Couchsurfing part 2

I promised to provide additional video based on my visit to Wisconsin and Michigan last month as they became available. With this post, I reluctantly submit to my earlier promise.

This video clip was shot with a handheld camera in a barn with poor lighting. Adding to the misery: It starts a few minutes into the presentation.

You’ve been warned.

The good news, or not, depending on your opinion of the subject: the focus improves a few minutes into the clip.

Comments 108

  • Thank you for the opportunity to hear & see you speak again. – sharing your thoughts & feelings with a steer audience.

    Occupy Mud Hut (after building it) sure took (and still takes) a helluva lot more insight, dedication, sacrifice and effort than Occupy Wall Street. 

  • That”s wider audience – sorry for the spelling auto-correct.

  • Thanks Guy for sharing though we’ll have to wait to see the clip, but certainly agree with Robin about the insight, dedication, sacrifice and effort it takes to prepare…

  • Plan to watch the vid tomorrow
    In the meantime to support my view that peasant farmers are the BEST see what is happening in AL. Our new immigration law is sending workers fleeing and kids are dropping out of school. They may try to use prisoners in the fields to replace some of the Hispanics, but here is one farmer who has tried hiring Americans

    AP) ONEONTA, Ala. — Potato farmer Keith Smith saw most of his Hispanic workers leave after Alabama’s tough immigration law took effect, so he hired Americans. It hasn’t worked out: They show up late, work slower than seasoned farm hands and are ready to call it a day after lunch or by midafternoon. Some quit after a single day.

    In Alabama and other parts of the country, farmers must look beyond the nation’s borders for labor because many Americans simply don’t want the backbreaking, low-paying jobs immigrants are willing to take. Politicians who support the law say over time more unemployed Americans will fill these jobs. They insist it’s too early to consider the law a failure, yet numbers from the governor’s office show only nominal interest.

    “I’ve had people calling me wanting to work,” Smith said. “I haven’t turned any of them down, but they’re not any good. It’s hard work, they just don’t work like the Hispanics with experience.”

    Full story at

  • Americans simply don’t want the backbreaking, low-paying jobs immigrants are willing to take. Politicians who support the law say over time more unemployed Americans will fill these jobs.

    The politicians are correct, but may not be aware of the implications of “over time”.

    Recapitulating Dmitry Orlov’s The Five Stages of Collapse, viz. Financial, Commercial, Political, Social and Cultural, we will have to be well into social collapse before Americans in any significant numbers are willing to do the needed work. We are well into financial collapse, with the early stages of commercial collapse and harbingers of politiceal and social collapse.

    By the time of social collapse, the politicians will be out of a job and “entitlement” (not really “entitlement’ as the assets of individuals were confiscated involuntarily, under the threat of force) programs will have vaporized. Even social, non-governmental organizations will be closing shop.

    But as Dr. McPherson has pointed out previously, the time to plant a garden is not wben you aer hungry.

  • Thanks Guy,

    I needed your talk about hope and working for the common good because I had started to feel quite despondent, knowing that there is vanishing chance of stopping climate change now with the near term demise of our own and many other species in sight. But with your encouraging words, I will continue to do what I have been doing – working on deepening and enlivening our soils, healing the hydrology of our farm, and through our workshops enabling skills of the few to be passed on to those wanting to learn. It will have to be enough.

    For a bit of comic relief, here is the latest from John Clarke and Brian Dawe:

  • Guy

    I’ll watch the vid later today when I have a few moments. In the meantime, please note that an independent group funded in part by traditional climate sceptic organisations and set up in response to ‘climategate’, has found that the earth really is warming up and their results almost precisely match the climate scientists (as if there were really any doubt!). The data examined so far is land-based temps. They will next examine sea temps.

  • Nicole

    I feel your pain. And thanks for the vid. Very amusing these two chaps…. :-)

  • But as Dr. McPherson has pointed out previously, the time to plant a garden is not wben you aer hungry.

    Nor, as I have woefully discovered, is a garden any where near enough. I have much to learn. But I must admit to becoming more negative about the prospects for surviving on your own garden productivity – unless you have plenty of land, good soil, enough rain and sunshine, and enough knowledge to fight off plant disease and insects. Just not practical in an urban setting.

  • As an added note to my previous post, I must say that the only really hope lies in developing a small community of town people matched (financially and labour-wise) with outlying farm folks to support local farming. The farmer has the skills, knowledge and the land necessary to get a crop in, and the people have the ability to finance him and help with the harvest or other tasks necessary to running a good farm.

    In other words we might have to go back to an earlier model of agriculture (small towns surrounded by subsistence farms) for people to survive in any numbers. This means of course that certain currently producing areas of the world would have to be abandoned altogether as their agriculture models would not fit the necessary constraints of a viable farm economy.

    Such a backward step might prove unlikely today, given our lack of the appropriate supporting infrastructure.

  • Very interesting study just completed. This is what those who desire to change the system are up against.–the-capitalist-network-that-runs-the-world.html

    The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and the share ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

    The work, to be published in PloS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20. What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy – representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

    When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies – all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity – that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network. “In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

  • Even setting up local community groups in the neighborhood will not be enough if virtually none of the people can grasp, or are willing to grasp the reality that infinite growth isn’t possible on a finite planet.

    I’m afraid that’s just the way things will be, and there is nothing we can do to change that.


  • From several topics back this quote by John Rember “I haven’t given up on hope, but I’ve reduced the time frame it operates in.”

    Hope and optimism are possible – just for us the aware they may be quite different from the hope and optimism of the mainstream or even OWS.

    While many hope to survive, I know survival is not an option for mortals. Thus I hope to die unashamed of myself.

    With the economy about to crash to shreds I am optimistic that not all life will go extinct on the planet.

    I know without a doubt that there is one thing that TPTB cannot take from me. They could lock me up in Gitmo, but they cannot hold me forever for my death they cannot take from me.

    I am optimistic that a quick crash will mean less humans die. Everyone born will die, so if there is a massive depopulation there will be less babies born and therefore less death.

    Hope and optimism is in the framing.

    Great talk Guy. Thanks for making people think. I am optimistic that thanks to your efforts more people will be at least mentally prepared and not stunned when the crash comes. :)

  • John:

    I am 68 yrs old, live on the edge of suburbia, and have a small but intensive garden. I grew about 20 veggies, fruits, and herbs. We had a good harvest all summer, with a July 28th, third planting of green beans. We got our last picking about 10 days ago.

    We were able to share with quite a few neighbors. Most of them have no knowledge of even where to start. I resumed my gardening 3 years ago, after decades of doing very little. I read and practiced John Jeavons’ methods almost 40 years ago.

    Most people around me are so unaware, and can’t even comprehend what the topics discussed here are all about. Any mention of anything discussed here is met with a disinterested and uncomprehending blank stare.

    The bewilderment they are about experience will leave them petrified and dysfunctional. Just nothing can be done for them. If they could sit still for about an hour to listen to Guy, they would only want to play, “Yes, but.”

    To try to teach them to do anything for themselves at this late date would be a waste of time. They are not even physically capable of bending over to plant or harvest.

    Dieoff, when it starts, will brutal and swift.

  • Final Proof

    Good job ProfEmGuy !!!

    Now if anyone has any doubts that Global Warming is a scientific fact
    this graph going back to 1800,and supporting data,should dispel any doubts:

    Double D

  • Frank, thanks. I sent it to my son who previously ascribed to the “cities are causing the warming” theory, he apparently now ascribes to the larger deserts are causing the warming theory. The study he says is flawed (even though he only read the news article not the study itself). I know I saw him being born, could they have switched babies in the nursery?????

  • Curtis; I found your comment particularly interesting because it is so grounded in your immediate experience with the people and conditions around you.

    You say: “Dieoff, when it starts, will brutal and swift.” Yes, it does look as though very few people in the industrially developed parts of the world will be able to survive. People are different in the “third world”, though, where physical abilities, knowledge and skills have been kept up by necessity. Whether climate change will render these skills less viable over large areas of the planet is another question.

    People in central Thailand seem to be getting a taste of the harsh consequences of climate change and environmental mismanagement these days.

    I just want to recommend this interview with Bill Mollison (Permaculture) for anyone interested in trying something positive:

  • I will not recommend anything I cannot see?

  • Tamnna:

    I have always thought that the people with the experience of feeding themselves are way ahead of everyone else. They have my highest respect.

    Most of the people around me, although pleasant and friendly, know very little of anything in the world at large. They only know their small containerized lives.

    I did some substitute teaching in the middle and high schools in the area during the early 2000’s. I tried to engage the students in some discussions in the various classes and grades I was placed in. I found that if they couldn’t find a response in their text book, that regardless the topic, they hand no idea of what I was talking about. Not only did they not have an answer to any question on any subject that I raised, they where bewildered by the question itself. They probably thought it was somehow unfair of me to even ask them to know anything about anything not in their text books. To say the least, I was appalled. So I expect nothing more from their parents.
    Those where the better experiences. I also had the opportunity to be in classrooms of sociopaths, but I will save that for another time.
    Whenever I doubt my view of the future, I just recall my experience in the upper middle class white suburban schools.
    Whatever we find ourselves in, we have no chance.

  • Tamnaa:

    oops. Sorry to misspell your name.

  • Too late, too many typos.

  • i’m still reading this blog but in a less than timely manner because lately i’ve been getting into some prostitution/sexwork advocacy blogs. i think i found a particularly good one linked here in case anyone’s interested:

    very intelligent discourse found there imo. i brought up the topic of collapse and related concerns briefly in my first or 2nd comment there, which elicited no further comment from others. this just reinforces my ‘idiot-savant’ theory of sheople. how else to explain the widespread and profound ignorance of obviously very smart sheople?

    i’ve also been spending time re- reading the excellent free on-line book about authoritarians and their followers which someone provided a link to on this blog about a year ago:

    it’s scary to think how collapse is likely going to severely exacerbate wacko authoritarianism in our world in the near future. it’s a huge variable that could well be a major factor in how things unfold that augurs very poorly for all, especially freethinking ‘heretics’.

    i need a little break from here and pondering how crazy everything is and how little anyone can do about it.

  • Tamnaa

    As I recall you made a couple of statements in the past that you didn’t really elaborate upon – at least to my satisfaction…. :-)

    First, you mentioned that you and others apparently travel to shop and that you thought you could save more money by sharing a vehicle among 8 (?) or so of your neighbours. May I ask what it is that you and your neighbours are shopping for?

    Speaking of vehicles, you mentioned that one of your neighbours had a motorbike, and others had other motor vehicles. Do all of your neighbours have such, or just a few? What would they use them for?

