Playing Court Jester

Quoting Carl Sagan, I begin some presentations with this line: “It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” But in the wake of a recent trip to the northeastern United States, it’s clear many people disagree with Sagan, choosing delusion over reality, believing we can have infinite growth on a finite planet with no consequences for humans or other organisms, smoking the crack pipe of hopium.

From those who actually absorb my messages about collapse and climate change, I’m asked: “Why bother? Why do you go on the road?”

My response:

Do I tell the truth, or not? Paradoxically, the importance of my messages and my ability to deliver them in compelling fashion are not the primary reasons I spend time on the road. People want to hear what I’ve done to prepare, so that’s why I’m invited to speak. But the real reason I travel is that I need to get away, in large part because the experiment has failed. I’ve conducted many experiments, and I know failure when it whacks me in the head.

My experiences, essays, and presentations have failed to promote resistance sufficient to cause collapse of the industrial economy, and have therefore failed to delay human extinction. Further, I’ve failed to convince even a very small minority of people in my audiences to change their lives. Worse yet, the mud hut offers no viable future for humans, thus precluding a decent future for the youngster here and his generation. Thus, my primary targets — the general public and the youngster and his generation — are left in the cold extreme heat.

In summary, I recognize the mud hut has become a near-term death trap because of climate chaos, and so I must leave it. And then, when I become totally burned out on the road, demoralized by the majority people in the audiences and the sheer insanity of speaking to a world that will not listen, I must return to the mud hut. And not so much to recover or re-energize as to take my turn at the chores while preparing for another round of insanity.

On the road, there’s little possibility to develop a lasting relationship. I throw a Molotov cocktail into the conversation, and then I leave the area.

On the road, I describe how we live at the mud hut. I describe the importance of living for today. I contemplate the ethics of near-term human extinction. In response, I am given nicknames. The latest, which I greatly appreciate: Guy McStinction.

Of course it’s not all bad. I enjoy being hosted by people who open their doors, minds, and hearts to me. I enjoy serious conversation about serious topics, always laced with abundant humor.

Shortly after my return from my latest trip, a comment comes from the ether (to protect the guilty, I’ll not reveal names): “Listened to Guy last night. He spoke at our permaculture meeting. It’s hard to keep on believing it matters when it really doesn’t. We’re screwed, no matter what.”

The online response from a former fan of mine: “Really, so Guy traveled to your permaculture meeting and left you with the impression we are all screwed no matter what we do? Doesn’t sound very motivating towards being proactive. What is the point of having a massive carbon footprint flying about and having people drive to hear him spreading a message if you spread such pessimism that people do not think it matters what we do?”

And in a subsequent message from the latter person: “You were someone I really looked up to last year. Nothing wrong with facing doom head on and naming it for what it is but at least then you gave some hope and some direction, now, not so much.”

I’ve come to the conclusion that hope is hopeless. As Nietzsche pointed out, “hope is the most evil of evils, because it prolongs man’s torment.” To put Ed Abbey’s spin on it, “action is the antidote to despair.” So, even though I no longer think my actions matter for humans, I’ll take action.

From my email inbox comes a message from the campus “green” committee that invited my presentation at a local college: “We are as alarmed as you are but strongly disagree with your analysis that the only solution to climate chaos is to embrace economic collapse. There are other empowering, creative, sustainable and hopeful courses of action. Our students need to hear these choices in order to move forward. A message entirely consisting of gloom and doom will not move us in a positive direction. If we are to have a future, we must stay engaged, not disempowered and filled with despair.”

A portion of my response:

I understand wanting to promote empowerment, creativity, and hopefulness. I cannot understand promoting these attributes in the absence of — or at the expense of — factual information supported by extensive, rational analyses.

Near-term human extinction is a difficult pill to swallow, as is economic collapse. But ignoring ugly truths does not make them any less true. Despair is an expected and appropriate response to this information. Recognizing, accepting, and moving beyond despair are important subsequent steps.

As I indicated in my presentation, only complete economic collapse prevents runaway greenhouse. We’ve known this tidbit since 2009, when Timothy Garrett’s excellent analysis was published in the journal Climatic Change. It’s not as if I’m making up the dire information, or cheering for the human suffering that is resulting from collapse. But I’m not interested in presenting information based on wishful thinking, either.

On and on it goes. As George Orwell pointed out, “truth is treason in an empire of lies.” A typically absurd comment comes from a leading public figure in response to a question about my reporting of the climate science: “I think his view is profoundly disempowering. Whether or not he’s right, I think telling people that is not helpful. It’s a recipe for ending up with people doing none of the things that are possible to make a difference. There’s so much uncertainty in the models that we can’t realistically make predictions like that anyway. Climate is highly non-linear, we don’t understand the various feedback loops, or where we lie within them, or the net effect of different ones, or the impact of methane in comparison with CO2, or the background cycle of natural forcings, or the impact of economic collapse on both emissions and global dimming etc etc. I think we need to plan to get over the first hurdle (financial crissi) and then deal with the next, and the one after that as they arise. Relocalization, undertaken for reasons of finance and energy contraction, will also be the only factor that can genuinely benefit climate as well. Whatever reason we do it for, that is the answer – a simpler society.”

Let’s move toward a simpler society, and the sooner the better. But let’s not deal with predicaments as hurdles to be leaped over or knocked down. Let’s take them on now, and let’s get to the root of the matter: Industrial civilization is destroying life on Earth. Rather than pondering how we can protect faux wealth as the industrial economy unwinds — the leading question for the civilized among us — let’s get to work saving the living planet by terminating industrial civilization.

Apparently I disempower people by encouraging them to take responsibility for facts, and for themselves. Oh, the irony. I induce disempowerment and despair. As individuals, we’ve never had significant power, our privilege aside. For most of us, the limited power we possess has been used primarily to accrue more personal power at the expense of the living planet and people outside the industrialized world.

What of despair? If you don’t despair what we’ve done, and what we continue to do, to the living planet and people outside the industrialized world, I have little sympathy for you. Despair is a typical and expected reaction to my presentations, and I would have it no other way. If the truth causes despair, then bring on the truth. I’ve been despairing for years. It hurts. But avoiding our emotions makes us less human, hence degrades our humanity. I want no part of that. I want to feel, even when it hurts. Until I can’t.

How difficult it is for civilized humans to comprehend that this civilization, like all others, has disadvantages. How difficult it is for civilized humans to comprehend that this civilization, like all others, must end. How difficult it is for civilized humans to comprehend that humans, like other organisms, are headed for extinction.

And you believe I’m not grieving? You believe I enjoy the knowledge in my head? Apparently you’ve not been paying attention.

Lest you conclude this essay is a defensive rant — and perhaps it is, at least in part — I’m actually going somewhere. All this speaking and writing and reacting and pondering leads me to a new and different place than I ever imagined. Specifically, I’m adjusting to my new roles as the world burns: court jester and psychotherapist. I have no experience with either pursuit, unless playing class clown contributes to the former. But I think Nero had the right idea, creating art as Rome burned. So I’ll create humor while taking advantage of opportunities to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. Perhaps if I provide enough humor, I’ll be spared the usual end-of-life experience proposed for those messengers who bring bad news.

Had the industrial economy collapsed in late 2008 or early 2009, as appeared likely at the time, our species might have persisted a few more generations. Now, however, it’s time to let go. As individuals, we do not possess the power to alter the outcome. However, we have the power to control our reaction to events. Thus, the new role I’ve assigned myself.

I’ll present dire information with empathy while promoting resistance. I’ll continue to criticize society while empathizing with individuals. And I’ll ask people to empathize, and to feel. Even if though it hurts.

Why? Because, hopium aside, Carl Sagan was correct: painful reality trumps satisfying, reassuring delusion.


This post is permalinked at Island Breath, Peak Oil News, and Speaking Truth to Power.


My monthly essay for Transition Voice was published two days ago. It’s here.


NEXT-DAY UPDATE: The IPCC Fifth Assessment has been leaked. It’s here. Note that, like its predecessors, it fails to incorporate major positive feedbacks.

Comments 349

  • As one of the people who encountered Guy’s radio interview on a local radio station, I can say that a crippling darkness has entered my being. Spread the word, but give people a chance to jump ship at the beginning – a caveat, like, this is really dark shit and you shouldn’t deal with it if you can’t. Didn’t you read The Road? What did “the man’s” wife do? She killed herself in the very beginning of the book, because she couldn’t take what she knew the future would hold. That represents almost everyone. Only a few of us are stupid/brave enough to think we would even want to try to survive in the bleakest of possible futures. Hearing on my little local radio station that every thing I love – including my 5 month old son – will die the most miserable horrid death anyone could imagine is not the type of shit anyone is EVER prepared to hear. I don’t know what the right answer is to this question – we’ve never really been here before. So, I guess ethics fail. There’s no map for where we’re going, I guess, but this shit is so bleak. I’m still trying to come to terms with it in a way that doesn’t freak my wife out.

  • People who seek solace from you–those that need a guru to guide through the overwhelming horror our misbegotten civilization has wrought–should be ignored. As you said, there should be no pity for those that do not feel despair every waking moment of their lives. People seek “answers” all the while knowing what the answer is; it would be farce if it wasn’t so disgusting.

    I save my pity and mourning not for my fellow man, but for all the other wonderful species suffering and winking out as a result of our evil self-indulgence. The voiceless ones, those who aren’t considered when we speak of “saving the species”, they are the victims, and they are the ones deserving of pity. Our lot is getting what it deserves.

    Your recent presentation–The Twin Sides of the Fossil Fuel Coin–was the best encapsulation of “our moment” that I’ve seen. If we were redeemable, it would be the most viewed clip on the web, and people would literally be streaming out of their cubicles, abandoning their autos where they sit, and marching on nuke plants to shut them down. That we are not–that *I* am not–says all we need to know about our species and the lack of responsibility and self-knowledge that is selecting our species out of existence.

    Please continue your journey. It’s not comfortable or comforting, but it IS appreciated (not that that means anything….)

  • I’m with Guy on this one.
    As he writes: “Despair is an expected and appropriate response to this information. Recognizing, accepting, and moving beyond despair are important subsequent steps.”
    I’ve followed his blog since 2009, and in the intervening time I’ve certainly despaired, and grieved for all that is good about human achievement…..for it all to be coming to an end at our own hands is very hard to bear.
    But knowing the truth IS empowering…it puts all our petty, daily aggravations into perspective..and at the end of the day, Love is the answer. Love for the planet, for our fellow men, for our work, for the air we breathe and the sun on our faces….for speaking our Truth, however unwelcome, for the day that’s in it.
    We all take whatever steps we can, however small and seemingly futile…Guy is not spreading the word for kudos, money or prestige,and it must come at some cost to him and his relationships, but I see it coming from Love. Fair Play to him!

  • Always heavy. Always real.

    The fact that not all of us, if any of us, will survive what’s to come is a detail that does seem to promote ‘well if that’s the case, why try?’ in so many. This puzzles me.

    For all our John Wayne posturing in American society (not to mention the Power to the People! mantra), I am astounded at the number of people willing to throw in the towel that fast. We most assuredly don’t succumb to this mindset when a hurricane rips apart the larger part of entire states shoreline. When a tornado flattens a town. When we THINK we’ve got some good intel on why we should invade and decimate an entire country on another continent.

    I know we’re fucked. But I also know that I intend to go down fighting. And I know that developing skills that could extend my life and actually provide some measure of comfort during this collapse and upheaval is the right thing to do. Even if I don’t make it, SOMEBODY might find and use my seed bank. My fertile, healthy soil. My rain collection barrels. My canning supplies. My books on identifying wild edibles, mushrooms, medicinal herbal methods and food preservation.

    Or maybe just having promoted a healthy land base here will allow some other life forms to continue a bit longer.

    It just never occurred to me to ‘give up’. To adopt the position that I may as well just continue with business as usual and live it up because it just doesn’t matter any longer. And the bullshit, cave at mach speed, of people who hear your message is so in opposition to the ‘American Spirit’ to which so many lay claim.

