Hope, redux

Stephanie Jo Kent has penned a thoughtful essay at Reflexivity. The final paragraph includes a comment and a question for me: “I have been listening and watching for ways to stimulate robust processes of social resilience. One idea is to talk about the difference between hope and hopium. Would you be willing to elaborate?”

I assume Steph’s reference to “social resilience” includes the desire to maintain industrial civilization, which I think is a terrible idea for many reasons. But perhaps I’m jumping to an incorrect conclusion. Steph, will you clarify?

With respect to the question, I spoke and wrote about hope way back in August 2007, when this website was launched. In that long essay — the bloated, unedited, transcript of a presentation I had delivered a few days earlier — I described hope as follows:

I view hope as the left-brain product of love, analogous to democracy as the product of freedom, or liberty. Notably, Patrick Henry did not say, “Give me democracy or give me death.” Like the rest of the founding fathers, Henry knew that freedom was primary to democracy; without the guiding light of freedom, or liberty, democracy breaks up on the shoals. Love keeps our left brain in check — that’s the message of the world’s religions. But our right-brain love creates the foundation for hope: love for nature, love for our children and grandchildren, love for each other. Without love to light the way, hope breaks up on the shoals.

Mind you, hope is not simply wishful thinking. And that’s a problem, considering we’re immersed in the ultimate “wishful thinking, something-for-nothing” culture. How else to explain books such as The Secret, which proclaims that happy thoughts will generate happy results, including personal wealth? How else to explain the prevalence of, and widespread acceptance of, casinos? And it’s not just acceptance: it’s adoration, if the boob tube and the local movie theater are to be believed. Not so long ago, gambling was frowned upon because, instead of adhering to a culture of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work, it reflects the expectation that a person can get something for nothing. No, hope is not wishful thinking.

And another thing: hope is not a consumer product. You can’t walk into Wal-Mart and order up a carton of hope. Indeed, given the demise of cheap oil, there’s unlikely to be a Wal-Mart — or any other large institution, for that matter — to walk into at all within a few years. Even if Wal-Mart, the federal government, or the University of Arizona somehow find a way to survive, we’re going to have to generate our own hope, one person at a time. Just as an economic collapse happens one person at a time, so too must hope happen one person at a time.

Many years later, after much time reflecting, I’m caught between my earlier description and the gradual merging of my view with the definition offered by Derrick Jensen: “hope is a longing for a future condition over which you have no agency; it means you are essentially powerless.”

In other words, my earlier description of hope is giving way to the notion of hope as wishful thinking, also known as hopium. I’m certainly not willing to give up, and I constantly encourage acts of resistance that will allow opportunities for the living planet to persist into the future. In so doing, I’m channeling iconoclastic author Edward Abbey: “Action is the antidote to despair.”

Hopium is the drug to which we’re addicted. It’s the desire to have our problems solved by others, instead of by ourselves. It’s why we keep electing politicians while knowing they won’t keep their promises, but finding ourselves too fearful to give up the much-promised future of never-ending growth on a finite planet.

Knowing we cannot occupy this finite world without adverse consequences for humans or other animals, but afraid to face that truth, we turn away. We watch the television, go to the movies, gamble at casinos, play on Facebook, and generally applauding while the world burns we take a flame-thrower to the planet. Nietzsche nailed it: “Hope is the most evil of evils, because it prolongs man’s torment.”

Finally, Steph, I’ve come to the conclusion that Nietzsche was right. I used to think hope differed from hopium, back when I had hope. Gradually, I’ve come to see hope and hopium as one. Let’s get off the crack pipe, and onto reality. May Pandora release the final gift from her container.

This essay is not intended to suggest we abandon (1) resistance or (2) joy-filled lives. Life, including human life, is a gift. Let’s live as if we appreciate the gift. Let’s live as if we appreciate the others in our lives, human and otherwise. Let’s live as if there is more to life than the treadmill onto which we were born.

Let’s live.


Please note upcoming events in Bradford, Vermont and Tucson, Arizona:

4 March 2013, 6:30 p.m., Twin Sides of the Fossil Fuel Coin (video linked here), upstairs Colatina Exit, Main Street, Bradford, Vermont. After the video, McPherson will join for a live Q & A session via Skype.

4 May 2013, 7:00 p.m., premiere showing of Mike Sosebee’s film, Somewhere in New Mexico before the End of Time, Gallagher Theater, Memorial Student Union, 1303 East University Boulevard, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona (Q & A to follow)

Comments 354

  • Hope? the majority of humankind since the onset of “civilization” has lived in misery. they were fed a steady diet of hope – hope for a less brutal life. Those of us who have lived better than the rest are never satisfied, we hope for more, more, more.

  • There are some bad people on the RIGHT
    There are some bad people on the RIGHT
    They’re saving their own skins by
    Ruining other people’s lives
    Bad, bad people on the RIGHT
    Young married couple in debt
    – ever felt had ?
    Young married couple in debt
    – ever felt had ?

    On a government scheme
    Designed to kill your dream
    Oh mum, oh dad
    Once poor, always poor
    La la la la la
    Interesting drug
    The one that you took
    An interesting drug
    The one that you took
    God, it really really helped you
    You wonder why we’re only half-ashamed ?

    “Because ENOUGH is TOO MUCH!
    …and look around …
    …can you blame us ? CAN you blame us ? “

  • Pat – poetically passionate good point.

    Guy: yeah, i always thought that “hopium” was like a Steven Colbert word – at once pointing out the drug-like quality of engaging in that coping-mechanism of a feeling while accepting the status quo and sitting idly by, suffering in silence, frozen into inaction and thereby practically inviting the dreaded change to happen, so that, contrary to the movie title, hope drowns (us) as a result.

  • From Sam Ewing, the baseball player:

    “On the plains of hesitation bleach the bones of countless millions who, at the dawn of decision, sat down to wait, and waiting died…”

    Speaking of …hesitation…

    The company (https://www.facebook.com/LawEnforcementTargets)that makes paper shooting range targets came out with a new line of ‘non traditional’ targets recently, specifically designed for government agencies called,”“No More Hesitation” targets (NMH). These are to ostensibly train federal agents, police and military personnel not to ‘hesitate’ to shoot the type of individual in the target, to ‘desensitize’ them doing so.

    The targets are life sized photos of: a hostile pregnant woman in a nursery, a hostile older woman in her home, a hostile young mother surrounded by children on a playground, a hostile school aged girl on street, a very young boy holding a real gun, and last but not least, drum roll, a hostile older man in his home holding a shotgun (he is not in a reclining chair at least)

    Some people are apparently training not to hesitate, too bad it wasn’t about climate change and gluttonous western life styles.

  • Hey, I almost forgot, the target company also has just for fun full sized ‘Zombie’ targets that actually ‘bleed’ when you shoot them, I kid you not. What will they think of next, progress is our most important product!


    I know where my spare time is going! With zombies, always remember
    ZOMBIELAND Rule #2: Double Tap

  • What I am getting from Guys Essay, and this is very much in line with my own beliefs, is that the loss of hope, or the rejection of hope, does not absolve us from responsibility. Not the responsibility foisted upon us by a warped system. To produce, consume, work hard and pay taxes. But rather, the responsibility to resist, to build something better, and to live in gratitude and joy for our lives.

    Rejection of hope is not rejection of action. Guy it seems is working on creating community under principles of agrarian anarchy having walked away from a failed and harmful system. He also manages this blog and takes public speaking engagements encouraging people to see the truth of their predicament.

    This is something I can understand having walked away from a lucrative IT career 9 years ago to bounce around the country as an anarchist, environmentalist and anarchist. This happened at the age of 53, I am now about to turn 62 and have slept outside 6 of the past 9 winters. Sounds like hardship, but it’s been the happiest time of my life.

