Civilization and the Deniability of Impermanence

by Vincent Kelley, a radical activist, student, musician, and meditator who currently attends Grinnell College in Iowa and is a member of Deep Green Resistance. This essay first appeared as part of the Deep Green Resistance News Service.

Civilization’s continuance requires widespread denial among the populace of civilized nations. The denial of the inherent unsustainability and violence of civilization is, for example, pivotal in the conventional understanding of civilized existence as the most “advanced” or “highest” form of societal organization. While denial of the egregious material consequences of civilization is the most blatant example of this culture’s sickness, there’s an intuitive sense among those who are aware of civilization’s destructive nature that there are deeper socio-psychological problems in the substratum of civilized life. Although often undetected, the denial of impermanence is one of the strongest underlying forces behind civilization’s rapacity and attendant destructiveness.

Impermanence is inherent to existence regardless of sociocultural arrangements, present in cyclical indigenous cultures and contemporary linear industrial civilization alike. [1] Despite this undeniable fact, the way a culture relates to impermanence plays a large part in determining its sustainability, the level of violence it perpetuates, and the internal well-being of its members.

One option is to accept and even embrace the basic uncertainty of an impermanent world. We may get sick at any time. We will certainty grow old. And, incontrovertibly, we will experience the most conspicuous and mysterious of impermanences: death. Another option is to tell ourselves that impermanence doesn’t exist. We can decide to fear old age, illness, and death [2] as the greatest of horrors and center our morality around what historian Faisal Devji calls “life as an absolute value.” [3] Since death is an impermanence that cannot be avoided, it is worth reflecting further on its place in society and, in turn, our individual psychologies.

Just as patriarchy is viewed by some feminist philosophers, such as Ynestra King, as the root hierarchy from which all other forms of domination in society flow [4] a fear of fluidity, change, and passing away in life can often be traced back to a deep fear of death itself. Indeed, we sometimes speak of something “dying” in our life as it fades away. The civilized response to death, and all impermanence for that matter, is to resist it with all of one’s might. As activist and philosopher Charles Eisenstein notes, “[t]his is most obvious in our medical system, of course, in which death is considered the ultimate ‘negative outcome,’ to which even prolonged agony is preferable.” [5]

But if impermanence is part of life, and death is the paragon of impermanence, why can’t death also be seen as a part of life? Some cultures—clearly not our own—have understood death in this light. Indigenous scholar Jack Forbes points out that “‘[s]oil fertility’ is, in large part, nothing but a measure of the extent to which a particular bit of ground is saturated with our dead ancestors and relatives,” and concludes that “[d]eath, then, is a necessary part of life.” [6] More concretely, we can observe this phenomenon when a nurse log facilitates the growth of burgeoning seedlings as itself decays. Going even further, Yaqui nagualli Juan Matus invites us to conceive of our death as a sort of gift for another, even if this other is only a micro-organism. [7]

So, as we can see, death—and impermanence more broadly—is inevitable personally and is even inextricably linked to life itself. However, attitudes towards death can be radically divergent, and, as I hope to demonstrate, tremendously consequential in our relationship to ourselves and the natural world.

One of the repercussions of the denial of impermanence is the privileging of preservation over experience itself. One need not look far to see the copious examples of this obsession in our culture. Often, taking pictures on a hike, for example, takes precedence over the experience of hiking itself. And, in some cases, the picture taking can even set up a wall of separation between “us” and “nature,” commodifying the latter while attempting to preserve a static conception of the former as a rigid identity.

What about music? Do you ever find yourself at a concert thinking more about purchasing the band’s CD or looking them up on the internet than experiencing the music as it manifests around you? It’s not that these efforts to capture a fleeting moment are inherently wrong; they do become constricting, however, when they take priority over present-moment experience itself.

Indeed, when we valorize creation and preservation over decay and ephemerality—failing to see their inseparability—we are left in an existential bind where “making our mark,” so to speak, in an often physical manner, seems like the only sensible and worthwhile course of action. The drive to make a mark springs from a cultural belief that our value is dependent upon leaving something behind that will make us worthy in the eyes of society after we die, or at least place us in the category of people who worked for the cause of civilizational progress—bowing at the alter of the off limits idol of “human innovation.”

Hence, to have our very existence affirmed we are compelled to create something “permanent” as a testament to our worth. This mark-making often takes the form of environmental degradation and imperial conquest. We create toxic chemicals that will outlive us all, erect dams that alter the Earth’s orbit [8] and are more concerned about the future strength of the United States military, and the propagation of Western Civilization to “backwards” parts of the globe, than the availability of clean air and potable water. The paradox of all of this is that, in an effort to preserve, we destroy. Our fear of the impermanence inherent in existence has led us to create that which destroys and fail to realize the consequences as the pattern plays out time and time again.

Eisenstein writes that “[t]he whole American program now is to insulate oneself as much as possible from death—to achieve ‘security.’” [9] Concomitant with this false sense of security is a false sense of control. The desire for control is a result of denying impermanence. As an alternative to this denial, we can acknowledge that the world is full of ever-changing, largely unpredictable, and, above all, endlessly developing then decaying phenomena. Only then can the control imperative fall away, relegated to history as the ignorant, destructive, and ultimately self-defeating ideology that it is. Take technology. One of the alluring aspects of technology is the ability to control previously uncontrollable phenomena. But for us to be able to control something through technology, it’s presupposed that we have control over technology.

This is a misconception. Indeed, philosopher Tad Beckman asserts, in his reading of Martin Heidegger’s writings on technology, that technology is not merely “a complex of contrivances and technical skills, put forth by human activity and developed as means to our ends,” but instead is, in essence, “a vast system of organization which encompasses us rather than standing objectively and passively ready for our direction and control.” It is “an autonomous organizing activity within which humans themselves are organized.”[10] And, as Heidegger himself points out in The Question Concerning Technology, “the will to mastery becomes all the more urgent the more technology threatens to slip from human control.” [11]

The same can be said of civilization as a whole. With its growth imperative it takes on an existence in itself within which humans must function. Our desire to control increases, paradoxically, in proportion to the increase of civilization’s control of our very existence. As cities grow and encompass the globe, dictating the terms of our existence, the surveillance state and the extirpation of biomes become all the more essential—two examples of this culture’s rapacious crusade of domination. In the process, the fallacy of infinite growth on a finite planet is implanted into our worldview, further reinforcing our denial of impermanence. In other words, the avariciousness inherent in the structure of civilization is matched by that of civilized humans, who have created a way of living which provides the illusion of control as it uncontrollably metastasizes across the planet.

The denial of impermanence is not only toxic to our individual selves, but also to those beings with which we enter into relationships, human and nonhuman, and the planet as a whole. At the root of our insecurity with impermanence is a fear, and, in the end, a misunderstanding of death, which is, in reality, a part of life. This leads us to devalue present-moment experience as we grasp at preservation and replicability. Finally, our faith in the religion of civilization has led us to become inextricably ensnared in civilization’s controlling trap, unable to see through the shadow of its edifices. Reflecting on the impermanence in our lives, and in the life of the decaying culture within which we live, is therefore critical in our struggle to engender a way of living that is free from the greed, exploitation, and devastation of civilization.


[1 ] See Derrick Jensen, Endgame: The Problem of Civilization (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2006), 40-41 for a discussion of cyclical vs. linear cultures.

[2] My invocation of the “old age, illness, and death” example is derived from Buddhist teachings. See for example the Upajjhatthana Sutta (AN 5.57):

[3] Faisal Devji, The Impossible Indian: Gandhi and the Temptation of Violence (United States: Harvard, 2012), 186.

[4] Andrew Brenna and Yeuk-Sze Lo, “Environmental Ethics,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), at

[5] Charles Eisenstein, “The Ethics of Eating Meat: A Radical View,” Weston A. Price Foundation (June 30, 2002), at

[6] Jack D. Forbes, Columbus and other Cannibals (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008 (1979)), 10-11.

[7] Ibid., 10.

[8] Malcolm W. Browne, “Dams for Water Supply Are Altering Earth’s Orbit, Expert Says,” New York Times (March 3, 1996), at

[9] Eisenstein, loc. cit.

[10] Tad Beckman, “Martin Heidegger and Environmental Ethics,” Harvey Mudd College (2000), at

[11] Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (New York: Harper, 1977 (1954), 5. I should note that Heidegger was critiquing technology as a “mode of Being-in-the-world,” not in the sense of “the machines and devices of the modern age,” per se (Michael Wheeler, “Martin Heidegger,” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), at


McPherson was interviewed by Michael C. Ruppert on the Lifeboat Hour Sunday evening, 11 August 2013. The interview is linked here.

Comments 97

  • Vincent, sorry but none of this matters if Fukushima blows up.

    Does anyone have any theories about the total news blackout on this?

    Am I the only one totally freaked out? I can’t fathom the silence.

  • Vincent,

    Sorry, but I’m with WildWoman and what I perceive to be the majority on NBL.

    What we should all be doing is preparing ourselves for the nightmare of losing everything we ever cared about. I’ve already been through it, I’ve got nothing and no one. I’m impervious to whatever may come.

    Catatonic is the appropriate response.

  • Good essay, Vincent K. Thanks. Yes, learn to be perfectly fulfilled in this very moment. Everything is gained, nothing is lost.

  • This excerpt hits the nail squarely on the head as far as I’m concerned:

    …technology is not merely “a complex of contrivances and technical skills, put forth by human activity and developed as means to our ends,” but instead is, in essence, “a vast system of organization which encompasses us rather than standing objectively and passively ready for our direction and control.” It is “an autonomous organizing activity within which humans themselves are organized.”

    The same can be said of civilization as a whole. With its growth imperative it takes on an existence in itself within which humans must function.

    Virtually without noticing it, humans have been absorbed into the larger cybernetic super-organism created by our global techno-industrial civilization. We have become unwitting endosymbiotes – the mitochondria within its technological cells, the logic elements in its control structure. There is no way out without dismantling the system that keeps us alive, thereby dooming ourselves in the process. We are as incapable of functioning outside out super-organism as mitochondria outside a cell. We are fated to ride the tiger until the end.

  • Thanks for the great essay. Vincent Kelley says, One of the repercussions of the denial of impermanence is the privileging of preservation over experience itself. One need not look far to see the copious examples of this obsession in our culture. Often, taking pictures on a hike, for example, takes precedence over the experience of hiking itself. And, in some cases, the picture taking can even set up a wall of separation between “us” and “nature,” commodifying the latter while attempting to preserve a static conception of the former as a rigid identity.
    haha, if you want to see this in the extreme, take a look at what parents and grandparents do with babies and children. People miss out on a lot when there is a camera stuck to their face or in their face all the time. What they are missing out on is life and the very moments they are trying to capture.

    I was going to suggest the author read Paul Chefurka’s essay, “The Dawn of Cybernetic Civilization” as they have drawn similar parallels regarding technology.

    Machines always do just what you tell them to do
    As long as you do what they say

    @wildwoman You are definitely not alone in your freaked-out-ness. You can get my contact info from Guy if you would like to talk.

  • According to my understanding of Buddhism, impermanence is at the root of all suffering, which comes from clinging or attachment to a desire for permanence. In other words all suffering springs from a desire for control. The cure for suffering is to relinquish attachment by letting go of the desire for control.

    In my experience the shortest route to non-attachment is through accepting the truth of non-self, or conversely, accepting that there is no “self” as we are conditioned to think about it.

  • Maybe to add confusion to an otherwise clear subject…

    Can some kinds of permanence be advantageous to sustainability and humaneness? Luddites resisted change away from what they had and which change led instead to industrialism. Australian aborigines were fixated on keeping the world the same for millennia. Preserving old architecture or towns and villages also preserves walkability, human scale and community. Instead, *industrial* civilization is intent on forever changing what exists toward greater commodification, atomization, unnaturalness and homogenization.

    If I want to make soil, I must not discard my organic waste, which must be made “permanent” by being recycled eternally. Nothing goes away. Nothing dies.

    If one sees permanence, not in terms of disassociated human “markings,” but rather in the permanence of nature, or the values that promote that permanence, one will not build roads or cities or dams. One will not endeavor to change nature, as civilization continually does. One’s structures will be temporary like Indian teepees, leaving no trace of one’s presence on departure. (Or not the kind of trace that an unaware person would recognize.)

    Vincent, I wouldn’t be surprised if what I’m saying conforms to your values, but since I didn’t see it specifically spelled out, I thought I’d chime in here. Thanks for your article.

  • To many, death is just something that happens before your everlasting party up in heaven, which by various accounts is a lot like Las Vegas but with nicer weather. The denial of death is certainly seen in corporations that can live forever, surviving world wars, monolithic beings that never age, but grow constantly. The modern fear isn’t that civilization will die, but that it will go bankrupt. The big worry isn’t death, it’s old age without the cozy retirement we were promised back in our early twenties. And so, the culture denies old age more than it denies death. Better diet, better drugs, and with the right amount of cash and connections, you get to live to two hundred and two. No one who works for a living actually dreams of a time they get to work for two centuries before they get to retire, but immortality and longevity are endlessly fascinating subjects for the super rich. And those parasites who are in charge.

    What makes things so maddening now is that despite clear signs of impending economic and environmental collapse, we’re full speed ahead on polluting the planet as much as possible. Can’t wait for more fracking, more tar sand mining, more coal. Might as well kill off the bees and trees and the rain forest while we’re at it. There’s money to be made and not much time. The whole force of civilization appears to be hellbent on suicide in as gruesome a manner as possible for the sake of some fantasy about the everlasting paradise the super rich get to enjoy. It’s all rather annoying. I was hoping for a cleaner apocalypse, but instead we’re not leaving until the very last blade of grass is burned for fuel.

  • Vincent Kelley says: Civilization’s continuance requires widespread denial among the populace of civilized nations.

    Denial of NTE

    One of our civilized aims
    Is denial of NTE claims;
    These are the stakes:
    Once that defense breaks,
    The whole shithouse goes up in flames.

    From the previous thread:

    @ Paul marcotte, my pleasure! :)

    Gail says: …what would prevent the oppressive and insane elite from being replaced with other oppressive and insane elites?

    The ranked primate social mold
    Is by nature controlled by the bold,
    And the humans cajoled
    Are mostly consoled
    With fantasies which they are told.

    Tom says:…the rich think they can outmaneuver climate change effects…. ….