    If anything, this dark knowledge instilled a sense of urgency in me to acquire skills that I know damn well will benefit myself and those around me when shit hits the fan. Will they ‘save’ me or anyone else? How could I know? We face far too many uncertainties and death comes to us all eventually anyhow. So at best it perhaps prolongs my life. But the point is, unlike those who cry out for the truth to be tempered so more might find it palatable, your message lit a fire under my ass.

    And it was a huge catalyst in my rearranging my priorities and values. A decade ago, I was one of the willing participants of this culture. I marvel at how much my worldview has shifted over the past decade and all I’ve learned on this journey to arrive where I am today.

    I think it’s glaringly apparent these groups you’re speaking to are still so rooted in this culture they believe if only enough people plant a garden and get a hybrid car it’ll be okay. If only enough people boycott this place and make a few feel good purchases it’ll be okay. These people simply have NOT faced the music yet. And if people like you, Guy McStinction, don’t fling it in their face, they’re never going to start having this discussion. And we all know, the discussion is the 1st step in accepting the truth.

  • I will trudge onward on the slim chance that there is still hope for hope.

    I will continue learning to grow my own food, fill my root cellar and dig out my fresh water spring. I’ll continue harvesting firewood and using the rest for hugelkultur beds. I’ll continue to work toward reskilling and relocalization.

    I understand the news is dire, and made so much worse by the deniers and anti-science crowd. There may be no hope for long term human survival, but I will continue to do what I can, to control the one thing on this planet I CAN control — me.

    I salute Guy for bringing the facts to the table – horrible though they may be. But I will act on the hope that there’s still some feedback loop we don;t currently understand, that economic collapse just might save a small part of humanity in a small corner of the world. And why not here in Vermont? We have ample water (so far), and a rural population that at least has some memory of raising our own food and making the things we need from local stuff.

    It might be an exercise in futility, but until things get so bad that we can’t survive, I’ll continue to act as if we can.

  • deskpoet says: The voiceless ones, those who aren’t considered when we speak of “saving the species”, they are the victims, and they are the ones deserving of pity.

    I would add: and they are the «only» ones deserving of pity. really.

    lately, I read the word «numb» to describe the reaction to catastrophes. In philippines for example, people could not help the emergency workers after the typhoon because they were numb. I bet it will be one of the few generalized reactions in the coming events.

  • Guy, I am one of the minority that listens to what you have to say with utmost interest, and believe in your messsage, no matter how bad it is for all of us. Thanks for being brave anough to, against the whole system, say what you feel you must say.

  • No one here gets out alive. What disturbs people the most is they can’t control it. We never could control it so I really don’t see how this is different. I’ve always known I was going to die someday but I haven’t thrown in the towel. Now at least I have some idea that if I live long enough it may be climate change that checks my ticket. Maybe for some its better not knowing ones demise…for me it’s something I realize I can’t control. So keep on keepin’ on is my motto. Either way no one here gets out alive.

  • I’m not sure I would want to prolong my life if the events of Climate Collapse come to fruition (which I believe they will). At the same time, I can understand the importance of educating oneself on survivalist skills.

    I had my good “cry” long ago (in the Spring of 1988) when I foresaw the inaction by Western civilization toward the coming Climate Collapse. People don’t want to hear the truth and consequences of our wreckless carbon-based actions. My own coworkers have (affectionately) called me “that crazy climate guy” as I’ve tried to warn them of what Guy speaks of. So, over time I’ve come to soften my dialogue to others. Deep down, though, I know we’ve painted ourselves into a corner. We’re done for. I can’t cry anymore as I have no more tears left. But once we’re gone, just maybe the planet can heal itself over many thousand years. Anyhow, I’d like to think that that’s still a possibility.

  • Guy, when I first began to understand that some people found you to be disempowering, I was confused. I thought to myself, ‘How could a man who I find to be extraordinarily empowering be seen as the opposite by others?’

    But I recovered quickly; oh yes! those who want to cling to their illusion that the material world and all its glory is the one we must and can perpetuate will feel disempowered when told there is nothing they can do to ensure the continuation of it. Nothing they can do to ensure they continue to have the privileges they have so enjoyed and, which are the exact factors that are causing the destruction of the planet, at the expense of those that that enjoyment has enslaved in third-world countries; nothing they can do to ensure that there will still be a way to have semi-drinkable water running out of their taps while raw sewage and industrial waste is pumped into each and every water way, nothing they can do to ensure that steak and pork and chicken will still be on their plates dripping with bearnaise sauce while (b)illions of animals are tortured and slain to satisfy their pallet; nothing they can do to ensure that it will take 3 minutes to get that triple mocha double shot hazelnut whipped cream mega-size latte 24 hours a day at their corner multi-national coffee shop while the Amazon rain forest is in megadrought.

    They are feel disempowered because they are being told that they and the entire industrial paradigm have pushed the planet to the point of no material return. There will be no long-term, technological or other fix for a planet where there is no oxygen to breathe. There is no way to stop the process, the march toward a planet that can produce no oxygen. And WE have caused this thing for which you, Guy, are saying there is no cure. Yes, I understand how that could feel disempowering – but only to people who had the illusion that that system was good in the first place and that they had any power within it at al.

    Guy, when we were visiting at Jen’s, did I tell you about my amazing parents? They had their faults and issues, as do all parents, and I didn’t really appreciate them until I was an adult, no longer a rebellious child. I remember a day long ago, when I was in my 30s, that I was talking about them to a friend. I remember describing them as people who did not teach me what to think. They opened my mind and taught me ‘how’ to think. Critically and for myself. They taught me I had power, to a certain degree, over my own life, but that we were all living within a particular paradigm that had been going on for millennia, and it was pretty much impossible to leave, or ‘not see’ that paradigm. They taught me (and I loved hearing these words again from you) that it was a moral imperative to work to form a world based on compassion, empathy, egalitarian ethics, and respect for all people.. animals… plants… the living planet. And it was a moral imperative to resist those who enslave and destroy. Given our ever-crushing political and social system, that has not been an easy way of life for those who choose this path, and efforts seem sometimes to be fruitless, as evinced by the position in which we now find ourselves.

    So, here you come along with: 1. Proof that the ‘system’ does not, in fact, work past providing comfort for a few at the expense of the many; 2. Proof that the ‘system’ is, in fact, exacting wholesale destruction of a planet on which beautiful and balanced life had flourished for millions of years as a result of a process that has taken billions of years; 3. Proof that there is nothing we can do to save the perpetrators, which include ourselves.
    And to that I stand on the highest mountaintop that has not been stripped, removed and mined and I shout: “HalleFuckingLujah!!!” loudly enough so that each and every one of the billions of people living in abject poverty with scare food or water, in a constant state of oppression, fear, slavery and war can hear me; so that millions of chickens crammed into cages with their beaks and claws cut off, bleeding and tortured can hear me; so that their brother and sister wolves and bears and elephants and salmon that are near extinction can hear me; so the tuna and whales and dolphins that swim and gag in the polluted oceans can hear me; so the rain forest dying in the Amazon drought and the trees being murdered in clear cuts for coffee tables and printer paper can hear me; so the babies born with deformities caused by depleted uranium dropped in bombs by the U.S. so we can steal their oil so all those disempowered-feeling people can drive to the mall and shop for Christmas gifts can hear me.
    Again, I shout “HALLELUJAH!!! The horrors that species Homo Sapiens has perpetrated on this beautiful planet and all her creatures will soon be over. And I absolutely feel empowered by that. For the past 57 years, knowing that I could not, that all those of us who have resisted, who have worked for social change could not in any substantive way feed the hungry, heal the sick and stop the suffering has meant soul-shattering disempowerment. Now I am empowered. I feel the power of this planet coursing through my veins, intertwining with my blood, propelling me toward a short-term future that I cannot begin to imagine, but welcome, even though it means unfathomable suffering. I remind those of you who would shove this fact in my face – there has always been and continues to be unfathomable suffering for those who are not ‘privileged.’
    And in the meantime, I am empowered to slough off all the crap, the ideologies, the mundanities, the meaningless activities. I am empowered to totally learn and embrace who I am, really, underneath all the societal-enforced indoctrination. I am empowered to live with the deepest authenticity of my mind and heart and soul. I am empowered to touch and talk to and relate to other people with deepening compassion and empathy and without fear. I am empowered to breathe each breath with purpose, with joy, with the astonishment of being alive at this sacred time. I am empowered to see the Earth as it truly is, and not through the eyes of a 21st century person brought up in the construct of the post-industrial age. I am empowered to open my heart and my mind and my spirit to their broadest extent and fully perceive and embrace the world around me. I am empowered to love, without fear, without holding back. In fact, I am empowered to be fearless. And maybe, just maybe, all that is the point to living in the first place.
    But then, I do not desire to hold onto and perpetuate the current set of living arrangements on this planet. I desire the horrors to be gone. And all the evidence points to the process of that exact thing happening. So, as my parents taught me and as you, Guy, so tirelessly ask us to do now, I wipe away the remaining illusions, I open my heart and my mind and my arms, I feel the power dancing in my body, my toes, my fingertips – and I reach out to touch all that is beautiful and magickal and alive on our magnificent planet. I reach out to touch you, each of you, so that you can feel this all-encompassing empowerment, too.

  • Guy, with greatest respect and love, I am eternally grateful that it is you will to speak…

  • The “leading public figure” is wrong. The uncertainties in the models are no longer SO large that we can’t begin to draw some reasonable conclusions from them moving forward. “The only thing we know is that we know nothing” is no longer plausible when it comes to climate science.

  • Many of us have been living the simple life (not looking to get rich), trying to do the right thing by the planet – recycle, garden, refrain from the pursuit of some synthetic “happiness” because you’re already genuinely happy, not needing all the toys, reading, meditating, working out, doing what we thought was right. It doesn’t take long if you’re paying attention to discover that something is very wrong with the way things are set up – it’s way too energy inefficient (and now with a worn-out electrical grid)! Some have their “aha” moment while stuck in a long line of unmoving traffic on a sunny summer day, see all those idling engines ahead and behind . . .

    If you check around you can find local groups doing just about everything in the “environmental involvement” area from water protection, to anti-fracking, to clean air, supporting local farms who do things organically or co-ops, urban garden projects in poor neighborhoods using abandoned space or on roof-tops of buildings, there’s any number of public works projects (and some townships have public meetings where it can be addressed, budgeted and facilitated, so get involved if you so feel – it’s cathartic, somehow makes one feel better, even if only for the time they participate.

    Perhaps somewhere along the evolution trail we were supposed to slow down and enjoy the surroundings – and tend to them (then stay out of the way and don’t cause problems). How we were supposed to know, with all the conditions we had to endure, i’ve yet to discern. Lately it feels like this was the ride the whole time, that it was meant to happen this way and that we get the privilege to be at the last picture show.

  • I started to write this comment and then decided to refresh the screen one more time. Up pops Liag’s comment. Now I can speak.

    I have published on empowerment. I study empowerment. I’ve been slammed by (some) editors, nurses and others. But some “get it” and patients get it better than nurses.

    The concept of empowerment was created by Julian Rappaport (not Paulo Freire, as usually assumed) in a 1981 speech to the American Psychological Association (APA). He defined it as a feeling, and the opposite feeling to that of helplessness. Psychologists, nurses, social workers, and other agents of empire loved this idea. Create a feeling in a person and you’ve done a good thing. If you tried and they didn’t feel empowered, well, then it’s their own fault. It has become so bad, that nurses (even my students!) say, “Yes, I empowered him to quit smoking.” No, you forced him by your will and your status as a social agent of the status quo.

    The empowerment people speak of has nothing to do with the objective details of people’s lives. It’s about how they feel. It has become a technique of oppression, used by social agents. *I* will empower *you* to do what *I* say is best for *you*.

    Patients are considered empowered if and only if they make the *correct* decisions as defined by the health care provider.

