashing out happen more and more. I prepare for the worst and pray for the best.

  • I’m not sure what effect this will have in the US but the rest of the world will soon be trembling …

    Dated Brent Spot 107.40 (That’s up $10 over the past month).

  • Dave,

    I too raise my glass, to both you and to all of the good people here at NBL.

    Thanks everybody for the ideas and support. This blog of those who participate on it make it one of my favorite haunts on the web.

  • Kevin,

    Just the beginning….by the end of 2011 things will be getting hot. And as you and I have often suggested, 2012-2015 should be when things really start going south (or do you say “north in NZ?).

  • Victor.

    We say the same. Heading north can mean going to Northland, which wused to be a subtropical paradise. It’s less of a paradise these days, as remnants of tropical cyclones seem to be increasingky hammering the region.

    I’ve just read an item which suggests the revolutions in North Africa have been manufactured to hamper the growth of [no interest] Islamic banking. R friends behind it, of course.

    Meanwhile Ireland is going to patch things together by building more infrastructure. 1,000 people a week are leaving for ‘greener pastures’. Ha, ha. The march of the clueless continues.

    It does look as though we are in Wile E Coyote land, with the frantic spinning of the legs still preventing the plummet, but energy for all that leg movement running short in a year or so.

  • ////“Our way of living — industrial civilization — is based on, requires, and would collapse very quickly without persistent and widespread violence.”////
    What a childish and simplistic argument. Yes civilisation requires law and order and police and taxes. But just writing civilisation off with generalities that ‘force’ is used against the members of society that do not want to fit in with democratic rules is childish in the extreme.

    Guy, you might be an OK ecologist — I wouldn’t know — but I think you need to go get an arts degree. Maybe do a double in Philosophy and Political economy of the Welfare State, with a little anthropology as well. There’s no argument here, just childish assertions.

    ////But I am certain my efforts take us in the correct direction, away from civilization and toward a durable and better way of living.////
    So you believe the ‘noble savage’ myth do you? The problem with it is when you study most ancient tribal people we find savage savages — with violence, starvation, greed, oppression, slavery, warfare, disease and animal extinctions all thrown into the mix. Who wiped out the Australian mega fauna? What about the Mammoths? Yes, you forgot to mention how ‘perfect’ these ‘noble’ savages really were, didn’t you? They contain all the factors you decry about this civilisation. They’re humans after all, but worse. Savages have no ‘rule of law’ to appeal to. If you want a preview of uncivilisation, hire Mad Max 2. If violence is one of your main criteria for judging civilisation… where does that leave uncivilisation? Meh!

    No Guy, all you’ve demonstrated to us is that you have no imagination. You can’t imagine a better industrial civilisation that protects life instead of destroying it, which saves species from extinction, which uses less damaging — indeed restorative — technologies, and that is ‘fairer’ than the way of savagery. I’d rather live under today’s civilisation than your savagery. Fortunately that is not my only choice. I also choose to march with those that dream of tomorrow’s civilisation, that write to their politicians about a better way, and that see the pitiful alternative you offer as dangerous fools’ gold, glittering with a promise that is not real.

  • Do we have an alter ego posting here? … the tone so familiar

  • You comments regarding the invincibility of the state are somewhat off the mark.

    Nothing in invincible. It is a matter of the imbalance of forces. The Afghans were not invincible in the time of Alexander the Great, and later at the time of the Arab conquest (prior to that they were Buddhists).

    Nor would the uS be invincible when enough of the human livestock here at home undergo the necessary paradigm shift: the farm would cease to exist. Though this seems suspiciously like the Marxist idea that the state would cease to exist, the reason that the latter never came to fruition is that the latter had a large commons that had to be maintained: through the initiation of force whenever needed.

    But just writing civilisation off with generalities that ‘force’ is used against the members of society that do not want to fit in with democratic rules is childish in the extreme.

    To accept “democratic rules” is lupine to the extreme: having two wolves and a sheep vote “with democratic rules” on what to have for dinner. Civilization has to be predicated on the universality of the non-initiation of force. Anything less is a charade for civilization.

    If violence is one of your main criteria for judging civilisation… where does that leave uncivilisation?

