Words to give by

I’m fussy about the words I use. Words matter, after all. For example, anarchy is not chaos, though you’d never be able to distinguish the two based on anything presented by the mainstream media. As a further example, I’m averse to any form of the word “sustain” because we don’t and we can’t. I’ve distinguished between sustainability and durability in this space in essay form and also in a recent presentation. If the Suggestions Laws of Thermodynamics aren’t compelling enough for you, consider this: Wal-Mart allegedly has poured more money into “sustainability” than any other institution on Earth.

In this brief essay, I’d like to take issue with a couple other terms. As I’ve pointed out recently, I’m a fan of the gift economy (which is not based on barter). I explain below. In addition, I differentiate between building social capital and contributing to a decent human community.

My customary gifts include hosting visitors at the mud hut, delivery of presentations for no charge, and copies of my latest book at my cost (or, to those interested in an electronic version of the page proofs, no cost at all). Here at the mud hut, I strive to promote and expand the extant gift economy. This approach makes perfect sense, considering how we began this relationship more than four years ago, when my partners on these 2.7 acres offered my partner and me the gift of an acre (we declined, and we now share the property and the attendant responsibilities). In the name of comfort for our friends and neighbors, we barter, too, and sometimes work within the customary system of fiat currency. But I prefer an economy of gifts, which has been the prevailing model for most of our existence as human animals. Gifting removes the pressure associated with placing monetary value on the exchange of goods and services in a barter system. And, to me at least, it seems more compassionate and personal than other alternatives.

Many people believe they are doing themselves a favor by building social capital. I hear this phrase often, and I bristle every time. Employing the root word of a heinous system that developed as the industrial revolution began is hardly a sure-fire strategy for winning friends and (positively) influencing people. The process of “building social capital” equates connivance with decency. Analogous to use of a barter system, the act of building social capital suggests a deposit is being made, and will be drawn upon later, perhaps with interest (i.e., usury).

In contrast to developing social capital, I believe we should work to contribute to a decent human community. As an aside, I’m often asked why I use the phrase, “human community” instead of “community.” This is exactly the type of question I have come to expect from individuals who wrongly believe we are the most important species on Earth. We’re destroying virtually every aspect of the living planet, and yet we believe we’re the foundation on which robust ecosystems depend. Viewing your place in a human community, and your contribution to that human community, is analogous to development of a gift economy. By striving to contribute, instead of invest, I can focus on developing life-affirming ties instead of dreaming about the return on my investment. By serving my neighbors, rather than determining how my neighbors can serve me, I become an integral part of a valuable system. As such, the whole, holistic system becomes increasingly durable.

Sharing gifts to develop a durable set of living arrangements within a decent human community: If you can imagine a better goal, please let me know.


This essay is permalinked at Island Breath.

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Comments 199

  • HORRAY for words! Yippee-ki-yea! Good job Senor McPhee, it’s about time you wrote something down and shared it, and stopped some of that yammerin’!

  • It is hard for folks to get their heads around…Bartering is starting up around here…largely due to Raw Milk(even the inspector said to barter, and stay out of the Money Economy)…and it’s eyeopening how much thought is required to figger out how to equitably compensate the Milk Man, when he refuses Fiat.Right now, I have an abundance of homemade Pickles!…and it just doesn’t come near to being of equal value as fresh milk.
    Being Thought Provoking in this way is a Good Thing, I reckon.

  • Hi Guy,

    Some Buddhists have the expression: wash out your mouth with soap after you say “Buddha.” I’m beginning to think the same behavior should apply to the word “sustainability.”

  • Having been involved in bartering for the past year in my clinic, I can offer my own two cents about the practice.

    Josef D. Pinter says: Right now, I have an abundance of homemade Pickles!…and it just doesn’t come near to being of equal value as fresh milk.

    Bartering doesn’t work if you think of trying to equate it to value of something in dollar (or other fiat currency) terms. Fiat money allows us to be paid far more for something than what it’s actually worth. I guarantee you that a CEO of a major corporation is in no way worth hundreds of millions of dollars. So, it would be absurd for him to try to barter for goods and services equal to his overinflated sense of self-worth. (Actually, that might be fun to watch.)

    In the same way, while I set a dollar amount on the value of my services, in reality, it’s only worth what someone is able to pay. If she only has a dozen eggs with which to barter, then, that’s all my service can be worth to her. The fact that I’ve gone to school/had training for two decades, doesn’t mean a thing if someone doesn’t have anything which I might consider valuable.

    When it comes down to it, once the industrial economy grinds to a halt, the stored food that my neighbor has will suddenly become much more valuable to me than it is right now when I can drive to the grocery store.

  • I think the barter economy and the gift economy both have a place. The gift economy is inter-family or inter-tribal – while the barter economy is intra-tribal. When tribes contact there is less certainty that gifts will be repaid thus barter for equivalent value takes place. While we like to think of gifting as not requiring repaying, in fact we are unable to act on that. Gifts create an obligation, the difference between that and barter is that with gifting the obligation can be met later and is not tied to some standard of equal value.

    Obligation sounds like a negative word in relation to gifts, but in fact it holds people together. Unfortunately in our current society it is skewed beyond all the positive values it has. It still exists in families – parents gift their children with food, education, and general welfare. Children pitch in for parents at the end of their lives.

    TRDH your barter clinic is a gift and I expect you will see unexpected returns when TSHTF.

  • Kathy:

    You have your “inter-” and “intra-” mixed up.

    “intra-” implies an action within (or between) a common group, such as within a family or within a tribe.

    “inter-” implies an action within (or between) two (or more) different groups, such as two non-connected tribes, or two non-related families.

    For example, I’m currently digitally interfacing with you via the “public” internet. Everyone from everywhere has access to it. However, when I digitally interface with my co-workers, I do so via a “private” intranet, a network you have no access to whatsoever.

  • I provided goods and services based on gifting at one time. It made people very uncomfortable. In response to, “Whatever you can justify, afford, and joyously give,” I once had someone outright shout at me, “JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT!”

    So this is very, very difficult to do on your own. I think it requires like-minded people who understand and agree that you are gifting with them. The world (at least, the industrialized, civilized world) is not ready for gifting.

    But there exists a continuum. Our island is, by and large, an enlightened lot, and people’s face light up when I mention “barter.” So I’m grateful to take one step toward We Are One by using barter. We don’t have to go all the way in one fell swoop.

    Yea, I agree about “sustainable:”

    Your choice of “durability” is good. I prefer the word “resilient,” because that allows me to get started on my anti-efficiency high horse. A new Prius is certainly efficient; it may even be durable, but in no way is it as resilient as my 1980 Vanagon running on home-made biodiesel!

  • Oops, I see my HTML was stripped. After “sustainable:”, this cartoon was supposed to show up: http://www.explainxkcd.com/2012/01/23/sustainable/

  • Imagine a contented human community. Each person has enough of everything. Enough food shelter clothes…how much is enough? We all have enough to be contented. Of course what all humans love is love, lots of love and respect albeit status which translates to security. Imagining that space, gifts become fun more than a form of economy. Even the concept of economy becomes obsolete.
    How about them words Mr. Good Guy?

  • Resa, I stand corrected. Thank you

  • Thanks, Guy, for your gift of words. I was amazed, last year, to watch and participate in a round of “pay it forward” on FaceBook. There were some people who just could not get it, and were simply unable to accept the notion that they might receive a gift without returning it. No matter how many times I explained it, they continued to insist. When I was a kid, we’d go fishing at the lake a bring a mess of bluegills to my Aunt Marge (a “mess” is a Midwestern unit of measurement – more than a few, but less than a load…). She could not accept them without going over to her ancient chest freezer, pulling out some frost-covered chunk of meat, and handing it to us to take home. I remember being really confused by that.

    These days, we do as much gifting and barter as we can, on top of the money economy. Sally’s a master of barter, and she’s pretty good at accepting gifts as well, something which she’s teaching me. I still go to find a chunk of meat!

    Peace, bro. T

  • Thanks, Guy, for your words. I heartily agree concerning the importance of words, esp the word ‘sustainable’ within the context you give. It almost makes me ill to see this word used by a large multi-national. Such hypocrisy!

    For many it is truly harder to ‘receive’ than to ‘give’ gifts. Indeed, some even resent receiving a gift if they don’t have anything to return – indeed, they can even be twisted with guilt even to the point of great resentment towards the giver if they cannot give something of value in return. This can sometimes indicate a person deprived of the spirit of giving as all things must be a matter of barter or purchase with no room in their lives for true giving. A gift economy requires that you be able to receive graciously and without feelings of obligation.

    This was always most difficult for me to understand when I first met my wife in Russia. Like most westerners I translated ‘bribe’. She translated ‘gift’. You gave a gift without expectation of something in return, yet knowing it would be returned someday, in some form – perhaps even today. It was (and still is in some parts) to give a little gift in appreciation for some service rendered – it is the polite thing to do. That looked to me like a bribe, but again, I was not culturally tuned to such transactions. When you had to endure life as often Russians do, then you begin to realise the importance and the truly significant value of social networks and gifts, and how they act to provide cohesion in a society deprived of independent living.

  • We give free eggs to some neighbors. The one I most enjoy giving to is the one who does not give back immediately, but when she has something we might like she shares it with us. So eggs two weeks ago to her, Brunswick stew this week to us. Another neighbor sometimes will not accept the gift of eggs but when she does she MUST it seems return 7 fold. I have told her of the things they do already that more than compensate – always driving when my husband goes with hers to County Commission meetings and never accepting gas money. But NO that is not enough. She must give back over and over for 1 doz eggs. She even got mad and apparently still is a year later that I would not accept some blueberries she had picked because I was at the time trying hard to of give away our excess of blueberries. The first neighbor it is a joy to give to – we trust each other that the giving will have some level of equality eventually. The second neighbor I would rather not give to – it seems to create in her mind an obligation that is somehow almost impossible to meet – thus my gift seems to do more harm to her than good.