    All of this, what Guy, myself, and many others have done, looks to many like a lack of responsibility. But it is, in fact, the most responsible thing that can be done given the circumstances. Hope is paralyzing, it causes people to hold back and to cling to a mode of living that is essentially unworkable in the long run.

    As for holding on to stuff. I have a habit of giving stuff away when my back pack gets to heavy. If I can’t walk 20 miles with my stuff on my back, I own to much.

    What we do matters. Even if the only thing our actions can accomplish is the difference between the end of all life on earth and a few surviving species, or even a few surviving pockets of humans.

    Fighting extreme extraction that destroys the land base makes the survival of at least something much more likely. Teaching people how to grow there own food and adapt in extreme conditions also makes a difference as to whether pockets of humanity might survive.

    If all of that fails, and it well may, as good old Ed Abby once said: “Revenge is not a reason, it is the only reason”. Reason for resistance that is.

    By the way, the occupation is still alive and well in DC. We got kicked out of McPherson park. Then Kicked out of our tents on 15th near K, then kicked out of the occusquat in Petworth and are spending the winter on various floors, couches, basements etc. in the city. We have stormed the Klanadian embassy, Lawyers for Transcanada, various oil interests and other somewhat antisocial organizations in and around town. We will be taking strong actions in mid march in support of the tar sands blockade. Chesapeake Earth First! and Rising Tide are both active and strongly augmented by Occupiers who, contrary to popular belief, have not gone away.

    Many of us plan to head out to some land we can live on and grow food about an hour and a half bus ride from town while still maintaining a radical presence in DC. So I guess that also makes us transitioners.

    I find it interesting that Guy Mcpherson and Derrick Jensen actively recommend each others work while following seemingly different courses of action. Maybe not so different. Their are many paths of resistance.

    So I guess I am writhing this because I so often see lack of hope used as an excuse for inaction. There is no excuse for inaction. If we know whats happening, we must take action. We must resist. What the action or resistance looks like will be different in every case. We need it all, we need what is appropriate for each person, but there is nor excuse for doing nothing.

  • Salutations! Thank you for the opportunity to join the conversation. And how to begin?

    I don’t know if being taught to duck under my desk in case of nuclear attack back in 1958 made me believe our days were surely numbered, or perhaps it was my Native American heritage that instilled a religious perspective of the planet’s overall health and well-being that convinced me were in the worst trouble possible, or possibly it is because spirituality is real and we all knew we were getting into this mess before we got here, i.e., before we were born; I don’t know.

    I just know I’ve lived with the fear of the sky falling, and fear of a lot of other things, ever since I can remember. And now it’s here. The sky is falling. The earth is dying. The animals and plants are dying. Irony of ironies, my great-great-uncle told me this was going to happen when I was nineteen.

    I grew up with subsistence gardens and chickens and rabbits and sometimes geese in the back yard. Flowers, too. The horticulturally gifted Indians of the Southeast United States loved their flowers. My great-grandmother grew irises, and my grandmother loved roses. I, too, have become a prodigious grower of plants, something I began at age three during the mid-fifties. One of my earliest memories is of my small, child-sized trowel and spade and my energetic use of them in the strawberry patch. The other thing I remember is homemade ice cream that we had to turn by hand, alternating the ice and salt. In August we made peach ice cream with peaches from our tree, and it was my grandfather’s favorite.

    I remember in the seventies thinking that our whole situation was terrifying. We knew then where things were going, that the whole world was in terrible trouble, or I thought we knew. Our way of life was not manageable or sustainable or workable. More than that, I never could see the pay-off. What was the motive? Killing things is fun? It seems to come down to that to me now. As dumbfounding as it is, I used to believe that other people believed in “progress.” I’m not sure I believe that anymore. I think human beings as a group are just too stupid and cruel to live, and that’s really all there is to it.

    I’m not sure there ever was “hope” in the sense that most people think of it. The world is as good as it is, and any intellectual musing that it could be better if only has always been a future promise, never a present reality. At the moment I’m in a dark and hopeless place. This has not been the norm for most of my life, although I have to admit that I always believed that human beings were far better than I currently believe they are, self included. I have had hope because I had genuine faith in spiritual realities that transcend this world. I had this hope because I’d had many genuine spiritual experiences that I believed with all my heart were real experiences and not hallucinations or delusions or wishful and highly imaginative thinking.

    I still have some hope, because I do believe there may very well be much more to reality than what we can see here. But God, this is hard, and I don’t have hope for our world. At age sixty, based on what I see of most people older than the age of twelve, maybe it’s better if it all does end. We are no prize, and if the unbelievable suffering so many human beings create comes to an end, maybe it’s best. I do hope there is more, because that’s the only hope I have left.

  • @Jesse:

    Your description of your path reminds me of Peace Pilgrim.

    I, too, just a short time from my sixtieth birthday, am considering what radical rabble-rousing I might be able to accomplish in my old age. I quit a very good-paying job in community health, not by choice; I guess you could say I quit by psychopath – my boss.

    I’m going south soon to consider a future in hemp. CO2 does improve marijuana, and vice versa.

  • Thinking about hope. Hope is another attempt for the ego to take credit and therefore control of a natural process. Everything we think is reference to past experience, i.e. reaction. The neurological lag between NOW and our experience of NOW allows us to delude ourselves that time moves. All time just like all space is here and now. Hope is nothing more than the feeling of self-congratulation at having survived the gap between NOW and our perception of NOW. Each moment that we survive strengthens the narrative of time moving forward. The continuity of our personal narrative tells us that we are strong, canny, and capable. It also allows us to predict our continued survival in the coming moment and the one after that. We confuse the continuity of scenery, gravity, temperature, breathable air, etc. with our fictitious narrative and derive egoistic hope from the story we tell ourselves. NOW is devoid of hope or any other aftertaste. It simply is.

    Our neverending self delusion of nobility is:

    …a tale
    Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
    Signifying nothing.

    Well, really, signifying our mastery of a seamless bullshit narrative.

  • One more thing, Stephanie wrote, “stimulate robust processes of social resilience.”

    I don’t even know what things like that mean anymore.

    For me, it comes down to, plant something that grows; help someone or something that’s suffering; first, do no harm; walk; wear more – or less and be more and use less.

    None of it is really complicated. But it is not easy. It’s not a “process.”

    It matters what we do even if we and everything else alive are going to die any minute because we there is quality to being that is part of quality of doing. What we do creates self, and what and who we create of our ‘self’ matters to us. I, and only I, will live with me, from the beginning until the end.

  • Nice to see us Ol’ guys (people, actually) flocking together in support of keeping up the effort – despite the hopelessness and misery ahead (and in our own lives now).

  • For the person who brought up the subject of hydrogen sulfide, here is a TED talk that expresses a novel hypothesis about the bacteria that produce it. I have posted this before, and I just watched it again. There is so much information here.


  • Then, here is a reveiw of the evidence in Peter Ward’s presentation since the TED talk:


  • to Jesse Schultz

    I did want you do now back in the 60’s. From the Freedom of Information lawsuits released on reports about dissident groups of the day, it seems in many smaller instances, there where more government agents and provocateurs at the protests than there were real protesters. I witnessed this first hand one time by following a ‘hippie’ guy who had just throne a brick through a plate glass window back to…the po-lice station where he removed his ‘hippie wig’ and costume and joked with follow officers about what he did. I was in a business suit at the time and so seemed to them a ‘respectable’ citizen.

    I can’t imagine the protest scene is not equally ‘infiltrated’ today, if not ten times worse with electronic surveillance.

    I’m not saying don’t do what you are doing but bare in mind if there were no protesters, the Owners would invent them as a foil, a straw-man, to flog in the MSM for the Propaganda 101 course.

    Social media not withstanding (even that is full of mis-directors and time-wasters and obfuscators), no message of substance ever gets through the MSM that does not serve the Owners.

