What are we fighting for?

In my latest essay in this space I mentioned two phenomena worth fighting for: the living planet and freedom based in anarchy. I surrender. I no longer believe the struggle matters on either front.

I no longer think we’ll save the remaining shards of the living planet beyond another human generation. We’ll destroy every — or nearly every — species on Earth when the positive feedbacks associated with climate change come seriously into play (and I’ve not previously considered the increasingly dire prospects of methane release from Antarctica or the wildfire-induced release of carbon from Siberian peat bogs).

The climate-change data, models, and assessments keep coming at us, like waves crashing on a rocky, indifferent beach. The worst drought in 800 years in the western United States is met by levels of societal ignorance and political silence I’ve come to expect. I would be stunned if this valley — or any other area in the interior of a northern-hemisphere continent — will provide habitat for humans five years from now. And climate change is only part of the story.

My trademark optimism vanishes when I realize that, in addition to climate chaos, we’re on the verge of tacking on ionizing radiation from the world’s 444 nuclear power plants. Let’s ignore for now the radioactive waste we’ve left lying around without a plan or already dumped into the world’s oceans. When we choke on our own poison, we’ll be taking the whole ship down with us, spewing a global blanket of radiation in the wake of collapse. Can we kill every single species on Earth? Apparently we’re willing to give it a try, and I will not be surprised by our “success” at this omnicidal endeavor.

Onto anarchy. Few people understand what it is, and even fewer support it. As a product of cultural conditioning, the typical American confuses anarchy with terrorism. Considering the near-term exit of Homo sapiens from this planet, it seems a bit ridiculous of me to express concern about living outside the absurdity that has become mainstream.

Color me non-judgmental. Continue to fuck the planet and our future, and see if I give a damn. Actually, saying we fucked the future without offering so much as a kiss, as I wrote back in January, is an insult to four-letter words everywhere. Minor efforts to sound the alarm, including my own, fade to insignificance when compared to the juggernaut of global imperialism. These efforts have long been irrelevant; it’s my awakening that is new.

And color me sad, of course, at the societal path we’ve taken. Swept up in the pursuit of more instead of better, we’ve become the waves approaching the rocky shore.

We had an opportunity to return to our tribal roots, as others have done when civilizations collapsed. Consider, for example, the survivors from the Olmec, Chaco, and Mimbres cultures, all of whom chose tribalism when civilization failed. Tribalism worked for two million years in a diverse array of situations. It worked before and after civilizations arose in specific regions. For many decades, our version of civilization has been successful only for a few individuals of one species, yet we keep tinkering with the system long after it’s failed.

Despite considerable evidence to the contrary, we’ve come to believe industrial civilization is the only way to live. As we’ll soon discover, it’s the only way to die, at least at the level of our species.

Inspired by Kurt Vonnegut’s eponymous poem, I offer the following requiem for Earth.

If Earth could sing with a female voice.
Her strength would be evident, though her tone might waver.

Could she withhold judgment against one of her own,
through all we’ve done to her, and our brethren?

We lived in her bosom from which we were born
for two million years not forsaking our home.

Then we became something different from all we had known,
and in the gasp of a breath we destroyed it all.

Can you blame her for judging us, considering what we’ve done?
She gave us every chance to turn it around.

Now we’re all done and she’s endured our abuse,
including pillage, plunder, and rape without any excuse.

All she can sing in that mournful tone is sorrow for the power she unleashed,
through us and thus dispassionately onto herself, destroyed by one of her own.

She must ponder how our hubris overwhelmed our humility
in concluding about our recent selves: They didn’t like it here.


This essay is permalinked at Seemorerocks and Island Breath.

Comments 269

  • Seems like many of the most aware, most empathic, most real, most honest, most hopeful, most integrous (my created adjectival form of integrity!) people I know are coming to this same state of mind, Guy…

    I really dont know what to do, where to place my focus and efforts any longer EXCEPT to keep planting seeds in a last Quixotic hope that a miracle will turn all of this around, and/also that the seeds will sprout/grow in the aftermath, and to try to find a way to cushion the experience of this Mad-Maxian future for my youngster…

  • “I do not dine on the mind-numbing carrion of hope.” — Kirkpatrick Sale

    I do, though. Hope may be mind-numbing and an insidious poison, but I can’t help but indulge. I know I shouldn’t but I do.

  • I am resolved to eat, drink, and not marry. another thing I’ve changed my mind about is fossil fuels. I use them with abandon, now that I realize that the sooner they are gone the better. I also use solar and live below my means to conserve money. But before I understood the problem, I stayed home to avoid using fuel and now I am driving around enjoying the beauty of this place while I still can.

    I had to give up the doomer demeanor to hang on to any shred of sanity.

  • Like Sheilah, I’m seeing and hearing the same chorus of resignation. And I’m starting to hum that tune myself. Not much left to do but party our way out of existence.

    When Hawking wrote about our chances of answering the big questions (unified theory and all that) he threw in a comment about “if we don’t blow our selves up first” (or words to that effect) — I didn’t understand what he was talking about – the Soviet Union was gone and the middle east isn’t really a match for the US – what’s the problem? Perhaps this is more what he had in mind.

    There’s an SPCA benefit dance (rave) tonight in Auckland – great local DJ’s playing my favourite trance anthems. Who knows, I might even smoke some of that marijuana stuff like back in the day.

    I’ll be thinking of you, and all the warriors who tried to turn in around. Perhaps we were too good, too kind, too trusting. Perhaps the Klingons had it right after all.

    I’ll write again and catch up with you on the other side when it’s all over.

    – Deck

  • In Douglas Adams novel, the dolphins left with a note “so long and thanks for all the fish.” Unfortunately no species will get to leave. But we can take what time is left to enjoy whatever is left for as long as it is left.

    Right now that means maypops!

    Meanwhile, so no more humans have to go through the crash than are already destined to do so, if you are fertile get a tubal or vasectomy while you can.

  • I almost agree with you. I have almost lost all hope, except for the last glimmer of hope that i still hold onto, not because im foolish, at least i hope not, but because i think there is actually a chance to bring industrialized civilization down. If we work hard enough, with all we have, in an organized political resistance, we might just have a chance.


    With the understanding that despair is necessary,


  • Thanks Guy,
    We must all deal with death, which should be the easy part, obscured as it is by our culture.
    The specter of suffering through acute want, privation, stripped bare of industrial society and all that it protects and clothes us with daily is an insurmountable task to all but a few. Those who already live that way, on the edges of society, may react most quickly, and with violence.
    Those of us who would weather this for even months or years, will have to completely change lifestyle, and probably location, just to skip the Rwanda stuff.
    Fortunately, it is the same task as living more sustainably, more lightly, more thoughtfully, more communally, more humanly. It takes some free resources to break out, and skills, and pioneer-attitude, and “farm smarts”. Community is crucial, not just ammo, food, water and fuel.
    Now is the opportune time, and it is passing before our eyes. Awareness of the problems, and opportunity to work-around them, are an inverse function for society.
    Forced awareness approaches.

  • I have also noticed that I seem to have given up hope of anything changing. I have not made the super-human efforts that you have – but I have not been idle.
    But there are so many who absolutely refuse to take this very real and devastating situation seriously. Instead they argue about religion, abortion, homosexuality… and can you believe the statements about “not getting pregnant with rape”!!!!
    With our “leaders” having that type of stupidity in their belief systems – how in the world can we expect to help them realize the direness of climate change and nuclear contamination… the effects of fracking on water – the consequences of GMO and pesticides on our foods…etc.
    I’m caught in an economic situation that limits me and what I “can” do right now… but I am working my out of it. If I live long enough … I want to incorporate myself into a saner community of like minded people where maybe I can live the last years of my life in a more sustainable fashion.
    I watch the shows about what “new inventions” are coming and allow myself to think about a technical future … and then I shake my head at myself for “believing” in this technical future when I am also aware of how unlikely it is to actually happen… cognitive dissonance :)
    I seem to make a lot of “Well maybe “IF”….” statements – lol
    I believe that is also called denial
    It is as if I live in two separate realities sometimes

  • What a sane, if sad, voice in the Wilderness! I’m up to page 167 of Walking Away From Empire….and as ye might guess, even the few friends I can talk seriously with now ponder whether my naturally mad, Outsider tendencies are teetering perilously close to the edge. As if we aren’t all in at the despairingly drawn-out death…. It’s all so damnably sad.

