Couchsurfing with my soapbox

My recent foray to Wisconsin and Michigan had me staying five different homes, hence sleeping in five different beds and eating at many different tables. It was quite an exciting adventure, spent with wide-awake people, and I hope to repeat the experience as many times as the industrial economy allows.

I’ve embedded one of the thirteen presentations I delivered over a span of eight days. It’s my final presentation, excluding Q&A (which might come later), which partially explains my on-and-off incoherence (the remainder is inexplicable, as usual).

The presentation includes a half-hearted pitch of my final book. The book is available, a couple months earlier than anticipated, and can be found at this link as well as the usual online outlets. If all goes according to plan, I’ll receive a few copies later today. The book has already been reviewed by Sandy Krolick, the kulturCritic and Cameron Conaway, the poet. Krolick’s review was picked up by Transition Voice, and Conaway’s review was run by Examiner.

I’m trying to produce video from my presentation at a Harvest Gathering Festival with a barn as venue. I may post it at a later date, if all goes according to plan. It includes no slides, and the material differs considerably from the one above.

Reaction was mixed, as usual. Some people, such as this college student, found my messages unbelievable. Others quibbled with the timing of the sources I presented (I carefully avoided pushing my own predictions). Standing ovations were rare — even though I begged for them — but in the end several people understood the importance of collapse if we are to extend our run as a species.


Huge thanks to Shelley Youngman, who facilitated, organized, chauffeured, and hosted. A kindred spirit, Shelley was kind enough to make many of the arrangements and also to spend large blocks of time with me. Voluntarily, no less.

Thanks, too, to my many new friends and hosts (in the order I met them): Mike Draney and Vicki Medland (University of Wisconsin-Green Bay), Steve DeGoosh and Brooke Isham (Northern Michigan University), Sarah Redmond and Dan Redmond (Alger Community Transition), Shelley Youngman and Frank Youngman (Transition Cadillac), and Kimberly Sager and Aaron Wissner (Local Future).


This post is permalinked at Plan B Economics and Survival Acres.

Comments 108

  • Guy – what brought on the Amazon drought?

  • Standing ovation here. :) As exhausting as that tour was, I get the feeling it was refreshing for you too, spending time and exchanging ideas with wide-awake people.

  • At this point, we don’t know with certainty the source of the drought. But it’s difficult for me to imagine it’s not closely linked to climate change generally and the seemingly permanent La Nina conditions specifically.

  • I live in Mexico city, one of the biggest cities in the world, the bigger they are the harder they will fall, I have tried to talk to my friends about this, but It seems people don’t even want to listen, only two of them, close people are not open to hear this things, or have the common answers like nothing is going to happen we are going to stay the same or someone is holding the technology bla bla bla, I just took a permaculture design course, and I’ll be taking some more in depth courses the rest of the year I hope I’ll meet new people here like minded, next step will be to find and build a community, I’m thinking It’s not going to be people close to me but new like minded people, I started searching in the intentional communities directory too. I find It challenging trying to go out there and convince people, what is your thought on this?, Is it My goal is to get out of the city and relocate as soon as possible to a small town, and start an IC or even join one. I feel really isolated right now, I need to talk to people who deeply understand the concept of energy decline and economic collapse., thanks, great work!

  • Well done presentation. As you note psychological preparation is the essential first step and perhaps the hardest.

    Dr. House noted the size of urban populations on a previous post. Tamnaa says that when things go bad in the city, people return home to the countryside and are absorbed back in. But that is never an emptying of all the cities, just those who no longer can find work.
    Here are some figures of urban population growth
    Through most of history, the human population has lived a rural lifestyle, dependent on agriculture and hunting for survival. In 1800, only 3 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas. By 1900, almost 14 percent were urbanites, although only 12 cities had 1 million or more inhabitants. In 1950, 30 percent of the world’s population resided in urban centers. The number of cities with over 1 million people had grown to 83.

    The world has experienced unprecedented urban growth in recent decades. In 2008, for the first time, the world’s population was evenly split between urban and rural areas. There were more than 400 cities over 1 million and 19 over 10 million. More developed nations were about 74 percent urban, while 44 percent of residents of less developed countries lived in urban areas. However, urbanization is occurring rapidly in many less developed countries. It is expected that 70 percent of the world population will be urban by 2050, and that most urban growth will occur in less developed countries.

    Obviously countries like Thailand will be better able to absorb the city folk but if all the cities empty I think even they would be overwhelmed. In the US it is possible to have great distances from cities, so that might help prevent a total deluge for highly rural people.

    The situation is dire for so many reasons. Guy, the climate figures hit me harder with this presentation – I know this stuff but sometimes it still is overwhelming.

    Whether or not anyone’s preparations help extend their survival, growing your own food is its own reward.

  • Thanks for sharing the video. Truly great to see & hear, even if on an iPhone 3G. A very good presentation presentation: good presentations can be expected to come in stride for a professor, although the schedule sounded quite exhausting. Most of it has been discussed and even debated ib detail on Nature BatsLast but the english applied brought some aspects that had receded into the background back to the fore. 

    And ofcourse the speaking to others helps form a sense of extended community before the dawn (or dusk, for those shackled to the Business As Usual paradigm). 

  • As usual, a fine presentation, Guy. I was left wondering what ideas the audience had for where we go from here…

    Being one who observes that the current PTB will not go quietly into the night, I anticipate rapidly growing pressures to bring everything under forceful control. You were right that marshal law cannot be enforced by the military on a broad scale in America. I might even add that it can’t be enforced on a global scale as well. However, fascism can be enforced. As long as the government and corporations co-operate (which they already do to a large extent), they can decide who gets what resources and when, thus starving out huge segments of the country (world) on a geographical/ethnic basis. The US Empire has already shown that it can literally starve countries of resources through economic sanctions and military might. There is no reason to believe that the same strategy can’t be nationalised and globalised.

    The US did not have to step up to effectively close down Wikileaks – Amazon, Visa and the banks did it for them. Believe me, with government permission, the corporate world can do most anything it wishes to carry on BAU.

    And I believe they will. They will until can literally can’t pump oil any more. In the meantime, we should see a huge consolidation of power nationally and across the globe into a few (perhaps something like 10) economic zones of power backed by the power of the US military. This will not end pretty, not for any of us, I fear.

  • Guy, I echo Kathy with respect to the impact of the climate data. It seems that every time I turn around the newest data shows that even the worst projections weren’t dire enough. Thanks for the updates.

    I hope you don’t mind, but I showed your presentation to one of my pharmacology students today (I routinely have medical students and pharmacology students in my clinic, and I also teach two classes at the local university). After it was over, she cheerfully stated “Very interesting!” And then she proceeded to talk about some show she used to really like watching on the History channel about the planet without people, or something like that. I don’t think she really grasped the message. However, it’s possible that she won’t get any sleep tonight as her awareness begins to be awakened. One never knows.

  • Kathy C. Thailand has 34% of the population living in cities. India only 30.
    This is a very informative site:

    As I understand it, in food producing nations city people don’t produce food but they are able to eat because country people produce enough for both. When the system breaks down the food stays in the country and the city people can’t get it so, instead of moving food to the people, the people move to the food. Even in a country where the ratio was 50-50 it would mean a doubling up of people on the farms. Not overwhelming.

    Non food-producing nations, such as arid oil exporting nations, and those which produce industrial commodity foods would be in trouble, I think. More corn and soybeans anyone?

  • A wonderful human being by the name of Wangari Maathai passed away a few days ago in Kenya. She was awarded the Nobel Prize and the Right Livelihood award. I found many of her answers in this interview moving and inspiring.

    She worked for environmental remediation (tree planting), improving the lives of women, and democratic reforms.

    I’m just listening to the video now. Very dire, indeed.

    Is it too late to plant trees? Plant trees anyway.

  • Sergio, I think all of us who visit this site on a fairly regular basis have experienced the same feelings of isolation as you have, as well as the seeming futility of trying to talk to those in our lives about Collapse. I think you are probably doing as much as anyone can right now. I wish I could tell you that those feelings ease over time, and maybe they do, for some. I personally carry those feelings around with me all the time now, kind of like the grief over the passing of a loved one: it becomes something you learn to live with.