    Oooooo, Guy, you made people feel *disempowered*. Shame on you. Your message was *disempowering*. Shame again.

    Anyone *feeling* disempowered by the truths of the message of NTE is a very fragile person. Anyone *feeling* disempowered by this presentation is a captive of empire – they feel what they are told to feel, they behave as they are told to behave.

    What unthinking idiots these people are.

    Liag is not one of these. He sees the truth, embraces the message, and makes what he wants of it. He thinks. He makes his own decisions. He will do what he wants, not what he is told to do, to feel. And he will face the consequences as a relatively free agent.

    All feelings and actions from this point on will be moot, anyway. We speak of the “moral” thing to do at the end of the planetary ecosystems – what hubris! We think of how we wish to “go down fighting” or “at least help people until the end” as though someone or something was going to judge us after it was all over. You may decide to do these things, but be mindful of why you do what you do. You must be your own judge.

    But we’re down to biology and physics now, people. All the things we made up to support people living in groups: morality, generosity, team work, religion, civilization, the very ideas of right and wrong, science, philosophy – all these things are ethereal, made up by humans, not real. They mean nothing in the face of NTE. We are the lemmings exhorting each other to higher moral standing as we all dive over the cliff together.

    So face the end however you like! Make your own decisions. Do what you must. Get real, as Liag has done. It will be interesting to observe individual humans’ responses. Most will cling to their conditioned responses. Some not. The possibilities are endless! Grab the popcorn.

  • BC Nurse Prof, I appreciate your comments about me. It feels good to have positive feed back, of course. I agree with your comment whole-heartedly.

    I must correct you on just one thing, something I understand you can’t ascertain from my name. I am a ‘she.’ :)

  • I am very sorry, Liag, for making that assumption. Rather illustrates our culturally mediated reflexes, no?

  • A quick sort of off topic – some aspects of collapse will have a stark beauty
    “It’s like watching ‘Manhattan breaking apart in front of your eyes’, says one of the researchers for filmmaker James Balog. He’s describing the largest iceberg calving ever filmed, as featured in his movie, Chasing Ice. After weeks of waiting, the filmakers witnessed 7.4 cubic km of ice crashing off the Ilulissat glacier in Greenland. Chasing Ice, released in the UK on Friday, follows Balog’s mission to document Arctic ice being melted by climate change.”

  • Guy, I’m actually pleased to see you realize the mud hut has been a failure. You really are someone who is not afraid to re-evaluate decisions, assumptions, paths, etc., in light of new information. I hope I am able to do the same.

    Our small home and garden here has taken all of our money to set up. Now I think it might be a mistake to have tied all of it up this way. We may need to gather a few things together in a backpack and walk away north some day. I hope I know when that day comes. I also hope my joints will be able to take it. If not, I’ll lay down and die – I have no problem with that.

    Every part of the world will have its end. For some, flood. For some, drought. For some, heat. For us, it will be by firestorm. All it will take is another El Nino and one lightning strike. Poof!

  • Guy, are you going to reconsider what you do, in light of the response to your latest presentation? I don’t see you sitting down and waiting for the end. What’s your plan? Why do you torture yourself so? I’d rather sit and commune with the worms in my garden than do what you do.

    But I love gardening. And cooking the food and eating it. A bit late to figure out what I want to do in life, isn’t it?

  • I am a 27 year old woman who has been reading NBL for a few months. Gradually, I have let the horrors of the facts that your work and essays uncover sink in. I have presented the facts to all sorts of people- a few close friends also in their 20’s, my old therapist, my current therapist, my father. No one believes it. No one is willing to accept it. Even my old therapist, who introduced me to being aware of ecological destruction (a proponent of the field of ‘ecopsychology’), believes that mystery could account for something science doesn’t know.

    My current therapist, who I’m seeing because of depression (but I know philosophically, I am sensitive to truths those around me don’t accept), says that I am vulnerable to ‘enthrallment.’

    So, for me, the hardest thing currently is how alone I feel. Utterly helpless. I know we are all helpless, but at least if we could comfort each other in small teams or groups.

    How does one deal with the loneliness? If even the most eco-minded therapist can’t face this with me and participate in a conversation about how to die, what do I do? Go to nature and weep alone? Wait for the day when everyone has to wake up?

  • “What of despair? If you don’t despair what we’ve done, and what we continue to do, to the living planet and people outside the industrialized world, I have little sympathy for you. Despair is a typical and expected reaction to my presentations, and I would have it no other way. If the truth causes despair, then bring on the truth. I’ve been despairing for years. It hurts. But avoiding our emotions makes us less human, hence degrades our humanity. I want no part of that. I want to feel, even when it hurts. Until I can’t.” ~ Guy McPherson

    This is brilliant Guy! And they said you were a psychopath!? I say you are real and that is why I love you!

    Choices are the only real thing we have complete control over in our lives. We make choices based on many many factors and living with the consequences of those choices is what makes us learn and grow as human beings. Be deliberate and critical in your thinking because when the choice is made, the consequence is what WE have to live with.

    I wrote this for my students because it is what I used to teach them and what I feel is true in our lives, but based on the industrial civilization model, we are taught to avoid what is perceived to be the uncomfortable or “bad” feelings we naturally feel. They are there, we choose to “stuff” or ignore them which leads to very unhealthy physical, mental, and emotional maladies. Many of which we see in “civilization” today. I applaud your truth and your ability to express your feelings Guy. When people actually meet you and choose not to get stuck on the “darkness” of your message, then they will get “it”! Hopefully they feel the pain and then live their lives the way they see fit. As long as they are doing their best to live their lives without destroying Mother Earth and at the least expense of living things, then who are We to judge? Therein lies the question we all can ask ourselves: Am I living my life the best I can without destroying the Earth and consequentially each other?

    Since I have been on this journey of realization, 45 years in the making, I realize it has been a process to answer this question. I am getting there and I am thankful for your input. I think I can say that I appreciate your message of sadness and pain and have come out the better for it! :) I choose to feel your message and then model as best I can by trying not to live within the paradigm of industrial civilization to the best of my ability and psychological well-being. So far so good I believe! With that said, I am grateful you are in my tribe! I am looking forward to much laughter, critical discussion, listening, and feeling feelings with you in the very near future! Peace Fatty!

  • KB, don’t let these people run your life! Their job is to get you to “adapt” better to “society” for your own good. They are trained to fix you to not ask such questions! You should have an oppressive job, kids, spouse, and fly to Hawaii for holidays.

    You have now happened upon the biggest unwelcome truth of the human species right now. What to do? Why? Why do you have to *do* anything?

    As an aside, why do people your age always think they have to “do” something? Is that a product of being young? Maybe. I don’t have access to my young brain anymore. I can’t answer.

    Yep. It’s lonely. Powerfully so. But look at Liag. How freeing is this information? It could strike you as the most freeing piece of news you ever came across. Do you get depressed listening to news reports of drones blowing children to bits? Of torture, rape, starvation, drowning? It makes me feel so much better to know that it’s almost over. As a species, we are the worst ever, and now we’re about to destroy the planet. I think we deserve it, and by our own hand, even.

    I listen to the news: last weekend a young couple died by sliding their car off the road into the icy river north of here. High school sweethearts, teachers of children, she 8 months pregnant with their first child, loved by the entire small community. They pulled his body out, but they can’t find hers. I will not go down to the river until they find her. I couldn’t bear to be the one to find her body stuck between a couple of boulders or tree roots in the water.

    The only way I can bear things like this is by saying to myself, “They are the lucky ones. Their child will not starve to death before their eyes.” It’s almost over. It’s almost over. I repeat. Then I can see more clearly. Rejoice! It’s almost over.

  • Hi BC Nurse Prof. Thanks for those words.

    I guess the urge to ‘do’ comes from a desire to still make meaning out of life.

    And yes, of course, I get horridly depressed when I hear about drones blowing children to bits, or of rape, torture, starvation. But I had been one of those hoping for the collapse of industrial civilization, and an end to at least some oppression.

    And selfishly, I must admit, I before reading NBL, had been hoping for a “normal” life. I know it’s shallow and selfish, given how privileged I am compared to other species and poor people of the world.

    I wanted to love my own child, I wanted to fall in love, I wanted my heart to smile. You see, I was never in the industrial economy death camp. My own three occupations of choice (to which I aspire) are musician (baroque singer), writer, and counselor. All I wanted was to live a life of harmony.

    Yes, I see above, a preoccupation with “I.” I seem self-obsessed and premature. My parents still think I will have those things. My friends to do.

    What do you do with all this youthful energy? Where do I turn it?

  • I think the “leading public figure” Guy mentions in his essay should read Paul Kingsnorth’s 2009 essay “Confessions of a Recovering Environmentalist”. Dealing with NTE/”McStinctionism” in one bite might be too much for him/her to deal with right now. Kingsnorth’s Dark Mountain might be a good alternative place to start.

  • KB,

    Here’s one place:

    Spend some time there. For someone with a lot of youthful energy, it’s an OK place to hang out.

  • KB, I don’t know if I can help you. You’re asking all the right questions and figuring out what your own answers tell you about yourself.

    So make it not about you anymore. Do things for others, instead. If I were young again, I would move to New Zealand. I just missed a job opportunity there and I’ve been kicking myself ever since. But that’s me. Not you.

    Don’t agonize over lost children and lost loves. If you decide you don’t want a lover I can bet you dollars to donuts that lovers will begin breaking down your door. I don’t know why this is, but somehow people exude the fragrance of not being interested. Then potential lovers smell this and get intrigued. When you truly don’t want one, they’ll find you. Just don’t let them convince you to have children.

    Let go of the “Woe is me! When will someone make me happy?” and go out and do what makes you happy. Become active, not passive. No one else can do this for you. If you are doing what makes you happy, then people will attracted to you, to your happiness in what you are doing.

    Ok, that’s enough motherly advice for today.

  • Guy you wrote “From my email inbox comes a message from the campus “green” committee that invited my presentation at a local college: “We are as alarmed as you are but strongly disagree with your analysis that the only solution to climate chaos is to embrace economic collapse. There are other empowering, creative, sustainable and hopeful courses of action. Our students need to hear these choices in order to move forward. A message entirely consisting of gloom and doom will not move us in a positive direction. If we are to have a future, we must stay engaged, not disempowered and filled with despair.””
    Funny how all those positive things people are supposed to do to save the world all seem to involve producing more CO2 (attending conventions, driving to meetings, buying cute save the world T-shirts etc. Not to mention continuing to ruin the environments of any country that has resources we need for our cell phones (coltan, Congo) so we can plan actions, or our windmills (NEODYMIUM, China) just to name a few. Alternet wanted me to ask for a free bumper sticker today – No Farms, No Food, American Farmland Trust. Besides being absolutely useless and giving them my info so they can ask for money, it uses resources to make, print, and mail eh?

    Psychotherapist to the doomed. I think there must be a limerick in that. I;ll work on it if BtD doesn’t get there first. It will provide something to use for your court jester role maybe.

    Thank you for speaking truth and providing a forum where we can absorb this truth and learn how to live with it until our living is over.

  • Yes, and along the lines of court jester, I’ve been hoping to see a doomer version of one of those stupid media lists……most influential people, biggest events of 2012……that kind of thing. I wish I was funny.

    BC Nurse Prof,

    I agree with your advice to KB. Must be the crone thing.

  • Empowerment comes in two flavours: delegation of authority to act, and the uprooting of all the negative attitudes that inhibit action.

    The disempwering referred to here is in the latter sense. It is predicated on expectation of anticipated results as the motivation for action. With no escape from the imminent ghastliness, and any favourable expectations are excluded, there is no internal goad to action to bank upon.

    Stuck in the paradigm of attachment – in this case the expecting of anticipated results – one has two options: block out the prospect of NTE, or fall into the pit of despair. But to the extent that a person’s attitudes and actions are not exclusively in thrall to expectations, they will experience reality differently.

