C-REALM radio interview

Late last week I was interviewed by KMO for the C-REALM radio show. The resulting podcast runs about an hour, and it’s posted here (go directly to podcast here). All comments welcome, all the time.

My monthly essay for Transition Voice, barely modified from an earlier essay in this space, was posted here today.

Comments 96

  • industrial civilisation is an elaborate suicide machine

    great interview Guy

    still lurking after all these years!

    car free matt

  • That was a good one.

    Even if we are collections of organized particles (which we are) on hard drives (which I presume we aren’t).

    There are however, certain world-views in which there is the equivalent of a universal hard drive – the universal consciousness of Kabbalah and non-dualist Hinduism. But the mosquitoes would not be needed there for the purpose mentioned in the podcast.

    Many plants have insect-repellent properties.

    Insect-Repellent Plants

  • Excellent discussion, Guy. You made some really good points about overshoot, climate change and oil dependency. But I was most interested in your points about self-sufficient gardening. All the optimism when the first year garnered 90% of your food needs. And then the pests and diseases discovered your new project and wanted their fair share (87%)… ;-)

    This is reality. This is where we really are when we try to subsist on our own efforts. This is why populations faced famine so often in times past. It is a never-ceasing battle for survival in the face of nature’s onslaught. Everyone needs their share. It is a life-and-death struggle for each creature. Full of beauty and wondrous things, but yet a harsh reality.

    This also confirms Jared Diamond’s point about how grains changed the game forever, as they were easily stored for long periods during good times as well as bad. Garden’s aren’t enough. And with climate change arriving gardens may become fewer, for we are not only in need of protections against pests and plant diseases but also for good soil, large supplies of fresh water, sunshine (but not too much sunshine) when the plants need it, rain when the plants need it. There are so many things that can go wrong with self-subsistence, even for the experts.

  • I listened to the C realm podcast but the transmission wasn’t too clear in places. I wanted to know exactly what you found ‘wrong’ with John Michael Greer’s prediction of stepped descent.

  • Victor you make an excellent point. Maybe it’s just my own pollyanna outlook leaking into my thoughts, but I seem to sense that there is an undercurrent in our conversations sometimes, if not outright statements, as to how wonderful it will be when collapse happens and we all live off the land. The reality is that it will be tough as hell. Not just because we’re all used to oil-rich technologies, but because survival has always been tough. There’s a reason why human population never rose above half a billion or so throughout known human history; as you mentioned, it’s tough to survive in the face of nature’s onslaught. If I may anthropomorphize nature a bit, now we’ve really made her mad and it’s going to be even harder to endure her fury.

    I’m not denying that the planet as a whole will be much better and much healthier without our damaging, destroying ways, but it’s always good to have a reminder now and then that it will not be easy to survive, no matter how well prepared we are.

  • Thanks for listening, everybody, and for commenting.

    Yossi, thanks for your question. The problem I have with Greer is his ability to promote two futures, simultaneously. The one people love because it’s Pollyanna all the way has the age of industry persisting another two or three centuries (and, by the way, “the long descent” allows industry to persist without leading to our extinction). The other future he promotes has the lights out within a year or so. I don’t see how those two notions are compatible with each other unless the industrial economy and western civilization are interpreted broadly enough to include hammering coins into arrowheads.

    I never thought this transition would be easy, for individuals or societies. For nearly two decades I told my students they would be able to distinguish right action (vs. wrong action) in most cases using a single metric: It’s much more difficult to take the right action than to take wrong action. In the U.S., the rewards all run in the wrong direction. For me, the grand experiment of regaining my humanity is worth the risk of shortened life.

  • Guy [For me, the grand experiment of regaining my humanity is worth the risk of shortened life.]
    I haven’t had a chance to listen yet. But this comment sums it up. Quality of life trumps length of life. Any step to have less of the artificial world and more of the natural world in your life is a step towards greater quality of life.

  • glad u got c-realm as a venue guy.very good to hear u as usual. KMO has shifted this past 1+ yrs. from collapse is inevitable, to there will be ways to mitigate…avoiding full on collapse. that drift comes thru in the interview.

    i agree about john michael greer’s general lack of consistency; & in the c-realm interview with greer i gathered there was resistance on greer’s part to some of kmo’s questioning [i cannot find that podcast to link it]. i don’t believe greer was on but one time; whereas kuntsler & orlov were on several times.

    guy like victor i’m not surprised @ u’r problems with consistency in growing u’r food. same here. the last 2 summers have been the worst in 10+ yrs. one wet, cool; one record heat/drought. i’ve been practicing staple high calorie crops; regular & sweet potatoes, corn for grinding, large winter squash for example.mid-summer keeper irish potatoes failed…used 3 or 4 types …golf ball size with lota care & water…ground must have been too hot! i did get a few fist sized red potatoes.

    & as u guy said, & victor emphasized, grain that can be stored several years is probably why we have civilization today[bronoski..the ascent of man, says the same].

    one thing i missed from u, Guy was the details & u’r connecting the dots on climate change. perhaps this was a conscious choice on u’r part.

  • Sam, we had our worst year of food growing last summer also. I have gardened in Al for over 15 year. It wasn’t that the drought was worse than usual it was that it was a bad drought with record heat. And it wasn’t really how hot it got but how long it stayed hot. My field peas, which I look at as an easily dried food staple, just didn’t make peas. And then our well started pumping mud and silt so I had to lay off watering. Almost all my raspberries died, and probably 80 percent of my strawberries. This does not bode well for the future.

    Right now my hands are too cold to continue outside so I am hoping a little exercise typing will warm them up :) This is not particularly unusual for this time of year and while i miss the spring we had last week I am not ready at all for summer.

  • Guy, I have listened to most of your interview and it is excellent. Plan to listen to the rest on my next work break.

    One point that was raised is about what you do when the lifeboat is full. I think in the case of an actual lifeboat it perhaps is an easier question, because full is easy to determine, and disaster is at hand if you take in one more person, and time is of the essence so debate is cut short, and the abandoned are soon out of sight. Triage is the medical version of the lifeboat and occurs on the battlefield but also sometimes even in modern US circumstances.
    I listened recently to an interview with someone who made the triage decisions at the scene of the shooting in AZ where Rep. Gifford was shot. Most of us would rather not be the person calling those shots.
    Dr. MILLIN: Really, the idea of triage is to categorize patients into three different categories. There’s patients for which no matter what we do for the patient, the patient’s going to live. There’s patients for which no matter what we do for the patient the patient’s going to die. And there’s patients for which we have the potential to be the deciding factor and be able to intervene and prevent death. http://www.npr.org/2011/01/18/133024230/first-responders-triage-victims-to-save-lives

    But the future will give us similar decisions if we have done any preps at all. Even simple stashes of food will cause us to decide to share or not share.

    I met a couple once who had been Lutheran Missionaries somewhere in Africa. When a drought hit the region a whole tribe came and camped on their doorstep. The tribe said nothing, asked nothing just came and sat. They called home to the Missionary Board and asked for funds to feed these people. They were told no. So they requested all their personal retirement money to be cashed in and they used that money to feed the people. But of course they knew that should things get worse and even they have problems getting food the church would bring them home, without retirement money, but alive to eat another day.

    It is not an easy question at all, but I think worth wrestling with ahead of time. No amount of wrestling with it will assure what decision will be made in the end. Is it better to go down with all aboard, or save some.

    I have mentioned the movie Grey Zone http://www.imdb.com/find?s=all&q=grey+zone before and continue to find it an excellent movie for looking at hard questions. Of course in this instance no one expected to end up alive (and in reality none of us do) but the questions are what do you do for a few more months, and what you will do to strike a blow against the empire. More recently we watched the movie Triage http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1217070/ about medical triage in the midst of Kurdish fighting – its a bit different from your usual triage given the dire circumstances – well no plot spoilers from me. But while we can still watch movies, if you want to explore what it might be like to make hard decisions these movies depict hard decisions. Not for the weak of stomach or heart.

  • Hi Guy:

    Long time, no chat. I listened to your podcast and have a couple questions:

    1. You mentioned that the U.S. has the largest military force in the world. How did you arrive at that conclusion? Everything I’ve seen indicates we’re closer to #7 or #8, which includes active, reserve, and paramilitary. China (PRC) has us beat by a sizeable chunk in number of active troops, and we’re down to between 6th and 12th place (depending upon data set) for reserves, even lower for paramilitary. As for military equipment, Russia has us beat on tanks and nuclear weapons, Korea about equals us on submarines. We do have the greatest number of destroyers, aircraft carriers and fighter aircraft, and I will agree we have (by far) the largest military budget. But money (as we all well know) only buys so much and goes so far.