    Nothing left but to gather together; to be the very best we can; to give everything we have to give; to speak our beliefs to empathetic ears; to love and nurture all the living things we cross paths with….a daily goal!
    I love your writing, Guy, and not only because it makes me feel less alone, in my own wilderness….but that does help!

  • Guy, I waiver a lot on this topic – I suspect that comes through in some of my posts. I don’t waiver about our eventual outcome – I’m pretty certain about that – but rather I waiver about what to do in the meantime. On one hand, I know that my sole actions mean nothing. Similar to the brief foray we made in the previous discussion about whether one vote matters; in the grand scheme of things, my actions mean nothing.

    On the other hand, my actions mean everything to me. Even if they are completely futile, my actions are an expression of who I am as a person. I realize that implies that I, too, am a mere dot in the cosmic fabric but that’s okay because it’s true. The cosmos would be no different whether I ever existed or not. To me, that doesn’t matter. I am here, right now.

    So, ultimately, I will keep doing what I feel is right for me to do at that moment. Some days that may mean that I, as Rita said, use fossil fuels to abandon, other days I may live as simply as a Tibetan monk.

    Mostly, I plan to continue living life to the fullest, spending time with my family, loving my animals, continue connecting with the natural world while it’s still here, and trying to be as happy as one can be when one possesses The Knowledge.

  • “I surrender. Much to my chagrin,
    This fight is one I cannot win;
    My awakening’s new:
    We’re really all through.”
    “Now vee may perhaps to begin?”

    H/T: Philip Roth

  • Breathe more easily about the methane release – it may not happen for decades, long after everything else has gotten beyond the point of no return. As the note says “not a game changer.”

    “Methane Game Upgrade” – Real Climate

    “But the general response time of the system is slow, decades to centuries, rather than potentially poised to release a huge pulse of methane within a few years…

    Walter Anthony et al (2012) have made a major contribution to the picture of methane emissions from thawing Arctic regions. Not a game-changer exactly, but definitely a graphics upgrade, bringing the game to life in stunningly higher resolution (/joke).”

  • Let’s take one step at the time, let’s make it through economic collapse and energy shortage first trying to enjoy the downgrade on necessities and living a holistic and simple life, and then if all the species don’t survive climate change and nuclear apocalypse so be it. Probably earth has some million years to go still and it will be capable of hosting new species.
    I’m so glad I don’t have children though.

  • I absolutely agree with you, Guy, and believe that it’s not possible to avoid the certain outcomes you name even if the economic crash happened immediately. How ludicrous that it doesn’t since it is wholly supported by fantasy, and that the current ongoing collapse of arctic sea ice is met mainly by excitement over the prospect of more intense drilling for oil. Where I disagree is on the topic of what we should do now, and I’m firmly in the camp of continuing to do what we know is right, including conserving energy, not as a fight or in the hope of “winning” anything external to ourselves, but because doing what’s right is peaceful and enjoyable. My personal goal is to let go of anger and make more room in my psyche for the pleasure of watching seeds germinate and take hold, and thinking about how to best bring my garden into harmony with what we are pleased to call nature. I welcome others in this, but won’t be trying to change anyone’s mind.

  • Len Conly, we’ve triggered five positive-feedback events, any one of which leads to near-term human extinction. Each of the five has been reported in the refereed journal literature, as a quick search will reveal: reduction of Arctic sea ice, rapid decomposition of boreal peat, release of Siberian methane, release of ocean methane hydrates, and the drought in the Amazon basin.

  • Guy, yes and if I am not mistaken the cyclones that hit the Arctic this August were unexpectedly strong and added to the break up of the sea ice

  • @Sandi: I wouldn’t call Guy a quitter. In fact, he is
    accepting speaking engagements in 2015 in overseas locations (burn that jet fuel, baby!). Is that encouraging or what?

  • So in one week you go from
    “That our species is headed for near-term extinction is no excuse to throw in the towel. Resistance is fertile, and there is still plenty to fight for. Coming immediately to my mind: the living planet and freedom based in anarchy.”
    to surrendering? I understand the despair, but why the sudden turnaround? Sorry, but i cannot see any reason for going on living if you don’t plan on fighting. Surrendering is exactly what the-powers-that-be would have us do, that’s what their entire enforcement machine is about, from the military and police ranks to the propaganda system of advertising which Goebbles could only dream about to the “education” system. Maybe further struggle is futile, but i for one would not be able to look at the mirror if i stopped struggling. I will make THEM take me down, and will not go easily into the dark night. It’s not a matter of hope, but of INTEGRITY.

  • I hate cars, but “Drive” is my favorite movie. Like the movie, our situation is hopeless, but all you can do is hang onto your integrity and get ready for a very chaotic ride.

  • Jeff S., you’re hardly the first to suggest I kill myself. Please take your plea to an imperialist. There are a few billion to choose from, and I’m not one.

  • i’ve been reading richard reese’s book titled WHAT IS SUSTAINABLE, in which he recommends keeping urine separate from feces, diluting it with water, and adding that directly to the garden. he says that bacteria in feces breaks down the urine, causing much of the nitrogen nutrient to be lost. i’m looking for feedback on this info/advice, including how much the urine should be diluted with water. thanks. (haven’t yet read guy’s latest essay, so no comment on it at this point)

  • I just heard this on the radio:

    “Labor Day weekend is going to be nothing but beautiful with plenty of sunshine and great savings on appliances and other consumer goods…”

    If you can afford one, I’ve heard they are on sale now. Buy One, Get One Free!

  • “Jeff S., you’re hardly the first to suggest I kill myself. Please take your plea to an imperialist. There are a few billion to choose from, and I’m not one.”

    EH? I was strictly speaking in terms of myself. Why the hell would i want YOU to kill yourself? You’re one of the few people who is doing anything in terms of casting light on this really dirty picture. Sorry if you took what i said in terms of my feelings about my own manner of living as a suggestion to you. I admit what i said could be read that way, since i used “you” (“if you don’t plan on fighting”), but i totally meant it in a generic, abstract way (i.e. like saying “if one doesn’t……”), not as directed at you specifically. I’ve had friends commit suicide, it’s not something i wish upon ANYONE, least of all those who are or have been doing something.

  • Kathy C: Yes, that’s quite a picture of a cyclone over the Arctic. Paul Beckwith noted that the previous cyclone managed to spin around the entire ice sheet of the Arctic, breaking off pieces as it turned. This one might do the same. These storms bring up salty and warm water from far below the surface and hasten the melting. As Beckwith said, “All Hell breaks loose.”

    We see now that it won’t matter whether civilization collapses next week and all emissions shut down – the tipping point has been reached. It makes me very sad that all the other species will perish when we do, but it doesn’t make me sad that all people will die. I’ve spent so much of my life trying to do something about torture, war, rape, lies, poverty, racism, oppression, etc. but now I see that all of that will end when the species dies and takes its faulty DNA with it. I don’t have to cry anymore. We had conciousness, but we misused it, so now it will be taken away. I’ve had a good life but I didn’t want it because so many people in the world had bad lives. So I tried to use my privileged position to publish and teach and make a difference, but I really think in my heart I knew I wasn’t changing a damn thing. Fuck, now I’m crying again.

    The onions know. I went out there this morning and half the plants have thrown down their tops, now lying on the ground. I look up at the steep mountainside behind my house, covered with Douglas fir trees. I know soon there will be a fire storm that takes them all down. We had a preview in ’03 when a lot of B.C. burned and the flames made it to within a few kilometres of our house. Next time our house will go down, too. We could go into the root cellar dug into the mountain and wait it out, but what would we see when we emerge from the cool stacks of home canned food? A black spot where the woodshed and house used to be? By that time there will be no insurance, no rebuilding. Will my beloved wood cookstove survive? Will my peonies come up again? Will all the neighbours be dead? Will we still have the guns and ammo to hunt deer and bear? Will all the animals be dead? What will we do – camp in the ruins until the food runs out?

    My end will be appropriate, I’m sure. It will be a unique death as it was a unique life. Soon over. I have one more class to teach this fall. Oddly enough – Climate Change and Health. I worked for two years to get the approval to teach this course. What do I do – tell them the truth? I’m sure I’d break down standing right in front of the white board. I don’t know what do do. I’m at a loss.

  • Jeff S., all of us die. It’s just a matter of when and how. We never get a choice about if we die, and rarely the when and how.