    Also, you mentioned that you reckon that you live on a bit less than $8 per day. I don’t mean to be too inquisitive, but what would that daily expenditure be for? Oil/petrol/tyres/other vehicle maintenance costs? Electricity? Lighting? Heat? Food products? Clothes? Shoes? Medical services and supplies? Or are you self-sufficient in most of these things?

    I believe that you also mentioned at some point that you and your neighbours raise rice? Is it for personal consumption, or do you sell it? If you sell it, what do you and your neighbours use the proceeds for (see prior question about living on less than $8 per day)?

    Apologies if this sounds too much of an intrusion of privacy – it’s just that the lifestyles of you and your neighbours have piqued my interest.

  • Whatever we find ourselves in, we have no chance.


    I can appreciate what you say. Disconnection with the natural world and a lack of proper appreciation of the part nature plays in our lives are really basic to the concept of civilisation, a mass effort to specialise and compartmentalise life into a hierarchy of production and consumption. We each live within the bounds of our respective compartments, utilising our individual ‘specialties’ to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, maintain liveable body temperature, and maintain health. Food has nothing to do with nature – it is simply another compartment we transact with.

    To be faced with a collapsed compartment imprisoned in a sea of collapsed compartments is a concept that few will venture to let in to their conscious lives – much too dangerous a thought to be seriously entertained, and severely depressing. The best and easiest thing to do is to ignore it, or deny its possibility.

  • Victor:

    Very well stated. Thanks.

  • Victor, I welcome your questions. First, you confuse me with Kathy C who mentioned sharing a vehicle etc.

    Thai people, like most people I think, try to emulate the industrial “western” mode of civilization. Sure, many (can’t estimate the percentage) have motorcycles and cars as well as cell phones and T.V.s; you name it. You have to realize that Thailand is experiencing a period of economic prosperity these days, modern style. Unfortunately many people are taking on debt, attempting to display their ability to live in this foolish way.

    Now, the following is not theoretical or academic, this is based on actual daily observation of people’s activities: various members of a family who may have a son in medical school and a daughter working in a bank will still engage in foraging activities (wading in a swamp to catch fish, gathering edible leaves by the roadside), herding, farming, construction work, and running a roadside food shop.
    If the economy collapses some of these options will become useless but they will fall back on those that still work.
    My wife has a university degree but she is still happy to get a gift of tasty insects and some fresh-caught fish from her parents. Almost every day we gather and eat wild greens from around our house.

    $8 per person, per day (two people).. mostly spent on luxuries like the computer and internet connection; $22 per month.
    Diesel fuel for small pick-up $30 per month or so. Not a necessity.
    Electricity usually less than $15 per month.
    Heat? in Thailand? you are joking, right?
    Medical costs: a few dollars per month. We are quite healthy.
    Food: Luxury food mostly, but we spend money on it because we can, not because we must.
    I talked about clothes and shoes before. Very simple cheap clothing and sandals are available now so there is no problem. We are working on growing and weaving cotton but it is just a delightful hobby, not a necessity as yet.

    The important point to understand is the difference between using something and really depending on it. Perhaps you have a T.V. Would you die if you lost T.V. reception? I don’t think so. The same goes for your computer, right? You use electricity. Would you die if it failed permanently? I don’t know. There are many details to consider. If you live in an area where the winters are cold and your heating system depends on electrical power (oil furnaces do, for example) you might be in serious difficulty. People here generally would not have any such problem.

    About rice farming: People here in Isaan choose to grow sticky (glutinous) rice which has only a limited market value. They grow it because that’s the kind they prefer to eat. Much of it is shared with extended family and friends who may no longer be close to the land. Favors are exchanged. Rice farming is a very poor way to make money but it does produce real value; an entirely different concept. We would not consider selling our rice.

    How about you? What do you need money for? Do you trust and depend on corporations to provide the nourishment you need, the energy to keep you warm? If money loses its value, or the system breaks down in other ways, those who depend on “civilization” to provide for their needs will face terrible hardship. I’m sure you know this, but I sense you are having difficulty turning this knowledge into positive action.
    Is that right? Cheers- T

  • Curtis; I have to be careful when I talk about the education system. There is still a lot of pent-up disappointment and outrage in my feelings about my school experience. It sounds as though you are the teacher I needed when I was in school.
    For me, school was an institution designed to discourage genuine thinking and to prevent learning. I was a high achieving student who read my text books through at the beginning of the year and then proceeded to go beyond them. I found that any mention of ideas not covered in the standard curriculum made most teachers feel threatened. There were a few exceptions, teachers interested in helping young people understand the world around them, but the system itself, I found, was designed to produce “successful” citizens through lifeless conformity to the values of empire.

    “…classrooms of sociopaths” ??? I’d like to hear about that any time!

  • Tamnaa

    Thanks for the quick reply. Yes, I threw in ‘heating’ as something that you might need occasionally – surely there are times when it gets a bit chilly in the morning?… :-) And yes, you are correct – some things are simply not necessary. Though I must say, it is amazing how quickly that which today is a luxury, tomorrow becomes necessity. We didn’t always depend upon refrigeration, but now we do for many reasons – perhaps in your part of the world, there is no such thing, but here it is a virtual necessity in an urban environment. Do you not have a need for such?

    Agreed – “those who depend upon civilisation (approximately 95% or more of humanity today) to provide their needs will face terrible hardship”. [emphasis mine]

    And yes, today I depend almost entirely upon corporations and modern technology to deliver the necessities of life, as do all those others throughout the world. I frnakly do not know what I would do without electricity that the Internet – pathetic as that might sound, it is the truth. I did not grow up with mobile phones, television, computers and the like, but over the years have come to depend upon them for many things. Of course, I suppose old folks like me would have less of a problem in adjusting to doing without than would younger folk who have never know life without gadgets. The thing is, though, I once had a set of skills utilised heavily when there was no technology to support certain activities. But as you come to rely more on technology, you naturally lose those skills (or they go into deep hibernation). Then when you lose that technology, you are at a severe loss, perhaps even fatally lost.

    There is no amount of ‘positive action’ that will prepare me for what is to come. It is simply impractical at my age. I don’t live in the right place. I have no land or property. I own little of lasting value in that sense. The community I live in is not like your community – we are urban and will likely remain so until the end.

    However, I have managed to get our household free of debt – all kinds. I have started building some basic gardening skills – not too happy with the results thus far, but I try. I have minimised car usage, relying instead upon my bicycle and public transport when necessary. I eat only organic products. And shy away from harsh household chemicals. My wife, who is a qualified nurse, and I make heavy use of herbs and plants and alternative medicines, more as a preventative and as an aid to building up the immune system. We are rarely ill. My wife, who is a Russian national went through great hardships – she is a survivor – soft as silk on the outside, like hardened steel on the inside… ;-) She knows how to adapt and is, therefore, full of useful counsel.

    But I have absolutely no illusions – whatever I have accomplished thus far will not be adequate to the need when the time arrives. Many too many dependencies.

    Again, thanks for the info.

  • Victor; yes, there are times when it gets “a bit chilly in the mornings” but that doesn’t begin to justify installing a heating system. Most of the year it’s a great deal more than a bit hot, but we don’t have air conditioning either.
    It strikes me that you and your wife (she sounds excellent!) are doing quite well in moving toward a more independent way of life. For me, it’s not about personal survival (nobody really survives) but more to do with decreasing one’s contribution to the problem that industrial civilization has created.

    I can’t imagine where you came up with “those who depend upon civilisation (approximately 95% or more of humanity today)…” !

    Some 25% of the world’s population has no access to electricity. There are no power lines in their localities. Of course, having power lines nearby does not give anyone access to electricity if they don’t have enough money to pay for it or for the appliances that require it, so far more than 25% don’t use it.

    The same idea holds true for petroleum fuels. If people don’t have the money to pay for the motorized equipment or for the fuel they must live without. And so they do.

    If some 3 billion people are living today on less than $2 per day you can be pretty sure that electricity and fossil fuels are not part of their budgets.

    My point is that people always lived without industrial amenities before they were devised and a large portion of the population lives without them today. We have become habituated to the use of our gadgetry, as you say, but are we truly dependent? Far less than we might believe, I’d say.

    Technological progress has proven itself to be a trap. I don’t think anyone is saying it will be easy to extricate ourselves from it.
    For me the attempt to do so is far more interesting than the alternative.

  • Bio Algae stalled

    A much-trumpeted partnership of one of today’s most celebrated scientists and the world’s largest publicly traded oil company seems stalled in its aim of creating mass-market biofuel from algae, and may require a new agreement to go forward. The disappointment experienced thus far by scientist J. Craig Venter and ExxonMobil is notable not only because of their stature, but that many experts think that, at least in the medium term, algae is the sole realistically commercial source of biofuel that can significantly reduce U.S. and global oil demand.

    Venter, the first mapper of the human genome and creator of the first synthetic cell (pictured above), said his scientific team and ExxonMobil have failed to find naturally occurring algae strains that can be converted into a commercial-scale biofuel. ExxonMobil and Venter’s San Diego-based Synthetic Genomics Inc., or SGI, continue to attempt to manipulate natural algae, but he said he already sees the answer elsewhere — in the creation of a man-made strain. “I believe that a fully synthetic cell approach will be the best way to get to a truly disruptive change,” Venter told me in an email exchange.
    Full story at

  • Hey ya’ll lets all move in with Tamnaa :) I don’t think your region will be totally spared when this monstrosity of a civilization comes down, but I do agree that it will be far less impacted (if those idiots can keep their fingers off the nuke switches).

  • Tamnaa and Victor, very interesting exchange. It is clear that we all face different challenges of varying degrees in our particular settings. You both mentioned the dependency that we in the industrialized world have on the various supply lines and other necessities such as electricity, oil, and water supply. Fortunately for most of us, those necessities are only in our minds. The human animal can exist quite nicely without those things as long as it has the ability to harvest, collect, gather, hunt, or otherwise obtain, its food and water. Unless one’s life is being prolonged artificially by medical equipment requiring electricity, a person can survive just fine without the industrialized world.

    Of course, I’m referring to an idealized situation where a person has the skills he or she needs, and the rudimentary tools, and adequate space and range, etc. I know that doesn’t exist anymore for the vast majority of human beings. But the point I’m trying to make in my early morning stupor is that each of us has the ability to shed the entrapments of the industrialized economy and live the way nature intended. It requires effort and education on our part, sometimes in significant measure, but it can be done.

    One of the reasons that I enjoy reading this blog is because I am able to follow Guy in his efforts as well as all the others who post here and are doing their best in their own way to find liberation in the natural world. These actions are what provide me with my daily inspiration. Thanks to all of you!

  • Proof enough, Guy? Do the DLTango now, please.