    The protest pieces I glance at occasionally in MSM pressititude rags use ‘protestors’ as incarnate evil or harmless mental cases.

    The real news on blogs and tweets and such is usually preaching to the choir, the people involved already known most of it, the vast majority of Sheeple just stare into space on anti-anxiety drugs and tune out all awareness, it’s Bliss you know.

    Your withdrawing your ‘money’ from the charade of an economy is more potent in my mind than manning the barricades.

    Dmitri Orlov asked an uncle, on the cusp of the USSR collapse, what the state of the State was and he said [paraphrase], “The Soviet Union is like a dildo that still buzzes but no longer vibrates.”

    There’s Livin in the U.S.A.

  • @ Speak Softly

    I posted a link to those ‘non traditional’ targets a few days ago.

    Here’s some more background info. It’s part of the conditioning that is required to overcome the natural abhorrence towards killing. Such training improves efficiency :

    The development of a psychological conditioning process to enable an individual to overcome the average, healthy, deep-rooted aversion to close-range killing of one’s own species is a true revolution. By changing from bulls-eye targets to pop-up, human-shaped targets that fall when hit, modern armies and police forces have learned to operantly condition their combatants to respond reflexively even when literally frightened out of their wits. This process has repeatedly demonstrated an ability to raise the firing rate among individual riflemen from a baseline of around 20% in World War 11 to over 90% today. This is a revolution on the battlefield, and it is a revolution that has also had an absolutely unprecedented influence on civilian violence and domestic violent crimes.

    Also from the same page :

    Dr. Brandon Centerwall, professor of epidemiology at the University of Washington, has summarized the overwhelming nature of this body of evidence. His research demonstrates that anywhere in the world that television is introduced, within 15 years the murder rate will double. (And remember, across 15 years, the murder rate will significantly underrepresent the problem because medical technology will be saving ever more lives each year.)

    Centerwall concludes that if television technology had never been introduced in the U.S, then there would today be 10,000 fewer homicides each year in the United States; 70,000 fewer rapes; and 700,000 fewer injurious assaults. Overall violent crime would be half of what it is.

    Centerwall notes that the net effect of television has been to increase the aggressive predisposition of approximately 8% of the population, which is all that is required to double the murder rate. Statistically speaking 8% is a very small increase. Anything less than 5% is not even considered to be statistically significant. But in human terms, the impact of doubling the homicide rate is enormous.


  • Very interesting. I quit watching television in 1969. I always believed if anyone was going to burn in hell, it was going to be the people who brought us television.

    Can you imagine if they had used television differently?

    What a dream.

  • Arnie Gundersen and Helen Caldicott discuss medical issues in Fukushima, and the symposium she will have on Fukushima on March 11 and 12 in NYC. It will be livestreamed and hopefully available after the fact to watch later.

  • Symposium: The Medical and Ecological Consequences of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident l March 11-12, 2013
    The New York Academy of Medicine, New York City, NY
    A unique, two-day symposium at which an international panel of leading medical and biological scientists, nuclear engineers, and policy experts will make presentations on and discuss the bio-medical and ecological consequences of the Fukushima disaster, will be held at The New York Academy of Medicine on March 11-12, 2013, the second anniversary of the accident. The public is welcome.

  • I sent Arnie Gundersen an e-mail asking him to address the issues raised in 400 Chernobyls, ie the meltdown of all the world’s nuclear power plants when the grids fail. We have only seen what happens in a nuclear accident when huge numbers of sacrificial lambs and lots of money is poured into containing it. We have not seen even one nuclear accident that has had no response – but we will – or those of us alive when the grid fails will. I hope Gundersen is open to hearing the concern.
    For those who haven’t read it http://truth-out.org/news/item/7301-400-chernobyls-solar-flares-electromagnetic-pulses-and-nuclear-armageddon It covers grid collapse by solar flare or EMP – the author perhaps not knowing that in the end Peak Oil will collapse the grids one way or another – lack of fuel, lack of maintenance of infrastructure. Thus we know for a fact that all the nuclear power plants not decommissioned at that time will blow and no one will do a thing other than run.

    Hope, the only hope is that you can end your life feeling that you have lived by the principles you choose to follow. The hope that you don’t breathe your last breath ashamed of yourself.

  • To end on a positive note an uplifting song that is bound to cheer you up. https://youtu.be/TIoBrob3bjI

  • Speaking of.. Hope

    Hope on the Battlefield


    A piece on how a majority of combat soldiers aim not to hit.

    During WWII, U.S. Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall, U.S. Army historian in the Pacific theater, discovered;

    “Only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire at the enemy. Those who would not fire did not run or hide—in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages. They simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges.”

    This was consistently true, “whether the action was spread over a day, or two days, or three.”

    People naturally don’t want to kill, it is done by a smaller sub-set of individuals within the group.

  • .
    Fire and Ice

    Predictions can be imprecise:
    Global warming, nuclear device,
    Plus a very long list,
    But you get the gist;
    “It’s over,” would also suffice.

  • @ Ess

    Can you imagine if they had used television differently?

    Yes ! What an incredible potential tool for educating people. Instead it was corrupted, used for ads for rubbish and for propaganda.

  • from the facebook page:

    We apologize for the offensive nature of our “No More Hesitation” products. These products have been taken offline due to the opinions expressed by so many, including members of the law enforcement community.

    This product line was originally requested and designed by the law enforcement community to train police officers for unusually complex situations where split-second decisions could lead to unnecessary loss of life.

    Consistent with our company mission as a training supplier (not a training methods company), we will continue to seek input from law enforcement professionals to better serve their training objectives and qualification needs. We sincerely appreciate law enforcement professionals for the risks they take in providing safety and defending freedom.

  • To speak softly.

    You are indeed right. The undercovers, provocateurs, and infiltrators are still out there and many friends are doing serious time because of them. There was a time when I would have vouched for one individual (fortunately I did not), who turned out to be in the pay of the FBI and gave some crazy ideas to some people who are now in jail. I met a couple of victims before they were incarcerated, but screw them, they turned states evidence and as a result, someone got 20 years. Have no sympathy for traitors.

    The most important principle of security culture is knowing when to use it. Don’t worry about cops during open organizing. Assume they are there, go about your business of organizing the march or whatever relatively benign action you are taking. Is what you are doing felony level? Then you should not be doing open organizing, you should not be organizing with anyone you have not known for years.

    As for street provocateurs. If someone suggests you throw a rock, let them do it, and don’t let their actions influence you. Know, personally, how far you want to go before you attend an action. Making a sudden decision, based on the actions of others, is not going to accomplish your goals, especially if it gets you incarcerated. Getting taken off the street does not help the cause.

    Also, what is the moral integrity of the people you are organizing with? Jake was not a cop, but he was a heroine addict so he could be turned by the cops. He caused people to spend years in jail. Try to organize with people of moderate habits. The cause should be more important than alcohol or drugs. Some have even been lured in by sexual relations with informants.

    I have eight arrests, always some version of a considered decision to stand my ground. I only have one conviction, a misdemeanor for unlawful entry. (It kept me from getting a job though) I have no arrests for covert actions. I have, of course been hit with sticks, pepper sprayed, tear gassed, dragged on the end of a rope and locked in a refrigerated cell in my underwear. I have many friends who have gone through much much worse. As the cops say, you can beat the rap, but you can’t beat the ride.

    Yeah, it’s dangerous out there. Follow your own path. If you choose a dangerous path, be prepared for the possible consequences. As the system becomes threatened, what will constitute a dangerous path will change. In fact, it already has. at some point, just speaking out may have lethal consequences.

  • http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/02/28/172951757/the-napoleon-chagnon-wars-flare-up-again-in-anthropology

    “This is no mere ego contest between two alpha-male primates of academic anthropology: instead it’s a meaningful, if startlingly angry, discussion about the responsibility of scientists to the people they study and (the factor I will focus on here) the contribution of biology, particularly genetics, to understanding human behavior.”