    If you were on an airplane and the engines fell off, what good would it do to start flapping your arms, or telling the pilot to fly harder, or making impassioned speeches trying to motivate the other passengers to do something? No matter what, you’d still splat the same way that everyone else did. The only difference would be that you would spend your last few moments of life trying to postpone the inevitable instead of using that time to appreciate and reflect on the life you had. Would either action make any difference to the outcome? Nope. And after everyone was dead it wouldn’t make any difference to them either. So the only thing that matters is what a person experiences during the time he or she is living.

    However each of us chooses to spend our few remaining moments of life is our own personal choice. Whether Guy chooses to fight or forage, it’s his choice, whether I like it or not. Same for you. Same for me.

    You said: Surrendering is exactly what the-powers-that-be would have us do, . How is what Guy said in this essay, surrendering? Further, your use of the word surrender implies that someone or something remain to surrender to. That’s the whole point. We are ALL finished – the proles, the powers that be, those who care, and those who don’t. It’s done.

  • BC Nurse, maybe seeing you break down in front of class is what they need. I suspect that more and more have this uneasy feeling that things are not right but don’t know how to name what is wrong. Its not that you can change anything, but perhaps you can get them to talk about how they feel. Dog I am glad I am older now. So much less of living to loose.

    When I learned that we were nearing peak oil about 10 years ago I realized that perhaps 90% of the world’s population was going to die. I mourned. Then I remembered, oh yeah we all die anyway. It is not that anyone or any creature is going to die that changes, it is the timing, the mode of death, the conditions leading up to death, and whether or not you pass on your genes that changes. So now it looks like 100%. Still the same equation. Which is why I urge permanent sterilization. One thing we can do is not add to the misery by birthing a child that will lose most of their projected life and live in incredibly hard times before their early death. We can spare the unborn.

  • VT, we separate urine (most of it) from our humanure by having a separate bucket for pee. I empty that every day on the garden with about equal water to urine. Many say you have to do 10 to 1 but I have yet to loose a plant from the more concentrate urine application (of course I enjoy water and drink a ton of it so my pee is already diluted). I pour it around the base of plants and try to remember which ones I have done recently so I don’t overdo it but with this old brain that becomes harder and harder. Still I haven’t lost a plant yet. I don’t put it around young seedlings and I take extra care when putting it around leafy plants. Thats about it. You sit on one bucket to shit, another to piss. An old toilet seat makes bucket sitting easier. I wash out the buckets after dumping and I rotate pee buckets to let them air a bit and in the summer when bacteria can build up and make the pee smell even in one day, I give a wipe with alcohol or hydrogen peroxide.

  • Thanks for clarifying, Jeff S., and to all of you for the humor

  • REAL Doctor House: comparing our situation to that of a plane whose engines have failed is a huge stretch. We don’t know for sure that we’re at the point of no return. And a plane’s failure means the end in a matter of minutes. We face who knows how long even if the point of no return has been passed. Giving up now means living lives which are gonna be increasingly miserable, because TPTB will keep on doing what they do, put us and the planet through the wringers. It won’t be a sudden end like a plane crash.

    Four days and 39 years ago, i underwent a profound experience which over the course of the next few weeks got me to get clear about my politics and the way i see the world, and i saw a global machine chewing up the world and the human community, realized it needed to be stopped. I became an anarchist activist as a result. I have no regrets, and have no plans to throw in the towel. And i’ve had a LOT of frustration over these years, including the end of a very long term relationship which started several years later and ended after almost 14 years, because my partner/wife just ran out of patience in terms of our activity bringing about change, and realized that she couldn’t get me to give up, so she left.

    I’ve faced incredible resistance on the part of those around me (not counting friends, i’ve been lucky). Every few weeks or so, i do a 9/11 table at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, and i never fail to be amazed at the rationalizations which come out of all the “progressives,” who would rather throw out the laws of physics (i’m an engineer by training) than even remotely believe that it was an inside job. I post on the very “progressive” Well discussion board, and get grief because i keep pointing out what a corporate/military tool Obama has been, and don’t get blown over just because the others yell “Romney,” as if that allows them to evade all my points. I don’t know if change will come, i think the odds are against it. But i have to live with integrity, i cannot do otherwise.

  • TVT,

    You might be interested in the free version of The Humanure Handbook linked here:


  • Guy,

    So what happened between June 11 and August 30? How is it that in two and a half months you go from “chop wood, carry water” to “I surrender? The drought was already in place although the level (800 years) may be new to you. The 444 nuclear plants where already in place, as was the idea that they were a serious threat when the grid goes down. Climate change is nothing new to you nor is the lack of political will in dealing with it.

    The way I read the news, every day more and more people are looking up from the grindstone and saying, “What the fuck?” I know you believe in tipping points. I know you believe that tipping points are a reality both in the natural world and also in culture and society. This is going to be one of those societal times when a point is reached when suddenly everything changes. You can see it in people’s eyes. You can hear it in the way they talk about the weather. In any conversation someone will bring up the weird weather. Soon, very soon, I think a tipping point will have been reached and people will understand that they’ve been lied to by TPTB. They will be angry. They will want justice. Then you will see that your “minor efforts to sound the alarm” have not been in vain.

    Hang in there.

    Michael Irving

  • How can we know the ending,
    to a story that never ends?
    Our tiny speck of universe,
    is a river with infinite bends.

    Perhaps we share a gift, so rare.
    Can we possibly see what’s to come?
    If so, turns out, that vision we see,
    is a curse that leaves us numb.

    But chaos works in mysterious ways.
    Wisdom and logic can’t stop the barrage.
    Far better to live as though each day’s your last.
    That vision may be a mirage.

    (Composed while drinking Corona Extra and listening to)

    with an assist from:

  • Michael Irving: it’s possible that social tipping points will arrive. I sure hope so. But it’s hard to maintain such hope when i see how “smart” phones are turning more and more folks into stupid people who are so totally divorced from what’s around them that they don’t even notice. (Even as i type this, Berkeley is being buzzed by an ominous-looking low-flying helicopter) There is no device which is more socially destructive in every way, from its very material beginnings in mining, than a cell phone. But i too wonder what changed so decisively, not only since June, but since a week ago.

    By the way, if people wonder about my politics, they should go to http://www.dailybattle.pair.com (i do it with a close friend) and see the statement along the left side, an article i wrote about 9/11 last November, and a bunch of articles by my “twin brother”(:-)) Jack Straw, most recently one about Occupy, posted in May.

  • “Climate change is always followed by mass extinctions”.

    That was the terse answer I got from one paleoclimatologist back in 2008 after writing to every scientist whose email address I could find.

    Once I understood that the initial forcing to change climate climate began several decades age, and learned about the drastic habit of amplifying feedbacks to accelerate exponentially, it seemed quite obvious to me that catastrophe would be the inevitable, irrevocable result of ecosystems thrown out of balance – but it took quite a bit of persistence to get even one professional academic to admit it.

    Now of course that those feedbacks are making themselves felt in earnest, it is becoming empirically evident.

    You named 5 loops, whereas Rockstrom described 9 planetary boundaries, 3 of which he designated as crossed. He doesn’t include pollution as one of the three that are irredeemable, part of the effects of which are described as: “Crop damage from exposure to ozone, forest degradation and loss of freshwater fish due to acidic precipitation, changes in global precipitation patterns and in energy balance are further examples of indirect effects of air pollution on human well-being…”

    I believe that we have passed that particular threshold, all by itself enough to end much of life on earth even without climate change, more specifically that trees are dying everywhere from that same ozone which is listed as damaging crops. Trees absorb ozone year after year and sustain cumulative damage and, the persistent background level is inexorably rising.

    There can be very little life on land when trees are gone, just as there will be very little remaining in the oceans when the coral reefs are all dead, a parallel inevitability. Forests and reefs are on the edge of complete loss. You don’t need a PhD to see that – in fact a PhD might get in the way. All you have to do is look at them to see they are pale artifacts of what they once were.

    It is, very, very sad. It is hard to know how to react…it would be easier, except I’m a mother, and so I think about the children: https://witsendnj.blogspot.ca/2012/08/synonymous-with-failure.html

    Thanks for being a rare rational voice in a sea of lies and delusional hope, Guy.

  • We acted with no long term view,
    As unthinking animals do;
    And now, though we’re dying,
    We still keep on trying—
    The animals, they do that too.

  • And then when the factories all stop spewing their dirt into the air, the global dimming will end and we get to see how hot the planet will be without global dimming.

    Yes Gail there are the children and grandchildren. I never vision them in my vision of the future – too hard.