  • Somewhere above, I read of someone fearing watching their own child die.
    There are people who are already living this… this has already begun. We (of the “first world”) are the only people who remain protected from the environmental damage that we (mostly) have wrought.

  • There is a recent–actually copyrighted 2013– book that appears helpful to me after having reading the references, table of contents, foreword, and introduction: Engaging with Climate Change: Psychoanalytic and Interdisciplinary Perspectives, Sally Weintrobe, editor, published by Routledge. The book is formatted as individual essays, each essay followed with brief discussion by several others, and sometimes with a response from the essay’s author.

    A major shortcoming, that the books acknowledges, p. 3, “The focus of this book is on people in the West, currently the biggest carbon polluters, and very little is said about how people from other cultures and economies think and feel about climate change and about nature. This is a significant lack.”

    Yes, I agree. For one, Buddhist Vipassana meditation, also termed insight meditation, can permit the difficulties of civilization’s social and psychological conditioning–so ably named and uncovered by western psychoanalysis–to be unwound and dissolved in practice, whereas strictly western psychoanalysis may not be so effective past the problem statement stage.

    Another reason is that indigenous cultures, often overwhelmed and partially subsumed by a dominant western culture, nevertheless retain world views that do not rely on the same paradigms of western culture that are now revealed as destructive, and in fact suicidal. Both of these avenues, explored elsewhere than in this book, have proven fruitful.

    But I am continuing to read with great interest what the discipline of western psychoanalysis may have to offer to the strategy of discussing climate change. All signs point to some good value within this volume.

  • Just saw Guy’s “Twin Sides of the Fossil Fuel Coin”. Crisp, sharp and snappy. Lookin’ good!

  • This is probably not a big surprise to those of us used to higher academia as being “full of hot air”:

  • Guy,

    in traditional court setting, the Court Jester speaks the truth to the King/Queen, because they have the power. We know it today as speaking ‘Truth to Power’.

    In the case of the traditional Court Jester, no one else dare try the possible temper of the Monarch, by speaking Truth. The case of the Court Jester is singularly different because that role is a socially disguised one of a sufficiently enlightened individual to be able to advise the Monarch on a complete world picture regarding the welfare of the realm. In traditional indigenous groups this is known as a Sharmanic role.
    The European social development meant so much power was in the hands of one, that the Sharmanic role needed to be close by. The two roles of the Court Jester of ‘truth teller’ and ‘humour maker’ go side by side with very high intellegence.

    I don’t see you are hitting the mark as Court Jester yet, as you are not speaking to those in power, at least you are making the illusion of all householders, (distinct from eletes in real positions of power), believing in their own power. As you continue the essays and lectures it is apparent that that illusion is one of the issues we need to come to, our powerlessness, especially as many have pointed out her, our relationship to death and now species extinction.

    To be critical, I can’t laugh much at your black humour ‘on the road’, and I suspect it is a way of you personally coping during the discourses and getting your audience to wake a little.
    I agree many of your points are so absurd it is funny, but not the kind of funny, IMO, that brings self recognition with it.

    I will say you are doing a damn fine impression of a court jester, but IMO the power is in a less obvious place, but how you would speak directly to it I don’t know. I suppose the fact there was a significant problem with trolling recently may give creedence that your voice reache somwhere into that hidden vault of ‘real power’.

    That said, I applaud your committment to living in the midst of an experiment, and one that is a creative life on display.

    As I suspect you are well aware, association with even one kid, is enough to make your heart bleed for the near term future holds for humans, let alone other life forms.

    Our own, personal day of death will come, untill then live with all your heart.

    How about someone draw and post a McStinction burger with all the in’greed’ience. It has to have some ‘Relish’ on it, but unfortunately no ‘Ketchup’ is left. And an Eco-cideo-chino on the side.

  • BTW, yesterday I saw a cofee cup, made of paper with the term ‘eco-cup’ on the side.

    I nearly vomited.

    It shoud have correctly been labelled:


    Now that kinda label would get me in!!

  • There should be no more pussy footing, when time is running out,
    And no more non believers when there’s nothing left to doubt.
    Our world is right before us, we should see it every day,
    Yet no one speaks of what they feel while they see our own decay.
    We go about our daily tasks noting little of what’s become,
    To all the single parts that contribute to the sum.

    There is little paid attention to the ground beneath our feet
    Or where we’ll get our food when there’s nothing left to eat.
    Does one ever look above them at the fewer birds that fly the sky?
    And I wonder if they really know how many people lie?

    Though some have spoke to tell us what we need to make it through our day
    But do we ever listen to what they have to say?
    Do we want to hear the truth or just be told the lies?
    I know for me I have to clear the path before I die.

    I have to know what part I’ve played to the damage I’ve caused the earth
    Since life was given to me when I was placed at birth.
    Our playground was for living
    A life that none destroys
    Though some think of it as fantasy as they play with all their toys.

    I can’t say how sorry I am that I ever played the part
    Of living such a life with very little heart.
    I now know how it feels to lose the sacred ground
    That once bestowed upon us all that makes us sound.

  • In the thrall of my usual existential angst yesterday, someone pointed me to a book.

    “There is (also) a psychological edge we’re all living on. We know that we’re living in a world that is being devastated but also one replete with the beauty and power of life. We live on the boundary of deciding to make positive contributions although we know we are implicit in the destruction. We skate between apathy, because the truth of what’s happening is painful to think about, versus action, any kind of action; and we skitter between the paralysis caused by grief and fear versus action. Every decision we have to make, whether it’s a life-sustaining or a life-destroying one, is an edge. Our very psyches are on the edge, between dropping out and dropping in, between selling out and fighting back. Every single one of us.

    The verge is a dangerous and frightening place. It’s important to know that one is not alone on it. The edge holds a tremendous amount of ecological and cultural as well as intellectual power. I believe that we have to get comfortable with it.

    How shall we live? As if we believe in the future. As if everyone one of us is a seed, which as you know is a sacred thing. In my wildest dreams the seeds of every species are speaking to me, calling out: in all the bare spots on earth plant us and let us grow. On all the edges, plant seeds.”

    – From “The Seed Underground: A Growing Revolution to Save Food.”

    Reading just the preface and intro brought me to tears. I don’t think that there’s anything we can (or should) do at this point to save ourselves, but perhaps we can keep the old plant varieties around?

    Anyway, in the book, the author says that she is mainly writing it for young people, trying to inspire them with her own life.

    You can read the preface/intro (and more) at the link below. I’m very curious what everyone thinks about this. We are most definitely effed, but could this be something for us to focus on that is not a distraction, but a (maybe?) worthwhile pursuit?

  • Global warming/climate change – fogetaboutit

    It’s a ruse, a meme to drive people toward feeling they are the problem. Sure, we consume too much precious oil and have misguided energy policies. But there is way more to the causes of climate change than our excess production of CO2.

    Our political, economic and religious systems are all broken. We are at the end of the line. This is the bogeyman, not the climate. Overpopulation, habitat and species destruction is a problem, but not the main one.

    The problem is a human one, and can be fixed when a crisis presents itself. Until then we are just whistling in the wind. Nobody knows how it will unfold.

  • KB, you asked, “How does one deal with the loneliness?” I think coming here is a start. And reaching out further and further. Asking for help in a very specific way, like “My name is ___ and I live in ___. Who’s out there for me to meet with and talk to?” There are doomers all over the place, it turns out; it takes a bit of work sometimes to unearth them. It usually takes revealing yourself first. What I do is make myself “findable” by using my real name and location; show up in various ways, whether in person at events, or with relevant groups, or online; invite people to talk to me; invite people to have tea with me; even invite people to travel long distances to my home, or travel to see them. I think it’s worth going to great lengths to address the loneliness.

    Your current therapist who says you are “vulnerable to enthrallment”: holy crap, does that push my buttons. It seems to me that everyone around you is vulnerable to the enthrallment of industrial civilization. They don’t see the bars of the cage. You are seeing them. I know, it’s crazy-making when everyone around you is crazy and claiming to be sane and telling you you’re the crazy one. Listen: trust yourself. Trust your ability to think critically and evaluate information, on both an intellectual and emotional level. Of course you are depressed. Of course you are already grieving for lost possibilities. You are right to seek out other people to lean on, because those around you are feeding you bullshit. It’s not your fault that they cling to denial.

  • This is by far one of my favourite essay’s of your’s Guy. I myself swing from great frustration and grief to absolute joy in creating, feeling cold, cooking a satisfying meal, dealing with my animals or staring at the stars (especially tonight).

    In our own way we are all alone….. but alone does not mean necessarily lonely. It is useful to to read other’s thoughts. It widens the lens to see the world through.

    I have a regime of taking an image a day reflective of that day. I am at the end of the second year of doing it. This for me has been a very positive thing for many reasons but also as a connecting point between the head noise and the absolute stillness of a moment in time. That is all we really have. A moment in time.

    It is a structure that keeps me relatively sane and look at the world as it is in the moment which is in stark contrast to considering the near future extinction of life on this planet.

  • To one who not bored with oneself, loneliness is not a problem. To deal with loneliness one must first consider how one’s own company feels to oneself. This should be extended to how one’s company might feel to others. Solitude is to be happy in one’s own company. It is to be distinguished from loneliness.

  • I am not surprised to hear what you say. Denial is perhaps the most common thought in the Western world. Denial that we can do wrong either as individuals or as a nation or species. I’m an American. I decided 5 years ago to remove myself from the US and currently live in the Philippines. I have invited my grown family to join me, but denial rules their lives also. So sad.

    I read your articles wherever I find them and some of your books as well as those by Richard Heinberg and others. I have the luxury of retirement, and am able to follow world events closely and to try to reason out their interactions to the best of my ability. It is NOT looking good for homo sapiens. The worse part of this is that we are taking down the rest of the world with us. No, the worst is: we are denying that we are doing it and maybe, we could make it less destructive if we tried. But, we will not even try.

    I never thought, when I was a child back in the late 40s and 50s that I might see the end of the world as we know it, in my lifetime. But a few years of rational thought, the Pandora’s Box of the internet, and a few personal experiences have shown me otherwise. We should never have assumed the title ‘sapiens’ for we have never measured up.

    I wish I could experience one of your truth serving banquets but I probably never will, so I will be content to watch the videos. Here in the Philippines, things are not as bad as in the US. People are still self-sufficient for the most part. Small towns are still families and old friends who have live there for generations. I am the outsider, but I can contribute skills that they can use and have experience that I can share. That is the real wealth, not money.

    Thanks again for all of your efforts and know that you reinforce my convictions that I have to do what I can to prepare and to help others, if possible. I know, as a lone swimmer, I cannot push the Titanic away from the iceberg, but maybe I can build a few small life boats before it hits.

  • The Burden of Knowing
    by C.H.Smith

    ‘The knowledge that the present is unsustainable is, for many of us, a great emotional burden. It troubles our sleep, our minds, and our very well being. Knowledge, like memory, cannot be erased at will, and thus runs in the background of our lives, unseen by others, but deeply troubling to the knower.”

  • So Andy, I carefully read your post and I’m trying to make sense out of it. You said, (in regards to global climate change) “It’s a ruse, a meme to drive people toward feeling they are the problem. Sure, we consume too much precious oil and have misguided energy policies. But there is way more to the causes of climate change than our excess production of CO2.

    Our political, economic and religious systems are all broken. We are at the end of the line. This is the bogeyman, not the climate. Overpopulation, habitat and species destruction is a problem, but not the main one.

    The problem is a human one, and can be fixed when a crisis presents itself. Until then we are just whistling in the wind. Nobody knows how it will unfold.”

    So… let me get this right. Aren’t you saying from your post that we ARE actually the problem (which I believe we are, indeed)? Firstly, overpopulation,habitat (human-induced loss) and species destruction (as you quoted) is an essential problem as you suggest. But you go on to expand your idea by saying that (in the end) the problem is “a human one.”