    Can’t wait to see where hope fits in…

  • Benjamin, I have often tried to do something updated with Fire and Ice and always failed. You succeeded!

    I’ve been mulling a limerick on hope all morning – should be easy, lots of rhymes, but this is all I have managed so far.

    Without hope how do we cope
    Resign from the scene like the pope
    Should we just give up
    Say its over, yup
    Or smile and refuse to mope.

  • I know this topic is now gone, but here’s a handy diagram:


    Know Your Space Rocks!

  • Guy you wrote “Life, including human life, is a gift.”

    Yep its a gift in the sense that someone gave it to us without our even asking for it. Its a gift with a death sentence attached (using the meaning of the word death that applies to that type of event which if it occurred in a desert would attract vultures).

    But as you note since we have been given the gift of life we might as well do whatever good we can with it. For some the “gift of life” is worse than a treadmill – as the song says “tired of living and scared of dying” or There Are More Slaves Today Than at Any Time in Human History
    Ben Skinner spent four years inside the world of modern-day slavery; an industry that produces huge profits and countless wasted lives.
    The world suffers global recession, enormous inequity, hunger, deforestation, pollution, climate change, nuclear weapons, terrorism, etc. To those who say we’re not really making progress, many might point to the fact that at least we’ve eliminated slavery. But sadly that is not the truth.

    I wonder if the slaves of this modern world consider their life a gift?

    Some say you have to take the bad with the good. After extinction the bad disappears with the good. No more children will be raped after extinction…..no more wives battered…..no more limbs blown off on battle fields….no more DU babies…..no more thyroid cancers from radiation….no more torture….no more priests buggering little young boys…..the evils we did not succeed in eliminating will end with extinction, perhaps we are extincting ourselves because deep down we know what a vile species we are. We are the species that knows what we do. The fox eats the rabbit because it is food. I does not know what the rabbit feels or fears. The bastards at Gitmo they know exactly what their prisoner feels eh? The priest, how can he not know what the boy feels. The people who put DU on the weapons, how can they not know what horrors they have visited on the people of Iraq. The Nuclear Regulators, how can they not know about the children of Chernobyl. The bastards in Japan, how can they not know how they have poisoned the world. Homo sapiens sapiens – man who knows.

  • I’m giving a talk next week on the issues we’re facing: peak oil/climate change/overpopulation/collapse, etc. Earlier in the month I put up a couple of flyers in my clinic announcing the talk and inviting anyone interested in the topics to attend.

    Amazingly, more than 20 people have signed up so far and many others have spoken to me about it in the exam rooms. It’s been quite surprising how many people are thinking about these topics. I suspect it’s all the attention paid to doomsday scenarios in the popular media. Nonetheless, that so many would be willing to take time out of their schedules to come here and listen to me blather on is quite remarkable. Even if half of them show up I’ll be quite pleased.

    If I were a smarter man and could see a way for all of this to work out without so much pain and suffering perhaps this level of interest would give me hope. But, as it is, the response thus far, while also stoking my ego a little bit, confirms in me that more and more people are waking up to the fact that something is wrong. They don’t know what it is, but they’re willing to learn.

    At the end of the talk I’m going to offer to work with others toward building local communities to see if we can break down some walls. Am I hopeful? I don’t know but it’s something for me to do that gives me pleasure. So, I’m going to do it. I’ll let you know if it changes the world. 🙂

  • Someone else may have posted this already. If so, apologies for duplication. I just find it interesting that so many different “prophecies” appear to be reaching their climax, like this one about the pope:


  • I have been brutally disabused of the notion that there is progress, and I’m leaning more towards the idea that there is no hope, for our species and most others, based on our genetically determined nature. And I’m fully aware of the human capacity to deny the evil we perpetrate.

    On the other hand, life may still be a gift. No matter how bad it is – for slaves, or my poor ensnared tropical birds (obtained for my children in a prior, shameful episode of my life) very few choose to end it. So maybe there is enough in small pleasures – eating, mating, looking at the stars – to make it worthwhile, even when most of it is awful.

    Then again, it has been claimed that dolphins deliberately beach themselves to expire from suffocation, when isolation is unbearable…but perhaps, they are especially sensitive.

  • How about this song to go with the theme:


    Baby born in New York city
    Wrapped in a blanket all tattered and worn
    Mama’s doing the best that she can
    It takes hope in a hopeless world

    Her eldest son, he stayed in school

    Listened to his mother, he never drank or used

    And every job he wants he gets refused

    It takes hope in a hopeless world

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Trying to find love in these hateful times

    Trying to stay strong but my mind is weak

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Churches are full, but the prayers are not heard

    Saturday’s child don’t wanna to go to Sunday school

    Whatever happened to the golden rule

    It takes hope in a hopeless world

    Do you got a quarter for the homeless man

    Spare some change for the soldiers who fought the war

    Put a little money in those hats and those tins

    Give them hope in a hopeless world

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Trying to find love in these hateful times

    Trying to stay strong but my mind is weak

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Ooh, somebody out there gotta listen

    Somebody out there got to know what pops been talking about

    Raise your hand, raise your hands if you’re with him

    Give us hope in a hopeless world

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Trying to find love in these hateful times

    Trying to stay strong but my mind is weak

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Trying to find love in these hateful times

    Trying to stay strong but my mind is weak

    Looking for hope in a hopeless world

    Can’t be standing still

  • “I feel that this life is sort of a penal colony.”
    – William S. Burroughs, American

  • Kathy C Says: I have often tried to do something updated with Fire and Ice….

    Me too! 😀 Thanks, and thanks for all you bring here.

  • I just became aware of this site and your work by reading an article at Orion magazine by Paul Kingsworth – “Dark Ecology”, see:
    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/7277. You share much in common with his point of view. I have also been recently reading about a new initiative that seeks to address GCC by rectifying the chasm between post-modernity (ecologists/environmentalists) and modenity – the industrial
    economy, rationalism, scientific materialism. This work discusses three categories of environmentalists and their values and points of view: Activist Alarmists, Carbon Realists, and Strategic Persuaders. The latter two would fall into the category of “neo-environmentalists” by Kingsworth. The initiaive asserts that the solution to GCC (and other “wicked” problems) will only occur if the worldviews held by modernity and post-modernity (as well as
    tradtional beliefs) can be honored – transcended and included. I agree with this assertion.

    After reading Kingsworth’s paper, and briefly going through some of your work, I decided I needed to go re-visit another article I read that addresses the topic of optimism. It was written by Bert Parlee in Kosmos magazine, the title is “Integral Optimism” and in the article, Bert lays out a “Spectrum of Optimism” that ranges from “Apocalyptic Pessimism” to “Cautious Optimism.” I would say that your view and the view of Kingsworth would seem to fall
    into the Apocolyptic category. It is not an unreasonable place to be given the reality of our current situation. However, another place we could all strive to be is the category of “Inspired Optimism”, where the purpose of each and every one of us is “to create new worlds by challenging established maxims and reaching beyond what seems possible. The belief is that strong convictions, powerful purpose, and bold action give birth to new emergence,
    overcoming great odds… Combining the opposites of striving and surrender, we arrive at a place that is at once sober, spiritually grounded, positively engaged, ‘unreasonably’ ambitious, and yet realistic and open to whatever may come.”

    This Inspired Optimism both strives towards higher expectations while also surrendering to the possibilies of Life itself. You can find the article and a radio interview at the following links. http://www.kosmosjournal.org/issue/fall-winter-2010 http://www.voiceamerica.com/episode/50071/integral-optimism.

    PS – As a longtime softball player and fan of baseball, I love your “Nature Bats Last” turn of phrase. In softball, we also refer to that as “Having the Hammer.” As in Nature will “Have the Hammer” (to whollop all the nails of our evolutionary decisions). Thanks for what you are doing.