    Both the rich and the well-prepped offbeat
    Will find out there is no retreat:
    At some point in time,
    In a fiery clime
    There will be nothing left to eat.

    Food Webs

    Animals have to compete
    For protein, abundant in meat;
    When ready to dine
    At end of the line,
    There’ll be nothing but people to eat.

    The Great Awakening

    People will wake up some day
    And find out they’ve been led astray;
    For then, some advice,
    Both clear and concise:
    Get the fuck out of the way.

  • @ Gail and those questioning the point of resistance

    You asked from the last thread:

    “If there’s no benefit, isn’t it better to continue BAU and buy time? Is the plan to bring down IndCiv just a romantic ideal to keep us busy and pretend that we’re doing something noble while trashing the planet?”

    Your question echoes what Landbeyond was contentiously asking two threads back, and I believe it deserves a more thorough response than it has been given so far, especially, since Guy is choosing to focus on DGR as a personal response to NTE, much to the consternation of some of those here, who see no point of resisting, and are only interested in quite resignation. So allow me to take a stab at what ultimately comes down to just one privileged perspective.

    As I have repeatedly stated, but I believe can’t be repeated enough, your question as with virtually every question concerning NTE, fundamentally boils down to whether we fully accept it, or not. If we don’t, then we will perceive all the avenues of past agency to still be relatively open to us. However, if we do accept NTE, then the same empirical part of our mind that brought us to the evidence of this very moment, will subsequently recognize all those avenues to have come to an end. And while it might be clear as to who is on what side of this divide, what isn’t so clear, is at what great odds we’re still at within ourselves. And I don’t believe there is a greater question than that of resistance, that reveals this internal conflict.

    So for starters, IMO we need to completely divorce the question of resistance from the probability of NTE, and address them as two entirely separate concepts. Then attempt to see if and where they overlay, because they are both emotionally charged with so many inherent contradictions, it’s practically impossible to single out how one effects the other and vice-versa.

    The radical concept of resistance as a way of bringing down IC, was a massive dilemma long before any of us were ever considering NTE. Those on the left have been arguing the finer points of resistance for literally hundreds of years in one form or another, and “we” are no closer today in mounting an effective ecological movement then at any time in the past, and in many ways, “we’re” further now than we’ve ever been. (Occupy has primarily dissolved into a homelessness issue, and DGR is but a shadow the of decadal movements that preceded it).

    The question of resistance in itself, is, as it has always been, fraught with so many logistical challenges it has collectively amounted to little more than a bunch of international zealots chasing their own local tail, imagining we’re moving in the same direction, because well, we are…….around and around. We may not be going anywhere, but at least every new generation gets to feel like they’re making progress, at least while the demographics of activist are still in their twenties, before they too succumb to the mediocrity of mortgages and parenthood. However, there are always your generational holdouts who rise through the ranks to become the wise elders for the next round to aspire to.

    From Silent Spring and Greenpeace, to the monkey wrenching of Earth First!, to DGR, nothing has prevented this catastrophic day from arriving much sooner than anyone thought. In fact, the sum total of all the time and energy of five decades of activism, hasn’t stemmed our destructive trajectory in the least. Yes, there have been minor victories along the way, but compared to the background of systemic ecological destruction, these are but moral victories that have since been lost in the rising mercury of climate chaos.

    Over the last several decades, our gravest fears have painstakingly manifested before our eyes and all the tools and stories we have to make sense of this, are now broken beyond repair.

    But now, aside from the dismal state of activism around the world, we are being forced to throw the threat of NTE into this mixed bag of ecological dilemmas, and which has all the subtlety of napalm.

    With NTE being such a omnipresent force, it would probably be impossible for us not to lose our bearing in the kaleidoscope of vacillating orders of magnitude, simply because NTE ultimately renders all human action irrelevant, regardless of whether we choose to resist or not. This is just one of a countless unprecedented cause and effects we’ve never experienced before. In other words, we are inhabiting a mental landscape utterly beyond compare in every regard. It’s as if we’re trying to fit a past moral imperative over an ethical dilemma that’s just dissolved into the ether.

    So, while the imperative of Luddism has always been framed in context to the morality of saving us from ourselves, in the past, we were able to imagine the act of resistance possessed more of an impersonal objective truth, because logic alone necessitated we implement some kind of alternative sustainable paradigm, lest we collectively destroy our planet’s biosphere. Even in spite of our own idiosyncratic passions, “we” were able to rationally project this imperative beyond our cloistered activist in-groups, because while we knew time was limited, we still believed we had enough time to potentially alter our course in some meaningful way. (Yes, it is easy in hindsight to look back now, with NTE breathing down our collective necks and consider ecological activism to have never been anything but a naive pursuit, championed by a bunch of radical idealists, which is mostly true, however, decades ago no one understood fully what little time we actually had).

    It is the scarcity of time itself that is now our greatest critical factor, which fundamentally undermines the theory of resistance in a way opposing ideologies never could.

    IMO, it is this very shifting concept of time that’s changed everything; our acuity has been altered in a way never before. I believe that it is the diminishing sense of time intrinsic within NTE, that is slowly working its way through all of our vested identities, where in due course, it eventually disabuses us of virtually every past thought we’ve ever had. Leaving us to cling to intangible subjective concepts like love, guilt, duty, mysticism, resistance, blame, hedonism, moral imperatives and resignation, simply because these notions can’t be clearly defined. Therefore they still have all the power we want to give them, which no one can take from us. They have become coping mechanisms, like everything else on this side of acceptance.

    There is no way to make a rational case of “resistance” in light of acceptance of NTE, for such acceptance rationally renders all agency moot. Thus, at the threshold of NTE, “resistance” is finally being revealed to be what is has always been, just a moral choice indifferent to whatever projected outcome we’ve teleologically attached to it. This is why it’s such a contentious issue, because some of us have just possessed a greater moral imperative than others, and our sense of guilt at either end of the spectrum, is terribly difficult to resolve, whether it be the guilt from having done nothing, or not having done enough.

    And I believe this to be Guy’s position, and why he considers resistance to be a moral imperative, and why he also, isn’t being preachy about it.

    Guy will continually be attacked for advocating NTE, as well as advocating DGR in direct context to it, because these two concepts are logically mutually exclusive. But again, as long as DGR is framed as a moral imperative, it can no more be demeaned by another, than love itself. I, as with Guy, am in love with the natural world, and where this very love drives Guy to nobly resist the destructive forces of civilization for as long as he can, inversely, it philosophically drives others like myself into a place we’ve never been before.

    As we all fumble through our last hat trick in attempting to adapt to what we ultimately know we can’t, an endless slew of propositions, schemes, strategies, imperatives will manifest as each of our past lives plays itself out with all the fiery significance we’ve given it, finally terminating in some form of resignation, regardless.

    We are in a crucible of conflicting and compounding emotions, and as long as we are alive as social creatures, we will never be anywhere else. We are going to argue, fight, dismiss and demean all those who disagree with us to the brutal end, as much as we’ll love, care and commiserate with those we perceive as fellow travelers. Some of us will find affinity in each other, while some will consider each other to be anathema to our very life force.

    As it’s been, so it goes…….just not for as long as we once thought.

  • @Grant Schreiber:
    “The whole force of civilization appears to be hellbent on suicide…”

    I have problems with this idea of suicidal civilisation, because, let’s face it, if that was what was happening, civilisation could surely have found a suicide method that didn’t involve taking the rest of the fauna (and flora) with it, unless civilisation is just doing that out of spite?

    Think about this: If the biosphere wanted to commit suicide, how would it go about it?

    I haven’t done an exhaustive study of doom literature, and it’s difficult to talk about this stuff anywhere, so I don’t know if anyone else has considered this possibility?

    Hypothesis: The biosphere is suicidal. Industrial civilisation is the suicide method.

  • Daniel, you have successfully captured and arranged a lot of the opinions here and stated them in an organized manner. Paul Chefurka’s work can be fit into your thoughts, Kathy’s warnings, u’s lucid moments, OzMan’s agonizings, DMD’s ethical dilemmas, TRDH’s ultimately useless healings, and my own scattered horrors.

    There isn’t much left to say, is there? When you see, you cannot un-see. People talk to me and I only hear our cultural shuck and jive, the secret handshake that means you’re a part of North American society. It means nothing, and it means nothing is going on in your head – you’re just passing time with your mouth. If I cut through the shit and say something real, they laugh, assuming I’m trying to make a joke of some kind. And then they walk away. I used to follow and try to explain, but I don’t anymore.

    I tried to look (really look) at people in a gas station the other day. Robots. Meat Robots. It frightened me. I just have to let them go. If there were any mercy in the universe, the end would proceed as it does in Margaret Atwood’s book, “The Year of the Flood” but it probably won’t and it doesn’t matter anyway.

  • To: 18000days
    re: Hypothesis: The biosphere is suicidal. Industrial civilisation is the suicide method.

    This illustrates one of the philosophical differences I detect in these endless and pointless discussions: the notion that Life is somehow good and beneficial and worth preserving OR that life is a shit sandwich and it is always lunchtime and little more than a cosmological unlikelihood we happen to be “privileged” to experience.

    Lovelock’s and Margulis’ Gaia hypothesis suggests the Earth is some kind of self-regulating mechanism; I think Lovelock goes as far as suggesting it is an “organism.”

    By contrast The Medea Hypothesis by Peter Ward elicits Medea who killed her own children to describe his notion of the course and “meaning” of life on Earth. He points out that over the course of 5 Major Extinction events and myriad minor ones almost all of the species ever extant on this planet were extinguished. Ward believes all of these but one was from geological forces of some sort and the most recent was a result of meteor impact. He points out that our planet is like Medea and has killed all her children on at least 4 major occaisions and most of them many other times.

    Homo sapiens is now a geological force. We are the force which has sprung from evolution as an obvious maladaptation and mistake. Destroying everthing in our path is what we do just as spewing lava and hot gas is what volcanoes do. Once this is fully understood all gnashing of teeth and tearing of hair may cease.

    Stepping back from value judgement and attachment and desire and the arrogance of our so-called self-reflective “consciousness” illusion is an effective tool by which to see H. sapiens as just another extinction event by just another geological force generated by the same planet which has generated possibly the only biosphere in the Universe.

    We’re all gonna die; something can be done; nothing can be done; oh, the humanity; what about the children; what a tragedy.

    Blame civilization, blame greed, blame industrialization, blame the psychopath gene, blame MEN by all means, blame SOMETHING other than the simple fact we are just another animal, one which has become a geological force, a maladaptive product of the faulty process of evolution which looks like it is going to put an end to all life (but never, ever blame yourself: of course you are somehow elevated and separate from those doing the damage).

    Ho hum.
    So it goes.
    Om zoom diddly-boom.

    If there is a solution, it will be ignored because that is NOT what we do; we do not fix, rejuvenate, nurture, heal, support, re-claim, clean up … anything – we destroy. Period.

    All further discussion and anguish is merely attachment and desire.

  • @Erin

    There isn’t much left to say, is there? When you see, you cannot un-see. People talk to me and I only hear our cultural shuck and jive, the secret handshake that means you’re a part of North American society.

    I think its the same everywhere. I live in small town India, I am an Indian, it is the same here. This blog is perhaps the only place where I am hearing these conversations of NTE and related views, particularly dealing with acceptance, outside my head.

    We have general elections (national level election), in our country next year and the politicians are trying their level best to divide the vote banks in any possible faction on the lines of religion, caste, etc. The people around mi eat it up and regurgitate such utter incomprehensible bollocks that one almost wishes for death, for deliverance.

    It rises to the brink and and then I remind myself, soon, patience my friend, I hear the flutter of her wings, she is coming, she is coming for one and all…

    @TVT @logspirit

    Indeed dear sirs, a cute doomer bonobo, is a very rare creature.

    Sigh, where is my fiddle…

  • The earth still feeling the effects from our extinctions influence thousands of years ago. How to kill a planet? Make a human.

  • wildwoman says: Am I the only one totally freaked out? I can’t fathom the silence.


    Peak Oil, Macondo…let’s list ‘em,
    I no longer try to resist ‘em;
    There’s nothing to do:
    Once you go through a few,
    You get it out of your system.

    It’s not paranoid, nuts, or absurd,
    That whenever the end has occurred,
    You should not be surprised
    If it’s not televised:
    They don’t want to spook the herd.

    Quiet’s good, until doom attacks:
    There’ll be noise enough once this thing cracks;
    It will hit when it hits—
    Don’t be having shits,
    Just do what you can to relax.

    Daniel Says: It’s as if we’re trying to fit a past moral imperative over an ethical dilemma that’s just dissolved into the ether.

    Haha clever.

    Daniel Says: IMO, it is this very shifting concept of time that’s changed everything….

    NTE’s not a time transporter,
    To go straight to the end of fourth quarter;
    But, due to disaster,
    Time seems to go faster,
    And the future keeps getting shorter.

  • Thank you kindly Daniel for directly addressing my question…you had me at “all the subtlety of napalm”!

    I think you expressed brilliantly the interior monoglogue of collapse awareness, which I am going to read again several times.

    I still am not clear if you – or anyone – has an answer to the concrete question – would efforts to bring about the collapse of industrial civilization really benefit the biosphere (assuming that’s a worthy goal)?

    First of all, I don’t see how it could be accomplished without very directly killing humans and other forms of life. If you’re going to derail trains or explode nuclear power plants or flood the New York subway with a pathogen, or shut down a mining operation, there is going to be carnage. How could you make any significant contribution to the halt of technology without collateral damage to both human and other forms of life?

    So, even if you determine 1: the collateral damage is a necessary and excusable consequence and 2: you and your merry band of sabateurs actually have enough numbers, wits, and resources to hasten the collapse of civilization, the question remains

    Will that actually result in more biodiversity remaining after NTE? What if results in LESS due to increased wars, the breakdown of cultural norms and increased violence, rape, unwanted pregnancy, ravaging of wildlife until as someone said

    there’s not one blade of grass left?

    Is it okay to gamble that bringing civilization down sooner rather than letting it occur on its own (which it surely is doing) would be preferable for biodiversity.

    If the precautionary principle is to prevail, isn’t doing nothing the safest course>?

    I don’t know the answers to these questions I just think that, since actively engaging in the collapse civilization is being advocated, I’d like to know exactly what that entails, and what the assumptions are about the effects should it be accomplished.

