Coping Skills

by Doug Fasching


I am not about to even attempt to dispute the information that is contained in the Nature Bats Last website, nor would I dare to dispute the scientifically derived conclusions. I am an armchair scientist at best and I must trust the conclusions of people that have spent a lifetime studying these things. I have done the best I can to fact check what I could and cross-reference the opinions of others in the field. I am content that Dr. McPherson has presented the facts as accurately as can be, given our current state of knowledge.

What I would like to communicate is my journey to my current state of mind. I am curious where I fit compared to the experiences of the other readers of this site and related materials.

The dream of technology and the reality

I was born in 1966 and when I was little, the most sophisticated technology visible in my environment was a 25″ black and white TV and a 10 transistor radio. My father was still going to college when I was around five and his head was filled with ideas of the modern world that he got from school tempered with the opinions of his friends outside of school who tended to be social dropouts, also known broadly as “hippies”.

At that age I spent very little time indoors and in fact hated to be inside for very long. This used to be normal and not like the experiences of the kids of the current youth generation who go by many names although I think of them as the “X-Box Kids”. Those who have never been without the Internet, had their first cellphone at the age of twelve and have been raised on a steady diet of jaded, cynical commentary mixed with a large dose of simulated violence.

Once a week without fail my father would drag me into the house, set me in front of the TV and make me watch an episode of Star Trek. At that age I barely understood any of what the show was about but I knew it was important to my dad. When my attention would drift to something more interesting outside he would fuss at me to pay attention to the TV. He would say “Pay close attention to this, this is your future”. Eventually it made an impression on me and set the course of my life.

Science Fiction became such a powerful vision of hope and wonder during the 1970’s and 1980’s. The previous generation believed in the idea of “Better Living Through Chemistry” but I would say that mine was fully immersed in the idea of “Better Living Through Technology”. With technology anything was possible. With technology we would finally tame the darker sides of our nature and reach our amazing potential.

I fell for it hook, line and sinker. I took computer programming in high school. I joined the Air Force and learned how to repair all kinds of computer equipment. I actually used to replace hard drive heads when disk drives had 15″ platters and the heads were the size of quarters. I was 18 years old, enlisted, working at NORAD and assigned to the 1st U.S. Space Command. It sounds incredible put like that, especially for a kid who was from a small lumber town in northeastern Washington State who had never been to college. In reality it was rather mundane and somewhat disappointing.

Mostly though, I thought it was cool, even though I was working on equipment that was as old as I was and I didn’t get to see much “space” from inside the cave that was Cheyenne Mountain. Even though NORAD was more cold war museum than “Command Post”. Even though it had the odd feel of a somewhat cobbled together movie set rather than a functioning technology center. You still felt that you were plugged into something big and that fantastical things were happening behind locked doors in areas you didn’t have clearance to be in but were just a corridor away from you.

I was young and naive then and Russia was still the USSR and the cold war still felt very real. Even though much of the stuff that I was surrounded by was outdated almost to the point of irrelevance it still retained much of it’s shine sense of the space age. My barracks was near the flight line in Colorado Springs and the occasional SR71 would take off and land. An awesome piece of machinery even as old as it was. You could not be in that environment and not feel the sense of awesome power and technological ability of our country. Even if all the stuff was getting a bit old.

Working where I did and in that time when personal computing was starting to be mainstream I really felt connected to a lightning bolt. The world was becoming science fiction and I was in the middle of it. I imagine that it was the closest thing to feeling like a sorcerer controlling a potentially unlimited power.

The possibility that the future as promised by technology could be anything other than brilliant was inconceivable. The Internet was still about eight years away from public use and cellphones would not become popular for ten years.

Slow learner

In 1988 I got out of the service and landed a job with a defense contractor and started working for several Navy bases in Southern California. Because I was working for the government I had access to computer technology that was rather new and exotic. A lot of stuff that only multi-billion dollar companies or research institutions had access to. I was installing routers years before most people heard the name “Cisco” and was tinkering on the Internet when it was still known as “MILNET / ARPANET” and before the first web browser was written.

It was still all very cool but I was beginning to notice however slowly that something was not quite right. Even then, technology changed so fast that we were no sooner finished installing one amazing piece of technology before a new better technology came out and we had to remove and replace it. It all changed too fast to really be much use, but boy it sure wasted taxpayer money and filled up landfills.

One place that I worked had spent 10 years and millions of dollars to build this killer mainframe computer called a Unisys 1100/90. It must have occupied a room 50′ by 150′. It had hard drives that were the size of washing machines and a bank of 12 tape drives to feed the thing data. In 1988 with all four processors running it was capable of almost 10 Million instructions per second. Around mid 1989 Intel announced the 80486 cpu chip, the size of your fingernail and capable of 11 Million instructions per second. Today the CPU that runs your smartphone runs around 515 Million instructions per second.

it was around this time that I realized that much of the work in the world of technology was just a treadmill. Just doing the same old thing but slightly different, a little faster and a little smaller. In many ways technology does little more that generate it’s own reason to exist.

Another thing that I began to notice was that the promise of technology was a little skewed. At that time the big lie was that technology reduced drudgery, freeing people up to be more creative and have more leisure time. It was even projected that most people would have to get used to a 4 day work week because of all the time freed up (Your pay would stay the same though).

As wonderful as this all sounded I couldn’t help but notice that every time I came in and installed a new computer network and PC’s in an office, within a few months people started losing their jobs. Typically one PC added to an office of four people eliminated one job. Funny though, it didn’t really seem to eliminate the amount of work, it just kind of shifted it to the remaining people.

I also couldn’t help noticing that people were working longer hours, were more frustrated and felt more incompetent because so much of their time was spent struggling with the computer rather than actually doing productive work. It was also the same time that I started noticing that I was typically working 52 hour work weeks, getting paid for 40 and working at least one weekend a month. Just to feed the beast of technology that must constantly be upgraded.

When your dream becomes a Nightmare

My career in Information Technology has now spanned 31 years. During that time I have seen computer technology go from something that cost over 12 million Dollars, would fill four average houses and employ 15 people to keep running; to something that cost less than $600.00 fits in your pocket and is at least two orders of magnitude more powerful. Also un-repairable, disposable and obsolete six months after it is purchased.

I have seen the next greatest thing become Who? So many times I have long since lost count. I have spent months digesting three inch thick books on the latest technology trend only to have it replaced with something else six months later, that I am now in the position where I have forgotten more things than I currently know. What is left in my head amounts to half-remembered trivia and skills that are about as in demand as horseshoeing.

Things now move so fast, there is no point in even buying the manual anymore. It is obsolete before it is printed. These days my only qualification for doing my job is that I am capable of “Googleing” the answer and following the instructions. There are no skills anymore; you never have time to develop them before they are rendered useless. Do you think this makes people feel better about themselves?

During my career I have seen the world become a dark and nasty place. Now everyone works long hours and is not paid for it. Now thanks to technology you are never away from the office. God help you if you don’t check your company email every 10 minutes, even on a Sunday.

Now thanks to technology your job can be done 5000 miles away for 1/6 the cost. Now thanks to technology nothing you do or say is private. Now thanks to technology no one is safe and no one is indispensable. Not even me or techies like me as it turns out. At current estimates I am making about 40% less now than I was making in 2000 for a job that is twice as hard. Unfortunately most people no matter what career you are in, seem to be in the same position.

In this world, what has value when everything is obsolete in six months or less? Technology didn’t elevate us to higher levels, it became our master and turned us into “Meat-Puppets”. I guarantee you that all too soon technology will make that obsolete as well. It’s not that far in the future that McDonalds will be almost completely automated. Then what will you do for a living? Even better, who will buy the products when you can’t gain employment anymore?

When I was young I was taught that technology was built to serve human needs. I don’t see how that is true today, if it ever was true. We serve it, or the people behind it. Technology allows a smaller number of elites to manage / control a larger group more efficiently. It is only a matter of time before that means of control either becomes ineffective or the objects of the control become unnecessary. Neither outcome paints a pretty picture.

May whatever Gods you believe in protect you from the day that Google finally turns evil. Hitler, Stalin and Mao could not dream in their wildest imaginings the power that one company is about to have over the population of the globe. If knowledge is power and Google is the gatekeeper of all knowledge and tracker of all who access it, then the potential for abuse is unprecedented.

I have been so stupid. I have fed the machine that has helped us destroy the world. All the good I thought I was doing was made evil. All my wonderful dreams turned into nightmares. Technology as a tool for liberation has become yet another mechanism of control.

Einstein was credited as saying after the first Nuclear bomb test “If I had known what they were going to do this, I would have become a shoemaker” I now understand. I wonder how may other “techies” feel the same way.

What is all of that wonderful technology used for? Spam, Viruses, Useless Facebook and Twitter posts and lots LOTS of porn with a few LOL Cats videos thrown in. Tell me the human condition is improved by this. We have over-valued the technology and cheapened people.

There is always a way

I am an optimist at heart. I know this is a surprise to hear for most people that talk to me for a few minutes. I have been called the Anti-Tony-Robbins, the de-motivational speaker and I do not shrink from that title.

I like to explain to people that world that they live in, as I see it. I can understand that people would get depressed by this but my message and my belief has always been that humans always do the right thing in the end.

Yes the vision of the future turned from “Star Trek” to “Terminator” and Mad Max”. Yes our creation has turned against us. Yes our strengths have become weaknesses. Yes civilization will collapse. But….

In the final darkest hour
When the world does shrink and cower
Will come a glimmer from the west
What was our finest, what was our best?
And in that moment we will see, what we were once and might still be
With our last courage and our last might
Beat back the darkness and embrace the light.
If only …

Isn’t that what all the really good movies tell us? Then it’s over. You get up, dust off the popcorn crumbs and stumble down the stairs to glaring harsh light and a dull, mediocre life that would make Faust weep.

The world has become bent and mutilated. The technology that I spent a lifetime on helped make it happen. It made everything and everyone obsolete and neurotic. Then it turned on me and the people like me. What were lives, communities, societies are now like matches. Strike once and discard 5 seconds later. This was not the dream I was sold. I want my money back.

I spent the last two years reading, viewing, listening to everything I could get my hands on, looking for an answer. There has to be an answer right? That’s what 31 years of my career taught me right? It’s in one of these books, one of these diagrams. I just need to read it and understand it properly, then I can flip the right combination of switches, enter the right code and everything will be fine, right?

I learned about fractional reserve banking and fiat currency
I learned about Modern Money Theory from L. Randal Wray
I learned about Credit Default Swaps
I learned about Global Non Governmental Organizations
I learned about the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group
I learned about The Heritage Foundation and many others like them
I learned about 9/11 conspiracies, FEMA Camps and agenda 21
I learned about Capitalism from Thomas Friedman and Nial Ferguson
I learned about Socialism and Communism from Richard D. Wolff
I learned about Participatory Economics (Parecon) from Michael Albert
I learned about Anarchy from John Zerzan and Scott Nearing
I learned about libertarianism from Ludwig Von Mises
I learned about peak oil / collapse from Michael C. Rupert and Richard Heinberg
I learned about education from the RSA, Alfie Kohn and Bunker Roy
I learned about non-violence from Gene Sharp
I learned about economic hit-men from John Perkins
I learned about tecno-utopianism from Ray Kurzweil
I learned about our better nature from Steven Pinker
I learned about God from Christopher Hitchens
I learned about spirituality from Joseph Campbell
I learned about food Inc. from Robert Kenner
I learned about the esoteric agenda from Ben Stewart
I learned about sustainability from Matthew Stein and Nicole Foss
I learned about spaceship earth from Buckminster Fuller
I learned about the future by design from Jacque Fresco
I learned about Zeitgeist, RBE from Peter Joseph
I learned how to be a progressive from Gary Null
I learned about how to be a good human from Wavy Gravy

This list is less than 1/10th of all the things I read, listened to and watched. The more I was exposed to the more I understood. The more I understood the more confused I became. All these people / institutes / philosophies were very clever. Which ones were right? One? Some? None?? The more you know, the less you understand. “Through a scanner darkly”. It is unwise to dig too hard for the truth. Eventually you will discover that there is nothing that is absolutely true, leaving the tatters of your sanity lying at your feet.