    Best of luck in all your endeavours. Just remember, nobody promised you this would be an easy journey; but as has been said before, “the journey is the destination.”

  • Tamnaa good point. I looked around a bit and found that the king of Thailand was in fact promoting self sufficiency and localism. So your countryside may well absorb the masses from the cities, depending on how much you depend on fertilizers and powered irrigation. The folks from the cities should provide the missing mechanical power.

    Here in the US the food in the country does feed those in the cities and we export and turn some into ethanol. When the grid comes down there will be no more chemical fertilizers, no more tractors, no more transport to cities, no more pesticides, no more pumping of water. Add to that the increasing effects of climate change and you have famine. While moving city folks to the country might provide labor to compensate for the lack of tractors, I don’t want a wall street banker working for me. :) What we will find here is that the soil is probably so depleted in many areas that the production will crash. The climate situation in Texas (heat and drought) this year was so bad that most cattle farmers have been liquidating their herds. If the drought ends recovery will still be slow because the reproductive rate of any cows left will take several years to bring the herd numbers up again.

    You should also hope as I do for a quick collapse soon as any country that is food self sufficient as we enter the age of declining food production will be looked at with greedy eyes from those that are not food self sufficient or just want to make a buck. Global corporations are already buying land for food to export. Africa looks to be the prime area for this. Saudi Arabia is also doing the same. But apparently it is also happening is your neck of the woods. A quick steep decline might be your country’s salvation.

    In Cambodia, 15% of land has been signed over to private companies since 2005, a third of which are foreign. A new set of research studies from the International Land Coalition find the competition for land increasingly global and unequal. Many of the deals are shrouded in secrecy, so the scale of what is happening is not clear, nor is it clear who is benefiting from these deals;

  • I do believe that mass migrations are in the book within the near future, generally out of urban areas. The quesiton will be how ready, willing and able would the rural folk be to accept the ex-urbanites. Several issues will be prominent.

    Moving things around with human or animal muscle power may have to substitute for current metthods. But even bicycle carts will fall apart in a decade or so, and without replacements forthcoming,resort to older technologies will be necessary. Some places may still have wheelers and rimmers, since oxcarts with wooden wheels and metal rims plied the roads when and where I grew up. Rimmers in the original way were quite skilled: the circular piece of metal had to be beaten when hot to just the right size and shape and slipped over the wooden wheel: upon cooling it would contract down to fit tightly.

    Workarounds will have to be found for any fossil-fuel-based pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers.

    Irrigation from larger infrastructure projectn such as canals may go awry from upstream diversions and/or infrastructure deterioration. Irrigattion from local wells powered by fossil fuels will also have to be reconsidered.

    The ability of the rural community to absorb harbor and sustain a human influx with different culture, values and ethics is an important factor. Even in south-east Asia, how many rural communities would be willing to adopt three city slickers for every seven locals? The old joke “What is the difference between an urban cowboy and a country cowboy?” (“The bulls**t is on the outside of the boots of the country cowboy”) may be significant.

    Iron and steel tools is yet another issue: some of which could last a generation or more. Ultimately they will have to be replaced, by recycling or salvage from other sources, both of which will require at least low-tech forging. Extraction from (the remaining) low-grade ores without fossil fuels and associated advanced technology would be problematic.

    At the time of the Great Depression in the uS, the city folks who returned to their family farms were only a generation or two away from those farms. And also the farms had not been wiped out as yet by industrial agriculture.

  • Thanks for posting, this preso will soon go viral in the Transition movement, brutally frank and honest. Hopefully it will reach a wider audience as well. Just like Nicole Foss’ excellent work this should be seen by all!

  • I’m glad you were able to post this presentation Guy!
    You speak the truth well, and we thank you for sharing it with us.

    Your visit here has spawned numerous circles of discussion and many a purchase from Lehman’s non electric catalog! You gave us all the kick in the butt needed to understand the dire situation we are facing. At the same time, I feel a sense of peace about this new paradigm, as I have more love than ever for our planet. I feel ready to embrace what ever IS, in order for the healing to begin.

    It was a pleasure and an honor to spend 6 days of this tour with you; to pick your brain and get to know your gentle compassionate spirit.

    I admire your integrity to have embarked on this courageous journey to live intentionally with nature.

    Thank you for everything you do, Guy!

  • ‘maybe u’re just sleeping’ -guy to his audience after they failed to respond viscerally to a dire climate change warning/revelation.

    love this!

    love the quiver in guy’s voice, so appropriate to the content of his speech, which i also loved with few reservations. ‘disaster as usual’ in place of bau, that’s a phrase worth repeating emphatically many times over! as is the essential irreversability and immense length of time a new climate regime will entail. important facts which very very few are now acknowledging, much less emphasizing.

    guy’s doing something quite similar to what i’ve dreamed of but have never had the fortitude/ability required. sayings things quite similar to what i’d say, with the same raw emotion. emotion is difficult to control or deal with when not in ignorance/denial, but is an essential element too often missing when sheople talk about things like runaway agw, as if it’s just another pressing problem among many. as if it doesn’t spell disaster for us and our descendents.

    re. the habitability of our planet for our species in the face of a 6 degree celsius rise in average global temp., u state the last time global temps were so high only small mammals were in existence, implying larger mammals such as ourselves couldn’t survive. i think this is a highly questionable implication, first because back then mammal evolution hadn’t progressed far, and second and more importantly, i don’t believe there’s solid evidence to support the notion that a 6 degree warmer world would wipe us out, and there aren’t many trying to make that case. i recall about 2 years ago coming across an alarming scientific paper which stated there was something like a 5% chance that by the year 2100 global warming would be severe enough to render vast regions of the globe uninhabitable for humans, due to extended periods of wet bulb or dew point temperatures in excess of 35 celsius (dew point temps measure humidity in the air, anything above 20 celsius is uncomfortable, above 25 is oppressive). i know of no scientific papers exceeding this warning at this time, or claiming a 6 degree average rise globally does us in. while runaway agw certainly raises concerns of human extinction dangers, let’s not exaggerate these concerns or try to make them overly imminent.

    guy also twisted richard heinberg’s words from the kunstler interview. richard didn’t predict economic collapse this fall. he responded to a question asking him to speculate on when the next severe economic crisis could happen, to which he replied it could be as soon as this fall, or words to that effect. this is the kind of thing that can cause trouble, if at some point heinberg or others quoted in support of guy’s thesis decide to publically deny a misinterpretation of their words.

    when discussing oil ‘production’, a term we both find disingenuous for it’s disregard to nature’s role in the matter, one could substitute ‘extraction’ for ‘production’ to more accurately portray how oil (and other natural ‘resources’) is/are obtained.

    another quibble: towards the end of the talk around the 36 minute mark i think, guy says that when he was of college age protests brought an end to the vietnam war. in fact, u.s. troops pulled out in 1973 when guy was 13; 2 years later the corrupt south vietnamese government fell.

    facts can’t be misrepresented without undermining message/credibility, and i don’t understand the point of doing so. it’s not like the truth is in need of embellishment.

    so guy, i’m confused. on the one hand, i find u to be a very gifted, knowledgable, engaging, and inspired speaker putting out vitally important concerns in a unique manner, and on the other hand are these irritating misrepresentations which tend to undermine your cred/message. they make me a bit hesitant to pledge full support for this noble quest to point out some of the surreal dangers of dau (disaster as usual): runaway agw, and economic collapse due to energy/resource depletion, to a very deluded and ignorant public. otherwise i’m inclined to do everything i can to see to it that your efforts receive the widest audience possible, including providing financial support to enable greater travel/outreach and video production.

  • Sergio, I like the direction of your thinking and it sounds as though you have the motivation and courage to follow through. I would be interested in exchanging ideas with you. Might be best to click on “Tamnaa” above and take a look at our blog. If you feel we are like-minded then leave a comment and we can get in touch.

  • clarifying what heinberg actually says re. our economic situation about 14 minutes into the 2nd part of his interview with jhk on aug. 25, link here:

    he offers the opinion that the situation is very volatile and unpredictable, and that we could be facing something like what happened in 2008 this sep. or oct. in my interpretation this means we could be facing the beginning of collapse very soon, which is far different than saying ‘game over’ or ‘lights out’ in that same time frame.