  • We are part of the gift/barter system or we would simply go broke. I like to pay it forward too whenever I can. So things my kids have grown out of are given where I think they will be appreciated. They mostly came to us that way in the first place :) We have lived like this ever since I can remember. “New’ things are something of a rarity round here unless we make them ourselves.

    viv in nz

  • I consciously started doing these things a few years ago (it certainly was NOT part of my culture) with a vague awareness that I was “community building”, though I had never thought about it in such a clear way. I always have surplus eggs, and, during the summer, lots of garden produce. Sometimes homemade beer. My neighbors, who might not otherwise even know my name, are now accustomed to seeing me at their door with a bag of goodies. I have also fixed bikes, furnaces, and waterheaters. I know that many of them are in tight enough financial straits that these things are very welcome. I have made it clear that they cannot pay me, though some still offer. Most reciprocate in some small way – a batch of cookies, a loaf of bread, an offer to look after my dogs, whatever. Highly recommended.

  • Every ecosystem and every biologic organism is a conduit that takes advantage of eddies in energy flows to maintain (and sometimes propagate) itself. Not one of them can evade physical laws: sustainability implies time over which sustainability is presumed to exist: an interval with a beginning and an end. The latter terminus is quite unaesthetic within any paradigm of infinite growth, and the modus operandi now universally adopted is to employ the camouflage of euphemisms, even though such euphemisms can and do have the most malignant of consequences.

    On an individual level, substituting “forever/never” for “until/afteryou/I are/am dead and gone” leads down a path of perceptual error whose consequences at the individual level include the disregard for human community and the RE-cognition (a more appropriate term would be DYS-cognition) of the concentration of wealth and power along hierarchical gradients as a new norm.

    At a societal level it results in the belief of Business As Usual will always trump Resource Depletion (-the most imminent of which with grave consequences, is Peak Oil) and Environmental Degradation (the most malignant consequence of which, Climate Change, does not exclude the possibility of more malignant consequences that we  do not yet understand).  

  • The moment an offer of goods or services is placed in a perceptual framework of fungibility, it ceases to be a gift, and becomes an item of trade. It matters little whether the transaction is consummated with a return of a load of manure, a sack of potatoes, a piece of green paper or magnetized particles on a hard drive.

    A parent does not tote up the goods and services expended on the child with intent to present the adult offspring with a bill later. Nor, for most part, did persons calculate the costs of caring for their parents in sunset years as a means of repaying them to “clear the books”.

    The same when extended to others is a gift economy. In Eastern traditions, it is a violation of common courtesy to “thank” someone for goods or services, because the very act of “thanking” moves the good or service out of the domain of gifts, and into the domain of trade. It also implies that the recipient retains an opinion of the donor much lower than one commensurate with the donation. 

    Even though the word “gift” is retained, it has all but lost its referential significance.  Likewise, obligation from being the obverse of security on the coin of community to become an increasingly onerous burden. 

  • The moment an offer of goods or services is placed in a perceptual framework of fungibility, it ceases to be a gift, and becomes an item of trade. It matters little whether the transaction is consummated with a return of a load of manure, a sack of potatoes, a piece of green paper or magnetized particles on a hard drive.

    A parent does not tote up the goods and services expended on the child with intent to present the adult offspring with a bill later. Nor, for most part, did persons calculate the costs of caring for their parents in sunset years as a means of repaying them to “clear the books”.

    The same when extended to others is a gift economy. In Eastern traditions, it is a violation of common courtesy to “thank” someone for goods or services, because the very act of “thanking” moves the good or service out of the domain of gifts, and into the domain of trade. It also implies that the recipient retains an opinion of the donor much lower than one commensurate with the donation. 

    Even though the word “gift” is retained, it has all but lost its referential significance.  Likewise, “obligation” has migrated from being the obverse of security on the coin of community to become an increasingly onerous burden. 

  • Robin you wrote “A parent does not tote up the goods and services expended on the child with intent to present the adult offspring with a bill later. Nor, for most part, did persons calculate the costs of caring for their parents in sunset years as a means of repaying them to “clear the books”.”

    Actually parents have had kids for just the purpose of helping when they are old enough and taking care of them when they are old. And yes, kids really do feel they need to care for even parents they don’t care for – it is part of our genetic programming.

    The sense of obligation that comes with receiving and gifting is hard wired in us. We may not want it to be that way, but it is. A few might go beyond that but for most people it is there and there very strongly. It holds families, tribes, societies together. And thus although we might like to be “better” than that, the sense of obligation is good for social creatures.

    In !kung societies gifts are not thanked because they are expected. Thus the sharing obligation is so deeply rooted that it is not exceptional.

  • Guy:
    Sustain and sustainability were perfectly decent words when applied to ecosystems until they became marketing buzzwords. It’s been clear to me for some time that as civilization collapses, so does language. A less complex future guarantees a less complex language, which, if you believe Orwell, guarantees less complex thought and prevents some thought at all.

    There is a danger here. As human beings are prepared to give or receive genocide, the language tends toward the bestial. I live in an area where the Indians were cleared out under the guise of wildlife management, and it wasn’t that long ago.

    Although it goes against much of what I’ve taught writing students, I appreciate the elegant Latinate English of complex thinkers like Brutus and Robin. Their words are the visible artifacts of deep and multi-level thinking, thinking that’s only possible when a civilization has a complex internal architecture.

    Still, to combat the machinations of marketing departments everywhere, we might start using the 1200 or so core words of Anglo-Saxon, which worked pretty well for pre-industrial Britain.

    Sustainability=Can it last?
    Social capital=Kinship/Friendship
    Nation State=Neighbors

    You can see this is a pretty reductive exercise, with immediate consequences attending to the change in language. As someone who counts on the continuation of fiat currency and social security to maintain complex thought, I can see what my own vocabulary might look like one of these years: Firewood. Kill. Meat. Them neighbors.

    Not really sustainable, if you think about it.

  • OT: I read a comment at TOD (no link). The author said that in his provence of France( pop.750,000) the number of firms involved in food production was 1,500. That is down from 6,000 in 2000. Last year 700 farmers committed suicide in all of France, and 6,000 since 2000. Those numbers just seem incredible to me.

  • Food – good

  • Transition Voice has a new piece today. It’s a conversation between Sherry Ackerman and me, and it’s here.

  • Once again, the state bares its fangs

  • Sustainability: Till when?
    Social capital: Unspoken sense of MUTUAL obligation. 
    Usury: An extractive system based on a delusion of perpetual growth.
    Nation state: neighbors who do not hesitate to use their weapons first.
    Ecosystem: A method of transforming manure into food.
    Friend/enemy: Reaches for the gun last/first.
    Boundary: The borders that separate one’s identity from others.

    “Successful” writing in America is writing for the crowd, akin to the methods of the mass media. One tailors one’s language to one’s intended audience, limiting the transmission of some concepts in some cases.

  • Victor:

    You wrote: “For many it is truly harder to ‘receive’ than to ‘give’ gifts. Indeed, some even resent receiving a gift if they don’t have anything to return – indeed, they can even be twisted with guilt even to the point of great resentment towards the giver if they cannot give something of value in return.”

    I’m not sure that a reluctance to accept gifts can universally be attributed to “obligation” or feelings of “guilt.”

    I have no problem accepting gifts if it’s something I can use.

    But most times that’s not the case. Most times a gift (even a well-intended one) is something SOMEONE thinks I need, and WHO then becomes upset when the gift is NOT “properly” displayed or eaten or used. Of course, that’s not my problem, but nevertheless, THEY don’t see it that way.

    I only have so much room to store things, so much desire to eat things, and so much need to use things. Anything else is surplus. That dozen eggs that Kathy drops off may be thoughtful, but if I can’t use them, or don’t want them, then the gift is annoying and just another item I must dispose of. Fortunately extra eggs can be fed to the cats or dogs, or busted up in the garden. But material items are much tougher to deal with, and yes, downright ANNOYING to dispose of.

    So yes, I’d much prefer that gifts NOT be dropped off UNLESS I request them. A gift of two hours of someone’s time to help me repair a roof is welcome. A gift of a loaf of bread when I have three baking in the oven is not. And it doesn’t matter how graciously I accept it, that loaf of bread will always remain unappreciated. Which is a shame. But that’s reality.

    When a gift can’t be honored as a gift then it becomes a burden. Burdens are work.

    Several years ago I participated in a gift exchange at my guild. I ended up with the next to last number drawn, which meant I had a choice between two packages. The one I selected contained 4 ounces of plucked, 6-inch, black agouti angora. As soon as I saw it I knew who it came from. I’d heard her talking in the hallway. She only had two rabbits, and this gift was her second plucking from one of them. When her companion asked why she’d gifted something so precious, she’d said because she wanted to give away her best.

    Which was noble.

    Except I already had a barn full of rabbit fiber in the colors I liked (black agouti was not one of them), and no matter how beautifully packaged the gift was (and I could tell she’d gone through considerable effort) or how prime the fiber was (and it was), I’d never appreciate it in the way she’d intended. Which was horrible. Now that’s a burden of guilt.

    Fortunately, the gift exchange included a one-time swap out, which I did, and which, by the look on the gifter’s face, crushed her.

    All these years later I still appreciate the threading hook I swapped her lovingly gifted fiber for. I doubt I’d even remember where the angora was if I still had it.

    Now you could always argue that a gift exchange is not the same as a face-to-face gift, and in some respects you’re correct. But in other respects, it’s exactly the same.

  • John:

    I’m not sure a less complex language necessarily obviates a thinking process “that’s only possible when a civilization has a complex internal architecture.”

    I was recently GIFTED with the self-published memoir of an old outfitter. Below is the intro into his second chapter. Granted, he uses sentences that are perhaps shy of what you’d consider “multi-level thinking,” but nonetheless, it’s apparent he has connected dots.