  • One thing that concerns me about a post collapse society and is rarely mentioned here is the danger presented by desperate people wanting what you have. In my research into post collapse mindsets it seems to broadly fall into three catagories. Those that prepare, those that prepare to die (dont want to live under those conditions) and those who are prepared to take what you have when occasion demands it. I suspect mindset number two would soon fall into that catagorie when the pain starts.
    We talk about solar pannels and wind turbines, we never talk about black out sheets for the windows or determine a plan of action when hungry children arrive on our doorstep.

    I listen in awe to all the marvelous inventions Guy has on his property but what keeps me awake at night is how is he going to stop some redneck with a gun from taking it all away from him? These are the questions I grapple with.

    Apparently Bee hives are good for security. If you place them on your perimeter and rig them to fall over at will they will attack anything within a short distance away.

    We talk alot about die off, whilst I appreciate there is only so much we as individuals can do to mitigate this I wonder if more could be done to prepare to help those who cannot or will not help themselves. If we need a self interested reason to do this it could come in the shape of raising the odds on our own self preservation.

  • In this presentation Guy quotes many times the saying “life is suffering”. That is such a sad statement! If that is true why is everybody trying to stay alive anyway?

    It doesn’t have to be that way.

    Personally as a women who has more reasons than most to feel the same way I have found the answer to a life of suffering. It is found in the Bible “Follow the way of love”. You dont need to be a christian to do that.

  • As always a great discussion. Seen numbers close to Kathy’s 8 dollars per day before and wondered whether we could do it. There are two of us and our property tax would suck up 14 dollars/day right off the bat. Health Insurance comes in at 10 dollars/day combined for the two of us. Without those two burdens we would be in pretty good shape.

    We have learned alot this year. It’s the first year we have moved our focus to growing all our own food, and added gathering to the mix. We know we can grow/harvest on average 60-70 pounds of food a week starting in April, and going to around mid-November. Most of that is greens, micros and herbs though, not the kind of crops that will carry you through the winter months.

    My first take on the results are that you have to do a combination of growing and saving your seed, and foraging to make it work. Depending on one or the other is going to cause you problems. For example we had an absolutely horrible year for potatoes. First planting rotted in the ground, and the second was late and as a result the amounts are pretty sad. Corn grown for seed was great, we will have enough seed to produce maybe 1,200 pounds of corn (that is from one variety, I haven’t kerneled the other one) to put away next year. Summer squash was great, and we dried enough to fill 2 bushel baskets. Probably 100-200 pounds when rehydrated. Winter squash was horrible.

    Foraging was a real wake up call. You can read all the books you want, but if you don’t know where the good trees are and what causes a bad year or a good one you are wasting your time. Last year there were no black walnuts to be found, this year they carpeted the ground. Lots more to go pick up when there is time. Acorns a big disappointment, except for one tree. Could easily collect a 5 gallon bucket in 1/2 hour each time I went there. The huge trees that we put shade cloth under, we got next to nothing. By chance (not a great strategy) I found a hickory tree. Huge nuts, absolutely delicious, and easy to store and process. It was a great year for berries as well. No clue how many are stored away, but we won’t be lacking.

  • Sue you wrote “In this presentation Guy quotes many times the saying “life is suffering”. That is such a sad statement! If that is true why is everybody trying to stay alive anyway?”

    The reason, every living creature tries to stay alive is genetic programming. Suffering can get so much that it overcomes the program, but by and large even in cases of great suffering the program works, whether it is an animal that chews off its limb when caught in a trap, or a hiker who cuts off his own arm when caught under a boulder. Interestingly people who believe the Bible and believe they are going to the great drug trip in the sky when they die seem every bit as intent on extending living, even in great suffering, as those who think they just cease at death.

    I agree with Guy that life is suffering, and I agree that the way of love is good. It doesn’t remove suffering however, it just helps one bear it.

    1 billion people in the world live on $1 a day or less. 2 more billion live on $2 a day or less. Parents sell their children into slavery to make ends meet and feed the kids they keep. Some become work slaves, many become sex slaves. Some kids grow up on the garbage dumps of the world and never know anything else. In Brazil it has become a sport for the well to do to hunt down these kids and kill them. Would you allow at least that life is suffering for almost 1/2 the population of the world? Guy’s statement is not a sad statement, it is a true statement. What is sad is to be critical of that statement rather than applaud the man who both works with juveniles who have had very hard lives, and seeks to open the eyes of well off students to the humanity of these incarcerated kids.

    From the song ‘Old Man River

    Old man river that,
    Old man river he must know something
    But don’t say nothing,
    He just keeps rolling,
    He keeps on rolling along.
    You and me,
    We sweat and slave bodies all aching
    And racked with pain,
    Tow that barge, lift that bail,
    Get a little drunk and you land in jail.
    I get weary,
    And sick of trying I’m tired of living,
    But scared of dying,

    That old man river,
    He just keeps rolling along.

    There is your answer. And it was the good Bible reading folk of this nation “under God” that got their lives of ease off the backs of slaves and poor people.

  • Sue you wrote “We talk about solar pannels and wind turbines, we never talk about black out sheets for the windows or determine a plan of action when hungry children arrive on our doorstep.”

    What you do is say to yourself “what would Jesus do”. The answer is he would take them in. Regarding Rednecks with guns Jesus has your answer too – Matt 5:39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. 41“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”

    There it is from the mouth of Jesus, God, son of God, Messiah, Savior, Prince of Peace

    As for me I have often answered those questions. While no longer a Christian I hope I can live up to some of the teachings of Jesus. I hope I can die unashamed even if I die early.

    I recall you have young children – I know this makes following Jesus’ advice harder, but he doesn’t seem to give different advice for different people depending on their circumstance.

    So just pull out your love and love every one who comes to your door. Unless you are armed to the teeth and trained in martial arts, welcoming all with love might end up working to extend your life and those of your kids far better than an ineffective resistance. And remind yourself that extend is all you can do, it all ends in death no matter what.

  • One factor to consider in in collapse in less industrialized societies is food from induetrial agriculture, both locally produced and imported. And the soils depleted by industrial agriculture may require time and effort to restore.

  • Hi Kathy, I wasn’t being critical of anyone and a statement can still be true and sad at the same time. You are right of course that most of the world lives in utter misery. Even in the developed world people as they say live lives of quite desperation.Often it seems to me that those in the western world are as much a prey of inward torment as those who have so much less materially speaking.

    Nearly everyday I work with people who have attempted to take their own life. They seem to have lost that inate desire to live that you speak of. For them I guess living is so much harder than dieing. I know when I was very ill I wanted to die to relieve the suffering. I was terrified of them keeping me going as I was. So although I agree with you that we do have an inate desire to live perhaps we also have the drive “Thanatos” (the self destructive drive) that Freud spoke of.
    And of course you are right that the so called “Christian” nations have a lot to answer for. A perfect example of not practicing what you preach.

    My biggest fear in all this is what I might be capable of if pushed to defend my children. It is a moral dilemma that I wrestle with a great deal. I am familiar with the texts you mention- I have preached on them-but I also cannot see how it would be right to allow my children to be hurt. What you have written is inspirational, I doubt very much that I will live up to them as well as you will.

  • Sue, of course you will seek to defend your children. That is also a evolutionary embedded program. Our chicken mothers do the same.

    It is in fact religions that sometimes override this program. Early Christian martyrs are said to have sometimes walked proudly to death with their children. This is the reasonable thing to do if you really believe in life after death. If you believe what the church teaches, death for your beliefs gives you eternal bliss. Why shouldn’t you be happy if you and your children die. In fact if you are Baptist you should be happy if your children die before the age of accountability and if Catholic you should be happy if your children die right after baptism, saved from original sin and too young to have started sinning on your own. Of course most Christians want their children to grow up and live a full life, even though those extra years are years when their eternal soul could stray and be damned.

    Sue I expect you to defend your kids. I hope you do it wisely, not with guns unless you have a large group and well defended boundaries. The bee hives is a good thought. I only meant to point out that your Bible would have you go against the perhaps the most deeply ingrained program humans have, to defend your genes as represented in your children.

    Of course there is the example of Masada as well, where Jewish defenders seeing the Romans close to reaching the summit, chose to kill themselves and their children (per Josephus). If true, I presume they thought death was better than slavery at the hands of the Romans, and probably they were right. Of course they might have just wanted to say “screw you” to the Romans, but still they made the death of their children less painful than a life under the Romans as slaves. Can’t say I blame them but not at all sure I could have done it.

    Other religious groups have committed mass suicide including children

  • Sue, there has been considerable discussion here in the past concerning self-defense. Although, it’s true it isn’t discussed as much as other issues. Guy wrote an essay on the topic I think. In the end, it’s just one more thorny problem that has no easy answer.

    For me, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. For instance, if a group of thugs with guns come barreling through intent on mayhem, I’ll do my best to kill them before they kill me. But if a small family shows up and more than one or two of them would be good assets to our small community – able to work hard, for example – then there’s a good chance that I would let them in and share what I have with them. Hopefully, the community would be stronger because of it.

    In my line of work, I’ve gotten to know lots of the young families in our area. A startling number of them, unfortunately, haven’t shown me any redeeming quality that would lead me to help them out if they should show up at my door post-collapse. The parents have never worked and are on government assistance. Their idea of hard work is having to get out of bed and go stand in line at Walmart to cash their government check. The children are unruly and rude and think of nothing other than their own immediate gratification. I’m not saying these folks have no value as human beings, but people such as these will be nothing but a drain on any community post-collapse – that’s what they are now. Of course, it’s possible that these kind of people are victims of an industrial entitlement economy and would flourish in a different setting. But I doubt it.

    There are untold variables of possible collapse scenarios; consequently, there are untold variables as to who or what might show up at your door. Ultimately, each of us will have to look at each situation and decide whether or not that person will be an asset or a drain. If we decide they would be a drain on our own resources and we send them away, how will that affect our own emotional being/spiritual self/Karma, etc.? Or will we ourselves be so pathetic post-collapse that we will lose our humanity and become little more than a wild animal killing anything that poses a threat?

  • Thank you Kathy and the real dr house for your wise words.

  • Tamnaa:

    What about property taxes, or are you fortunate enough to live in an area with none? (Count yourself blessed if you do.)

    What about property insurance?

    Adding up my costs:

    – $3 per day for electricity, phone and internet ($1 apiece). I’d hate to lose electricity, but phone and internet are dumpable.

    – $8 per day for gas on the days I drive into work. Fortunately, I do have a work-from-home option which trims the weekly bill, some weeks more than others.

    – there’s a bit on food, but I’m largely food sufficient. Certainly whatever I purchase is pleasure, not necessity.