  • Dig it Sunbum, you are so RIGHT ON! Just a rolling tide of death and destruction, like The Blob, mindless, grasping, engulfing and devouring everything it touches.

    But we did it playing good music, wearing tutus, laughing our asses of, loving and caring and all the good stuff too!

    “see H. sapiens as just another extinction event by just another geological force generated by the same planet which has generated possibly the only biosphere in the Universe.” That’s stark! Didn’t amount to much, did we? or did we? I know that I’ve got to hang onto some of that attachment and desire, for awhile anyway. Don’t want to spook the horses.

  • You can’t do all the most ridiculously stupid and destructive things, then turn around and blame it on HS’s (or even the biosphere’s) natural impulse to suicide. You have a choice, and can choose to open your mind and heart to wiser forms of thought and action.

    Meanwhile, here we are. So, what now? In Guy’s recent interview, the host made a point that, I fear, has fallen on deaf ears. Had we made different choices all along, we might not be facing extinction today, even at our current evolutionary stage.

    But we didn’t make those choices–no use going on about it; we all make mistakes, don’t we?–and here we are at the door of extinction. The host’s point was that we could not possibly evolve as a species unless we were facing certain death–no ifs, buts or maybes. We have one chance to save life on Earth, and that is to evolve. We’ve never evolved before, we’ve been beastly, beastly, I tell you! Well duh! We never faced certain extinction before. There is no precedent for this moment. We don’t know whether we can evolve or not, or what it would mean if we did. But we’re surely bloody well going to vanish given the evolutionary level at which we now stand.

    What could evolution entail? Actually, we already have the blueprint from evolved beings of the past whose teachings could not properly be enacted due to nature’s abundance enabling continual exploitation. A commonsense variant of “Love thy neighbor as thyself” might be “Do your neighbor (or the planet) no harm.” You don’t have to love your neighbor. You just have to treat her fairly, according her all the rights you do to yourself. And enlightened self interest alone should prevent you from mistreating the planet too.

    Guy’s host also thought it admirable to become the best that we can be, regardless of the outcome. But there are infinite high-IQ alternatives to anything as simple as that.

  • Second post after months of lurking.

    I actually think this is a great essay, in spite of possible impending news about permanent Fukushima apocalypse. In fact, the subject of impermanence, is tragically suited to the subject. After all, our existence, our lives, this very setup of biosphere on Earth, is impermanent.

    Shakespeare says “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” Isn’t it another extension of human arrogance and ‘all-knowingness’ to assume that we only “destroy — period”(Thanatos, above)? These are our value judgments, from our biologically limited and culturally programmed ways of viewing life. Maybe we are merely “players” in the grand play of this ecological era. Is it a tragedy or comedy? Depends on the audience’s assumptions.

  • Thank you, Mr. Vincent Kelley, for your perceptive insights!

    You are correct about the fear of, and consequent looking away from and denial of death. It is one of the five defilements (“abhinivesah”) in the Vedic traditions. Transience of all composite things is also recognised, and is the First of the Three Features of Existence (“Sabbe sankhara anicca”) in the Buddhist tradition. In both these traditions the de-manifestation of all that has manifested after a period of sustenance is recognised as an complete cycle, mandatory for everything within space-time-causation (akasha-kala-nimitya).

    Although the concept of an eternal continuity after creation of some traditions is not supportable in the scientific world-view., those traditions remarkably do carry certain insights and guidance that are congruent with it.

    Hierarchical structures promote entropy production and tend to grow and reinforce themselves; those living within their milieus adapt with increasing dependence and integration into those milieus, just as cave-dwelling vertebrates and other creatures in adapting to permanent darkness with lose of their sight. The passage of time since the Pentagon Papers has allowed more such adaptation to the hierarchical milieu to the extent that the populace is desensitised to the Snowden revelations: these are accepted as a necessary part of the hierarchy on which the populace increasingly depends.

    It may be impossible to turn the hierarchy away from the infinite growth paradigm. Nevertheless disruptive change is inevitable with the impending approach to hard physical limits.

    It is incumbent upon the aware is to seek ways to minimise the disruption and its attendant suffering. The ways to such mitigation will differ depending on whether or not one believes that the disruption will be of a magnitude that locks in NTE.

  • Have you ever had one of those moments of realization? Maybe an answer to a long asked question, a coming together of seemingly random threads, or perhaps the dread or excitement of certain possibilities, leading perhaps to more questions? Well, the following will be a vulgar display of my attachment to life and my desire to see my children live, just like any other parent, though death is fine by me, personally.

    A Little Story About Milk

    I have always hated milk. Particularly bad, I remember being made to drink powdered milk when we lived with no electricity or running water. Gross!

    When I weaned my first child, now five, from breastfeeding at around 14 months, we started giving him whole, organic cow’s milk in a sippy cup. None of the three kids did bottles. So he got a cup of milk at bedtime, sometimes two. Until we started discovering all of his food allergies. He is not allergic to milk, but highly sensitive, enough to really mess up his digestion, and I mean bad. Now he gets soy milk with his breakfast cereal, occasionally a cup before bed.

    My middle child, almost four, was weaned from breast milk, that wondrous concoction of DDT and PCBs, the perfect balance of fats, protein and carbs, at around 14 months as well. She also got a sippy cup, sometimes two, of whole, organic milk at bedtime. No problems digesting for her.

    My youngest, now two, was born one month after Fukushima, Japan was hit with the triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, yet ongoing. When she was weaned from the breast at around 16 months, well, that was it for her, she would not touch cow’s milk. She gets a sippy cup of water at bedtime. About four nights ago, I laid her down in bed and as I handed her the cup of water, I had the most awful thought, a possible explanation to a long asked question.

    See, I have been clicking around the internet looking for coherent information on Fukushima, and read/watched a few things, some older items put out directly after the disaster. Don’t eat produce from the west coast of the U.S. they say. Don’t drink cows/goats milk they say. After I laid my daughter down to sleep the other night, I went to read the label on the milk carton. Yes, it comes from a dairy in California.

    A few months after the baby was born in 2011, I noticed a lump on my middle daughter’s back when she was running around after her bath. Quite big, enough that I wondered how I hadn’t seen it sooner. We began the process of taking her to the doctor to have it measured. Every couple of months we would take her in. It was monitored for over a year before the doctor did anything besides measure the lump. But in that time, the doctor never once took into consideration my other concerns about my daughter’s health. Large chunks of hair falling out, so much that her hair could be found all over the house. Thin, whispy hair with bald patches, poor thing. Some days it would take up to two hours for me to convince her to get up off of the couch in the morning, where she would lay after dragging herself out of bed, she was so lethargic and tired. She could barely eat, either, and grew so thin I always worried. Does this sound like a healthy two year old? Well, after over a year of monitoring the lump on her back, she was referred to a surgeon who did an ultrasound. Everyone, including myself, is satisfied that it is a fatty tumor, possibly leftover brown fat that babies are born with. But no one ever addressed my other concerns, which are likely unrelated to the tumor, which is still there. She is feeling less sick these days, possibly because I stopped giving her milk long ago, but I am feeling more sick. Like pit in the stomach sick thinking about the possibilities.

    Any more, I view food as poison. I used to love cooking, even spent my young adulthood cooking in the restaurant business, but now I view all of it with suspicion. Plus, it is already making itself scarce.

    The lake where we catch our fish will be drained next month to dredge out the silt. The dam where Mr. Badlands has been catching fish since he was a boy dried up in the 2012 drought. Which is just as well because all of the horses were sold to help pay for his mom’s nursing home care, where she has recently gone to ride out the alzheimer’s, while his dad is treated for parkinson’s.

    Our gardening endeavors have faced: late planting due to cold spring and two big snowstorms in April. Flooding rains in May, directly after planting, some plants lost. Damaging hail in June, many plants lost and torn to shreds. Even more damaging hail in July, ruining more plants, and washing away all of my newly planted seedlings. And some hot weather thrown in just to fry the rest of those poor things. We could never grow enough to eat, but I do it anyway so the kids know where food comes from. Plus, seeing their enthusiasm and excitement at watching things grow, even their dismay during hailstorms proclaiming the certain ruination of the plants.

    At least there is still deer season to look forward to for feeding us for the winter. But we have no illusions/delusions. We know the day is coming when we are going to be hungry. No matter how hungry I get though, I promise I will never eat another person, and no matter how thirsty I get, I will never, EVER, drink the milk. Yuck!

    p.s. sorry for the sob story, but no one else cares.

  • Read hierarchy as industrial/technological hierarchy on preceding comment: industrial technology supercharges the hierarchy.

    Minimal change is indeed a durable method of living, as in the case of the Australian aborigines for 40,000+ years. But even they brought significant change with them: the disappearance of some species.

    Everything is transient in the appropriate timescales. Sustaining the process of change is problematic. The faster the rate of change, the shorter the duration of the process of change, when the rate remains constant. If the rate keeps increasing, the duration is further shortened. The problem with technological/industrial civilisation is that they try to keep increasing the rate forever.

    Cessation of the idea of “self” brings with it the cessation of attachment and aversion only when it is grokked at the deepest levels; with intellectual understanding and acceptance of the concept one can still harbour a robust sense of “I”.

  • A few years back, the rich and famous would go to Africa on safari to kill a lion or an elephant. What for? Just an ego trip. Imagine the rush if you had the power to kill the whole planet? We do and we are. I read once that the ego’s goal is death.

    Sometimes I wonder if the planet is trying to “evolve” something in particular but seems only to manage to evolve better killers. I think this is the only end that evolution can ever find because that’s how it works. Again, that’s how it works. Truth is what works.

  • @BadlandsAK — I care. That’s pretty much all we have left. Some of us care. Its real, not a commodity. Makes it more valuable.


    Impermanence is a factor of time. Life is necessary to experience time. Call it life-time. When life-time is subject to the ‘law’ of supply and demand… what does it cost…? what is it worth…? Can the most valuable aspect of life-time be commodified?

    The commodification of the necessities of life has been nearly completed in industrial ‘civilization’. Water, food, shelter, clothing, transportation, energy, medicine… in some places even clean air… certainly labor… have all received price tags.

    The more ‘civilization’ makes life support cost… the harder people have to work to live… the more life is depreciated. The higher the cost, the less rewarding life is. The more life costs, the less value it has. Quality declines. Inversely, proportionally, to increasing costs of living.

    If I sell some of my life-time to get some money so I can afford to live… and if the most I get for my time is minimum wage… is that how much my life-time is worth? Maybe to ‘civilization’, but not to me.

    Is life-time more rewarding to people who are paid more for their time? High priced people tend to spend their lives chasing money. Sort of goes with the territory. They never have much time for doing whatever makes life worthwhile. They put off satisfaction… until satisfaction becomes impossible. The harder people push to make money, the less their life is worth… to them.

    Beyond a certain point, of course, additional pay does not decrease misery… and naturally, misery is always readily available on the low extreme. The poor spend their life-time chasing money too, just to obtain sufficient resources to live.

    Quality living-time is priceless, it cannot be purchased, but it does require a modicum of resources. The ‘riches’ of ‘civilization’ can not achieve or afford it. ‘Civilization’ is hard work. The harder people work, the faster quality of life recedes. Joy cannot be commodified. It is fleeting. Impermanent. Let’s catch a bit of it while we still can.

  • Gail,

    I wonder the same thing. If there is no way to save any life on earth, except thermophiles in the deep ocean, would bringing down civilisation serve any purpose other than self-satisfaction for some? I still want it (civilisation) gone, ASAP, but only because I’m not yet convinced of near term human (and most other species) extinction. I think (but am not certain) that I would still want to try and extricate myself from as much of civilisation as possible, even if it was all futile. It just seems like the right thing to do.

  • Thanks for the essay Vincent. Eloquently written, points taken.

    For those who think any of the current disasters like Fukushima are “overblown” and nothing to worry about on the scale of the planet, what we have to remember is that it’s all of them put together: radiation from air and sea spreading around the globe along with methane, hydrogen sulfide, volcanic ash, particulates from civilization (like brake dust, exhaust fumes, power plant emissions and now arsenic from fracking sites too), flooding, drought, heat, superstorms, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, war, starvation, mobs of people freaking out, sea level rise, financial collapse, peak everything, disease of all kinds, falling trees, dying ocean, extinction of pollinators, Monsanto, fracking, and on and on.

    The problems just keep mounting up and too soon the crashing wave of the entire mess will take its toll on all of our lives and that of the living planet.

    (spoken in a Robt. De Niro voice)

    Doesn’t look too good from here on out.

  • geez, what a depressing bunch of posts!
    Personally, I’m in favor of burning all govt buildings and hanging all the politicians, and I’m just waiting for the fun to begin.

    For now, I’ll just repeat my mantra:

    The Solution:
    90% of humans need to die (but first they must help us dismantle the toxic infrastructure of industrial civilization). The remaining humans must live in balance with Nature – plant no crops, build no cities.

    The children suffer, there is no redemption.

  • @Daniel says “Guy will continually be attacked for advocating NTE, as well as advocating DGR in direct context to it, because these two concepts are logically mutually exclusive.”

    I believe the greatest hurdle that artists impose on themselves is the inability to reach some kind of closure, to accept facts as they are, and to move on. (I am, of course, alluding to progressive/leftists as “artists”.)

    So, within that context, why does Guy need to ‘advocate’? Anyone with a passing interest in logic, who understands facts, will spend only the time necessary sufficient to develop a well-reasoned model to deal with both current reality and expected/projected outcomes. Done. Over. It.

    Once that is accomplished, any constant re-evaluation & discussion actually becomes quite boring. The next thing to do is to do something about it, to take ones place in the line-up, and get out there and play.

    Resistance is tantamount to taking your ball home. It’s the reaction of those that can’t quite accept that that’s not the game anyone else is playing. Oh, industrial civ is certainly going to be dismantled, it’s just not going to be done to the tune of anyone else other than those who spend every waking moment plotting and planning.

    Seems most here have come to the same conclusion from an environmental perspective, but are seemingly lost when it comes down to rationalizing projected/expected socio-political outcomes. I visit this space now & then in an attempt to move the conversation along to the next level.

    We are entering a very exciting and revolutionary period in history. Fantastic events are occurring that could hardly be envisioned only a few years ago. To be a witness to this period, and to perhaps participate, if only in a small way, is to breath new life into those jaded and bored.

