TEDx Talk in Tempe, Arizona

I presented a TEDx talk on the campus of Arizona State University on Wednesday, 25 January 2012. The Barrett Honors College hosted, and Ashley Irvin was the facilitator. I gave an autographed and inscribed copy of Walking Away from Empire to each member of the standing-room-only audience.


I’m featured in an essay published online today: Can you grow your own food?, by Cindy Salo

Comments 25

  • Sorry, off topic right up at the top

    Shameful cynicism from the talking heads…

    “So we have idiots like MSNBC talking head Joe Scarborough saying that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it”

    full article and MSNBC clip at


    So we can kill 1 million people in Iraq because they might have been connected to 9/11 (yeah right) but oh now we can’t do anything about a Saudi connection.

  • Kathy

    As a society, we have sold our souls for oil. No price is too great, no life too valuable, no deed too despicable, no alliance too evil.

  • Wow.

    Thank you guy and especially Mike, for adding his personal story – GREAT presentation. The cartoons are perfect.

    This whole series will be a lab for my principles of biology class. My students are not all “honors” or “inmates” but many are or have been both. And maybe this will be the last straw for my superiors, and I will be shown the door ; )

  • Kathy C – nice thread hijack … but seriously? As if anyone with more than a room temp IQ hasn’t known there was some Saudi involvement since the day after, when the US government allowed only Saudis to fly over and out of the country – Saudis related to bin Laden? Bob Graham’s recent remarks serve to again divert the attention of the public from the real history of non-investigation of the tragedy, all of the weirdness that went on on 9/11 and has gone on since. There’s the official version and now, an unofficial version, and in time, whatever really happened will be lost. Two planes. Three buildings come down at free fall speeds. A plane hits the Pentagon – a plane that nobody saw and wasn’t documented on a single security camera. A plane crashes in PN but leaves no debris. All of this gets past a $40 billion NORAD radar and satellite defense system. I don’t think the Saudis could have managed 9/11 any more than I think a few guys with Cessna simulation could have. Of course, I have been to Dallas and looked at that crime scene from my Westin hotel room window and don’t really think one guy with a bolt action rifle would have gotten as lucky as Oswald did. It doesn’t matter – what is, is. Declining oil will end today’s civilization for everybody, conspirator, king, peon alike. There will be new kings, new conspiracies, new peons. Life will go on.

  • Frank, sorry that I didn’t make my point very well. My point had nothing to do with who dun it? It had everything to do with the fact that after telling us for years how important it was to get the perpetrators of 911, suddenly if anyone can point to the Saudi’s its not important to someone like Joe Scarborough and his ilk.

    Actually it is pertinent to the general discussion by NBL in my opinion as it illustrates the utter impossibility of dealing with any problem facing the world through regular channels of the media. Talks such as Guy gives have a better chance of reaching someone. If the general public can listen to someone say that we are only going to look for perpetrators that we choose to blame, not ones that we need and and not get furious, well then the general public has their heads in the sand.

  • ‘maybe this will be the last straw for my superiors, and I will be shown the door ; )’

    i hope not navid. are u prepared for that eventuality?

    ‘the general public has their heads in the sand.’

    i might have said their heads were in an anotomically impossible location, but the gist is the same.

    ‘it illustrates the utter impossibility of dealing with any problem facing the world through regular channels of the media’

    one could start a blog about corporate media with the same initials as nbl: ‘nothing but lies’.

  • “Scientists are predicting that the asteroid 2012 DA14 has a good chance of colliding with Earth in eleven months. Watch the skies in February 2013!
    According to RT, NASA has confirmed that the 60 meter (or 197 feet) asteroid, which was spotted by Spanish stargazers in February this year, has a good chance of colliding with earth.
    The scientists suggest confronting this asteroid with either big guns or, more strangely, with paint. The problem with either option is that there is no time to build a spaceship for the operation.
    A spaceship could either shoot the asteroid down or simply crash into it – this would either break it into pieces or throw it off course.
    NASA expert David Dunham suggested: “We could paint it.”
    The paint would change the asteroid’s ability to reflect sunlight, alter its spin and change its temperature. However, even taking the asteroid off course could be dangerous when it returns in 2056, according to Aleksandr Devaytkin the head of the observatory in Russia’s Pulkovo, as told to Izvestia in Russia recently.
    The asteroid’s closest approach to earth is scheduled for 15 February 2013, when they predict that the distance between it and earth will be under 27,000 km (16,700 miles).
    With the asteroid zooming that low, it will be too late to do anything with it besides trying to predict its final destination and the consequences of impact.
    However, NASA’s David Dunham did say: “The asteroid may split into pieces entering the atmosphere. In this case, most parts of it will never reach the planet’s surface.”
    But theories are that if the entire asteroid did crash into the planet, the impact will be as hard as in the Tunguska blast, which in 1908 knocked down trees over a total area of 2,150 sq km (830 sq miles) in Siberia.
    So keep your head down and watch the skies.”