  • I am getting ready to go on vacation. My wife and I are leaving next week for two weeks in Belize and Guatemala in luxury eco-lodges owned by the legendary movie director Francis Ford Coppola. The airliners we fly in will emit huge amounts of CO2 into the upper atmosphere. There is nothing we can do about it. Those planes will be flying anyway with or without us on them. We will enjoy good food and wine and when we come back deal will the the daily frustrations of rural homesteading: all the insects and garden pests, climate change and so on. We can afford the trip so we are doing it. I am 53 years old and I have produced no offspring nor do I intend to.

  • Gail “very few choose to end it.”
    So true
    But none chose to start it, it is chosen for them. If we had little souls in waiting who could say yes, I’m ready to be born and who could see what their whole life would be, I wonder how many would chose to be born. Ah well, we will never know for the unborn can’t chose to be born for they don’t exist.

    And you wrote “Then again, it has been claimed that dolphins deliberately beach themselves to expire from suffocation, when isolation is unbearable…but perhaps, they are especially sensitive.”

    I took Paxil for a while for depression. It was fascinating. Changing my serotonin levels didn’t change any thoughts I had about the state of the world, it just allowed me to not care about the state of the world. I began to wonder if fishes in the sea knew that they would spend their whole lives eating other fishes and running from bigger fishes, might they not just beach themselves and get it over with. It seemed to me that humans, being able to remember the past and imagine the future, had to have some chemicals like serotonin and denial programs to keep themselves from figuratively beaching themselves.

    On the whole my life has had enough good to make up for the bad. But I can’t answer that question for others. I wonder what these children would say KHLIEHRIAT, India — After descending 70 feet on a wobbly bamboo staircase into a dank pit, the teenage miners ducked into a black hole about two feet high and crawled 100 yards through mud before starting their day digging coal.http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/26/world/asia/in-india-missing-school-to-work-in-the-mine.html?pagewanted=all

  • @ Jim Loving

    His name is Kingsnorth. My impression is that his view is very different to the general view expressed here. He expects life in England in 20 or 30 years time to be very much as it is now.

  • @ tom f

    Those planes will be flying anyway with or without us on them.

    Yeah. We’ve had this argument about morals here before. It’s called collaborating with the enemy. Just because those poor wretches are going to be gassed anyway, does that mean it’s okay to help put them onto the trains ?

  • Climate Change Abolitionists: Who is fighting for a more sustainable world?:

    “Well, I can tell you who definitely shouldn’t be considered, under any circumstances:”

    “1.)Guy McPherson-This guy isn’t well known outside of the “doomer” circle but lemme tell you, this guy is a real fucking nut”

    The author is referring to this article at the Guardian.

  • Apes in space!

    Yup, save the planet. On the other hand, species come and go 🙂

  • This is the trouble, all those idiots who think that climate and science has to do with popularity or anybody’s opinion about anybody else.

    ( It’s obvious those people are clueless. Can they even define what they mean by a more sustainable or a less sustainable world ? )

    The abolition of slavery concerned ethical arguments and economic arguments.

    Climate change is happening now completely regardless of whether we argue about the ethics and economics. What we are going to see is who was the best scientist, that is, who got the science right.

    We only get to do this experiment ONCE.

  • Well, I can tell you who definitely shouldn’t be considered, under any circumstances:
    1.)Guy McPherson-This guy isn’t well known outside of the “doomer” circle but lemme tell you, this guy is a real fucking nut; erroneous and extremely holey claims such as his belief that we would see a temperature rise of 16*C by 2100(which is literally impossible, btw), and the claim that the human race would be extinct by 2030, are just a small taste of what to expect.

    They first ignore what you advise,
    Then they laugh as you warn of demise;
    Then the fight will begin,
    In the end, you will win,
    But by then, of course, everyone dies.

  • @ B the D

    But by then, of course, everyone dies.

    Hahaha, so, sort of Pyrrhic Victory, nobody left to applaud…. what an amazing concept !

  • ulvfugl, actually at first I tried making EXACTLY the point you made just above (at 8:22) but gave up, and I was delighted to find that you covered it ably.

  • i.e., mixing science with all that other stuff

  • Here is a song about death that I like, it is dispassionate and neutral – called ‘The Final Taxi’.

  • Looking at those names and faces in the Guardian article and thinking about that nonsense at Kos…

    This situation is probably the most difficult and complex puzzle that any human mind has ever been faced with. There’s the climatology part, which is amazingly complicated, the earth systems and palaeo-climatology, meteorology, and the oceans and forests, biological aspects, ecology and biomes and soil science, and there’s the socio-political and cultural aspects, and there’s the speed that stuff happens, the overwhelming unremitting flow of information, and an individual human mind has to master all of that and make sense of it and tell others what they believe it all means… and then people want to know, what’s going to be happening in 2022… ??? Are we all going to die ?

    Twenty countries are responsible for 90% of emissions. Does it look like they will cut their emissions, does it look like they have any intention of so doing ? Does it look as if it is possible for them to cut their emissions, even if some of the politicians and some of the voters wanted to ?

    Bankers, economists, accountants, politicians, people wanting jobs, all want economic growth, which almost always means more destruction of nature, more emissions, more toxins in the environment, more plastic rubbish in the oceans, somehow two additional Chinas-worth of people have to be squeezed into the gaps, and fed and housed, as droughts and floods and famines and lost topsoil reduce the carrying capacity…

    A lot of countries are far more concerned with war and political instability and social unrest than they are about climate change, they have never heard of methane let alone know what it is or why it matters, and all the while every corporation has to make a quarterly profit for the shareholders regardless of what environmental havoc that causes.

    Hope ?

  • @ B the D


    Yeah. I think whoever has the deepest insight, and expresses it most succinctly deserves an accolade, and you’re the master, but I’d really like some haiku instead of limericks for a change perhaps ?

  • Ah, my friend.
    Very cool. 😉


    At its most minimal haiku may consist of a single word

    e.g. tundra

    But I think I prefer the longer examples

    Little spider,
    will you outlive

  • https://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/28/1190622/-Climate-Change-Abolitionists-Who-is-fighting-for-a-more-sustainable-world

    Daily Kos is political bs hack. I quit following them years ago.
    They advocate for industrial civilization, pro-growth, breeding, all the usual IC mandates. They just want more equitable distribution of the goodies. What passes for the democratic left in this country makes me want to barf.

  • Yeah, people generally aren’t moved to action until hope is gone. All the articles on climate change that have a happy ending are a great disservice.

    Hope is not a plan, current president’s campaign slogan to the contrary.

  • ulvfugl

    This was probably a typo but, (OzMan added in brackets)…

    “…ecology and biomes(s)…”

    right on!

  • Guy

    “1.)Guy McPherson – This guy isn’t well known outside of the “doomer” circle but lemme tell you, this guy is a real fucking nut”


    Wear it like a medal, and proud.

    Can print up a few t-shirts or buttons….?

  • tom f.

    Your whole life has been a vacation buddy!

    So has mine and many others here.

    See Kath C’s link to children coalmining in India….

    ‘Children Toil in India’s Mines, Despite Legal Ban’


    Many, many in the West use the fine honed skills of the Empire to get over-uber-paid, and some like you seem to want to say…

    “There is nothing we can do about it. Those planes will be flying anyway with or without us on them.”

    Where does this obfuscation stop?

    The petrol was going to go into my car no matter who ownes it, it was going to drive and…

    The house I live in was going to have occupants in it anyway…

    The resturaunt I went to was going to have custommers anyway..

    The Mars Rover was going to Mars anyway…

    Now I am sorry that sounds personally derisive, I don’t mean to go for you, just that view.

    When did you actually choose to do anything?