  • Erin says “People talk to me and I only hear our cultural shuck and jive, the secret handshake that means you’re a part of North American society. It means nothing, and it means nothing is going on in your head – you’re just passing time with your mouth.”

    LOL – couldn’t have said it better myself. Erin, it appears you’ve reached a state of enlightenment that allows you to perceive your surroundings as a “human ant farm”.

    I suggest you go back and (re)read Thackeray’s ‘Vanity Fair’, Heller’s ‘Catch-22’, or even Dicken’s ‘Little Dorrit’. These authors, amongst others, well understood the absolute absurdity of the rat race, all put into play by a cadre of those who reap untold $trillions from idiots who will never grok that they are dupes.

    However, I suggest that rather than express disdain/alienation, you embrace the role of human explorer, by carefully watching & listening to each as if they were some unique specimen to be examined. If you get (really) good at it, it actually can become quite fun to see how well you can blend in & ‘go native’.

    The only regret I have is I wish I had develop these various skills & talents when I was in my 20s. Of course, if I had, then I would be part of the TPB by now. I guess that’s what separates the players from the (knowledgeable) spectators. They come bursting out of the gates with no illusions, no faith, only pure intent.

    The rest of us where somehow diverted, with only a few gaining sufficient insight (too late) to finally understand the truth.

  • @ Paul Chefurka

    Perhaps a few humans at some margin of an obscure normal distribution could control their impulses to maximize their competitive advantages and consumption. But the population overall will utilize their relatively new found power to consume and degrade to the fullest extent possible. Even if they were aware of the organizational processes that forced them into schools and job specialties with synchronizing alarm clocks to allow full and “peaceful” exploitation of a massive energy store, they would still be unable to turn away from their self-destructive course. Along the lines of Craig Dilworth’s work, the human brain has evolved into technological capability without an accompanying morality that can impede the path to ecosystem and self destruction. Just as tobacco is still grown and marketed, and whales are still hunted, the human pursues biochemical neural reward even if malignant self-destruction is the result. Even much of our intraspecies morality is maintained by a promise of reward, a dopamine drip-line sustained by the emotion rocking promise of heavenly deliverance. I find being trapped in this self-destructive cuckoo asylum a rather disturbing experience, but……..must……..find a way…….to use………….prefrontal………………..cortex……………to escape.

    If only to find a temporarily safe promontory from which to watch the feckless and bumbling techno-empire meet the Gods of entropy.

  • @logspirit Thank you for the thoughtful post. How right you are.

    Rob@thepubliclibrary says, geez, what a depressing bunch of posts!
    omg! I know! I’ve been pretty stoic about the whole NTE thing, and I really have tried to see the humor in my daughter’s prolonged, unexplained illness, but really, it pisses me off. You know what else is depressing? Another day spent indoors because of wildfire smoke, listening to my two year old hacking and wheezing away with the asthma she developed after last summer’s/winter’s drought and the resultant dust and constant poor air quality. Of course, she only joined her brother and I with that illness, so she shouldn’t feel so alone.
    You know, I spend about 12 hours a day, just me and the kids, so it doesn’t afford me the opportunity to be the sarcastic m&^$&%er fu&^$%$er I feel like being sometimes, and I’m really sorry to upset your delicate sensibilities, Rob, because you are such a bundle of joy and sunshine!! Well, usually…
    I guess what I’ve revealed is that it’s not the dying that bothers me, but the prospect of more and worse illness. I was a big dummy who bought the lie that as long as you work hard, your efforts will be rewarded, but I’ve spent most of my adult life in medical debt, because my hard work has just barely pulled me above the fray at times, but never enough to afford health insurance. Also, depressing is the reality that even though we are pretty skilled in a lot of areas, us weaklings are going to be the first to die, most likely my son who is in the middle of some weird allergy flare and reacting to all kinds of foods which he doesn’t normally react to. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to watch a small child in anaphylactic shock, but it’s no joke, and I don’t know what Zombieland Healthcare is like, but I bet they don’t cover epi-pens.

    @Tom Isn’t it funny, in a bad sort of way, how climate change has slowly crept into the mainstream media with little to no fanfare? I am always shocked that more people aren’t putting all the pieces together. Just the worldwide flooding alone is insane, not to mention all of the converging events of collapse. Every environmental warning, and then some, has come to fruition.

    re: the point the article makes about permanence and control. It seems that the more impermanence rears it’s ugly head to the hard-core deniers, the more they attempt to control their immediate environment, possibly leading to neuroses like obsessive compulsive disorder and the like.
    Just a thought. Good day all.

  • There are only about 20,000 rhinos of any kind left. The western black rhino is another one to bite the dust.

  • Natalia Shakhova tells us that the arctic methane time bomb is REAL …
    & an increasingly probable event.

    She & her husband, Igor Semiletov, are the most knowledgeable scientists about arctic methane.

    Their experimental field work & gathered empirical data are foremost.

    Any observer can see the sadness & despair in her face, voice, & manner; especially during the last minute.

    Her video here may be the most momentous prediction in human history. (Preview)

  • Yeah, what a show, eh? And I don’t think it would be any different even if the majority of the humans on earth realized what the people here already know is about to happen. Nothing would change. A bunch of depressing posts? Not really. “Depressing” is just another value judgement that has no meaning outside of the insane construct of human cultures. Guy has said it straight up: “It’s over. We’re done.” So let’s just document the decline, share our observations and analyses, and commiserate. Are we allowed to clap when someone dies?

    I think I come here now just to watch how other people phrase their recognition of the triumph of entropy and the absolute irrelevance of HS and their lives and works. When I read an especially new or clever way of saying it, I whisper, “YESS!” to myself, grit my teeth and make a fist under the table.

  • As Mr. Kelley so aptly describes, we are dealing with a collective denial of death. In our collective journey of denial, separation, and resistance a denial of death was an important tool to get us to the most knowledgeable position or limit as possible. We reached that apex decades ago and have been languishing here for far too long and now at our own own peril. Time is not up yet but our social event horizon is rapidly approaching and the point of no return will be reached. If we stay captive to our current systems, we must realize that is the natural and inevitabl goal.

    Question of evolution or moving on from here are volleyed about here on the beach of doom, such ponderings are not sign of cure, but sign of symptom. Cure is a long walk back to nature, back to the old hell where our salvation lies and away from the current road to new hell that hold our final judgement our karma, our consequence. Guy is a prime example of a way back to the old hell and though that process is grueling and shattering, it is life for all life rather than death for all life. What does the word ‘hell’ symbolize and encapsulate? Mother earth, mother nature and her inescapable laws. Laws that men tried to escape in old ignorance and desperation. We come to find that those laws are to be lived through, not against, what every non sentient creature is born knowing and dies embracing. Resistance is the new road to hell, acceptance, realignment with the laws of which we find life through is the way back to the home team and our only chance for survival. Slim chance, narrow, narrow path. So narrow that even here, we see that there was only room for a handful of ones to cross through so far, Guy, one among an infinitesimal number.

    What does this speak for our collectivd chances? We are on the new road to hell, driven it seems beyond redemption.

    Check out this video on YouTube:

  • “We don’t know whether we can evolve or not, or what it would mean if we did.”

    Actually, the biologists know quite a bit about evolution, and so NO, we can’t evolve in any meaningful timeframe to be different than who/what we are. Evolution takes a loooooong time.

    which is why the mantra “plant no crops” is insufficient. HSS was an ecosystem destroyer long before crops were planted.


    So you might as well say, make no tools. And then we would have no imagination either, and we wouldn’t be us.

    Badklands, you have all my sympathy. Don’t apologize for writing as much as you want. I know the pain and guilt of having brought children into this world, but remember:

    ‘Tis better to have loved and lost
    Than never to have loved at all.

    If you haven’t read Tennyson’s great poem, In Memoriam, A.H.H., you might like it. Even though I’m a cynical athiest, I do:

    Who trusted God was love indeed
    And love Creation’s final law
    Tho’ Nature, red in tooth and claw
    With ravin, shriek’d against his creed

    He has the same arguments within himself as we do here, but with considerably more flair! [with the exception of our resident bard, BtD, of course]

    Are God and Nature then at strife,
    That Nature lends such evil dreams?
    So careful of the type she seems,
    So careless of the single life;

    That I, considering everywhere
    Her secret meaning in her deeds,
    And finding that of fifty seeds
    She often brings but one to bear,

    I falter where I firmly trod,
    And falling with my weight of cares
    Upon the great world’s altar-stairs
    That slope thro’ darkness up to God,

    I stretch lame hands of faith, and grope,
    And gather dust and chaff, and call
    To what I feel is Lord of all,
    And faintly trust the larger hope.

  • BadlandsAK, I want to acknowledge your situation even though I have nothing to offer as a solution. Three little kids. Whew. Don’t wish to pry, but are you thinking about any kind of early out?

    I don’t fear dying either, but I don’t want to suffer. Much. Or none. If I have anything to say about it.

    Erin, and Rob@tpl, since the latest news from Fukushima has TEPCO officials apologizing and all, I was thinking that mass seppuku on live television might be appropriate. Where is the honor in polluting an ocean, after all? Assuming, of course, that that’s the “worst” that happens.

    It is so damn sad to watch the end of everything, but I keep turning the page, with sick fascination, to find out what happens next.

  • @ Badlands,

    Your mention of the hair falling out caused me to swear, then double my attention to your words.

    I’m a senior, with kids nearing middle age. This condition is the bookend to that of your small children. So much frailty. Endless struggle to keep afloat.

    I find some fun in the challenge, availing myself of whatever healthcare that is halfway congenial or affordable. Mainstream medicine is something of a circus, now SO much worse than 30-40 years ago. I seek out the nicer docs, and try to pull some caring and humanity out of them. There, the name of the game is keeping my nose above water. On balance, things have worked adequately. We count our blessings.

    Far more humane, if so often lacking in measurable results, is “oriental medicine,” (OM) notably acupuncture. Once in a while, there are breakthroughs, but I see OM as mostly being good at keeping nose above water. It tries to align with nature, which is good in itself. Quality and effectiveness can vary greatly.

    Which brings the subject back to what you can do for yourself. Today, the patient/client has to be involved like never before. Growing even a small amount of your own food, especially that which grows well locally, seems highly recommended. (The children’s joy at watching it grow is surely a health benefit too!)

    To share my solution for avoiding storm damage to plants: use plenty of hard, spiny mulch , several inches high. When I prune trees, I use the clippings for mulch. I like the wild appearance, with the plants just peeping (or visible) through the mulch. With sufficient mulch, even a biblical downpour won’t hurt the plants, and mulch will instead hold in the moisture to serve in drier times.

    Have you tried giving your kids uncooked, unpasteurized honey? Wishing you spirit and courage to fight the good fight for health.

  • Thanks Thanatos Sunbum for addressing my hypothesis and pointing the direction to a few alternative ones. I have no issue with your analysis, except that, isn’t characterising “H. Sapiens” as an “obvious maladaption and mistake” itself a “value judgement”? This is one of the things my hypothesis circumvents- NOT, I should add, for the purpose of allowing us to maintain our increasingly precarious perch on the rickety pedestal of our presumed superiority over the other critters. If the biosphere was suicidal, and we were the agents intended by the biosphere to accomplish that, the “mistake” would be in our failure, rather than in the rapid progress we seem to be making towards success?

    It’s nice to turn things around for a while, even if only for a holiday from the relentless tattoo of otherwise unavoidable conclusions like: “Humanity really fucked up this time!”
    Suicidal biosphere … watch in fascination as all your heroes and villains are grudgingly forced to exchange costumes ……might not be for everybody….. Just a mind-game really.. another coping mechanism.. and a responsibility-avoidance mechanism to boot..

    As an alternative, or adjunct, to the suicidal biosphere hypothesis, I guess you could characterise the planet as a “serial terraformer”, although not in quite the same way as was anticipated by our hopeful (IMO misguided) space colonisers- their ideal was; “several planets-same skin”. The Earth is more like; “same planet-serial skins”- Every so often the planet gets the urge to throw out a load of old clutter and paint the walls a different colour. Who doesn’t? From the planet’s perspective, species are little more than decorating tools and/or materials. This time around the vain old rock even got us to take colour photos of it from space, too..

    If charged with “anthropo-” related infractions, I’ll plead guilty to the “-morphism”, but not to the “-centrism”…

  • @Gail, wildwoman, & Artleads

    Thank you for the kind wishes and concern. I think what I’m trying to illustrate here is that collapse is not some future event, that the effects are real and growing, and I just happen to have in my care little ones who are extremely vulnerable to environmental degradation and pollution. They manifest the consequences of climate change very readily in their small bodies. The milk thing took me by surprise, because though I have followed everything and kept up to date on what has transpired with Fukushima, I never considered it as a possibility in explaining what was wrong with my daughter, even though the timing is right. I’ll never know, and I’m ok with that, as other urgencies are mounting.

    We do ok, we stay in the real world, we enjoy the little things. For instance, today I heard a bird call I didn’t recognize, which turned out to be a cardinal. I have never seen one here before. A couple of weeks ago, I caught my first fleeting glimpse of a bluebird as I was out hiking. I audibly gasped. And just the other day, we had what appeared to be a tropical bird in our crabapple tree, maybe an escapee?

    I guess the struggle gets to be relentless sometimes. All of the talk about attachment and desire comes across as trite when you are in the thick of things. I mean, come on, even the Buddha was kind of a dick. (Sorry, I don’t mean to be blasphemous.) After the birth of their son, he left his wife, Yasodhara, as he went to attain enlightenment. Well, she attained her own enlightenment through the nitty-gritty daily suffering of single motherhood and home life.

    Living a normal life with all of it’s hurts and joys can be enough. It is enough. I allow everything in, and then let it go so I can get on with it, you know? There has been a deep sadness, I think set off by seeing pictures of loved ones on facebook, holding up their prized catches of salmon, some of the lucky few to do so this season, all the while I’m screaming in my head DON’T EAT THAT FISH! It spends it’s adult life in the Pacific! Oh, well. When I am out around people, I feel barely attached by the most tenuous of threads, but caring for children in these times has a way of slapping me back awake.

    @Erin You can clap when I die, as I certainly will. I’ll probably be laughing hysterically as I lay down to rest my weary bones for eternity.

    Ikkatsu: The Roadless Coast

  • Gail says: I still am not clear if you – or anyone – has an answer to the concrete question – would efforts to bring about the collapse of industrial civilization really benefit the biosphere (assuming that’s a worthy goal)?