    2. You mentioned last year was a bad subsistence year. Agreed. Even I struggled. Weather and bugs fought me every step of the way. When you say 3% food production are you referring to 3% garden/orchard output or 3% overall (including poultry and goat)? If the later, ouch, that hurts! Last year, late frosts took all my pomes but 6 pears. Nuts didn’t do much better. The only stone fruit that survived were plums and prunes. Persimmons (big surprise) did well and I enjoyed them clear into January. I had tons of currants, berries, and grapes. Vegetable wise, the only reason I had any warm-weather varieties (beans, tomatoes, squash, etc.) was because I used my own seed, and even then they struggled, the final tally considerably less than normal. Cool weather crops did better. I had plenty of alliums (onions, garlic, shallots, leek) and the animals are only now finishing up the roots (beets, mangels, rutabagas, etc.). Potatoes and coles did so-so, corn sucked (except as a green forage), but wheat did great, and since I still had dry corn left from 2009, I didn’t suffer this winter. Which brings me to livestock. Last year was a junk year for hay, but it grew grass great, and I had no trouble fattening a steer. I’ve also averaged 6-8 eggs per day all winter (more than my needs), plus, 100 pounds of chicken ended up roasted, grilled, or fried. So, that’s why I ask what your 3% figure entails. If strictly vegetable (or fruit and vegetable), that’s a loss. If everything (including livestock … eggs, milk, meat) that’s a disaster.

    Just curious is all.

  • Guy, listening to that podcast confirms my suspicion about the “doomer” leaders: they’re all clinically depressed! Do you realize how spiritually broken you, Orlov, Heinberg, et al sound? Where is the joy and vitality and curiosity? Maybe watch a video of Richard Feynman on YouTube or try reconnecting with the cosmic life force or something, my god man!

    Your story about trying to grow your own food was interesting – that Gaia’s a real bitch ain’t she? Err, of course I mean she’s a beautiful pristine goddess we musn’t defile with our rapacious civilization…

  • kathy

    tough losses on the berry plants, uh.

    on u’r well. mine ran low due to drought, 5 yrs. or so back & i could only get 75 gal or so w/o loosing prime, then a wait of 5 hrs. + to reprime, & much work at that, & muddy. it was our only source, then. now we have city water, & i had my well dripping into my open cistern for goldfish. what i discovered was that even with a much worse drought…the spring next door stopped running @ nite, & my 82 y/o neighbor had not ever know it to stop…. and since i was playing out worse case scenarios [no city water]i decided to push up my drips…measure them, & i got up to at least 250 gal. /day by continuous drip & i didn’t lose prime. might not apply to u’r system, but bout the only thing more important than water is air!

    also quickly…re lifeboats per orlov drawing straws even has legal precedent in lifeboat situations. i’ll check out the movies… when of such a mindset.

  • Decline of honey bees now a global phenomenon, says United Nations

    By Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

    Thursday, 10 March 2011

    Bee colony collapse, once limited to Europe and America, is now being seen in Asia and Africa

    The mysterious collapse of honey-bee colonies is becoming a global phenomenon, scientists working for the United Nations have revealed.

    Declines in managed bee colonies, seen increasingly in Europe and the US in the past decade, are also now being observed in China and Japan and there are the first signs of African collapses from Egypt, according to the report from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

    The authors, who include some of the world’s leading honey-bee experts, issue a stark warning about the disappearance of bees, which are increasingly important as crop pollinators around the globe. Without profound changes to the way human beings manage the planet, they say, declines in pollinators needed to feed a growing global population are likely to continue. The scientists warn that a number of factors may now be coming together to hit bee colonies around the world, ranging from declines in flowering plants and the use of damaging insecticides, to the worldwide spread of pests and air pollution. They call for farmers and landowners to be offered incentives to restore pollinator-friendly habitats, including key flowering plants near crop-producing fields and stress that more care needs to be taken in the choice, timing and application of insecticides and other chemicals. While managed hives can be moved out of harm’s way, “wild populations (of pollinators) are completely vulnerable”, says the report.

    “The way humanity manages or mismanages its nature-based assets, including pollinators, will in part define our collective future in the 21st century,” said Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director.

    “The fact is that of the 100 crop species that provide 90 per cent of the world’s food, over 70 are pollinated by bees.

    “Human beings have fabricated the illusion that in the 21st century they have the technological prowess to be independent of nature.

    “Bees underline the reality that we are more, not less, dependent on nature’s services in a world of close to seven billion people.”

    Declines in bee colonies date back to the mid 1960s in Europe, but have accelerated since 1998, while in North America, losses of colonies since 2004 have left the continent with fewer managed pollinators than at any time in the past 50 years, says the report.

    Now Chinese beekeepers have recently “faced several inexplicable and complex symptoms of colony losses in both species”, the report says. And it has been reported elsewhere that some Chinese farmers have had to resort to pollinating fruit trees by hand because of the lack of insects.

    Furthermore, a quarter of beekeepers in Japan “have recently been confronted with sudden losses of their bee colonies”, while in Africa, beekeepers along the Egyptian Nile have been reporting signs of “colony collapse disorder” – although to date there are no other confirmed reports from the rest of the continent.

    The report lists a number of factors which may be coming together to cause the decline and they include:

    * Habitat degradation, including the loss of flowering plant species that provide food for bees;

    * Some insecticides, including the so-called “systemic” insecticides which can migrate to the entire plant as it grows and be taken in by bees in nectar and pollen;

    * Parasites and pests, such as the well-known Varroa mite;

    * Air pollution, which may be interfering with the ability of bees to find flowering plants and thus food – scents that could travel more than 800 metres in the 1800s now reach less than 200 metres from a plant.

    “The transformation of the countryside and rural areas in the past half-century or so has triggered a decline in wild-living bees and other pollinators,” said one of the lead authors, Dr Peter Neumann of the Swiss Bee Research Centre.

    “Society is increasingly investing in ‘industrial-scale’ hives and managed colonies to make up the shortfall and going so far as to truck bees around to farms and fields in order to maintain our food supplies.

    “A variety of factors are making these man-made colonies vulnerable to decline and collapse. We need to get smarter about how we manage these hives, but perhaps more importantly, we need to better manage the landscape beyond, in order to recover wild bee populations

  • Resa, the budget for the U.S. military exceeds that of second-place China by nearly seven-fold. As you would expect, the actual budget is far greater than the reported budget (by about double, according to one recent analysis).

    The 3% figure — which is an estimate that, like 78% of statistics, was made up on the spot — applies to gardens only. Fruit and nut trees are not yet producing, but the chickens, ducks, and goats are quite reliable.

    Sean The Cosmist, I am reluctant to respond to you, as it seems to encourage your ongoing idiocy. My “joy and vitality and curiosity” comes from the real world, the one in which I’m immersed. The wilderness mountains out my window, along with the migratory birds, the invertebrates in the soil, and the astonishing beauty of nature satiate my “spiritual” desires. Along the way, I need not believe in ghosts, miracles, or any other form of magical thinking. You might give it a try, if you can be bothered to stop conducting a colonoscopy on yourself with your own head.

    Kevin, thanks for providing yet another reason we need to terminate the industrial economy to give our own species an opportunity to persist a few more generations. The evidence continues to pour in, yet most people continue to ignore it.

  • Well Guy as I’ve said many times before, I believe doomerism is a spiritual and psychological condition more than an objective understanding of the world, and the fact that its leading thinkers all seem to fit a certain depressive profile only confirms what I’m saying. How can you listen to someone like Daniel Quinn speak and not start contemplating suicide? What is the social utility of such bleak personalities? I don’t think I’ve ever heard a single doomer speak who radiates anything other than despair, hostility and joylessness. At least show me one joyful nihilist who can laugh in the face of doom, for [cosmic void]’s sake!

  • Thanks, Guy, for responding.