    “Back in the early sixties, paying work was scarce as virgins and the coming winter looked like a hard one. I had gotten hitched a few years before and was finding out that two cannot live as cheaply as one. I’m not sure they had invented television yet, but I do know we didn’t have one. Not that it would have done much good, not having any power to make it go. So to save on candles the wife and I amused ourselves in what ended up a pack of young-uns. If I could get my hands on a trapline with a couple of big cabins then I could leave the wife and kids bunched together to keep an eye on one another and keep each other company, and with a little hard work and a bit of luck, trapping enough fur would make a fair grubstake.”

  • Resa:

    Your old outfitter has connected the dots all the way back to the 1860s, when television really hadn’t yet been invented, except for a couple of steam-powered prototypes that proved impractical.

    Paying work wasn’t that scarce in the early 1960s. Winters weren’t that hard, except maybe for the IGY scientists at the poles. Lack of electricity was voluntary. The only person who talked like that was Gabby Hayes, the sidekick in Roy Rogers westerns.

    The trouble with writing a memoir too early is that some of your fact-checkers are still alive.

    Anyway, it’s pretty clear the guy who gave you the book has created a complex storytelling persona tailored to the wild-west expectations of the suburbanites whose vacations and hunting trips he outfitted. I think you’d get a different story out of his kids.

    Don’t you dare send me that book.

  • Central Valley, California. Heart of farming and agriculture for California, and a major source of fruits and vegetables for the nation.

    Farming communities facing crisis over nitrate pollution, study says


    Big Ag strikes again. And they have no problem with what they are doing to pollute groundwater systems for millions of people. They say that whilst big ag contributes some to the nitrate problem (96%), before we act irrationally, we should study the other sources of nitrates (4%).

    Which is more important? The economy and putting food on the table of Americans? Or polluting the groundwater causing untold numbers of deaths and serious illness?

    I would wager the former. What do you think?

  • Jobs and winters in the sixties – it depended on where you lived. As an example, if you lived in the Appalachias, chances were that you would be a long-term unemployed, having lost your incomes with the closing of coal mines. You might also be faced with some pretty severe winters, also depending where you lived. And if you lived in a poorly insulated shack without electricity in the mountains, as many did in that region, even mild winters could be considered severe. You would do what you could to survive.

  • Resa, I can relate to what you say about gifts. I’ve upset many of my friends and family over the years by my prohibition against gifts of any kind, but particularly the useless birthday/holiday “here, I am addicted to shopping so I thought I would give this to you so I don’t feel so guilty for spending more of my limited income on worthless shit from China” gifts.

    But, that being said, with respect to Guy’s current essay, I really don’t think many of us will have to worry about useless gifting in the future. When the overwhelming majority of the developed world is starving to death, I suspect that receiving worthless, unwanted gifts will be the last thing we will have to worry about.

    One of my neighbors stopped by last night. I had been by his house the night before to seek his help with moving a large tree that had fallen and was blocking the road. We had both commented then that it had been quite a while since we had talked. He came by to remedy that. So, while he was here, I asked if he and his wife liked eggs. When he said yes, I asked him if he would like a half dozen. He accepted. For me, that type of gifting is the only type I feel comfortable with. I know it’s something that he will use and enjoy. I expect nothing in return, but I know that he is a good neighbor always willing to pitch in and help when needed. They also give us vegetables from their garden sometimes.

    While I don’t expect a gift in return from this good neighbor, I also don’t find myself giving to any of the other neighbors who, likewise, have never gone out of their way to do anything for us. So, as someone mentioned above, there is always an expectation with a gift, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.

  • i’m afraid i’m not much of a giver. i have many excuses to choose from, including the possibility that i’m simply a prick. no doubt i often am. sometimes i feel bad about that. sometimes i don’t.

    i’ve been betrayed too often (including by my own poor judgement) to feel very good about or secure in relationships. i’ve been taken advantage of, ripped off, broken hearted, defeated. perhaps i’m mildly autistic.

    i’ve been kind of neurotic most of my life probably. books provide good companionship for some solitary souls. especially for minds in search of knowledge and understanding.

    a funny thing happened as i read. i learned that the culture i’m enmeshed in is quite insane in a kaleidoscopic variety of ways. it’s really surreal. maybe it’s why i’m neurotic, relationship impaired. maybe the problem lies more with others, those dogmatists who make my/our? world a dystopian nightmare. the stubbornly ignorant, irrational, intellectually challenged overwhelming majority.

    alienation makes compassion/friendship wither and die. not a good way to be facing collapse. when government social security payments fail or become grossly inadequate, i could be in deep shit, unless my social capital account (sorry, guy, for using this annoying phrase) improves.

    ‘i’d like to post a link to one of your best essays or talks to my local green party listserve which goes out to about 40 locals, and ask for feedback from anyone who’d like for u to give a talk to us. see if there’s enough interest to make it happen if u’re willing and able while u’re out this way in early april.’ -from a feb.23 post of mine

    in case anyone besides guy is interested, i did post an inquiry to that and another local email list. first off i should point out that the vast majority of sheople on these lists never post anything, and for all i know maybe don’t read my posts either, so i don’t know how many actually read it. i do know i got only one response mostly wishing guy luck. this wasn’t too surprising considering most posts elicit very little if any response on these lists.

    i feel bad about this, of course. perhaps more than anyone i understand the importance of the efforts of guy, kevin moore, and others are making, trying to lead some of the dogmatic majority to some crucial knowledge in the hope that they just might begin to think rationally. the imperative to do so is so great it just might compensate for the immense difficulty, frustration, and sacrifice involved in the effort.

    leaving that ship isn’t easy for most, for many, it may be impossible. by and large guy has left the ship, which gives him great credibility to advocate that others do the same.

    there’s more i’d like to say if it wasn’t too hard and likely pointless. guy, u’re a noble and gifted homo sapien. it’s an honor to know of u. of course i wish u well. i wish i had much more to offer, but as i began this post, i’m afraid i’m not much of a giver.

  • i’m afraid i’m a poor writer also. i didn’t make clear what i was talking about above re. ‘leaving a ship’, the ship guy has left. i meant the sinking ship of industrial civilization.

  • it’s turned surreally freakishly warm on my part of the world this march. i planted some seeds last week, nearly a month early. kind of expect everything to green up and blossom similarly way ahead of schedule. it’ll be interesting to see how soon the grass grows and lilacs bloom. got bit by a mosquito this afternoon. i think usually mosquitos around here arrive in may. it’s as warm as may, and predicted to remain so for the next 2 weeks.

  • The Real Dr. House:

    I must be unusual because I feel no obligation to gift back. From my perspective, gifting is a one-directional delivery process.

    That being said, I refuse gifts with strings attached (which are common) and I don’t appreciate gifts I don’t need (as stated previously).

    Re: “I really don’t think many of us will have to worry about useless gifting in the future.”

    Don’t count on it.

    Useless gifting is universal. I do find, however, that it occurs more often among “new” community members than it does with the independently-minded established set, and that’s perhaps because established members know how annoying useless gifting is and tend more toward bartering(each party ends up happy with a useful product) or borrowing (I borrow your tool, use it, and return it in working order; if I break it, I fix or replace it).

    Borrowing has one additional advantage. Someone else has the responsibility of storing, feeding, or maintaining the item.

    Also, I’d like to point out that useless items aren’t limited to “worthless shit from China.” It may seem that way because you’re a fresh recruit and accustomed to such, but give it another ten years and I dare say that you’ll recognize where I’m coming from.

    I have to agree with you that the type of gifting I most prefer is the one where I’m asked beforehand if I would like something. I just had that happen last week. A neighbor returned one of my splitters that he had borrowed for several months (nicely oiled, greased, and spiffed up, I might add). He then asked if I would enjoy a medal-winning bottle of wine with a good cheese. I said, not if it’s chardonnay, and not if it’s goat. He thought for a moment then smiled and said he could accommodate. Two days later a very nice bottle of pinot gris and a wonderfully aged wheel of gouda showed up. I enjoyed both immensely yesterday with a freshly baked loaf of sourdough during our all-day 9-degree-below-normal 2-inch downpour.

  • John:

    I doubt I will finish the memoir.

    Yes, the writer did create a real-life persona tailored to the wild-west expectations of the suburbanites whose vacations and hunting trips he outfitted. That’s what they expected (and paid for). That’s what they got. It was his summer income. Winters were a whole lot tougher.

    And no, I won’t waste postage sending it your way.

    Although that would be one way of disposing of it.

  • Actually parents have had kids for just the purpose of helping when they are old enough and taking care of them when they are old. And yes, kids really do feel they need to care for even parents they don’t care for – it is part of our genetic programming.

    The sense of obligation that comes with receiving and gifting is hard wired in us.

    – Kathy C

    So, as someone mentioned above, there is always an expectation with a gift, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.

    – TRDH

    That sense of obligation / sense of community cannot be adequately expressed in words since it resides in the reptilian brain, which is non-verbal. But it is felt more forcefully because it is a funciton of the reptilian brain. It supercedes all constititions, laws, or guns and needs none of these for “enforcement”. It can and does span the divides of race, age, religion, gender, culture, socio-economic status and even species. It remains dominant even when the indillect suggests otherwise: kids really do feel they need to care for even parents they don’t care for. It is not enforceable with a gun.

    Overlooking this last point has resulted in the subjugation of vast swaths of humanity for generations under the banner of “socialism”; veritable libraries of books have been produced in the effort to replicate it in the realm of the intellect. Yet even commusist countries have implicitly recognized that they fall short of it, naming it “communism”, while referring to their own systems as “socialism”, a putative it a bridge to the ideal.

    The rejection of that force has spawned its own literature and social systems, which all too often overlooked the need for the stabilizing influence of a sense of community in society.

    The acts arising out of such a sense of community are held in the highest esteem by humans of every classification. Such narratives are an integral part of all cultural, religious and literary traditions.

    One would hope that past the bottleneck, human society will recognize it better, and assign it to its proper role and status.