    – I heat by wood (7 months of the year), so no cost there except for the 2-3 gallons of gas per year to run the chainsaw and the log splitter.

    – I have no air conditioning, all buildings are naturally air cooled.

    – (the biggee) $14 per day for property tax (right up there with Ed) – I have no control over this. Must be paid or no property.

    – (another biggee) $4 per day for property insurance – certainly dumpable if push came to shove.

    Also, because I work, I make property improvements. It would be foolish to do otherwise. Work also provides my health insurance, which alleviates the cost that Ed must deal with.

    So, how do you handle property tax / insurance / maintenance, etc. in Thailand?

  • great comments/discussions here today.

  • sue day, i just tried unsuccessfully to respond to your latest email. still have a mystery bug stopping transmissions your way. thanks for the lovely message. i’m afraid it may be awhile before i can send u more email.

  • “Life is suffering” as quoted from Buddhism is the first of The Four Noble Truths, more commonly rendered as “The Truth of Suffering”, referring to the reality of suffering  It follows from The Third Feature of Existence, “All Composite Things are (ultimately) Suffering. 

    The Second Noble Truth is the Cause of Suffering (attachment to transience: the First Feature of Existence: “All Composite Things are Transient”. 

    The Third Noble Truth: The truth of The (possibility of) the Cessation of Suffering. 

    The Fourth Noble Truth: – the prescription to end suffering – The Noble Eightfold Path. (The Sanskrit word for “noble” and for the group of people is the same:  “aryan”)

  • Tamnaa

    Dependence upon fossilfuels is not necessarily dependence upon petrol, at least not directly. Even though people who have no petrol-based transport or electricity are free from fossil fuels in that direct sense, they are quite dependent upon food, and often fresh water, that is supplied through the global infrastructure. Whilst there might be millions who are relatively independent of such global connections, there are surely not billions as you would suggest. The so-called Green Revolution (actually, a massive co-opt of world food supplies by a few agri-giants) is today responsible for supplying food not only to the richest nations, but also to the poorest of people throughout the world.

    There is much said about ‘urban’ v. ‘rural’ populations, and how now it is estimated that urban populations outnumber rural, and we can immediately assume over 50% of the world’s population falls into this category, and therefore is highly dependent upon big agriculture for its food. But when one drills down into the population numbers, we eventually see that ‘urban’ is often defined as something like towns with populations over a set number, like 25,000. This leaves smaller towns – and God knows how many there are of these! – left in the rural category. But when considering the dependence of people on fossil fuel-based food sources, one must also take these folks into consideration, as these foods are delivered to them by fossil fuels as well. Go into most any small community in the world and you will find sacks and sacks of flour and rice delivered by the infrastructure to the locals. And though much food is grown locally, as in your case, very often that which is grown is grown to be sold to local and more distant markets – even if not by the big agri businesses. But these farmers also use diesel for tractors, irrigation pumps, harvesting machines, packaging machines, and transport to markets.

    And this is not just a petrol-based dependency, it is an infrastructural dependency. These farmers depend upon machines and tools provided by that infrastructure to plough, to plant, to irrigate, to fertilise, to fight pests and disease, to harvest, to package, and transport to market. And all that depends upon fossil fuels – and all fossil fuel production and distribution depends upon oil.

    I stand by my assumption that at least 95% of the world’s population depends upon fossil fuels. Millions don’t, but billions do.

  • What is often missing when engaging in discussions like this are the dependencies that people like you and your neighbours have on modern industrial civilisation that are not usually recognised as dependencies, but which during Collapse, might well end up with serious impact to such populations. I am talking here about the probability of resource wars, wide-spread outbreaks of disease, nuclear fallout from abandoned nuclear power plants and storage facilities, infrastructure collapse causing unanticipated damage, and roving gangs of desperate people. You depend upon civilisation behaving in a non-life-threatening manner in order to continue living your life of relative independence. This will not always be the case. As civilisation breaks down, your way of life will become suddenly at increased risk, and unfortunately, there is little you will be able to do about that.

    And then there is climate change already in the pipeline and not yet manifested – not a surmise, but a fact – not a possibility, but a high probability.

    You might of course say that these factors are beyond your control, but that is precisely my point in the first place – it is all out of control now. It no longer matters what can be controlled by good intentions and right action. We are all at the high risk propagated by modern civilisation and its eventual catastrophic failure. Your lifestyle might be at less risk than mine in the short term, but not in the longer-term.

    I don’t wrestle with what positive action to take in order to maximise my chances of survival as you wondered in a previous post. I wrestle instead with how to best enjoy life whilst it remains enjoyable…. :-)

  • Hi Resa, good questions. I feel extremely fortunate (not smart; I had no idea) because there is no property tax on residential land here. Business property is taxed, though. I’m not clear on just how this is differentiated. However, the government does take a hefty tax when property is sold.

    The level of taxation you pay would make it impossible for us. It’s like a debt, isn’t it? Only you didn’t voluntarily incur it. I wonder what would happen in a really serious collapse scenario. Would the sheriff come around to evict people like yourself if you couldn’t pay your property taxes?

    We have no insurance of any kind. Our house is fire-proof and solid but somewhat vulnerable to flooding. This has been a record-breaking bad year for floods in Thailand but we’ve had no problem so we feel fairly confident. I can’t say what the future will bring, of course, but if some kind of disaster happens, we will share it with everyone else.

    Sorry, I just remembered, we do have car insurance because it is required.

    Property improvement and maintenance is really an issue for us. We can do a little within our budget but there is a lot more we’d like to do. We still own a little condo/shop that my wife was living in when we met and we are hoping to sell it and come away with enough to make property improvements on our place.

    I also feel incredibly lucky in getting our little second hand Toyota pick-up. It was all a rush, with a lot of risk. Turns out this is the best vehicle I’ve ever owned. I’m continually amazed at how much it can do and how little fuel it uses. We can maintain it within our budget, but serious breakdown would really give us a problem.

    It sounds to me as though you are unusually independent in an area of the world where that is not easy. Congrats and best of luck.

  • Tamnaa, I wonder what would happen in a really serious collapse scenario. Would the sheriff come around to evict people like yourself if you couldn’t pay your property taxes?

    During the Great Depression, many people found themselves unable to pay property taxes. When that happened, the government took ownership of the property and conducted a “tax sale”. Any person could then buy that property for whatever was owed in taxes. If there was sufficient interest, then an auction was held and it went to the highest bidder over the tax debt. That happened many times during the depression and still happens today but to a lesser degree. That scenario assumed that the property had no mortgage.

    When there’s a mortgage, then things get much more complicated, obviously. However, in most cases, by the time a person’s financial situation leads to the inability to pay his or her property taxes, the property has already been foreclosed on and the mortgage owner pays the taxes.

    How all this plays out over the next few years depends on how quickly collapse happens, I guess. If it’s as sudden as some people believe, say less than a year, then I don’t think any of us will ever think again about property tax. It will be moot. But if collapse takes many years to unfold, then I suspect it will be an issue that many of us will encounter. That gets us back to Sue’s question of defending our property. If the government exists only in small pockets but doesn’t really provide services anymore and the local sheriff comes by trying to collect a late property tax, do we fight or do we give in and vacate? In that case, would the sheriff really be “an authority” or would he be just one more thug looking to take that for which you’ve worked so hard?

  • Tamnaa:

    Well, you won the lottery on no property tax. Congrats.

    Property tax is what keeps me in the work force. And it isn’t as though what I pay directly benefits me, although you could postulate any number of indirect perks. The top item ($3500)on my yearly bill (due by Thanksgiving) is school debt. I have no kids in the county school system. The second biggest ($600) is fire protection. Its been three years and still no substation. The remaining items are smaller (library, always closed when I need it; community college, classes never fit my schedule; etc.)

    Still I pay.

    I forgot car insurance as well. Runs $2.50 a day, and is manditory, although plenty of people run around without it.

    Best of luck to you as well.

  • Dr House, thanks for pointing out the possibility of loosing your property if you can’t pay land tax. Round here us old folks get a Homestead Exemption if we don’t have much income. We can’t get it on one piece of property as it only covers the one we live on and the other is not contiguous. But our tax is under $200. HOWEVER that may not last. County, State, Local governments are all getting more and more stretched for funds (sometimes because they made some really stupid choices and took out bonds that were meant to encourage development and more tax income and well you know what happened to that). If our retirement fund fails, SS is cut and taxes go up well who knows. We are better situated than most.

    But all that said this is another reason why a fast collapse will be better for many. At least they may retain their house and property. A slow crash will mean more people living in tent cities.

    BTW $8 a day is distributing current incomes fairly. Unfortunately current incomes have been depleting the environment and by using energy and fertility from the past while depleting the oceans and changing the climate, future equal distribution will be more on the order of $1 or $2 a day. The wealth of the planet at this point in time comes from using up the stored wealth of the past and using up the wealth of the future, so either the humans of the future have much much less OR there are many less humans.

  • The virgin Terry
    I hope you can sort out the problem soon. It seems really strange to me that this has happened. Have you tried Emaiing me as a reply to one of mine?
    I am not happy, it feels sort of wrong turning on my computer each day and finding no Email from you. : (

  • Experiment today – Our lambsquarters that we let grow have gone to seed. I had read that Napoleon made bread for his troups out of lambsquarter seeds when they ran out of flour. Not wanting the grind the things, I boiled a small batch today. Not bad or good – sort of neutral.

    This site says
    “Lamb’s-quarters is very high in vitamin A, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus and is also a good source of protein, trace minerals, B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, iron, and fiber.” I presume that is for the leaves which is what most people eat. It further says “seeds…can be cooked as a cereal, ground into flour to mix with wheat flour, or used as you might use other seeds in cooking (muffins come to mind). They are high in protein, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and niacin. I’ve added both ground and unground seeds to yeast bread and the result is quite good: a heartier, darker bread, with the unground seeds acting almost exactly like poppyseeds. I’ve also sprouted the seeds. They produce a very delicate, reddish-brown sprout, good in salads or cooked very briefly in stir-fries.”

    I tried sprouting them but didn’t have any luck. I think I will experiment with adding to biscuits, bread etc but boiling with say beans might be interesting and add nutrition.

    The plants need no care, just thinning. They can be let grow next to something needing support as they can get quite large in a fertile garden. Of course they do scarf up the water if available so I don’t let them grow near things that need a lot of water. But they grow here even in a drought without watering.

    Family: Chenopodiaceae (Goosefoot family)
    Genus: Chenopodium (goosefoot)
    Species: Chenopodium album

    The seeds are small but plentiful and easy to gather. They self seed every year in great profusion. Many I just pull and use as mulch.