Then I came across Guy McPherson and it finally started to make some sense for me. It was not the technology, philosophy or scientific method. It was not the economic theory, political viewpoint or religious upbringing. The problem is us. The problem has always been us. The great human flaw. If it is us that is the source of the problem is it the absence of us that is the final solution?

It is not the earth that is terminal it is us. Our technology and our environment has changed faster than we did. When we talk about terminating the current set of living arrangements what we really are talking about is terminating this particular human / social experiment in favor of ??? This is the fire in which we burn.

The future is certain

Like Guy McPherson I set off on a path of sustainability before I had all the facts. Where his research led him to an Agrarian Anarchist existence in a shared piece of land in the southwest my research led me to the sea.

I live in Los Angeles. The county has over 10 million people. It has a nuclear power plant on both the northern and southern boundaries. It is surrounded on three sides by desert or near desert and one side by ocean. There are roughly four major highways in and out of the metro area. Almost all food, water and electricity is trucked in from a substantial distance. There is less than a three day supply of food in the metro area. Without electricity there is almost no usable surface water to drink. In case of an emergency evacuation the only places that could manage a sizable influx of refugees would be San Diego, Las Vegas, Phoenix and San Francisco which are several hours away and would likely suffer the same problems that Los Angeles would be having at the same time.

it made sense to me that if there was a problem everyone would hit the nearest road out of town causing a massive traffic jam and it would be impossible for me to escape. The escape destinations didn’t look so great either. Want to consider walking across 330 miles of the Mojave Desert with a backpack to get to Las Vegas that has no local food supply?

A sailboat made perfect sense. Doesn’t require fuel. Self contained, less than 40 miles from where I am located. In the opposite direction that everyone else would be traveling. Access to the entire world and completely mobile to avoid any emerging catastrophe.

Sounds smart right? A few problems. Cost, Ridiculous. Skill level, daunting. Not as self contained as you would think, completely at the mercy of local food / water supplies. Final problem; completely at the mercy of the most dangerous and unpredictable environment and weather system on this planet, at a time when the weather and environment goes into hyper-unpredictable mode.

I spent twelve months and $30,000.00 on my sailing-to-safety plan and I have nothing to show for it. Just slightly more expensive than the $2,500.00 I spent previously on survival gear before I realized that I can’t walk across 330 miles of desert with no water and a 65-pound backpack.

The real surprise for me was not nature or technical issues. The largest problem is people. This day and age I don’t believe you can get more than two people to commit to a course of action. Too many agendas. Too much misunderstanding. Too much ego to protect. With everyone trying to be right all the time and optimize their options you can pretty much forget mutual-benefit survival. We don’t play Win / Win anymore. The only game we know how to play is Zero Sum and the only option you have to exercise is to be winner or loser.

As I would later find out from Dr. McPherson. It didn’t matter if I was more successful or not. There is no place far enough I could sail to where I would be safe. I could buy maybe a little more time but more likely the storms would get me before I could find a safe harbor anyway.

I thought I was smart enough to escape my fate. I am afraid that my fate is larger than I am. There is nowhere for me to run and nowhere to hide from the future that I helped create. Every attempt at “Doomsday-Prepping” amounts to little more than a form of masturbation. I feel a bit foolish for being “caught in the act”, as it were.

What do you do in the meantime

So here is the problem from end to end. The world that I thought I knew never existed and has turned on us all.

Nothing I do will change my fate in the slightest yet as a living being I have a survival instinct that compels me to do something and not just wait for the inevitable.

The only reasonable thing to do is to try and enjoy what time I have left and that is the one thing I cannot do. How well do you suppose a death-row inmate sleeps the night before his execution? You and I are in the same situation, but we have years to go yet.

How do you come to terms with it all? How do you accept your fate and be happy?

When nothing really matters anymore how do you get up, go to work, raise your kids, pay your taxes?

When the world has gone insane, is trying to maintain some sense of sanity the right course of action?

What lies must you tell yourself in order to get up in the morning yet one more time?

And Yet

That is the point isn’t it? We are a species unlike any other we know of. We exist only partially in the real world. Mostly we exist in our own heads. Not what is, but how we envision it to be. We live in a world of context, symbols, reinterpretation and will.

The world doesn’t run on oil, the world runs on myth, fairy tales, little white lies and not so little white lies. This is why we are in the situation we are in now. Our myths so far have brought us to the brink of extinction and if we take away the myth we will collapse all the same.

Even though I know that it is too late, I cannot escape the “hopium”. I am still desperately searching for the new myth that will make everything ok again. It happened once with the fall of Rome and the myth of Christianity which carried us through some very dark times.

Am I a fool because I cannot stop from hoping one last time? Honestly, aren’t you doing the same thing?


Doug Fasching is a 46-year-old computer systems integrator and networking specialist with over 30 years experience in the field. He is an entrepreneur with eight business startups under his belt (all failures due to his belief in honesty and fairness, which is not a realistic goal in a capitalist economy).

Doug has been enlisted in the U.S. Air Force working at NORAD, has been a defense contractor working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Fallbrook Naval Weapons Station, Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station, General Dynamics Pomona, Scott Air Force Base IL, Clear Air Force Station AK, Thule Air Base Greenland and Fylingdales RAFB Whitby UK. In private industry he has worked at Scientific Atlanta / CISCO in Georgia.

Doug is an avid lifelong learner having attended six colleges over the last 27 years and is still about two years away from graduating despite having obtained about 212 unit credits with a “B” or better (thank you transfer credit restriction policies and changing majors). He also has several industry certifications including A+, CCNA and MCSE.

Privately Doug is an amateur sociologist, economist, environmentalist, futurist, survivalist and (bad) scientist. He is a dedicated believer in the writer Douglas Adams theory that the universe is just an elaborate cruel joke perpetrated by a malicious entity and that it will collapse if anyone chances to figure it out.

Doug is currently obsessed with attempting not to die prematurely due to catastrophic stupidity (either his own, or everyone else’s). His life’s motto is “Don’t Die Stupid!” (Yes, it has a double meaning). He currently resides in Los Angeles, which he lovingly refers to as “Ground Zero.” His parents live in Tucson, referred to as “Ground Negative One.”


I’ve on a few requests for your comments in this space: be kind, raise hell, and limit comments to one or two daily. Also please note that this is a secular zone. Let’s avoid the distraction of religion (cf. spirituality).


McPherson’s latest essay for the Good Men Project was posted today. It’s here.

Until recently, this site was being viewed about two thousand times daily. Two-thirds of the visits were unique (vs. repeat “customers”). Recently, however, site visits have soared, and now range from four thousand to six thousand daily visits.

Comments 159

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #29

    Birds fall dead to earth.
    Heat-stressed trees drop early nuts
    buried by squirrels.

  • I am reminded of a poem by Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night. Perhaps the poem could be nominated as a shibboleth for humanity in our time. It certainly presents us with one way of coping.

  • Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night
    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
    Because their words had forked no lightning they
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
    Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
    And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
    Do not go gentle into that good night.

    Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
    Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    And you, my father, there on that sad height,
    Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
    Do not go gentle into that good night.
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Dylan Thomas

  • I’ve always loved that poem, since the day I first saw it in high school long ago….

    To answer the coping question though, about how to keep getting up, loss of [i]hopium[/i], etc. I think its a question of expectations. All through this technological era, we’ve fed ourselves this story that we are different than other animals, special, unique, or amazing. But we’re not. We’re just another omnivore with slightly odd predator skills. Its ok that we’ve lived and will die, its ok that humans will come to an end, its even ok that our existence causes the next/current extinction event to let a new set of animals and plants have their run.

    I expect nothing more than the wolf. I expect to breathe and eat, to nuzzle my partner and bump shoulders with a friend or two; I expect to care for my child and see her come into her own, and I expect to die.

    Why do I need to buy into the magical fantasy of ET and the Jetson’s in order to live and die well? Isn’t it enough that I wake knowing my child has some food in the fridge and packmates to run around with (OUTSIDE!!!) during the day?

  • Thanks, Doug.
    I am able to relate to your post better than any other I have read…here and elsewhere.
    “It is unwise to dig too hard for the truth. Eventually you will discover that there is nothing that is absolutely true, leaving the tatters of your sanity lying at your feet.”
    Thank you for taking the time and energy to share your thoughts – it helps poor souls like me feel a bit less lonely about our situation.


  • This is the best, most resonant piece I have read here – or maybe anywhere else – in years. My hat is off to you, Doug. You roped it, hog-tied it and raised it to the rafters. Powerful, coherent insights, in clean, deeply personal prose. Utterly magnificent!

    Which of course simply means that see the world the same way, and wish I could right about it that well.

    I guess part of it comes from an uncanny similarity in life stories. I was one of the hippies of your parents’ generation, born in 1950 to a pair of scientists. I bought into the Sputnik/Star Trek view of the future hook, line and sinker, through a 1960’s mix of acid, amateur rocketry and Zen.

    I went back to university for a comp sci degree, and in 1983 moved to “Silicon Valley North” in Ottawa to begin working in datacomm. First doing modem and dataset software on digital PBXes, then developing firmware for one of the world’s first hardware-only Ethernet switches. I rode the wave right to the top of the bubble, than got spit out on the rocks in the tech wreck. Along the way I saw much of what you describe in terms of the disconnect between the promise of technology and its actual impact on peoples’ lives.

    Eventually, those who notice that disconnect begin to ask what’s really going on here. And then the rabbit-hole opens unceremoniously under our feet. Mine led me to recently write about humans as endosymbiotic control elements within the cybernetic exoskeleton of techno-industrial civilization, in almost the same terms you use. Studying the Second Law of Thermodynamics, self-organizing systems and evolutionary psychology has led me to some profoundly disturbing conclusions about the nature of our shared reality. My attempt to map that Gulf of Disconnection has served to clarify just how wide it is.

    In the end, I’ve had to come to terms with being who I am, where I am. I now recognize and accept the impotence of wishing things were otherwise – my own Self included.

    I want to acknowledge you for what you’ve brought to this table. It feels like finally someone spoke to me in words I understand.


  • Doug – great personal reflection! But, I don’t think it is us that’s the problem, or the myths we necessarily tell ourselves. I have an idea that it is more the current myth (‘the Dream’) that was born of hyper-rationality, the rule of law (social and scientific), the emergence of hierarchy, and the drive for progress and acquisition. And, it all began with the origin of the city on the heels of agriculture, and the availability of excess food stores and ‘property.’ IMHO. It is now embedded in our global consciousness as the ‘preconscious’ (and thus, largely unquestioned) Curriculum of the West. sandy

  • Well Doug. First off. I am madly in love with what you have shared. I hope Guy has the wits to pause the machine here long enough for us all to wring every last drop of value from what you have shared. So beautifully nakedly honest and yes count me in to this conundrum. Also this can be the new myth that makes everything ok again. As ok as it could ever be.

    Love is the key and in spite of all we have been force fed to believe, love carried us all as far as we have come and it is not, I believe, an excess of civilization but a decrease in love as civility that is dooming us. When love reemerges from this mess, if ever, as our compass and so will, we will do amazing things together, and with love all things are possible.

    We are all still here thanks to love, and will remain only, thanks to love.

  • Terrific article Doug! It will be with me for a long while. I wonder if we may have crossed paths at some point. In the early 1980’s, I taught at the ‘Zoo’ and flew out of Pete Field and the academy airfield.

    You brought up things I haven’t thought about in many years. I’m almost 61 now (a later 1952 model) and can still remember GE’s animated spokesman, ‘Reddy Kilowatt’, inviting us all to “Live Better Electrically”. With nuclear energy in our future, it was thought that electricity would become too cheap to meter. Little did we know then what price we would all be paying today – in the very near term.

    In your essay you ask where you fit in compared to the rest of us. Of course, I can only speak for myself, but I would say that you are spot on in reaching the very same conclusions I have – right down to the sailboat. While I don’t expect to survive on open water, I would rather reach my ‘bitter end’ doing what it is I love to do than die through predation at the hands of marauding masses. If I carry any ‘hopium’ at all, it would be that NTE won’t get to me before natural causes do. At age 61 it could go either way. A difficult thing for me is that I am alone in my anxiety over NTE. My friends, acquaintances and even my lady are starting to believe that I’m losing it. She is still very deep in her denial of it, probably because Empire has been so good to her. The topic doesn’t come up anymore.