  • Terry, unseasonably warm in most the US. The departure from normal highs map says it all https://weather.com/maps/maptype/currentweatherusnational/usdeparturefromnormalhighs_large.html?clip=undefined&region=undefined&collection=localwxforecast&presname=undefined
    Makes it hard to know when to plant things – my English peas I put in early. I stagger plantings by 3 weeks so even if a late frost gets the earliest ones I have more behind them. But when to plant squash? Today, March 14 is supposed to go up to 82. What does that portend for summer? Very unsettling. Ticks are biting earlier than usual too.

  • Warmth records falling across Northeast, Midwest

    “Expect records for high temps to be broken all week across the Northeast and Midwest, a rare event given that we’re still in winter.
    “We may be seeing about a week where we are going to be possibly breaking or at least coming close to temperature records,” said National Weather Service meteorologist Byron Paulson.
    It is not unusual to see record high temperatures for a day or two in March, but a week is rare, he said.”

    Rest at http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/13/10666827-warmth-records-falling-across-northeast-midwest

  • Resa, I’m a new recruit? Not sure exactly what you mean by that, but as I’m already well into my second half century to be thought of as a “new” anything is a refreshing change. Thanks :-)

    Of course, age doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with perspective, wisdom, or sense. I’ve known some old folks who didn’t have any of those three, while I’ve known some young people who had amazing doses of all of them.

    Perhaps you and I have a different view of what collapse will look like, but in my version, I can’t imagine the vast masses of starving people being worried about gifting – useless or otherwise. I suspect they will be much more worried about surviving to their next meal.

  • Monkeys in cages pace, masturbate, throw feces at humans etc. Humans in the cage of civilization get messed up too. If any survive past the bottleneck and return to living the way we evolved to live they won’t have to have long debates on gifting, they will just gift as a glue for the social order and to make the most of being a social animal with different talents spread throughout the species.

    TRDH – I think your view of how collapse is going to look is accurate. All the preps anyone makes, all the communities formed, resilience and durability established will be subjected to the chaos from all those who did not prepare. I remember about a decade ago on one discussion site the smug assurance that those well away from urban centers would be fine as the urbanites would be too afraid to venture far even tho starving or would not have the means. A few days after hearing one such comment I saw a band of black leather jacketed motorcyclists zooming down the road to some unknown rendezvous of their kind. I realized they would have means for travel longer than those with SUV’s and social ties across regions, and lack of fear of the boondocks. Depending on the groups probably weapons as well. Probably they could make Shermans’s march to the sea look like a party. Gifts will look more like “I’ll cover your back while you cover mine”.

  • The REAL Dr. House:

    Sorry for the confusion. I probably should have explained myself better.

    By “new recruit” I mean someone who’s new to preparing for whatever lies ahead. It has nothing to do with age. I realize that you’re around the half-century mark; you’ve made that clear a number of times. If I remember correctly, however, you’ve only been prepping for a year or two. I also recall you panicking last summer when your first harvest of seeds was destroyed by bugs.

    By “established” I mean someone who’s been prepping for a decade or longer. (Incidentally, if you’ve been prepping that long, you probably wouldn’t panic over the loss of a single harvest of seed because you would’ve learned that you never run your seed cache down, and you would’ve had previous seed harvests to fall back on. Sure the germination potential would be less, but still there would’ve been some seed to grow new plants with in order to regenerate new seed. And yes, before everyone yells at me that climate change and hordes of starving people are going to destroy that as well … perhaps yes, perhaps no, and perhaps somewhere in-between.)

    I agree that age doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with perspective, wisdom, or sense. I’ve certainly met younger folks who were straight up more together and with it then their elders. (That’s a good thing, btw.)

    And, you’re correct, my future view of collapse is different from yours. Although I see a need for preparation, I don’t see a need for panic. And I suspect useless gifting will be around for a long time yet.

    I hope the above clears up the confusion.

  • Resa, yes, that does clear up your earlier comments. Thanks.

    Using that definition, you’re right, I am a “new recruit”. I guess that anyone new to a way of thinking will have lots of ups and downs as they learn. One of the reasons I keep coming back to NBL is because I am continually learning from those here who have so much knowledge to share.

    I must admit that I don’t care much for the “prepper” label. I think it’s because of the way that such terms quickly begin to take on a stereotypical meaning which isn’t completely accurate and often is a caricature meant to belittle and demean. Similar to the way that “liberal” and “right winger” are used by politicos to mock their opponents.

    While I am preparing for what I believe will be a catastrophic end to industrial society, I see what I’m doing less as preparation and more as adopting a new, more healthy way of life. I look forward to the day when I am living in such a way that I no longer need to concern myself with the industrialized world and can be as close to nature as possible. Maybe I’ll achieve that, maybe I won’t. Either way, I intend to enjoy myself along the way.

  • The REAL Dr. House:

    I’m with you on the prepper label. Don’t much care for it myself. It’s a way of life, and I prefer to leave it at that. It provides a foundation upon which I don’t sweat the “big” stuff because, heck, I can’t control it anyway, (I certainly can’t stop it), and for what I need, I can do for myself. No need to lose sleep.

    The more years you get under your belt, the less you’ll sweat it as well. Also, the more you’ll recognize that a definite shift is underfoot, which I suspect will mitigate most of the dire prophecies currently wailing non-stop across the internet. (Sorry, Kathy, even the ones pertaining to global warming. I don’t think you’re going to win that one.)

    So, yes, enjoy yourself along the way. I am.

  • Resa you are right. I should stop readind dire prophesies and buck up. However if I did that I would have to stop reading some of Guy’s essays such as https://guymcpherson.com/2011/02/extinction-event/

    “Against this background, it is easy to foresee a rapidly and profoundly warming Arctic as a trigger for positive feedbacks such as release of methane hydrates and reduced albedo. These extremely dangerous feedbacks, which forecasters did not expect until the planet becomes 2 C warmer than the baseline (vs. the current level of ~0.75 C warmer), could trigger runaway greenhouse. In other words, any of these event — never mind all of them at once — could lead directly and quickly to the extinction of Homo sapiens.”

  • Kathy:

    Well, no, you wouldn’t have to stop reading Guy’s essays. I’m puzzled as to why you think one precludes the other. Seems narrow minded to me. I haven’t stopped reading his stuff.

    What you’d need to do is evaluate current data, and it’s becoming increasingly apparent that too many of those dire projections were based on poorly understood, out-of-date, and/or erroneous numbers. At the time, such predictions seemed plausible. With what we understand today, not so much.

    And yes, I’ve seen the weblinks you’ve posted to NBL. Unfortunately, when you dig deep into their sources you discover that those alarm notices tended to be forecast off of data with a “small probability within the 80% confidence level” which then morphed into “likely will happen” which then morphed into “will happen” which then morphed into “happening today.”

    There’s a lot we don’t know. Models are only as good as what we’re aware of. They can’t forecast unknown unknowns. Which yes, could throw us into global cooling or some other climate phenomenon.

    All I’m saying is that I suspect you’re in for a lengthy wait if you want global warming to take down the industrial civilization. Guy as well. There’s a small temperature increase, but not enough to do the job.

  • Resa, I participate on blogs where I have strong agreement with the blog owner. I just don’t understand why anyone wants to participate on a blog where they think the views of the blog owner are wrong. It mystifies me. I started blogging here precisely because I finally found someone who I thought was setting out the truth. I do not blog on climate denial sites. I do not blog on wimpy sites that act like the end of oil and climate change are little bitty things that are going to make life a bit more difficult. I am truly mystified.

    But I would appreciate if you would go back to that essay Guy wrote, tell me exactly what he has wrong. Check his links and debunk them. Please give a full account of what way Guy is incorrect on this matter. Maybe you can change his mind.

    BTW if I understand him right, Guy doesn’t think climate change is going to take down industrial civilization. He thinks the economy is going to collapse and with it industrial civilization. He hopes that is so because it just might save us from an extinction event. I am open to correction from Guy if I have that wrong. Besides the previous article I linked to you can also see this one https://guymcpherson.com/2011/03/the-ends-of-the-earth/ I don’t find that you commented on either one so perhaps you missed them.

  • Kathy C, you correctly interpreted my views. The only hope for avoiding runaway greenhouse, according abundant scientific literature, is completion of the ongoing collapse of the industrial economy. I’m optimistic enough to agree with the 75 or so people who think we’ll be done with this insane set of living arrangements by the end of this year. If they’re wrong, we’re all dead, and probably in less than a single human generation.

  • Kathy:

    Puzzled again. Why should only individuals who AGREE with one another participate on a blog? Again, that seems narrow minded. Certainly it’s not an expansion of the conversation. If all participants agree that the only good dog is a rat terrier then what becomes of the other breeds?

    I check out a variety of blogs because I’m interested in how others think and view the world. I may or may not agree with their assessment. That’s my prerogative.

    I certainly don’t have to buy into their words hook, line, and sinker. I can think things through for myself, and when I do, I often find inconsistencies. Not unlike the one you and Victor had concerning gifts. Yes, there are people who feel obligated to gift back and who suffer guilt when unable to do so. But there are also people (I’m not alone) who couldn’t give a flip about gifting back and still find the action annoying, particularly when presented with something useless. See what I added to the conversation? Another side to the picture.

    Personally I think Guy needs to update his database. Whether he does so or not is entirely up to him. I’m not his keeper.

  • Kathy: You’re correct about Guy’s view. He does say on page 155 of his book: “If we continue with business as usual, we likely are committed to a 4 C rise in average global temperature by mid-century. Such a profound and rapid rise in global temperature will reduce, to near zero, human habitat on Earth.”

    Guy: My apologies.

    I should have said (two posts back) that “All I’m saying is that I suspect you’re in for a lengthy wait if you want global warming to take down the HUMAN SPECIES. Guy as well. There’s a small temperature increase, but not enough to do the job.”

    Where I differ with Guy is with respect to his 4 C rise by mid-century.

  • Resa, I don’t mean to be ganging up on you, though somehow I think you can handle it just fine.