  • i know of no scientific papers exceeding this warning at this time, or claiming a 6 degree average rise globally does us in.


    You need to think more deeply about that statement. Whilst you may be correct (and honestly, I haven’t done the research to confirm or deny your statement about papers), there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it will indeed do us in.

    In his book Six Degrees Mark Lynas has this to say about a six degree increase:

    Nevertheless, with its lush,coal-forming forests and flourishing animal life one might be lulled by the geological evidence into a sense of the Cretaceous as quite an attractive place, if rather hot and sticky. After all does it not indicate that the Earth can survive – indeed, that life can flourish – with much hotter global temperatures? Might this not assuage some of our worries about the future? Perhaps. But the Cretaceous ecosystems evolved in the greenhouse climate over a very long period, and many of the plants and animals now turning up as fossils were clearly supremely adapted to it. This is not the case today: we share the planet with species which are largely adapted to cooler conditions. If we do succeed in tipping the earth back into the extreme greenhouse climate of the Cretaceous, few of the ecosystems we know would survive. The pump is primed, as we’ll see later, not for flourishing palm trees in Alaska, but for the worst of all earthly outcomes: mass extinction.

    You must understand that the CO2 that has been captured long ago, was captured slowly over the millennia during normal and natural cycles. What we are doing today, is releasing back into the atmosphere within only a matter of a few years that which was gradually collected over millions of years.

    With increased levels of CO2 forced into the atmosphere, you don’t simply have global warming. The seas which rise significantly over many of today’s heavily populated areas become much more warm and acidic, driving out whole populations of plankton upon which we depend for half of our oxygen and which form the lowest level of the ocean food chain upon which all other ocean (and many non-ocean creatures heavily depend), destroying all coral reefs which are the feeding grounds of countless sea creatures, and causing most of the world’s sea populations to crash. Well before six degrees you have a climate that can no longer support much of the forests and vegetation we know today (the other half of the oxygen cycle), and thus, neither the animal life. This new world will be one of extremes – extreme heat, extreme drought, extreme storms wandering all across the globe.

    Without abundant sea life and land animals, we cannot survive. It is as simple as that.

    But there is more good news. After only three degrees (Actually, I think it is more like 1.5 degrees – in other words, we are already in the very early stages) runaway warming is predicted. So once you reach 3 degrees, positive feedbacks begin to take over, and it doesn’t matter squat what humans do after that – we are likely faced with at least 6 degrees eventually, and probably more. It truly is checkmate Mother Nature.

    No, VT, we will not survive 6 degrees.

  • we could be facing something like what happened in 2008 this sep. or oct.

    Indeed, though I reach a somewhat different conclusion. This next crisis will act to convince everyone that truly the ‘end is nigh’, and will offer TPTB significantly greater opportunity for massive consolidation of power, as the last crisis did.

  • Victor:

    Thanks for your explanation of climate change. It is good to note your head seems to be properly screwed on. Indeed, changes over decades or centuries do not leave Nature the time it needs (hundreds or thousands of millennia) to evolve new critters to fill the gaps left as others bite the dust.

  • Guy,

    We enjoyed your presentation last week. It was good to see you again, and we were impressed with the reaction from the many folks who were there. More and more are waking up to reality. Your efforts are not being wasted, and I hope you take comfort in that. I’m looking forward to reading your book. We will buy our own copy and Deb will try to order many copies for the library as well.

    Your analogy of being on an ocean liner with a party going on and you the only one with a view of the oncoming storm is a good one. You can choose to keep quiet and let them enjoy their remaining time. Or you can choose to tell them what’s coming. We have a long and difficult journey ahead of us, and the only path that makes sense is the one we travel together, towards the direction you’ve shown. I think you’ve chosen wisely.

  • Thanks for the discussion, including the quibble. the virgin terry, I’ll try to address your comments in this comment. First, as I point out in the presentation, the last time this planet was 6 C above baseline, there were no large mammals. Next time, I seriously doubt there will be large mammals: there will be no time for evolutionary adaptation to occur, no ability to thermoregulate, and no remaining planetary ice.

    My take on Heinberg’s comment is that we’re in a situation similar or worse than 2008. This time, the Fed is out of ammo, as Ben Bernanke admitted Wednesday night.

    With respect to my age and demographic, I indicate my contemporaries fought the battles that led to our extraction from Vietnam and passage of legislation regarding the environment and civil rights. That’s correct. I’m a late-age baby boomer, among the last of a generation that brought these advances and also left behind a world depleted of resources, ruined by Empire, and ruled by fascism masquerading as Republic.

  • Guy

    I thought I’d stop bothering you with my personal emails and post on NBL instead. I’m in full agreement with The Virgin Terry’s excellent post. The only three ‘predictions of collapse by November 2011’ I am familiar with are Richard Heinberg’s, Tony Robbin’s (only because you talked about him) and Mike Ruppert’s. Heinberg’s forecast has been admirably dealt with by Terry. Tony Robbin’s I wouldn’t place too much credence by if his only qualification is being a motivational speaker. Ruppert was predicting economic collapse by July of this year. This clearly did not happen. If I was to investigate all the other names on your list would I find any of their names more worthy of inclusion?

    With regards to climate change, is it not the case that the vast majority of carbon trapped in fossil fuels before the industrial age began could never make it into the atmosphere because it would be impossible or uneconomical to extract the oil/gas/coal/tar? It follows therefore that we could never cause the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to approach anything like the levels it has been in the past at times when life flourished. Doesn’t this make runaway greenhouse unlikely? I’m no expert, but I thought I’d pose the question. I know that the sun’s output increases gradually over time, so I suppose it is possible that runaway greenhouse could occur at a lower atmospheric CO2 level then millions or billions of years ago. Alternatively, we could have upset nature’s balance to such an extent that major negative feedback loops have been destroyed.

    Finally Guy, I noticed a distinct lack of trees around your place in Arizona. Why did you choose Arizona to make your stand rather than Canada or Belize where you have previously recommended?

  • Yorchichan, thanks for the first-time comment. Please conduct an online search for those names. And, since I spoke, add these two to the list who predict completion of the ongoing economic collapse by the end of 2012: Alessio Rastani and Attila Szalay-Berzeviczy.

    Runaway greenhouse probably is underway, as indicated by the five positive feedbacks I mentioned in the presentation. But I’m hoping we can minimize the damage via the route you suggest: near-term economic collapse precluding addition burning of fossil fuels.

    Finally, as I’ve mentioned many times in this space, my choice of locations is constrained by familial concerns. There’s an advantage, though: If we can make it work here, I will accept no excuses about failing to attempt to mitigate just about anywhere.

  • I may have meant New Mexico. It’s all desert to me.

  • Guy

    Sorry for not remembering your reasons for choosing where to live. I must have read them before.

    I’m not a climate change denier, but I will retain a little doubt until somebody can explain to me why a level of CO2 far less than seen in the past would be catastrophic now when it wasn’t then. I know the rate of increase is higher than at all other times except for a few cataclysmic events, but life survived even the earth being turned into a giant snowball. (Admittedly, we wouldn’t survive this!)
    So, I wouldn’t worry too much for life on earth. It’ll recover. Unless conditions are really extreme everywhere, I expect a few of us will survive too.

    I have no doubt whatsoever that monetary default is coming to a Western nation near you (and me) soon, but I’m not convinced it will immediately bring all of industrial civilisation to an end.

  • Yorchichan

    Welcome to the discussion. Always good to hear another view. Perhaps to answer your question at least partially, consider this. CO2 levels are not well known in the distant past. Those estimates we have are just that – estimates, usually based upon models that do not have enough variables to take into view. So the results have to be taken with a certain degree of healthy scepticism. Also, as you are likely aware there are many different considerations to global warming, not just CO2 levels, though they are one of the main drivers. Much better known and measurable are the variables in today’s world. After taking these into effect, virtually all the major national science academies, scientific societies, government science agencies and other bodies representative of scientific expertise agree that 1) global warming is occurring, 2) it is anthropocentric in cause, and 3) the anthropocentric cause being primarily down to CO2 forcing.