    Re: #1 – As I stated in my original post, I agree that our military budget is (by far) the largest military budget in the world. However, your podcast statement, “our military is larger than all the other militaries combined,” (approximately 12:45 minutes in) implies manpower, not budget. We don’t have the largest or even the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th largest military. Budget is an indication of wealth; it’s not an indication of might, although the two do carry an assumption that that’s the case. This may seem like a trivial discrepancy to you, but as a recipient of your message, it’s huge. In the interest of accuracy, I’d like to suggest sticking “budget” after “military” in future podcasts. Then individuals like me will have no reason to dispute your assertions.

    Re: #2 – I’m glad to learn the chickens, goats and ducks are meeting your protein, fat, and cholesterol needs. Now if the 3% productivity from your 2010 garden included dry pulses and root crops (hopefully not just lettuce … you can’t fatten a guinea pig on that stuff) then you should have come through the winter reasonably well fed. Boring, but not malnourished.

    The key to subsistence is diversification. You’ll find once your trees/bushes (and grains … they aren’t that difficult to grow) come on line that you’ll weather most shortcomings relatively well. It’s those subsistence individuals who limit their food base (whether for religious, cultural, medical, physical, or mental reasons) who are the most vulnerable to shortages. We’re generalists and we’re omnivores. Both traits work in our favor. It’s seldom that all food sources fail at the same time. At least that’s been my experience.

  • The true nature of the beast that is taking over the world can be seen here:


    As corporatism spreads its dark wings over the earth, it purchases political whores to do its bidding, to pacify, to challenge reason. Obama is only one of them.

    A quote from the article:

    ‘According to chemist Bob Naman, these chemicals create an even more toxic substance when mixed with crude oil. Naman, who works at the Analytical Chemical Testing Lab in Mobile, Alabama, has been carrying out studies to search for the chemical markers of the dispersants BP used to both sink and break up its oil.

    Poly-aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) from this toxic mix are making people sick, Naman said. PAHs contain compounds that have been identified as carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic.

    “The dispersants are being added to the water and are causing chemical compounds to become water soluble, which is then given off into the air, so it is coming down as rain, in addition to being in the water and beaches of these areas of the Gulf,” Naman told Al Jazeera.

    “I’m scared of what I’m finding. These cyclic compounds intermingle with the Corexit [dispersants] and generate other cyclic compounds that aren’t good. Many have double bonds, and many are on the EPA’s danger list. This is an unprecedented environmental catastrophe.”‘

  • Just a minute, I’m buying some tools in the village.

    Guy, your efforts to educate people are remarkable, I told you before. But it’s too late. Unfortunately, most people do not notice what’s happening, and ones who do… do not dare doing anything. It’s a case of “folie en masse”, mass madness.

    Now I’m worrying about the high amount of clay in a part of my lands: I got a lot of sand to solve it. These are the things we should worry about.

  • Jean

    clay problems – answer – spread 1kg of gypsum per 1 sqm,
    and cultivate the soil/subgrade to a depth of 200mm

    car free matt

  • Jean, I don’t know if your clay is like Alabama red clay – that’s the stuff they left after they squandered the top soil. I have heard it was 5 feet deep. My solution – leaves, leaves, leaves or hay hay hay – continual mulch and over years it builds up top soil. Or work in some leaves or better yet mulch now and then pile on the leaves year after year. That may not be doable for you but here I have been doing it with ease thanks to the folks in town who don’t know a valuable resource when they see it and bag their leaves for the trash man.

  • Cosmist, I am sick of your self centered posting. Are you not aware that the US is an empire and as an empire it does what empires do, it steals from other lands. The reason any of us can sit here and type on our computers is because of the impoverishment and suffering of people across the globe. Well guess what, the empire has no new land to control and the resources, fresh water, oil, natural gas, copper, uranium, coal, phosphate, rare earth metals, are peaking or near peak and what is left is harder to get out and creates more misery and pollution when it does. What’s more is the resource that is used to get all of these resources out for the empire is also on the list, oil. So you don’t like talk of impending doom, fine, go find some positive blog to post on and you won’t have to listen to us.

    Guy and others here have seen a future they hope they can do something about and they are doing what they can. You see a different future but despite my suggestions that you do something to further that future you ignore me. Well if you want off planet out into space, give money to NASA, write your congressperson, start a serious blog to organize folks to get their congressional reps to give strong support to NASA (assuming you live in the US), get an appropriate higher degree so you might be chosen to go off planet, start and exercise plan for the same purpose, DO SOMETHING. Meanwhile leave those of us who are DOING SOMETHING about our future alone.

    And also please do some serious reading about the state of humanity in this world of ours if you won’t do any serious reading about the state of the natural world. It can get pretty horrific. Oh never mind, you don’t care about real people do you, just yourself and your fears. “Please NBLers please stop talking your are making me scared.” It is the empire that is making our predictions come true, for only they have that power and they are doing a bang up job of crashing their own civilization.

  • Nature has just shown us who is boss again. This earthquake will cause reverberations around the world long after the tsunami has done its thing. $1 trillion in damage?

    Japan: Earthquake aftermath at a glance


    Friday, 11 March 2011

    Following are main developments in the earthquake measuring 8.9 that struck northeast Japan today.

    * At least five people reported dead in Fukushima province, and many feared buried in rubble after a hotel collapses in northern city Sendai.

    Related articles
    •Tsunami slams into Japan after massive earthquake
    Fear for islands as whole of Pacific placed on alert
    •UK airlines cancel flights to Tokyo
    •Earthquake in China leaves 25 dead
    Search the news archive for more stories
    * Quake triggers tsunami up to 10 metres (30 feet), waves sweep across farmland, sweeping away homes, crops, vehicles, triggering fires. Tsunami of 7 metres later hits northern Japan.

    * Strong aftershocks hit northern Japan.

    * Tsunami warnings issued for countries including Russia, Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Honduras, Chile, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru.

    * Power cut to four million homes in and around Tokyo. Fourteen fires blaze in Tokyo.

    * Many sections of Tohoku expressway serving northern Japan damaged. Major fire at Chiba refinery near Tokyo.

    8 Bullet trains to the north of the country stopped. The government was to dispatch 900 rescue workers to stricken regions.

    * Narita airport closed, flights halted, passengers evacuated. Tokyo underground, suburban trains halted. Sendai airport in the north flooded.

    * All Japanese ports closed and discharging operations halted, shippers report.

    * Eight military planes scrambled to survey damage. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asks people to remain calm and orders the military to do their utmost to act. Cabinet to meet. The government says more tsunami possible.

    * Central bank vows to do utmost to ensure financial market stability.

    * Some nuclear power plants and oil refineries shut down automatically. Tepco’s Fukushimi No. 1 plant had an equipment problem after the quake, but safety is ensured, officials say.

    * Television reports a major fire at Cosmo Oil Co’s Chiba refinery east of Tokyo, and a fire was reported at JFE’s steel plant, also in Chiba.

    * Toyota says stopped output at parts factory and two assembly plants in the northeast

    * Electronics firm Sony closes six factories, Kyodo new agency reports.

    * Asian shares fall after the quake hits while Nikkei still trading; European shares fall to their lowest in three months.

  • Kevin, my son lives in Hawaii. His former house was farther from shore. Moving up in the world he moved closer to the beach and now he lives in the tsunami evacuation zone. I am sure he is out of harms way by now but his house may be another matter.

  • @Kevin
    Yes. Unbelievable damage, how many lives will this have cost and how many countries affected? Is this the final?

    Our EU idiot politicians still not able to negotiate with Gaddafi, even worse, refuse to negotiate instead of calling for ceasefire in exchange for negotiations.

    @Kathy All the best to you and hope your son is safe.

    Love and peace to all.

  • RTTNews) – Japan has declared a nuclear power emergency situation to enable authorities to take up precautionary measures after a fire broke out in a nuclear plant in the country’s north-east in the wake of Friday’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake.

    An emergency cooling process has been activated at the turbine building of Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi prefecture that caught fire, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported.

    Our “progress” also makes us incredibly vulnerable.

  • Hi Sam,

    You say I’ve been shifting in my position for the past year and a half. Thank you for saying so. I’m not in a position to see that sort of thing very clearly myself. My official position is, “I don’t know what’s going to happen. From where I’m sitting, the economy seems to be eating itself, and discontinuities seem almost assured, but I don’t know if I’m cherry picking my data to support that view or not. I just don’t know.”