    Violence is an exclusionary criterion for civilization. The Kardashev Type 4 civilization will have to be an anarchy: societies based on voluntarism, without coercion – and the initiation of force that coercion necessitates.

  • EN seems to be suffering from the same kind of deep psychosis as TC.

    I’d rather live under today’s civilisation than your savagery.’

    So EN, would that ‘living under civilisation’ be as inmate of the Gaza concentration camp, as a civilian in Iraq during ‘shock and awe’, as an Indian living next to a chemical plant that blows up, or perhaps as a student at a California university who gets shot dead by ‘the authorities’. There are countless possibilities for ‘living under civilisation’: how about as a Chagos islander – your pets get shot infront of you, your home and land are confiscated so an American air base can be constructed (to facilitate the blowing up of other people’s land), and you get transported to some strange place to live in destitution until you die.

    If those don’t appeal you EN, you can stay with ‘braindead zombie option’ -a member of a western consumer society who is not only completely clueless about how the Earth funtions, but is also completely clueless about how the economic system functions and how the political system functions.

  • EN

    You really don’t know a great deal about the “uncivilised” people of the world, do you? If you did, you would know that many, if not most of these tribes had extremely sophisticated democratic cultures in place for thousands of years before the white Europeans even conceived of the idea. Indeed, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson borrowed heavily from the Iroquois Six Nations form of government, which comprised the principles of governance throughout the Six Nations confederacy, to form the Constitution of the US. The founding fathers of the US were extremely impressed with the maturity of the Iroquois structure.

    The list goes on – the Sioux Nations, the Plains tribes, South American tribes, the Inuit of the far north lands. All these had very mature governance systems before the Europeans came onto the scene with their aggressiveness, savage weapons of war, disease, and plundering nature. Who really was the savage here?

    You are correct in that violence exists everywhere that humans do. Violence is a part of nature regrettably. That is part of what government is all about – the rule of law, as you put. But the Native Americans and other tribes had a form of governance that controlled that, and their population levels, and their resource usage. Do we?

    As civilisation goes, it depends heavily upon violence to meet its own needs. Whether civilisation in the forms of cities, nations, or empires, by definition they MUST continually feed their populations and economies with outside resources. Thus, they MUST conquer by military force or economic force those who control the resources they need. While you live in relative comfort and ease within the structure of the greatest empire ever conceived, that empire exists only because of the violence it inflicts upon its legions of resource-producing subjects all over the globe. When those countries or people do not co-operate or resist, then military or economic coercion is used against them to obtain the needed resources. A civilisation MUST do this in order to survive. The Babylonians did it. The Persians did it. The Greeks did it. The Romans did it. The Europeans did it. The Chinese did it. The Americans are doing it. They can’t do otherwise.

    This is why Jensen states the civilisation would collapse quickly without it. You don’t see the violence only because you exist behind its protective walls. If you were to venture out among the “savages” of the world, you would clearly see the violence being imposed upon these folks.

    Further, if you would read your history, you would find that historically, the indigenous populations as a whole used the rule of law to govern social behaviour between individuals and the tribe, and between tribes. Civilisation, on the other hand, uses the rule of law to protect those with property and wealth against those without. The rule of law is quite different for the poor urban dweller than it is for the rich fat cat – quite different. You should know that. Again, who has the higher form of the rule of law? Who is the “savage” here?

    You think technology brings salvation, when in fact it brings desolation – of the environment, of the people of the world, of the natural flora and fauna. You can see this in that most new technology is developed for military purposes, then filters down to the rest of society. Or it is developed to aid in the exploitation of the natural world, as in genetically modified crops, herbicides, man-made fertilisers, pesticides, mining technologies, chemicals, and so many other destructive technological advances.

    EN, you are quite ignorant of these things. You really should broaden your knowledge before you speak of things you know little about.

    Only the ignorant fool proclaims himself wise.

  • Kevin, I assume you do not live in that part of NZ most affected by the recent earthquake yesterday?

  • I’m on the west coast of the North Island (near the bit that sticks out into the Tasman Sea). The recent shaking (September onwards) has been happening around Christchurch, central east coast of the South Island. The lsst really damaging shake in NZ was Napier/Hastings 1931, east coast of the North Island; that demolished much of the Napier and parts of Hastings, caused much loss of life, and led to a revision of building codes. Building codes don’t seem to have helped much in Christchurch.