    Consider bringing your boat to the rural shores of the Lake Michigan (just north of Milwaukee). So far we still have plenty of water. The move could buy you a little more time.


  • Hey Doug, great job! Many of us followed a similar trajectory with possibly different starting points (whether from the sorry state of the economy and all the fraud or from the sorry state of the environment and all the pollution), but all roads seem to lead to NTE via NBL.

    @ Steven: our mascot here at NBL could be (a recently released football player named) Elvis Dumervil (that’s right, it’s pronounced doomerville – fitting, eh?)!

    This week’s podcast features the testimonies of people living near the Three Mile Island nuclear plant at the time of the accident in 1979. Unlike most of our podcasts which feature scientists and other nuclear experts, today you will be hearing from ordinary citizens who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. These powerful testimonies are available in the NRC archives, but buried under thousands of other documents they rarely see the light of day. If a tree falls in the forest and nobody hears it, did it make a sound? If somebody signs a non-disclosure agreement, were they ever officially harmed? Today we challenge the misconception that nobody was hurt in the Three Mile Island accident, because history is repeating itself at Fukushima Daiichi.

    On the last thread there were reports that this disaster will produce only minimal problems from the radiation due to it being diluted by the Pacific Ocean. Recall that with radiation there is a “latency period” between exposure and “problems.”

    I highly doubt these reports, despite the “reasoning” used to obtain the results. We must realize that the radiation will have immediate effects on whatever living organisms come into contact with it – be it in the ocean, in the air, or on the ground. We’re practically guaranteed an increase in cancers of all kinds, mutations and outright death due to proximity, spread, concentration and type of radiation distributed about the globe in the near future and continuing indefinitely, just from Fukushima.

    But remember – it isn’t JUST Fukushima, it’s
    (TMI + Chernobyl) + Fukushima + Hanford + . . . + San Onofre PLUS all the other sources of this scourge of an energy source (medical waste, “depleted” munitions, and more) – it all ADDS UP to devastation on the cellular level in any exposed living thing!

    Do you seriously believe food crops won’t be effected, that avian, marine and wildlife won’t be harmed? Farmers are already having a hard enough time with drought and flooding, heat and cold, hail and storms, pests and superweeds (thanks to Monsanto) and now they have to deal with radiation too! Nice try growing anything and finding any uncontaminated fish in the near future.

    “[We’re] fighting a dragon we cannot see.”

    rant over

  • Doug,

    Indeed a good article. I was born in November 1965, although I don’t have your technical background. I do remember thinking in 1980 that all those solar cars in the year 2000 would be really cool.

  • I too was born in 1966. While I don’t idealize the times in which I went through my childhood, I do have the same emotional landmarks.
    But one think that made me take a different course in all this intellectually, is 1) I never adopted the precept that human is separate from natural…we are not aliens dropped here on earth and not everything we do is therefore unnatural. 2) technology is not separate from man, it is an expression of man and todays technology is nothing more than a more complex form of the first tool used by man to accomplish the same aim—namely to modify the environment to serve mans purposes.
    The fact that we have become enslaved by technology is not new….we were enslaved by it when we became agronomists 10,000 years ago. Our entire lives changes and we began dying of different diseases….
    And lastly, the last part of this essay, about the difficulty to accept the reality of ones mortality. And that ones mortality just happens to coincide with the human race running its inevitable course. I don’t understand how anyone alive now and past the age of 40 can have such difficulty with accepting the reality of an impeding end to life as they know it on this planet is just around the bend. Because your own death looms much larger than this at that age. And I think that is the root of the middle aged angst over this issue…fear of death…their own death.
    I understand how a young person such as my own children would have difficulty…hell I struggle how to help them think this through because there is no answer and my own guilt for bringing them into this world out of my own ignorance is overwhelming.
    But the middle aged and older….its time to start fostering a bit of healthy detachment. And start clinging to the real meaning to life, that is right in front of our collective noses, every single day, waiting to be noticed. An excellent video about this precise issue and process can be seen on youtube: The Meaning of Death – Stephen Jenkinson

  • “The real surprise for me was not nature or technical issues. The largest problem is people. This day and age I don’t believe you can get more than two people to commit to a course of action. Too many agendas. Too much misunderstanding. Too much ego to protect. With everyone trying to be right all the time and optimize their options you can pretty much forget mutual-benefit survival. We don’t play Win / Win anymore. The only game we know how to play is Zero Sum and the only option you have to exercise is to be winner or loser.” –Doug Fasching

    I focus on this paragraph the most. People are the problem, not in numbers, but in the way we view ourselves, each other, and choose to conduct our businesses under the cultural assumptions that we choose to perpetuate.

    I do think that, if we haven’t already passed a point of no return, theoretically there are ways out of many, if not all of our problems, but it requires a rapid revamp of pretty much every human-made system from the top down, that it seem unreasonable to assume this could be done in time, at least while salvaging the majority of people.

    I think that part of the problem is the perception of lack, and an unquestionable acceptance of the way things are, “that’s just reality”. For instance, thinking that we are “overpopulated” as related to food production capacity and current consumption habits is folly, because we could easily change our consumptions to keep us healthy, and feed the whole world cheaply, theoretically. Though this requires a vegan, or vastly reduced consumption of meat, at the least.

    The problem is that the ones who wield the most influence in the culture are tied into the way things are currently flowing. The average individual feels powerless, and won’t go along with the eccentrics and start trends, unless it’s a mere fad, and then it’ll get co-opted by the corporate conglomerates eventually.

    There are too many people who simply can’t put more than a few pieces together, and too few people in a position of power, who have the ability to put a stop to our current direction. They try, and the system will be used against them by powerful players they’re going up against. Either that, or it’s nasty in an illegal way.

    So I can’t really blame, “people”, rather I can say this seems to be a consequence of allowing our system to become so systemically corrupted for too long of a time period. After enough pathology is introduced into the social structure, it drips down into the culture, and the pathology becomes normalized, and attempts for eccentrics to fight against the corrupt system becomes codified as a disorder of some sort.

    I could write on this stuff forever, as I’m sure many here could. Guess my point is that, we can choose to focus on many different points as a root cause, and come up with a bunch of surrounding context to support our position, but the truth seems to be that this is far too complex of a situation to boil down into any one thing, and that right there, is perhaps the real root. Uncertainty and an inability to focus in the face of multiple, highly-complex problems, simultaneously occurring.

    That leads us back to doug’s assertion that no three people see the situation the same, and will willingly follow the same path for mutual benefit. A billion divisions within this whole.

  • Do not search for the truth
    Cease to cherish opinions

  • apropos of nothing other than I wonder if I hallucinated the article which was said to be a commiseration with all of us who accept NTE- has been removed. Did I dream that the article existed? Just wondering. Any information about that would be appreciated. Thanks.

  • Thank you Doug for that reflection. I hear ya. Might I suggest memorizing and reciting Longfellow’s “Psalm of LIfe,” or similar, as often as necessary. We are not the first to experience these emotions. Only the first to blog about them. Take care.

  • Beautifully written.
    I’ve felt similarly about all the techno bunk supposedly making our world better.
    I remember when kids used to play outside…. sigh…

    Btw, I’m a huge sci fi fan. I’m also a tree hugger… Inner conflict occurs.

    Yes, there is no escape from our self inflicted demise.
    Yes, we are the problem. We forgot we were fragile beings, with soft flesh, tender hearts, and easily twisted minds. We evolved this way for a reason, because being tender to each other actually helped us survive better! We may not have lived as long, but we lived better when we lived closer, more sensuous lives. We knew our mortality intimately!

    A few of us thought we were made of steel, claws, fangs, scales, that we could do anything to our home (and bodies) without consequences. They wrecked the Earth, our health, and our future. Even now I hear people wax poetic at how technology will save us even when there is no habitat to grow food, or air to breath, or animals to share the Earth with. As if we can survive without each other? It’s called a web of life for a reason.

    I too, like yourself, fall back on hopium in my weakest moments.
    I’ve had many weak moments lately (triggered by three kids) so it’s sweet to hope that some unexpected miracle will save us:
    1. Mama Earth will know who really loves Her and spare us?
    2. It’s really not going to be all THAT terrible?
    3. Some of the nuclear plants will be decommissioned in time? etc…

    But nothing saved the dinosaurs and it took them nearly 80,000 years to die out.
    They had every chance to “adapt” to the climate changes.
    We won’t get that “lucky” .
    But at least we have each other here in our little “NTE, Tribe” 🙂
    Small comfort, that, but comfort it is.
    And you can always trust Guy to tell the truth, no matter how painful. He’s the real deal.

  • I have an advantage over you that brings me some peace of mind: When you were born I had already been a working computer programmer for three years. I’m already retired, and even in the best of times I could optimistically look forward to another 20 years of lifespan.

    Due to these circumstances there’s a reasonably good chance that I will die of natural causes before complete disaster strikes down the rest of the human race. That being the case, and knowing that nothing I can do, personally, will make any difference globally, I can pretty much continue my business as usual routine of gardening and reading and appreciating the beauty of existence.

    I arrived at this rather defeatist point of view by a long and circuitous path that included all sorts of “survivalist” explorations (including the sea-gypsy approach you mentioned). What I’ve finally settled on as my survival strategy is to get at nearly self-sufficient as I can and just accept the universal fact of impermanence. Things fall apart. They always have and always will. If things crash more quickly than my body wears out, and I survive long enough to witness “the end”, then at least I’ll get to watch one hell of a show!

    (Of course, if reincarnation turns out to be for real then we souls will all have to find another planet to rape and pillage!)

  • @pauline

    “But nothing saved the dinosaurs and it took them nearly 80,000 years to die out.
    They had every chance to “adapt” to the climate changes.
    We won’t get that “lucky” .”

    If we have just 50-100 years before IC crashes, I’d say there’s a very good chance we’d find a way. Even if it meant launching off to a “new earth”. Another option that isn’t too far out of the question, is “adapting” alongside technology. Transhumanism to whatever degree.

    I don’t think this is “hopium”, it’s simply entertaining notions which are outside of the lines of thinking NTE is set in stone. If I’m wrong, what does it matter?

    2nd post of the day, so off for a bike ride and pick-nick.

  • Mr. Fasching, you have spent considerable time learning from others, first by your father encouraging you as a young man to tune into the Hollywood/Star Trek version of reality, then through the severe and strict machine of the military apparatus, then on to a litany of who’s who in the academic/science/dystopia world of the early 21st Century.

    Unfortunately, you have not yet come close to experiencing your own death; if you had you would have also experienced yourself as an eternal being living in the eternal now.

    You paid a big price for not remaining outside, as a child and as a youth, immersed in nature. Instead you were steered by your father into a mostly artificial environment and have remained there through the various stages of your development. Lacking magic, void of nature and natural forms, only the desolate interiors of a technology prison with everything really important through that other door and down that other corridor.

    I feel for you, I really do. But you lost. Not forever (see eternity, above), and not everything. But what you have not lost you need to let go of – immediately, namely your fear and subsequent confusion about future and purpose. The fact that you ‘would’ buy a boat and set sail but ‘won’t’ because of the risk says it all. Yes, it’s a big, bad ocean. Yes, it can swallow you whole. But so what? It is also life giving, inspiring, terrifying, blood-curling, majestic, educational.

    Bottom line…yes, you’re a fool. The words ‘hope’ and ‘belief’ are dangerous illusions. Start living, man. Cut yourself and see yourself bleed. Lose yourself…it’s the only way to find what you are looking for.

  • Doug that is a fantastic essay! I kept hitting my table, saying “Yes!” “Yes!” Your title is “Coping Skills” but I don’t see any here. Not really. I see your journey, I see you at the sailboat point, but I see you moving past that. Don’t stop now! Keep working on different strategies. You’ll never find the correct answer because there aren’t any, but you’ll be able to move around and be creative and perceptive and flexible in your responses so that you can protect yourself and live long enough to possibly even see some of the elite hang.

    But someone said,

    “I don’t think it is us that’s the problem”

    Yes it is. It’s us. As a species, we did this, even while knowing what we were doing. And we’ll continue to see what’s happening to us and the entire planet as long as there are people to see it. This will not take very long. What a cruel joke! What irony! We are doomed, and we are doomed to watch and analyze our terrible mistakes over and over using contradicting viewpoints as they happen, with our eyes wide open, helplessly paralyzed, watching hope fade away while arguing with each other over trivialities.