    My husband makes a terrific omlet with the leaves – similar to spinach

    Ed, this is a close relative to Good King Henry (Chenopodium bonus-henricus) which I know you grow. You might want to experiment with the seeds of your plants. I can’ find much about the edibility of its seeds.

  • More on lamb’s quarters here
    I also use small stems for kindling and larger ones just to burn.
    Learned this today from the wiki site
    The stalk hardens with age. In China, the stalk had been used as a walking stick since ancient times

  • Kathy, I have read that about GKH, but one would starve to death if you were depending on those seeds. We started with 98 plants, split them this spring and will do the same in 12. The Real People had it figured out, corn, squash, and beans, and everything else just makes it taste better. You need your carbs, and its just seems much easier from those 3.

    Tamnaa, and this is in no way questioning your choice of places to live. None of us will now if we have right. These types of sentences are usually followed by, “until things collapse”, but if you cannot look at what is going on today, and see how things are falling apart, then I want to know what you are looking at. I used to travel to Thailand alot, and I was apalled at the poverty in Bangkok. It was worse than Manilla, and Jakarta. As I wrote before I have been north and south several times which is a completely different experience. I bring this up because I think there are people that come to this site searching for answers on whether they should move and if so where. Thailand’s density is 327 people/square mile. Laos in a similar environment is 71, the US is 84. Do you see this as a potential problem as this collapse continues?

    RDH: Same thing here in NY. All the big state parks came into being in the 30’s as the states took over properties that couldn’t pay their taxes. You get 3 years here before they auction. Lots of small to medium farms going on the block these days.

    Reda: It takes us 2 months of direct farm income to pay the property taxes, and another month to pay for insurance, and we really only have an 8 month growing season. And yes, we both have off farm income.

    All eyes on Europe and the 26th of October.

    Best to all,

  • Victor; Your ” ….assumption that at least 95% of the world’s population depends upon fossil fuels” is just that, an assumption, unsupported by any data. You seem to believe that some benevolent authority is supplying people with the benefits of industry for free. I would suggest that these things have to be payed for with $money$ which, for a very large portion of humanity, is extremely hard to come by.

    Statistics about world wealth inequality are quite appalling.
    A 2006 U.N. report, for example, found the richest 10% of adults accounted for 85% of the world total of global assets. Half the world’s adult population, however, owned barely 1% of global wealth.

    When we consider that some 3.5 billion share among them only 1% of the world’s resources, and we know that distribution within that group is far from equal, then we can begin to understand that vast numbers of our fellow humans have little or no access to the amenities of modern industry.

    You and I, who have lived off the avails of empire all our lives, are part of the top 10% who share 85% of the wealth (again, far from equally). If we travel to Delhi or Jakarta, Bamako or La Paz, getting off the plane and taking a taxi to a hotel, perhaps going out on the street for a bit to find a restaurant, our impression will be of a crowded, busy city with lots of urban poor. We will never see the people who live in tiny hovels out in the vast hinterland scraping a living with a few goats and chickens and a bit of garden. It’s very hard for people like us to grasp just how many of them there are.

    Your point about urban people being dependent is a good one. It’s true that the majority of the world’s people are fed through petroleum-based agriculture. It stands to reason that that the most dependent people will simply perish when that supply system breaks down.

    The overall view that human life in general depends on industrial civilization is woefully shortsighted, though.
    In reality we are inseparably part of the biosphere. Industrial civilization is harmful to the biosphere and therefor harmful to ourselves. Because it is unsustainable, it will inevitably collapse, thus doing unimaginably more harm (all the problems you mention).
    In my opinion we should be taking responsibility for our epic blunder by dismantling our technological infrastructure while we still have the capacity to do so, starting with nuclear power facilities. This will mean weaning ourselves off electricity, fossil fuels and complex technology.

    Older people may not want to face the discomfort they anticipate in living without electricity, for example. They would prefer to keep the nuclear plants going until collapse and then just let them go into meltdown. Younger people who have a life ahead of them should be calling for a more sensible and responsible course of action. Of course all the other living species sharing the planet with us would be doing the same if they had voices to be heard.

  • Ed; I would not recommend Thailand as a refuge. In my opinion it has gone too far toward the industrial development model. I didn’t choose to live here for any reasons to do with eventual collapse.

    That said, I’m glad to be here as opposed to the U.S. or even Canada which is my home country. The population is dense here, yes, but the imbalance between urban and rural populations is not so extreme.

    There may be areas where you can still see poverty in Bangkok, I don’t know the city well. Generally Thailand is in a speculative boom mentality, oblivious to the world crisis. That may change with the devastating floods going on right now.

    I don’t know where the good places to relocate might be. There are many factors to take into account such as immigration policies, language, political conditions, even the prevailing religion.

    On the whole, I would suggest a warm country, still economically undeveloped and not highly urbanized. Laos is attractive but I’m not sure they are letting people in.

  • Tamnaa and Victor, I’m not sure about the 95% figure either, and I agree with you Tamnaa that there isn’t some unseen benevolent force providing food, etc. for free. But I do know (as well as anyone can know this) that prior to oil, the world’s population never got close to 1 billion. It was only after the dawn of the industrial age, made possible by first coal and then oil, that population began to climb. So, it follows that with the collapse of the industrial age, we will most certainly drop back to those smaller numbers. And when you take into account that all the easy to access resources are gone, the soil’s been depleted, the climate is changing, etc., the number of people Earth can support likely will be far less than before the industrial age.

  • Kathy
    “I tried sprouting them..”
    Have a look at this page, about

    As the seeds need warmth to sprout (looked up in German wiki), maybe they also need a period of wet and cold? So many things to know in this beautiful world.

  • Tamnaa
    Maybe useful in your place, but also others may enjoy to watch somebody doing great work and whilst presenting, being such a likeable person.
    Originates here:
    energybulletin dot net/stories/2011-10-14/getting-350-2-pocket-knife
    The three quarters of an hour film:

    I’d like to highly recommend this film. And ‘ll have a look at the forests over here, remember some treestumps with many saplings.

  • Your ” ….assumption that at least 95% of the world’s population depends upon fossil fuels” is just that, an assumption, unsupported by any data. You seem to believe that some benevolent authority is supplying people with the benefits of industry for free. I would suggest that these things have to be payed for with $money$ which, for a very large portion of humanity, is extremely hard to come by.


    Agreed as to the assumption issue you point out. It might be as low as 90%, though as I state, the number is increasing each year as climate change takes hold, reducing the arable land available for any kind of agriculture. It is such a high percent because nearly the entire world is dependent, either directly or indirectly, upon the tools, machinery, chemicals, fertilisers, and transport supplied by fossil fuels. Only subsistence farmers are relatively free of fossil fuels – and I would be surprised if there were more than 300M such farmers in the world today. The vast majority of people are supported by some level of commercial farming, which usually involves the above list of fossil fuel dependencies.

    As to the $money$ issue you bring up, I never said, nor did I imply that anyone’s food was free. I only said that commercial agriculture supplies food to both poor and rich. And commercial agriculture depends entirely upon fossil fuels or their products. No, these are not free – never said they were. And people do have to pay for them – never said they didn’t. Indeed, in some cases, up to 80% of their incomes are spent on food. But spend they do, even if they make only $1 per day. This is precisely why there were food riots in 2007 as a result of the rising price of rice and wheat commodities. It does not take much of an increase to impact someone who is already spending 80% of their income on food!

    Today, human life in general depends almost entirely upon modern industrial civilisation. I am not saying that human life has always depended on industrial civilisation, nor am I saying that it will depend upon it in the future. I am saying, however, that we have become dependent upon this modern technological infrastructure over the past few hundred years, removing the old one and replacing it (to our detriment) with the new one. Very much analogous with cutting off the branch one sits on.

    But as I said, now we depend not only on the modern infrastructure to deliver what we need, even more people depend upon it for what it is protecting us from – the safeguards we have put in place to prevent uncontrollable damage (wars and nuclear holocaust being at the top of that list). If we let the infrastructure get out of hand by no longer regulating it, or maintaining it to safety standards, we are inviting it to virtually wipe us out. We have created a Frankenstein monster that serves us, but is to be ignored or cast away at our own risk.

    Older people may not want to face the discomfort they anticipate in living without electricity, for example.

    It would entail far more than ‘discomfort’ on most people of the world to be without electricity – it would mean their lives. Today, the electrical grid delivers most everything to us, even to those without electricity. Commercial agriculture depends upon electricity, therefore anyone benefiting from commercial agriculture (which is most of the human race) depends upon electricity. I fear your view is too myopic in this instance – just because someone does not use electricity does not in any sense mean that they are independent of electricity. Without electricity, those folks with $1 to spend on daily life would have nothing to spend it on.

    To dismantle the technology infrastructure that we now depend upon would mean the loss of billions of lives as we have no real substitutes for the energy sources we are most dependent on. I think your solution here, whilst offered with good intentions, falls far short of a realistic and practical basis on going forward. The practicality of the matter is that we will continue spewing carbon into the air until we can no longer do so – which is not to far off into the future. To think otherwise is, in my opinion, a waste of valuable energy and could be used far more productively.

  • I don’t know where the good places to relocate might be. There are many factors to take into account such as immigration policies, language, political conditions, even the prevailing religion.

    This is a good point. As has occasionally been mentioned here, it is likely best to stay in the place you know best. Indeed, it is my opinion that long-term there are no ‘safe’ places with the anticipated climate change facing the world. Certainly not what today are the tropics or sub-tropics. These areas will end up being the ‘hot zones’ of the world. Today parts of Thailand might seem like a virtual paradise in some respects – tomorrow it will likely be near uninhabitable.

    Your best option is probably one near the poles – though that is not too inviting either as you will be faced with poor land and increasingly unpredictable and sudden climate changes.

    Stay where you are, relax, grab a beer and some popcorn, and watch the show.

  • Bernhard, they sprout just fine in dirt. Every year when I start plants inside to transplant out, lots of Lamb’s quarters come up around whatever seed I am actually trying to start (I make my own potting soil), it is just in my sprouter they didn’t sprout. The difference would seem to be dirt. Maybe I should just seed a tray of dirt instead of using the sprouter.

  • Tamnaa the second graph down at shows world population over time and oil production over time. Growth of population leads oil because humans first began using more stored energy in trees and soil as they developed metal tools (and boats to take them to soil that had not yet been exploited and used boats to ship bat and bird shit from South America back to Europe to restore depleted soils there), and then began using ancient stored energy in coal ahead of oil discovery. Before agriculture the population stayed even, after agriculture it made modest gains, with the addition of ancient stored energy population began its meteoric rise. While this is a correlation, the way ancient energy assisted population growth is not hard to identify.