    Yes, the plane was going anyway. If less and less people travel by plane, they will pull the planes off the tarmac, yes?
    It seems simple enough to me.
    Maybe you are thinking that the overwhelming trend is for so much consumption of the livig biosphere, that me and my partner choseing not to fly on the plane, will not make any difference – it will not achieve the goal of reducing emissions etc.

    See how words just get in the way of thinking.

    Make your choice. I suppose you did already, and you are just justifying it here.
    O.K. That seems clear.

    I don’t advocate feeling guilty in living, just being straight with yourself, and everyone else. We were all born into this ‘system’ of doing things in such and such a way, requiring, or seemingly requiring all this shit. Try just to accept that as something you personally are not responsible for.
    But once you do that are you thereafter responsible for using the ways of Empire or refusing the ways of Empire?

    Guy eventually came to his choice, but notice he does not do it so ractively as to be a techno-energy-fossil-fuel-luddite. Everyone finds their own level.

    I’m only advising to do that and don’t quibble.

    In these Anex-1 nations, ‘we’ have a great deal of choice and privelage, and we can choose to get stuck in or pare back on energy and consumption of everything.

    Do what you want, just don’t use justifications some 6th graders would try on when they didn’t spend the time to do their homework…

    “Let me guess Jeremy, your dog ate your homework…?”

    “No. Mr OzMan Sir, I ate it, the dog was going to eat it anyway….”

  • ‘Feeding Ourselves on a Warming Planet’



    “In fact, we have already entered an era of sharply higher global food prices, with climate change as one of the likely causal factors.

    A new paper from researchers associated with Tufts University puts the overall risk in perspective. It is billed as a working paper, meaning it has not gone through formal scientific review, but it strikes me as worth highlighting nevertheless. The findings pretty closely match the conclusions presented in some of my reporting from 2011.

    The authors, Frank Ackerman and Elizabeth A. Stanton, point out that in the 1990s, research suggested that climate change would be fairly benign for agriculture. The first few degrees of warming would help agriculture expand in chilly regions, the thinking went, and the rising level of atmospheric carbon dioxide would act as plant fertilizer, increasing crop yields. More recent science has cast sharp doubt on some of those conclusions.

    Yet the earlier, rosy forecast is still incorporated into a lot of economic models of climate change. As a result, economists sometimes come to the conclusion that relatively modest efforts to tackle climate change are adequate for now.

    “Can we muddle along without expensive climate initiatives, and go on living – and eating – as before?” the authors of the new paper ask. “Not for long, according to some of the new research on climate and agriculture.”….

    “If warming continues unabated, it will, in a matter of decades, reach levels at which adaptation is no longer possible,” the researchers conclude. “Any long-run solution must involve rapid reduction of emissions, to limit the future extent of climate change.””

    Not much new there, excepting the acknowledgement that a whole lot of fudging went on previously to get those IPCC reports and others to conform to the ‘we’ll make it, keep consuming, economic growth is still ok…’ narritive.

  • I can’t see why everyone here is so hopeless. Consider this:


  • Guy, hey I see they have you listed in good company. You should feel honored. The Kos article says “It took Abraham Lincoln and others many years of campaigning to abolish slavery – but who are the contemporary figures fighting to abolish dangerous climate change”

    Myth of course Lincoln didn’t care about slavery – from a letter to Horace Greely by Lincoln “I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.”

    And yet Modern slavery thriving in the U.S. By Janet Gilmore, http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/09/23_16691.shtml

    It would appear that people prefer myths than truths and the truth tellers are vilified or worse. Depending on how quickly extinction goes, the truth may never be widely known.

  • Guy: the fact that the science you present speaks for itself, while almost all these other folks put a smiley face on it and use large portions of hopium to make the audience feel better while basically “lying out their asses” distinguishes you from them. Unless someone wants to deny the science, your conclusion is accurate simply because it connects the dots, as it were, to follow the direction our measurements of change are illustrating. It’s DEFINITELY getting worse by the DAY now, but most people ignore the dying trees that Gail points out, the acidifying, polluted and over-fished oceans, the radiation that Kathy C and others have pointed out, the deteriorating human condition (from financial to social) and all the rest that our commenters here point out most every day. We can demolish any of the arguments that these other authors have simply because they refuse to entertain a change in the status quo! They aren’t realistic about humanity’s penchant for self-destruction, psychopathy, greed above all else, and short-term technical patches to every problem without actually addressing the primary cause of it all – overpopulation and environmental degradation. So, whether or not you’re a “nut”, your message is solid and unshakeable as far as i can see – while the continuing evidence backs you up rather than their positions that “it’s all gonna be okay once we . . . .” .(and when, exactly, are “we” going to do this proposed solution?).

  • Charles Eisenstein’s work in “Ascent of Humanity” and “Sacred Economics” have helped me understand why we’re here, at this point in time, under these conditions. He still believes some of us will make it through the bottleneck, but I don’t hold that against him. This is taken from Ascent (but not word for word):

    “From the very moment we began to see ourselves as apart from nature, our doom was sealed. Politics, finance, energy, education, health care, and most importantly the ecosystem are headed toward near-certain collapse. During the ten years I’ve spent writing this book, I have become familiar with each of these crises of civilization, enough to get some sense of their enormity and inevitability. I felt the dread of what a collapse might bring, and visited the despair of knowing that our best efforts to avert it are dwarfed by the forces driving us toward catastrophe. One of the main purposes of this book is to speak to that despair. In answer, I offer a plausible and unexpected optimism.

    It is not my purpose to persuade you that we indeed face these crises. Others have done so far more compellingly than I could. Nor is it my aim to inspire you with hope that they may be averted. They cannot be, because the things that must happen to avert them will only happen as their consequence.

    All present proposals for changing course in time to avert a crash are wildly impractical. My optimism is based on knowing that the definition of “practical” and “possible” will soon change as we collectively hit bottom. When the above-mentioned crises converge, when we experience acutely and undeniably that the situation is out of control, when the failure of the old regime is utterly transparent, then solutions that appear hopelessly radical today will become matters of common sense.”

  • JORMA KAUKONEN – Hesitation Blues

    BTW, that’s Jack Casady on the bass guitar.

  • The evidence i alluded to above is shown in this 16 min. video clip of the happenings just since the beginning of the year all over the world and include some of the following categories (that aren’t explored in full) with examples of powerful earthquakes, 4 volcanos erupting at the same time a few hundred miles apart, sinkholes, giant storms and dynamic weather, fish deaths, bizarre occurances (they add some Biblical prophesy, but the events speak for themselves), human death and injury, astronomical events, and flooding (of course there are many more examples of all of these topics they could have added and many they didn’t mention at all like all the formerly rare diseases cropping up all over, for one):

  • 1.)Guy McPherson-This guy isn’t well known outside of the “doomer” circle but lemme tell you, this guy is a real fucking nut”

    I never liked the word doomer but there are no good synonyms. I was thinking about proposing that we (the NBL readers and commenters) try to come up with a better moniker and then an email friend brought up the word azote, which seems perfect:

    The etymological root Azote (an obsolete word for nitrogen, the reactive version of which is, as we know, a primary ozone precursor) is the French azote, which derived from Ancient Greek ἀ- (a-, “without”) + ζωή (zōē, “life”). It was originally coined by Antoine Lavoisier, who saw it as “the part of air which cannot sustain life”.

    So I wonder how people feel about Azotism: the study of near term extinction (its causes, trajectory, and ways of dealing with the foreknowledge), and Azotist/Azotista – those who study NTE…?