    Our morality’s just: our gods gave it;
    The flag of our tribe, let’s wave it!
    Destroy a web site
    To stop what they write—
    Let’s burn down a village and save it.

    Predicting the future with pride,
    We’ve been right whenever we tried;
    But doom’s out of control,
    So as far as our role,
    We don’t really have to decide.

  • A heartfelt thanks to all the essayists who contribute to NBL.

    I’m glad Guy found the appropriate help for the recent hack. Once you go cross grain (a wood working term) to the establishment you get a minder or several. They play games with your server in hopes they can distract you from your real work of demonstrating to the people that the Emperor truly has no clothes.

    Vaccinium corymbosum produced a heavy crop this year which probably can be attributed to the abundant rain experienced in May-June. I pigged out on them. Less filling and great taste. Although friends with a large acreage of Vaccinium angustifolium in Massachusetts did not fare as well. Blueberries are nutritious and good for your health. In Murka the health care plan is: Don’t get sick! So you wanna stay healthy. You Canadians don’t know how good you have it. :-)

    The second pairing and subsequent nesting of Eastern bluebirds on this place where I live was additionally successful although I do not know the final count of both broods because when the nesting box was checked three eggs were observed and it was not known if the female bluebird was in the middle of the egg laying process or not. Typically a clutch of five eggs is the average number. So we know at least eight bluebirds were brought into this world via two pairs of adult Eastern bluebirds. One pair of nesting bluebirds abandoned their nest from predator attack. So four will get you eight at least this year. Not too shabby.

    Prunus persica ‘Redhaven’ are ready for harvest. The home canning equipment is getting a workout these past weeks. Asian pears will be next I reckon. It takes around five years for a two year fruit tree whip to develop a proper branching habit and to start bearing fruit.
    The delayed central leader pruning method is what I prefer during training. ‘Redhaven’ is self fruitful so another cultivar/variety of peach is not required for cross pollination in order for ‘Redhaven’ to bear fruit and it is highly resistant to Spring frosts which typically put the kibosh on fruit buds in my neck of the woods.

    Tomatoes and peppers are not the greatest this year. Too much rain early in the season is the suspected culprit. The winner this year for disease resistance is heirloom ‘Roma’ tomato.

    Fukushima – the great inconvenience. The last thing I wanted to die from is radiation poisoning. Now I have to reconfigure my survival plan. <<<<>>>>

  • Fracking in Utah:

    Can you believe the number of wells in this basin?
    One of the commenters says the people there love fracking because of the jobs it has brought to the area.

    “Hangmen out of work! Go out and kill someone!”

  • Thank you, Vincent Kelley, this was a most helpful essay and my favorite in quite some time at NBL. Thanks also to Kathy, Gail and Paul for responding to my dilemma of being unevenly yoked at the precipice of doom. Dedicated to all y’all here at NBL: a favorite from my Spotify starred list:

  • Third verse for “Destruction” above:

    We won’t become suddenly sane
    And stop using the old lizard brain,
    And it’s too late for “oops”:
    Self reinforcing loops
    Are swirling us right down the drain.

  • BadlandsAK

    A bit late in writing this but I am very sad to hear from you about the family health problems.

    I have something to add. Hope it helps.

    I am 50 now. When I was 14 my brother died of Leukaemia, after being sick for 18 months.
    I figure we all got a dose or five from the French and American Nuclear Testing in the pacific up to the 1970’s. My other older brother and I ‘seem’ to have had little problems.
    6 months after my brother died a 7 y/o boy not far from us down the road contracted Leukaemia too. Not sure what type he had though. He lasted 8 months. The Baptist ministers son. What a hell that family must have gone through. Does that classify as a cluster?
    About 3 years before my brother got ill, I developed a large cyst on my left lateral calf area, midway to the knee.
    They operated and removed it, all a bit hush hush. No explanation was given then.
    Somehow I always associated it with drinking from a rusty 44 gal drum one afternoon coming up from the bush on a hot day, just after it rained the day before, filling the drum.
    Fast forward to a year ago.
    I have always been a bit chubby, not tall,strong bones and stocky build, but probably never got to starvation level so I had a spare tyre. I had been walking this off for the previous 2 years.( It is completely gone now!)
    I did a lot of walking over the past 3 years, sometimes averaging 6-8 hours a day,on weekends, and about a year ago I decided to go for it to test if I could do consecutive days of close to 8-9 hours.
    I managed it, and during this series of walks a year ago I started to get a few serious pains in my right leg and left big toe, just under the bridge from foot to toe.
    When I was 6 I cut the artery there stepping on some broken coke bottle. Almost bled to death, but helped by neighbours. Lucky escape, as the phrase goes. So the scar tissue under the toe was always sensitive.
    As the walking continued, the pain got worse and swelling, and redness came to both areas, the right leg and the left toe.
    Then puss!
    I thoroughly checked to see I had not grazed or cut the surface, but nothing. After a few more days of walking, it subsided, and I realised I did not have Ebola.
    Here is what I think happened.
    As a consequence of my mother taking anti-nausea tablets in the 60’s (big pharma took it off the market very quickly) my brother was Calcium deficient, such that his first teeth had no enamel, and he quickly had fangs. Poor kid. My brother was very slight, and it is pretty obvious he lacked bone density from the lag from his early gestation.
    As the fallout came from the testing in the Pacific, we and the cows in our milk region, the water catchment area, and any other source of ingestion, just sucked it all in.
    I think his low bone density attracted the Strontium 90, which mimics Ca and is on the same column as Ca on the periodic table.
    I got a dose of Caesium, which lodges in muscle tissue. The cyst was an immediate excretion from the body, but as one side of the body is more Yang and the other more Yin, the opposite side on my right leg stored the Caesium in fatty tissue and the muscle. It would have been the first time my fat levels reduced, when I exercised so much last year, and the mechanical stress stretched those muscles to a bigger load.
    The elimination some 40 years later, with minor ill effects is a good news story, and one I want you to know about.
    Yes a long story, but I hope you can get the idea that the animal body will do its damnest to keep the shit isolated, and it can come out.

    ‘When radioactive cesium enters body, 75% lodges in muscle tissue including heart’

    I hear a lot of CA babies died over the last years since Fukushima.
    We have been walking guinea pigs for a long time.
    Will be sending healing feelings to you and your family.


    A few comments here about suicidal tendencies of humans. Maybe the Earth is expelling us and that kind of stuff, and can we evolve fast. I think the physical evolution is pretty well done, with minor tweaking, but the bigger challenge is the Spiritual and psychological growth to Adulthood.

    A useful tool for understanding what is going on right now, IMO, our collective adolescent moment, (with a little bit of culture lag depending on where the pop and youth wealth come in), is this interview by David Tacey, and Australian Jungian Scholar who has worked extensively with Indigenous people here, especially youth.

    ‘Spiritual Sickness’

    Well worth the read, click for transcript or just listen.

    My post is long so I will leave it there.

  • I have something to say:

    from the movie “Decepttion” with andie mcdowell and liam nielson:

    “What am I supposed to do now?. drown the kids and shoot myself?


    Yes, drown the kids, shoot yourself.
    yess, that is the answer.
    Ulf sucks.
    I have no sense of anything.
    suicide is the only answer.

  • I havesomething to say

    what should i do”, kill the kids and committ suidede


  • Mrs. Badlands, you seem like a great mom! Your kids are lucky to have you. I’m hoping that you’ll be successful with your garden before fall arrives.

    My son and his wife are trying to sell their house in Oceanside, CA, but they’re not having much luck. They want to get out, and now is the time. Could be that California real estate will soon be among the most worthless on the planet. I can see Congress declaring all costal structures un-insureable and un-mortgagable fairly soon. Anyway, even though I’m not religious, I ordered a St. Joseph Home Sale Kit to be delivered to Pat and Bri’s house. The kit has a statue of St. Joe, a prayer card, some instructions about burying St. Joe in the front yard and some other stuff. I had Amazon add a note to have their priest make a sign of the cross over St. Joe and to get Shorty (their pooch) to dig the hole.

    For me, having kids is the toughest part of this whole shit-o-ree. We dedicate our lives to our children. I would even let George Bush, himself, waterboard me for three days straight if I thought it would make any difference.

    Bless you and your family. Bless us all.

  • I read once that the ego’s goal is death.

    expected/projected outcomes

    The two are incommensurate. Expectation is a manifestation of the twin aspects of attachment, attraction and aversion. Projection is from anticipation, for the direction of the action.

    industrial civ is certainly going to be dismantled,

    Of course, the only question is the timeframe. Certainly well before the Heat Death of the Universe.

    Are we allowed to clap when someone dies?

    If of the Judaeo/Christian/Islamic tradition, most certainly, with the belief in the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting, amen! (Thanks to attendance at Catholic schools).

    Have you tried giving your kids uncooked, unpasteurized honey?

    Preferably from the local atea, so that it has a greater likelihood of containing the bee-processed products of local antigens.

    Also lookup the management of homes to reduce allergen exposure: avoidance of carpeting, scheduling of vacuuming, changing of air filters, etc.

  • Sorry if I’m over my post limit, but I thought the following would be of interest for NBL:

  • Gail,

    You wrote:

    “I still am not clear if you – or anyone – has an answer to the concrete question – would efforts to bring about the collapse of industrial civilization really benefit the biosphere (assuming that’s a worthy goal)?

    First of all, I don’t see how it could be accomplished without very directly killing humans and other forms of life. If you’re going to derail trains or explode nuclear power plants or flood the New York subway with a pathogen, or shut down a mining operation, there is going to be carnage. How could you make any significant contribution to the halt of technology without collateral damage to both human and other forms of life?”

    So, even if you determine 1: the collateral damage is a necessary and excusable consequence and 2: you and your merry band of sabateurs actually have enough numbers, wits, and resources to hasten the collapse of civilization, the question remains

    Will that actually result in more biodiversity remaining after NTE? What if results in LESS due to increased wars, the breakdown of cultural norms and increased violence, rape, unwanted pregnancy, ravaging of wildlife until as someone said

    there’s not one blade of grass left?

    Is it okay to gamble that bringing civilization down sooner rather than letting it occur on its own (which it surely is doing) would be preferable for biodiversity.

    If the precautionary principle is to prevail, isn’t doing nothing the safest course>?”

    Reading the Deep Green Resistance book would sort out a lot of the questions you have. Short of that, you could read the FAQ at

    To address some of your questions here: DGR advocates strategic use of limited numbers of people willing to act in defense of life. Exploding nuclear power plants or spreading human pathogens are non-strategic, non life serving tactics. (And there’s no reason shutting down a mine, which would be much more strategic, necessitates carnage or loss of life.) Since the main problem with industrial civilization is that it’s industrial, we have much better targets available: primarily fossil fuel and electrical systems. These can be targeted in a way to minimize immediate damage.

    Derrick Jensen has written and talked extensively about the concept of “short term habitat loss, long term habitat gain.” In the context of taking out a dam killing a river: yes, it would damage biological life in the initial flood of water and scouring of the river, but would then allow the full functionality and life of the river community to return. Wars, violence, rapes, and extermination of species occur on a daily basis right now – these atrocities are inherent in civilization. Yes, the problems may get worse as collapse progresses, but that collapse (and thus escalation) is inevitable anyway, so the sooner we start bringing it down, the sooner we stop all the destruction. And we can certainly act in ways to address those problems and their likely escalations as we take out infrastructure – hence the separate roles of the aboveground and the underground in DGR’s strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare.

    I think you’re misusing the precautionary principle. You wouldn’t watch an abuser rape or torture a victim (then another, then another, then another, then…) and decide the abuser will get bored eventually, or die of old age, and thus the precautionary principle dictates letting events play out as they will!

    Again, it’s well worth reading the DGR book if you’re serious about understanding a possible way to actually stop industrial civilization. It’s well researched, well thought out, and offers the best chance I’ve seen of pulling through this mess if we’re going to manage it at all.


  • An interesting essay, stimulating an unusually honest and lucid set of responses.

    @Vincent Kelley:
    I would argue that the “greed, exploitation, and devastation” you refer in your conclusion are what gives rise to civilizations in the first place, and are then synergistically amplified.

    @Daniel and Sunbum:
    Both excellent, well-articulated analyses.

    Thanks for sharing the poem: “And finding that of fifty seeds//She often brings but one to bear” – puts much into perspective.

    Regarding your question, “would efforts to bring about the collapse of industrial civilization really benefit the biosphere (assuming that’s a worthy goal)?”: I think this question merits deeper exploration and discussion – guest essay?

    Paul C:
    “We have become unwitting endosymbiotes – the mitochondria within its technological cells” – great metaphor.

    @Kirk Hamilton:
    “…Just a rolling tide of death… But we did it playing good music, wearing tutus, laughing our asses of, loving and caring and all the good stuff too!”

    It’s this kind of attitude that’s been nudging me towards the cheerier end of the nihilistic spectrum lately, the simple basis being, if I’m going to stick around in the “self-destructive cuckoo asylum” referred to by James, I might as well give as much time and energy as I can to thinking about and doing those things that open the tap on my “dopamine drip-line” a little wider.

    “We are entering a very exciting and revolutionary period in history. Fantastic events are occurring that could hardly be envisioned only a few years ago. To be a witness to this period, and to perhaps participate, if only in a small way, is to breath new life into those jaded and bored”
    “However, I suggest that rather than express disdain/alienation, you embrace the role of human explorer, by carefully watching & listening to each as if they were some unique specimen to be examined. If you get (really) good at it, it actually can become quite fun to see how well you can blend in & ‘go native’.”

    Along with Kirk’s, I find these are also useful attitudes/perspectives to cultivate (without necessarily losing sight of the present horrors, and those bigger ones yet to come), “if only to find a temporarily safe promontory from which to watch the feckless and bumbling techno-empire meet the Gods of entropy”, as James puts it so well.

    “Even the Buddha was kind of a dick” – I reckon he’d have been the first to laugh and agree with you =) You have my sympathies, along with anyone else here at NBL who, in addition to the existential dilemmas, has to struggle with the daily realities of sick loved ones, or just with making ends meet.

    “Don’t wish to pry, but are you thinking about any kind of early out?”
    Not 100% sure whether this question was asked in concern or offered as advice; if the latter, while I can think of several politicians and celebrities I would offer it to, I wouldn’t pose it to a struggling wife and mother of 3 young children. Not to belittle the magnitude of Badlands’ difficulties, but there are surely alternatives to consider before jumping straight to infanticide, even in the shadow of NTHE.