    “Our lifestyle is not negotiable” – dick cheney

    We will kill each other with nuclear weapons over resources until we can’t anymore. Then we’ll switch to armies with projectile weapons until we run out. Then sticks and stones. We’ll never learn. Never.

  • Although I am fully aware that some on this site have only contempt for those not fully surrendered to their inevitable near term doom, I choose to offer a somewhat different perspective for those still interested in the possibility we may have a bit longer to mess around in this beautiful and mysterious Universe…

    Only a New Spirituality Can Save Us

    “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” Jimi Hendrix

    What follows is only for those who can jump past their conditioned responses to the above lead-ins, to think seriously of a possible solution to our tragic impasse. To loosely reference Einstein: We will not be able to solve our present problems using the same kind of limited thinking that got us here.

    Those of us who are to some degree open minded realize that most of what has been labeled religious or spiritual throughout our history has turned out to be deeply confused, misleading and often basically fraudulent. One hesitates to even use the word ‘spiritual’ considering how much it has been perverted and rendered meaningless. But this is a common difficulty when attempting to refer to the most important values and realities in existence. We soldier on nevertheless hoping our listeners will be able to withhold snap judgments until we have tried to elucidate the special sense we give these slippery terms.

    What I mean by spirituality is the path of seeking wisdom. Wisdom is a fusion of knowledge and love. Knowledge without love is dangerous and ultimately destructive. Our present world situation is the result of this kind of knowing unmodified or restrained by love. Love without knowledge is ignorant, unbalanced, and also leads to harmful results. Wisdom overcomes the deficiencies of its components and delivers the rich blessings of both.

    In our evolution as animals growing in mental capacity and instrumental power, we became seduced by the possibilities of our new powers, and began to act without the leavening power of love. We began acting without wisdom. We unknowingly deviated from the path of our greatest possibilities, and entered the dangerous ways of power/knowledge without love. We violated the law of love, and began to reap the bitter consequences of that path. We can be forgiven in a sense for our transgressing this law, for it is not obvious in the short term, and requires time and experience to become aware of it. Some few among us became aware of our dangerous course, and tried to warn us of it. But we were intoxicated by and addicted to our new powers, and turned a deaf ear to them, or exiled or killed them if they persisted in trying to spoil our party.

    So it has been, except there have been occasional spiritual leaders who have managed to awaken large segments of society to the need for deep inner and outer reform with some success, however temporary. These instances give us hope that some movement might arise among those on Earth today to turn us from our path of certain self-destruction. I am not going to take the time and space here to share my ideas of what some of the helpful parameters of such a new teaching might be. It would be formed from the best understandings of past reformers plus a creative and intuitive message appropriate to these times. It would not be based on the false belief that some rearrangement of the failed ideas that got us here would have any possibility for delivering us from the disaster they have already created.

  • Technology is a double edged sword….. sure you can use it to watch porn, but it led you to Guy. We all have choices.

    Now, get the hell out of LA. In fact, I would get the hell out of the USA.

  • Embrace The Conundrum. Why settle for technology, which is a fixed definition, when we can follow our curiosity and creativity? Besides, if the shrinking size of technology is any indication, we may not have it around for very long. This would mean returning to a more natural/indigenous state of being; something that weathers change with a bit more sustainability than almost anything we can ‘dream up.’ Nature is very good at doing just that.

    We are killing ourselves and our planet because of convenience. There is always more…another chance…another choice. The impetus is to keep on going, find and take the next step, and not be quite so resigned to our perception of limitations.

    We do not have to dream up anything extraordinarily new, really. However, it would be a really good idea to use what we already have. That alone would be rather innovative…finding ways to use what we have spent so much time and money on manufacturing and getting more out of them.

    Of course this would make those whose livelihoods and ego-driven gains are intricately tied to the ‘new and different’ a little concerned. What would the profit be of the ‘next new thing?’ On the other hand, those who are hording a whole mess of stuff may be sitting on the next goldmine and may be considered very wealthy indeed. One person’s trash is another one’s treasure, so to speak. Bartering and giving things away to help each other out? Hmmm….

    Without a doubt, there will be those who find they cannot progress by going backwards. They may not be able to handle the concept. Time to move on…past the dreams of the past and the worries of the future; the present moment awaits us. ~ Blessings! 🙂

  • To Buz Painter,
    You are not imagining an essay regarding commiseration. You are looking for Danial Drumright’s very excellent essay posted here on NBL April 28, 2013, The Irreconcilable Acceptance of Near-Term extinction.
    From Reta of Kona

  • I must protest this demonization of science. Ironically, it is science that even lets us perceive that there’s even a problem. After all, we wouldn’t know about global warming unless we could see the ice caps melting for ourselves. Guy could not live in his mud hut without knowledge of agriculture and biology.

    Let’s not repeat Karl Marx’s mistake, and decide that because our culture thinks some things are good, we should “reverse the value judgments” and decide they must be evil instead.

    Because our culture worships superman is no reason to worship lex luthor instead.

  • No mention of either Ted Kaczynski, or Jacques Ellul before him, both of whom foresaw and predicted this exact state of affairs long before it happened, with remarkable accuracy. In fact, you could say that Mary Shelley foretold the the whole story, 200 years ago, in her novel, Frankenstein, and before her, William Blake. We do have out wise voices, but nobody pays any attention, and so we perish…

  • Thanks for the article, which was touchingly honest and immediate.

    Mike K, I hear ya. But among those desired characteristics in your last paragraph, wouldn’t you include techies too? If creating an Ark was the most loving and wise thing to do, wouldn’t there be need for every kind of mindset and skill (under the rubric of wise action)?

    TIAA, I just loved your statements. On the radio this morning, a caller opined that the most dangerous of TPTB had a crisis of love. (I forget the details of what he said, only knowing that I agreed with it all at the time). The worst of them feel that if they recant or come clean, they will be treated in similar fashion to how they have treated Earth. They absolutely know that what they are doing is wrong, but feel they can’t afford to get off the tiger they’re riding, for fear of being torn apart.

    When I substitute taught in a tough city which then had the highest homicide rate nationwide, I saw the same dynamic among my students. (In one of the schools, I entered the classroom to see kindergarten kids throwing metal chairs at each other, or perhaps anywhere they would make a terrifying racket.) Regular teachers would routinely throw up their hands and pray for feets not to fail them now! I suffered excruciating agony from the turmoil, the taunting, the insults, but mostly from my fear, which to the kids was like a red rag to a bull.

    But I learned.

    Google Huffington Post and check out the “Green” link. If there aren’t three million crises of drilling, fracking, mountaintop removal, Arctic drilling, on and on ad nauseum, there aren’t any.


    The perpetuators of these monstrosities, like my students, know better. Just as each child would do his/her best to stir up mayhem, understanding that that each individual contributed to the “desired” group dynamic that would scare the life out of the sub, there are three million bad environmental actors contributing to a fractious, confusing and unmanageable whole. They each KNOW this. Protesters try to take on one issue at a time, when the whole, unified class dynamic was meanwhile going to hell. That’s like going to one of the thirty children throwing chairs and begging him to please, please stop.

    Just as I learned to manage the class by realizing that rule number one was that I had to be calm, comfortable, respected and confident, the cacophony of bad actors needs to be faced in the same spirit of understanding. It’s all one issue; it’s the welfare of the entire planet as a whole. It’s not about three million separate issues. And this incredibly bad behavior by capitalist little boys is not only not remotely acceptable, it can and will be stopped when we stop treating them as anything other than wayward, terrified children who have taken hold of the classroom. It is a question of consciousness and right expectation on the part of the teacher. Who the teacher is in the case of global crisis is a matter for future discussion.

  • That was good, Mr. Doug Fasching.

    The last big enterprise computerised system I had to interact with was a monolithic brontosaurus-like electronic medical records system approved somewhere high up in the hierarchy with zero input from the rank-&-file prior to adoption, and foisted down on everyone. Zero modularity, zero open system inter-compatibility, near zero personalisation, and scalability at gargantuan levels. Also most unintuitive.

    Einstein was credited as saying after the first Nuclear bomb test “If I had known what they were going to do this, I would have become a shoemaker”

    Sordalike Ernst Friedrich “Fritz” Schumacher (“Small is Beautiful”) perhaps?

    humans always do the right thing in the end.

    Not perchance in reference to the Vatican’s priests, it is presumed?

    I learned about Anarchy from John Zerzan and Scott Nearing

    Try Stefan Molyneux. He hammers the final logical nail into the coffin of statism.

    I learned about peak oil / collapse from Michael C. Rupert and Richard Heinberg

    Not to be overlooked: Jay Hanson’s DieOff dot com.

    I learned about non-violence from Gene Sharp

    Hope he was acquainted with the Jains.

    I learned about God from Christopher Hitchens

    Not to be overlooked: the non-theists.

    Eventually you will discover that there is nothing that is absolutely true, leaving the tatters of your sanity lying at your feet.

    In fact, not even the “I” is true. However, few discover that.

    If it is us that is the source of the problem is it the absence of us that is the final solution?

    Not so much the “us” as the “I”.

    The largest problem is people.

    Less of a problem if one reframes them as tasty: largest then is preferable! Especially if there is an adequate supply of combustibles to prepare those comestibles.

    What lies must you tell yourself in order to get up in the morning yet one more time?

    The primal lie is that there is an “I”. The rest is commentary.

    Mostly we exist in our own heads.

    Now yer cookin’!

    “Don’t Die Stupid!”

    “Don’t; Die Stupid!”

    “Don’t. Die, Stupid!”

    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    Better still, “Be a Light unto yourselves and a lamp unto others”. The Light never came on and can never go out. And be calm and equanimous.

    if you had you would have also experienced yourself as an eternal being living in the eternal now.

    Actually there wouldn’t be a “your”self.

  • @Artleads — Real spirituality embraces all that is true and real and enhancing to love and the real values of an awakening humankind. Real valuable science is about truth and the enhancement of higher values. Advanced technology could play an important role in transforming the consciousness of Earthlings if guided by wisdom. The false war between science and religion is not between real science or real spirituality — which are only departments of the truth quest for life enhancing wisdom. The bad results we have had from so called science and religion is because these areas have been deeply flawed, as in outfits like DARPA, which is only a tool of death and domination by the worst power maniacs among us. And the various scandals about “religion” tell us all we need to know about the corruption and falsehoods that most of that represents. Most things or processes in our world have two faces. The dark side of that which is true and beautiful distorts and poisons all that into something that is ugly and evil, harmful to the healthy development of life. Wisdom brings consciousness and discernment and decides what path is best to follow…

  • Excellent article. I thoroughly enjoyed following your story. It helped me reflect on my own. I was born in 1965, so I can relate to much of what you wrote, especially about dashed hopes and expectations. When I’d absorbed peak oil, I spent several months getting over the “no Star Trek future”…I spent much time mourning dreams this last year. Thank you for helping me process my grief.

  • Badlands: the “beast of burden” did not specify the species. Did not have to be an equid: could have been a camelid, such as the Arabian, the Bactrian or the llama. Could have been a bovid such as the yak, the ox or the water-buffalo. A cervid such as the reindeer? And if an equid, besides real horse or donkey, why not the mythical unicorn? Your choice.

  • Doug… Ahh, there is always such a great disappointment when long held faith in technology begins to lose its shine and fails. “At that age I spent very little time indoors and in fact hated to be inside for very long. ” I think your initial instinct, the desire to be outdoors, to experience natural reality was the truth that was sadly abandoned to chase a nefarious seductive siren. That siren turned and captured you, and entered deeply into your psyche, obfuscating your more primal truth… even, eventually, leading you to imagine that: “The problem is us. The problem has always been us. The great human flaw.” The siren’s hypnosis seems still strong… it seems you still allow yourself to imagine that technology is flawless, pristine, perfect, and that humans are the disease.

    Just because some humans invented modern technology, does not mean that all humans are inherently flawed. However, the situation this technology has wrought smells like a mass extinction… which bears human extinction.

    If there is any hope at all, it is to return to honoring natural reality, preserving natural reality, allowing natural reality to survive. It is the only way we could ever survive. Go back to your roots for answers. Some of the technologies we invented were such fascinating artificial distractions that profiteers facilely presented these tricks as the materialization of our ultimate master, as our provider, as our reality… But we were deluded by human artifice, human inventions, which are mere imposters and obscurers of our true master: nature.