    As for how much of our lives depend on fossil fuels, just take one example. It is hard to find anyone around the world clothed in hand made clothing made from handmade cloth any more. Take a cotton shirt. Cotton grows on the land and people used to hand grow, harvest, weave and sew cotton clothing. But now cotton is grown on depleted soils via fertilizers, some using natural gas as a feedstock, and the rest mined with big machines. The big machines are made from metals that are mined by other big machines. All the machines use fossil fuels to run. The mined ore is refined by fossil fuels, shipped somewhere by big trucks to make metal and shipped again to make big machines. So then the farmer uses some more machines to plant. He applies pesticides made from or using fossil fuels. He harvests with another machine and ships it to a place where more machines make thread and then cloth and then ships it somewhere in the third world for humans (often as not powered by food grown using machines) make it into shirts and send it back to the US or elsewhere.

    While I am sure you can find more things in your environment that are not touched in some way with fossil fuels, I would guess the shirt on your back in the picture in the blog is made as described above. One can preform the same mental exercise for the tools I use in the garden and virtually everything in my house. Some have a bit less fossil fuel inputs, many have more.

    While many of these things can be made without the energy of past eons, when that energy is gone and we have to live without the bonus from the past, we will once again be only able to support the populations the planet supported before the age of fossil fuels. Probably less as we remove fertilizers and discover how depleted our soils are, as we stop pumping water with electricity and find that the ancient waters we have been tapping are too far down in the ground now to access, and as climate change proceeds without help from us by positive feedbacks already in motion.

  • Well Victor, I have to thank you for giving me a very instructive lesson in human psychology. I have been curious about the strong tendency that I’ve observed in some people here and elsewhere to persistently advocate despair and futility. While you are only one of many who represent this tendency, because you are particularly articulate and persuasive, you are, shall we say, a stand out?

    You express the view from the cozy cocoon of urban civilization very clearly. I sincerely hope that I have this wrong, but, to me your message seems to be:
    “Screw the 10% or 5% or 1% of humanity who know how to live sustainably without harming the life around them. To hell with the kids and the other living species, I just want to enjoy my beer ice cold from my refrigerator and my popcorn properly micro-waved while watching the demise of civilization on my big screen T.V. My lifestyle requires electricity, petroleum and, indeed, oppression of other people and of the planetary ecosystem and I don’t want anyone attempting to change it. I lost touch with natural vitality long ago and I will employ all my power to smother it in others whenever and wherever I detect it”.

    I think this an example of the culture of death (choosing death over life) which Guy mentions in the video.

    Okay, I have expressed myself very strongly here and perhaps unfairly. I don’t expect Victor or anyone else to agree with me. Victor is a contributor of long standing and has earned your respect, while I am a newcomer, so I understand that I may have to bow out of the discussion.

    But, Victor, Guy McPherson has abandoned the cozy cocoon of empire and is trying in his own way to work out some pattern of living that is not destructive to the overall life of the biosphere. I support that.

    You don’t seem to support these kinds of attempts at all but rather you consistently pound the drum for impossibility. Since neither you nor I nor anyone else really knows what is possible or impossible, I’d say you are essentially wrong in doing this.

    Guy is not saying that he feels it is probable that humanity can save itself. He might say though, that he doesn’t know for sure that it is impossible. That alone justifies the attempt, you see?

    Anyway, I can’t speak for Guy, but that’s how I feel.

    I’m very curious, by the way, about just how you would die if the electricity failed in the world and didn’t come back on. Have you ever thought about it really? If electrically powered machinery keeps you alive, I apologize, but you did say that you ride a bicycle so I get the sense you are actually quite healthy.

    Lastly you say; ” we will continue spewing carbon into the air until we can no longer do so – which is not to far off into the future. To think otherwise is, in my opinion, a waste of valuable energy and could be used far more productively.”

    Good! I’d like to hear something positive from you for a change. Please, Victor, in what more productive way could we be using our valuable energy?

  • Thank all of you for such an insightful discussion. I have ideas similar to Tamnaa, that some may be spared the coming travails because of lesser or no dependence on fossil fuels. But other discussants point out, even a very minimal and indirect dependence on fossil fuels is a dependence for critical aspects of survival rather than on luxuries, the less the use of fossil fuels, the more critical the dependence: any non-essential uses having never been adopted or sloughed off.

    The NBL video on maintaining body temperature refers to clothing as a given, but as Kathy C points out, it might not be a given for too long. The trades represented by such family names as Spinner, Weaver, Taylor, Shearer, Carder, Skinner, etc. Minute come into vogue again.

    Thanks again to everyone for the discussion.

  • Kathy C; yes, I’m wearing clothing made in factories using petroleum and electricity. If suddenly tomorrow at noon, say, the electricity went off permanently in the world and petroleum became absolutely unobtainable, would my clothes disappear? Would you and I suddenly find ourselves naked? Would your garden tools disappear?

    I don’t really think so. Within about five years our clothing might wear out to the point where we can’t wear any of it. If you don’t know how to hand sew by now, I think you will learn to do it quite well in those years. I can already do it, don’t worry, it only takes a few days.

    There’s plenty of cloth around to keep us going although we might feel unfashionable wrapped in our curtains. What’s wrong with nakedness anyway?

    During those years you and your neighbors may come to realize that growing cotton, learning how to spin and weave it, etc. might be a good idea. Ael and I grow it right now without any fuels or machines and we are learning to turn it into cloth. That’s what people did a few hundred years ago. People can do it again.

    Kathy, you and I don’t really know each other personally but, from your posts that I’ve read here, I would think that you are the kind of person who can successfully deal with this sort of challenge.

    I’m just trying to say that using something and being dependent on it are two very different things.

    “…when that energy is gone and we have to live without the bonus from the past, we will once again be only able to support the populations the planet supported before the age of fossil fuels. Probably less as we remove fertilizers and discover how depleted our soils are, as we stop pumping water with electricity and find that the ancient waters we have been tapping are too far down in the ground now to access, and as climate change proceeds without help from us by positive feedbacks already in motion.”

    I think you’re right. Does that cause you to despair? Is your soil okay? Do you use pumped water for irrigation? Will you starve when fossil fuels, artificial fertilizers and pesticides are no longer available?

    As you often point out, no individual survives. We all die. We have no way of knowing whether or not some remnant of the human species can continue into the future. The question that’s very important for me is; if any humans survive, will they go on to repeat the same mistakes that we have made?

    That question comes down to; will you and I put in the effort to acquire some wisdom and skill to pass on to future generations or will we choose the futility option and just do as Victor advocates, “relax, grab a beer and some popcorn, and watch the show.”

  • Tamnaa, I can’t speak for Victor, but I know I don’t want to screw the people who live sustainably whether through farming in rural areas or as hunter-gatherers. I strongly suspect Victor doesn’t want to either. Describing what one thinks is likely to happen is not the same as wanting it to happen or magically making it happen. I in fact hope that somehow collapse happens in such a way that people where you live and hunter-gatherers forced ever deeper into the Amazon do survive. My hope unfortunately won’t make that happen either. We who name doom are not the doomers as I wrote in a previous topic. The doomers are the ones who sit with their fingers on the nukes, who lie the US into war, who fight the EPA and attempts to limit CO2 emissions, who run the big banks, who push fertilizer and pesticides and GM seeds on farmers in their own country and in your neck of the woods. Because Victor and I and others call attention to the state of affairs doesn’t make us the doomers. Like all citizens of first world countries we are complicit. Is the Dr. who diagnoses a cancer the cause of your death, or the cancer, or the pollution that causes the cancer.

    As for how electricity loss would cause death to first worlders, there are many ways. Many take medicines that they will die without, my own son probably included. My neighbor has two granddaughters who wear insulin pumps to control their early onset diabetes. They will die early. When the grid goes down they will die. Victor’s England and my US are littered with Nuke plants that will have no way to continue to cool their fuel and spent fuel because the remaining diesel needs electricity to pump and no more will be made when it runs out. Their demise will effect everyone in our countries to some degree. The cities of our country have about 1 weeks worth of food, maybe less. When transportation fails because fuel cannot be pumped or made people will die.

    I keep reminding everyone that no one survives as we are mortal. Some think that makes me a negative, depressed, doomer, etc. I have been called many names for pointing out the one certain fact of our existence. To date everyone who has been born has died. I have no doubt that trend will continue. I get tired of endless positive thinking. Much good can come by facing the truth. People who deny a loved one is dying withhold important end of life conversations, impoverishing both them and the one who is dying. Hospice is often quite a relief for them because they get to deal with people who are not in denial. They can die without all the soapy you are going to get well pretend stuff. Taking that journey with I guess about 20 human beings has been one of the richest experiences of my life. Others would say “how can you do it?” I could do it because I wasn’t in denial and thus was able to be a positive force in many people’s lives as well as rejoicing when the relief of death came for these people.

    Trying to put off planetary doom is in my opinion futile at this point and extends the pain (as well as increasing the size of the die off by 70 million each year it is delayed, and allowing for more ecological destruction). It is as futile as trying to extend the life of a patient who is terminal and wracked with pain and suffering.

    If I could wish anything and make it happen I would wish that my first world collapsed very soon so your world would have a chance.

  • Okay, I have expressed myself very strongly here and perhaps unfairly.

    Ad hominem attacks are resorted to when arguments fail. 

    I think this an example of the culture of death (choosing death over life) which Guy mentions in the video.

    While Dr. McPherson  does not advocate inaction or despair, he fully acknowledges the possibility of the extinction of Homo sapiens. 

    He might say though, that he doesn’t know for sure that it is impossible. That alone justifies the attempt, you see?

    With non-volitional action, while rationalizations may be part of the decision-making, they are spontaneous, like the action itself. 

  • Also the “culture of death” is the unwitting choice of a course of action with adverse consequences.

  • Real Doctor House; Thanks, you made a very forceful point. I’ve been thinking about it all day. Population is a very thorny issue, of course.
    I’ve always thought that using fossil fuel energy has been the main contributor to population overshoot. Here is an interesting graph which emphasizes agriculture but which shows steepening increases in population coinciding well with the introduction of coal and petroleum in the world.

    One billion population when fossil fuels were first used and seven billion today? Although many say that improvements to sanitation and health-care have been important factors in the “population explosion” I think it’s quite accurate to say that fossil fuel use is the main enabler. You suggest that we turn this picture around and say, without fossil fuels, six billion (and more) will perish.
    That makes logical sense to me, and yet I see a large proportion of the community around me who have the skills to provide themselves with shelter and food from the solar quotidian (not really dependent on ancient deposits).
    Basically, I think you are right. Sheer dependence will take a terrible toll on the world. The other catastrophes likely to follow upon collapse will further reduce the population so that only a small percentage (if any) will remain.