  • @ Gail, OzMan and all the other great posters:

    The link about nutrient flow in the Amazon–loss of big animals–was helpful information, and I’ll check out the link later on what I presume is spiritual evolution.

    Information on separating urine from the waste stream was most interesting of all. Urine has great nutritional and medicinal value for people, plants and animals, although I’m still too squeamish (not for long as things heat up, no doubt) to go full tilt into researching it. It’s unquestionably one of the greatest aids to composting.

    With unprecedented crisis, and the loss of familiar reference points, efficacy of one course of action as opposed to another becomes fuzzy to distinguish.

    Where evolution is concerned, I must still stubbornly wait to be disabused of the following notion: Although the body as a whole might be unlikely to evolve any time soon, the brain, a behavior determining organ, is constantly evolving (or devolving).

    Someone on NBL made the observation (which I glossed over at the time) that we have all had to become sociopathic in order for the perhaps 4% sociopaths to have had their way with civilization. We all had to absorb their message and cooperate with it. An evolutionary subject for another time.

    So? Since we are each so prone to error and human failing, we can only progress by breaking down the walls of ego that separate one individual from another, thereby creating a larger organism whose various components create over all balance and homeostasis. Intelligent people of good will, such as appear to dominate on NBL, could be tending toward such homeostasis, whether intending to do so or not.

  • @ pat:
    I guess being hopelessly inebriated and passing out on your keyboard is one way to deal with NTE. I hope you don’t have any kids.

    My one accomplishment is that I never had children. I really can’t imagine what a nightmare it must be to have children, especially now, – I never wanted any and I never understood why anyone would! I’ve always subscribed to the theory that people with children always talk it up simply because to do otherwise would be socially unacceptable. I watched my siblings with their respective broods and the never ending misery – glad I was able to avoid that fate.

    From my perspective here at the public library, the irony of sitting amongst the annals of the great works of man surrounded by the flotsom and jetsam of humanity, my fellow refugees of industrial civilization, is lost on most. I wish I had a digital camera, there is a bum sitting in a recliner and behind him on the wall is Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man.

    I wonder if Leonardo’s drive to aspire could have been broken by the realization that he was only contributing to the eventual destruction of Every Living Thing on Earth. Alas, he was but 40 years old when Columbus “discovered” America. Yes, the great works of man…

    The children suffer, there is no redemption, my pennance is to not aspire.

    On Xray Mike’s website, there is the quote by Utah Phillips:
    “The Earth is not dying, it is being killed. And the people who are killing it have names and addresses.”

    Well, I would assert that anyone WITH an address is guilty! And I am just as guilty as the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, and Leonardo Da Vinci. I still very much want to see the govt buildings burn and the politicians hang, but really I know that I share their guilt…

  • from Aug 8 COIC:
    An odd sense of community comes from connecting (virtually) with others who share a perspective that still eludes the so-called great unwashed masses, who are still gorging themselves (typically through debt spending) on the bounty of the modern age. Whether by innate character or conditioning, some of us never required much by way of convincing. The science and larger historical trajectory becomes fundamentally clear upon even modest inquiry. Chronicling our descent only reinforces conclusions reached intellectually, namely, that the path before us is unavoidable. Dissenters may assert that conclusion is pessimistic, defeatist, fatalistic, or nihilistic (is there a continuum for negativity?), but with so much going wrong with the world, evidence overwhelms denial.

  • wtf pat, you been nipping at the bottle, or did you drink the whole thing and do yourself in already? You know it’s too soon, right? Just spill your guts here, and we will pick up the mess, we are all hurting to some degree.

    And no, for anyone wondering about the prospect of infanticide, there is no plan, not ready to do the mental gymnastics to ‘go there’ just yet. We still have to get a will written in case something happens while the system is in place, and I think it’s living with a foot in both worlds that creates much of the mental struggle. There is just no way to prepare for all, or even many, eventualities. So, I consider a few of the what ifs, and mostly keep an open mind and go with the flow.

    Afrizen is absolutely correct that the daily struggles are pretty ordinary right now, as far as what we all deal with, some have it much worse, some much better. I’ve actually had it much worse in the past, so those trials by fire have helped to put things in perspective as far as what is, and what future prospects may be. I really appreciate the concern and compliments, being genuinely acknowledged is a rare occurrence. You are all so NICE, and I mean that in a good way! I’m in no way offended by questions of infanticide, or generally taboo subjects either, it’s just the reality of the situation. More than anything, it just hurts to watch the oceans die and the natural world defiled and ruined. I am biased towards preferring the beauty of the way things were before we got our dirty paws into everything, even understanding the nature of impermanence.

    OzMan, thank you for sharing your story. How awful to lose a sibling so young. I have found the writings of Arundhati Roy on the subject of nuclear weapons and living in their shadow to be very lucid, helping to make sense of the tangled mess such a prospect has created. Glad you’re doing better, and yeah, the body is an amazing thing! My daughter is already doing much better, and just this week has started having a pretty ravenous appetite. A rough two years for her, though.

    Kirk, that is a beautiful gesture offered to your son and daughter in law. I really believe in the healing power of ritual, even little made-up ones can help get through the madness, put some of the bad stuff to rest, set some of the good stuff free.

    Artleads Thank you for the gardening advice. I DID mulch, but sadly, not much can protect plants from golf ball-sized hail. Some things I restarted three times. Is that too much hope on display?
    You are so right about the sad state of health care, especially in the bad ol’ US of A. You really do have to be your own advocate, which is scary if you are truly incapacitated. My last stay in the hospital was for the birth of my youngest daughter, a repeat c-section after a very high-risk pregnancy with many complications. That place was so terrifying, and the care so iffy, I high-tailed it out of there after one day with my newborn baby, even after major surgery, it was scarier to be in their ‘care’, than to have none at all. Those considerations are to be added to Kathy C’s calls to sterilization. Think about the needless suffering of the babies, but also consider the possibilities of your own suffering in going through pregnancies and births without modern medicine. Yes, many do it, but many die in the process, or end up with injuries and complications.

    Which reminds me!
    World Vasectomy Day is coming up:

  • Afrizen, I would be surprised if most of us aren’t researching ways to go when the time comes. I’m certainly not advocating it yet!

    But I don’t want to suffer. I really don’t want to watch anything I love suffer. So when the time comes, I want to be prepared with a plan for myself and for anything else in my charge. If I had kids, I guess it would have to include them. I don’t. But my animal companions are my responsibility.

    For myself, I’m not sure when that time will be. Maybe when the grids go down and people are really freaked. Maybe before that, depending upon Fukushima.

    If you aren’t thinking about it, you might want to start.

  • Dear Artleads, you raise the pertinent question.

    One of the main stumblIng blocks to evolving humanity is breaking down what is and industrial civilized mind set. Most of the people here seem to believe that because they are against status quo in word, they are in mind and heart. Everyone talking a big talk. I am not trying to offend but cutting to the quick is an urgent matter. Lives, by the second disappear as we circle maddeningly in the same spot. I think perhaps there is a door here as you suggest Artleads, and we won’t walk through until we can see it is so. Some group or individual leading a like minded group is how all great movements start. To change in such drastic ways as we are contemplating first takes seeing why it is necessary. If you have lost all hope and in this case I mean by hope, vision, spirit, and reason, then at least do not obstruct those of us who have not. The number one reason I see for hope of the nature I describe above is that there is as much good as bad in humanity and the natural world at large, to deserve our untiring effort. Behind us stand legions of humans who suffered and died for the same cause as we will. To preserve and protect what we may. It is a very worthy endeavor.

    In regards to ego Artleads, it, in the end, as the final act to help us move on, will be built up again.
    This is counter intuitive as many belief systems direct us to believe the ego is all bad. This is the epitome of dichotic thinking and too much of that got us where we are to begin with. How do we build the ego up? First it’s negative aspects must be pared out of the entire system. Eastern spiritual or mind awareness practices help enormously with that process. But there are hundreds of books out there about the brain, cognitive science, etc. to get us well on the way. This paring out is more or less painstaking per individual but must happen. This process de- elevates the ego and brings it down to a centered position in our psychic system. This spot is the old danger zone but an adapted ego can start to now for the first time ever find peace and harmony and great advantage here smack dab between old wilderness and new civilization. It’s all about. Eurons and mental energy. A mind freed up from the old chains of industrial civilization is a new mind indeed and we all know, who know nothing will change and nothing significant can happen unless that happens first. If this came to pass and it was not too late, we will find answers to ending our destructive behavior just as we did to begin it. But what I speak of would occur as a sort of a miracle. For what ever reasons humans have recently let the worst of them prevail and I believe what I speak of has little chance of coming to pass. This knowledge, I think is the worst to die with. No matter how we die, believing we never had a chance is the kinder opium. I acquired my knowledge long ago, years ago. It is too late for me to watch it end in blissful ignorance. But the life I live in the meantime is one of beauty of the potential hanging like heavy golden dew beyond belief. But I sense it’s loss of potential ever encroaching upon a humanity that could not get out of their own way to save themselves. As for life at large, it will reemerge in the blink of a universal eye. So none of us should die thinking we took out life at large, talk about ego fear and hubris poisoning us to the end.

  • Vincent, Thank you for your thoughts, with which i largely agree. One thing which struck me, however, was your repeated appeals to choice. We can choose to support the living world, or we can choose to support industrial civ. In a way, intellectually or theoretically, it is exactly as simple as you suggest. Applying this support, howvever, is a good deal more complicated than you’ve indicated. Supporting the living planet in small ways is easy, if you understand what’s going on. No matter my place in the socio-economic hierarchy, i can plant for the bees, saving native seed and strewing it about. i can actually save money while growing at least some of my own food, from seeds i save, using dirt dug up from anywhere, even in containers on a windowsill. Itty bitty steps, even a determined homeless person could take. (I’ve been homeless, btw, so i can judge this, somewhat.) The higher up the scale one is, the more concrete steps one can take. As a homeowner, I can simply stop mowing my grass and let the weedy succession start. I may need to fight my neighbours and/or the law on this, but it’s doable. Anyone can choose to eat less industrial meat, can refuse to never eat fast foods, etc. These are means to withdraw support in practical terms, though we are all born into captivity, and all trapped by the systems. Even those able and willing to go as far as Guy has, to establish and eco-friendly homestead, cannot substantively change the overall trajectory we’re on. Individual choices to live sanely will not stop the current mass extinction, nor climate change, they are not likely to even slow the juggernaut. And so, DGR wants us to go much further, in the obvious recognition that these small steps are utterly inadequate. Bringing down the industrial economy – global though it is – is indeed doable, if David Korowicz is right about it’s fragility. All it would take is a small dedicated direct action group determined to take down the electrical grid in the US (which means Canada as well) repeatedly, in different locations, until they just can’t get it up again. This would lead to a rapid, global, systems failure by taking down the financial nervous system(again, if Korowicz is right). Fine. This could result in industrial civ grinding to a halt, and as Kathy Cassandra pointed out, it also leads to 400 plus nuclear reactors melting down. So you are not just choosing death by starvation and violence for tens of millions of people, you are choosing death by nuclear annhilation for most species on earth. What exactly is gained? All this strategy leads to is the massive acceleration of the current mass extinction event and that a small group of “rebels” has chosen for all life on earth that cockroaches will be the next dominant species. Human arrogance run amuck. This is the strategy of a 2 year old in a full blown temper tantrum. Shout “NO!” at the bad mpommy and break everything you can get your hands on. Plotting the world’s most all-encompassing genocide of multiple species in a nuclear holocaust is ethical how? It’s a raging psychotic strategy. How is this “choosing life”? This medicine is potentially – I’d even argue likely – worse than the disease. Why should we not set aside our hubris (finally!) and do our best to de-industrialize our own lives and let Mother Nature decide who lives. It seems preferable to me to fruitlessly lobby for the nuclear plants to be decommissioned and to take whatever small steps possible to support life, than to advocate for an even more immediate mass extinction. Is it not more ethical — by far — to do nothing but watch civilization implode and everything die than to induce the “final solution” blithely advocated by DGR? Guy, if you would care to explain how you reason this differently, I’d be pleased to hear you out. But, i see no way to reconcile “saving the living planet” with the goal of detonating 400 nuclear plants.

  • One point of disagreement between me and most environmentalists (OK, me and most progressives of any stripe) is around the question of free will vs. determinism. I think our cherished belief in free will is largely a self-congratulatory crock.

    In my opinion, the concept of free will succumbs to a three-pronged assault.

    The first is my own hypothesis – that human behavior (and indeed that of all living creatures) is constrained at the physical level by the operation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in open systems, as expressed by the Maximum Entropy Production Principle and H.T. Odum’s Maximum Power Principle. No matter how deep into overshoot and climate change our species drives itself, we cannot collectively take the path of de-growth. that’s not because we fail to make the choice to do so, but because MEPP etc. simply don’t permit it. Even though that path looks available and some individuals have chosen to follow it, as a species it is simply not open to us. Down the path of de-growth lies the threat of individual and collective death through energy starvation of all kinds, and I don’t think the laws of physics are set up to make species suicide an easy option. In order to live we must keep dissipating energy gradients, for as long as possible.

    The second prong is probably a consequence of the first, but even if it just sits out there without any underpinning from physics it would be enough to queer the game: we are biological organisms. All living organisms have two fundamental fitness criteria: fertility (reproductive success) and viability (rate of energy capture). The first causes humans to over-reproduce, the second causes us to over-consume. All consumption is essentially the consumption of energy in one form or another. Our overgrowth is the result of a genetically coded life-seeking imperative, ably assisted by our reflexive problem-solving brains.

    The reason we are the dominant species on the planet today is that we are inordinately good at both fitness criteria, and exceptional at removing competition, threats and limitations. The reason we are screwed is because both of those fitness criteria are inviolable genetic/thermodynamic mandates. In my opinion, all else (religion, politics, economics etc.) is embroidery.

    The third prong is that humans are not conscious, rational decision-makers. Ever since the work of Benjamin Libet 30 years ago, it has become clear that many (or even most?) of our decisions are made unconsciously, driven by emotions and prior experiences and then rationalized post-hoc after they are presented to our “conscious self”. Our analytical conclusions (“1+1=?”) may be generally correct, but our choices of what to analyze and what to do with the results are anything but rational.