    Here’s a link to my interview with John Micheal Greer:


    For the record, JMG’s vision of a catabolic collapse seems quite cogent to me. The lights will assuredly go off, for a time, somewhere in the world, next year, just as they are surely off in parts of Japan right now. The catabolic collapse model predicts a long series of discontinuities and collapses followed by partial recoveries that take us from the top of Hubberts Peak back down to pre-industrial existence over the course of a couple of centuries. According to this model, we are facing the transition from what JMG calls “abundance industrialism” to “scarcity industrialism.” The next transition, which will be gradual enough that most of the people experiencing it don’t recognize that they’re living through it, will be the shift from “scarcity industrialism” to “salvage industrialism.” At that point, from our vantage point, the collapse is a done deal, but for the people living through that period, it’s business as usual.

    Yes, the lights may go out next year, but they will come back on. Just not in all of the places that used to take electricity for granted. Or maybe it’s no longer on 24×7. Maybe the municipal water comes on for a few hours a day, but maybe not today.

    These conditions already obtain in many parts of the globe, and the people who live with those conditions consider them business as usual and get on with their lives. I suspect that many people who currently take the perks of industrial civilization for granted will enjoy an existence much more in line with the Third World model in the coming years, and most of them will gripe about it but get on with the business of survival.

    That’s my guess, but who knows what Black Swans lie in wait?

  • ‘These conditions already obtain in many parts of the globe, and the people who live with those conditions consider them business as usual and get on with their lives’

    The reason these folks can get along with disruptions is because they are in actuality being supported to some degree by those who don’t experience disruptions. These areas are usually not the industrial centres of the world.

    Also, mass production relies upon mass consumption. If the consumers are pressed for disposable income because they cannot pay their utility and food bills, demand will fall off a cliff. When that happens, producers will go out of business. And when the right 20% of the right 20% of industries fail, everything else fails. We cannot support any kind modern technology below a certain level of consumption and population levels. I think Greer overlooks this.

    I also think he overlooks the fact that the most vulnerable industries lie in reach of the largest cities. It will be the populations of those cities that suffer most in the coming collapse. Population die-off will take place there. And that is where all the skills are to run these industries.

  • Victor,

    Re BP oil spill:

    This is about what I expected. People take stupid risks because they are brain dead.

    As for the politicians, they are just following their nature. Suppose they told the truth about the risk. They would have to evacuate at least 10 million people. If believed, it would cause a panic. Where would they put them? Who would pay? Real estate values. Who would dare hurt them? Limbaugh and Beck would scream nonsense.

    I love to camp along the emerald coast. I have been to St. Andrews State Park many springs. I was there last year just before the spill started. Now I will never go within 500 miles for the rest of my life.
    The land is probably contaminated hundreds of miles inland. I told my wife to never eat shrimp again. Only northern lake fish.

    It took me less than 2 minutes to figure out the entire scenario of lies, cover ups, screw ups, and public apathy and stupidity that was to come. Just par for the course.

    We are what we are.

  • Victor.

    I agree.

    ‘The catabolic collapse model predicts a long series of discontinuities and collapses followed by partial recoveries that take us from the top of Hubberts Peak back down to pre-industrial existence over the course of a couple of centuries.’

    That time frame is simply absurd.

    It ignores the fact that pratically all the easily extracted oil has already been used, and to maintain a significant portion of current supply beyond 2020 will require extraction of very difficult oil with a low and ever declining average EROEI.

    It ignores the fact that we are past post high quality coal, and arguablly post peak almost everything else civilisation is predicated on.

    There is certainly a lot of fat in the system at the moment that could be trimmed: huge amounts of energy and resources are being wasted -especially by the military, tourism etc. I believe some kind of industrial civilisation could get by on perhaps as little as 30% of current usage fror a while if there were some plan to do so. But there isn’t. And there probably never will be.

    One of the major themes of my latest effort is that for the past 60 years politicians and the business community have wittingly ignored every warning on all the major issues; and they continue to do so. All current political economic and social arrangements are geared towards generating a rapid collapse. And ‘no one’ wants to change those arrangements.

    In other words human nature bats last.

    Until someone can present me with a reasoned argument based on scientific data, I’m sticking with these:

    Current economic and social arrangements will collapse before 2020, and are very likely to collapse a lot sooner.

    The Earth is on course for an abrupt climate change event which could render much of it uninhabitable by the middle of this century. Even if there is no abrupt climate change event, obtaining regular supplies of food will become inceasingly difficult for that portion of humanity able to pass through the collapse of industrial agriculture bottleneck.

    We are in The Sixth Great Extinction Event and are in the process of annihilating species necessary for our own survival.

    A drastic change in lifestyle now would reduce the misery that is to come.

    Those are messages people do not want to hear, so they continue to shoot the messengers -just as that pest TC does.

  • Yes I am a pest, and proud of it. Pests are equal participants in Gaia’s great web and should not be denigrated in so anthropocentric a fashion!

    Victor I’m confused on one point: you say that people outside of industrial centers are being supported by the industrial nations and without us they would experience a die-off. Doesn’t this mean that calling for the dismantling of industrial civilization is tantamount to calling for genocide against large swathes of the global population? Aren’t many of you planning for something much worse than anything imagined by Adolph Hitler, and how is your strategy for surviving this coming holocaust morally any different than that of the most deranged Nazi survivalist?

  • thanks for replying KMO. i have enjoyed u’r podcasts & appreciate u’r talents & work to help us all as we lurch forward.

    about greer…. thanks for u’r link. i relistened to the middle + of the interview. my memory is that there was a bit of john michael being flustered, & the interview interrupting when u followed up about how extreme, & quantatively different our ‘oil’ period of history has been, & he was explaining this with emphasis…then u asked/commented [paraphrase/words of mine] that this step down might be more like a collapse since there is no comparative extreme bubble of history. So to summarize, u’r comment/question; then, his hesitating, & then abruptly to a break the first podcast; w/o picking up the question after the music break. now i don’t find this.

    why might this be important to me/us. well i attempt to look to the clues/info any of us might give out,…especially the intellectual giants, & in their misses/mistakes for their blind spots. Guy certainly missed on the economy failing last year; but i am very grateful he gives us his best reading of the data, & the tea leaves & why’s of his projections. a lot of us are making very difficult choices, that put tremendous stress on relationships, but those choices may be made for us if we wait.

    so besides looking at how john might be wrong, & avoiding u’r question/comment/logic my point in bringing up the above..which i think was u’r point.It is that there is not any period of history that has the same degree of growth & expansion oil has provided…not even close; so if civilizations go down in collapsing step like declines the more serious steps down will this time be horrific…except as Guy powerfully underlines…for the planet, & the rest of the species.

    Overnite no; but i believe the financial system could freeze up in a matter of days; & no, everyone in the US will know that BAU is at least temporarily over; & many will likely….as john michael aptly points out; panic…using the myth of apocalypse & make worse whatever is happening….or freeze, & look to gov to tell them exactly what to do.

  • resa said ‘The key to subsistence is diversification.’ !!!

    very very important…w/ these wild weather swings here i will do this to an even greater extent than ever. weather determines which will make it that year. i’m also putting up corn for example w/ dry ice method, on the cob …partly for food; but more for seed if i get none the next year.

  • Another explanatory post from Dr. Mobus:
    It’s the Area Under the Curve

  • ‘Doesn’t this mean that calling for the dismantling of industrial civilization is tantamount to calling for genocide against large swathes of the global population? ‘

    Excellent question. So here is my answer – read carefully.

    Firstly, none of us on this site calls for the dismantling of industrial civilisation – at least in the sense you imply. No one. We do, however, call for its dismantlement in the sense that one wishes for death of a loved one in extreme pain from a terminal disease. You don’t want to see your loved one go, but you see no other alternative if they are to be free of pain. I lead a comfortable life at present, as you have pointed out on multiple occasions – certainly more comfortable than some poor schmuck living on top of a refuse dump in Indonesia. I truly do not wish to see my lifestyle threatened. But I know it will be and I accept that, along with the realisation that I will likely be among the die-off coming.

    The earth is being damaged severely. And as Kevin has explained above, large parts of it might be rendered uninhabitable if industrial civilisation is permitted to continue BAU over the long term. If we clean up our act using the resources and technology available to us, we will experience die-off, but at least there is a chance the earth might be salvageable. If we don’t clean up our act, and continue BAU, we will experience die-off.