    That being said, call it “panic” if you like, but there is no refuting the perfect storm developing on our planet. I’ve mentioned here before (as you’ve pointed out earlier, I tend to repeat myself), there is amply documented proof that human population is growing exponentially. Already, using the best technology that humans can develop, we can’t feed the world’s population. Over the next few decades as that population continues to climb by 200 people every minute, feeding those hungry masses becomes technically impossible. When you combine that reality with global warming, peak oil, and depletion of fresh water, the outlook is quite grim for many billions of people.

    Above, you said: Also, the more you’ll recognize that a definite shift is underfoot, which I suspect will mitigate most of the dire prophecies currently wailing non-stop across the internet. Your smugness about your superior experience in the arena of preparation aside, I certainly would appreciate hearing more about this “definite shift”. I would love to know how a shift of any kind – short of collapse – will lead to there being billions less people to feed and support. I’m being serious and genuine in my request. I simply can see no plausible way off of this runaway train.

    I’ll concede that some seemingly miraculous new (or revamped old) technology may come along just in the nick of time to save us all from the destruction of energy resource depletion.

    I’ll also concede (though it pains me even to type these words) that all the learned climate scientists might be wrong and all the Fox new talking heads whose only qualification is a pretty face might be right and global warming really is just a fool’s errand.

    But, I’ll never concede that overshoot is just a theory and doesn’t happen in real life. Human beings are in overshoot. Whether we like it or not, we’re going down until we reach the point that nature is in equilibrium again. That’s the very definition of collapse.

    That’s not panicing – that’s simply a statement of fact.

  • The Real Dr. House:

    Don’t feel guilty about ganging up. We’re in the middle of another multi-inch drenching here, so a little debate is welcome, at least until the skies clear. After that you’re on your own.

    No smugness intended with my “a definite shift is underfoot, which I suspect will mitigate most of the dire prophecies currently wailing non-stop across the internet.” As stated in my previous post, give yourself a few years and you’ll see the signs as well. It really has little to do with “superior experience” and more to do with “awareness.” Once you’re engaged and have gone through the motions yourself, you’ll recognize those same motions in others.

    Also, you’re thinking too big, sort of like not seeing the trees for the forest. Dial it back a couple steps. The signs are happening at the individual level. You surely didn’t think the politicians were going to pull us through, did you?

    We’re absolutely in population overshoot and have been for some time. Where your and my outlook differs is in terms of a “perfect storm.” I’m not convinced one is brewing (except perhaps in movies and novels).

    Global warming is debatable. There’s as much evidence for it (actually less lately) as there is against it.

    Water is an issue, at least for irrigation. We already know how to make bad water potable. But irrigation is a little tougher. Breeding drought-tolerance into our major food crops is one course of action. Storing water when it’s plentiful is another. Both options are well underway. A co-worker of mine just returned to graduate school to complete her research in desalination, and we’ve got some big oceans out there, and if I listen to NBL, they’re rising more each year (although, admittedly, there’s much debate about by exactly how much).

    Peak oil is discussed ad nauseam, so I won’t go into that except to note that what’s becoming scarce is the light sweet. There’s still a fair bit of the heavy stuff around. And we all know how much remains of the other fossil fuels. That information is not difficult to find.

    I suspect agriculture (much to many NBLer’s chagrin) will rise to the occasion. At least for a while. There’s a tremendous effort in all facets of that arena, and some of the research is pretty darn ingenious. Who knows, it might be enough to pull us through our population peak and down the other side. (Shucks, that catastrophic bottleneck may never occur.)

    If there’s one thing I’ve discovered it’s that not much is required to keep a body going. It also takes a long time to die.

  • Resa,

    As for your position on Global Warming, that it is yet an undecided science, I would strongly disagree. Whilst it is a highly complex subject, the agreement among real climate scientists is almost universal. I would suggest that if you have not already done so (in your admittedly more open-minded views of things on the Internet), you should explore the Skeptical Science site:


    There you will find all the evidence you should need, especially as it concerns debunking the false arguments put in front of people by energy companies and billionaires to maintain the status quo.

    When you make such a statement, you are going up against virtually every scientific body of national or international standing. Some of these include:

    European Academy of Sciences and Arts
    International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
    Royal Society of the United Kingdom
    National Research Council (US)
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    American Chemical Society
    American Institute of Physics
    American Physical Society
    Australian Institute of Physics
    European Physical Society
    European Science Foundation
    Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies
    American Geophysical Union
    American Society of Agronomy
    Crop Science Society of America
    Soil Science Society of America
    European Federation of Geologists
    European Geosciences Union
    Geological Society of America
    Geological Society of London
    International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
    National Association of Geoscience Teachers
    American Meteorological Society
    Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
    Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
    Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
    World Meteorological Organization
    American Quaternary Association
    International Union for Quaternary Research
    American Institute of Biological Sciences
    American Society for Microbiology
    Australian Coral Reef Society
    Institute of Biology (UK
    Society of American Foresters

    To date (at least to my knowledge) only one professional organisation, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, has issued a statement rejecting anthropocentric global warming – a statement which it was later admitted did not represent the views of a large body of its members, who threatened to leave the organisation if it did not revise its policy statement to be more accommodating – which it subsequently did.

    Further, on an individual scientist level, in one study it was shown that 97–98% of the most published climate researchers say humans are causing global warming [Anderegg, William R L; James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider (2010). “Expert credibility in climate change”. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 107 (27): 12107–9. doi:10.1073/pnas.1003187107. PMC 2901439. PMID 20566872]. And in another [Doran, Peter T.; Maggie Kendall Zimmerman (January 20, 2009). “Examining the Scientific Consensus on Climate Change”. EOS 90 (3): 22–23], it was found that 97.4% of publishing climatologists and just under 90% of earth scientists, broadly construed, say that significant man made global warming is occurring. Of those who didn’t, most were unsure.

    Climate scientists study climate change. This is their field of expertise as opposed to other scientific disciplines. You should really listen to them if 97-98% of them agree on something. A person rejecting such overwhelming opinion is either sadly misinformed, grossly ignorant of the issues involved, in an extreme state of denial, just plain obstinate, or they really possess the evidence to the contrary.

    Where is your evidence to the contrary?

  • Resa, you said:
    I’m not sure that a reluctance to accept gifts can universally be attributed to “obligation” or feelings of “guilt.”

    Note the word ‘universal’ here. Could it be you were putting words in my mouth?

    And again:

    I certainly don’t have to buy into their words hook, line, and sinker. I can think things through for myself, and when I do, I often find inconsistencies. Not unlike the one you and Victor had concerning gifts.

    I hope you read the other sites you refer to in your statement about being open-minded with more care than you do this one. I never said or implied that there was only one kind of gift giver or one kind of gift receiver. The example I focussed in on was a more extreme one, not at all meant to imply ‘universality’. And I think my wording clearly indicates that. I plainly said that

    For many it is truly harder to ‘receive’ than to ‘give’ gifts. Indeed, some even resent receiving a gift if they don’t have anything to return – indeed, they can even be twisted with guilt even to the point of great resentment towards the giver if they cannot give something of value in return.

    NOTE: The expressions:

    ‘For many’ – in common vernacular, this usually means something like ‘some’, ‘many’, ‘not all’.

    ‘some even’ (the EXTREME case) – again, this in no way implies ‘all’, indeed not even ‘most’

    You in turn gave yourself as an example of another view on gift-giving, whilst making the false point about my position on gifts-giving as being ‘universal’.

    It is one thing having your own opinion on a subject under discussion. It is quite another to form an opinion for someone else.

  • Oh yeah Resa, I forgot that the glaciers are being melted by Al Gore and friends – they go out every night with blow torches just to make us think that the planet is actually warming. How could I forget that little inconvenient truth.

    Seriously tho, do you really think your assertions about global warming trump the vast majority of scientists that say we are warming and that it is human caused. You don’t think you even have to put forward some scientific proof to back up your assertions

    You still seem to misunderstand Guy. I don’t think he has ever put any timeline on the possible extinction of the human species via positive feedback effects of global warming. The 2012 date is tied to economic collapse which then might if we are lucky stop the industrial society from continuing to spew out more and more pollution, and that might prevent us from going into the positive feedback stage – scientists have found that in fact the climate in the past flipped sometimes in decades rather than centuries of millenia and positive feedback might do that, but not of course by 2012.

    And of course the problem at present with oil is the diminishing amount of sweet light crude. Of course there is plenty of other oil, but with lower EROEI’s and limits on flow rate. The lower ERoEI makes it necessary to use more fuel to obtain fuel leaving less for us humans to use for other activities. It also often puts more CO2 in the air just in extraction, not to mention all the other ways the extraction of such oil ruins the environment. Flow rate is crucial of course and the flow rate is stalled, even with high prices.

    Frankly I was stunned almost speechless when I read your comments this morning, but well speech returned.

  • Resa, your assertions notwithstanding, my awareness is fully intact. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean that somehow I’m not as aware as you. I gladly admit I don’t have as much experience as you, but that doesn’t give you awareness, just experience. It reminds me of an executive with whom I used to work. Whenever we would be in a meeting and I would disagree with her on something, she would always trot out the most maddening expression “from up here at the 30,000 foot level, I can see things differently”. That’s what I meant by smugness in my earlier post.

    I have taken great effort over the past two years to find people who are working toward a more durable lifestyle in my community. If anything, I’ve been shocked by the overwhelming lack of activity and awareness. And it’s not that I don’t see it, it’s simply not there, at least to any great degree. Oh sure, I’ve encountered the odd person or family who is raising their own livestock and working to reduce their dependence on oil, but at least in this part of the world, there is not a definite shift toward anything other than political conservatism.

    The point about population is that once someone is born, death is the only way to stop them from using resources. We are already at peak resources – energy per capita has been declining steadily for a number of years now, and each new person born reduces the amount available to everyone else. Even without the other issues swirling about, population is going to crash.

    Your comments about agriculture, oil, desalination, and global warming seem to me to indicate wishful thinking. I know of no facts which support your claims. I’ll be happy to look at any information you have to the contrary if you can supply them. Again, I’m being genuine – I welcome the opportunity to learn new information – even if it contradicts what I already know.