    So: the underlying physics drives us in the direction of gradient dissipation, and frames our genetics (along with that of all living creatures) to accomplish that goal; our brains evolved to facilitate the process by removing obstacles, threats and limitations; and our cultures abet the process still further by enshrining growth imperatives in normative social constructs – and in the process supporting the development of social systems like politics, corporations, economies and legal systems that all drive us faster down the thermodynamic dissipative path. Marvin Harris’ principle of “Infrastructural Determinism” that lies at the core of his anthropological framework called “Cultural Materialism” reveals this mechanism in action.

    Because of these three objections, I have to conclude that humans do not, in fact, possess free will to nearly the degree we assume we do. To believe otherwise, IMO requires one to ignore the facts in front of us, and take refuge in a form of magical thinking.

    If the overgrowth behavior that is wreaking such havoc on the planet (including ourselves) is really rooted in our genetics and, even deeper in the laws of thermodynamics, we are well and truly hooped, and as far as I can tell there’s not a damned thing we can do about it. Given observed human behaviour over the past few hundred and especially over the last seventy years, my money is on determinism.

  • “Record temperatures across North Asia have killed dozens and pushed electricity grids to near breaking point, forcing governments to introduce emergency measures as more of the same heat is forecast.”

    “The hot summer this year is not a result of human activities, but it is true we have increasingly hotter summers and global warming is in the background,” said Takehiko Mikami, a climatology professor at Teikyo University in Tokyo.

  • PS: i forgot to mention, that was both an answer to Gail and a reiteration of her request for thinking this through.

  • Erin says: Guy has said it straight up….
    “Stick a fork in us. We’re done….”

    The end of our days has begun,
    Search for escape, you’ll find none;
    We know what’s ahead:
    In the short run, we’re dead—
    Stick a fork in us. We’re done.

  • Ozymandias

    Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

    I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

    Stand in the desert . . . Near them, on the sand,

    Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed:
And on the pedestal these words appear:
’My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!’

    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.” 

  • I think this is a good time for some Frank Sinatra. I’m a big fan of the ram.

  • I agree with you, Paul, on determinism, after trying every way I knew how to refute the underlying argument. Funny thing, that we can be in this universe and actually see how it works at the same time, without being able to stop it. Trick of consciousness, I suppose. Life is suffering, life is suffering, life is suffering, life is suffering. So I guess I’m alive. An illusion or a delusion? Never mind – doesn’t matter. Carry on, folks.

    Picked my first watermelon today. Imagine, watermelons in Canada! Who knows – next stop avocados?

  • @Paul C. The alibis/cop-outs for dropping out of trying to save humanity are legion. Interesting that the Buddha’s nirvana = extinction. Serious Hinayana practitioners did their best to erase all signs of human caring from themselves. They felt that the Mahayana folks were crazy to vow to save all beings from suffering. And they even believed in love! That was sure to bind them to their humanness. Better to condemn the world and human being and get the hell out, possibly to be rewarded for one’s clear understanding with some sort of Buddhist heaven, or at least a merciful nothingness…

    The scientific evidence supposedly closing the chapter of humankind is inconclusive. The rush to believe in it is escapism. Despite what anyone says about our situation, I will still work towards the best possible outcome for us. Nothing personal. I get where you are coming from, I think. But I disagree. The future of humankind is an equation with so many variables and uncertainty factors that it would take a universe sized sheet of paper to write it out, and an infinite number of infinitely intelligent and knowledgable scientist/mathematicians given an infinite amount of time to conclude that they could not ever solve it…

  • to all, my apologies for my drunken post – I was way over the top, barely even remember posting, and, can’t remember how I came up with the quote from the movie Devastation (never seen it). oh well.

    and since suicide and infanticide have been mentioned, I offer my usual:

    The Voluntary Human Extinction Movement (VHEMT)
    The One Commandment:“Thou shalt not procreate”

    the Church of Euthanasia
    save the planet, kill yourself

    Jesse’s Church of Euthanasia
    save the planet, kill yourself, and take some poor slob with you.

  • @ Gail, Lorraine and general consumption

    Excellent series of questions Gail, and honestly I don’t know if I could answer it any better than Lorraine just did. However, I’ll add a caveat, if but to catalog the shifting sands under our feet here at the beach of doom, which might still be tripping us up a little.

    Aside from Allan Weisman’s book “The World Without Us”, where back in 2007, he described the nuclear containment pool threat, I don’t know if it was Kathy C who was the first to connect the dots as they pertained to “preparedness”, or she just passed it along to the rest of us. But Kathy was who first brought the threat to my attention of 400+ containment pools going Fukie once the power goes down.

    I am still flabbergasted as to how something so obvious to me now, completely flew under my radar all this time. It’s incredibly discouraging to have studied something for so long, only to later realize you missed such a critical factor that completely undermines……..everything.

    IMO, this would be the most catastrophic revelation of all time, if it wasn’t for nonlinear rates of climate change currently taking center stage.

    But we must remember, it was only at the end of last summer, whereby just having accepted NTE, we had barely taken our first step out the door of the ecological paradigm in which all of us had come of age, before we were broadsided by the realization that when the power grids goes down–that little thing many of us have been advocating for a very long time–that we would probably have only a few months until we irradiate the entire planet!?!?!

    Talk about a one-two punch for crying out loud! I know most of us are very adept in discerning “others” dissonance, but I believe most of us are still wandering around picking up the pieces from this unprecedented convergence. This isn’t a paradigm shift anymore, this is a paradigm catapult into incomparable futility.

    All in all, it’s been a really bad year for the theory of collapse preparedness, and god knows the news of the last year has been devastating to the moral imperative of intentionally collapsing industrial civilization, which just so happens to have constituted my entire adult life.

    DGR was a hopelessly futile endeavor years ago, but now…….well it’s not surprising that Guy considers the Mud Hut to be the greatest mistake of his life.

    And while we’ve been continually discussing Fukushima nuclear containment pools here on a regular basis, if I’m not mistaken, I don’t think anyone has quite framed these new revelations in context to the moral imperative of resistance. i.e. collapsing IC, as directly as the combine contribution of Gail and Lorraine.

    Gail asking:

    “I still am not clear if you – or anyone – has an answer to the concrete question – would efforts to bring about the collapse of industrial civilization really benefit the biosphere”.

    Lorraine answering:

    “This [direct action] could result in industrial civ grinding to a halt, and as Kathy Cassandra pointed out, it also leads to 400 plus nuclear reactors melting down. So you are not just choosing death by starvation and violence for tens of millions of people, you are choosing death by nuclear annihilation for most species on earth. What exactly is gained?”

    Lorraine continues with here incredibly probing analysis:

    “It seems preferable to me to fruitlessly lobby for the nuclear plants to be decommissioned and to take whatever small steps possible to support life, than to advocate for an even more immediate mass extinction.”

    And just when I thought my own moral dilemma couldn’t get any more confounding. So, are we now looking at the greatest argument against DGR?

    These questions are effectively lobbing bombs onto my home turf, and I haven’t any defense or a single rebuttal. As long as the global electrical grid remains intact, so does the omnicidal course of IC, however, when the electrical grid permanently goes down, then most if not all of life is fried.

    A clusterfuck to say the least…..

    However, I do take a slight issue with this statement from Lorraine:

    “Is it not more ethical — by far — to do nothing but watch civilization implode and everything die than to induce the “final solution” blithely advocated by DGR?”

    I think “blithely” might be too harsh of an assessment, given that ALL of us, have just recently discovered that the entire fabric of life has just been pulled out from under us. I simply don’t think most of us–if any–have simply had enough time to seriously think through all the ramifications of the onslaught of unprecedence that’s recently deposited us on the beach of doom. While some of us are in the process of setting up our beach chairs, others are still sticking out of the sand like lawn darts.

    But other than that, I would like to thank Lorraine for posting what I consider to be one of the most critical and timely comments at NBL, as well as Gail and Kathy C for being such amazing stalwarts of critical thinking in general.

  • Hi TIAA,

    Thanks for expanding on and filling out the concept of evolution.

    I agree with what you imply (and to paraphrase Einstein) that you can’t solve a problem by using the same mindset which caused the problem. Oldgrowthforest said something interesting about measuring the Native way–not with the measuring tools of the West–to arrive at beautiful and whole ways of constructing. The way you measure, the tools you use, determine the end result. There is no thinking which isn’t civilizational thinking.

    While helpful in its way, all the data collecting, measuring, weighing of the West could benefit from integration with other ways of observing. To rely on the Western methodology exclusively, keeps one tied to the erroneous paradigms of the West as well. IMO, of course.

    “The number one reason I see for hope of the nature I describe above is that there is as much good as bad in humanity and the natural world at large, to deserve our untiring effort. Behind us stand legions of humans who suffered and died for the same cause as we will. To preserve and protect what we may. It is a very worthy endeavor.”

    I’ve been thinking something along these lines these past two days. We are products–and this is an ego issue too–of an everlasting chain of “life”. The sacrifices, the effort, the endless time which have gone into putting me at this computer now is all “me”. Or, conversely, I’m all IT. So I’m going to reach the egoistic conclusion to settle with the grim reaper…for my own good? But what do I owe to everything that has ever lived, that has culminated in me being this self-aware entity communicating with other timeless beings?

    Sure, I’m not in the least bit stoic or tolerant of pain. So I don’t claim to choose life above all else. I don’t think too hard about it. If life is tolerable (which, glory to God, it mostly is) the thought of ending it doesn’t enter my mind. I’m not separate from all the other lives that put me here. CHOOSING to cut the thread of existence is unthinkable. As long as I can live, then other life can do so as well. As U said, we are the means by which the universe is aware of itself. If the universe wants my awareness, it must protect me (or others like me). I’m not an independent player out there, but only a manifestation of the all. Very little is up to me alone.

    “This is counter intuitive as many belief systems direct us to believe the ego is all bad. This is the epitome of dichotic thinking and too much of that got us where we are to begin with. How do we build the ego up? First it’s negative aspects must be pared out of the entire system.”

    Thanks for the observation that the ego is part of being human, and that the ego can advantageously be transformed.

    ” For what ever reasons humans have recently let the worst of them prevail and I believe what I speak of has little chance of coming to pass. This knowledge, I think is the worst to die with. No matter how we die, believing we never had a chance is the kinder opium.”

    A post of OzMan’s yesterday had a link about spiritual disease. It made the point that rituals, difficult rites of passage, are needed, but that they don’t work if we don’t believe in them. To say, “I believe what I speak of has little chance of coming to pass.” can only be self-fulfilling prophesy. You can’t have the slightest doubt that it WILL come to pass. It’s a leap of faith, with no holding back. You jump off. Too late for doubt.

    Jesse, thanks for that ram! Always makes me happily teary to hear it.

    Badlands, you’re most welcome. Keep your light shining.

  • Say what? Drunken forests and frozen debris lobes. Yes, I said that.

    re: the essay and making our mark.
    Last month we took the kids to the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, and tucked away on the preserve are sandstone formations and petroglyphs carbon dated to 10,000 years ago. Among the ancient images were peoples’ names, dates, some from the 1800s, 1900s, scratched into the rock. I thought, how disgraceful to vandalize something so precious. But later, as I looked at the few pictures I snapped, I realized that wasn’t it at all. It was all graffiti, just a continuum of folks making their mark, none precious, just trying to fulfill the odd desire to leave proof that “I WAS HERE”.

  • pat, glad u’re ok. u had me worried.

    free will: no one chooses to be born, or the circumstances they’re born into. no one chooses ‘acts of god’, nature’s whims. even the idea that we get to choose how to respond to stimuli is false. our responses are pre-determined by our genetic endowment, what we naturally like, are able to perceive, are inclined to do, feel empowered to do. everything happening now is connected to the past. time is an unbroken continuum. all that shall happen in the future, including extinction, death, shall be pre-determined by what has already occurred.

  • Impermanence.

    I guess I’m missing something then, but I don’t see this culture as a culture that denies impermanence at all. In the chase for the accumulation of more and more, the America I see is more than eager to turn over heaven and earth, leaving nothing but a pile of rubble is its wake. If that isn’t the will to impermanence, than I don’t know what is. The America I see embraces impermanence and disruption of all aspects of existence in this crazed behavior. People, places, heritage, culture, ecosystems – all must passively accept imminent ransack and pillage by the capitalist growth machine. The only areas of permanence I see are the unquestioning acceptance by Americans of a corporate dictatorship over every aspect of their lives, a corporate system that is approaching sacred status, and of course, the permanent privilege of money. Everything else from our genes to outer space is made impermanent to the capitalist system’s desire for continual and endless accumulation.

  • I’ve not had various things taking up my time last few days, so I haven’t had a time to read all the comments I missed. Darn, but I will forge ahead with my own comment anyway –

    Daniel, I think I may have been the first to introduce the 400 Chernobyls article here, but I am not sure where I learned of the article so perhaps someone else posted it here and that is how I found it. But realizing that the end of industrial civ meant the nuclear plants all go critical was certainly a game changer. Long before I found NBL I was active on Peak Oil discussion sites and although the end of the grid was often projected there, the consequences for nuclear plants was to my knowledge never projected, mentioned, debated. In fact it still seems to be difficult to introduce this information into people’s thinking. Many on Peak Oil sites were into how to survive in a past Peak Oil world. I presume that the 400 Chernobyls knowledge so changes their world view, that even though they have a dim view of the future they can’t add this to it.

    It has been posited that it would be ethical to work actively to bring down civilization. That would mean accepting the collateral damage of the dieoff for the greater good of a living planet. I doubt anyone has phrased it that way but I fail to see how you cannot. Given that industrial civ is going to collapse anyway speeding it up still seemed good if some of the living planet could be saved. Had it been possible for a few to make that happen, the case could be made that the responsibility for the untimely death of billions would then rest on the shoulders of those who actively work for collapse. (rather than TPTB)

    Now we know that speeding up collapse may be too late to save any of the rest of planetary life and certainly will bring about the 400 Chernobyls event sooner. So how do you make the ethical case to accept speeding up collapse with the attendant collateral damage when nothing changes how it all ends? The only way I think left to make that an ethical case is to count what babies might not be born and accept on your own shoulders the collateral damage for the sake of leaving those unborn, unborn.

    However I also think it is possible that resistance will strengthen the hands of TPTB and give them excuses to open the FEMA camps early. A police state might actually hold on a bit longer.