    If you have die-off either way, which would a sane person prefer? And that is the question many of us on this site have answered.

  • The Cosmist,

    Ass for hat! You could use the same argument for condom use.

    Michael Irving

  • Victor thank you for your serious reply. Given a choice between die-off and die-off, I choose door #3: http://thecosmist.blogspot.com/2011/03/hell-on-earth-heaven-in-space.html

    Who wants to come live in my lovely tsunami-free asteroid? All ugly industrial machinery will be well out of site, and no die-offs will be permitted!

  • ‘there is not any period of history that has the same degree of growth & expansion oil has provided…not even close; so if civilizations go down in collapsing step like declines the more serious steps down will this time be horrific’


    Very very true. Often overlooked is the complexity which oil has enabled – global interconnected complexity on a vast scale. Such complexity by nature is extremely fragile and susceptible to critical points of failure, which if failing, will bring the entire structure down abruptly. It is a mathematical certainty.

  • Just to see how loopy TC has become lately I checked his link.

    He is in a room with two doors, but he doesn’t like what is behind either, so what does he do? He gets some chalk, draws some lines on one of the walls and calls it a door.

    Actually, when you think about it, he has a lot in common with presidents, prime ministers, economists, bankers and a lot of the general public. Most of them believe in the wildest of fantasies.

    Quite scary really.

  • At the risk of splitting hairs, I might also bring to everyone’s attention that there is a big difference between the term ‘civilisation’ and that of ’empire’. Empires, like the Roman Empire, are groups of countries ruled by a single entity. Civilisation, on the other hand, is more characterised by culture and way of life – most commonly associated with its basic atomic element, the city.

    The Roman Empire fell over the course of hundreds of years. But the cities comprising the Roman Empire carried on, though perhaps morphing into new forms and outgrowths of civilisation. The Roman Empire died. The Roman civilisation evolved, as did the Greek civilisation, and the Persian, and the Ottoman, etc.

    Historically, Empires – East or West, North or South – rose and then crumbled. But the impact was largely regional, and life in the cities carried on. You still had Rome. You still had Athens, Constantinople, Cairo, Alexandria, Jerusalem, Beijing and many other historic cities where civilisation carried on and evolved as separate, or even loosely associated confederations tied together by regional trade. And you had new cities being born and starting to thrive over time.

    Today, you have an entirely different situation than that ever faced by mankind. The cities all share the same industrial base and depend upon each other for food, fuel, manufacturing, natural resources. All are supported by a global, just-in-time distribution network based 98% upon oil products. All are globally connected centres of education, mass production capability, skills, and financial services.

    This is tantamount to a vast global machine – far more complex than any one person or group of persons can comprehend, and can neither be controlled or directed by any single entity. In other words, it has a life of its own, much as Gaia. Such complexity is without precedent in human history. But one thing we do know about complexity. The more complex the network, the more fragile it becomes, and the more subject to sudden systemic failure. As I have mentioned before, it has been estimated that in such a system, approximately 20% of the industries are critical to the functioning of the whole. And that 20% of those industries are critical to their support. In other words, attack the correct 4 percent of the system, and you bring it all down.

    This is hugely different than the Roman Empire, or any other human organisation is history; therefore, it cannot be compared as there is nothing to compare it to.

  • Kevin

    LOL – good observation. An apt description of the current state of affairs on this planet. We have people everywhere drawing their own doors and pretending they are real.

  • Sam, as you note the financial world can seize up pretty quickly. Back in 2008 I had never heard of a letter of credit. Yet it is a crucial part of getting goods shipped. The whole financial system rather surprising rests on trust, but trust backed up in a way that one trust. Break any link of that trust, and guarantees and things come to a halt as they almost did in 2008. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Letter_of_credit Companies just don’t want to commit whatever they are selling to several weeks at sea unless they have some reliable promise that when they get to the other side of the ocean they will get paid. Letters of credit provide that promise. If banks are afraid to supply them on behalf of their customer it all comes falling down. Just one example.

    As others are noting we have become so globally interconnected that we are fragile. Often the connections are not noted until something unexpected happens. When a volcano in Iceland stopped some of Europe’s air flights, not only did travelers get grounded so did trade that relies on the speed of air to deliver products. Thus frozen fish melted in airports and flower farmers in Kenya couldn’t sell their flowers (which bloom when they will, not when the skies are clear for air traffic). The shipping of grains down the Mississippi is tied to the shipping of fertilizer up the grand Miss. If a barge goes either way empty the cost of shipping doubles. It would be of interest to see what things are connected when the crash comes if it weren’t for the fact that when the final crash comes it will be so quick that no one will have time for the intellectual exercise.

    Victor excellent comments about civilization and empires. In the case of the Mayans it appears both went together – see The Last Americans by Jared Diamond http://www.astepback.com/GEP/Diamond,%20The%20Last%20Americans.pdf

    As you note Victor, Cosmist seems to think that if you can draw it or describe it it becomes real. I think he has gone totally delusional and this delusion is probably fear based. He thinks our words have to be cut off or our reality expressed here might occur and perhaps if he keeps countering it with his words the future will be better. The future is set and there is no avoiding it, perhaps it always was from the time we dropped out of the trees and headed out on the Savannah with spear in hand.

  • Meanwhile speaking of fragility, we make ourselves fragile when we put nuclear plants in seismically active areas or near oceans. The situation in Japan seems to be deteriorating rather than improving.
    An explosion occurred at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi power station north of Tokyo, destroying the walls of the No. 1 reactor building, NHK Television said. The report came after the government said a reactor may be melting.
    Will Fukushima soon become a word that we in the west learn to pronounce just like we learned to pronounce Chernobyl?

  • Kathy

    I suspect that this will spell real trouble for the re-emerging nuclear industry across the world. So now what are we left with to replace fossil fuels in base power generation?

  • Oh boy, I sure came to the discussion late this time, so I don’t know if you guys will still consider a discussion of John Michael Greer relevant.

    I have my own disagreements with Greer, for two reasons.

    One, he cannot seem to tolerate disagreement on anything substantial, at least not on his Archdruid Report blog. He accepts new information, but if you attempt to tell him that he might be wrong about the time frame of collapse, or wrong about who’s responsible, etc.; he BERATES you. He’ll say you have a death wish, you have an apocalyptic mindset, you’re a whiner, you’re trying to dodge your own capability, you’re a hopeless optimist, etc. He cannot accept real critical feedback, of any form, without berating and insulting the person in a faux-rational online voice.

    Two, he practices a double standard when it comes to his opinion that everyone is equally responsible for this mess. I’ve seen right-wingers come on his blog and spout nonsense about how “the unpleasant truths we must face is that leftists have far more contempt for the working-class than right-wingers, and the fundamentalist Christians actually get things done while the left just makes excuses, we must face the unpleasant truth that the leftists are mostly to blame for this mess, etc.”

    Greer didn’t bother to moderate those comments despite them singling leftists as mostly responsible.

    However, whenever a leftist tries to say that the corporations or the right-wingers are responsible, Greer berates them for attempting to “scapegoat” (and to Greer, “scapegoating” is one of the worst things you can do).

    The man is certainly very critical of neoconservatives, but he tries to project this image of a non-biased, non-scapegoating rational grown-up man yet he has a very clear rightist bias when it comes to which sorts of people he allows to comment without incident and which sorts of people he’ll accuse of psychological dodging.

    Did anyone else have these impressions, or was it just me?

  • In violation of Matthew 7:6
    (Nolite dare sanctum canibus, neque mittatis margaritas vestras ante porcos, ne forte conculcent eas pedibus suis, et conversi disrumpant vos.) the following comment is ventured:

    The Conmist’s idea of living on an asteroid is truly admirable. Regrettably, though, it overlooks one small item: the primary economy.

    As will be recollected, the primary economy is what nature gives us – water resources, arable land, air, sunlight, flora & fauna (cryptogams, phanerogams, annelids, arthropods, vertebrates, etc.), metal ores, fossil fuels, etc. Except for a limited extent (potable water, air, some edible plants. etc.) these cannot be used directly.

    The secondary economy includes the usable items derived from the primary economy through the skillful use of directed energy streams. This includes food/clothing/shelter and iPhones, laptops, widescreen TVs, heart pacemakers, transplanted organs. etc. It also includes the infrastructure needed to manage the primary economy: bridges, dams, culverts, levees, windmills, roads, warehouses, buildings, factories. etc.