  • Buddhist saying “Hope and fear chase each other’s tails,” – Beyond Hope, by Derrick Jensen

    “In enjoyment, there is the fear of disease; In social position, the fear of falling-off; In wealth, the fear of hostile kings;
    In honour, the fear of humiliation;
    In power, the fear of foemen;
    In beauty, the fear of old age;
    In scriptural erudition, the fear of opponents; In virtue, the fear of traducers;
    In body, the fear of death.
    All the things of this world pertaining to man Are attended with fear; Renunciation alone stands forfearlessness.” -BHARTRIHARI

    BG 5.3: One who neither hates nor desires the fruits of his activities is known to be always renounced. Such a person, free from all dualities, easily overcomes material bondage and is completely liberated, O mighty-armed Arjuna.

    BG 5.8-9: A person in the divine consciousness, although engaged in seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, eating, moving about, sleeping and breathing, always knows within himself that he actually does nothing at all. Because while speaking, evacuating, receiving, or opening or closing his eyes, he always knows that only the material senses are engaged with their objects and that he is aloof from them.

    BG 5.13: When the embodied living being controls his nature and mentally renounces all actions, he resides happily in the city of nine gates [the material body], neither working nor causing work to be done.

    BG 5.14: The embodied spirit, master of the city of his body, does not create activities, nor does he induce people to act, nor does he create the fruits of action. All this is enacted by the modes of material nature.

    The meat robot – the city of nine gates – continues to function normally. The nine gates: four lacrimal puncta, two external nares, the mouth, the anus, and the urogenital aperture.

    Hopelessness is the abandoning of expectation while despair is the thwarting of expectation. – As an aside, only these last two paragraphs are “Sez I”.

  • I never liked the word doomer but there are no good synonyms.

    It has been pointed out many moons ago on NBL that a doomer is one who dooms, as a murderer murders. A doomsayer does not doom.

  • Guy, I admire your bravery and tenacity. Frankly I am amazed at your ability to persevere against such criticism. Personally, I have always been very sensitive to ridicule – warranted or otherwise. Even though I may press on with a brave face, it can make me wither inside. Oftentimes it was an encouraging word from a friend and/or supporter that helped me keep going. I’m not sure you need it, but just in case, here’s my voice of support for what you do. I feel confident that time will reveal who is the truly “fucking nuts”.

  • For those of you keeping an eye on sinkholes:


    The area around Tampa has had a sinkhole problem for at least 20 years. Contrary to the quote in the article that the sinkhole wasn’t manmade, evidence shows that the reason sinkholes are such a problem in that area is due to extreme reductions in groundwater levels. The population in Tampa/St. Pete has grown so much that freshwater is constantly a problem.

  • Re: Inspired Optimism, defined as, where the purpose of each and every one of us is “to create new worlds by challenging established maxims and reaching beyond what seems possible. The belief is that strong convictions, powerful purpose, and bold action give birth to new emergence, overcoming great odds… Combining the opposites of striving and surrender, we arrive at a place that is at once sober, spiritually grounded, positively engaged, ‘unreasonably’ ambitious, and yet realistic and open to whatever may come.”

    This is an example of the modern, liberal (in the classic sense) delusion that enlightened individuals can inspire and create structural change in the world. In the last 50 years, or so, philosophers and other critical thinkers have been moving away from an anthropocentric view of historical change towards a post-human, systems view which postulates that we are more like self conscious nodes in vast physical networks which exceed human intentions and motives. I think some of the stuff that Paul C. has been posting here is along these same lines.

    Homo sapiens sapiens are only one of about 27 species of primate hominids and the other 26 are no longer with us. I suspect that the others did not vanish because they made bad decisions, it was a matter of an inability to adapt to inhospitable environmental changes. The only difference in our case is that we both created the environmental shift which will now swallow us up and we cannot adapt to the shift (at least not most of us … how big the die-off will be remains to be seen).

    The global civilization which we constructed over the last 200 years cannot simply be tweeked in order to accommodate climate change, resource depletion, and so forth. At least 5 billion of us would not be here but for oil and the industrial revolution. Hence, when oil and industry go away a shit load of folks are going to die. And when a lot of folks start dying from starvation and disease, this usually leads to war and other ingrained primate pathologies. The end game is bleak and the best that the human species can “hope” for is that some will survive the catastrophe. It’s not a matter of spreading happy inspiring thoughts in order to bring about happy changes. All the spiritual groundedness and “positive engagement” isn’t going to get around the fact of mass death and suffering! Which is why fundamental, structural change cannot happen because no one can convince 5 billion people to drink poisoned Cool Aid.

  • @KathyC “It would appear that people prefer myths than truths and the truth tellers are vilified or worse.”

    I must admit that I chuckle at the continued surprise seemingly expressed by many with regard to how the world actually works. For instance, the lament that TV wasn’t used effectively for educational purposes, but rather, became the commercial monster we know & love.

    Ok, so it seems we need a refresher course on “How the world really works 101”. Out of the box, we can quickly summarize how all matter & energy, no matter the form, is utilized by humans, in order of priority:

    1. Military – can we ‘win’ with it?
    2. Business – can we profit from it?
    3. Government – can we tax it?

    Let us examine the myth of Lincoln vis-a-vis slavery. Does promoting the lie that Lincoln was an abolitionist serve:

    1. The military? Perhaps to the extent that it helps improved morale by serving as an example of American exceptionalism ™.

    2. Business: Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner! Never forget that 99.99% of media is a business proposition. Except for personal hobby or activist sites, this includes any movement that reaches the point where someone can actually be ‘hired’. After that, it too becomes a commercial proposition; Kos is way, way beyond that point.

    3. Government: Does the myth lend itself to increased gov’t revenues aka taxes? Not sure; probably doesn’t matter since we ID’d the primary driver of the myth in #2.


    Now, let us apply our thinking caps to the ongoing planning with respect to CC. Who are the players and what are their plans? Only the most foolish would not recognize the military has some very bright people working on this problem.

    In fact, I can’t believe Guy wasn’t approached in some fashion. Or, perhaps he was, in that his studies may have been underwritten by a DoD grant. Who knows? Either way, he’s probably considered (a) a loose canon; but (b) someone they would surely love to turn.

  • Speak Softly said, ““Only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire at the enemy. Those who would not fire did not run or hide—in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages. They simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges.”

    The military was quite aware of this statistic as well. Since WW II the military has worked diligently and with great success by getting the 15 to 20% figure to what is now 90% +. As a military veteran I can personally atest to the fact that the WW II number is ancient history.

    “He showed little hesitation to use a rifle, pistol, shotgun, machine gun, grenade launcher or whatever other weapon he carried. Marshall himself visited Vietnam to conduct studies similar to those done during World War II and later emulated in Korea. He concluded that much had changed since those earlier conflicts and that it was not unusual for close to 100 percent of American infantrymen to engage the adversary during firefights in Vietnam. It seemed that all was well. Marshall had seemingly found that the Americans’ hesitation to fire was all but gone. – See more at: http://www.historynet.com/men-against-fire-how-many-soldiers-actually-fired-their-weapons-at-the-enemy-during-the-vietnam-war.htm#sthash.0GmY6Aow.dpuf

  • Guy, In order to post a comment on Daily Kos is a paid membership required? Do you know?

  • Friedrich, I’ve no idea how to post a comment at Daily Kos. Sorry.

  • The ‘hesitation’ problem in U.S. soldiers disappeared when it decided to become an out an out Empire and left the ‘republic’ back in the dust, just like Rome.

    Dwight D. Eisenhower signaled the crossing of the American Rubicon into an Imperial entity in his 1960 speech:

    “….In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist…”

    Too bad everyone waits until they are retired and leaving power to act or to speak the Truth, …….don’t let the door hit you in the ass Dwight.

  • John I saw that sinkhole story – here is an alternate explanation – the aliens who live under the planet got hungry?

    You are right – we humans have changed our environs without any thought as to whether we could adapt to what we have created. Too bad for us.