    But again everyone who is fertile please get fixed now. Let no more children have to go through what is coming. Even if you think you can abstain, we will need what comforts we can find – let your sex be a comfort but not a curse on the unborn. And well of course there will be rape (but not to worry, Rep, Akin says forced rape does not lead to conception)

  • Guy

    You must let yourself go through the full cycle you begun with the exploration into the truth. As a self confessed scientist you are examining evidence and the evidence is overwhelming that humans are destroying the planet.
    In addition to being a scientist you are a compassionate human being, and you have responded by reaching out and informing others of the scientific evidence and likely peer reviewed conclusions, mainly because your university employer thwarted your attempts to do it locally through teaching.
    The journey will take you to another incarnation of self, and you are enduring the crisis of limited power. Good. Brng it on and you will move beyond this and come to another realiation, alluded to in the old fairy tales.
    When a protagonist is in an impossible situation, like counting all the grains of sand in a grain room by sun up, which a human can never do, the ants come and do the impossible task. They come because the protagonist showed earlier his/her compassion for all beings and their sympathy toward ‘Nature’.
    When you truly sacrifice, the greater instincts come to help.
    We are the ants, in a way, and the bees and the birds.
    No one of us, feeling and acting as you do as powerless individuals, can accomplish much. We all get that.
    However, as a ,(disperate), community, we can be the ants , birds and bees.
    It is all about the critical mass, and IMO it is coming , yes too late , but who knows what is really coming?
    My advice to you directly in what seems to readrs as your darkest moments here, is dont underestimate the power of ‘Nature’ to assist in the creative motivation to heal a bleeding world. I use the term’Nature’ advisadly, for here it is intended to denote far more than the sum total of the obsevable entities and structures of the biosphere. It is also the Heart.


    We are the bees.
    Do your bit, pick up a grain, and shout!

  • Gail

    Your link provides a video rendition of the song “Ship of fools” by World party. Worthy of note are teh lyrics, which without music and images are all too clear.

    Ship of fools

    We’re setting sail
    To the place on the map from which no one has ever returned
    Drawn by the promise of the joker and the fool
    By the light of the crosses that burn
    Drawn by the promise of the women and the lace
    And the gold and the cotton and pearls
    It’s the place where they keep all the darkness you need
    You sail away from the light of the world on this trip baby
    Pay, you will pay tomorrow
    You’re gonna pay tomorrow
    You will pay tomorrow
    Save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no no
    Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no no
    I want to run and hide
    Right now
    Avarice and greed are gonna drive you over the endless sea
    They will leave you drifting in the shallows
    Drowning in the oceans of history
    Travellin’ the world, you’re in search of no good
    But I’m sure you’ll build your Sodom like I knew you would
    Using all the good people for your galley slaves
    As your little boat struggles through the warning waves
    But you will pay, you will pay tomorrow
    You’re gonna pay tomorrow
    You gonna pay tomorrow
    Save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no
    Oh, save me, save me from tomorrow
    I don’t want to sail with this ship of fools, no
    Where’s it comin’ from or where’s it goin’ to?
    It’s just a, it’s just a ship of fools
    All aboard

    Very precient.

    Like in other modern music, the tune is jivy and hopeful, but the message is savage and dire.
    Fools indeed.

  • People used to tell me that I’d regret it if I ever got a vasectomy. I got one 12 years ago, shortly before getting married, and before anything in there got where it shouldn’t.

    As time has gone on, I have only become more convinced that I did the right thing.

  • Morocco Bama

    You sure know where to find the most inspiring material.
    Here is one from the west.

    Debtors’ Prison Is Back — and Just as Cruel as Ever


    “Debtors are sometimes summoned to court repeatedly, increasing chances that they’ll miss a date and be arrested. Critics note that judges often set the debtor’s release bond at the amount of the debt and turn the bond money over to the creditor — essentially turning publicly financed police and court employees into private debt collectors for predatory lenders.”

    Dickens would not be amused.

  • The Virgin Terry,

    If you google “urine separating toilet” you’ll discover much to explore.

    Take care,

    Richard Reese

  • Hi everyone,

    I read the RC thread on methane release at the time. I admit, I was slightly reassured. However, it was recently mentioned there, that models do not include methane and CO2 release from melting tundra permafrost, do not include soot and CO2 from burning forests and the resulting loss of carbon sink, do not include the responses of global micro-organisms… so there’s three feedbacks that are not figured into the predicted temperature increases ( afaik ) and, from what I gather, they are significant and not in a good way.

    I would have also mentioned the Antarctic methane, but Guy already did.

    My own view, we are on the brink of a Permian-type mass extinction event. I don’t think it is possible to say how fast this will happen, with any degree of certainty, because there are so many unknown variables, like major war, economic collapse, pandemics, major volcanic eruption, or whatever.

    Anyhow, I don’t see how 7 billion gets to be 9 billion ( 2 additional Chinas ) and gets to the end of this century. I’d say that is impossible.

    But does the actual precise date matter all that much ? It must if you have children, which I don’t. I don’t know what percentage ‘we’ ( those who are lucid and awake ) are, out of the 7 billion. Must be a very tiny fraction, no ? and it seems we do not have the power to alter the course of events….

    So then, the emphasis is upon how we deal with this ultimate cataclysm. Spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, practically. IMO, this is the very worst thing that could possibly happen. It didn’t happen in the historical past, nor in the distant future, it happens now, in my precious lifetime. I have to witness this total fuck up of…. well, of everything…. That’s extremely hard to endure !

    The evil ones who torture people know that even the strongest gets broken if forced to watch their children being tortured. I think that’s what it is going to be like…. because I love nature, the wildlife of this world just as if they are my relatives and children… a most terrible thing, the most terrible thing.

  • Kathy C, I have never considered getting a vasectomy until recently. I haven’t really figured I need one (I do have a 28 yo daughter but that’s a different story). However, on more than one occasion I have been asked by lesbian couples to be a sperm donor. I have always declined but felt like a cad afterward. Now that I have a very good reason not to bring new life into this world, even that doesn’t seem to be enough. Some friends are requesting it even now, despite my sharing my thoughts about collapse, over population, etc. So, I’m thinking that if I get a vasectomy, I would have an easy out. Hmm.

  • I feel depressed and weepy. Seems very appropriate.

    I’m grateful to you all here but sometimes I wish there were more of a way to sit down and have a cup of tea with you.a

  • i see guy once again is indulging in dogmatic pessimism, a curious compulsion. well, it’s good someone cares enough at least to keep reminding anyone who wishes to know that we’re entering dire straits. this isn’t a dream, it’s a surreal nightmare.

    maybe many of us will face death ‘prematurely’ because of collapse, and maybe we will go extinct relatively soon. but we can’t be sure.

    guy, i think u’re far more pessimistic than some of the other academics u cite as being in agreement with your position. i think richard heinberg, for example, is one u’ve cited. his public writings on the matter are much more cautiously optimistic. to my knowledge he’s never written anything remotely as dogmatically bleak and pessimistic as your last couple of essays.

    as i’ve observed before, this is in stark contrast to the hopeful, optimistic guy apparent at other times. for all the pessimism, u don’t come off as suicidal, or overwhelmed by depression. u function well with a sense of humor while speaking publically.

    everyone has their quirks.

    ‘I would be stunned if this valley — or any other area in the interior of a northern-hemisphere continent — will provide habitat for humans five years from now.’

    this quirk is getting bigger. i hope it won’t become so great that it drowns out or hopelessly distorts the bigger message u have to share.

    ‘Continue to fuck the planet and our future, and see if I give a damn.’

    not giving a damn about something terrifying and painful and out of control is a natural, sane reaction. otherwise u’d go bonkers (even more so than u are now (smile)).

    re. anarchy, maybe it’s only possible outside the confines of civilization, among small groups of egalitarians. i certainly share your dismay that anarchy isn’t more widely respected and sought after.

    imo some writers idealize the life of noble savagery. richard reese, whom i’m reading now, is one. perhaps if we don’t go extinct, this will be the life of survivors. anarchy, with greater happiness and fulfillment. perhaps in a world depleted of resources in which a comeback of civilization is impossible, our descendents might have a worthwhile future after all. perhaps without the shackles of civilization/domestication, intelligence and sanity will make a come back. wouldn’t that be nice?

    very interesting comments to this essay. gail’s blog is worth further exploration. thanks to kathy et.al. for replies to my query about separating shit from piss to best recycle these ‘waste’ products.

    i live a double life. by day, i blend in with mainstream society, by night, alone, i’m on nbl, sharing with others contempt for the mainstream and despair for the predicament we share. sigh

  • Morocco Bama

    How do you like that one, Yorchichan?