    A small remnant who have learned a valuable lesson from this huge die-back, might be able to take a life enhancing role in the earth’s ecosystem. That’s about all we can hope for and work toward, I guess.

  • Ed, the Lamb’s Quarters seeds are just an added resource to be tapped in to. Tasting them this morning I like them better. They are of course not sufficient for food but anything that is easily added is a bonus I would think.

    For carbohydrates the Native Americans often relied on Apios Americana also known as ground nuts but so are peanuts which are not the same thing.

    “Indeed, for centuries Apios americana was a staple in the diets of many Native Americans, which explains why it grows profusely where they once encamped. Almost every part of the plant is edible—shoots, flowers, the seeds that grow in pods like peas, but, most importantly, the tubers. These tubers (the groundnuts) are swellings that form along a thin rhizome, like beads on a necklace. They can be small as a fingernail or, rarely, large as a melon. And as with other root vegetables, they sweeten after a frost and overwinter well in a cool, damp place, offering sustenance in a time when the land provides little other food. Pilgrims were taught to dig and cook groundnuts by the Wampanoags, and these “Indian potatoes” probably spared the newcomers from starvation. Henry David Thoreau knew and ate the tubers. He wrote in his journal, “In case of a famine, I should soon resort to these roots.”” article tells more about taste, growth habits, cooking etc.

    Mine are doing well. I expect to be able to get a decent harvest this year. While they often grow near streams for this the third year in I did no watering and they are profuse, climbing with my pumpkins and luffas. We shall see what the crop does.

  • Tamnaa if you will accept what we are saying, that a crash is coming and that your neck of the world will be impacted even if not as bad as the West, you can perhaps ease the future in your community. You can encourage more plowing with water buffalo, getting the young to learn the old skills from those who still know how to make thread and weave and sew etc. If you just get mad because we say it might hit you hard you miss an opportunity to help the people you love move back. They have a much shorter distance to move therefore success will be higher for them if they start now. If I remember correctly you asked a class what they would do without machines for plowing and most said water buffalo, one said biodiesel. That tells me that they are not using water buffalo much. Time to breed more and return to the older ways. We don’t want your people doomed. Use what we are telling you to tell them to get ready NOW.

  • I see a large proportion of the community around me who have the skills to provide themselves with shelter and food from the solar quotidian (not really dependent on ancient deposits).

    Do they use any metal tools? Are they able to recycle or salvage metals and work them into new tools? Can they extract metals from low-grade ores? Can they substitute stone tools for metal ones?

    Try to do without any metal objects of modern manufacture for just one day. 

  • Tamnaa:

    Much to my surprise I find myself agreeing with some of your comments to Victor and Kathy.

    The last thing anyone would call me is an optimist, and yet, I strongly suspect if Victor and Kathy stuck around long enough, they’d be amazed at the resilience of the human species in a depleted world.

    I may live in a first world country, but all around me are people who haven’t lost the ability (or the skills) to shelter and clothe and feed themselves. And the ones with innate drive and curiosity and adaptability will find a way. (BTW: that doesn’t mean eating their neighbor.)

    Re: “Ael and I grow it [cotton] right now without any fuels or machines and we are learning to turn it into cloth. That’s what people did a few hundred years ago. People can do it again.”

    Bingo. None of this is rocket science. I can’t grow cotton, but a wool sheep (there are breeds that don’t produce wool) puts out one or two fleeces a year, as does a hair goat (twice a year) and a hair rabbit (four times a year) and a llama and an alpaca and a musk ox and a camel and a yak and the list goes on and on. And then there’s hemp and flax and silkworms. All this stuff was figured out hundreds of years ago. I know that when I weave up a yard of material, it isn’t dependent on any fossil fuel. It is dependent, however, on a ton of elbow grease.

  • Tamnaa

    Perhaps you were a bit too harsh with me, but I completely understand and have no bad feelings about that. I simply bring the message, and unfortunately for good folks like yourself, my bringing it seems to make me out to be a bit of a pessimist. I only relay what I observe. I don’t advocate what I see. I don’t like what I see. I simply see it. And my observation is that there are groups of folks all over the world like yourself and your neighbours, like several contributors to this site, like Guy, and so many others that are making an honest and fruitful, but in the end -vain, attempt to minimise their reliance upon modern industrial civilisation in order to raise their quality of life and perhaps ultimately to survive. Do not mistake me – I have great admiration for the effort. And I also realise that my petty attempts at doing a bit of the same have not been quite as successful…. ;-) So that increases my admiration even more.

    So when the Collapse comes in a few years, a relative few all over the world will be ready. But I suspect the vast majority will not be so prepared and will face an early death within a matter of a few years if not much earlier.

    But science is telling us another story, a story that runs concurrent with the trials and tribulations of modern industrial civilisation. And it is this story that will likely put an end to your noble efforts. You and most every one else on the planet will be in the wrong places at the wrong time when true climate change takes place. You will have survived the bottleneck only to find yourselves faced with unremitting weather chaos. In your part of the world you’ll probably lose the monsoons, your forests will become carbon emitters, your fresh water supplies might well dry up as the planet heats, or you will be faced with massive floods. Nothing can stop this now. It is already in the pipeline. Positive feedbacks have been triggered. You don’t ‘un-trigger’ positive feedback mechanisms. You can’t re-freeze the Arctic. You can’t make the tundra re-freeze. You can’t remove the CO2 already in the air and on its way. You can’t neutralise the oceans again. These are things that are happening today that will not be reversed, and can only feed off each other to accelerate. And to the horror of so many scientists, these things are happening far faster than their most pessimistic forecasts. Abrupt climate change is just that – abrupt. When it happens it will be a virtual quantum step change to an entirely new state of global equilibrium. It will be preceded by chaotic conditions as the tipping point is approached (today’s chaotic conditions are only the beginnings of that), but when it happens, it will be relatively sudden.

    As for some kind of re-start on civilisation, not likely that we will ever be afforded the opportunity for a second chance. We have used up all the low hanging fruit in bringing us to the point where we are. Only that fruit which is high up on the tree is left and we won’t be able to get to it.

    I do love beer. And I intend to enjoy civilisation as long as I am able. I believe each person needs to make their own decision as to what is best for themselves in these last days. Different people are faced with different personal circumstances that must affect their decision. You have yours that enabled you to move to Thailand. Guy has his that enabled him to walk away from Empire. Kathy has hers that allows her to meet death on her own terms. And I have mine, and as a result I have made the decision to relax, enjoy what life I have left and watch the final curtain fall on modern civilisation for as long as I can. I am at peace with myself over this.

    But know this, I do admire your courage, resolve and positive outlook. It’s just that I see things from a different point of view.

  • Farm work isn’t considered rocket science but not everyone can do it. Glad Resa and Tamnaa live among people who can cut it. But even here in rural Alabama our folks can’t make the grade when it comes to field work.

    AP) ONEONTA, Ala. — Potato farmer Keith Smith saw most of his Hispanic workers leave after Alabama’s tough immigration law took effect, so he hired Americans. It hasn’t worked out: They show up late, work slower than seasoned farm hands and are ready to call it a day after lunch or by midafternoon. Some quit after a single day.
    In Alabama and other parts of the country, farmers must look beyond the nation’s borders for labor because many Americans simply don’t want the backbreaking, low-paying jobs immigrants are willing to take. Politicians who support the law say over time more unemployed Americans will fill these jobs. They insist it’s too early to consider the law a failure, yet numbers from the governor’s office show only nominal interest.
    “I’ve had people calling me wanting to work,” Smith said. “I haven’t turned any of them down, but they’re not any good. It’s hard work, they just don’t work like the Hispanics with experience.”
    Full story at

  • Kathy:

    Re: Farm work isn’t considered rocket science but not everyone can do it.”

    Damn straight. Farm work isn’t rocket science. I disagree with the later part of your statement, however. More applicable would be “not everyone wants to do it.” And having done it for decades, I can understand why. Nevertheless, there’s a world of difference between “can’t do it,” and “won’t do it.”


    RE: “I simply bring the message, and unfortunately for good folks like yourself, my bringing it seems to make me out to be a bit of a pessimist.”

    Only a bit? Your pessimism rivals mine, the only difference being, based on my observations, we’ve got good old-fashioned ingenuity and opportunity on our side, oil or no oil, climate change or no climate change. Adaptability does require more than “petty” effort, however.

  • Thank you, Guy, for doing this, for bringing your piece to the table and speaking it with passion and clarity. Your passion, courage, and love of the community of life is palpable to me. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Kathy C

    “To date everyone who has been born has died. I have no doubt that trend will continue.”

    Thought the problem was seven billion people who have been born are yet to die.


    Why would climate change end the monsoon in SE Asia? During the northern hemisphere summer SE Asia warms up and Australia cools down; this pressure difference causes a northerly wind to blow over the Equatorial Ocean where it picks up moisture that gets deposited on SE Asia. (Straight from my ‘O’ level geography ;) .) Not sure why you think this mechanism would no longer work in a warmer world as the temperature differential would still exist. Wouldn’t worry too much about the forests in Thailand either: they were pretty much all cut down long ago. In fact, you can see the outline of Thailand on satellite pictures: inside Thailand it’s brown, outside the border it’s green. Just like Haiti and the Dominican Republic and we all know how well the Haitians are doing.

  • I’m just reading “The World Without Us” by Alan Weisman. Fascinating! Two points in particular have stood out for me. Firstly the theory of Paul Martin that the megafauna on all continents except Africa died out because of human hunter gatherers. In other words, there is nothing magical about us in our hunter gatherer phase. Our destructive tendancies were already well established. The second point is that humans survived while so many other species died due to our enormous adaptive potential.So unless we manage to turn this planet into another Venus, our species may just survive what’s coming – sadly.

    Sometimes I slip into a fantasy world to ward off the feelings of impotence to stop the Collapse, not of Civilisation (bring it down, I say), but of the Earth. Then I dream of the die-off leaving behind a new species of human, who take their role of Earth steward very seriously.

  • Nicole, I read Weisman’s book about a year ago. Beautiful and sobering. The parts that scared me the most (and educated me) were the parts about the chemical and nuclear industries. Scary stuff!

    As to our destructive tendencies, I’m not sure I agree that we were any more destructive back then than any other omnivore. I haven’t really studied paleoanthropology, but overshoot is a common theme in nature and I’m not convinced that we’re any better at it than any other species – at least on a fundamental level. It’s just that we figured out how to use resources that other critters didn’t, so now we’ve taken overshoot to a whole new level.

  • Why would climate change end the monsoon in SE Asia?