    The tertiary economy consists of the symbols used to represent values in the primary economy: cowrie shells, wampum, Federal Reserve Notes, collateralized debt obligations, and their virtual representations in magnetized particles on hard drives.

    What is overlooked is that the primary economy contlibutes 75% or more to the total economy. This is not realized because the primary economy is taken as a given. The asteroid community will have to find substitutes for over 75% of the value of our earthbound economy.

    A little acquaintance with Ecological economics might be helpful.

    There is also an e-book An Introduction to Ecological Economics available.

  • Victor, I just read this AM that the plant that is in trouble in Japan was built 6 years before Chernobyl was built. A number of plants are up for renewal – Diablo Canyon in CA and I think one other in CA.
    from wiki
    “PG&E announced its decision to pursue license renewal for Diablo Canyon in November 2009, and local officials “came out in support because of the economic importance of the plant and its 1,200 employees and $25 million in annual property taxes”.[18] However, local anti-nuclear activists oppose renewal and want PG&E to focus more on renewable energy. They are also concerned “about the seismic safety of the plant given the recent discovery of a new earthquake fault nearby”.[18]” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-nuclear_movement_in_California
    Besides new nuke plants, renewals may be affected. Which is good of course. We have enough nuclear waste we don’t know what to do with already. Hopefully we don’t get a meltdown in Japan, but sometimes it takes very dire things to get people to be willing to act, as the writers of the PNAC document well knew.

    I suppose at this point in history it makes little difference one way or another but it would be good for all nuclear plants to be shut down and decommissioned pre collapse, but that is highly unlikely. Sigh….

  • The nuclear power plant explosion in Japan reminds me of Alan Weisman’s book “The World Without Us”. It’s not the same thing, as this explosion wasn’t the result of neglect due to our absence. However, Weisman’s real message, as I understand it, is a picture of the world after the collapse of the industrial economy. Some of us will still be here, but we won’t have any way of maintaining all the complex, and incredibly dangerous if untended, facilities we’ve developed. His section examining Houston and the volatile chemical cocktail which covers hundreds of square miles of the Texas Gulf coast, is truly frightening.

  • Dr. House exactly. I highly recommend the book as well. Now I am going to go enjoy the benefits of a nuclear reaction in the sun as it spreads sunlight on me and my plants. :) Nice day here in AL hope you are getting the same over your way.

  • thanks for the heads up kathy!

  • Librarian

    Not to worry. Any subject is open here. Greer keeps coming up anyway as he is a significant voice in this area. I have no experience of commenting on his site as I really don’t visit it much at all. Perhaps I should and perhaps also I should comment as well. We shall see.

    I find that people who are excessively defensive about their views on things are generally very insecure folks who haven’t really examined all sides of the issue at hand. They usually come up with an opinion that basically fits their preconceived world view and go with that without too much critical thought of their own ideas. I’m not saying Greer is like this, but by what you say, it has a familiar ring to it, I must say.

  • Dr. House

    I haven’t read the book, but I have viewed the films along that line of thought. The points made are excellent and really should be considered by any planner exploring a new technology. The true issue is one of succession, isn’t it? In a business senior managers do succession planning – who will continue my work when I leave and how best do I help them succeed?

    We should always do succession planning when opening up a new technology area. What happens in future generations? How will what we are doing now affect our children and their children? How do we mitigate any foreseeable problems now – indeed, can we? What happens if the world is left with a situation in which the delivered technology must be left unattended for whatever reason? What will be the impact upon the world?

    I feel like Cosmist now – drawing a door to rational thought…..;-)

  • Last year Greer moved from rural Oregon to Appalachia. Seemingly for safety and security. If we have even 100 years, why the rush? He has seemed to have shortened his time line by about 50%.
    Right now he is in a series of articles about home energy efficiencies that are a throwback to the 70″s. Many of which I employed then myself. Nothing wrong with that. Just not going to make as much of a difference now as it would then. Now it only saves a few dollars on a tight budget.

  • Nuclear fusion powers the sun and the stars: from the lighter elements upto iron the reaction is exothermic but beyond iron into heavier elements it is endothermic and occurs in the center a supernova explosion which squeezes atomic nuclei together.
    Fissile elements like uranium and plutonium are fossils, non-biological and many orders of magnitude older. They are more polluting and unlike fossil fuels which return to the biological/ecological cycles promptly upon combustion, products of nuclear fission hang around or appear to do so. As long as they remain radioactive, they are moving toward equilibrium with their surroundings, only on a timescale outside the usual human range of operation.

  • Assuming they keep the nuke plant from full meltdown, the concerns below are something to watch. If they don’t prevent meltdown no doubt other equations will no doubt be at work. Again to echo Victor, we live in an extremely connected world, which in the end means our civilization is quite fragile.


    The Japan earthquake has shut an estimated 6,800 megawatts of nuclear power generation, or 15%-20% of Japan’s capacity, and while it isn’t clear how long outages will last, there could be considerable fuel substitution, which in turn could drive up prices of alternative fuels, according to a Barclay Capital analysis published Saturday.
    If the shuttered nuclear capacity was replaced only by additional fuel oil consumption, it would require an additional 238,000 barrels a day, it said.
    Japan is reliant on imports for all the oil and most of the gas it uses.
    If lost nuclear power was replaced entirely by natural gas, this would require between 1.0 and 1.2 billion cubic foot a day of gas.
    Higher demand for fuel oil and crude oil for direct burning at thermal power plants could push up prices and “…low spare capacity in oil markets means any positive demand boost could have an exaggerated effect on price.”
    On the demand side, about 1 million barrels a day of oil refinery capacity in Japan appears to be off line due to the earthquake, including the fire-damaged 220,000 barrels a day Chiba refinery owned by Cosmo Oil Co. (5007.TO).
    “Previous large-scale disasters in Japan and across Asia have tended not to produce discernible negative effects on demand; indeed, reconstruction tends to be highly a resource- and energy-intensive activity. As a result, we would not see the disaster as being a source of significant negative demand”

  • Sam,

    “Guy … gives us his best reading of the data, & the tea leaves & why’s of his projections. a lot of us are making very difficult choices, that put tremendous stress on relationships, but those choices may be made for us if we wait.”


    Michael Irving

  • It seems Guy cuts off further comments when he posts a new entry. I have a couple comments to make concerning the last two posts:

    Kathy, I greatly enjoyed your observation concerning the Jains. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. Her argument, crudely put, is: Being a grown-up isn’t about being fastidious about what you eat; it’s about taking responsibility.

    The Cosmist, don’t give up. I thought your comment about Buddhism being anti-life was the biz.

    Speaking of giving up, I’m giving up. I’ve made only a comment or two here, but when Guy started talking about “internal coherency” I thought, I’m outta here. No hard feelings. Cheers.

  • Martin, Guy doesn’t to my knowledge shut of comments on old posts. People just move on. Some days I will make a post or two on a topic which I have up and just refresh during the day. Then I begin to notice no one else is commenting. I go back to the NBL main page and discover a new topic. I am able to continue to post on the old topic, but everyone else is gone :)

  • Librarian, your criticisms of the Archdruid are very astute. Greer is fundamentally an extreme reactionary with a bizarre aversion to anything which did not exist prior to the 20th century. Worse, he is a true irrationalist who believes the Enlightenment was a mistake and that humanity should aspire to some Tolkienesque magical civilization that is far more of a fantasy then my wildest science fiction imaginings. This is a guy who thinks astrology, scrying, spell-casting, tarot cards, etc. are on an equal footing with science. Basically Greer seems to want to return to the Dark Ages because he feels that would represent an improvement over our current scientific/industrial civilization. So he is engaging in a diabolical form of black magic by claiming that such a return is inevitable and trying to persuade others of his worldview (and tolerating no dissent whatsoever). This is exactly the kind of thinking that Adolph Hitler and the early Nazis promoted back in the 1920’s, with predictable results. The dirty little secret of Nazism is that many of its early adherents were druidic nature-worshipping occultist reactionaries not very different from Greer and friends. So as I see it the Archdruid is a very dark and menacing figure masquerading as an eccentric but benevolent old druid. There is nothing benevolent about his rejection of rationality, no matter how you package it!