    You’ve definitely got the wrong idea about me! See the post I’ve just made at the end of the last essay.

  • Guy said
    “And, on the political front, there’s this: Correspondence and collusion between the New York Times and the CIA.”

    Yep! The Times was with the Washington Post a flagship of Operation Mockingbird, the CIA op which used the mainstream media to disseminate propaganda from the late 1940s (when the CIA was founded) into the ’70s. was exposed by one of the post-Watergate investigations. We were told then that this would no longer happen. And some people actually believed it, and have insisted it was all in the past. During the ’60s, a common saying about the Times was that its motto “All the news that’s fit to print” should really read “All the news that fits.”

    If there is any form of survival, it will have to be organized along anarchist principles.

    The question of kids is impossible to answer. I know people who are inspired by their children to work for a world in which these children could survive. Yet i also know people who seem to be unable to do much or even think much beyond worrying about what happens to their kids the next day in terms of already scheduled activity, meaning they have no time to do anything about the big picture. Sometimes, there are no answers, certainly no easy ones.

  • tvt, re the pessimism….

    I think that is because the news of recent days is so much more alarming, isn’t it ? All the respectable responsible scientists speak in very measured tones, because they have to keep one eye on their employers and colleagues so as to keep their jobs and reputations.
    The recent news is FAR worse than anything they were predicting a couple of years back.
    Global warming is accelerating and the positive feedbacks may mean that it runs away with itself, like a broken thermostat on a water heater.

    Also, many scientists are very busy and tightly focussed upon their specific field. To get a realistic picture means looking much more broadly, at all relevant areas.

    We were arguing on an earlier thread about fast v. slow collapse. Collapse means different things to different people. Collapse of social order, of the US empire, of the global economy, banking, trade, fisheries, agriculture, etc. Thing is, climate change and collapse of the global ecology trumps them all. All the cheery optimistic positive talk about transition and resilience, idealistic alternatives, etc. means very little if the change becomes very rapid.

    We’ve gone from 250 ppm CO2 to 400 ppm CO2 in little more than a century. On the geological and evolutionary time scales that’s astoundingly, dramatically fast, and what we are seeing today, is the result of CO2 levels 30 or 40 years ago. There’s that time lag. CO2 has been rising constantly and still is. So it seems things are going to get very much worse very quickly. Much faster than the scientists have been expecting from earlier projections.

    I personally keep the way I feel separate from the information I receive, as much as possible. Two independent variables. I can’t afford to get depressed or to despair. I just do whatever I can, as a matter of self-respect, because it’s the only right thing to do. You know, like the professionalism of nurses or doctors who get emotionally engaged with sick people, but can’t afford to break down every time one dies, or they could never do that job. It did take me years to find a way. I used to get extremely depressed and disheartened and despair at the way things were going. Now I just fight, in whatever way I can, to try and help other species.

  • Yup…but IMO keep it framed correctly please.

    This is not about homo sapiens, it’s about homo colossus aka homo economicus, who WILL die off.

    That there may be remnant homo sapiens left after The Great Unravelling has finished, is marginal. But if they are there really fighting to defend the biosphere, that would be great.

    Using grief as a way to burn off beliefs or attachments to “civilisation” or it’s continuance is important. Used as a way to kill off the “civilised” in you and as a tool to decolonise heart and mind is very appropriate at this time.

    Most of us will die sooner than later. I intend to make a difference on behalf of my beloved, or die trying.

    “Interesting times” now morphed into “Exciting times” eh?


  • Btw, re climate change and remnant homo sapiens…. from what I can gather, this planet cannot have a runaway global warming that takes it into some kind of condition like Venus, or where we lose the atmosphere altogether, like Mars, for various reasons, which I previously found somewhat reassuring. No runaway global warming. But I think that what we can have is a runaway global warming that goes on for centuries before it slows, quite sufficient to cause the major extinction event. Which of course includes us. Civilisation will be gone, so will most of the larger fauna, and most of the humans. Because we are so adaptable and ingenious, a few may survive, living like the Inuit or Australian aborigines or Kalahari San, in isolated pockets, I wouldn’t discount that. But as far as the mass of people alive today are concerned, that’s hardly of any relevance is it. Whether that remnant will fight for the biosphere…. well, will they even know such a thing exists ?

  • VT you wrote “guy, i think u’re far more pessimistic than some of the other academics u cite as being in agreement with your position.” Most other academics don’t put it all together – they will talk about one aspect of the situation we are in but limit themselves to that aspect. For instance, if they talk of CO2 levels they do not incorporate in what happens if we stop spewing CO2 when we either clamp down on it (unlikely) or the economy collapses and thus do not factor in the increased warming we will see when the factories and power plants stop putting particulate in the air. Almost no one projects what will happen when the grids go down and the nuclear power plants go Fukushima. They can’t even begin to imagine a world without electricity. Arctic News one of the most dismal sites doesn’t say a word on that. Dmitry Orlov is probably the closest to Guy in dismal predictions. If you read between the lines in Richard Heinberg I think you will see that he knows. He I believe consciously chooses to project whatever optimism he can manage to project because he doesn’t want people to despair. I am of the opinion that it is best to know the worst – that is why I spent years as a Hospice Volunteer.

    The IPCC never incorporated positive feedbacks in their reports thus making them excessively optimistic. Meanwhile the facts on the ground keep racing ahead of some of the most dire predictions.

  • As if things were not dire enough….
    Two earthquakes in the Arctic (could the change in ice weight increase the likelihood of earthquakes in the Arctic and around the world?)
    The author writes “The largest earthquake in August 2012 was a magnitude 7.7 quake on August 14 in the Sea of Okhotsk, close to Sakhalin, Russia’s largest island. With a depth of 626 km (389 miles), it was a “deep-focus” earthquake that can be felt at great distance from their epicenters.

    As the above map shows, this 7.7 M earthquake and the two recent ones off the coast of Jan Mayen Island occurred on the same fault line that goes over the Arctic. The danger is that further earthquakes on this fault line could destabilize methane hydrates in the Arctic, triggering release of huge amounts of methane, as described at the pages on seismic activity in the Arctic and runaway warming.

  • Dr House I was thinking you were exempt from my frequent posts about vasectomies and tubals. Well frankly I can see why others would want your DNA for their child but I suspect you can continue to Just Say No rather than submit to the knife.

  • Mitt (aka The Glove) seems up to the task of accelerating our demise…I say vote for him and vote often! Sweet, I’ve just become a Republican…go 1%!

  • Morocco Bama

    You wrote:

    ‘…and that’s why I frequent his blog….well, there’s that, plus I love all of the great people here. What a wonderful collection of human beings!’

    There is the Turing Test. (Spoken as Stephen Hawking’s voice.)

    Also, I wonder if you would write that if you viewed a spreadsheet of out mug-shot?… not that I’m serious about that.

  • Kathy C raises a very good question:

    ‘could the change in ice weight increase the likelihood of earthquakes in the Arctic and around the world?’
    I have wondered this for some time. As ice weighs a little less than water, and is packed up some km’s on the poles, which I know deforms the Earth’s crust in Antarctica some considdrable degree, it is a distinct possibility the icemelt could add, or take away pressure that , along with the torsional physical forces of global rotation, may shift some critical geomorphological elements to effect seismic activity, and further FUBAR the planet.
    ( I like how terribly scientific that may sound to a 10 year old).

    Anyone got an answer for Kathy C on that?

  • Just an update on the first monthly community readings and storytelling night I just hosted here in our(rented) house in the Blue Mountains.
    Our town has 4600 residents, and three phoned to say they could not make it this month. No one came!
    I had the fire going and some soup set on the stove, and some red wine on the way to being mulled.
    So I sat and read a commentary and some chapters of Henry David Thoreau’s ‘Walden – Life in the Woods’. It was peaceful. After an hour my 12 y/o son and I looked through a book on M.C.Escher like optical illusions he borrowed from his school library today.

    I got to wondering if modern community is not an optical illusion too.

    Maybe next month, ‘I’ll see how it goes.’

  • ulvfugl: Collapse means different things to different people.

    This spurred a thought in me that I hadn’t had before (perhaps others are already there?). Global climate change may lead to ecological collapse similar to the way that runaway fever can lead to death in a human.