    I shouldn’t have over-stated. You are, of course, correct. But recent climate studies have revealed a link between the North Atlantic and the Asian monsoon that suggests that abrupt climate change could affect ocean currents and the ability of the North Atlantic to draw heat from the south, thus significantly reducing the strength of monsoons. Read about it here:

    What is the probability of this actually happening? Who knows, but I would not bet against it.

  • Victor; well said and I’m sorry for expressing myself so harshly. It was not meant personally at all.
    The rest of your comment talking about how bad and irreversible climate change will be strikes me as redundant but, I don’t know, maybe there are some people here who still need to learn about this.

    You know, Svante Arrhenius showed how increasing CO2 levels would cause warming back in 1896.
    People have known about this for a really long time. Paul Erlich talked about it in “The Population Bomb” which had a large impact on people’s awareness in 1968. For me, many issues were tied together in those days… overpopulation, disarmament, over-dependency on complex technology/fossil fuels, toxic pollution, climate change and the money system. (have I forgotten anything?) :-)

    That’s why my brother and I went up into the wilds of northern Canada, 25 miles off road off grid no machinery of any kind and built a small home there. We tried to create a more natural and sustainable way of living than the one in which we had been raised. We did a lot of hunting, fishing and gathering, some gardening, and had a couple of horses there which we learned to work with. This was from 1969 to 1974 and I fully expected some sort of collapse back then. You see how wrong I was. On the other hand, we were doing “the right thing” and it was a wonderful experience.
    Anyway, biology kicked in, I got married, we had a child and my (then) wife was not happy living that way. So we returned to civilization.

    I’m trying to suggest that most people who read a board like this already know all the “bad stuff” about the collapse of industrial civilization. I, for one, have been waiting for a very long time.

    Kathy C; you said; “Tamnaa if you will accept what we are saying, that a crash is coming and that your neck of the world will be impacted even if not as bad as the West,..” Kathy, it might be worse than the west. Nobody can predict this sort of thing. Of course I accept it though I can’t predict when it will be either. “You can encourage more plowing with water buffalo, getting the young to learn the old skills from those who still know how to make thread and weave and sew etc.” Yes, that’s exactly what we are trying to do. I have grandiose plans for a traditional skills teaching village but we don’t have the means nor has anyone shown interest.
    The people in Isaan don’t use water buffalo for farming any more but for some reason they still keep lots of them. Every time I’ve asked about it, I’m told they love their buffaloes. The buffaloes would have to be trained to the plow, though.

    Robin Datta; “Do they use any metal tools?” yes “Are they able to recycle or salvage metals and work them into new tools?” yes “Can they extract metals from low-grade ores?” can’t imagine why they would want to do that, Robin “Can they substitute stone tools for metal ones?” I suppose so, why? Will metal disappear? Think how much metal is in a car. How about a bulldozer? How long do you think it will take for these sources to be used up, given a reduced population?

    “Try to do without any metal objects of modern manufacture for just one day.” All my garden tools are simple, hand-forged and locally made. They are very useful because they have evolved over a long period of time to do what needs to be done, i.e. a tiny sickle which I attach to a long bamboo pole with a little rattan basket thing for harvesting mangos high in a tree.

    Now, Victor and Kathy C; Just because my answer to Robin was not “OMG! You’re right. It’s impossible!” Please don’t interpret this as indicating that I don’t accept that collapse is coming or that I’m unaware of climate change.

    Just a bit more to explain “where I’m coming from” so to speak: It’s my personal choice to value the continuation of human life on earth but only if the surviving people have a much wiser way of living than what we now see. You don’t have to tell me how improbable this is how bad conditions are likely to get. I understand.

    There are people in the world, such as Guy and his friends, who are taking a positive approach in the face of total uncertainty and immense adversity. We don’t know how many individuals, couples, families, small communities there may be, scattered all over the world trying to live in a more sane way.
    Now, it’s just a matter of statistical probability that the more of these “seeds” are out there, the more chance there will be that one or two luck into a favorable location or develop an effective strategy that brings the human species through this crisis.
    Chances? Slim to none, I suppose. Worth trying? Yes!

    I’m just suggesting that, when people talk about learning practical skills for independence etc., they don’t need to be told over and over again that it’s hopeless, futile, impossible and all that. Maybe they are choosing to act positively in the full knowledge of how bad things are likely to get.

    Maybe they, like Ael and I, are trying to work toward Nicole’s “dream of the die-off leaving behind a new species of human, who take their role of Earth steward very seriously.” Cheers all

  • Then I dream of the die-off leaving behind a new species of human, who take their role of Earth steward very seriously.


    A dream indeed…. ;-)

  • Chances? Slim to none, I suppose. Worth trying? Yes!


    You are right, of course. It is worth trying. Very much so. Climate change aside, I believe that those who survive for the long-term will more likely be folks such as yourself, Nicole, and others scattered all over the world who hold a deep respect for nature and our place in the natural scheme of things. ‘Empire’ man will disappear with his technology. That does not mean that there won’t continue to be violence and evil in the world brought on my the remainder of humanity – after all, humans WILL be humans – it simply means that it will be less destructive to the natural order and even the poorly behaving humans will have a deeper respect for nature as they, too, will depend upon it for their lives and not some façade of technology.

    As for ‘re-cycling’, yes I believe the survivors, again climate change aside, will go through a period of re-cycling what they can. But over the course of one or two hundred years, such efforts will fall of and humans will find new tools from nature and carry on at a different level of technology. You can re-cycle something only so many times.

  • Durban May Be Last Chance to Stabilize Climate Under Two Degrees

    The window to limit global warming to less than two degrees C is closing so fast it can be measured in months, a new scientific analysis revealed Sunday. Without putting the brakes on carbon emissions very soon, large parts of Africa, most of Russia and northern China will be two degrees C warmer in less than 10 years. Canada and Alaska will soon follow, the regional study shows.

    You can probably count on the 10 year figure being reduced even further as more scientific data is captured and interpreted.

  • And here is the kind of thing that will accelerate it being backed by the Republican party in America:

    This is just representatives of several efforts on multiple fronts that the Republicans are pushing hard for to emasculate the American EPA and completely deregulating industry.

    The economy is everything.

  • Victor

    Thanks for the interesting link ( ). Even if the mechanism for the weakening of the monsoon is not fully understood, give me data over theory any day. Looks like the loss of the North Atlantic conveyor could get me even if I make my planned move from the UK to Thailand in the next few months. Damn that University of Arizona and its harbingers of doom!

  • Tamnaa,

    A couple of years ago, we started running workshops twice a year. To start with we taught mainly scything, but each workshop, we add more traditional and/or survival skills. Our last one, held just a few weeks ago, we had scything, blacksmithing, working the land with draught horses, slaughtering chickens humanely, making biofertilisers, making sauerkraut, traditional woodworking. Someone demonstrated shaving with a cut throat razor, we wanted to tan a couple of hides, but ran out of time. We don’t know how to do all of these things, but our workshops attract like minded people who are happy to provide instruction. For a small course fee, we provide food, composting toilets, somewhere for people to put up their tent and a venue. We pretty much only cover costs. What we get out of it is meeting a wonderful group of people who are preparing for Collapse.

  • Yorchichan

    I fear no place is safe. Indeed, the UK might be one of the safer places were it not so overcrowded! Of course, if you can survive the coming bottleneck in the UK, then you will be well-placed, in my opinion, to have at least a small chance of surviving climate change as well due to its northern placement.

  • Nicole, I commend your efforts to teach others some skills and learn more yourself in the process.

    The problem I am trying to get at is that basically we are so used to fossil fuels in our lives that we hard time thinking back more than one step. For instance we have the simplest of composting toilets – a series of 5 gal buckets and leaves. But the buckets are plastic and leaves are raked with a manufactured rake. The solution to that is of course going outside and gathering leaves by hand or learning to make a rake out of wood and to make the tools to make the rake. Shaving with a cut throat razor, leaves out making that razor in the first place. The solution to that is easy, don’t shave. Scything is good, but I understand that in the past the really good scythes were made by master craftsmen who had been through lengthy apprenticeships. Solution, don’t scythe, feed goats on your field and eat potatoes for starch not wheat.

    But how many have ever cut down large trees with saws or axes they made themselves and then split that into lumber themselves to nail together with nails they made themselves. The solution to that is to make their own bow and arrows, kill some deer, tan the hide and live in a tent.

    Unless one goes totally off the fossil fuel titty, one can miss its inputs. To test the theory that we can go back easily I would suggest people remove from their lives everything made from fossil fuels. Glass jars with canning lids have to go along with the canner. Plates have to go to be replaced with plates you make yourself. Candles replace lights, but they have to be made by you in forms made by you with wicks made by you (or a neighbor with those skills) If your wood stove was not made by a local blacksmith out it goes to be replaced by one made by hand in a blacksmith shop. Chain saw is out and so are saws and axes not made by a blacksmith.

    Of course I am not really suggesting anyone do this. If you have stuff, keep it. I am suggesting that as humans go through the chaos of the huge population reduction that is coming is NOT the time to to be reinventing all the skills, and I am suggesting that there are far more skills to be reinvented than we think we need unless we return to or very close to hunter-gatherers.

    Of note too is that when people were making hand tools, they used specific lumbers for specific needs, just as certain lumbers are preferred for baseball bats. Here in my neck of the woods it is hard to see anywhere (except on our property) anything other than the pine the paper companies use. A friend who whittles has been buying up used sharpening stones of a certain type that he says is the best because that stone has been mined out. Of course other stones can be used, but the best always goes first. We may well find there are other resources that people used in the past that are in short supply. The heart pine that my husband’s great grandfather used to build a hog house, despite being laid on the ground, still lasts though partly hollowed out. One cannot take any untreated wood and do that today and the large pines are all gone.

  • There is strong support among the public in the US, UK and Canada for more research on geo-engineering technology, a study has suggested.

    The survey focused on “solar radiation management”, which involves reflecting energy from the Sun away from the Earth’s surface, and received support from 72% of respondents.

    More good news. Public support is strong.

    The economy is everything.

  • That is good to know that metal tools are locally made in some parts of the world. Here just about all tools and a wide variety of other items frem salad shooters to iPhones are “made in China”.

  • Kathy,

    I agree with where you are coming from in that many of the inputs we use are fossil fuel or rare resource derived. For me, gathering traditional skills has many functions. Firstly, it’s fun It’s also empowering to think that my dependence on fossil fuels has been lessened. I also think that if we are allowed the opportunity to transition at all, the transition from industrial civilisation to stone age will occur over a couple of generations, maybe even longer. So to treasure such items as the scythe and the stoneware crockpot as heirlooms – to be passed with reverence to the next generation – is I think paying respect to the Earth which provided us with these tools. And as a tool finally goes the way of all objects, then I or one of my descendents will need to adapt to the new circumstance and find another way.