    Read more: http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/320607#ixzz1oAkUFZmz

  • NASA expert David Dunham suggested: “We could paint it.”

    Puts a whole new twist on the game of paint ball….

  • from http://www.energybulletin.net/stories/2012-03-05/truth-telling-march-5
    Jeremy Grantham, GMO LLC – full text at http://www.gmo.com/websitecontent/JGLetter_LongestLetterEver_4Q11.pdf

    … Damage to the “commons,” known as “externalities” has been discussed for decades, although the most threatening one — loss of our collective ability to feed ourselves, through erosion and fertilizer depletion — has received little or no attention…

    To leave it to capitalism to get us out of this fix by maximizing its short-term profits is dangerously naïve and misses the point: capitalism and corporations have absolutely no mechanism for dealing with these problems..

    ..capitalism in general has no sense of ethics or conscience. Whatever the Supreme Court may think, it is not a person. Why would a company give up a penny for the common good if it is not required to by enforced regulation or unless it looked like that penny might be returned with profit in the future because having a good image might be good for business?..

    A company is now free to spend money to influence political outcomes and need tell no one, least of all its own shareholders, the technical owners. So, rich industries can exert so much political influence that they now have a dangerous degree of influence over Congress. And the issues they most influence are precisely the ones that matter most, the ones that are most important to society’s long-term well-being, indeed its very existence…

    Thus, taking huge benefits from Nature and damaging it in return is completely free and all attempts at government control are fought with costly lobbying and advertising.And one of the first victims in this campaign has been the truth…

    If scientific evidence suggests costs and limits be imposed on industry to protect the long-term environment, then science will be opposed by clever disinformation. It’s now getting to be an old and obvious story, but because their propaganda is good and despite the solidness of the data, half of the people believe the problem is a government run wild, mad to control everything…

    Of all the technical weaknesses in capitalism, though, probably the most immediately dangerous is its absolute inability to process the finiteness of resources and the mathematical impossibility of maintaining rapid growth in physical output.

    Similarly with natural resources, capitalism wants to eat into these precious, limited resources at an accelerating rate with the subtext that everyone on the planet has the right to live like the wasteful polluting developed countries do today…

    Therefore, we should ask what it would take for our system to evolve in time to save our bacon. Clearly, a better balance with regulations would be a help. This requires reasonably enlightened regulations, which are unlikely to be produced until big money’s influence in Congress, and particularly in elections, decreases. This would necessitate legal changes all the way up to the Supreme Court. It’s a long haul, but a handful of other democratic countries in northern Europe have been successful,.

    Solutions to these issues — far more important than any others — need a delicate mix of capitalism and wise, democratically-controlled government regulation. That might sound like an oxymoron to far too many people. If we can’t make it sound, plausible, and acceptable in the next few decades, then we are in deep trouble for the world really, really needs U.S. leadership on these critical issues.
    (4 March 2012)
    According to Wikipedia:
    “Jeremy Grantham is a British investor and Co-founder and Chief Investment Strategist of Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo (GMO), a Boston-based asset management firm. GMO is one of the largest managers of such funds in the world, having more than US $107 billion in assets under management as of December 2010. Grantham is regarded as a highly knowledgeable investor in various stock, bond, and commodity markets, and is particularly noted for his prediction of various bubbles.”

  • Terry, thank you for your concern. Sometimes, it is “Ready or not, here I come!”

    We all just have to learn to live with a lot more uncertainty I guess.