    If I’m correct, aren’t all of those factors human-related and therefore a “human problem” as you suggest? Either I clearly misread your satire (if that is what is what meant to be) or I am confused by your wording. Please elaborate on your musings. I really want to hear more.

    With all due and most courteous respect,


  • Hi Guy,

    There is something I’ve been meaning to ask you that just keeps slipping my mind. Where can I find how to build a mud hut?

  • Smile! You may be oncandid camera

    (H/t to Stuart Staniford of the Early Warning blog)

  • @ KB

    In a world that has been dominated far too long by stupid white men, one of the most impressive and empowering aspects of this site, is how many amazing women there are, who aren’t afraid to stare into the abyss–even those with young children–and still find reason and cause to live life fully. So screw your therapist, listen and commiserate with these wise sages online.

    Very few of us have someone in our lives, which we can share this information with, so we’ve all come here, for very similar reasons. We may not know the answers, but then again, no one does, but at least we’re probing the appropriate questions, and that’s about as good as it gets.

    Never has it been truer, that “we’re all in this together”. Only lies can make the despair go away. Truth has always been brutal, especially now.

    The “silver lining” of resignation that others here speak of, is going to be very hard for the younger to discover for themselves, given that most of your life is supposedly still ahead of you, but there is a growing liberation that we’re all just on the cusp of discovering. As long as you keep your eyes open, as you have already, I can promise you, it will get easier with time, even though it seems as if that’s the last thing we can now wait for. We are just beginning to unearth the “divine irresponsibility” that comes with the awareness of being condemned.

    So stay tuned…….

  • But we’re down to biology and physics now, people. All the things we made up to support people living in groups: morality, generosity, team work, religion, civilization, the very ideas of right and wrong, science, philosophy – all these things are ethereal, made up by humans, not real. They mean nothing in the face of NTE. We are the lemmings exhorting each other to higher moral standing as we all dive over the cliff together.

    Morality, religion, good and evil, they mean nothing, just empty human constructs. The Real is naked nihilism. An empty, morally vacuous space-time continuum with funny little large brained primates who go around inventing moral concepts because it makes living in small hunting groups more efficient.

    So why don’t we embrace our now confirmed nihilism since we’re on the cusp of NTE and do whatever we want to whomever we want? Murder that idiot boss, rape the pretty neighbor … what’s stopping those who are so certain that the universe is just a big freak’in ball of nothingness … why aren’t you out feeding your body’s appetites? Nothing else exists, or has any conceivable value than the body’s desires, right? I mean, we’re just cogitational meat machines. So why is Guy bothering to tell the other meat machines that they will all soon die from climate change? What’s the point? It’s all just decaying meat, right?

  • Hmmm …

    I’ve been over here a few times and, frankly, I have come to many of the same conclusions about industrialization and outcomes, nothing is a big surprise … I suspect the economy will unravel like a sweater with the string being pulled. A dramatic collapse is too easy, the long kicking way down is more realistic IMO.

    Earth has been down this road before, we simply go along for the ride:

    Depending on how long humanoids have been ‘here’, we have crossed paths with glaciation periods several times.

    Nobody knows how folks will react to a situation until it stares them in the face. It doesn’t, it’s too soon … so far peeps are ignoring the managers rather than taking potshots at them. When managers start ducking is when it gets serious, right now … it’s pondering and waiting.

    As for extinction … Keynes said it best: “In the long run, we’re all dead …”


  • depressive lucidity

    As your handle may suggest, you are forgetting about great happiness.

    The dog that greets its owner is chuffed, but the human that expresses the self, is blissfully happy.
    The meat body is no doubt there, and is functioning, but the being it is associated with is not identified with it and its ordinary carry on.
    Happiness, is the rub, not suffering.

    A young person went to an elder for advice. The young person was ver depressed and unhappy, and had been for a while. The two had trust, and had been known to each other from the young ones birth.
    The young one says tot eh elder,
    “I’m so unhappy I don’t know what to do. Can you help me, I’ll try anything?

    The elder look directly into the young one’s eyes, and sensing sincerity and genuine inner struggle, the elder said,
    “Very well, I will help you, but you must do exactly what I ask, no half measures. It wont be easy but you must be serious about this, remember, exactly as I say, OK?

    The young one is animated and releived at fimally getting some real help.
    “Thank you, what do i do?”

    “Right. From today onwards I want you to be happy every moment of your life!!” said the elder.

    The yonger one screeched in consternation,” But that’s too hard”

    Happiness is a lot harder to ‘live’ than ordinary unhappiness. There are always ‘reasons’ to be unhappy, from trivial things like my frapaccino is too hot and tokk too long, to I’m trapped in a debt cycle I can’t escape and my partner is having some on the side. Reasons for unhappiness are always relative, (and sometimes relatives, he, he).
    However happiness, deep and abiding is the unconditioned manifestation of one’s free heart expression, or the bing of the isness of ourselves.

    Are you willing to live a life primarily comprised of anything less?

    Guy’s over all message is a big reason to lose focus, drop your jaw and ordinary life and do something else, but what?

    IMO the message is not really much different to Hamlet’s acceptence of death, ‘The readiness id all”

    So going on living, happily, is an objective I foster, regardless of all the shit and poodle going down.

    A very obstinate comments poster from some previous essays would likely retort, “But what is there to be happy about, if it’s game over, species extinctions etc?”

    My answer is fine be unhappy, you don’t need a reason to be truely happy, but, you may have to let go of all the reasons you are presently unhappy.

    Hamlet only realy lived after he understood the readiness of being. (eh hemm… He died soon after, however, ….)

  • ooopps….

    Sorry, that should have been…

    ‘The readiness is all’

  • Right-On, Guy!

    Gotta’ go THROUGH the despair, dive INTO the wave, and keep going…
    I’m doggy-paddling like crazy in the little old plantation-era clinic, with rules from Washington, and computer software from GE (We Bring Good Things To Life, and nuclear warheads…).
    It is Bizarre, but I’m getting paid to take care of poor Hawaiian people, until this shite crashes, and that’s what I’ll do, by-golly.

    Mele Kalikimaka!


  • It is quite true that in reference to the material world we are all meat machines. Even the mind and the intellect are subtly material, being epiphenomena on the meat machines. The onesho has awareness: awareness of body and its surroundings, awareness of thought, awareness of intellect has no proof that the rest of the bodies have that awareness; they could very well be meat machines, performing their myriad functions so well that they only appear to have awareness. Indeed the rest could very well be meat machines without awareness, justifying a laissez-faire attitude.

  • “The one who has awareness……”

  • ‘Soaring temperatures melt road’

    “Friday December 14, 2012 – 12:10 EDT

    Temperatures above 40 degrees in South Australia’s far north this week have caused a main road near Port Augusta to melt.

    About three kilometres of the Quorn Road, which goes through Stirling North to the Augusta Highway, had to be repaired because of heat damage.

    Harold Carne from the Transport Department says machinery from Port Lincoln was used to fix it.

    He says the heat in the area was clearly evident when he went to inspect the road.

    “I went out to inspect the site at 2:30[pm] at Stirling North, it was 43 degrees, the air temperature,” he said.

    “I went out to take some photos of the site and my phone actually shut down – it said it was too hot.”

    © ABC 2012 ”


    ‘Children feared swept away in Samoan cyclone’

    “Police in Samoa say a number of children are presumed to have drowned after being swept away in a flooded river when Cyclone Evan hit the South Pacific nation.

    The cyclone made landfall yesterday and caused widespread damage across the country, killing at least two people, cutting power, causing flooding and ripping trees out of the ground.

    Locals say it is the worst storm to hit the region in recent years and a state of disaster has been declared.

    There are now fears the storm could intensify to a category five cyclone as it tracks across the north of Tonga and then moves onto Fiji.

    New Zealand’s high commissioner to Samoa, Nick Hurley, says police have told him a number of children went missing near the main river in Samoa’s capital Apia.

    “This is the biggest one I’ve been through and I’ve been through difficult situations in the Pacific (before),” Mr Hurley told Radio New Zealand.

    “The unpredictable nature of this one has made it quite different. The forecast winds did not give any indication of how strong the impact was going to be.”

    Many places in Samoa have only just rebuilt after being devastated by a tsunami in 2009.

    “Power is off for the whole country… Tanugamanono power plant is completely destroyed and we might not have power for at least two weeks,” the Disaster Management Office (DMO) said in a statement….

    It was around 70 kilometres off the coast and is forecast to reverse its course later this evening, although it is not known if it will again cross Samoa.

    The Fiji Meteorological Service has warned the cyclone could threaten northern parts of Tonga on Saturday and reach Fiji by Sunday.

    Authorities in Fiji have gone into emergency preparation as the cyclone threatens to head towards the country.

    Fiji’s weather bureau says the storm could eventually become a category five cyclone – packing winds at its core of 360 kilometres per hour – and on its current path would hit both of the nation’s main islands.


    © ABC 2012 ”

    More on the way this summer here in the South, it seems.

  • ‘GOES-15 Satellite Image of Tropical Storm Evan’

    As many know the Southern Oceans have far less land mass than the Northern, and therefor, there is less likelihood that land masses will be hit, but that does not mean none will.

  • Something else to be unhappy about…

    ‘WMO Provisional Statement on the State of Global Climate in 2012
    By: World Meteorological Organization (WMO)’

    “November 28, 2012 – Global Temperatures in 2012

    The last eleven years (2001–2011) were among the top warmest years on record, and the first ten months of 2012 indicate that this year will not be an exception. The year was characterized by unusual warmth across most of the globe’s land areas and a weak-to-moderate La Niña at the beginning of the year.

    Overall, the 2012 global land and ocean temperature during January–October 2012 is estimated to be 0.45°C1 ±0.10°C2 (0.81°F ±0.18°F) above the 1961–1990 average. This is the ninth warmest such period since records began in 1850. Global average temperatures are also estimated using model-based reanalysis data and are typically consistent with the observations. According to reanalysis data from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), the January–October 2012 global land and ocean temperature anomaly ranks among the top ten warmest years thus far. ECMWF reanalysis data goes back to 1958.

    The year began with a weak-to-moderate strength La Niña, which had developed in October 2011. The presence of a La Niña during the start of a year tends to have a cooling influence on global temperatures, and this year was no different. The averaged 3-month period of January–March 2012 was the lowest global land and ocean temperature for that period since 1997. However, the temperature anomaly remained above average at +0.28°C1 (+0.50°F). The La Niña weakened through April 2012 as sea surface temperatures across the tropical Pacific Ocean warmed, giving way to the neutral-to-warm conditions that have persisted since. As shown in the graph below, after the dissipation of the La Niña, the global land and ocean year-to-date temperature anomalies continued to increase with each consecutive month for the rest of the year. The six-month average of May–October 2012 was among the four warmest such periods on record….

    Greenland, which had above-average temperatures for much of the year, recorded its all-time highest May maximum temperature, when temperatures soared to 24.8°C at Ivittuut/Narsarsuaq on May 29th.

    Jordan experienced two heat waves during June and July, observing daily temperatures as high as 9°C above normal maximum temperatures during that time.

    During April and May 2012, most of China experienced exceptional warmth, with most areas having anomalies as high as 5°C above the 1961–1990 average. On April 30th, Hong Kong recorded a daily mean temperature of 28.5°C, tying with April 26th, 1994 as the highest in April since records began in 1884. On May 3rd, Hong Kong observed a minimum temperature of 28.0°C, the earliest occurrence of a “hot night” (minimum temperatures equal to or higher than 28°C). South-central China experienced a heat wave during late June to mid-July, prompting electricity load to rise as high as 3.8 gigawatts in Changsha city on July 9th—the highest on record. The heat also caused light to moderate damage to crops. The warm conditions continued to affect parts of southern China in August 2012, with Hong Kong experiencing one of its warmest August on records. A heat wave during mid-July to early August brought daily maximum temperatures between 29°C to 37°C across parts of central Russia. Northern Japan experienced extremely warm conditions from late August to mid-September due to the significantly enhanced North Pacific High, prompting record-high 10-day mean temperatures with an anomaly of 5.5°C above the 1981–2010 average in the middle of September.