  • Japan has clearly been on a downward spiral for over 2 decades -a declining economy, a share index worth 1/4 of its peak value in numerical terms and around 10% in real terms, an extraordinarily high suicide rate, a lost generation who stay at home because there are ‘no jobs’, 127 million people almost totally dependent on imported raw materials, imported food and imported oil, and more recently acknowledgement of unsustainable levels of public debt- so recent events will simply accelerate the decline.

    Actually, it would be better to use the term correction rather than decline, since what we are witnessing is the correction of overshoot.

    Historical evidence indicates the land mass of Japan supported a sustainable population of around 30 million people, though that was at a time when the seas around Japan were pristine and bountiful.

    It could get very ugly from here on.

  • Cosmist has obviously not looked into Greer and druidry at all. Those interested in Greer would be better served to read more about him and his beliefs on his own site, instead of Cosmist’s slander. I have had my own disagreement with Greer on his site, with similar results to those Librarian mentioned; but thatever one thinks of Greer, to link him and modern druidry to Nazism takes some real stretching of truths.

  • Christopher,

    Cosmist has multiple delusions. I have read Greer every week for about 2 years, and can only agree that he wants it both ways. Last spring he did seem to cut his time frame by about 50%, and several commentators caught him on it. He is rather rigid and humorless. His current series of 70’s solutions tends to be long and boring that anyone with a library card and a vague idea of what to look for can help himself.
    Of late Greer has not had any useful insights, so I read his intro and skim the rest. Seems not to really want to talk about the down slope. Maybe he feels it too close, and is losing his nerve.
    He did start a novel that I found tedious and gave up after a chapter or two. I don’t know it’s status.

  • Greer styles himself as The Archdruid. That means he is religious, even if it is a more nature centered religion. If you google John Michael Greer and click on images you can see him all decked out in his religious finery. To me that says a lot about his sense of self importance.

  • TC shows a shallow understanding of the “clinical depression” of most doomers.

    “It is no measure of good health, to be well adjusted in a profoundly sick society” Kristnamurti

    Despair (and depression)is an appropriate response to a desperate situation. Our task is to normalise this response within the context of a loving and supportive community.

    My thanks to most of you here for being part of that awakened supportive community.

    The on going nuclear power plant meltdown in Japan is a long way from being over. If this type of technology is held up as the way forward for “civilised” humans, I’m very happy to live as far away from this as possible. Utter ecological insanity

  • First of all, The Cosmist, while I have severe disagreements with Greer, I do not believe him to be a Nazi, and I DO NOT appreciate you twisting my criticism of his ideas into something that distorted.

    Please do not misuse my words to keep hijacking discussions as is your wont. If I had known you were going to do that, I would have kept my mouth…or rather, keyboard…shut.

  • After a brief haitus the Cosmist came back on the site asking for a response that did not use personal attacks. I gave such a response on the last thread. Immediately he went into calling us doomists and now has moved on to nazis. So much for trying to have a civil conversation. I have suggested before ignoring him and then broke my own advice. Since Guy is so long suffering as to allow him to spew his nazi name calling venom on people who deeply care about the earth and all the creatures on it, I think the best we can do is not give him the satisfaction of a response.

  • Now on to other stuff, what we will see in the coming days is articles about how this horrific event in Japan will impact Japan’s economy. Few will likely connect the Japanese economy to the fragile state of the world economy. Although a somewhat small part of the food equation, I have seen huge amounts of fields inundated with all the various flotsam the tsunami could pick up. In an already dangerously short food amputation, even small losses can have larger than expected impacts.

    We have NOT cleaned up the Gulf, as Kevin notes Christchurch may never be rebuilt and I think this blow to Japan is likely also to be one that is impossible to fully recover from. As Tainter says that’s how it goes at the end of a civilization, that which could formerly be addressed by the civilization is now unable to be fixed and the rational for civilization begins to break down in people’s minds.

  • Maybe Greer thinks he is the new alternate Pope. All of this dress up stuff seems childish at best. Right out of some unwatchable TV show.

  • Beyond the debris is the salt water contamination. How long before crops can be grown there?

  • The scale of the disaster in Japan can not be absorbed. Japan is an extremely organised and co-operative society. Everyone pitches in to help, not to loot. They have highly organised disaster relief procedures. And yet the scale of the events that have taken place have overwhelmed their ability to respond effectively – millions are without food, water and power. Tragic.

    And the ability to re-build will be severely hampered due to economic forces beyond their control. And given the world’s economic situation, it is yet unknown just how this will impact the rest of the world.

    Collapse moves forward.

  • ‘The powerful earthquake that unleashed a devastating tsunami Friday appears to have moved the main island of Japan by 8 feet (2.4 meters) and shifted the Earth on its axis.’

    Above a quote from CNN article:


  • Victor.

    We should not be at all surprised to see most markets plummet on Monday, as investors run for the exits and re-insurers change their underwear every hour. Oil will probably drop too, reinforcing the delusion that recent prices were just an unusual spike due to unusual activiities in North Afdrica, and everything will ‘return to normal’ soon.

    As for the situation on the ground in Japan, it is truly tragic in that it was entirely avoidable but those in charge chose not to take heed of the risks of constructing so much infrastructure on a vulnerable coastal plain.

    I sometimes think about Taiwan, where something like 80% of the populace live on very low-lying coastal plains. Even without tsunamis, they will ‘totally screwed’ within 20 years if the kind of temperature rise Guy has been flagging eventuates. Well they are anyway with respect to food, of course.

    It is somewhat conjectural at this stage but has been discussion about higher than normal activity associated with the Pacific Plate. I’m not personally into earthquake prediction but there are many who are convinced we have seen just the start of a period of significant upheavel in the literal sense. Wellington lies on a major faultline and is ‘overdue’ for a severe shake. It is definitely a case of watch this space.

    I do know that most ‘proles’ don’t get anything yet: petrol is close to historic highs around here and they still race from one set of traffic lights to the next. Several years ago I conjectured the last programme to be broadcast before televivion goes off the air will be motor racing. :)

  • Kevin
    Yes, many of the major populated areas of the world are located in low lying coastal areas – large numbers of people are affected when sea levels rise, producing mass migration to higher ground. It will not be pretty.

    Nuclear plants are most frequently located near large bodies of water for obvious reasons, but as we see, there is great danger in that, not only from possible tsunamis, but also from significant rises on sea level due to Global Warming.

    Our ability to manage our place in Nature has reached its point of diminishing returns and has now placed us in danger of rendering ourselves obsolete.

  • Curtis, yes dress up seems childish, yet many use it to declare themselves above others and religions seem especially prone to it. The pope and retinue are of course the ultimate example. I am most comfortable in my work clothes (mostly mens pants from Goodwill and mens shirts – they are more roomy and comfortable for work outside and usually stronger made than women’s clothes – hmmm does that make me a cross dresser). I eschewed nylons and dresses long ago, but still have a few dressy pants for EVENTS. My son’s weddings and a few local funerals being the only occasions in the last 10 years that have moved me to “dress up”. I don’t feel like me all dressed up which of course is probably the point for most people. Clothes they say make the man and I suspect that most dressing up from ordinary societal dressing up to religious finery are meant to present yourself to the world as something more than you are?

    Kevin, yes if the last programme to be broadcast were to be motor racing that would be ironic.

    Victor thanks for the link – I wonder what moving the earth on its axis will do?

  • Maybe Greer thinks he is Gandalf?

    I saw one clip on the news earlier showing bare shelves in Japanese stores.

    Suddenly several friends and relatives are interested in my heirloom seeds ;)

  • An update on the displacement of Japan, plus a couple of before/after photos…Good God!


  • Kathy,

    I agree completely. Since I retired, I only wear my good clothes, t-shirts and shorts or sweat shirts and jeans.

    Few have the courage to openly and vehemently criticize religion as you have. My compliments.

    For those who did not see this the first time, I am reposting this link.

  • This clip of Albert Bartlett on oilcrash1 you tube subscription site is worth listening to (I think someone who posts here has that site).

    Science and math are not democratic, we cannot vote to make climate change go away or resources to magically appear. What is is. There are no magic wands. If wishes were fishes no one would starve, but wishes aren’t fishes and people do starve. And likely climate change is out of our hands and our politicians are certainly out of our hands even though we supposedly elect them. Some of us see the collapse of civilization as the least bad thing that can happen as it might prevent runaway climate warming. Whatever we might think to do to help that along, nothing is doing more to help it along than our corporations and their elected stooges.