    You can certainly argue that past geological periods might have contained significantly higher levels of CO2, but without filling in the other necessary variables attributed to global warming your argument will be rather weak. For example, during the Late Ordovician period, it is thought that there were huge amounts of CO2 present in the atmosphere, yet glaciation occurred during that period. Why, if CO2 levels were so high? It is believed that the sun was dimmer during that period; so dim, in fact, that the CO2 levels were not of real consequence. Read this: Indeed, the Sceptical Science website is an excellent site to answer many of the questions you seem to have about global warming. I would encourage you to give the site a try.

    The bottom line is that nearly all scientific organisations that have climate expertise, are in agreement based upon solid peer-reviewed research. You can accept that or not, but that’s the view today. To harbour doubts is to choose a model that is surely more risky than the accepted view today. If for no other reason, think of it like this if you continue to have doubts – if the climate scientists are wrong and we take mitigating action, we have little to lose but the economy (and there are substantial arguments against that position as well!), but if climate sceptics are wrong and we take no action, we are in deep, deep shit. A good vid to watch on the logic end of this argument is this:
    The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See

    Consider the logic. Do an honest risk assessment in light of current research.

  • So, I wouldn’t worry too much for life on earth. It’ll recover. Unless conditions are really extreme everywhere, I expect a few of us will survive too.

    I wouldn’t be too sure of that. The Earth has never had to deal with anything like humanity before. We could well be the virus that kills the host.

    Virtually all the models run thus far have been remarkably conservative in their approach, leaving out significant processes such as negative feedback. Even from this conservative position, we are seeing that the models don’t even come close to the effects and timing of the coming climate changes. Temperature changes are always far worse than the models predict, and come faster. This leads me to believe not only that global warming is here now but that runaway global warming is at our doorstep, and we are still arguing over CO2 and man’s part in it!

  • As for the economy, I do not believe that modern civilisation will fall because of financial factors, at least not directly, but because of fiscal factors. It will collapse because it can no longer be sustained due to peak oil, plain and simple. And when it collapses, it will be a total collapse – perhaps a couple of major debilitating shocks beforehand, but in the end, a complete and fatal collapse. Modern civilisation simply can not exist without continual growth and continuing increases in energy to feed that growth. Remove either (which is what peak oil will do) and we shall see a rapidly crumbling infrastructure that will accelerate markedly over a short period of time, culminating in the loss of the electrical grid across the globe.

    We might delay it through a financial failure leading to further resource conservation as it affects the fiscal economy, but it can not be avoided. The years 2012-2015 are critical to this assessment, as it is during this period that we should see the world leaving the undulating production plateau and entering the cliff event. At that point nothing will prevent the ultimate end – a reversion to the Stone Age.

  • It doesn’t matter any more whether climate change is deemed human caused or not because clearly humans are not voluntarily going to change their ways (except for a very small number). Therefore those of us who are sure it is caused by humans adding CO2 to the atmosphere have to start looking at economic collapse as the only way it might possibly be prevented from going into to all of the feedback mechanisms that could come into play. But economic collapse is also out of our hands – however TPTB are managing that feat themselves.

    What is clear is that climate change is progressing faster than the most pessimistic scientists thought a few years back. In the news (if you are doing more than reading google headlines)
    “Half of Canada’s ancient ice shelves have disappeared in the last six years, researchers have said, with new data showing significant portions melted in the last year alone. The rate at which ice melts is seen by climate scientists as an indicator of the pace of global warming. Satellite images released by researchers from Carleton University in Ottawa show that most of the Serson Ice Shelf broke away during the Canadian summer this year.”

    Note that word ANCIENT ICE SHELVES. Having gone through about 1/2 the ancient sunlight trapped in fossil fuels in about 200 years, having gone through much of the ancient waters in the Ogallah reservoir and other underground reservoirs, having depleted ancient top soil, having cut down ancient trees, we are now watching ancient ice melt. Clearly we are headed back to some other world and other worlds aren’t necessarily hospitable to humans.

    On Yahoo’s daily ticker today Weakness in leading economic indicators has become so pervasive the Economic Cycle Research Institute now predicts a new recession is unavoidable.
    “The vicious cycle is starting where lower sales, lower production, lower employment and lower income [leads] back to lower sales,” co-founder Lakshman Achuthan declares in the accompanying video.
    Whereas Achuthan said the jury is still out in late August, the weakness in leading economic indicators — and ECRI uses a dozen for the U.S. alone, he notes — has become a “contagion” that is spreading like “wildfire.”

    Mostly what we will see are predictions not of collapse but of recession so as not to spook the market or the populace. But when they start talking recession we should translate depression or worse.

  • A bit of humor (I think) on human ways of looking at the world –

  • Heck it looks like even green solutions are failing for some of the usual reasons – cut price parts…..\

    THOUSANDS of new solar power systems are failing because of poor quality
    components, in another blow to Queensland’s green energy vision.

    Industry insiders have told The Courier-Mail many consumers were unaware the
    cheap systems they had bought were faulty or not performing efficiently. They
    said some faced a costly “time bomb” as warranties ran out and low-cost
    inverters failed, leaving them with replacement bills of about $2000.

    The Courier-Mail revealed on Saturday the state’s energy grid was not coping
    with the high uptake of rooftop solar systems.

  • Here’s the latest from Graham Summers, yet another capitalist intent upon making money as the world burns:

    “Yes, the GREAT COLLAPSE has begun. The markets will be going to new lows (below the March 2009 lows) in the coming months.”

    “We’re also going to be seeing major banks go under, market crashes, food shortages, government shutdowns, and SYSTEMIC FAILURE.”

  • Victor

    Thank you for trying to answer my questions on climate change. It seems my hunch that CO2 levels are of greater consequence today because of increased solar output may be correct. However, I’m still not totally convinced. There must be some pretty significant negative feedback loops keeping the earth at life sustaining temperatures otherwise I think we would have become Venus (or Mars) long ago. As you know, the warmer the earth gets the greater the water vapour in the atmosphere. It’s true that the water vapour itself has a powerful greenhouse effect, but I’ve also read that the greater cloud cover reflects more sunlight into space. I don’t know which of these two affects is the greater. I would also have thought the increased CO2, warmer temperatures and greater rainfall would increase plant growth (at least if we weren’t around to cut all the trees down) and this would lock up more carbon. So there are at least two potentially large negative feedbacks that could conceivably prevent the earth from overheating.

    The logic in the video you linked to is undeniable, but it makes no difference. We all know that no significant action on climate change will ever be taken at a national or international level and precious little at an individual level for that matter.

    Where I need no convincing is the matter of the demise of industrial civilization. I subscribe entirely to the Olduvai Theory due to resource depletion. Anyone who believes windmills or solar panels [is a solar panel that has to be manufactured out of mined minerals, plus whatever it’s attached to, ever likely to make more efficient use of sunlight than a self-replicating plant evolved over billions of years?] will save us is living in fantasy land. I just don’t think industrial civilization will end this year or the next. Even if Western nations default en masse it will simply mean those living in them will have to start living within their means i.e. be much poorer. Dau will still be able to carry on for a few years yet.

  • Greece Runs Out Of Ink, Can’t Print Tax Forms
    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 09/28/2011 07:37 -0400

    Greece Hyperinflation

    If you thought that last night’s news that Greece had been consulting (and paying) the far more “stable” Irish Central Bank on how to, oh, avoid bankruptcy, this may jus top it. In an FT article describing the new set of austerity measures most of which are very loud threats that Greece will very soon (really) take austerity seriously (they promise), we stumble across the following gem: “The conservative opposition New Democracy party said a shortage of ink had prevented the computerised tax centre at the finance ministry from sending out claims to taxpayers over the last 10 days. There was no response from the finance ministry to the claim.”…

    So…. let’s get this straight. If austerity does not force all the tax collectors to be on permanent strike which it appears it will, than the sharp ink shortage will surely destroy any attempts to generate state revenue through tax collections. And there is more bad news: when Greece goes back to its prior currency, the drachma, or the obolus, or goats, or whatever, there will be no ink to print it. And since Greece will enter hyperinflation shortly following its evolutionary transition from disorganized banana republic to organized hyperinflationary implosion, this may be a concern.

  • In unrelated news, President Obama killed two American citizens today. The media cheered, of course, along with a vast majority of the unthinking, uncaring, idiotic populace.

  • In unrelated news, President Obama killed two American citizens today.