    There is much discussion about the fact that Wellington sits on a major fault line which could jolt any time.

    In Taranaki we just have a dormant volcano that could erupt at any moment … or do nothing for another 1,000 years. It’s 30 km away and the hot spot seems to me drifting eastwards 🙂

    Much better than Auckland, which sits in the middle of a recently active volcanic zone (I forget the exact number but in excess of 30 mini-cones).

    There are distinct advantages in having a timber-framed house on treated timber piles. Or a housebus.

    Nowhere is perfect. We have (had?) a temperate climate (hardly any frost and rarely above 28oC) and a relatively low population density. Wind is usually the worst thing we have to contend with.

  • En, I think it is you who lacks imagination (and knowledge of native cultures).

    The Culture of Industrialism is a dead end. Consumption is the goal, for the sake of maintaining a ‘bubble’ economy. Consumption for the sake of maintaining monetary velocity and stock P/Es, Consumtpion for the sake of profits, for the sake of keeping alive DEAD Industrial Ecosystems (e.g. homebuilders, giants banks that act as parasites).

    You can fantasize about a “kinder, gentler” industrial society that will safeguard non-industrial interests (look where the AGW protocols got us – no where: look how quickly we turn to “drill baby drill” as soon as our drug becomes too expensive to import) while you wallow in your industrial pigstye, but you are only fooling yourself.

    Try to calculate the costs of the industrial lifestyle on your slaves (no matter howm many degrees of separation exists between you and them) and on the young people today and tomorrow who will have to pay the costs of your industrial lifestyle today for the rest of their lives.

    How many people will you throw under the bus of history to maintain you royal lifestyle?

  • Again with the Pleistocene overkill hypothesis. EN, Endgame Vol II, pages 540-543 explains quite succinctly why this is total hogwash.

  • snip from the Indepnednet:

    The approximately 11-year solar cycle is now emerging from one of its quietest periods in 50 years and is expected to reach a solar maximum in 2013, when the number of solar flares on the Sun which generate electromagnetic storms reaches a peak.

    “[Last week’s] event was the strongest solar flare in four years and as a consequence airlines re-routed flights away from polar regions in anticipation of the possibility that their radio communications would not be operable,” said Jane Lubchenco, the head of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). “In addition to that, communications problems were reported on flights from Hawaii to southern California and the flare disrupted communications in parts of the western Pacific region and Asia.

    “Clearly this is something we need to take seriously. That particular event was not a very serious one, but as we enter a period of higher solar activity it is reasonable to expect more and more events and they may vary in magnitude,” she said.

    “This is an area that we’re beginning to pay much more attention to, not only because we are entering a solar maximum, but because so much more of our technology is vulnerable than was the case even 10 years ago when we had the last solar maximum,” she added.

    Thomas Bogdan, director of the Space Weather Prediction Centre in Boulder, Colorado, said that GPS systems are highly vulnerable to the massive bursts of electromagnetic radiation from the Sun, which energise the charged particles of the Earth’s ionosphere.

    “That ionosphere sits between us and the GPS satellites and the thicker that ionosphere, the longer the time delay between the GPS satellite and when you pick it up,” Dr Bogdan said. “In the worst-case situation, on the day-lit side of the Earth, we could see the loss of GPS not only for navigation but for its critical timing capability used in business transactions.”

    About 10 or 20 hours after the initial blast of electromagnetic radiation, a second burst of high-energy charged particles will hit the Earth.

    These have the ability to induce dangerous electric currents in power lines and oil pipelines, Dr Bogdan said. A 14-year-old early-warning satellite is the only way of directly detecting the potential magnitude of the danger this wave of charge particles within a solar storm poses to pipelines and electronic systems on Earth, he said. “Any storm coming from the Sun has to pass over that spacecraft before it hits Earth. If it takes 20 hours to go from the Sun to Earth, it’s going to take about 20 minutes to go from that spacecraft to Earth. So our last warning is a 20-minute warning, which will tell us how big, how strong, how nasty that storm might be,” he told the meeting.

    “The trouble is, it’s 14 years old and what keeps me awake at night is worrying about whether that satellite would be running next morning when I get up,” he said.