    If there is any chance, it is through emancipation from contrived falsehoods, and clear discernment of what is naturally real. Our only hope, if there is any, is to smash the deadly fantasy and return to honoring nature and its ancient composite of myriad interconnections and interdependencies, that run far deeper than our hubris, our puny knowledge base about it. To rediscover our rightful place in it. It does not need us, but we, sure as babies need milk, need it! Too bad for us that so many waited too long before beginning to realize that we have fallen into a trap built wholly out of ignorance.

    Meanwhile, faith in technology is still the most popular religion of the modern world. The vast majority still feverishly, fervently, worship at the altar of invention. They have been hypnotized. It should be obvious that something we create could never be worthy of deification. Nor am I suggesting that we should worship nature. I am suggesting that we dam well better learn how to live in it – or we won’t be alive at all. There is the ‘myth’ you asked for.

  • A great essay – I know where you are coming from, I too have been on a similar journey. However, I was lucky (I don’t believe in luck) – I asked a critical question … God, just show me the truth, the real truth… as I had also become sick of hearing this “truth” and that “truth”; I wanted The Truth.

    I was shown it the very next day, not even 24 hours later. That was in 2009, and I am still learning it. It’s not religious, but it is spiritual (soul-based, actually), and yes, it’s about God (but it doesn’t have to involve God if you don’t want to) – but the best thing? It’s the truth.

    Check it out if you so desire – and Divine Truth Channel on youtube. I recommend you start with the “welcome” series of videos on youtube at

    This has helped me a lot. Maybe it will help you too. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • thanks for the thought provoking essay, doug.

    ‘What lies must you tell yourself in order to get up in the morning yet one more time?’ -doug

    i don’t know. how about ‘i’m not ready to die or don’t want to die yet’? something like that does the trick.

    it’s funny how a good night’s sleep temporarily clears away a lifetime’s worth of depression, isn’t it? u wake up feeling great, like a brand new sherson in a brand new world. too bad it isn’t true, and the feeling doesn’t last.

  • Not much to say about the content as I agree with all of it. But what an excellently written essay! Respect!

  • Doug – thanks for sharing your story, a very eloquent description of one man’s journey to the awful knowledge that we are finished. Of course each of us is finished individually from the day we are born for life brings death – a fact we try to avoid thinking about through most of our lives. My own history included many years volunteering at nursing homes, where at 16 I learned that death can be good. When you see someone suffering the ravages of incurable disease or conditions, you can come to rejoice at the release that death brings them. Perhaps that is a way we can look at NTE – inevitable and given the condition of the patient, a blessing.

    If you have any more room for reading, I would suggest Too Smart for OUr Own Good, by Craig Dilworth. The upshot is that all this is inevitable given our genetic programs. We are on one more round of the vicious circle we have been in ever since we got smart, and unfortunately our smarts don’t extend to how to extract ourselves from the vicious circle.

    Given all your reading probably a summary will do

    Kathy Custren you wrote Besides, if the shrinking size of technology is any indication, we may not have it around for very long. This would mean returning to a more natural/indigenous state of being; something that weathers change with a bit more sustainability than almost anything we can ‘dream up.’ Nature is very good at doing just that.

    Unfortunately most people are not paying attention to what is happening at Fukushima. What caused the meltdowns was NOT the earthquake or the tsunami – not directly. What caused the meltdowns was the loss of the ultimate heat sink – ie the loss of cooling. What caused the loss of cooling was the loss of electricity to the plant which was caused by the earthquake and the flooding of the back up generators. This is important to understand, because returning to our natural state would entail the end of the electric grid and any nuclear power plants not decommissioned will melt down, but without remediation . We have never seen that – Chernobyl used 500,000 people to monetarily put the nuclear plant under a sarcophagus. A huge amount of technology, which requires fuel was also used. There are 427 active nuclear plants in the world, over 100 in the US.

    Without technology the ability to fight forest fires will cease. This will mean that along with all the nukes going critical, many nuclear dumps will burn as almost happened last year at Los Alamos.

    Further all the capped and uncapped wells in our oceans will start leaking. Capping a tapped out well is not permanent but no one is really checking up on them. As we ride the slide to extinction no one will go back and cap of the current wells. BP was only a foretaste, but without technology they will over time all leak.

    Part of nature is the inevitable extinction of species – happened over and over and over. In the end nature will extinct anything left after we are gone – in 1 billion years, our dying sun will erase our atmosphere and whatever survived and evolved after our extinction event will be gone. Nature isn’t kind, or evil but nature has brought about huge extinctions before (mindlessly) and we humans are part of nature so this is just nature doing it one more time.

  • I saw this coming as a child; spent an entire “career” through punk rock, trying to wake up the sheep. As an optimistic realist, I too put faith in my fellow man and am bitter in ways that frustrate me everyday. L.A. was my hometown; born & raised. The difference between us Doug, I KNEW this would end bad due to technology and ultimately trans-humanism. I could see that the choices of man were based on ego and thus would ALWAYS end badly! This IS an experiment, and we got it wrong…AGAIN!

  • This was a brilliantly honest essay. “Hopism” is the most potent and most addictive of drugs. For centuries in the Western world it was Christian hopism, then it was replaced by the Myth of the Machine, of which The Sci-fi future is just the latest incarnation. Hope is of course a coping skill of the most basic order. Hobbs had it right- in the raw form, if we strip all the trappings of civilization, it is all against all, and you can build your hopeful myths to try and cope with that basic fact, or the basic fact that someday humans will go the way all species go, or you can let those myths die, and find freedom in accepting the fact of “all against all”, death and extinction, and at least live authentically before eternal darkness arrives. In this way, there is freedom in Dante’s famous line- “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”

  • It seems that a new “brain initiative” has been announced. You may see this as a positive development. The stated goal is to gain a better understanding of disease processes. The unstated goal, IMO, is to gain the ultimate control over the individual. Imagine a population of marching zombies ready to fulfill your every command – oh, wait, we already have that. But just imagine the power behind crafting an entire generation of selfless souls whose only desire is to satisfy their masters. The Goldman Sachs boys could say, “Give me your money”, and that’s all it would take. What probably created 90% of the mental health issues in our societies? Technology. I’m glad more technology is on the way, just makes me ya feel good all over.

  • “I now understand. I wonder how may other “techies” feel the same way. ”

    Well, since you asked, let me briefly slip out of my lurker existence, and mostly agree with your dissatisfaction about the current state of technology.

    I got here from the insight that (and Georgescu-Roegen) provided that we are increasing entropy by using up low entropic resources. While there is some discussion on about the overuse of the term entropy, I find this somewhat intuitive view convincing. So we are effectively spreading out resources and to pick them up again we might need energy that given our fossil fueled existence, may not be available. Then there are also those pesky waste issues.

    While it is understandable that we have been following an exponential growth path, we had the opportunity in the ’70s to take a different route, but the societal consensus/reality drove us into the BAU situation. I would have liked to see something like ethical resource use where we aren’t driving mankind into an overshoot situation (see Limits to Growth) but this didn’t happen. Now the waste issues appear to be even bigger, and the wiggling room much smaller.

    I was also displeased about the level of BS we are deluding ourselves with. I noticed that people are all too afraid to admit to themselves that our trajectory leads to a dim future. Maybe I have to accept delusion as normalcy. To me it seems that there is a danger that people, even scientists stay willfully ignorant of the issues.

    Some might argue that being a doomer is just another type of delusion and can lead to motivated reasoning just as well (i.e. its all easier now since I know my more successful neighbor has no future either), but at least it enables us to look at unpleasant issues ( for which all the climate feedback loops collected here and by AMEG can serve as an example.

    Regarding the futility of a job in the tech world, I would have to say that my concerns are similar. My main concern is that it is such a new thing that it has a lot of complex dependencies with industrial society as a whole which makes it so fragile that I consider my skills worthless in a decline situation because it will probably fail first.

    The other thing is that we appear to be reaching the point where more complexity leads to decreased return on investment (see Tainter on this). Also you notice that society has become so overspecialized that it is hard for you to communicate to your peers what good your job is actually doing for them.

    What I’m worried about on the side is that since energy input and population growth have been falling by the wayside as driver for economic growth, companies are forced to eat their own flesh by becoming parasitic regarding their customers and employees. I could see how this encourages people to despecialize since they have to now do ‘it’ themselves. Specialization has been a means for efficiency gains in the past (see Adam Smith), and improving efficiency has been one way to deal with decreasing net energy. This feels like one of those feedback loops I guess. Ultimately increased energy input enables specialization it seems, and declining energy input reduces it.

    On the whole I see the direction the tech world has gone as somewhat understandable. Initially miniaturization has increased reliability and resource use has decreased (somebody check for Jevon’s paradox). While the performance gains have been met at first by clock speed increases,
    we have now arrived at increasing parallelism which drives programmers towards their limits (wouldn’t it be nice if we all had Dijkstra level CS skills). On the other hand I have dumped my smart phone due to the inordinate amount of attention I have spent on maintaining it (battery, sw, …), so yes there is such a thing as useless technology for me.

    Finally, don’t knock horseshoe making, in the European village I’m living, we have some horse culture that enables us to have a normal smith and one specializing in making horseshoes and fitting them.
    Both can live from their craft. Also the skillset is useful as long as you have any metals around (and horses) I can’t claim this kind of longevity for my IT skills.

  • Mr. Fasching – excellent article. For me, it hit all the right notes at just the right time-like a concert of understanding, Thank you for that. What could I possibly ad?


    Artleads Says: “Just as I learned to manage the class by realizing that rule number one was that I had to be calm, comfortable, respected and confident, the cacophony of bad actors needs to be faced in the same spirit of understanding.”

    Ahh..the candle in a dark room from an different angle – hmmm…

    pauline Says: “I’ve had many weak moments lately (triggered by three kids) so it’s sweet to hope that some unexpected miracle will save us:”

    I held my 3yo grandson in my arms when he fell asleep at last nites small dinner party. I put him in bed, and as I stumbled down the unlit stairs towards my truck, I looked upwards and the bid dipper sucker punched me like Iron Mike Tyson. I stumbled to my truck, regained my composure, and drove home.

    This morning I awoke with the weight of the Universe on my chest. I am 63. Life on Earth is fatal. The weight of this will pass to someone else. So I can struggle through the dying of the light another day. I can plant my love and let it grow.

    Erin Says: “live long enough to possibly even see some of the elite hang.” and…

    “We will kill each other with nuclear weapons over resources until we can’t anymore. Then we’ll switch to armies with projectile weapons until we run out. Then sticks and stones. We’ll never learn. Never.”

    Humanity may share this fate – but you may opt out.

    mike k Says: “The false war between science and religion is not between real science or real spirituality — which are only departments of the truth quest for life enhancing wisdom.”

    Shhhhh… you’ll wake the baby.

    Oh, I left out about the smoke before dinner – here is my confession.

  • @ Doug Fasching: nice post!

    Doug Fasching says: Yes the vision of the future turned from “Star Trek” to “Terminator” and Mad Max”.

    Future Visions

    “Star Trek” foretold we’d relax,
    Watching TV and eating light snacks;
    But not too much later
    Came “Terminator,”
    And now we’re facing “Mad Max.”

    dairymandave says: “this horrible scenario is the way I see things going” is the way things have been going for 4,500 million years. It’s the evolutionary process and it isn’t nice. Seems that those crying for justice are the ones about to be eaten. The winners seem to like it just the way it is.
    I’m just trying to tell it like it is.

    I’d like to believe that life’s fair,
    But the evidence just isn’t there;
    Instead, might makes right,
    Which makes lots of stuff bite,
    So mostly, I stay unaware.

  • Two observatons from me today.

    First, a couple of commenters have mentioned the idea of returning:
    <… returning to a more natural/indigenous state of being; return to honoring nature

    Let’s take a look at these ideas in terms of technology and if there is any Nature left to honour.

    There will be NO returning to anything. We cannot go back. I’m sure there is support for this in thermodynamics (Paul?) and the obvious existence of, in our mid-macro-existence (bigger than quarks but smaller than stars) a one-way arrow of time.