    People really do not understand the implications of this – the President (or anyone who acts in his name) can kill anyone they choose anywhere in the world at his pleasure (and obviously he gets pleasure from it). No arrest. No charges. No trial. No mess. Just target them and kill.

    Does anyone realise that this could be them? The president is now above the law in every way.

  • Whew! I’m glad someone finally has it all figured out! And to think that I’ve been worried about the world’s problems for nothing! :-)

    An except:
    The good news is that much of the bad news is wrong, Andres Oppenheimer writes in the column linked to alongside this editorial.

    “But wait, there’s more,” as the TV pitchmen say.

    Here are two other problems that once may have seemed intractable but now are looking pretty “tractable” after all.

    Spoiler: Peak oil and violence are the two problems.

  • Yorchichan

    Yes, there are several things keeping things balanced for the time, two of which are particulate matter and aerosols – yes, pollution. And as we clean up the air, the temperatures will rise rapidly. One of the biggest factors, however, are the giant carbon sinks represented by the forests and the ocean. They absorb huge amounts of CO2, keeping it from the atmosphere. At some point, however, the sinks become emitters. The recent Amazon drought last year resulted in more CO2 emissions than all the US combined. Interesting, eh? And as the Amazon and other forests are damaged by climate change, they will push more and more CO2 into the heavens. The ocean, once it takes in all the CO2 it can absorb, will warm to the depths, become acidic, lose its dissolved oxygen and begin to emit refuse to absorb any more CO2. The oceans will encourage massive dead zones devoid of oxygen-breathing creatures.

    When the forests and the oceans turn against us, it is game over – Nature has hit a home run in the bottom of the ninth – we never had a chance once we went against her.

  • Dr House

    Yes, that reduction in violence has come at the cost of the modern technology put in place to brutally oppress by political, psychological, economic and military means. We have moved from violence of the body to violence of the soul. Which is worse I would ask?

    As for all those reserves of oil – wishful thinking. We will never be able to match the production levels of the past, much less increase production over time. And where we can access oil with new technology it often comes with a heavy price – requiring huge amounts of valuable fresh water and natural gas, and significantly increased environmental risks. And the oil gained contains much less energy than the older, richer oil we are used to – which means of course that we will have to pump more of it just to stand still. Not going to happen.

  • I finally got a chance to watch the video all the way through. I loved this little throw away line; “Community is how we get through this”.

    The truth of that penetrates much deeper than mere intellect.

    Everyone conducts their own personal experiment in their own way and that’s all to the good. An experiment can fail only when the experimenter fails to learn from the result.
    We (my wife, Ael, and I) would not make barter part of our experiment. For us, anything we have in surplus is best shared freely without any expectation of return. Of course surplus doesn’t always mean something material. It is often surplus time, energy, information, attention, etc. all of which can be valuable.

    Currently and locally, we are in the midst of a booming free-market capitalist economy, but that is fairly superficial and we often see the underlying older culture show through. People give each other gifts, mostly food, quite routinely. At first I thought some obligation was incurred in receiving these gifts but now I feel they are just small fragile gestures of connectedness.

    Last year when the river flooded and threatened to come over the dike that protects our village, people came to our place to check on us, give us the latest news and make sure that we were prepared to leave if necessary. Our house is situated a little higher that those around us and we let our neighbors know they could come here if they needed to.

    Guy, I see you putting out a lot of time and energy, giving a gift of information in the hope of helping people, and I think it does help, even if results are not immediately apparent. You do a lot to create community which is, after all, “how we get through this”.

  • Unfortunately I have not been able to view the video. Dail-up is hopeless and even the broadband at my local library paused every few seconds. However, I did catch enough of it to pick up the tome.

    There has been substantial discussion about higher CO2 levels in the past. But I have not seen any discussion about higher levels of volcanic activity. Over the past 4.5 billion years the radioactivity within the Earth has been slowly declining, and presumably volcanic activity has been steadily declining, interrupted by periods of intense activity.

    Volcanoes do two things: they release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and they release light-reflecting dust into the atmosphere. Recent evidence indicates that major volcanioc activity tends to cool the Earth. This may help explain some of the apparent anolmaies of previous periods when CO2 levels were higher than now.

    The other important factor frequently omitted from discussion is Global Dimming due to pariculate matter and aerosols derived from industrial activity. Logic tells us that Peak Oil will result in a fall in economic activity and a decrease in Global Dimming -hence the bizaree suggestion a few weeks ago that the technological ‘solution’ to the predicament we are in is to have airships stationed around the globe disperisng ‘pollutants’ into the atmosphere.

  • We can add this group of investors to the large and growing body of people who think the age of industry will be complete in less than a year

  • expect a few of us will survive too.

    The point made at Nature Bats Last is that the “us” might not include Homo sapiens. It could include small amphibians (frogs & toads), small reptiles, and even small mammals of the size of a shrew or a mouse. Perhaps a future intelligent species could be derived from one such lineage. 

    It doesn’t matter any more whether climate change is deemed human caused or not because clearly humans are not voluntarily going to change their ways

    We all know that no significant action on climate change will ever be taken at a national or international level and precious little at an individual level for that matter.

    Both are very realistic appreciations of the predicament. 

    “The vicious cycle is starting where lower sales, lower production, lower employment and lower income [leads] back to lower sales,”

    That is not the “cycle”. It ignores the real purpose of all human “jobs”: to facilitate the conversion of natural resources (primary economy) into useable items (secondary economy). This requires the control and manipulation of energy streams. With the contraction of energy resources (compounded by the depletion of just about all other resources) the jobs to control those energy streams will disappear, and the useable items created will be fewer in number, while the symbols chasing those useable items will proliferate on the promises of even more symbols if conversion into holdings of useable items / natural resources is deferred. 

    In unrelated news, President Obama killed two American citizens today.

    When “Drill, Baby, Drill!” becomes progressively less effective, one has to embark on a resource grab, which entails “Kill, Baby, Kill!”

  • Unable to watch the video? I could burn it to a DVD and snail-mail it to you b

  • Guy:

    That was a great link. I sent it to everyone I know. This is the kind of catastrophe that the average Murkin can understand.

    Makes me feel better that it is just about over for IC.

  • Victor, surely you realize that my previous post was placed satirically. Right?

  • Dr House

    Of course!… :-)

    I just wanted to use it to make my own point – I am always butting in on conversations!…. :-)

  • Kevin

    Excellent point about the volcanoes. Large eruptions always have a significant cooling effect and if there is activity world-wide, then you can expect a cooler climate even though there are high levels of CO2 and other GHGs present.

    I guess my point was that we can speculate about past levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, but we can’t know it like we know it today – too many unknowns. So we shouldn’t use faulty data from ages past to verify (or not) trends today. In some cases it helps: in others it hinders a right and proper assessment of today.

  • It could include small amphibians (frogs & toads), small reptiles, and even small mammals of the size of a shrew or a mouse.

    Perhaps. Perhaps not. Even though an animal might be physical able to survive such an environment, it is also necessary to consider the animal’s surrounding ecology, that which permitted it to survive in the first place. Will it still exist?

  • Kevin “The other important factor frequently omitted from discussion is Global Dimming due to pariculate matter and aerosols derived from industrial activity. Logic tells us that Peak Oil will result in a fall in economic activity and a decrease in Global Dimming -hence the bizaree suggestion a few weeks ago that the technological ‘solution’ to the predicament we are in is to have airships stationed around the globe disperisng ‘pollutants’ into the atmosphere.”

    Last resort for the desperate I guess. But per aersols only stay in the atmosphere for weeks or months. In fact dimming may be preventing us from seeing how much CO2 has warmed the atmosphere. When 911 grounded all US planes one researcher into Dimming found a significant warming in just those few days (google global dimming planes grounded).

    Let us hope they don’t proceed with any of the various plans to put stuff up in the atmosphere. However it is possible that in a short period of time after the factories of the world close down, climate change will become much more extreme.

  • Robin,
    Regarding your comment of 9/29/11 @ 7:32 (“I do believe that mass migrations… not been wiped out as yet by industrial agriculture.”)

    Well said!

    Michael Irving

  • The writer at Survival Acres joins the expansive and expanding group predicting collapse within a year: “You’ve been warned that you have less then 12 months now to get totally prepared, but it’s quite possible that in may be a matter of weeks or just a couple of months.”