    Across parts of Australia, maximum temperatures were well-above-average from August onwards. Of particular interest, Evans Head had a maximum temperature of 41.6°C on October 20th, the highest October temperature on record for any coastal New South Wales site. Meanwhile, Birdsville had its earliest spring 40-degree day on record when it reached 40.6°C on September 20th.

    Sea Ice Extent

    The Arctic reached its lowest sea ice extent in its annual cycle on record on September 16th, 2012 at 3.41 million square kilometers. This value broke the previous record low set on September 18th, 2007 by 18 percent and was 49 percent or nearly 3.3 million square kilometers below the 1979–2000 average minimum.

    The difference between the maximum Arctic sea ice extent on March 20th, 2012 and the lowest minimum extent on September 16th was 11.83 million square kilometers—the largest seasonal ice extent loss in the 34-year satellite record.

    2011 State of the Greenhouse Gases in the Atmosphere

    The latest analysis of observations from the WMO Global Atmosphere Watch (GAW) Programme shows that the globally averaged mole fractions of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) reached new highs in 2011. The globally averaged CO2 mole fraction in 2011 reached 390.9±0.1 ppm. The annual increase from 2010 to 2011 constituted 2.0 ppm, which is higher than the average growth rate for the 1990s (~1.5 ppm/yr) and is the same as the average growth rate for the past decade (~2.0 ppm/yr). Atmospheric CH4 reached a new high of 1813±2 ppb in 2011 due to increased emissions from anthropogenic sources. Globally averaged CH4 mole fraction increased by 5 ppb with respect to 2010. The growth rate of CH4 decreased from ~13 ppb/yr during the early 1980s to near zero during 1999–2006. However, since 2007, atmospheric CH4 has been increasing again, with a nearly constant rate during the last 3 years. The average global N2O mole fraction in 2011 reached 324.2±0.1 ppb, which is 1.0 ppb above 2010. The annual increase from 2010 to 2011 is greater than the mean growth rate over the past 10 years (0.78 ppb/yr).”

    Recomend further reading there…

  • Good one Guy.

    Hope is an excuse for inaction.

  • OZ man, cultured be happy feelings work for some. For others they work the opposite. In Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America by Barbara Ehrenreich she tells of how when she got cancer she was told she had to be happy and positive or she would not be cured. That is not what she did and she is cured for now. She felt, and others in her situation agreed, that to urging to be happy just became another burden, and another way to perceive personal failure. As Guy notes, one can choose to fight even if you think the cause is lost. One can choose to get the most out of life without going wild too. For some that might be doing just what they are doing now – it is for me as I am already doing all the things I want to do, growing food and chickens and enjoying life with my husband. Others might want to make a change but that doesn’t mean going out and living the high life or a life of excesses which is likely to cause you to crash before the crash.

    I never told a Hospice Patient I sat with at the end of their life to be happy. I never told them what to do at all. I tried to see what they needed and provide it if I could, to just be a new friend who wasn’t in denial about their immanence of death. Perhaps the best way people can prepare for NTE is to become a Hospice Volunteer. I did it while I was working, usually just 1 or 2 hours a week, more close to the person’s end time. Be there with someone else through their last days. Think about the fact that for all of us those last days will come NTE or not. Being a Hospice Volunteer didn’t make me happy, but it did make me feel that I could do a bit of good for someone. Doing a bit of good for a dying person or planet can be satisfying even if we remain unhappy about the future of our species and planet.

    For what not to do perhaps a reading of The Picture of Dorian Grey might be in order

    At any rate, be happy exhortations, IMHO never helped anyone to be happy. Be unhappy, face the thing that is making you unhappy, work through it to your own personal way to face a somewhat nearer end than expected.

  • Makati1 thanks for the quote from The Burden of Knowing. I intend to get the book.

    Here is another for anyone brave enough to carry the burden of knowing

    Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent by Eduardo Galeano or other books by the same author.

    Galeano is a hard read, but the least we can do is know what the industrial civilization has done to other humans on the planet.

  • I think the main problem is that the vast majority of people in the industrialized (and so called “developed”) countries associate economic collapse with doom, death and all kinds of unpleasentness. And frankly, yes, if the shelves in the supermarkets were suddenly empty (or if the purse is empty and the stuff on the shelves therefore out of reach), a lot of those people would be threatened by starvation rather quickly. So we can’t really blame them.

    Of course, what those people refuse to see is that the same economy which is their lifeline is killing people (and not just a few … ), animals, plants and ecosystems in epic proportions. And that it will kill them as well if they don’t stop it. Soon. At once. Yesterday would even be better.

    What we have to do is to convince them that economic collapse is not the devil incarnate. Quite the contrary. It is the only way out of this mess. Maybe the problem is language. Maybe we have to find other, less frightening words for it. Collapse does not sound very positive. Maybe we could just say something like “when economy has run it’s course”. That sounds a lot less frightening.

    Personally, I live a life that is in many respects as if the big collapse had already happened. I live in a little timberframe cabin without electricity or plumbing. My heating is a little woodstove, fueled with wood from my direct surroundings, my toilet is a plastic bucket, my sink is an old porcelain bowl. I do cheat a bit, still, because I have access to electricity and the internet from the main house where I work, but actually, if that suddenly wouldn’t work any more, things wouldn’t be so different for me. I would miss it for a few days or weeks, but then get over it. There is so much other stuff to do.

    I also still enjoy that I have the opportunity to buy a large variety of organic foods from a little organic food store that I can reach by bike. But with a little adaption I could get by with what we grow on the grounds here and what we can get from the neighbours, many of which are still farmers. I can get milk, potatoes, beef and honey in our little village. We have chickens and ducks ourselves, as well as herbs and veggies and many fruit trees.

    I don’t watch telly, don’t even have one, I don’t own a car and only drive one if I really absolutely have to, I don’t have a smartphone or a playstation or whatever people think they need nowadays. And yet I don’t have the feeling that I am missing out on something. Quite the contrary. This way of life is by far more exciting, satisfying and comforting than anything I have done before.

    The message we have to spread if we want people to join the end-civilisation-bandwaggon is that we don’t need iPhones and plasma screens to be happy. We don’t need space travel, as fascinating as it might be. We don’t need cars, at least not an individual car for every person, we don’t need McMansions and we don’t need WalMart. The only things we need is food, shelter, access to clean air and water and a functioning little ecosystem of other people, animals, plants, fungi and what not around us.

    We don’t lose when the economy collapses. We win. And if we take an active part in bringing it down and when we actively change our lives instead of sitting in a cellar with bags of beans and rice awaiting collapse, it will feel not like an ending. It will feel like a new beginning. And that’s much better.

  • ….when the oil shale is fracked, not only oil is liberated from the rock, but also a large amount of trapped natural gas, mostly methane, is released…with the energy value of the oil worth as much as 30 times that of the gas, the exploitation companies want no part of the delay involved in capturing the cheaper gas, and would rather burn it off than build the infrastructure to capture and transport to where it could be used….

    US oil well flaring as seen from space

  • Dawned on me the morning that the acronym we used a lot concerning peak oil (TEOTAWAKI – the end of the world as we know it) has been replaced with the much shorter Near Term Extinction. We can at least type a shorter acronym for the fate we are facing. :)

    We used talk TEOTAWAKI
    Reductions in life style to see
    But with each rising degree
    We begin to sadly agree
    That the future is now NTE

  • Kathy C
    You wrote:

    “Be unhappy, face the thing that is making you unhappy, work through it to your own personal way to face a somewhat nearer end than expected.”

    I completely agree with this and I said much the same thing:

    “My answer is fine be unhappy, you don’t need a reason to be truely happy, but, you may have to let go of all the reasons you are presently unhappy.”

    With respect, the example you use of simple positive thinking, and some Bright Shield prmotion scheme is really not what I was speaking about.

    I never tell people simply to pretend, and that is the point.

    If one ‘tries’ to be happy, under any circumstances, one quickly realises that there is inner resistance to being happy, and that is what we both seem to agree is what is making one unhappy. We say, address these issues to begin with, and then something may come of that, and it may be the next thing that is in there that we are clinging to that keeps us unhappy that we find.

    My parable story is meant to illustrate that when the exhortation is to really be happy, ‘because’ it is the underlying ‘real’ condition of one’s being, then that exhortation immediately brings up resistance to being happy.

    The glib homoly of “just get on with life and be happier” is not what I was advocating, because that is moving on to either repression or distraction, and issues, especially major ones, don’t get healed and moved on that way IMHO.

    To glibly tell someone in a deep depression, or with life threatening issues to be happy, is not what I was advocating either. The parable is not necessarily to be imitated, but serves to illustrate that mentally we are very deeply addicted to our unhappiness.

    And when the real demand is given to be happy as a cure for the depression, it is to bring up, or to the reflective mind, that oneself has held on to something that now impedes the real experience of happiness.
    I never suggested these deep problems can be swept aside by shallow mental whitewashing. Not at all.

    I am mildly disappoited you would interpret my wriring in that vein, but I acknowledge perhaps some ambiguity.

    Rather than invoke the superficial hokum of corporate management ethics, I advocated the parable because it is about wizdom and conscious recognition that something like depression, as an example of something aparently stronger than our personal will, impedes our happiness, and my view is that understanding is the key to the lifting of the fog, or the healing of the wound that is at the root of such issues. Not some silly surface psychobable about positive thinking cures negativity or such tripe. I refer to the healing power of the heart, or the spiritual core of our being. Perhaps that is not something you believe in anymore Kathy C, and if I have read you correctly on other posts I’m not denying your experience or view. I happen to believe in a spiritual truth of existance, and acknowledge it is an individual view, but it is not an illusion, nor a mental crutch for me.

    I agree it is very easy to write glibly, in some advisory capacity about unhappiness and depression, and so I apologuise if my advice sounded lase fare. It was not. I had depression in my teens for about three years, but I managed to fight my way from the wet paper bag, and understand that for me, depression was a way of contacting the feeling nature I had not been encouraged to develope in family matters, and self temperament. To me it was as much a great help as it was a torture, but I simply knew it was endurable, and perhaps because I was so young, and full of ‘spit and froth’, I felt it was partly an induced accomodation to my immediate surroundings, and a learnt ‘behaviour’, if I can call it a behaviour.

    My family had lost my brother to Leukemia when he was 14, after 18 months of his struggle to stay alive, and looking back my mother just kind of collapsed for a few years, and luckily my other brother and I were capable of self care and resourceful enough to get our schooling and life affairs done without much ado.
    I think the weight of my mothers’ grief over those years pulled me into the same emotional channels, but I definitely had greater issues to work through at the age of 15-18 anyway.

    So I offered that advice, because I see the overall point made in the book by John Harrison titled: “Love Your Disease, Its keeping you healthy” as somthing to look at when one is unhappy.

    The situation is different when one is overwhelmed by the enormity of witnessing suffering, and more so if it is endless, as I believe occurs in some aid work, welfare work, and hospice work. That is an experience that can cripple an individual that has even great compassion, but not the pathway within to continual compassion. IMO, perhaps only Saints and authentic Realisers can take that on emotionally and remain in the moment. I think it would take me down too Kathy C, and a good dose of simple living, and growing food and feeding chickens is a fair way to heal the heart when such things overwhelm one.

    In a wierd way the prospect of NTE is to me a call to get on with life…however, one wishes to do that.

    BTW, I have read Gorian Gray several times, and it is definitely a terrably excruciating ride to get to the end. A masterpiece in IMO.

  • Sorry… it should have read…’Dorian Gray’.

  • Ozman I stand corrected. Apologies. Thank you for sharing the story of your brother. I do believe in healing. When I was in a very bad place I knew that to get out of it I had to do something for others as a way of doing something for myself. Hospice was the answer for me. I could give myself lovingly to others and in so giving I healed myself. In fact I exuded so much warmth that one old man misunderstood and thought my warmth was much more. I had to ask Hospice to not put me as a volunteer with any men unless they were gay :). I didn’t want to hold back on being warm, giving a hug if welcomed.