    Proteins are long molecules twisted about themselves in certain patterns and shapes. Those shapes are largely what determine how they work. When a protein heats up to a significant degree, the bonds that are maintaining their shape break causing it to “denature” or lose that shape so they no longer work. This is how fever protects the human body: fever goes up and the proteins in the invading virus or bacteria denature, and you get better. Unfortunately, if the fever gets too high, then the proteins that make a human work start to denature as well and then the body can’t work either, leading to organ failure and possibly death. (Forgive the basic biochemistry lesson.)

    So, if we think of the environment as one large body, it too can tolerate lots of variation in cold and heat. As long as it doesn’t go too far either way, then the body can adjust, and may actually benefit. However, if the heat goes too high, the body reaches a point where things don’t work anymore and organs (ecosystems) fail. Death soon follows. As this fever of AGW continues to rise, then we will start to see various systems fail – not just weather. Here are a few off the cuffs examples: pollens of entire species don’t work anymore, beneficial bacteria are unable to function, embryos don’t develop properly, endocrine systems can’t function, etc.

    Fortunately, all the building blocks of life will still remain on Earth and as the forces which led to the runaway warming slowly recede, life will slowly begin to reemerge – just different from what was there before.

    So of all the various “collapse” entities (social, government, etc.), ecological collapse is the one which is the most ominous – at least for everything living today. Of course, this is at the heart of what Guy has been preaching, but for whatever reason it just hadn’t occurred to me to think of it quite this way.

  • Here’s another good reason to expect rapid acceleration, the first graph on this post (it was the first link I clicked on this morning – before coffee!):


    …which looks like a very dangerous escalation to me.

    Also, someone mentioned runaway Venus warming. Hansen has warned it’s possible, that the oceans will boil.

  • MB you wrote “TRDH, since there’s at least a statistically insignificant chance Humans might survive, albeit in small numbers, I would say please don’t get a vasectomy. I’d much rather have your seed sprinkled about than say Darth Cheney’s or Obama’s or the myriad other sadistic psychopaths and their sycophantic technicians.”

    You miss my point. If the human species survives some will have to live through horrific conditions for a long time to keep the species going. What right do any of us have to bring a child into that world. The unborn do not suffer. Once born they always die, but for some time some few on the planet got to live very comfortable lives. In the future such comfort will be unknown. I am not sure what right we ever have to bring a child into the world. Most humans think death is bad, yet the ONE thing that insures death is birth. How and when one dies are variable, but no one dies who is not born and no one who is born fails to die.

    Is the concept of “the human species continuing” enough to bring a child into the coming horrors.

    I remember watching a show once in which people were asked what would they do if they knew that in 10 years a planet destroying asteroid would hit and there was nothing that could be done about it. One woman said she would have a child as she would want to experience that before she died. No thought given to that child at age 9 seeing doom in the sky and knowing that she had to face it so her mother could have the experience of having a child. We seldom think how selfish it is to give birth since the new self gets no say in the matter. But it is beyond selfish to give birth if you have any idea what the future looks like.

  • In WWII the Jews at the Terezin concentration camp performed the Verdi Requiem, which they learned by rote, as an act of resistance. They knew they were the walking dead, so they sang to the Nazis what they could not say. Perhaps that is all that’s left. Resistance. Refusing to go quietly into the dark night. A Requiem for Terra, if you will. Nevertheless it is all so fucking sad.

  • Trying to answer my own question about increasing earthquakes due to arctic melt the answer may be no, but may be yes to melt in Greenland and Alaska per some scientists.
    From http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/03/17/3165155.htm
    “While melting ice might not have a global affect, it could have an impact on active faults that lie directly underneath glaciers on landmasses such as Alaska or Greenland.

    “Melting of ice may change stresses in the crust locally, near the place with ice cover. As the ice load is removed, small faults in the same region may become re-activated,” says Pyle.

    But the Japan quake, for example, was completely caused by plate tectonics. “The size of the event may have been a bit of a surprise, but the location and the way it moved were not.”

    Future wholesale melting of ice above active faults would promote earthquakes through unloading, says Professor Bill McGuire who is with Geophysical & Climate Hazards in the Department of Earth Sciences at University College London.

    “This would take the form of ‘bringing forward’ the timing of earthquakes by reducing the stabilising tress beneath,” McGuire says.

    Ice melt from free-floating ice sheets in the Arctic, on the other hand, would have no impact on active faults because they don’t exert any pressure on the sea floor.

    There is, however, some research that links ocean water mass with a slight increase in volcanic activity.”

  • OTOH since plates are connected if glacial melting moves something in one place doesn’t it affect many other places?

    And this links climate change to earthquakes http://www.alternet.org/newsandviews/article/560158/scientists_find_link_between_global_warming_and_earthquakes
    ” However, scientists have for the first time released a study that indicates that man made changes to our climate are also quite probably effecting the movement of tectonic plates around the globe as well. The implications of their research are far ranging as well as frightening: …..
    What few foresaw however, was that changes to our surface climate would impact the movement of the large crustal plates that cause the continents to drift and that form mountain ranges and cause earthquakes. The research is obviously in its early stages, but I do not think we should take the findings of these scientists lightly or diminish their import.

    The relationship of the movements of continental plates affecting climate is well established, as the lead earth scientist for this study quoted above noted. It is not, therefore illogical to assume that changes to climate in a feedback loop would also effect the movement of those plates. This study demonstrates that such is the case, at least with changes to the climate involving the increased intensity of monsoons in the Indian Ocean.”

  • From today’s essay at Common Dreams: “Hell is coming, but it’s coming a lot faster than any predictions you’ve see so far from the scientific community.”

  • Those low-flying helicopters are apparently measuring “radiation.”
    So why is there a need to measure baseline radiation? The Lawrence Berkeley Lab has been here for decades, so surely there is no pure baseline to compare its possible emissions to. Are the authorities expecting further catastrophes at Fukushima, where the spent fuel pool sits damaged, liable to collapse from even a moderate quake? Or are they anticipating a false flag “terror attack,” a nuclear 9/11 like the one which Homeland Security, one of the two agencies jointly carrying out the flights (with the National Nuclear Security Administration), has been “warning” about for several years, i.e. preparing people for?

    Re climate: i’ve been closely monitoring global climate change since the mid ’80s, the pace has distinctly stepped up in recent years, changes happening WAY ahead of what used to be “worst-case scenarios.” But denial is at much higher levels than 10 years ago, at least in the US. Isn’t this interesting?

  • The article at Common Dreams which Guy linked to above is quite good, but there was one point i disagreed with, and indeed it drew several comments.
    “What about the Democrats? Well, except for one mention of climate
    change in an interview with Rolling Stone, the President has been mum on
    the topic, as has most of the rest of the Party.”

    I didn’t realize that aggressively opening offshore drilling, allowing fracking to continue and so forth was “being mum.” It’s as if the past four years didn’t happen in article after article.

    Don’t forget that the “bi-partisan” military-industrial behemoth is the single biggest user of petroleum products, and is the world’s worst polluter (nuclear, biological, chemical) and destroyer of the environment.

    Actually, under the Republican administration you’re shilling for, oil drilling in the U.S would increase exponentially. But you know that.
    Toby Fernsler

    Criticizing the Democrats is not shilling for Republicans. It is criticizing the Democrats.

    We don’t know that at all – shrub bush wanted to drill baby drill in the Artic only to be shut down by dems…..
    When Obama does it the dems sit silently.
    Obama the More Effective Evil.
    Nukes? Same thing – the rethugs wanted more new nuke plants but it took the Oilybomber to get r done….
    Of course those new nukes are tax payer funded but all profits go to the predator corps Obama loves so much. And of course those new nukes are built in the back yards of poor communities – promising new cancer hot spots – but hey it’s only poor people right?
    According to Obummer it is.
    Chris Randolph

    Well no idiot, under the DEMOCRAT with majorities of DEMOCRATS in both Houses, a DEMOCRAT president stood in front of a fighter jet and announced the largest opening of US coastline in history to drilling.
    And of course your pal Obama is sending the USCG to protect Arctic drilling from protestors.
    And of course it’s a Democratic governor in NY who is backing fracking in exchange for campaign cash, no different than Corbett here in PA. Zero difference.
    “under the Republican administration you’re shilling for…”
    Um. no, there is a Democratic administration in reality-based reality (not that this makes any difference) and YOU are shilling for them.