    He goes on to make this cogent observation: “Americans do not really want their freedom as is often claimed. This too is a lie. What they want is to be coddled, pampered and taken care of, abdicating most, if not all, personal responsibility for a benevolent government. This is why they have long since virtually given up.”

    Obviously, you need not be among the pathetic group he describes.

  • In a classic too-little-too-late understatement on the front cover of the New York Times, “scientists say the future habitability of the Earth may be at stake” as a result of climate change. None of them are actually doing anything about it, of course.

  • Re: Survival Acres.

    Remember those smug Wall Street faces on the balcony. They should not be given food or aid under any circumstances.

    The author of the site has always shied away from any time lines. This is a new position for him.

  • Curtis[That was a great link. I sent it to everyone I know. This is the kind of catastrophe that the average Murkin can understand.]

    How about SHOULD BE ABLE to understand. If the denial block is up, nothing gets through.

    But ditto on the excellent presentation by Guy. Watched it again today with my husband and he concurs. Well done Guy.

  • Sorry, I was not clear. I thought Guy’s presentation was A+, but that was not what I was referring to. I meant (not clear) to say the link to the investors ( This is an economic flim flam. People readily understand scams.

  • What does it feel like to be around wide awake people?
    Have to find a way to bring you to the Pacific Northwest, we would love to have an intelligent conversation over looking the Fall garden eating a good meal together…how great it sounds!

    Wishing you the success you deserve with your new book. We’ll be promoting it the best we can.

    Thanks again for educating and helping us.

  • ‘“Community is how we get through this”.’ -tamnaa

    right and wrong. cooperation is the right path, but there are still likely overwhelming problems such as vast ideological incompatibilities to overcome in large groups, which due to our explosive population growth will be the unavoidable fate of most sheople facing collapse, especially those living in cities and dense sprawling suburbs. i don’t believe religious fundies and rational environmentalists are ever going to agree on how we should live.

    then there’s climate change. as several here like victor tirelessly point out, runaway agw is likely to make mincemeat of our whole species, along with countless others, and in an astonishingly short time. (some of us need occasional prodding to recall this terrifying detail, well laid out in books like 6 degrees by lynam? (don’t recall books title/author, but i think victor referenced it in his reply to me recently, and i’m sure many here are familiar with this science based analysis of the effects of various degrees of climate change on a global scale, up to 6 celsius degrees warmer.) i recall reading how eco-systems are devastated, many species unable to adapt to relatively sudden big changes. ocean acidification, coral/plankton die-off in the oceans, etc. the amazon drying and burning, adding a huge boost of carbon, methane hydrates releasing in the arctic, all these crazy accelerants to climate change spell our likely doom if the best most honest science is followed.

    i still have trouble accepting the idea that we’re extinct in 100 years, just to use a nice round number. but thanks to nbl it’s a surrealization i can no longer so easily escape. it helps place in context the shocks most here expect very soon economically. 7 billion sheople including many very wealthy ones thriving more or less currently have a huge fall to make to hit rock bottom if rock bottom is extinction.

    i suppose this decade will indeed be fascinating to witness in a horror film sort of way. as will the decades to come until we reach rock bottom, whatever that turns out to be. for most, anyway. there may be a few fortunate ones who make wise adaptations, achieve independence and escape the carnage of complete collapse of fossil fueled industry, but nature bats last with climate change, and no amount of human cooperation can counteract it’s force.

    still, it’s best to prepare if and while u can.

  • V.Terry, when I heard Guy speak those words they resonated very deeply within me. I had an unclear but very moving impression of small groups of our paleolithic ancestors facing “bottleneck” conditions and somehow cooperating and supporting each other to make it through against overwhelming odds.

    I suppose I’m tampering with the accepted meaning of words, which is one of my many foibles but, for me, the large groups of people living in cities or dense sprawling suburbs that you mention will find it well-nigh impossible to form real community. Maybe that’s what you are saying too.

    Communities are naturally limited in size to a small number of people. Groups larger than that size eventually engender divisiveness and require a coercive, hierarchical organizational structure to function. That’s not real community.

    Expansion of population and aggressive expansion of power (Imperialism) are the real problems we have to overcome if we are to live peacefully in real community.

    Many people will assert that this is impossible, that it’s hard wired into everyone’s genes, human nature etc. and, maybe they are right. The fact is, we don’t know. Given this uncertainty, it’s my personal choice to live my life in as positive a manner as I can, within my physical and intellectual limitations. It’s just more interesting and meaningful to me than allowing myself to collapse as an individual just because industrial civilization or the ecosphere is collapsing.

    There is no guarantee that anything we attempt to do will be successful, but since we can’t be 100% sure that it won’t, I think it’s interesting to try, as opposed to… I don’t know,…. what’s the alternative?

  • what’s the alternative?

    Not really any other alternative. Adapt your environment to your needs as well as you can and enjoy life as you can whilst you can.

  • Interesting 4-part series (about 2 hours total) produced by Al Jazeera on the 2008 financial meltdown.

    Start here:

  • Tamnaa, Given this uncertainty, it’s my personal choice to live my life in as positive a manner as I can, within my physical and intellectual limitations. It’s just more interesting and meaningful to me than allowing myself to collapse as an individual just because industrial civilization or the ecosphere is collapsing.

    I couldn’t agree more, especially when considering the following; that attitude is the only thing that keeps me from chucking it all.

    There are several issues surrounding collapse that are huge variables and make anyone’s survival dicey:

    1) Nuclear power plants and other industries requiring constant energy to keep them stable. There are more than 400 nuclear power plants in the world, and I suspect a greater number of other nasties out there. What happens to them when the grid fails and the diesel stops flowing? With the great number of those types of industries and their widespread distribution, will there be anywhere on the planet that escapes their toxicity?

    2) Nuclear weapons. I would say we have about a 50/50 chance of all out nuclear war when collapse begins in earnest. Given the relatively mild stressors over the last 50+ years, we’ve only just avoided a nuclear holocaust. How will nuclear-armed governments react when they are faced with millions and millions within their population starving to death or dying from thirst and their neighbors won’t share their meager resources? Or will some religious fanatic decide that it’s “god’s will” that he take out everyone he can as his country is doomed anyway? I can imagine quite a few scenarios where that beast is unleashed. One possible silver lining to that awful cloud is that the nuclear winter which would ensue would probably reverse global warming.

    3) Global warming has been discussed in this thread directly. But, when one considers that there is no way of knowing for sure which areas will be affected most adversely with drought, flooding, heat, cold . . . the only solution is to roll the dice and choose.

    4) Crazies. OMG the world is full of crazies! I think my little corner of the world has more than it’s fair share. :-) When you combine religious zealot survivalists with lots of automatic weapons, it’s anyone’s guess how that will turn out. I can only hope that they are counting on the rapture or some other insanity and will create their own self-fulfilling prophecy.

    I could go on, but I’m sure everyone here has heard it all before. Anyway, I agree – keeping as positive an outlook as possible is the only way to go. That being said, I’m off to work on the chicken coop! Have a great day everybody.

  • Virgin Terry – I did not realize Goldman Sachs read your posts…

    (take a shot for every time he say’s surreal ; )


    Goldman’s Jim O’Neill: “Let’s Worry About Everything”

    “Much of the latter end of the last week has felt rather surreal to me,…”


    Brilliant Orlov post – (the “mobile” version of Guy McPherson)

    Stolen Time

    “Consider a flame; a jet of methane, for example, injected into an oxygen-rich atmosphere and set alight. Now try to describe the shape and structure of the flame mathematically, in a way that will allow you to accurately predict how its shape and structure respond to changes in various conditions…

    Let us try to apply this same approach to a truly complex system: the economies of US and Europe, in the state in which we currently find them … Specifically, let us try to characterize the effect of the continuous monetary infusions, bailouts, and stimulus spending.

    The economics profession has failed to do this and so amateurs are forced to step into the breach. The economists’ usual excuse is that it’s all very complicated; sure it is, so is a gas flame…”

    “Rest assured, I am not advocating letting people starve or forgo beer or anything of the sort. A warm bed and three squares a day is, to me, a human right. I am not interested in policy (nor are policymakers interested in me).