  • Tom oh thanks for the cartoons. Wonderful

  • https://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/02/28/1190622/-Climate-Change-Abolitionists-Who-is-fighting-for-a-more-sustainable-world

    Yay! I made the list too:

    5.)Paul Chefurka-This guy’s a little hard to describe….also a doomer, and a really strange fellow, too(as if most doomers weren’t already a little wacky)

    I know this gentleman. He’s on my “ignore list” over at DU. I’m glad he considers me strange, and I wouldn’t join a bunch of “hopeless hopefuls” like that if my life depended on it…

    I’m working on a thesis for how the Four Laws of Thermodynamics (yes, Virginia there is a 4th LoT) have made the current shape of the world essentially inevitable since oxygen appeared in Earth’s atmosphere. Oh, and why those same laws make it next to impossible to reduce consumption, population, climate change and the corporatization of the world. And why the very popular humanocentric view of the world is a much deeper crock of shit than we can even begin to imagine. And how the LoT make a mockery of the concepts of free will and human agency. So yes, I’ll cop to being strange. 🙂

    Oh right – we were talking about hope weren’t we? Ummm, I’ll have to get back to you on that…

  • Don’t tar all of dKos with the same brush. That guy that posted those comments is some newbie from Texas who has posted a total of 4 (count ’em!) four diaries. Go see his profile. Look at the whole of the post. Note the comments that don’t agree with him. I note a fellow citizen from Canuckistan is also on the list: Paul Chefurka. Almost anyone can start a diary there.

    I don’t read dKos at all, but I follow “FishOutOfWater” carefully.

    Use your best judgement, as always.

  • @depressive lucidity

    My views are always in flux. I used to hold to the delusion you mention, but now I find myself swinging towards, “We’re even more screwed than I thought we were, but let’s to god stuff anyway – just because we’re human and that’s what aware humans do.”

    I no longer hold any hope of changing any structure beyond the one I’m living in.

    The coolest thing I’m finding out is that it’s actually possible to live without either hope or despair – and to enjoy doing it.

  • Sorry, I meant “good” stuff, though maybe “god stuff” works too – so long as the god in question is Shiva…

  • Hey, Paul, I didn’t see yours when I posted mine! I look forward to reading your theory regarding what my husband calls “Thermo-god-dammics”

  • So my wife hands me the Inquirer and there on the front page:

    Chesco* route for shale gas [*meaning Chester County, PA]

    with a map showing that the newer larger pipeline is slated to go through the middle of Downingtown, minutes from my home!

    Hey sonny, thought you were gonna fight fracking? We’re shovin’ a big ol’ pipeline right up your back yard!

    i’m so pissed i can hardly see straight. Bastards!

  • @BC Nurse – thanks. You’ll need to be patient, though. It’s a complex topic, so I’ve decided to write a book. I “hope” to be finished before the methane ignites. 😉

  • In a huge surprise move, it appears that the U.S. State Department is preparing to green-light the Keystone XL pipeline! It is “environmentally sound”. Excellent!


    “…the draft Supplemental EIS concludes that approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area.”

    Maybe they can route this one through Tom’s back yard, too!

  • Tom, its days like you are having that make NTE seem like the best of all possible worlds. Hate it for you.

    Down the road about 50 or more acres just got clear cut – looks like hell.


  • Paul, do you really think that there are 4 physical laws that have pre-determined “the current shape of the world” such that you can explain geology, biology, culture, psychology, et cetera as just manifestations of those 4 principles at work?


  • Yes, seriously, I do. In fact, the explanation relies on just one law – the fourth. “Predetermined” in a somewhat broad sense, of course. they don’t predict the existence of Exxon, but they do make it inevitable that nations, hierarchical corporations and especially oil companies and banks, would appear.

    I’ll be using a couple of other principles (one from ecology, one from anthropology) to make the idea more easily understandable, but they’re really not necessary from a scientific perspective.

  • islandraider: Thanks for the laugh! i guess James Hansen is now about as ticked off as i am, since that’s the proverbial “game over” in his opinion. The way i look at it, it just makes NTE closer than that 2037 date. Wait til all that northern/Siberian methane gets displaced into the atmosphere – that can’t be too far off either the way things are melting.

  • Friedrich Kling Says:
    March 1st, 2013 at 10:50 am
    Speak Softly said, ““Only 15 to 20 percent of the American riflemen in combat during World War II would fire at the enemy. Those who would not fire did not run or hide—in many cases they were willing to risk greater danger to rescue comrades, get ammunition, or run messages. They simply would not fire their weapons at the enemy, even when faced with repeated waves of banzai charges.”

    Funny how that is not the way it is portrayed in the WWII movies on television or hollywood. sarc. off) Perhaps the increase by the Vietnam War was in part due to societal programming by watching those movies on the boob tube? Look at society now with the violent computer war games and guys at the joy sticks of drones.

  • Tom,
    Maybe this means that Hansen can join us here at NBL, now. “Game over” would seem like the equivalent of NTE, yes? He can be an unworthy climate change abolitionist and certified fucking nut, like Guy and Paul!

    Funny, like Hansen’s “game over”, Joe Romm says in a recent article: “global warming is highly likely to be fatal to a livable climate and modern civilization if left untreated”, which also sounds very much like NTE or at least some kind of Extinction. Yet, he avoids the ‘fucking nut’ moniker and is still a worthy abolitionist!

    What is nuts to these people? Following/connecting the scientific dots and speaking/writing/etc. about the logical conclusion of these inquiries? Ignoring science and fracking/pipelining/coal exporting our way to economic growth and extinction?

    It can’t keep going. But it will. Until it can’t.

  • Thanks for the Hat tip on that. Note from the report
    From the report:
    Based on information and analysis about the North American crude transport infrastructure (particularly the proven ability of rail to transport substantial quantities of crude oil profitably under current market conditions, and to add capacity relatively rapidly) and the global crude oil market, the draft Supplemental EIS concludes that approval or denial of the proposed Project is unlikely to have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area. […] Spills associated with the proposed Project that enter the environment are expected to be rare and relatively small.

    So what they are saying is that rail can handle all the oil anyway so opening the pipeline will not cause more oil to be produced from oil sands. Hmmm if the rail can handle it and add capacity relatively rapidly, why in dogs name do we need the pipeline??? Am I missing something here?????

  • @ Paul C.

    I don’t yet understand what your vision or insight is, but I assume part of it flows from that idea that organisms strive to structure space time ? Is that right ?

    So what happens when they are doing this, individually, and/or collectively ? I mean, this could be tested on computer with an algorithm perhaps ? What do all living things produce as a result of their joint efforts to organise space time ?

    If I remember, early on in the last thread, prior to your eureka moment, you said something about us having no idea what’s really going on. Afaik, apart from the very crude simplistic reductionist mechanistic thinking that most scientists have re ‘the world’, there are only two models, Lovelock’s and Ward’s. Does your new idea produce a third ?

    I just came across this rather delightful and amazing quotation from Kepler, ‘The Earth as Animal’. 400 years ago might seem a long or a short time, depending upon your perspective.

    “If anyone who has climbed the peaks of the highest mountains, throw a stone down their very deep clefts, a sound is heard from them or if he throw it into one of the mountain lakes, which beyond doubt are bottomless, a storm will immediately arise, just as when you thrust a straw into the ear or nose of a ticklish animal, it shakes its head, or runs shudderingly away. What so like breathing, especially of those fish who draw water into their mouths and spout it out again through their gills, as that wonderful tide! For although it is so regulated according to the course of the moon, that, in the preface to my Commentaries on Mars,’ I have mentioned it as probable that the waters are attracted by the moon, as iron by lodestone, yet if anyone uphold that the earth regulates its breathing according to the motion of the sun and moon, as animals have daily and nightly alternations of sleep and waking, I shall not think his philosophy unworthy of being listened to; especially if any flexible parts should be discovered in the depths of the earth, to supply the functions of lungs or gills.”