  • Wow, most people writing their epitaphs. I feel the same urge. One of my last hopes is that with economic collapse we will be forced out of the industrial age and thus give our planet a break. Many lives will be lost, but the remaining could rebuild a new society, or should I say tribe. It seems that’s the best outcome, but for us older folks, our day is done. I’ve had a good life, and am ready for something more fulfilling than this 3rd dimension existence. I’m sorry many young people will not have the playing field I had…

  • Guy, I have for some time been feeling the way you do now, only with guilt added to it for feeling that way. All I know to do anymore is withdraw from industrial civilization as much as possible without losing my mind, taking care of my daughter as best I can, and holding on to love with both hands.

    My father took his own life back in May. He was 65, retired from Exxon, and had just gone back to work as a consultant for a small company in Houston. The man enjoyed a lifestyle that most folks in my generation (including me) can only imagine; but the money was never enough. There are so many lessons to take from this, and I am absorbing them as I am able through my sorrow.

    TRDH, is Isaac bringing you any rain? We’ve had, like, four days straight of it here in Mississippi. No flooding or downed trees in my area, thankfully.

  • How close is the U.S. to totalitarianism? Let me count the ways:


    A very good essay.

  • Christopher, I’m very sorry to hear about your father. Suicide of a loved one is never easy, but I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to lose your father that way.

    As to the rain from Isaac, we’ve had some but not nearly as much as they were predicting originally – less than an inch over the last 24 hours. We’ll take it though and smile while we do. :-)

  • Very good post, Guy.

    To BC Nurse Prof – I often have the same fear (breaking down into tears) if I truly explain what I think awaits my students. I think they deserve to know, but what good will it do? If I were them, would I even want to know?

    Hard to know what to do.

    Best regards to everyone – it’s sort of like living through one of the most influential books of my teenage years “On The Beach” (Nevil Shute – sure most of you are familiar) only it’s not theoretical. We know the end is coming, just not exactly how soon.


  • A great interview of Chris Hedges:

  • BC Nurse Prof, the section of the Hedges interview between 11:20 and 14:15, on the topic of higher education, particularly resonates with me. The always-articulate Chris Hedges is one of several people interviewed for Mike Sosebee’s film, Somewhere in New Mexico Before the End of Time. Early information about the film is posted here. Additional trailers and supporting video appear at Sosebee’s YouTube channel.

  • I noticed this from Kathy C on the previous post:
    August 30th, 2012 at 7:23 am
    “Here is perhaps a more relevant topic for discussion, ie one that we will face soon and in which we can exercise choice.
    If you have created some way of surviving longer when things collapse (stores of food and supplies, gardens, livestock) what will you/should you do when those who have not done so come to beg or take your supplies or take over the farm you have worked hard to create?”

    If you are one of the responders to Guy’s “What are we fighting for?” convinced that we are toast as a species and have nothing to live for, how do you respond to Kathy’s question? How do you think Guy would respond in that he has rejected the idea of suicide? Giving up a “lifeboat” like the Mud Hut without a fight in a time of collapse seems akin to suicide to me, but I know Guy has suggested he would cut loose and resort to wandering and foraging. Others including Kathy C herself, I believe, have suggested they would just open their arms and their storehouse to anyone that arrive at their front door. John Rember once suggested that a 12 gauge was an appropriate response to possible looters (forgive me John if I made that up). I know I’ve thought often about what I would do. What am I going to do, shoot somebody’s kids just because they’re hungry? Am I going to open myself up to starvation by providing that help? Where do you draw the line?

    Michael Irving

  • Just when you think you have heard everything about us that is bad, Hedges manages to add a few garnishments.

  • Michael Irving,

    My understanding is that Guy has a supportive community. Any defense will be communal. I think that his neighbors realize his value to the community.
    Anyone there with any kind of military or police training should not have much trouble setting up a road block. No one gets far off road and on foot. Like to see them try. Won’t have to shoot them.
    The Southwest is a rugged place to travel in normal times. If you are off the interstates and U.S. highways you had better know where you are going and why. With disruptions to services, gasoline in particular, few are going to have the nerve or skills to go very far from where they are when TSHTF. The hoards can not read a map now. Without cell phones and GPS, they have no chance. When was the last time you saw anyone walk any distance with a purpose? Walking, riding a bike, in the extremes in Arizona, and New Mexico? Finding water? A string of bodies on the road. They will attack each other until the last one is standing, and then he/she will succumb to the environment.
    Want some practice? Load up your car with camping gear and supplies and and a tank of gas, and spend a week or so checking out campgrounds on back roads. Get a feel for the area. You only get that one tank of gas. See how that works out. Guy will be fine.

  • There are parts of the US where travel on a single tank will not get you to very many back roads, e.g. the New York Tristate area. Yes, i know there are a few, in respect of the local residents i don’t think we should discuss them.

  • Further evidence, as if more were needed, that the rule of law is dead in the U.S.: Obama’s justice department grants final immunity to Bush’s CIA torturers

  • Kathy C and Michael Irving,

    What any of us would do in such a situation you describe is one thing to say and quite another to do.

    For me, I intend to do my best to avoid such situations. We are in a rural-suburban area with lots of people but quite a bit of space between us. We are situated at the end of a remote country road surrounded by woods. No one would come down this road unless they knew where it was leading – those who did would have my neighbors to chose from/contend with first. And as Curtis points out, getting very far by walking is just one more skill that most Americans have lost.

    My neighbors might be a more likely threat. Most of them know we have chickens and goats. Some of them have pretty large gardens. It’s hard to know how many would come knocking if the situation warranted it. But this I know – all of us have guns. It would probably start to look like the Hatfields and McCoys in short order.

    So, to sum, if someone comes to my house asking/demanding for help, here’s my line of defense/offense:

    1 – not a walkable distance
    2 – many other places to chose from before reaching our place
    3 – lots of well armed neighbors to pass through prior to reaching our place
    4 – then, who knows? I have a gun, but whether I would use it or not would depend entirely on the person/situation.

  • Curtis, your point about getting a practice run is a good one.

    Hunters might get along fine in any woods. But if you take away their insulated coveralls, guns, weatherproof boots, cell phones, water, food, etc., put them in the woods and told them to find some place 10 or 12 miles away, very few would find it; likely many would die of exposure before they got there (depending on the weather, of course).

    The non-hunters would fare far worse. The woods are covered with poison oak, ivy, and sumac. There are snakes, skunks, wasps, and oh god the brambles! There are old rusty broken down barbed wire fences, felled trees, deep gullies, and more. That’s just on my property!

    The fields are barren wastelands of industrial farming. The ditches between the fields are devoid of shade for miles and miles. There is no wildlife to speak of and the chemicals that are everywhere are enough to make most people sick. If you drank the water in those ditches, you would likely die sooner rather than later.

    Lack of water would be the most common (and rapid) cause of death. Humans need a rather large amount of it on a daily basis – particularly when undergoing physical exertion. Who would be willing to drink brown thick water from a stock pond in order to survive? Very few, I’d wager.

    I may be wrong, but when face with complete collapse, I just don’t see large numbers of people getting more than a few miles.

  • Question as to how many urban residents would even try to leave the city, when so many of them downright fear the countryside. I grew up in New York, remember many of my peers who thought that within a few miles past city limits you get attacked by insects. As if New York doesn’t have a certain insect problem. It’s scary to realize how many would be hopelessly disoriented without the usual urban landmarks to guide them.

  • Oh my yes! How could I have forgotten to mention the insects?! Mosquitos should be our state bird. At times they can be so thick that it’s like something out of a horror film. And there are ticks, and chiggers, and spiders, and . . . you get the idea. :-)

  • The REAL Dr. House, I’ve replied to your interesting comment earlier, on my own blog, because it was too long for a comment here.


  • It seems that poor people need to work harder.

    ‘Gina Rinehart attacks ‘jealous’ poor’

    Some copy from same:

    “Gina Rinehart, a mining magnate worth an estimated £19 billion, has advised those jealous of the wealthy to “spend less time drinking or smoking and socialising, and more time working” in order to be successful.

    Miss Rinehart, 56, also rounded on Australia’s “class warfare”, insisting it was billionaires such as herself who were doing more than anyone to help the poor.

    She warns that Australia risks following European economies ruined by “socialist” policies, high taxes, and excessive regulation.

    Miss Reinhart stated there was “no monopoly” on becoming a millionaire”

    Ah, right Gina, I’ll get right on it…ah now …where did I leave that Capital I had lying around?