    But I am interested in making a specific prediction: …

  • Guy,
    Trying to find the Tim Gannon (sp?) article you reference in your presentation. I am searching the SpringerLink website for Climatic Change and cannot find ANY article by that author. Browsing through the November 2009 issue online does not turn up a paper or author similar to your reference. Would you please confirm correct spelling of first author, article title, publication date and journal? Would very much like to have a copy of this article. Enjoyed your article in the recent issue of Cons. Biol.. Keep up the good work. Many thanks!

  • Dr. House, #4 – yep, we live in relatively the same neck of the woods. A neighbor recently told me there is war coming – whites against blacks, whites against hispanics. The race thing was just swept under the rug, but it is not gone. Where I last worked, I heard a man from the shop call me “nigger lover” under his breath, because I suggested it wasn’t worth burning down the local black run McDonald’s for not including fries in my order.

    When things get tight, everyone looks for someone to blame. We already have the religious nuts blaming Katrina on a scheduled gay parade. My father told me Katrina was because of their most prominent business – I was waiting for him to say whore houses but he said gambling. So his God kills people because they have gambling casinos? By the way my father has long played the stock market – but says that is not gambling as you know something about what you are investing in :) . At any rate the point is that when the collapse comes many will blame it on the perceived misbehavior of others.

    That said, it is a beautiful day, already been to the chicken coop, off to the garden – might as well enjoy….

  • Gregg Shirk, sorry for my poor articulation, and here’s the citation: Garrett, T. J., 2009 Are there basic physical constraints on future anthropogenic emissions of carbon dioxide? Climatic Change doi:10.1007/s10584-009-9717-9. Press release is here and the full paper is here (pdf).

  • Dr. House, I’m with you on all 4 points you make. The nuclear power plants worry me the most. The spent fuel keeps building up in those overloaded cooling pools. If the cooling systems ever cease to function for any reason, the fuel will heat up and become extremely dangerous. The enormity of the problem is staggering.

    “Nationally (U.S.), the nation’s 104 nuclear power plants are now storing some 63,000 metric tons of spent fuel rods, according to 2010 numbers compiled by the Nuclear Energy Institute.” 2010 info. from this long article I happened to find:

    As you say, we all know about these problems. Industrial civilization is trundling along toward a precipice, carrying us along with it and, given its huge inertial mass, heroic efforts are needed to alter its direction.

  • The immorality of ethanol
    “I watched as trucks full of corn were lined up more than twenty deep, to deliver corn to the ADM ethanol plant in Columbus, Nebraska. Several hundred of these trucks per day deliver the corn to be turned into ethanol at this huge facility. This particular plant uses coal in co-generation to help power its corn milling and ethanol processes. It is permitted to burn high and low sulfur coals, tire derived fuel, and biomass to produce steam and electricity.
    full article at

  • Guy, you tarnished your presentation with some of the names you dropped. Tony Robbins had previously told everybody to get out of the stock market, just before it rose like a rocket. Your classifying Al Gore as a climate change “crusader” couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Gore, who made over $110 million through his Generations fund, where he is the front man for David Blood and his group of Goldman Sachs Asset Management (GSAM) corporatists, is an influence peddling, financial criminal, who lives within a carbon footprint as large as that of a Saudi king.

    Gore has yet to complete his assigned mission, which is to grease the skids for what the Goldman Sachs Asset Management boys believe will become a $2 trillion carbon credit derivatives exchange. Please research the names you use before you drop them. Good research enhances credibility. Otherwise, I appreciated your presentation.

  • Kathy C; good link, both the article and the website. The idea of unemployed city people returning to the rural farmlands wouldn’t work in places like that, would it? I’ve heard that a large part of the American mid-west is being farmed in that way. The farms are very large so there are not many homes or families. The varieties of corn raised for industrial purposes like high fructose syrup, cornstarch, or ethanol may be edible in a pinch but I wonder how palatable they are.

    In third world areas thousands of families live on small manageable holdings, growing a large variety of fresh foods for consumption at home. It’s a completely different situation.

  • Tamnaa, there is this, and it is growing.

  • Tamnaa
    Nukular. This beast again. Thank you for the link. Do you, or someone else know the impact of nuclear facilities, being abandoned due to, say a world wide economic crash, to earth, spilling radiation for years, decades?
    I believe this the most serious threat to life as such. Whilst other toxic facilities might just be contained within an area, this thing goes again – worldwide spread.
    Has any one of the concerned scientists investigated in worst case scenario – actually that bad – thinking of such a scenario might just be again “prohibited” in the first place. I believe someone has done such research, just didn’t find any yet.
    IF, just IF this threat is being addressed, in theory, there is a chance to prevent the worst, maybe.

  • At least one part of the Arctic has been exceptionally cold this year!

  • The Arctic Ozone Hole

    Yes, one part of the Arctic is indeed colder – the upper stratosphere, as the article points out. Without the excess of GHGs in the atmosphere the stratosphere absorbs more heat (reflected and otherwise) from the earth, thus inhibiting the actions of certain ozone-killing chemicals in the air. When the upper stratosphere cools (because heat is being reflected back onto the earth), the chemical reactions take place and the ozone is killed off. Amazing balance this earth of ours maintains! Too bad we are upsetting it.

  • Your classifying Al Gore as a climate change “crusader” couldn’t have been farther from the truth.

    Gore and his ilk, like the gold and silver traders who hope to profit from financial collapse, hope to profit from climate change. Being in partnership with the GS Squid tells a lot about the man, in my opinion. Supposedly, he hopes to increase awareness of Global Warming in order to promote Green industries – Green Capitalism, if you will – capitalism in sheep’s clothing.

    All in all, global warming provides an excellent opportunity for the creation of multitudes of new entrants into the derivatives market.

    Will Green Capitalism be the answer to new green carbon-less initiatives, or will it be just another squid sucking wrapped around the face of the environmental movement and sucking the life out of it? You be the judge.

  • Tamnaa, Yes, some parts of the world people still have small holdings and farm in far far more sustainable ways than the insane way we farm here. In fact I have suggested on other web sites that folks that adopting a peasant farmer would be far more useful than a permanculture class, as they are currently doing and have done for centuries, what we American find a great challenge. I do expect that many countries like Thailand will be far better off post collapse than the US. I don’t know if you missed my post about countries like Saudia Arabia and multinational corporations buying up land in Africa and have even bought up 15% of the land in Cambodia. I hope that the crash comes soon enough that the more developed world is hobbled before we can do more damage, even though that collapse will likely hit my world sooner and much harder than yours. I also hope that it hits before the last of the hunter-gatherers is killed off.

    I have thought myself that we should let some south of the border farmers have part of our land and teach us all they know. But I also know, come the crash they will be in great danger here and safer in their home land.

    I have been doing some research and am finding that Thailand is quite exceptional and I am truly impressed. For instance it has no nuclear plants and has frozen plans to have them. Nor it seems does your whole peninsula have any nuclear plants. When the grids fail in the whole US, no more diesel will be pumped or made. Thus when the generators that cool our nuclear plants run out of fuel we have 4 to 8 hours left before they are no longer cooled, and perhaps less for the spent fuel ponds as I believe it is not required to have battery back up for them. Your country may be well positioned to avoid the worst of say China’s or India’s or Australia’s nuclear plants going Fukushima. I doubt those countries have any better backup systems, but when the grid goes down for good, the backups begin to fail rapidly.

  • With economic disintegration in mind the economic collapse blog is saying that Dr Philippa Malmgren the president and founder of Principalis Asset management is claiming that Germany is planning to go back to the Deutschmark and is telling the printers to hurry up.

    On a different matter I cannot see the point in using high tech equipment such as solar pannels etc in my preparedness plans. If things get as bad as we think who is going to repair them?

  • Inactive Marines heading to support the protesters on wall street? This gets interesting

  • OCCUPATION WALL STREET NYPD backs off when they are told “The Whole World is watching ”

  • Great stuff, Kathy.

  • Bernhard; you said; “I believe this the most serious threat to life as such”. Yes, I agree and I think there is very little awareness of the dangers and of the failure of nuclear engineers to come up with a viable solution to the pile-up of spent fuel. The rods must cool in the pools for about 5 years, I think, before they can be sealed in the casks. The fact is the industry doesn’t like to pay for this so the rods stay in the pools. I suppose they would like to deregulate so that they can contract the storage our to private industry (maybe on an African beach somewhere with the other toxic waste).