  • The True Cost of Oil/Tar Sands
    By Garth Lenz @ TEDxVictoria
    What does environmental devastation actually look like? At TEDxVictoria, photographer Garth Lenz shares shocking photos of the Alberta Tar Sands mining project — and the beautiful (and vital) ecosystems under threat.

    For almost twenty years, Garth’s photography of threatened wilderness regions, devastation, and the impacts on indigenous peoples, has appeared in the world’s leading publications. His recent images from the boreal region of Canada have helped lead to significant victories and large new protected areas in the Northwest Territories, Quebec, and Ontario. Garth’s major touring exhibit on the Tar Sands premiered on Los Angeles in 2011 and recently appeared in New York. Garth is a Fellow of the International League Of Conservation Photographers

    video at http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30736.htm

  • just wanted u to feel a bit of empathy, navid. cold comfort’s better than none.

    ‘we are in deep trouble for the world really, really needs U.S. leadership on these critical issues.’

    deep shit, indeed. u cam lead a dogma addict to knowledge, but u can’t make him think (rationally, that is). (this derives from a popular aphorism in america: ‘u can lead a horse to water, but u can’t make him drink.) in the usa, dogma addiction is considered virtuous, and is very popular/entrenched. ignorance rules.

    ‘Scientists are predicting that the asteroid 2012 DA14 has a good chance of colliding with Earth in eleven months. Watch the skies in February 2013!’

    kathy, u appear excited at the prospect.

  • kathy, after viewing the tar sands video and reading the comments, i have to admit the idea of a catastophic asteroid strike isn’t so bad. hope this doesn’t makes us ‘terrorists’.

  • VT
    Cosmic terrorists.

    They are everywhere by now. Even in the mirror, lol.

  • VT – the whole section I posted on the asteroid strike was in quotes – none of it is my writing so I am not sure how you could divine how I feel about it. Does the mere posting indicate something about my feelings?

    However if Nature beats us to collapsing civilization I am not at all opposed to that. However the article says “the impact will be as hard as in the Tunguska blast” which didn’t end life on the planet. Of course that asteroid (if that is what it was) fell in a remote forest in Serbia (if I recall correctly). Falling on say NYC might have civilization cleansing potential.

  • Falling on say NYC might have civilization cleansing potential.

    Falling on Baltimore would probably take out NYC and Washington DC…..a rather pleasant thought…. :-)

  • Thanks for the vid on tar sands, Kathy.

    My anger at civilization is beginning to boil.

  • Is this as bad for civilization (and thus good for the planet)as it sounds

    European Banks Now Face Huge Margin Calls As ECB Collateral Crumbles

  • sorry, kathy. i didn’t see all the quotation marks. i thought the part i quoted was your writing. the ! punctuation at the end of the quote indicated excitement to me, which i wrongly assumed was yours.

  • VT, I should take the time to use italics to be sure folks know what isn’t mine. I posted it on another site, the same way with quotes and someone else thought it was my words – they noted the final words of the author “So keep your head down and watch the skies.” I don’t know if the author meant that as a funny or was unaware of the contradiction. I think it is a hoot and wish I had said it. :)

  • Fukushima Anniversary: How Climate Change Endangers Nuclear Safety


    A year after a 30-foot tsunami ravaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan, some scientists say regulators underestimate the threat that climate change poses to nuclear power plants in the U.S.

    “There are clear lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster, yet our government allows the risks to remain,” said Jordan Weaver, a scientist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

  • Japan’s nuclear regulators and the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power, or Tepco, have said that the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 45-foot tsunami on March 11 that knocked out cooling systems at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant were far larger than anything that scientists had predicted. That conclusion has allowed the company to argue that it is not responsible for the triple meltdown, which forced the evacuation of about 90,000 people.

    But some insiders from Japan’s tightly knit nuclear industry have stepped forward to say that Tepco and regulators had for years ignored warnings of the possibility of a larger-than-expected tsunami in northeastern Japan, and thus failed to take adequate countermeasures, such as raising wave walls or placing backup generators on higher ground.

    They attributed this to a culture of collusion in which powerful regulators and compliant academic experts looked the other way while the industry put a higher priority on promoting nuclear energy than protecting public safety.


    Good to know that the US and other nuclear power countries don’t have the same problem! ;-)

  • After a month-long, self-imposed moratorium, I’ve posted a new essay. It’s here.