  • Resa

    As for peak oil, perhaps you misunderstand what that concept is all about. It has nothing to do with how much oil is in the ground, clean or not. It has everything to do with its quality, the ease with which we can access it and the production level possible in the face of global demand pressures. As sweet oil disappears from easily accessed areas, the world must then become dependant upon heavier grades of oil requiring more expensive equipment to access and refine, and the very real possibility of having to access this oil in places requiring huge investment and extremely high environmental risk.

    But not only the cost will increase, but also the production capability will become increasingly constrained as the super giant oil fields of old dry up. In a world of increasing demand due to population growth and the advancement of modern consumerism into the developing world, we will see major problems arise to meet those demands. With the old fields drying up, and far fewer fields begin found to replace them, total production will inevitably decrease irreversibly over time.

    This will eventually drive the cost of oil to stratospheric levels, destroying the foundations of modern civilisation.

    Also, you observation about desalination of seawater is valid except that it requires huge amounts of energy to run desalination plants, energy that in tomorrow’s world will be extremely expensive, likely making desalination less likely, not more likely.

    But even if we come up with a replacement for oil to provide endless, cheap energy and limitless desalinated water, we will still have problems in the next few decades as many non-renewable sources of critical natural resources disappear because of population overshoot.

    Carry the concept of ‘peakness’ to a broader scope – as an example, the production of phosphorus. Upon reaching ‘peak phosphorus’ (which some believe we have already achieved globally), we will see production limited and an increasing inability to meet global demand, accompanied by significantly rising prices as the cost of production goes up.

    In the end high population levels will result in ‘peak most everything’, thus leading to significant population destruction. This in turn will lead to a breakdown in the modern technological society as modern technology relies heavily upon huge numbers of producers and consumers to maintain the economies of scale necessary to maintain a high level of technology. If the technology breaks down, the rest of modern civilisation breaks down.

    When will all this happen? Who knows for certain? No one. But as you right say, you can feel a ‘definite shift is underfoot’, though not the shift you would anticipate. We are feeling the first indicators of a major breakdown of modern civilisation.

  • Victor:

    RE: “Whilst it is a highly complex subject, the agreement among real climate scientists is almost universal.”

    Nope. Not by a long shot. I will agree, however, that climate science is a highly complex subject, which is why there is not complete agreement among real climate scientists.

    RE: “When you make such a statement, you are going up against virtually every scientific body of national or international standing.”

    Endorsement by an organization does not imply consensus among its members.

    RE: “For many it is truly harder to ‘receive’ than to ‘give’ gifts. Indeed, some even resent receiving a gift if they don’t have anything to return – indeed, they can even be twisted with guilt even to the point of great resentment towards the giver if they cannot give something of value in return.”

    I’ll give you quibbling about wording here. And if I put words in your mouth, my apologies. That was not my intention. My point was simply to interject another reason why some people don’t care to receive gifts. Your reasons, “obligations” and “feelings of guilt,” have been brought up so many times before in previous threads that given enough time they tend to be perceived as the only reasons, which isn’t true. I’m sure there are additional reasons as well.

    On the bright side, at a minimum, you can now list three reasons the next time you discuss peoples’ reluctance to accept gifts.

  • Kathy:

    I don’t even know where to begin on your comments. Al Gore and friends with blow torches? Come on.

    I don’t believe I made any assertions about global warming other than to state that global warming is debatable and that there’s as much evidence for it as there is against it. In other words, no clear conclusion.

    Regarding Guy’s timeline on the possible extinction of the human species by global warming, review my comment at 8:53 last night. To wit: “on page 155 of his book: “If we continue with business as usual, we likely are committed to a 4 C rise in average global temperature by mid-century. Such a profound and rapid rise in global temperature will reduce, to near zero, human habitat on Earth.”

    The book I’m referring to is Guy’s “Walking Away From Empire: A Personal Journey.”

    Also, I fully understand the ERoEI of peak oil and its derivatives.

  • I’ve embedded below a short video clip of Bella and her triplets. The clip was shot a few hours after the kids were born at 11:30 p.m. on 13 March 2012.

  • re. resa (and millions of others) and agw (and millions of other topics): u can lead a dogmatist to knowledge, but u can’t make her think rationally.

  • Resa, if not Al Gore and blow torches, just what is accounting for the melting of the world’s glaciers other than warming. “From the Alps to the Andes, the world’s glaciers are retreating at an accelerated pace – despite the recent controversy over claims by the United Nations’ body of experts, leading climate scientists said today.” Can you imagine, the experts are still having a controversy over global warming and the glaciers have the nerve to just keep on melting, and melting faster each year. The nerve of those glaciers.

    And when is 2012 mid century. Thus he is not saying extinction level temps will happen in 2012, so one could conclude that other means might cause such collapse. Guy can again correct me if I am wrong but I do believe he thinks the economy will trigger the collapse of industrial civilization – maybe in time to prevent the 4 degrees mid century – maybe not. I hope it all collapses very very soon.

    And you clearly do not understand peak oil and ERoEI consequences. Assertion is good enough for you so I won’t bother explaining or documenting.

  • Resa,
    You said:
    Endorsement by an organization does not imply consensus among its members.

    You conveniently omitted my comment about the two studies that were done with individuals of the climate science field – 97-98% of individual scientists accept it, and the other where 97.4% accept it…..I call that ‘near universal’. Now if you want to quibble about the remaining 2-3%, that of course is your option.

    Also, I fully understand the ERoEI of peak oil and its derivatives.

    You don’t understand it or you wouldn’t have said what you said.

    global warming is debatable and that there’s as much evidence for it as there is against it.

    This is simply not true to my knowledge. Again, where is your evidence?

    On the bright side, at a minimum, you can now list three reasons the next time you discuss peoples’ reluctance to accept gifts.

    True, but I chose to list only one or two, one of which was an extreme case. If you wish to bring another forward to add to that, please do so, but don’t imply that my list is intended to be a universal list. If someone says I said something that I didn’t, then yes, I ‘quibble about words’, most assuredly… :-)

  • Guy

    Congratulations on becoming a father! Your ‘kids’ are beautiful!… :-)

  • u can lead a dogmatist to knowledge, but u can’t make her think rationally.


    I don’t believe Resa is a dogmatist’…I suspect she brings the same grief to the denier sites as well….she is more of a shit-stirrer…. :-)

  • Kathy:

    I have no idea why you keep bringing up 2012. I’ve never once mentioned that date in any of my comments to this thread.

    Please clarify.

  • The Real Dr. House:

    First off, I’m by no stretch at the 30,000 foot level. I’m in the trenches. Like you.

    Secondly, I said it had little to do with “superior experience.” Just because I’m what you refer to as “years ahead” doesn’t make me better (that’s your inference). It does give me a larger network to draw from, however. That’s where the awareness comes in.

    Give it time. You’ll get there.

    Regarding your other comments, I’ll have to get back with you later.

    I actually have to put in 8 hours of work today.

  • Resa, I brought up 2012 because that is the year that Guy believes that industrial civilization will collapse for reasons other than climate change. It is a hopeful date, for if right it might be soon enough to stave off extinction.

  • Resa, OMG you really have no idea how smug you sound because you keep doing it over and over. It doesn’t matter if you think you are not being smug, what matters is how you use words that portray smuggness. If you had said “I actually have to put in 8 hours of work today” to retired people like myself you would be making a valid point. But to Dr. House??????? He’s a practicing physician in case you forgot.

  • Guy, what beautiful healthy looking kids!!! Congrats

  • victor, a dogmatist is someone who doesn’t let facts interfere with beliefs. u can apologize all u want for resa, but the fact remains that she’s wrong, and will not change her views no matter how much contrary evidence is presented.

    authoritarian cultures thrive on dogmatism. some big shot, maybe napoleon, once said words to this affect: how fortunate for politicians that people don’t think (rationally).

    how unfortunate for gaia.

  • VT

    Was I apologising for Resa? How strange.

    On the other hand, you might have a point…. ;-)

  • Even the OECD is preaching gloom and doom – remarkable for an “economic” organization.


  • Truth in science is not determined by consensus. When Einstein was just gaining recognition, the Germans organized a group of about 200 scientists to criticize and reject Einstein’s theories. When Einstein was asked about this, he said that it would take just one scientist to prove him wrong.

    The further away we get from physics, the less exact the science. In the predictive sciences, especially those that refer to a time frame, the proof (or otherwise) has to be sought in the rear-view mirror. 

    That being stated, the following talk is a fairly comprehensive presentation of the “warming” point of view:

    The Brutal Logic of Climate Change

    The slides to the above talk, along with the audio

    or, the slides and references in pdf format

  • There are some who point out that the Internet rather than building community by bringing people of diverse opinions together, is actually contributing to fragmentation by allowing like-minded persons to segregate themselves into discrete cohorts. Since December 2009, even Google has adopted a practice of tailoring its search results to the queried: even when not logged in, customising the results according to a profile based on geographic location derived from the IP address and/or GPS data, type of browser, operating system, etc. 

    TED Talk –  Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles”

  • There is no question that there is A LOT of oil left in planet earth. Just as there is more gold in seawater than all the gold extracted and refined by humans in all of history. It is not likely that any of that seawater gold will ever be extracted: the effort (=expense) will not make it worthwhile. A similar situation applies to every non-renewable resource. It may be abundant while not plentiful. 