    Let’s take agriculture. To go back only 80 years, before chemicals and the predominance of fossil-fueled machinery, would require many, many draft animals. Where are they? Any breeders here? Who can name the three most common “heavy” horses without using the internet – which asks the question how will we be able to look anything up? How many of you have a good encyclopaedia or almanac in your homes? Back to the heavy horses: Could you harness one if you had one? Who, locally, makes your harness by the way? Not to mention the land reform required to grant homesteaders each a quarter section of depleted dust in the middle of a continental desert-making drought. Takers?

    It would require equipment like horse-powered mowers and stookers and threshing machines (harvest was a multi-stage process before the invention of the “combine” harvester) requiring large numbers of men working and women cooking. All those old machines are either rusting in someone’s yard or have been taken away for scrap. Plus today’s liberated woman is going to resist strongly something like returning to the “feminine” arts. Most of the mature women around here can still cook and sew and darn socks. Their daughters have fled to the “lights of Paris” and couldn’t roast a beef or a turkey if their lives depended on it, let alone be able to slaughter and dress one.

    Anyone here a buggy maker? Do you know how to craft a spoked wheel from wood, and which woods to use and do you have any nearby? Know how to cut, dry, cure and shape? Got all the tools handy I bet. Who has a blacksmith next door who understands the co-efficient of expansion of iron in order to craft the perfectly fitting rim?

    A European commenter mentioned he has a farrier in his village? Anyone? The only people around here with horses are the wealthy city folks with their useless hobby farms who keep these giant, noble, intelligent social animals as pets and maybe they do dressage but most of them come out once a month, ride a few circuits around their patch of dust then retire to the great room for yet more TV and video games – real back-to-the-landers, these folks. These people generate a huge carbon footprint maintaining their pets as well as driving all around the countryside with their huge pick-up trucks. The rest of us cannot afford to have a hay-burner which does not work. There is a traveling farrier but no one local.

    As far as forming and shaping steel and iron, for the buggy and wheel making as well as the steel for the horse shoes, does anyone here know which substances require which fuel to be hot enough to shape: charcoal, coal, and coke? How many know what coke is and how to produce charcoal or coke? Got a good supply of metallurgical coal within buggy travel? Got the buggy? Got the horse? Is it safe to travel? What do you pay with? Is the coal dealer going to take your potatoes or your daughter?

    All that coal is gone, along with all the other resources we have squandered, buried in landfills and burned over the last 60 years. I’ve met knife makers who say they can’t make a good blade anymore because there is too much atmospheric pollution in the steel stock for them to temper it properly – the molecules won’t do what they are supposed to do under fire and ice. Who knew we could pollute iron and steel?

    Transportation. Let’s say we could “go back” to rail travel. Miles and miles of track have been removed and converted into recreational trails, the roadbeds converted and the ties and steel rails gone. Most track there is left around the continent is poorly maintained, if at all, left to ruin and where is the rolling stock and steam locomotives if fossil fuels deplete? (All of this commentary supposing there is a survival quotient within the calculus of NTE – given Fukishima times 400+, I doubt there is) Anyone here know how to cast giant pressure vessels from iron sufficient to withstand the rigours of rolling pressure? Cast the track? Cast the wheels? Anyone here know how to drive any locomotive? Know anyone who does? Anyone here know how to obtain tons and tons of iron?

    Lets try a simpler example possible closer to home. If every Intel chip put into service in the last 10 years were to fail we would go back to what? We sure as hell could not keep modern anything going using ledger books. If your stupid-phone fails while you are around town, just try to find a pay phone, even. If your new car poops out you must have computer diagnosis; in the “old days” a good mechanic could tell what was going on by listening and the machine shop next door could mill you new parts. Anyone here even know where to find a machine shop locally let alone run the equipment if the owner happens to die in the chaos? Talking technology, is anyone here even capable of reading the vernier scale on a micrometer?

    Go back to Nature: If I took any one of you here and dropped you in the middle of the eco-system of your choice one hundred miles from the nearest road (probably couldn’t find such a place these days given all the resource exploration) naked with only a knife, I would bet big money none of you would last days, let alone a week. Tell me how you as an individual or us as a technologically domesticated species is going back anywhere.

    There is no “back” to go to. Anyone here know how to chip a stone axe from flint or chert? Would you recognize flint or chert if you saw it lying on the ground in front of you? Do you know the qualities which make flint and chert suitable for differing applications? How about the more delicate task of chipping a sharp edge from obsidian? Anyone?

    I could go on and on and on but I won’t. There is no going back and there is no Nature to go back to – we have killed it. That we have killed nature is the basic premise the entire NTE conversation pivots on – we march inexorably to our doom with no time machine handy.

    I’m pretty sure Fukishima is the most pressing, dire and dangerous crisis facing us. They are not going to be able to solve the many impossible problems there and it is only a matter of time before there is another seismic event or subsidence or something which makes it all go poof.

    Can we reel the film back before nuclear energy such that there will be any life left in the Northern Hemisphere? Not that I know of. Go back? The Genie is out of the bottle; Pandora has opened the box.

    There is no going “back;” for goodness sakes, you can’t even go home again, as the saying says.

    re: ”Also please note that this is a secular zone. Let’s avoid the distraction of religion (cf. spirituality). by my rough count, 9 of the first 45 posts contain notions of “love will save us” or god or spirituality, etc. – I think that works out to 20%. Is that a high compliance with the request or a low compliance?

    I did not include Robin Datta’s post because the g-word was expressed in the context of a quote.

  • ravendcr posted a link yesterday on death and ‘making meaning’ out of the surrealization that everything we hold dear is destined for oblivion. i don’t see how any meaning can be made out of that. it doesn’t make meaning, it negates it. meaning, to the extent it exists, is momentary, transitory. in the long run, it’s nothing.

    ‘what a fool i had been, like a child, utterly confident, and utterly ignorant. for years i had seen only what i wanted to see, believed only what i’d been told to believe.’ -carlene cross, p. 122 of her engrossing memoir titled FLEEING FUNDAMENTALISM this is a book i first read several years ago, probably shortly after it’s publication in 2006. being the sort of story i surreally get into, a personal journey from blind faith and delusions through devastating disillusionment to eventually a better life, i’m reading it again. the quote i just shared with u, while pertaining to religious faith, obviously applies to how our species now finds itself staring into the abyss. while it’s hard now for those of us who struggle coming to terms with the certain collapse of i.c. and the very strong possibility of nte, i suppose some comfort can be found in knowing that for ‘the masses’, the traumas, hardships, and struggles to come will be even worse, for in addition they will have disillusionment to bear.

    this also applies to guy’s request to keep our discussions secular. while i don’t blame our predicament solely on our species rather amazing capacity for self delusion and denial, i don’t think there can be any argument that it’s certainly facilitated it. nor can it be denied that dogmatic religions have played an immense role in promoting magical thinking and self delusion.

  • re: Robin Datta’s
    “Badlands: the “beast of burden” did not specify the species. Did not have to be an equid: could have been a camelid, such as the Arabian, the Bactrian or the llama. Could have been a bovid such as the yak, the ox or the water-buffalo. A cervid such as the reindeer? And if an equid, besides real horse or donkey, why not the mythical unicorn? Your choice.

    Related to my comment about draft horses, one must distinguish between draft animals, capable of pulling a plow or a heavy cart full of produce from “pack” animals, sure of foot and carrying a small load strapped to their bodies.

    I’m getting toward the edge of my knowledge (not that up on camels and reindeer) but I’m pretty sure the camelids and cervids are pretty much pack animals, although they might pull light carts; the equids and bovids are the traditional draft animals, horses serving double duty. One very important equid was left off the list – the mule. Some of you may know a horse or cattle breeder but who here knows of a mule breeder? Mules are one of the best all-round farm animals there is.

    Unicorns are of little use but to gaze upon and to fill the dreams of pubescent girls. They can be pretty nasty too; there is a great scene of a Unicorn goring someone in Joss Wheaton’s excellent horror flick The Cabin In The Woods.

  • For those who somehow fool their selves into believing that the government isn’t concerned with climate change:

    “Between now and 2005, technological advances in meteorology and the demand for more precise weather information by global businesses will lead to the successful identification and parameterization of the major variables that affect weather. By 2015, advances in computational capability, modeling techniques, and atmospheric information tracking will produce a highly accurate and reliable weather prediction capability, validated against real-world weather. In the following decade, population densities put pressure on the worldwide availability and cost of food and usable water. Massive life and property losses associated with natural weather disasters become increasingly unacceptable. These pressures prompt governments and/or other organizations who are able to capitalize on the technological advances of the previous 20 years to pursue a highly accurate and reasonably precise weather-modification capability. The increasing urgency to realize the benefits of this capability stimulates laws and treaties, and some unilateral actions, making the risks required to validate and refine it acceptable. By 2025, the world, or parts of it, are able to shape local weather patterns by influencing the factors that affect climate, precipitation, storms and their effects, fog, and near space. These highly accurate and reasonably precise civil applications of weather-modificationtechnologyhaveobviousmilitaryimplications. Thisisparticularlytrueforaerospace forces, for while weather may affect all mediums of operation, it operates in ours.” –Owning The Weather By 2025

    That’s from freaking 1996. We’re going to keep the party going by any means necessary. Guy has said that we will likely screw it up, referring to geo-engineering. Really? When we’re faced with NTE, how can it be “screwed up”?! We’ll tinker, and tinker, until we get satisfactory results.

  • Okay, so if climate change is mitigated, then what? What are we lacking. Energy? If you don’t think there’s not potential energy everywhere, you’re not looking right. If you think in terms of what our current capabilities are, and attempt to impose that as future limitations, you’re not thinking right.

    There is virtually no problem that doesn’t already have a solution in the pipe-line. Nothing. The reason people are freaking out, is because of the PERCEIVED lack of response from the authorities. The reason these economic shenanigans are allowed to continue on, is because they’re basically an extension of political agendas. It’s a controlled “collapse”, or rather, a forced die-off of those most weak. Many die out, some are pressured to shine their brightest, and the game plays on.

    Anyhoo, that’s my second post of the day. Feel free to ignore the “toll”, erm, the guy who chooses to believe outside of the mass psychosis presented here.

  • Absolutely correct – we cannot go back. And the people who are now living in the way we would have to adopt to do so, hunter/gatherers (not horse and buggy civilization), will not even be able continue their long and successful lifestyle because climate change will ruin their habitat as surely as it is ruining that of their prey and forage.

    You’ve all read the story of the Russian family in Siberia for 40 years:

    and even they couldn’t possibly have “made it”. If you’ve read Nicole Foss, you know she advocates small groups of people banding together for short term survival. There was a perfectly functioning culture alive and well in this valley where I live before Europeans got here. And some of them still live here. But even they could not go back. We’ve ruined that possibility by 200 years of habitat destruction.

    Why are we so focused on individuals, on ourselves? Is it our European/North American heritage? If you know any biology at all, you know the units of measurement, the units of analysis, are populations and species, not individuals. The idea of “meaning” comes from this misplaced focus. Meaning is simply a human conceptual creation for the purposes of entertainment. Biology marches on, oblivous to our individual plights. In the on-deck circle at the moment, apparently, and stepping up to the plate. Bottom of the ninth, two out, bases loaded. Nature steps into the batter’s box and a shaft of sunlight strikes her face. The wind up. The pitch. This is where we are right now. The ball is on its way. The crowd is holding its collective breath. Nature smiles and takes a step forward, cocking the bat behind her back.

    There is no “I” or “me” (right, Robin?) but there is a species called homo sapiens sapiens. And that species, after eliminating all other species in the genus, and after destroying untold numbers of other species, is now very close to destroying the entire biosphere, the vat in which we, like yeast cells, have been replicating for thousands of years. Lots of other species have done exactly the same thing and we’re no different. NO DIFFERENT, I tell you, even though you and I and Guy and some others can see exactly what’s going on and we scream, “NO! WAIT! STOP! LOOK AT WHAT WE’RE DOING!”

    Get over yourself. We’re out of here.

  • Excellent story Doug! I am so used to close-minded people, whose opinions or mindset never waver. The description of your personal evolution was like a breath of fresh air. For me, the most interesting part of any historical study is the individual’s struggle to understand and grow. You have a lot to contribute, thanks for speaking up.