    The privelage, Oh! the privelage.( Spoken like Dr Smith from the 1960s TV space com ‘Lost in Space’)

    Come to think of it, we are sort of …’Lost in Space’ now.

  • Jeff who cares how many will leave the city. In any rural area how many are prepared for what is coming. Most my neighbors are now on city water. The hand dug wells dried up several decades ago. We have a hand pump in a drilled well. I have one other neighbor who has made such preparations. But within 1 mile radius are over 100 people. Those who think something is going to go wrong are preparing with guns without giving water a thought. We will of course make our water available to any who want it. We have a small town of totally unprepared people about 12 miles away. That is walkable. Thinking that the folks in the cities will stay put does not mean that any prepared person will be free of finding hungry people on their doorstep with or without guns. If you have stashed enough food for 1 year for 2, taking in 2 more drops your food supply to 6 months. One person with 3 young children and an elderly parent would take you down to 4 months yet add only 1 person to your workforce.

    Meanwhile while you are out working your garden with your rifle on the ground because you can’t work a garden with a rifle it just takes one well aimed shot to do you in.

    It doesn’t take hordes of city folk to ruin your plans for long term survival.

    Meanwhile check out where the nearest nuclear plant is and what prevailing winds are. Remember that Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima happened when there was still the ability to try to contain them. What will it be like with 400 plus nuclear plants going critical untended.

    Got you depressed, sit back and watch Dr. Strangelove…..

  • MB – yep “But the melting reactors ensure there’s nothing to be gained”

  • And then there is nature
    “Solar storms can destabilize power grids at midlatitudes August 31, 2012 The Sun is capable of disrupting electrical systems on Earth in a variety of ways, from solar flares and coronal mass ejections to proton storms. Typically, it is only objects far above the Earth’s surface, or systems at high altitudes at polar latitudes, that are considered at risk except during the most powerful storms. Notable recent examples include solar activity during March 1989 and October 2003 (the “Halloween Storms”), which knocked out power in Quebec, Canada, and Sweden, respectively. Research by Marshall et al., however, finds that even a moderate event can have destructive effects far from the typical regions of concern.”

    Read more at: http://phys.org/news/2012-08-solar-storms-destabilize-power-grids.html#jCp

  • “Japan plans to cut state spending, could run out of money in a month
    Japan’s government is planning to suspend some state spending as it could run out of cash by October, with a deficit financing bill blocked by opposition parties trying to force Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda into an early election.”

  • We had conciousness, but we misused it, so now it will be taken away.

    Consciousness imagines we exist. For now. It once didn’t, and once again won’t. When and how is a matter for speculation.

    I don’t know what do do. I’m at a loss.

    Chop wood and carry water. Non-volitional action. Acting without a sense of agency: without the sense that “I am doing such and such”.

    How is it that in two and a half months you go from “chop wood, carry water” to “I surrender?

    With non-volitional action there is no going, no separation between the two: without the sense of agency, that “I am doing such and such”, there is neither “I am doing the fighting” nor “I am doing the surrendering”.

    for all the pessimism, u don’t come off as suicidal, or overwhelmed by depression. u function well with a sense of humor while speaking publically.

    A pessimist is a realistic optimist:
    “The nice part about being a pessimist is that you are constantly being either proven right or pleasantly surprised”.  ~George F. Will, The Leveling Wind

    Thing is, climate change and collapse of the global ecology trumps them all.

    And the ace has just been played. Exponential feedbacks lead to exponential progression in the news. 

    The perception of danger changes with the severity of the possible consequences. Among dwellings remotely downstream from a dam, the consequences from a failure of the dam are perceived as minimal, increasing with proximity to the dam – upto a point. For those immediately downstream from the dam, the consequences are not perceived within the realm of the possible.

    With the dam of climate disruption towering above us all, few will believe that the cracks presage imminent failure. 

  • Though the Christian imagery can be off putting for some, the deeper truth revealed by Yeats is correctly on target:

    The Second Coming
    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
    The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
    When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
    Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
    A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
    A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
    Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
    Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
    The darkness drops again; but now I know
    That twenty centuries of stony sleep
    Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?


    Consciousness shall not end by the collapse of civilization nor shall life end by a return to a Miocene climate. Indeed, the fall to tribalism shall be brutal and bloody, but life feeding on life has been the way of this planet from the very beginning. For the virtualized and sanitized human consciousness so common today, quite domesticated through rigorous years of education to become nothing more than super-consumers, the future tribal life will actually be a release of the human mind “back to the wilds” where life will be harsh certainly, but it will be vastly more real and connected to the basis of all things. I have faith in Life…it will eventually consume me as it does all things, but just one moment in time to stare at the stars and contemplate existence as a truly free mind is worth the price of that eventual consumption.

  • Kathy C: are you trying to tell me that post-collapse won’t be easy?:-) Don’t worry about me being too optimistic, i’ve been confronting doom for, as i said earlier, over 39 years. Perhaps the worst part has been the utter denial i’ve confronted not only amongst the mainstream types (where one would expect it) but also amongst so many “activists,” e.g. one guy who thinks the earth could easily support 100 billion people if power and resources were “fairly” distributed, another (an academic!) who saw no problem with WWIII, even a nuclear one, since the world survived the first two global wars,…

  • Agrarian anarchy isn’t a realistic expectation to take over, dreams die hard? Seems that is what I’m seeing here.

    There is another way to look at this. Many others have a lot of different dreams that are getting cold water dashed on them. Dreams dying hard could lead some to want to go out with a bang. Their attitude will be they are going to die if they can’t have their dream, and they are taking as many with them as they can. Once this starts, it leads to waves of desperate, suicidal fighting, with the usual company of starvation and disease. Billions could die relatively quickly.

    As a result,fossil fuel burning drops to practically nothing compared to now. Forests, grasslands, phytoplankton, begin recovering, sequestering CO2 at much higher rates. Climate stabilizes. It could be stable at a point similar to past eras of high or low temperature, much harsher, conditions, but survivable. Many nuclear power plants could work as designed and hold in their radiation. What does get out is not necessarily going to be lethal to everyone.

    People who more gracefully give up dreams and accept reality, who make rational decisions about how they get along with each other and the rest of life, might survive.

  • Pralaya:

    Pralaya, in Hindu cosmology, is an aeonic term for Dissolution, which specifies different periods of time during which non activity situation persists, as per different formats or contexts. The word Mahapralaya stands for Great Dissolution. During each pralaya, the first three realms (loka) are destroyed, that is Bhu loka (Earth), Bhuvar loka, and Swarga loka [1]

    Praakritik Pralaya, which is of 311,040,000,000,000 solar years duration, occurs after the completion of life of Brahma (i.e. 100 Brahma years = 311 trillion and 40 billion earth years = one day of Vishnu = 1 Parama). After the completion of one Brahma life cycle, the complete dissolution of all the entities (i.e. the Panch Mahaabhoot or Universe) takes place in the eternity (God). Praakritik Pralaya is the time for which Vishnu sleeps. The next morning, he again gives birth to a new Lord Brahma and asks him to create new worldly entities. Noticeably, Praakritik Pralaya and the Life of Brahma are of equal duration.

    According to the Wikipedia:
    The age of the universe is the time elapsed since the Big Bang. The best current estimate of the age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.11 billion years[1][2] (4.339 ± 0.035 ×10^17 seconds) within the Lambda-CDM concordance model. 

  • Oz – I can’t thank you enough for posting “Ship of Fools” …

  • Thanks for this website. I am pessimistic but not as pessimistic as Mr. McPherson. But perhaps I should be;

    I am an office drone (attorney in legal services) who chairs the local union chapter of legal services workers. Granted, I probably am in the wrong position because I find the collapse of industrial civilization within 20-30 years (I know, too long) quite possible. Maybe I should tell all the members to quit their jobs and prepare for post-industrial life.

    I have only myself to blame if collapse comes and I am unprepared. But I admire the efforts of the posters here and can’t disagree with the message of doom. If people approach you after collapse and say how could we have known, take a hoe and strike them on the top of their heads.

  • Ken not to worry, in the best of situations preparation only buys you some time (since we are all mortal) but things keep progressing so fast and the outcome looks so much more dire that probably the best of preparations will only buy a tiny bit of time. Hope that cheered you up.

    The older ones of us on this site have the comfort of knowing that we have less time for living to loose than the younger ones. For once it is good to be old.

    What has always mattered most is what we do with today. Hug everyone you love lots and lots for a starter :)