  • robin, truth in science is determined by evidence that is reproducible and virtually unassailable. when such evidence is complex and open to some interpretation, truth may be blurred, but i think it’s general outline can still be made out by intelligent reasonable sheople with re. to agw.

    i’m going to be a hypocrite dogmatist now by declaring i will present minimal to nil evidential references to support my claims in this and future matters. it’s become very clear: dogmatism is insanity is civilization, esp. industrial. dogmatism is instilled in school, church, and home. dogmatics live in a world of make believe, where faith trumps reality, and beliefs trump facts. we live in their world, under their dominance.

    i’m going to write as a dogmatist in making strong claims without evidence. for those inclined to disagree, for most no amount of evidence presented does any good. for those inclined to agree, most will already be familiar with the evidence.

    i’m sicntired of trying to reason with the unreasonable, and watching the efforts of others bear little if any fruit. there isn’t time to waste anymore arguing with closed minds immune to facts. better to be occupied with survival concerns/efforts and enjoying life in the moment, keeping in mind death doesn’t always give advance notice of it’s arrival.

  • the virgin terry

    I too have come to the conclusion that there is little point in reasoning with the unreasonable, which seems to be the majority of people. I’m often told I’m “too serious” and should just “lighten up.” I believe this boils down to one thing, an unwillingness to accept any information that might impact on their lifestyle. Of course the irony is their refusal to face reality is the very thing that will make the crash landing and lifestyle adjustment that much more severe. Ultimately people won’t change until they’re ready and it usually takes a crisis of some kind. Perhaps the looming crises are “the crises we need to have”. Most people seem to believe all of these problems are far away and will never come home to roost in their lifetime, or if they do they’ll be solved by market forces or technology. Of course, this is the same unreasonable line of thinking as more debt will solve the debt crisis. Market forces and technology are what got us here so how could more of the same possibly deliver a different result? Even if that’s true, it’s a pretty disgusting attitude. At the same time, our culture has done well to program people into believing they have no power to change the system and often circumstances prevent them from doing much. For the most part I think people are just happy to go along with it as long as it doesn’t cramp their style.

    On the other hand, I think there is benefit in discussing these issues with open minded folks that are capable of facing up to the realities of our perverted predicament. There are some people out there who can grasp the need to prepare themselves and it’s important they are exposed to the information. Like you, from now on when I can identify the unreasonable people I won’t waste my time. This realisation is depressing. Forgive them, for they know not what they do might be applicable here, if it weren’t for the obvious refusal to look at the facts when they’re presented.

  • Guy I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but I want to thank you for what you’re doing and encourage you to continue. I am so sick of the monkey trap and while I’m making moves to get out of it, there are financial obstacles that seem insurmountable. I quit my job in IT at the end of last year, a field I now regret having entered. Like so many others, my heart wanted to do something else but the cultural hooks were strong and pulled me in a different direction, this despite being intellectually aware of the concept that money doesn’t bring happiness. I guess I had to see for myself. We also moved out of Sydney to a much smaller area but still wonder if it wasn’t enough of a change. Land and house values are so high in Australia that we are forced to either rent, which provides little opportunity to choose durable living conditions, or enter into debt slavery, which would mean going back to a job I don’t enjoy to service that debt. I’ve been waiting for land values to fall given mortgage to income ratios are at all time highs, a process that seems to be slowly under way, but as you know all too well with your wait for collapse of industrial civilisation, it can be a true test of patience. Like Keynes said, the market can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent. The property culture in Australia is deeply imbedded, and there is a nasty widespread element of property ‘investment’ that takes advantage of goverment tax incentives like negative gearing and foreign investment which has driven prices to levels where an entire generation is either locked into debt slavery or locked out of home ownership due to unaffordability.

    In short, you’re lucky you can do what you are doing, when there are many out there who wish to but don’t have the means.

  • Well, I’m back, and for you, Kathy, smugness and all. It’s fortunate we don’t work together. You’d be forever in tears, and I’d be forever re-explaining my position.

    Of course I know the good doctor is a working physician. It’s in his moniker. Plus, he’s brought up patients several times as well as one time mentioned a visiting intern. My statement to him was just to let him know that I’d address his comments at a later hour, and that hour would be (at least) 8 hours down the road (well, actually 9 with a lunch break). I was being courteous. I could have left him hanging. In hindsight, perhaps I should have and then you wouldn’t have got all bent out of shape.

    TVT: To be wrong about something, I’d have to take a position. I’ve stated about three times now that whether or not global warming is happening on a catastrophic scale is debatable. Which it is.

    I’m neither pro global warming nor against it. The science isn’t conclusive. In another ten years, if temperatures stay the way they have since 1998 then it may be possible to put the issue to rest. I won’t be the one doing so, however. In the meanwhile dire prophesies will continue to circulate the web as front page news because readers (clearly) eat that stuff up.


    Reality is, average global temperatures since 1998 don’t support any of the four IPCC projected assessments, which is what I believe Guy is basing his forecasts upon (correct me if I’m wrong, Guy), and which (for Victor) is my evidence to the contrary.

    Check out the HADCRUT3 data from the Hadley Center in Great Britain (a pro-global warming institution) and generate current graphs for global ocean heat content and global surface temperature. Both indicate that global temperatures have been flat to down since they peaked in 1998. The global January 2012 data, in fact, indicates a global cooling of (minus) -0.09 degrees C, which is below normal.

    Of course, one month doesn’t indicate a trend, neither does a short stretch of 12 years, which is why we have to wait a few more years before anyone can submit with reasonable confidence that catastrophic global warming is not occurring. I will NOT be the one making that call.

    I’m merely pointing out that current global temperatures are NOT supporting any of the IPPC model assessments at this time. If they were (based on the latest IPPC 2007 projection), we’d be between 0.5 and 0.8 C degrees warmer than we currently are. We’re not. We’re about 0.25 C degrees warmer, which is why I originally stated to Kathy and Guy that I suspected they’d be in for a lengthy wait if they were counting on catastrophic Global Warming to extinguish the human race.

    Our current (real life) temperature readings aren’t working in their favor. That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some warming. There has, just not enough to finish the job.

    Since 2007, only 16% of months have fallen within the IPCC 2007 projected temperature range. To validate that model, 95% of months should have hit. All of the misses, btw, were on the cold side.

    Will the current trend continue? No one knows with certainty although more models can be run to take a stab at predicting what MAY lie ahead.


    I quibble about words as well, so I understand your angst and offer the following op-ed weblink as a peace offering. It’s from some of those climate scientists who (apparently) weren’t included in the 97% pro group you referenced. There are an additional two weblinks at the top of the article that you can also peruse: one pro and one con. It’s (unfortunately) climate scientist pitted against climate scientist. Sorry about that.


    Which brings me back to The Real Dr House:

    My apologies, but I must put you off once again. I’d say that I *actually* need some sleep, but I don’t want to put another crick in Kathy’s physique and be accused of not realizing you’re a working physician who similarly needs his sleep. So, shhh, let’s keep the above between us.

  • ‘ global warming is debatable and that there’s as much evidence for it as there is against it’ -resa, 7:28 am.

    ‘TVT: To be wrong about something, I’d have to take a position. I’ve stated about three times now that whether or not global warming is happening on a catastrophic scale is debatable’ -resa, 14 hours later

    compare the 2 remarks. notice in the second resa hedges her position, inserting the qualifier ‘on a catastrophic scale’, something she didn’t include in the first statement. she’s moving the goalposts. of course, that first statement is taking a position which is dogmatic denier bs. by adding the qualifier she hopes to make her position appear more tenable, for current agw effects, while sometimes severe, fall short of globally catastrophic. however there’s no reasonable debate about whether agw is happening and of great concern, only cussedly dogged dogmatic denial and obfuscation from those who wish to believe otherwise. so ok, resa, u win. exxon mobil wins, the establishment wins, dogmatists everywhere rejoice. u have your heroes, your deniers, your go-to con-artists selling bs to the hungry masses yearning to believe it’s all a tree hugger hoax. u’ll believe what u want to believe, and quote bs to back your claims. i have better things to do.

  • Tree hugger. Hmm. Giver. Been both all life. And in both it wasn’t easy to learn how to survive in the present environment in doing so, but stop in time to simply survive. As a matter of perspective, was surely given more than was ever able to give, still working on it though :-)

    Gifts. Does anyone know who posted the following link, some time October, November 2011 here on NBL?

    It was a gift, thank you to the (still) unknown giver.

  • A correction:

    The sense of Community is the MUTUALLY felt sense of obligation. Because of its mutuality it is not onerous. Social capital, on the other hand, is one-sided: an attempt to isolate one the two inseparable faces of the coin of Community.

    The sense of community has to be nurtured from the cradle for it to take root and flourish. Its absence as prevalent  in the milieu of today’s industrial “civilization” is to be expected.  

    Because of that absence, gifts are so often perceived by the recipient to be attempts at imposition by someone seeking to garner social capital, rather than as an affirmation that strengthens Community. By the same token, the appropriateness of the gift rests on the donor’s perception of the recipient’s needs. 

    Those who are averse to the use of force but fail to incorporate into their systems the sense of community, have to resort instead to such forms as “The Social Contract”. Such forms fail as a substitute as they cannot even approach the visceral profundity of the sense of Community. As a consequence, the forms end up being a rubric concealing that very gun that they sought to avoid in the first place.

    robin, truth in science is determined by evidence that is reproducible and virtually unassailable.

    The chief characteristic which distinguishes a scientific method of inquiry from other methods of acquiring knowledge is that scientists seek to let reality speak for itself, and contradict their theories about it when those theories are incorrect, i. e., falsifiability.

  • Ah Resa, too bad you missed the opportunity of having me work for you. I was such a good employee that every job I left they filled with two people, once with three.

    To convey the meaning you now say you intend “I actually have to put in 8 hours of work today.” would be clear if you said “Sorry I can’t respond any more now, I am off to work, back later.” Perhaps you thought you would have me in tears all the time because you have others in tears all the time. If you do perhaps you need a course in communication skills.

  • Justin, I can relate to several of your comments. The vicious property-debt-income-payments circle we’ve created is, in fact, vicious. I, and I’m sure many others here, share your frustration. I would love to close my clinic with multiple employees and lots of other expenses and just work my garden and tend my animals and limit my doctoring to those people who show up at my house. But, I still owe too much money on my home and education to take such action. Perhaps I’m romanticizing a way of life that will never return. But, for now, I can dream.