    In following Dr. Guy to the ‘GOOD MAN’ page or blog, I came across this article:
    It is the authors description of his sailing adventure around the coast of Scotland. I thought it was relevant here because Doug and others at NBL have explored “sailing away” as a means to cope with NTE. I like the style of this article, it puts you right into the boat with the spray in your face.

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

  • from The German Genius.

    Heidegger saw technology as a vicious circle: technology breeds more technology, it “challenges” nature, and people live in a Gestell, or “frame,” of technology. In doing so, we lose elements of freedom. With technology so rampant and so ever-present, the original experience of Being. says Heidegger, is lost. We cannot let nature “be,” we are less able to submit, to surrender to that experience of being; the “releasement towards things” is simply unavailable in a technological society: the poetic experience of the world is sidelined and overwhelmed by technology. This was reinforced by Heidegger’s views on America. The United States had often been the object of German thought. For Heine, America was the symbol of all that Romanticism detested. After a visit across the Atlantic, Nikolaus Lenau, sometimes called the German Byron, described the country as disfigured by its politics, with its culture imposed from outside. Nietzsche expected America to spread a spiritual emptiness (Geistlosigkeit) over Europe and neither Moeller van den Bruck nor Spengler cared much for it, though Ernst Jünger admired America’s ability to involve all the country in World War I. As we have seen, Freud thought America “a mistake” (whatever that might mean). For Heidegger, America was the symbol of the crisis of our age. “which is also the deepest crisis of all time.” It represents the greatest alienation of man, his profoundest loss of “authenticity,” and it was the supreme impediment to spiritual reawakening. America reduced everything to its lowest common denominator, all experience to routine—all was trivialized and rendered bland. Americans, said Heidegger, were “totally oblivious” to man’s encounter with Being.” After the first space probes, Heidegger wrote that “there is no longer either ‘earth’ or ‘heaven,’ in the sense of poetic dwelling of man on this earth.” The age of technology is our fate and America the home of this “catastrophe.”

    P. 771

  • The scientific consensus favors a slower pace of climate changes than NTE fans seem to fear. The current Nat Geo issue on ocean levels only predicts a rather small rise by 2100. Also see the conclusions of a large panel of scientists about global temperature increases:

  • Doug,

    Thank you!

    I’m a bit older than you but have been on a similar journey from technology true believer to sharing your realization that “there is nowhere for me to run and nowhere to hide from the future that I helped create”. I have a few college degrees, wrote a few thousands of lines of computer code and now know that I’ve built part of a culture that is destroying our living planet.

    I’m looking for better stories now too. Star Trek always bothered me somehow…flashing lights, warp speed, photon torpedoes…same old human failings.

  • from:

    So, let’s explore a really interesting discovery that scientists have made, but which you and I already knew: slime mold is smarter than bureaucrats:

    Since the best city planners around the world have not been able to end traffic jams, scientists are looking to a new group of experts: slime mold.

    That’s right, a species of gelatinous amoeba could help urban planners design better road systems to reduce traffic congestion, a new study found.

    A team of researchers studied the slime mold species Physarum polycephalum and found that as it grows it connects itself to scattered food crumbs in a design that’s nearly identical to Tokyo’s rail system.

    Slime mold is a fungus-like, single-celled animal that can grow in a network of linked veins, spreading over a surface like a web. The mold expands by dividing its nuclei into more and more nuclei, though all are technically enclosed in one large cell.

    “Some organisms grow in the form of an interconnected network as part of their normal foraging strategy to discover and exploit new resources,” wrote the researchers in a paper published in the Jan. 22 issue of the journal Science. Slime mold has evolved to grow in the most efficient way possible to maximize its access to nutrients.

    “[It] can find the shortest path through a maze or connect different arrays of food sources in an efficient manner with low total length, yet short average minimum distance between pairs of food sources,” wrote the scientists, led by Atsushi Tero from Hokkaido University in Japan.

    To test whether slime-mold networks behave anything like train and car traffic networks, the researchers placed oat flakes in various spots on a wet surface so that the resulting layout corresponded to the cities surrounding Tokyo. They even added areas of bright light (which slime mold tends to avoid) to correspond to mountains or other geologic features that the trains would have to steer around.

    The scientists let the mold organize itself and spread out around these nutrients, and found that it built a pattern very similar to the real-world train system connecting those cities around Tokyo. And in some ways, the amoeba solution was more efficient. What’s more, the slime mold built its network without a control center that could oversee and direct the whole enterprise; rather, it reinforced routes that were working, and eliminated redundant channels, constantly adapting and adjusting for maximum efficiency.

  • to the argument that sea level rise isn’t a problem (as if that’s all we have to worry about in the near term)

    Thirty-five years ago, a scientist named John H. Mercer issued a warning. By then it was already becoming clear that human emissions would warm the earth, and Dr. Mercer had begun thinking deeply about the consequences.

    His paper, in the journal Nature, was titled “West Antarctic Ice Sheet and CO2 Greenhouse Effect: A Threat of Disaster.” In it, Dr. Mercer pointed out the unusual topography of the ice sheet sitting over the western part of Antarctica. Much of it is below sea level, in a sort of bowl, and he said that a climatic warming could cause the whole thing to degrade rapidly on a geologic time scale, leading to a possible rise in sea level of 16 feet.

    While it is clear by now that we are in the early stages of what is likely to be a substantial rise in sea level, we still do not know if Dr. Mercer was right about a dangerous instability that could cause that rise to happen rapidly, in geologic time. We may be getting closer to figuring that out.

    An intriguing new paper comes from Michael J. O’Leary of Curtin University in Australia and five colleagues scattered around the world. Dr. O’Leary has spent more than a decade exploring the remote western coast of Australia, considered one of the best places in the world to study sea levels of the past.

    The paper, published July 28 in Nature Geoscience, focuses on a warm period in the earth’s history that preceded the most recent ice age. In that epoch, sometimes called the Eemian, the planetary temperature was similar to levels we may see in coming decades as a result of human emissions, so it is considered a possible indicator of things to come.

    Examining elevated fossil beaches and coral reefs along more than a thousand miles of coast, Dr. O’Leary’s group confirmed something we pretty much already knew. In the warmer world of the Eemian, sea level stabilized for several thousand years at about 10 to 12 feet above modern sea level.

    The interesting part is what happened after that. Dr. O’Leary’s group found what they consider to be compelling evidence that near the end of the Eemian, sea level jumped by another 17 feet or so, to settle at close to 30 feet above the modern level, before beginning to fall as the ice age set in.

    In an interview, Dr. O’Leary told me he was confident that the 17-foot jump happened in less than a thousand years — how much less, he cannot be sure.

    This finding is something of a vindication for one member of the team, a North Carolina field geologist, Paul J. Hearty. He had argued for decades that the rock record suggested a jump of this sort, but only recently have measurement and modeling techniques reached the level of precision needed to nail the case.

    We have to see if their results withstand critical scrutiny. A sea-level scientist not involved in the work, Andrea Dutton of the University of Florida, said the paper had failed to disclose enough detailed information about the field sites to allow her to judge the overall conclusion. But if the work does hold up, the implications are profound. The only possible explanation for such a large, rapid jump in sea level is the catastrophic collapse of a polar ice sheet, on either Greenland or Antarctica.

    Dr. O’Leary is not prepared to say which; figuring that out is the group’s next project. But a 17-foot rise in less than a thousand years, a geologic instant, has to mean that one or both ice sheets contain some instability that can be set off by a warmer climate.

    That, of course, augurs poorly for humans. Scientists at Stanford calculated recently that human emissions are causing the climate to change many times faster than at any point since the dinosaurs died out. We are pushing the climate system so hard that, if the ice sheets do have a threshold of some kind, we stand a good chance of exceeding it.

    Another recent paper, by Anders Levermann of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and a half-dozen colleagues, implies that even if emissions were to stop tomorrow, we have probably locked in several feet of sea level rise over the long term.

    Benjamin Strauss and his colleagues at Climate Central, an independent group of scientists and journalists in Princeton that reports climate research, translated the Levermann results into graphical form, and showed the difference it could make if we launched an aggressive program to control emissions. By 2100, their calculations suggest, continuing on our current path would mean locking in a long-term sea level rise of 23 feet, but aggressive emission cuts could limit that to seven feet.

    If you are the mayor of Miami or of a beach town in New Jersey, you may be asking yourself: Exactly how long is all this going to take to play out?

    On that crucial point, alas, our science is still nearly blind. Scientists can look at the rocks and see indisputable evidence of jumps in sea level, and they can associate those with relatively modest increases in global temperature. But the nature of the evidence is such that it is hard to tell the difference between something that happened in a thousand years and something that happened in a hundred.

    On the human time scale, of course, that is all the difference in the world. If sea level is going to rise by, say, 30 feet over several thousand years, that is quite a lot of time to adjust — to pull back from the beaches, to reinforce major cities, and to develop technologies to help us cope.

    But if sea level is capable of rising several feet per century, as Dr. O’Leary’s paper would seem to imply and as many other scientists believe, then babies being born now could live to see the early stages of a global calamity.

  • hope is the ability to deny reality.
    it gave us the ability to deny our own mortality.
    it allowed our minds to develop intelligence
    without going insane knowing our ultimate fates.
    it gave us the evolutionary edge we needed to survive.
    it is our strength in bad times
    it is our weakness in good times

    The acidity of the oceans will more than double in the next 40 years. This rate is 10 times faster than 55 million years ago when when a mass extinction of marine life occurred. It is also faster than during 4 of earth’s biggest mass extinction events during the last 300 hundred million years — faster than even the great Permian mass extinction event where 95% of life on earth vanished 250 million years ago. The oceans are now 30% more acidic than in pre-industrial times. In less than 40 years they will be 60% more acidic than then.

    When ice ages come and go the planet can change temperature 5°C in as little as 5,000 years. 50 times slower than what we are doing to earth now. In the past, a 5°C change normally takes 20,000 years, we are going to do 5°C in 50-100 years, 200 times faster.

    Climate change is happening 100 times faster than in the past.

    By 2025, humans will impact 50% of earth’s biosphere. This will cause a planetary ecological state shift leading to a mass extinction event that is unstoppable and irreversible once started.

    Why does nobody talk about the thousands of 1-kilometer wide bubbling methane seabeds recorded in 2011.

    Only 1% of methane needs to be released to cause total disaster.
    Peter Wadhams interview

    Natalia Shakhova interview:
    do you believe scientists
    who spent 30 years in the arctic
    or do you believe scientists
    who spent 30 years at their computer?

  • Oops, am I bad! I made a booboo when trying to post an article that was in line with Doug and others here on NBL thinking of ‘sailing away’ to cope with NTE.

    Here it is. Again, I apologize.

  • Tom said: “Thirty-five years ago, a scientist named John H. Mercer issued a warning. By then it was already becoming clear that human emissions would warm the earth, and Dr. Mercer had begun thinking deeply about the consequences.”

    Tom, you might be interested to know that the warnings have been out since the mid 19th century. Below is a paragraph from George P. Marsh’s book Man and Nature, published in 1864:

    “The ravages committed by man subvert the relations and destroy the balance which nature had established between her organized and her inorganic creations; and she avenges herself upon the intruder, by letting loose upon her defaced provinces destructive energies hitherto kept in check by organic forces destined to be his best auxiliaries, but which he has unwisely dispersed and driven from the field of action. When the forest is gone, the great reservoir of moisture stored up in its vegetable mould is evaporated, and returns only in deluges of rain to wash away the parched dust into which that mould has been converted. The well-wooded and humid hills are turned to ridges of dry rock, which encumbers the low grounds and chokes the watercourses with its debris, and—except in countries favored with an equable distribution of rain through the seasons, and a moderate and regular inclination of surface—the whole earth, unless rescued by human art from the physical degradation to which it tends, becomes an assemblage of bald mountains, of barren, turfless hills, and of swampy and malarious plains. There are parts of Asia Minor, of Northern Africa, of Greece, and even of Alpine Europe, where the operation of causes set in action by man has brought the face of the earth to a desolation almost as complete as that of the moon; and though, within that brief space[Pg 44] of time which we call “the historical period,” they are known to have been covered with luxuriant woods, verdant pastures, and fertile meadows, they are now too far deteriorated to be reclaimable by man, nor can they become again fitted for human use, except through great geological changes, or other mysterious influences or agencies of which we have no present knowledge, and over which we have no prospective control. The earth is fast becoming an unfit home for its noblest inhabitant, and another era of equal human crime and human improvidence, and of like duration with that through which traces of that crime and that improvidence extend, would reduce it to such a condition of impoverished productiveness, of shattered surface, of climatic excess, as to threaten the deprivation, barbarism, and perhaps even extinction of the species.”