    Scientists are supposed to know more than the average Joe such as myself, and I think they do, but they are reluctant to say or do anything that might damage their careers. From what I hear, a “career” is a good thing to have. I’ve been meaning to get one for a long time but I just haven’t got around to it yet. However, if a career makes a person afraid to speak up about vitally important issues like this one, maybe I’ll pass.
    I prefer to keep my integrity as a human being.

    I’d say people have far too much faith in experts and professionals. Science, technology, industry and commerce are all melded together into one culture. They can’t admit that what they’ve created is fundamentally stupid. They’ll do or say anything to defend their role as the interpreters of reality to the masses.

  • Nuclear oversight lacking worldwide – Arnie Gunderson debunks the idea that Japanese culture created the lack of oversight at Fukushima.

  • And a tad of humor – Clarke and Dawe on the European Crisis. I think they get it :)

  • Kathy C:

    Thanks for the many great links. It will be hard for TPTB to criticize the marines.

  • Thanks Ed – WOW now ain’t that something.

  • Yorchichan – thanks for the article on Thailand. It is inspiring.

    But again I have to hope for a quick and steep collapse in the more highly developed countries to protect these regions that have returned to something viable. I hope for this even though I live in the USA and have no illusions of how things will go, especially here in the South. There will be blood…..

    I listened to a program about solar flares taking out the grid (a very real possibility and especially dire for the US should it happen as our grid is large and complex). The guest was asked “what about solar” and he said “I wouldn’t want to be the only one in town with power when the lights go out.” This speaks to the problem of having prepared while your neighbors have not. For Thailand the best future if if the neighbors are brought down quickly and totally so that they cannot look that way and say “hey they have what I just lost”

  • Book review of “Drilling Down”: Tainter and Patzek tell the energy-complexity story

    Memorable quote by Gail Tverberg in her review “The book talks about how energy slaves in the form of fossil fuels are a way of paying for increased complexity, at least until they start running short. The book also talks about how things that should be obvious–like our dependence on fossil fuels–are masked by the fact that they are so much a part of our everyday life, and for many years were not a problem. In explaining this, the point is made that a fish wouldn’t know that its nose is wet–water is such a part of its everyday environment as not to be noticed.”

    Of course once the fish’s nose is no longer wet because it is out of water, it starts flopping around aimlessly it would seem. Out of water long enough, the fish is dead.

    When the pumps run dry, when the grid fails, we will be stunned at all of our dependencies.

  • Kathy C and Yorchichan: that’s a wonderful story and similar things do go on all over Thailand but the opposing influence of modernity and progress is very strong. I had a chuckle when I saw;
    “…the Khorat Plateau, an impoverished region in the northeast of the country.”
    That’s where we live! It’s considered poor but I think it’s naturally abundant in many areas.

    A family that owns some land, has food and shelter (sufficiency) but little or no money so they are labeled “impoverished”.
    Converting from subsistence to commercial farming requires money so they go into debt. How can they borrow? They mortgage their land. The farmer’s decision to do this and the bank’s approval of the loan is based on current crop prices.
    Now the ironic part; when many farmers are successful at producing some commercial commodity, the price goes down!
    Farmers are still stuck with loan payments, though, so they can’t go back to subsistence farming again. Failure to make payments results in foreclosure. The land may be snatched up by speculators.
    When farmers lose their land, they lose their home and their economic base. Migration to the city means losing their home community as well.
    I think this is true impoverishment.

  • Tamnaa and Kathy C

    Glad you liked the article. The only other link I have that might be of interest is this one

    Plenty of other interesting links can be found there too.

    Thailand will be a better place to survive collapse than the industrial west, but it’s not perfect. Everywhere that’s flat is densely populated and under cultivation. From what I’ve seen, the cultivation is almost exclusively monoculture rather than permaculture and is dependent on fossil fuel input. Forest cover remains mainly in the mountains, but the Thais are making a determined effort to clear this to. (If not flatten the mountains completely. Good luck with this when the oil’s gone!) Kathy, the best hope for these mountainous areas is the rapid crash you desire.

    Tamnaa, not for nothing is Isaan (NE) known as the poorest region of Thailand. The greatest export of Isaan seems to be its people. Every taxi driver I’ve ever spoken to in Bangkok is from Isaan as, invariably, are the Thai wives I’ve met in the UK. When the collapse comes I think it is to Isaan that the majority of Bangkok workers will be returning. Like The REAL Dr. House, I have serious doubts any of rural Thailand will be able to cope with the influx of city folk; I fear Isaan will be particularly badly affected. On the other hand, the people of Isaan have the reputation of being the friendliest in Thailand and the most hospitable to foreigners, so maybe you’ll be OK.

  • “Very un-Cassandric post” by Ugo Bardi.

    Just for a change;-) Whilst looking into the abysses all around the place this article does encourage to speak out about the problems and possible “solutions”.

    For instance in my case – war is crime against humanity, besides destroying humans, wasting resources, be they financial or “hardware”, poisoning land and people for whatever time is left.

    Want to renew efforts to protest against ongoing wars, not for the purpose of changing anything – but for the fun of doing the right thing.

  • In light of the ongoing climate change discussion we’ve been having, I thought this article from the New York Times was fitting:

    In a nutshell, a group of scientists brought together by four senators is suggesting serious discussion about “altering” the earth’s climate as a way of stopping global warming. One of the scientists on the panel points out that we are already altering the earth’s climate anyway (she says “accidentally” but I would argue that point), and so doing it intentionally as a way of stopping AGW may be the only way.

    If this ever gets approval, and if they can find the energy and resources to do it, hang on to your hats! If you thought things were bad now, just wait until we start intentionally altering climate as a way of “fixing” it. Such hubris!

  • I’ve reviewed Tim Bennett’s debut novel in a new post.

  • Tamnaa what you describe has been going on in the US. The way we sell food on the free market continually hurts farmers. Just like the “market” does not recognized oil etc as being fundamentally different from Ipods, it fails to recognize food as being fundamentally different from handbags. Thus at the same time we begin to run out of oil, the lifeblood of the industrial economy, we begin to run out of fertile soil and skilled farmers.

    In the US this lead to a spate of farmer suicides in the 80’s
    “More than 900 male farmers in the Upper Midwest committed suicide in the 1980’s, and in some years the incidence of suicide in that group was nearly double the national average for white men, a study shows.” Same thing is happening now on probably a much larger scale in India and probably elsewhere. India’s cities are already swollen so no doubt suicide is all some can think to do. In the midwest our pushed out farmers had guns, and that was no doubt the usual method. In India they swallow the very pesticides whose purchase ruined them – a far more painful death.

    So again for so many reasons a collapse soon might not only save the planet from runaway climate change but also save a way of life for subsistence farmers.

  • Dr House – yeah right, lets cut off some of the sunlight reaching earth to cool the climate – surely nothing bad could happen….

    Another reason for collapse to come soon. Greek is wobbling and the stock market shaking – perhaps we will get the wish we hope for (however much se also dread it) :(

    Bernhard [Want to renew efforts to protest against ongoing wars, not for the purpose of changing anything – but for the fun of doing the right thing.] I like that. We in the west are so result oriented. Doing the right thing is however its own reward.

  • Kathy C; yes, Canada too. There’s an old joke; a prairie wheat farmer wins multi millions in the lottery. When asked what he would do with the money, he replies; “Oh, nuthin’ special, suppose I’ll just keep farming until it’s all gone”.
    That’s a terrible statistic about American farmer suicides. I
    didn’t know about that. In india the situation is hellish for farmers. You may have seen this by Vandana Shiva:
    She is very active for improving the life of farmers and poor people in India.
    Yorchichan; economists measure poverty by lack of money and it’s true, money has been harder to come by here. Food and shelter are virtually free, though.
    “the cultivation is almost exclusively monoculture rather than permaculture and is dependent on fossil fuel input.” I’d say you were observing conditions in the central region. Up here the rice is grown for home consumption. It’s sticky rice, not a valuable commercial commodity. Fruit trees, banana plants, coconut palms everywhere.
    Here’s an interesting study:
    Scroll down to #13 trees in paddy fields in NE thailand