    With respect to your earlier post: I too have come to the conclusion that there is little point in reasoning with the unreasonable, which seems to be the majority of people.

    I agree, even though I still try to talk with people from time to time about why I live the way I do (I can’t seem to help myself). But there is an underlying truth which is influencing this process. We can talk about “sustainability” (see Guy’s article above on the misuse of that word) or durability. We can talk about growing our own food and reducing our carbon footprint. We can talk about not buying items made more than 100 miles from our homes. We can talk about solar power cells (or even eCat machines). But, the fact is, the only solution to virtually all of the problems we discuss here on this site is the reduction of human population by at least 5 billion, and most likely 6.5 billion. For those 6.5 billion, that is no solution at all. It’s the end.

    How do argue that point? How do you convince the world that the only solution is to eliminate 13 out of every 14 people? Based on the current rhetoric, a major part of the political class seems to think that our solutions lie in preventing abortions and making birth control illegal – exactly the opposite!

    I doubt the average person on the street could articulate this problem unless they’ve already been thinking about it, but I believe it plays at least a small part in why people are so resistant to changing their current way of living.

    So, we’ll just keep going fighting over the scraps remaining until we crash – violently.

    To be fair, I admit that I am not willing to be part of the solution (one of the 13 out of 14 who dies soon). Survival is too deeply ingrained in me. So, I’ll be one of those fighting to the very end.

    – Resa, lest you think I’m panicking, just stating the facts as I see them. :-)

  • Resa,

    You’ve misread the data.

    Michael Irving

  • According to a recent too-conservative assessment by conservative scientists with the OECD: “Carbon emissions from energy use are likely to rise by 70 percent by 2050, ‘locking in’ more disruptive climate change. On present trends, the world’s average temperature will be 3-6 degrees Celsius (5.4-10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) higher than in pre-industrial times, compared with the UN’s target of 2 C (3.6 F).” The original report is linked here.

    Business as usual is an unmitigated disaster for the living planet, including the humans that depend on Earth. And yet, sadly, most people I know want to keep it going.

  • Two works that take the certainty out of scientific certainty are the chapter on weather and climate prediction in James Gleick’s book Chaos, and The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge at the End of the Scientific Age, by John Horgan. The latter is especially valuable for anyone wanting a reasonable explanation of those thinkers, like Paul Feyerabend and Thomas Kuhn, who logically question the foundations and limitations of the scientific method. It’s hard not to come away from Horgan’s book convinced that every scientific study will miss crucial variables, and every set of study parameters will argue against extrapolation.

    [Like particle physics, the study of how we know what we know turns out to rest on the same sort of credulity that keeps organized religion going. Science noir at its darkest.]

    The implication is that climate change models will always generate skeptics, and that skepticism will be used to create policy inertia by the people who are profiting from the status quo. Or, to move the discussion toward the literal:

    Something is happening here
    But you don’t know what it is
    Do you, Mr. Jones?

  • Already, Thoreau’s tables of flowering dates from 1840s Massachusetts show temperature has risen 2.4 C. Nothing to see here. Party on as the world burns. Or, according to some, cools.

  • Up to 40 degrees F. above normal in the plains today. EF2 tornado yesterday in Michigan. Most enjoying early spring. Let’s wait to see what summer brings before we celebrate.

  • Curtis, yes the majority of the US is at least 15 degrees above normal – you are getting even more unseasonable weather than we are! Just thought maybe I should check the asparagus beds – usually they start sprouting in April. Sure enough the first sprouts are up. Yummy surprise, but this early heat is worrisome. Not sure how my spring crops will do – I started putting them in earlier but perhaps not early enough. Since the weather is being rather chaotic I am hoping our summer is not likewise well above normal. But the more chaotic the weather becomes the harder it gets for farmers to plant. Large mono cultures are particularly vulnerable I would think.

  • Victor is experiencing difficulty posting from his computer and asked if I would post this for him


    You have dragged out the old over-used ‘1998 was the hottest year and since then global warming has stopped argument’ This was debunked long ago. You make the mistake of considering a very narrow band of years to assess what is in reality a very long-term issue. See:


    Further you give reference to the WSJ letter. If you had kept on top of that, you would have discovered that there was at least one reply to that letter. See:


    What you are going to find is that your so-called scientists writing the WSJ letter, left out a particularly important piece of ANY scientific analysis – the error bar. Every study, every measurement has an error range associated with it. When you include the error bar on the graph shown by the letter writers, you get a much more important piece of information – the projected v the actual data fall within the error bar! As the response to that letter indicates, these ‘scientists’ made a fatal, and quite unforgivable, error in not including the error bar on their graph.

    Nearly all arguments I have read by skeptics to the AGW concept have proven under close analysis to be serious misrepresentations of data. And people like you, who think they are being objective, eat it up. Well, put quite simply, you…and them…are simply ….wrong.

  • Kathy:

    We are visting our son and daughter-in-law in SoCal for the next 2 weeks. Wom’t start my garden until we get back.

    I know Guy is anticipating economic collapse, but even he may be surprised by this midwest summer. Severe heat waves, drought, and many powerful tornadoes, could wreck havock.

    Of course Rush Gasbag and his following will blame it all om the liberals.

  • Of course Rush Gasbag and his following will blame it all om the liberals.

    And of course, the sluts…. ;-)

  • Any forecast model will generate skeptics. That’s reality.

    As stated previously, I’m neither for nor against global warming. I adapt either direction. I must admit, however, that now is definitely the time to take advantage of “green” or “renewable” or “sustainable” living conditions. The rebates, credits, incentives, and grants are fantastic. It’s big business to say the least, and if you do your homework appropriately, you’ll incur little to no out-of-pocket expenses. (Thank you, IPCC models!)

    The Real Dr. House: I’m glad you’re not panicking. (Not that I was worried.) (You have time.)

    Michael Irving: Perhaps. I’m only human after all.

    Kathy: I work with a tough bunch of people. There isn’t a tear shedder in the bunch. Odds are, they’d take you down before I’d have a chance.

    Guy: (sigh) I’d hoped to see more than just another model behind that report you linked to. (Seriously) (Yes, I mean seriously) On the bright side, we still have economic collapse to fall back on. BTW: I appreciate your essays. I just don’t agree with everything you speculate may happen. If it does, however, feel free to tell me you’d warned me so. I don’t argue with facts.

  • To be clear, Resa, I no longer make predictions about climate change. But I agree with the abundant and increasing evidence, all of which points in one direction. The latest paper to which I linked is based on empirical data, not models. But the combination of data and models is overwhelming at this point. We might have been able to avoid runaway greenhouse when Tim Garrett wrote his under-appreciated paper, or even when it was published a year or two later, but I suspect it’s too late now.

    Meanwhile, the consequences of human activity are draining the world’s rivers before they reach the oceans. Or maybe that’s just coincidence, although even ABC “News” is taking notice of the weirdness.

  • Resa

    You are correct that models are not predictive in the narrow sense of that word; i.e., they can’t tell exactly when CO2 will build up to exactly 450 ppm. But they are getting better each year as more is learned about the earth and its processes. They are also used to ‘backcast’ data; that is, to see if historical data fed to the model will result in a “forecast” back in time. The closer you can relate to history, obviously, the closer you can expect your model to forecast future trends, within acceptable margins of error.

    Unfortunately, what scientists are finding is that their models are too conservative for the most part. Global warming is taking pplace at a much faster rate that past modelling would indicate that it should. Not slower. Faster. Melting Ice. Melting tundra. Methane releases. Ocean acidification. Deforestation. Loss of biodiversity. You name it. It is all happening faster than we expected, or our models predicted. So if there is a serious shortcoming to our models, it is that we just don’t know enough to get them to model the speed at which processes are changing, year after year.

    From a risk management standpoint, this should be a clear warning to us to take some kind of mitigating action as quickly as possible – economy be damned. We should no longer be taking the time argue these points. They are no longer academic. And speaking of risk management (which is really what this is all about!), watch the following vid entitled, The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See:

    After watching that vid, please tell me why it would not make sense to take this stuff seriously NOW even thought there exists a chance we might be wrong?

  • The weird weather, the draining of the world’s water, all require energy to attempt to address. And this comes at a time when the world’s total energy is on a plateau, but actually dropping due to more energy being required just in the getting of those energy sources. So much for the possibility of economic growth to get us out of the financial situation we are in.

    And then this Brent At $126 As Israel Security Cabinet Votes 8 To 6 To Attack Iran http://www.zerohedge.com/news/brent-126-israel-cabinet-votes-8-6-attack-iran

  • kathy et.al., the demonstrated long term insanity of our species is probably the great unknown factor in how collapse will play out. the usa leadership and it’s close allies like israel seem to be on a long trend of military belligerance. in a world of drastically declining resources, to say this does not bode well is a dramatic understatement.

    world leaders aren’t even acknowledging publically things like declining resources or eco collapse. without acknowledging the existence of a problem, what’s the likelihood that it can be dealt with in an intelligent cooperative manner? what’s the alternative? resource wars and gaia only knows what else, which will serve to greatly accelerate collapse.

    victor, in spite of my previous words i’m glad u’re taking the time to try to educate resa. i can no longer read what the dogmatically clueless have to say without becoming unduly upset, so i must refrain.

    guy, thanks for the link to the garrett article. i’m sure i read it before, but it was still a great reminder of the critical importance of energy economically, very provocative. i disagree sharply however in a trifling way with the author’s hopeless deterministic outlook:

    “Ultimately, it’s not clear that policy decisions have the capacity to change the future course of civilization.” -garrett

    of course ‘policy decisions’ can alter civilization, but the point is moot. like most ‘doomers’, garrett doesn’t even begin to address the underlying problem of insane culture and the apparently fatal incurable disease of dogmatism it breeds. asinine ‘policy decisions’, past, present, and future, spell doom, the fruit of dogmatism.

  • More on Guy’s reference to the OECD report claiming a temperature average of 3-6 degrees increase globally.