    Again apologies for misunderstanding and misrepresenting your remarks, but I am glad you spoke further on the subject. Thanks for your words

  • As troubles monstrously loom
    We prepare to meet our doom
    For the Id and the I
    We can turn to Guy
    Until we find peace in our tomb

  • I picture a person with an oxygen tank and nose tubing smoking a cigarette and carrying a sign that says, “See what you did.”

  • Guy, reading this latest essay helps me to understand why religion was so overwhelmingly popular during our evolution that a propensity toward it worked into our DNA.

    When nothing on earth allows you to have hope, then the only thing remaining is the “mystery of faith”. I can’t go there myself, and I suspect many others on NBL can’t either, but at least I’m beginning to understand where it comes from.

  • BC Nurse Prof, Every part of the world will have its end. For some, flood. For some, drought. For some, heat. For us, it will be by firestorm. All it will take is another El Nino and one lightning strike. Poof!

    Fire is the one that scares me the most. Sure we have lots of tornadoes in this area, and they can be incredibly destructive, but usually their damage is localized. With good preparation, they also can be survived and their damage minimized.

    But fire is becoming more and more common in the central U.S. Fires have the ability to wipe out hundreds of square miles of land devouring everything including wildlife, livestock, buildings, etc. Also, there is nowhere to hide and take cover. I’m not sure getting into a pond or lake would do much good as all the low lying oxygen would be consumed.

    I’ve seen several house fires over the years and I’m always impressed with how hot they are. Generally, the heat from a house fire can be felt several hundred meters away. The images on TV and movies showing the actors standing close to major fires is pure fantasy.

  • OzMan, a-slightly-less-ecosidal-species-lethal-single-use-warm-beverage-holder-come-false-feel-good-slogan-device-convincing-me-and-maybe-you-I’m-doing-my-bit-and-all-I-can-for-the-biosphere-sustainability-campaign-even-though-caffene-implies-I-am-not-sufficiently-motivated-to-work-without-stimulation-as-a-compensation-for-my-bondage-to-industrial-civilisation-debt-slavery-and-destruction-of-the-living-planet

    Very funny and very good. :-)

  • Deskpoet : I save my pity and mourning not for my fellow man, but for all the other wonderful species suffering and winking out as a result of our evil self-indulgence. The voiceless ones, those who aren’t considered when we speak of “saving the species”, they are the victims, and they are the ones deserving of pity. Our lot is getting what it deserves.

    Well said. The relentless greed, the need for speed. Those methane burnoffs in Texas. They are in such a hurry to make money that they throw money away.

    It reminds me of when I lived in a city. It happened all the time, but one example. An old book shop was bought by another business. So everything has to be stripped out, so the building coild have a new interior fitted. And it has to be done in a week, because time is money. So the old fittings, shelves, etc, which were rare exotic hardwood c.1930s, irreplaceable today, worth thousands and thousands, get smashed to pieces and dumped into skips and taken to landfill, because there is no time or money to pay someone to take them apart with care and find a buyer to reuse the wood… The contract says ’empty space after five days’ and that’s what they get….

    Competitive capitalism. If you aren’t running flat out, you fall behind and someone eats your lunch, and they’ll kill to keep it that way…. until there is nobody left, and nothing left to loot.

    I mean, it’s like the superfast high frequency trading Wall St does, shaving nano seconds off the speed a deal beats the other guy, makes a profit, they spent 800 million dollars, was it, laying a cable to Chicago, to get a few micro seconds advantage… kinda weird. What happens when you beat time altogether, and do the deal before it gets done ?

    They never even give a thought to where it all leads or what the collateral damage is, nothing is real except numbers on screens…

  • The key word is “useful”. Guy M. has brought about a presentation that collates the essence of the despairing evidence in front of us, and most of it applies to “life as we have known it” and forces us to face what Sagan points out as “the brutal reality of the universe”.
    The bottom line of the universe’s brutal reality is this: things that are more Useful than Consumptive are the things that persist, and things that consume their own future will disappear.
    If we think of humanity as one ‘thing’, then it is sobering to see that humanity “as we know it” will go extinct. If we think of individual humans as things that have collaborated to develop civilization, we can think of individual humans as things that are facing massive changes in their circumstances. Humans, as all living things, are pieces of a bell-shaped curve. Too many want us to believe that we are all part of the mean Mean, living in the narrow confines of a spike in data which is dependent on one form of human being: the homo petroleumus consumpticus: the fossil fuel consumer.
    We are not. Every one of us has the potential to be adapted to some new environment (to some degree). Whether the climate gets hot enough to wipe out all humans or not, the bell curve of our existence then would extend to the existence of life on Earth, and the fringe survivors may end up being bacteria. A recent letter in New Scientist pointed out that humans may be the cyanobacteria of the modern age: changing the climate entirely and dying off to make way for new forms of life to evolve.
    Does this give me hope? No. It is merely pointing to the harsh reality of the circumstances, and forcing me to step away from this computer a little bit more (one day perhaps for good), and appreciate what I have surrounding me and do the best I can to be useful to my environment/circumstances.
    I do not agree with Farnish (see previous comment) about undermining the system intentionally. The System of systems will do that itself, based on its own “efficiency” philosophy, which forces Specialization in a universe based on flexibility and randomness.
    As Guy points out in his video, however, the timing is probably going to suck.
    The System should have collapsed with the first oil shock in the ’70’s, if humans were actually intelligent and intentional beings that acted in their own best interests. Unfortunately, we are simply tools of the money monster we have created: robots that worship at the altar of an Invisible Hand.
    The Invisible Hand is my White Whale. I am fighting somnambulance. I think people like Eric, Guy, and Wendel Berry are also. Civilization is a tool that isolates humans from the risks of nature: much like quicksand, it is a struggle to escape its clutches and claw our way back to the living, sense-filling world.

    “Do Be Do Be Do” -Frank Sinatra

  • The reference to Farnish in a previous comment is related to “The Underminers”, which can be found with a quick search. I do not think it is prudent to put a link to it here.

  • Dmitry Orlov’s classic line, ‘The invisible hand is attached to an invisible idiot…’

  • Prudent ? I thought we were facing NTE ? It’s been posted here before, you’re late.

  • Guy,

    When reading you website review of the planets honest predicament many months ago,
    I for the first time in my life was hit with the body reaction of butterflies in my stomach, elevated body heat and slight ringing in my ears. My instincts chimed in like a freight train. I knew you where on to the truth of our real circumstance on Planet Earth.

    You are my Hero

    I consider my other Hero’s of this generation to be Derrick Jensen, Chris Hedges and Michael Ruppert.
    Cut wrenching truth tellers of the state of delusion we humans have lived for far to long.
    I can only deeply apologies for our failure as humans to have been so greedy in our evolution process.


    Michelle and Family

  • “I’ll present dire information with empathy while promoting resistance. I’ll continue to criticize society while empathizing with individuals. And I’ll ask people to empathize, and to feel. Even if though it hurts.”

    I don’t know you, other than what I gather from this blog. But please don’t stop blogging, writing, and speaking. I check your blog nearly every day. I watch your videos. Doing so is kind of like having a buddy sitting at your side, that you know understands.

    “When a man is in despair, it means that he still believes in something.”
    ― Dmitri Shostakovich

  • previous post: «and appreciate what I have surrounding me and do the best I can to be useful to my environment/circumstances»

    there is not much left here in the center of the city. the trees are all but gone (suffering their last days in the middle of complete humane indifference), the air is foul (every day is worse), the birds, bats, insects, racoons and all crickets are completely gone, the temperature is completely abnormal for the season and my last refuge (the blue sky) rarely makes an appearance and is replaced by a thick layer of uniform gray clouds (even on “sunny” days, the haze looks more and more like beijing). but, there are many cars and vans and trucks and cement and buildings and dirt (but nothing comparing to what it will be when we can no more “get rid” of our garbage and shit). oh ya, and there is people, people and more people, and a lot of dogs (the cats are hidden in the houses and the rats in the sewers).

    for the ones writing on NBL who still live in places where there is life, good for you. most of it is already gone here, except for electricity that still permits me to escape in this virtual seeminly endless wonderland that is internet.

    still, this last week, I witnessed my younger sun (27) falling in love! that is something I had not seen in a long time! he knows everything (and more) about what is going on on earth. and bang! there it happened! almost in one split second (it happened to me in 1966 and I saw it all last night when he came to talk to me in my room: the same feeling, the same words). i cannot scientifically or philosophically debate this point, but I am convinced that hope is in our dna and comes from the inside as much as from the outside and will be the very very last thing to die.

  • Kathy C,
    About bring children into this world:
    What follows is a quote from Wen Stephenson of the “Phoenix” (Boston) “‘I’d rather fight like hell’: Naomi Klein’s fierce new resolve to fight for climate justice”
    I asked about her decision to have a baby, in spite of everything she knows.
    She got quiet. “For a long time,” she told me, “I just couldn’t see a future for a child that wasn’t some, like, Mad Max climate-warrior thing.”
    Somehow, though, her engagement in the climate movement seems to have changed that. Another future seemed possible. She and Lewis decided to have a child, but struggled with infertility. Then, having given up, surprise: along came Toma.
    If anything, the experience has made Klein all the more a fighter. She now believes that denying her desire to have a child, because of the mess being made by those willing to destroy the planet for profit, would be a form of surrender.
    “I guess what I want to say is, I don’t want to give them that power,” she told me. “I’d rather fight like hell than give these evil motherfuckers the power to extinguish the desire to create life.”

    Michael Irving

  • Not to be disrespectful, but sounds to me like Naomi has been smokin the hopium.

    Off topic, I got a jury summons yesterday. I am so thankful to Sherry Ackerman’s essay and the links posted in response to that, so that I can be prepared. I may not survive voie dire, because I will be truthful (but brief!), but it’ll be interesting for sure.

    I love this community so much!

  • Michele – from Anna Karenina:

    “Romantic love will be the last delusion of the old order”.

    As I was reading this post and the comments, I already had that interview linked to above with Naomi Klein in the back of my mind. I was thinking that is why I appreciate NBL so much, and the community of commenters Guy fosters here – because it is so refreshing to hear thoughts from people who already understand that we have to move on from “if” to “when” and “what now”.

    Please don’t stop talking Guy. Those of us who are listening need you!

    Here’s the comment I had left at the Phoenix:

    “So, yeah,” she said, “it’s important to build local alternatives, we have to do it, but unless we are really going after the source of the problem” – namely, the fossil-fuel industry and its lock on Washington – “we are gonna get inundated.”

    Actually, the source of the problem isn’t corporations, politicians, or capitalism – the source of the problem is overpopulation and overconsumption. If you waved a magic wand and made climate change disappear, we would still be on a collision course with disaster. Ocean acidification is killing life in the sea, and tropospheric ozone is invisible but the inexorably rising background level is murdering trees and stunting annual agricultural crops. (see the free book

    Certainly climate change is an existential threat, but it is a symptom of deeper intractable problems that result from industrial civilization and the “growth” paradigm ravaging a finite planet. Blaming the fossil-fuel industry for what we all consume is just another way of kicking the can down the road and pretending that we can replace billion-year old stored energy with solar panels, keep the party going and continue using iphones and selfishly having babies, pretending they have a future on an uninhabitable planet.

    Just another delusion.

  • sunweb “I picture a person with an oxygen tank and nose tubing smoking a cigarette and carrying a sign that says, “See what you did.”

    True, we have no one but ourselves as a species to blame, if that is what you mean.

    But who is to blame for our domestication into civilization. Which human can we call the first to leave the life we evolved for. Which wolf gets the blame for the sad state of domestic dogs, reduced to groveling not to an deserving alpha male or female but some dumb human.