    It seems that the benefit of resistance has become so narrow that any steps at hastening the collapse of industrial civ are in ethical limbo.

    Meanwhile the underground smouldering event (fire) at St. Louis’ Bridgeton landfill still burns right next to a nuclear EPA superfund site. You can read about the landfill here and how tons of nuclear waste are buried Its rather chilling what they did. Updates on the state of the nearby fire can be found by googling “Bridgeton Landfill fire” Then start pondering how after industrial civ collapses, not only will the nuclear plants melt down, but forest fires will be unchecked to burn over all manner of waste. ETC ETC ETC.

    When humans go extinct their ideas about ethics and morality go with them. It is a terrible place to be in, to be able to see that all options remaining have such terrible consequences. But we can still pat the dog, hug the loved one, find beauty and enjoy it and share it. I don’t know what else to do.

  • @Daniel:
    “Aside from Allan Weisman’s book “The World Without Us”, where back in 2007, he described the nuclear containment pool threat,…..

    If I can trust my memory, awareness of this issue- perhaps minus a few dot-connections- is at least as old as Mckibben’s ‘The end of nature’, first published 1989.

    Impermanence: You know your civilisation is in trouble when it can’t attempt communication without an increasing number of self-contradictory phrases:

    Thawing permafrost?

    Maybe we can just call it “impermafrost” from now on?

  • 180000 days said, “Thawing permafrost? Maybe we can just call it “impermafrost” from now on?”

    I’m seeing it being referred to as ‘permamelt’.

  • Have you checked the Aug. 15 post on Arctic News?


    Letting Tepco “Clean Up” Fukushima Is Like Letting a Murderer Do Brain Surgery On a VIP

  • Privileged white girl, “The Bachelor” contestant, pretty young lady, married to an NBA player, commits suicide.

    One down, 6 billion to go!

    Leading cause of death in America is Heart Disease – just being fat and stupid pretty much, eating garbage from McDonald’s. Slow suicide, expensive suicide…

    The majority of US is committing suicide, knowingly engaging in behaviors that bring on an untimely death – albeit slow and expensive (with the help of the medical community to drag it out as long as possible).

    Industrial Civilization is suicide.

  • With thanks to Vincent Kelley, I’ve posted a new guest essay and a link to an essay of my own. You can catch it all here.

  • 180000days thats right, I remember now the mention about the nukes in The World Without Us but somehow the message didn’t hit home until the Fukushima accident at least with me. Wow, we have these warnings that fall on even our own deaf ears. In fact back a few years ago we had an argument on NBL about the dangers addressed in the book. In fact I supported the book and ended up in a drawn out cat fight with another woman who used to post. Ah the good old days… missed some fantastic hissing and spitting.

    As Dave notes a rather stunning an unsettling blog post at

    If the chart is right, we have moved from not as bad as last year to oh shit territory.

    Meanwhile we are having unseasonably cool and wet weather here in august in the South East US. My pumpkins and field peas are threatening to escape the garden and cover the house, while my melons and tomatoes gave up the ghost some time back. Weather dot com departure from normal map has us between 12 and 19 degrees cooler than normal. Weather weirding, climate chaos, whatever – you can garden in this type of mixup but monocropping I am sure has become a serious headache to the world’s farmers.

  • Vincent Kelley, very interesting essay. I offers a starting point to the necessary analysis required to try to answer the most important questions of all, the purpose of our life.
    I agree with all the analysis, and certainly about the fact that our society´s denial of its impermanence, is the main reason for our self destruction pattern.
    After years of thinking about the “purpose of my life”, I got to very similar conclusions, as I tried to diagnose, and provide a starting point, to state my surrounding reality today.
    But I would disagree about the impermanence of civilization itself, although, to become permanent, the whole thing has to be changed. Let´s put it this way, we have to find the way to be permanent, as a civilization, not as individuals.
    I believe that as nature is permanent as a system, it is impermanent if we see it from the point of view of the life forms that altogether build the system itself (nature, or the earth living ecosystem).
    We as humans, can be in a very way permanent, as civilization, as long as we are able to build a way of living that is totally in equilibrium with nature. Something that today we are very far from.
    Animals, and the rest of living beings have instinct, they are programmed to play their role in the system. We are not programmed, but we have intelligence and the capacity to learn and create. Unfortunately, we have to learn with the trial-error way.

    So, the purpose of our life (as individuals, and as civilization), is to be able to find a way of living that is in perfect equilibrium with the system-earth. That means that every individual of our society has a purpose, to provide (to the rest) their experience gained along their individual lives, to be able, to achieve one day, this very durable way of living. As our life is so short, we can change the system in the long term, and reach perfection, through our descendants. They are the only way to be always better. They are the way to gather the experience that every individual´s life can provide to the purpose of building this fully durable system-society-civilization.

    Within the limits of my reach, as individual, I feel that I have done as much as possible to build this durable civilization, and I will be doing so, as long as I live. I could die today, but I would be satisfied with what I have done so far. There are limits to individuals. I accept that.
    As I said before, I do not fear the reaper.
    But on the other hand, as my life will not be enough, somebody has to continue my efforts, my descendants. That is why I believe that children, are so important.
    We have only a few shots in this way, because at the same time, we cannot grow in number, so two children would be the limit. As in my case.
    With that concept in mind, I have given some basic values to my daughters, that I keep reinforcing, to provide the basic platform that may lead us (as civilization), someday in the future, to this durable and permanent way of living. The possible catastrophic future ahead is no reason to think that a durable civilization cannot be achieved one day. Maybe, the global warming, peak oil and all the other self-destruction signs we are seeing, will provide the way to clean up all this mess, and start over again.
    Hopefully this experience as self destructive civilization won´t be lost.
    We have to make all possible efforts to keep as much of information as possible about our tragedy, as a legacy to our descendants.

  • I have to make a change in my post.
    I made a mistake.
    Please second paragraph to be changed.
    “I agree with all the analysis, and certainly about the fact that our denial of impermanence as individuals, is the main reason for our self destruction pattern.”

  • Kathy Cassandra,

    “….we can still pat the dog, hug the loved one, find beauty and enjoy it and share it. I don’t know what else to do.”

    Keep patting, keep hugging, keep loving and sharing ol’ gel.


  • @Daniel: Thank you, I was in quite a state about this since I read the essay. You have called me to task quite rightly. I expect everyone to have already connected those dots and absorbed the defeat of our current dilemma, which Kathy C expressed so eloquently, as well. Industrial civ continues to drive the mass extinction or we take it down and cause a (probably even worse, but at least as bad) mass extinction. It is silly of me to expect, at this stage of the game, that we do not all have our own cul de sacs of denial … the pain at the implications are so unspeakably overwhelming. I shudder to think what worse implications i am currently denying to protect my reeling self.

    Kathy C wrote, “It is a terrible place to be in, to be able to see that all options remaining have such terrible consequences. But we can still pat the dog, hug the loved one, find beauty and enjoy it and share it. I don’t know what else to do.”

    I concur, and couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you, there are times when I desperately need to be reminded of this. I walk out into my garden, do the permaculture step one, and marvel at all the tomatoes :) … or I listen to my youngest laughing, watch him sleeping …and marvel at his beauty.

    @Badlands AK, I feel your pain, though my situation is quite different. My oldest son is a mostly non-verbal, autistic and has a chronic iron deficiency. there were days in his youth when we often feared for his life and traumatic episodes aplenty, in which we watched his suffering unable to stop it or even be sure we were comforting him. . He is now dependent on psych meds and the internet to stay calm and happy. Though he’s not suffering at present, I have long been terrified of what his future holds – collapse itself would be a disaster for him, and who will care for him when we are gone?

    RE: Suicide. I was suicidal off and on for most of my life, roughly from the age of 10 to 45. This situation we have gotten ourselves and the entire planet into has actually helped me to reject that ‘solution.” I am so damned angry about what we are doing that I am determined to do what i can to ameliorate the decimation…I don’t even care if it’s futile anymore. I want to eat my homegrown squash & fresh herbs. I want to plant for the bees and feed the soil…I want to rage against the machine with love and beautiful, scented flowers. I want to share the bounty with my friends and neighbours. I want to be as kind as I can to people. i want to make art and make love ’til the sun goes down on us all.

    I believe everything in the universe is one being and that any positive contribution we make reverberates, as does the destructive. It is not within my capability or – therefore – my responsibility to evaluate the balance … I just want to do my best to do what’s good and life-affirming and joy-enhancing while I still can. I try to understand what i can control, what i can’t and make peace with reality. Even though reality is really pi$&ing me off these days. :)

    One more thing: @pat, wow was I glad to hear you’re feeling yourself again! Sending a great big cyber hug of fellowship, if you want it.

  • @ Kathy Cassandra:

    the “400 Chernobyls” meme, which is also a blog by Matt Stein at Huff Post on 3 Jan 2011 is seemingly Holy Writ on NBL (NB: I am not currently challenging Matthew Stein’s allegation that at grid-down, nuclear power plants get no further coolant: that is a separate issue. If he says that diesel deliveries to backup generators for cooling will stop, I accept that)

    However UNSCEAR has written that Chernobyl caused ca. 60 immediate deaths among first responders and will cause a predicted 4.5k cases of thyroid cancers, as I recall

    This contrasts with Greepeace having given figures in the hundreds of thousands and 2 senior Russian biologists also giving a figure in the hundreds of thousands in the NY Acad. Of Sciences book. Caldicott, Gundersen and Busby subscribe to the latter figure as far as I know.

    The usual Green-side explanation of this discrepancy between UNSCEAR and NY Acad. is 1. UNSCEAR is a creature of WHO and IAEA and hence an industry shill. 2. Greenpeace is Wisdom. 3. Pediatrician Caldicott keeps on mentioning little babies in many speeches and is thus Wisdom Type II. And Gundersen and Busby sound scientific and impressive. Admirers of these three tend to dismiss their opponents e.g. retired UK radiation biologist Wade Allison as shills, liars, bought and paid for, etc.

    (is it not interesting, by the way, that the difference between the Greenpeace and NY Acad. estimates has somehow been airbrushed by antinukes)

    It occurs to me that if indeed Chernobyl was not as portrayed by the fearful, then Stein’s forecast, assuming 400 Chernobyls, does not lead to huge death numbers. (Before anybody starts screaming, note by comparison the number of deaths per annum from soothing, familiar, visible chemical energy as opposed to spooky invisible radiation, that is, coal and oil pollution for home heating and transport, etc.)

    It is noteworthy that all Caldicott has to say about non-fossil energy to replace nuclear as such is to talk vaguely of “renewables”. Which will explain her outrage and hatred when George Monbiot, honest broker in the cause of stopping global warming by any means, came out finally for nuclear.

    Lastly, check out reviews of what Stein writes, e.g. at Amazon: apparently he says that “speaking a blessing over bad water turns it sweet”. So he is not your typical MIT B. Mech Eng.

    And what might that say about his “400 Chernobyl” meme? I don’t know.

  • Kathy C,

    You seem to be asking a to be or not to be question. It made me think of a saying…something like, “When in doubt, don’t.”

    Aren’t we in this fix because a lot of bold and confident men thought they knew what they were doing and were qualified to act on behalf of the masses? Is individual agency all that effective? One or more individuals can think thoughts in their individual skulls, then act on those thoughts that can affect all life? What makes them so gifted and qualified?

    Is democracy just a word? An abstract concept implying humans’ wishful thinking? Or is democracy based on something that is efficacious at a deeper level? Is democracy just for landed white men, or is also for women? Is it for poor non-white men and women? Is it just for humans, or can other species have democratic rights as well?

    I’ve answered these questions to my own current satisfaction. Humans do too much, taking too many actions that affect a wide web of creation while arrogantly discounting the potential effects of what they don’t know. Nukes are a case in point. In the Last Cheater’s Waltz, Ellen Melloy mentions the *exclusive* maleness of the ground zero personnel in nuclear test sites that she visited.

    In contrast to the privileged white males who know just what to do and how to do it are the lesser types–women, Natives, animals–who are unimaginative and un-enterprising, without drive. Possibly, not too bright either. These beings would not or could not have invented nukes. So could it be advantageous to be “unintelligent” and lacking in enterprise?

    As you continue to say, what if we just hug the dog and treat people nice? But also, what if we don’t try to fix the planet? Unless we conclude (or need to devote unaffordable time to find the proof) that Earth is a lump of atoms, and there is no such thing as Gaia, then isn’t the planet and its life forms capable of contributing to a best case scenario all by itself?

    I’m not trying to say that humans don’t have important choices to make. But in the case of ending IC, when the ramifications are so complex and unknown, could it be best to do nothing?

  • Rickover, Chernobyl was contained. A sarcophagus was built. It took 500,000 humans to contain Chernobyl. Please watch The Battle for Chernobyl and the come back and tell me if 427 unconstrained meltdowns would be like 427 actual Chernobyls. At one point about midway in the film a high official said that if the core hit groundwater Russian cities would be gone, half of Europe would be disaster zone (as I recall, the words might be somewhat different but it conveys the sense of looming diaster they felt). Chernobyl’s sarcophagus is leaking and the new one not built. After the grid goes down absoulutely nothing will be able to be done to contain the melt downs.

    Also both the west and Russia had interests in covering up the disaster – Russia’s was obvious, ours to protect our own nuclear industry from fear by the populace. It was far worse than we knew….Do watch the clip all 90 mins. It will educate you.

  • My post is trivial, but somehow on topic with both impermanence and nukes:

    Don and Kathy Cassandra

    Just eighteen thousand days for me, thanks. Well… you know.. eighteen thousand and counting- not yet nineteen thousand. I’m about as old as the Cuban missile crisis, but the extra 162,000 days you’ve both supplied me with by adding a cipher to my name are about enough to make me a contemporary of Anne of the thousand days. Just like it says in the masthead at the top of the page, my days are numbered.. :)

  • Good morning everyone.

    Carolyn Baker interviews Gary Stamper on Mike Rupert’s The Lifeboat Hour (over on Seemorerocks):

    This interview touches on a lot of the things Artleads (and others) has brought up. It has it’s clarifying moments. Worth the listen.

  • Also from Stamper (from his own site, collapsing into consciousness sited on the above blogpost)

    At the Very Least, Your Days of Eating Pacific Ocean Fish Are Over

    by Gary Stamper