    For a bit of Sunday morning humor on our elected stooges – http://www.theonion.com/video/diebold-accidentally-leaks-results-of-2008-electio,14214/
    Might as well laugh as cry.

  • Ladies and gentlemen, my donkey and me have accomplished the mission number one: about 1,5 hectareas of my lands were made of deep clay. I bought a good amount of sand and now, the texture of the land is IDEAL. Difficult work, but I got a good texture ’til 30 cm depth, wich is far enough to grow vegetables. Tomorrow I’ll check acidity of the land, and let’s see what I grow there…

    Right now, it’s raining, so I’m waiting in the village after having a couple beers to celebrate. Tonight, I’ll eat one of my rabbits (I’ve already sacrificed him, poor bastrd…).

    In fact, I’m thinking about paying a tractor owner to break 5 hectareas of my lands (for the first and last time: later I’ll only use animal traction).

    Planting! First harvest incoming!

  • Victor, you might want to take another look at that msnbc link you posted, specifically the comments section. The people commenting are sympathetic to Japan, but not to the cause of “doomers” apparently.

  • Curtis, thanks for posting the link again. I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Would you believe that at one point I was intending to become a deaconess in the Lutheran church (almost a nun not quite).

    Jean, does the donkey have a name? Good going on your project – rooting for you here in Alabama. :)

  • Kathy,

    I can believe it. At 5 years old I thought I would be a priest. I had no clue. Now I am an irreverent heretic. We can all change for the better.

  • checked my new garden ph today – alkaline – damn! Not certain what I can do about it as spring planting is coming up now….

  • Victor, here is what I do. I never test my soil. I mulch with leaves of all types, oak, pecan, dogwood, whatever they are raking in town. I add chicken manure and composted chicken manure. I add wood ash. I plant plants and every year the garden produces more. If I tested and found a number that is supposed to be wrong no doubt I would get upset and worried and think I needed to do something instead of trusting my eyes and my plants.

    However others might have different advice so perhaps you could indicate what the PH reading is.

  • I like that advice, Kathy. I shall carry on.

  • Full article at link. Well worth the read IMHO. Excerpts below:
    “All of those broken bones in northern Japan, all of those broken lives and those broken homes prompt us to remember what in calmer times we are invariably minded to forget: the most stern and chilling of mantras, which holds, quite simply, that mankind inhabits this earth subject to geological consent—which can be withdrawn at any time.

    For hundreds, maybe for thousands of people, this consent was withdrawn with shocking suddenness—all geological events are sudden, and all are unexpected if not necessarily entirely unanticipated—at 2:46 on this past clear, cool spring Friday afternoon. One moment all were going about their quotidian business—in offices, on trains, in rice fields, in stores, in schools, in warehouses, in shrines—and then the ground began to shake. At first, the shock was merely a much stronger and longer version of the temblors to which most Japanese are well accustomed. There came a stunned silence, as there always does. But then, the difference: a few minutes later a low rumble from the east, and in a horrifying replay of the Indian Ocean tragedy of just some six years before, the imagery of which is still hauntingly in all the world’s mind, the coastal waters off the northern Honshu vanished, sucked mysteriously out to sea….Even more worrisome than geography and topography, though, is geological history. For this event cannot be viewed in isolation. There was a horrifically destructive Pacific earthquake in New Zealand on Feb. 22, and an even more violent magnitude-8.8 event in Chile almost exactly a year before. All three phenomena involved more or less the same family of circum-Pacific fault lines and plate boundaries—and though there is still no hard scientific evidence to explain why, there is little doubt now that earthquakes do tend to occur in clusters: a significant event on one side of a major tectonic plate is often—not invariably, but often enough to be noticeable—followed some weeks or months later by another on the plate’s far side. It is as though the earth becomes like a great brass bell, which when struck by an enormous hammer blow on one side sets to vibrating and ringing from all over. Now there have been catastrophic events at three corners of the Pacific Plate—one in the northwest, on Friday; one in the southwest, last month; one in the southeast, last year. That leaves just one corner unaffected—the northeast. And the fault line in the northeast of the Pacific Plate is the San Andreas Fault, underpinning the city of San Francisco.”

  • Guy,
    My neighbor just showed me this on Common Dreams:

    Larry Kudlow on CNBC summed up the thinking Friday by ‘the masters of the universe’ about the situation in Japan with this: “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.” His co-host then declared, because oil was moving lower, that Wall Street traders think, “This is good news for the US economy.”

    Michael Irving

  • victor
    if memory serves…no pine needles, or ashes…for now but … how’d u get alkaline, not common in eastern US in my experience[how’d u test it]… usually gets too acidic, & as kathy said most everything good i just add lots of; & they make it too acidic usually, so i add ashes to neutralize or crushed limestone; & no i’ve never had mine tested either.

  • It’s definitely a case of watch this space.

    An early market response to the carnage:

    Australia All Ordinaries 4,666.90 10:29am -67.90 (-1.43%)

  • Sam, I use pine needles on some of my main paths in the garden, but not on the beds expect that sometimes a few bags have mostly leaves with some pine straw and I go ahead and use them. I also put pine straw around my strawberries and that seems to appeal to them. I don’t have a lot of ashes as I am in the southeast and have a quite small house. But I have heard that too many ashes can be a problem. I do put two hands of ashes and one of egg shells run through the blended in each tomato hole along with compost. Seems to keep blossom end rot away (calcium) and doesn’t seem to be any harm to the tomatoes. How did I arrive at my precise formula. Just started doing it in those proportions for no specific reason other than knowing about calcium and end rot. When it worked and didn’t cause harm I saw no need to change my formula :) I don’t aim for maximum production because that is just not my mind set. I think the soil likes it better if you just go for good production.

    I think Victor is in the US.

    Michael, looks like the capitalists are getting less and less wary about showing their true colors. Makes one almost want to drop the f bomb.

  • kathy
    fairly similar methods…old timers advice[not all the ashes], my intuition…or letting my hand decide, & pour the manure, leaves, etc. to the soil…& so far no major losses except seemingly weather or animal ones. i think i’ve been short phosphorus as my most common problem . thanks for the tips on tomatoes!

    like u i had terribly clayey soil, & i did finally breakdown & buy a triaxle of sand…mostly in one area. i have added 50-100 tons of matl’s…75x120garden in 10 yrs.

    u’r distinction of empire & civilization was superb!

    i have googled tainter & peer polity; & jason Godesky looking for a chart of godesky’s i believe…a map of the world where he colored in collapsed areas…maybe by degree. new orleans, USSR for ex. now we’d add in detroit, parts of the rust belt[greer], etc. then, christ’s churh, now parts of japan now, etc. u get the idea,…& obviously it changes…russia, & often neighbors don’t want a seriously failed state next door…especially if they have nukes.

    the thing is in our networked global system we will at some point…’all fall down’ one or more levels, then we may not be able to help; or see it to our advantage too…acquisition/conquering? well enough for now…thanks.

  • TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s central bank injected a record 7 trillion yen ($85.5 billion) into money markets and the Tokyo stock market nosedived Monday on the first business day since an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country’s northeast and raised dire worries about the economy.
    Nikkei 225 down 4.75%

  • Japan’s central bank injected a record 7 trillion yen into money markets and the Tokyo stock market nosedived Monday on the first business day since an earthquake and tsunami devastated the country’s northeast and raised dire worries about the economy.

    Nikkei 225 9,765.49 -488.94 -4.77%
    from yahoo finance

  • does the donkey have a name?
    If not, may I suggest “Barack”?

  • ‘I can believe it. At 5 years old I thought I would be a priest. I had no clue. Now I am an irreverent heretic. We can all change for the better.’- curtis heretic- thanks for making me smile.

    at this point it’s too late to ‘change the world’ even if we could, but i suppose it’s human nature to always seek purpose and hope, so i still dream of changing at least a few minds along lines i’m sure would be approved of here. it surreally boils down to pointing out how full of shit ‘authority’ is, pointing out the emperor’s nudity. making heretics out of believers, substituting fact based knowledge and reason for dogma and faith in ‘authority’ that’s leading us to ruin.

    stephen earl salmony, what’s happening? haven’t heard from u lately.