    Per Craig Dilworth, Too Smart for our Own Good, we are trapped in our vicious cycles by our nature – we could blame evolution, but evolution is thoughtless. For such a thoughty creature sapiens sapiens, we humans have thoughtlessly brought ourselves to the brink of an early extinction.

    So no blame is called for. But heck, I want to have fun on the way down, so I am going to blame BP, and the Nuclear Regulation Association, and any scapegoat I can find for the state of affairs even though I know that in the end there is no blame. :) We just are a failed species, one among many, one of the shortest lived. Too bad for us…..

  • Michael “She now believes that denying her desire to have a child, because of the mess being made by those willing to destroy the planet for profit, would be a form of surrender.” Yes, but what does the child think about all this? We can’t help it, but having children without their permission is such hubris. Of course we can’t have them any other way. Somehow this all seems centered on Naomi and what she wants and not on the child and what they may suffer for her wants.

    It would be interesting to check with her child 15 years from now and see how the child feels about being her mother’s refusal to surrender. But no doubt we will be so close to extinction that we won’t be able to follow up.

  • Oldies from Elsewhere

    For Guy:

    Realistic Predictions

    Soothsaying what’s realistic
    Is not consequently sadistic;
    Predict with distinction:
    Include mass extinction,
    And don’t try to be optimistic.

    For Kathy:

    Doomer Poetry

    At first, you’re depressed despite it,
    When you’re worse, it helps to recite it;
    When you no longer fight it
    And start to invite it
    You’ll find yourself starting to write it.

  • anyone know where I can find a step by step guide on building a mud hut/home?

  • I saw 2 of Guy’s presentations on his Massachusetts visit specifically so that I could bring other people that probably would not have gone otherwise.I had seen his talk several months earlier and have read his essays for a few years now,so I was already familiar with his message and wanted for others I know to hear it.
    Two new things I learned from Guy’s visit to the area is that people learning about “doom” can be funny and that the people that already know about it and try to share it might be the one’s that will need psychotherapy.

    I mean, these people are both driving me crazy and making me laugh!

    One family member who I have been talking about this stuff to for years has always said “Yeah,whatever, your the queen of doom” etc.
    He agreed to go to Guy’s talk and now he’s calling me up at all hours and emailing with odd suggestions. Two days ago,I pick up the phone and without hello or preamble he says “What about bleach and beef jerky? Is that good? Should I get a case of each?
    Yesterday he called and asked if he should buy a box of harmonicas.
    I asked why and he said that he just read that people who can make music will be welcomed additions to a group in the Apocalypse. I reminded him that he didn’t know how to play a harmonica and I suggested (jokingly)to buy a case of kazoos since anyone can play one.He replied “Do you know where I can get a case?”.
    He owns a small market and I overheard a conversation with him and a customer. The customer asked “You seem to be out of Romaine lettuce. Do you know if you will have any tomorrow?”and he said “What does it matter? Will all be dead in 17 years anyway? I had to have a little talk with him about living with his feet in 2 worlds.

    Another person that I encouraged to go to the talk came up to me afterwards and said “Oh my God! It’s my two boys (20 and 22) that I feel so bad for. What will they be able to do? Me,I can just move to Hawaii. There I can walk to everything,I won’t need a car,but what will they do?”
    I just listened but in my mind I am thinking “Hello,you need oxygen in Hawaii too!”

    2 other people,independently mentioned something about building big bubbles that we will live in. I have no idea where that is coming from.I find myself wondering if this is what I was like when I first learned about peak oil. I don’t know but I does seem that the people who have been studying our predicament for years now are going to be
    asked for a lot of advice from former naysayers. I can tell already that it will be trying at times.

    Thanks for all you do!
    When we talked about your new nickname I had imagined it spelled
    McXtinction like extinction but I can see that McStinction has a Stink about it that also seems fitting!

  • Ryan,

    Guy calls his straw bale house the mud hut. You can search how to build a straw bale house and find good pointers. Be sure you live in a straw bale friendly climate!

  • I think cob houses can survive most climates can’t they ? various mixes of mud and straw.

  • NEXT-DAY UPDATE (also listed at the bottom of the essay, above): The IPCC Fifth Assessment has been leaked. It’s here. Note that, like its predecessors, it fails to incorporate major positive feedbacks.

  • New Scientist on what Alec Rawls, the leaker, says :

    “The most interesting aspect of this little event is it reveals how deeply in denial the climate deniers are,” says Steven Sherwood of the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia – one of the lead authors of the chapter in question. “If they can look at a short section of a report and walk away believing it says the opposite of what it actually says, and if this spin can be uncritically echoed by very influential blogs, imagine how wildly they are misinterpreting the scientific evidence.”

  • @Liag I have to thank you for your comment. You said it all.

    It’s almost hard to believe that a “green” committee from a university has been disempowered by information and facts. What haven do they live in where they can’t simply look out the window or go for a walk and witness for themselves what is happening in the world? I find that information is power, and no one else can take your power unless you let them. It reminds me of people I know who have been sheltered, bailed out from suffering the consequences of their own mistakes, or have somehow escaped the tragedies of life. They never really grow up. They are looking for someone to tell them what to do, and waiting for approval and a gold star when they are finished.

    I’ve also decided that having this information changes everything, yet changes nothing. As a mother of small children, I’ve been battling within myself every day, not knowing what to do. I know things are going to get increasingly difficult, and some people are going to suffer more than others. But so many people and animals and habitats already suffer needlessly. Life is pain, life is suffering, life is despair, life is work. As long as I wake up in a world where some crazy person can walk into an elementary school and gun down little children, my life is necessarily filled with despair. So, I battle every day trying to figure out how to raise children that may or may not have a future. And then I remind myself it was never certain to begin with.
    A good life does not mean a life of comfort. If I can find a few moments to spend with each child, as long as I am truly present, that moment can encompass all of the pain and beauty of birth, life, and death. It is timeless.

    @KB About the loneliness. I was never more lonely than while sleeping in a tent on a beach in Mexico next to my husband of more than ten years. I decided to divorce him. If people don’t care for at least some of the things you care about, it makes relationships difficult. I find that if I can get to a place where nature makes me feel really small, it wipes my mind clear and I can make difficult decisions. Just find somewhere to be still and draw on the wisdom and power of nature. While you still can. For the first time in my life I dread the spring.

  • I’ve been following NBL for some time and I have to say that this post and comments have moved me unlike any other….Bravo to the NBL community.
    I have been living off-grid for 13 years and finally consider my family self-reliant. We have gained much hard-earned knowledge these past years (and continue to learn). They have been the best years of my life (just turned 50!). My wife and I want to share what we know in 2013 taking on 2 Apprentices to live and learn with us for 7 months. We have had many young interns in the past (WWOOFERS) but we want to step it up into a full educational immersion. We will charge for this as we are not independently wealthy and see this as a good way to help others and ourselves. Should be an adventure.
    Good luck to all of you out there!!

  • The AR5 leak probably has the UN tearing their hair out. It appears that the leaker had a RW agenda to discredit it, but the doc itself looks good. Now the UN will need to justify every edit they make in the final version. I would totally hate to be in their shoes.

    Just in case it goes off-line, I’ve captured all 131 MB of it.

  • This may be of interest to the readership. I started writing about collapse in 2007. One of my earliest and doomiest articles just received a very favourable review by a population activist. I was asked to respond to the review, and after I responded I sent this follow-up email. It speaks to our sense of “collapse craving” – where it may come from, and how it may shape our treatment of what otherwise looks like bald data.

    This is in no way intended as a commentary on Guy’s writings or as armchair psychoanalysis. It’s purely a commentary on my own process.
    Your comment in the review about my having been traumatized by my awareness was right on the mark. As I compared my assessment of today to the one from five years ago, what I’ve been doing with all this calculating, analysis, writing and referencing finally became clear. What follows is a brief glimpse behind the curtain.

    Here is a piece of psychology that may be helpful when assessing deeply speculative works: every prediction is a projection of the predictor’s inner state, at least to some extent. In my case this has been more true than usual.

    The reason the results are more optimistic now than before is not because the situation has changed, but because I have changed. It’s because I am now more optimistic than I was five years ago – but again, not because the external situation has improved. If anything, it has gotten visibly worse. So why the change?

    You may have read of research on unconscious decision-making. Its findings imply that many of our decisions are made unconsciously, and then presented to our conscious mind fully formed. The conscious mind then dresses the decisions up in psychologically acceptable garb. It quickly develops post-hoc rationalizations to make the non-rational decisions appear reasonable and rational.

    Something similar has been going on with me in these articles. The trauma I experienced predated my writing in 2007 by a year or two. It was triggered by a deep realization that the world from which I took my identity was not solid as I had always assumed, but fragile and ephemeral. It could be destroyed without warning by any number of unpredictable system failures. Of course, since I took my identity from this world, the threat of its dissolution implied the threat of my own annihilation. This was an unbearable psychological pain, and since I couldn’t wish it away I had to find some way to justify it. I had to make it seem founded in reality – I had to rationalize it.

    In order to reify my inner pain I wrote a stream of doom-laden articles in 2007 and 2008. Although they are all based on real ideas – from Peak Oil and the science of complex systems to resilience and the triune brain – their conclusions, along with the their extremist and uncompromising tone, is pure projection. I externalized my excruciating inner pain out onto the external world. I was essentially saying, “This agony is not just because I’m wounded, it’s real!!! Watch, I’ll prove it!” And with references, cold numbers, charts and graphs I proved it over and over again.

    In the years since then I have done a lot of inner work to come to terms with the ephemeral nature of both the outer world (including human civilization) and my own being. As my acceptance deepened, my need to alleviate my distress by projecting dire consequences became less urgent. Reading your review of my essay, and being compelled to revisit it in detail for my comments, brought out the contrast between my conclusions then and now. In trying to resolve why there was such a difference, I realized that it was because I was slowly healing that old trauma.

    You may treat my article with all the seriousness you feel it deserves – after all, the references and the underlying mechanisms are legitimate. But please be aware that my conclusions, both then and now, were driven more by my own psychodrama than by any “scientific” rigor.

    I still think humanity is out of time, but what that means in terms of specifics I haven’t the foggiest idea. I still think that many aspects of our coming global reality will be driven more by impersonal external forces than by human volition. At the same time, those aspects of life that are most important and satisfying to us as individuals will remain matters of personal choice. This reinforces my view that all significant human-driven change in the coming years will happen at the grass roots, among individuals making personal choices for personal reasons. The universe sets the stage, while we get to write and perform the play. That’s good enough for me.

    This goes much further of course, out into the deep waters of consciousness, inner exploration and self-realization. But this is enough for now. When you read my earlier pieces, you would be well advised to step back a pace or two and consider them for what they really are – not simply as analysis of possible futures, but as statements about my own personal reality.

  • Paul Chefurka Says: As my acceptance deepened, my need to alleviate my distress by projecting dire consequences became less urgent.

    Now THAT is an interesting point. If it’s not already in the literature, you might have yourself something there.

  • First, my thanks to those of you who commented on my comment. Really makes me feel good to hear that my thoughts and feelings are received resonate well with you. Warms my heart and makes me smile.

    So many amazing ideas here. How people react to this information. If I may, I’d like to add something that I think relates to how humans respond to this kind of stuff by posting an article by NPR today about the Connecticut shooting. I apologize to everyone if my timing in talking about this so close to the event is offensive. (I’ve been getting a bit of flack on my facebook page, which solidifies my occupation as shit disturber). But, how do we approach talking about climate change when this is the accepted strategy for talking about this violence? What are your thoughts?

    “The key thing is limiting their exposure to news media, TV,” says Dr. Daniel Fagbuyi, medical director for disaster preparedness and emergency management at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. “We’ve found this over and over in different disasters.”

  • Gail Says: Actually, the source of the problem isn’t corporations, politicians, or capitalism – the source of the problem is overpopulation and overconsumption.

    Evolving to man from the brute,
    We grew to be much less hirsute,
    But not much more astute,
    So now everything’s moot:
    We created our own overshoot.

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