  • Mr Fasching
    I totally agree with you view of technology.
    I started feeling very much the same way long time ago. New technology most of the time wasn’t adding real value. Most new features were irrelevant.
    I still run windows XP, my naval architecture software is 1994 edition (newer editions do not add something meaningful), for compatibility reasons had to change my 1997 office suite, but moved to 2003. Use to work with Autocad 14, but for compatibility reasons, had to move to 2004 edition. Newer editions of existing softwares, do not add significant improvements, but are heavier, run slower and force you to upgrade hardware. Plus the need to learn on how to run newer systems. Designing ships with softwares that are 10 or 20 years old do not make any difference to me, since this softwares were already reasonably good (being practical), by year 2000.
    In general terms technology has been more of the same, in a different case. And all the advantages are meaningful only in an infinite growth economy. Otherwise, they do not make sense. We have been concentrated only in efficiency, in economic terms. Not in real functionality. To go faster, to… NTE.
    After following a path very much like yours, investigating very much the same topics, I came to a similar conclusion. There isn´t much to do to change the current path.
    The NTE scenario became an issue to me, at first sight.
    But not anymore. First, we as individuals are meant to die. It is our natural end of the road. Today or tomorrow, it does not (really) matter.
    Today, death is not an issue to me. I feel I have done things in an acceptable way, even considering that 30 years ago, climate change wasn´t an issue.
    There will always be reasons to be alive one more day. Important reasons (to us). If those reasons are really important (in an absolute and objective scale) to the rest, is another matter.
    I guess we are focusing our attention into not important points. NTE is not the important issue, the lessons we can learn of the process and how we ended this way is what matters.
    I see that we are not trying to learn about this experience. And to me, that is the very worrying thing. Not NTE itself.
    We usually learn by making mistakes. To live in the Pre-NTE times is a valuable experience, and conclusions have to be taken about how we ended this way. Knowledge that we have to leave, to whoever comes after.
    I can see that the explanation on how we ended this way may seem more complex than it really is. At a first sight, it looks like a mixture of so many things. But in the end, I guess everything can be explained in a very simple way. We have tried to build a society around individuals, but as nature clearly shows, the stability of the system is what matters, not the individual´s life. The purpose is the system. Not ourselves.
    How to live for the system, that is the real issue. If we want to find a durable way of living.
    As expected, today we are not thinking in somebody else that may come after us (the system in a different way). We just think in our (as individuals) current problem. How are we going to face this incoming (terrible) reality.
    We have lived in a culture built around the individual. We all live for ourselves only. To me, for me, my, etc. And most of the time very selfish (we have rights), If I have a problem, “the rest has to do something for me”. “How is that this is happening TO ME?”.
    We as individuals live and build our life only around ourselves. What I call “The tailpipe culture”. I am only worried about where I go, I does not matter to me what I leave behind, and if somebody else is affected. Many even choose not to have children just because of personal interest. When, children would be a key-point in a sustainable system. They allow continuity of our specie, and provide the most effective way to change what is wrong (if we want a better and durable future).

    I feel very interested in the process we have been living so far, and what we are about to live. We are facing a unique moment in history, the age of the falling paradigms. All of them are falling, and I bet, all will fall. Clearly showing that this society is unsustainable, and that almost everything we have known as “correct”, is wrong.
    I am convinced that some people will find a way to the other side, to start over again. And probably most of the evidence on how this ended, and what are our thoughts facing this reality (a valuable information certainly) will be lost in the process. Unless we do something to keep it. Somehow.
    So, we have to do our best to save our experiences, lessons we have learned, and thoughts. That is our really valuable legacy, and probably the most important thing we can do today. Instead of developing ways to survive the NTE process.
    If we start thinking as “we” being “them”, so everybody else (mankind) really becomes in our concept as really being “us”. Things may make more sense.
    My excuses about my English, I am not a native English spoken.

  • Muffleupagus,

    “There is virtually no problem that doesn’t already have a solution in the pipe-line. Nothing. The reason people are freaking out, is because of the PERCEIVED lack of response from the authorities. The reason these economic shenanigans are allowed to continue on, is because they’re basically an extension of political agendas. It’s a controlled “collapse”, or rather, a forced die-off of those most weak. Many die out, some are pressured to shine their brightest, and the game plays on.”

    While I have no great experience or conviction on this, I don’t underestimate the intelligence of TPTB (The Powers That Be). The scenario you allude to doesn’t bespeak a high level of evolution, which will destroy it needlessly early. But to the best of my current understanding, a critical mass of TPTB could be pushed beyond this low level of self interest to a higher one.

    A higher level of self interest would need to get away from the capitalist constraints that now, say, preclude plowing all needed, available global resources into neutralizing Fukushima, and doing likewise with other global nuke facilities. Capitalism is entirely at odds with solid “solutions,” even for TPTB.

    As the article makes so clear, constantly improving technology is a chimera, whose procurement, marketing, and distracting qualities are anathema to the effective use of technology. It would seem to be the wise and non-distracted use of available (not ever new) technology that we need.


    There might not be any going back, or any getting away from civilization, but there’s a lot of “back” sitting in attics, in abandoned factories, etc., that still have useful, workable machinery and application. This is where historic preservation can help, as can revitalization of historic places. While we have destroyed maybe 99% of the “obsolete” technology out there, there might still be one percent that we can maintain. Printing presses with moveable type are just one example.

    So, relatively wise TPTB would support preservation and revitalization, while imposing very strict constraints on developers and other of the most destructive breed of capitalists.

    Also, we don’t need “agriculture.” John Jeavons of Ecology Action has been demonstrating for the past 30 years that anyone can grow enough food on 100 square feet of land. It would surely require some intense government assistance to get us all adequately up to speed within such a paradigm (broadly speaking), but it could be done.

    The gigantic elephant in the room, as I see it, is capitalism. Agrarian and low-tech anarchy would be better.

  • Thank you Doug for an intriguing exposition on your journey to collapse awareness. It’s always interesting to me the different paths people take to arrive at the conclusion that we have cooked our goose. If anyone has ideas as to what common thread leads individuals to become enlighted I would love to hear them. Until a better idea appears I tend to think we are some sort of mutants, since proportionately we Mathusian Cassandra Doomers are the tiniest of minorities in the general population.

    Personally I was never enamored of technology and long before I realized we are doomed in my lifetime (certainly in my childrens’) I used to jokingly refer to myself as a Luddite. I always wanted to live in a tree. Perhaps the first hint I had of existential angst was a precocious obsession with the Holocaust. By the age of 12 I had probably read everything ever printed on the topic at the time (raiding my father’s extensive library), trying to understand how ordinary people could be so evil.

    For most of my life I was convinced that humanity was making progress in overall general terms and it wasn’t until I noticed that the ecosystem is collapsing – specifically, trees are dying off – that I came to see that propoganda and globalization had merely enabled us to sweep the evils of society out of general view of the wealthy nations – while slavery and exploitation of both people and the natural world continue at an accelerated rate. It’s all perfectly accessible but you have to be willing to look for it and at it.

    Since Guy brings up: “…Olmec, Chaco, and Mimbres cultures, all of whom chose tribalism when civilization failed. Tribalism worked for two million years in a diverse array of situations.”

    I have to ask, how that can be support for the idea that tribalism worked with any relevance to our modern predicament. It seems more like an example of overshoot and collapse than a paradigm for sustainability, and as for using tribalism from 2 million years ago – how could we return to what was a different species?

    “The earliest documented members of the genus Homo are Homo habilis which evolved around 2.3 million years ago; the earliest species for which there is positive evidence of use of stone tools. The brains of these early hominins were about the same size as that of a chimpanzee.”

    Do we want to go back to having brains the size of a chimpanzee even if we could?

    “During the next million years a process of encephalization began, and with the arrival of Homo erectus in the fossil record, cranial capacity had doubled to 850 cm3.[4] Homo erectus and Homo ergaster were the first of the hominina to leave Africa, and these species spread through Africa, Asia, and Europe between 1.3 to 1.8 million years ago. It is believed that these species were the first to use fire and complex tools.”

    “Anatomically modern humans evolved from archaic Homo sapiens in the Middle Paleolithic, about 200,000 years ago.[15] The transition to behavioral modernity with the development of symbolic culture, language, and specialized lithic technology happened around 50,000 years ago according to many anthropologists[16] although some suggest a gradual change in behavior over a longer time span.[17]”

    This says to me that we – our species – physically and mentally has only been around for at most 200,000 years ago. In that time our population has grown exponentially. Like the dish of bacteria that doubles its population every minute, it takes a long time to get to half-full and in the last minute it becomes full.

    Despite the ups and downs of human population over time, this has been the overall trend, one of migration (due to localized overshoot and conflict) across essentially all the continents and islands of the earth until they are full – full of us, full of our pollution.

    Much as I dislike it, I don’t see how it could end any other way. At what point in our 200,000 years as HSS could this trend have been deflected? Who was going to appeal to enough people to stop growth? Who has ever turned down burning stuff for energy – whether it is wood, or whale oil, or petroleum?

  • ‘Maybe I have to accept delusion as normalcy.’ -kt256

    if common equates to normal, then certainly delusion is normal. however, the reason i’m responding to this is because it provides a great segue to one of my great pet peeves: how dogma addicts always fall back on statements like these, the scoundrel’s last resort: ‘my sacred beliefs are beyond reproach! u may not agree with them, but u must respect them!’

    robin datta, i imagine that for a non existent, illusory meat robot, u’re a pretty cool guy. perhaps the illusion of a meat robot that is ‘i’ can now return the favor by pleasing your imagination with the news that i imagine i grok (faintly) some of what u say. i suspect that behind our illusions lies something eternal, although what it might be is sheer mystery. what still gets my goat (bothers me, for those unfamiliar with this idiom) is why this charade of surreality? what possible purpose does/can it serve? the search for knowledge/meaning within it is ever elusive.

    days are shortening rapidly now in the mid latitudes of the northern hemisphere. another winter beckons. will be my 55th, or so i’ve been told. no novelty anymore. just marking time, waiting to be dead.

  • Dear Guy, I’d like to know how you define secularism. Thanks.

    But more importantly if anyone can explain how ice is considered a mineral because I was at B&N doing research on rocks and minerals and one of the books listed ice as a mineral. That is extremely confusing and also enlightening to me. It is really bothering me that we are mindlessly letting vast reserves of minerals disentigrate, and disperse as something else entirely. This is extremely troubling to me because I have never heard anyone describe the ice sheets, glaciers, etc. as a mineral. For me it just changes everything in dramatic ways. What does it mean to have such massive amounts of mineral deposit disappear and when it turns into a liquid? How do you turn it back into mineral? You can’t. This just sucks. How many other things like this am I in the dark about? My mind is still making sense of this and what it could mean. I feel let down by science, really. I think this science and God thing is important here. Somehow.

  • Doug,
    I was born at the end of 62. while I didn’t experience the whole military/technology part, the rest sounds remarkably similar. Star Trek, Asimov and The Dune Trilogy. It seems that many of us who find our way to Guy have somewhat similar stories of having been focusing on pieces of the puzzle and are now connecting the dots. OF Course, some sooner than others. I have a long standing interest in science as well as science fiction which in turn opened the door for having a better listening for nature and the environment. The stories of those of us who find ourselves here seem to have similar undercurrents. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story. I found myself relating. Its all so insane and yet here, together we somehow find a way to cope.

  • While searching for info on “Mysterious Fema region 3 Alert” issued by retired State Senator Sheldon R. Songstad of South Dakota — I came across this story from Greg Palast.

    Greg Palast’s Column
    The Confidential Memo at the Heart of the Global Financial Crisis

    By Greg Palast

    When a little birdie dropped the End Game memo through my window, its content was so explosive, so sick and plain evil, I just couldn’t believe it.

    The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet. When you see 26.3 percent unemployment in Spain, desperation and hunger in Greece, riots in Indonesia and Detroit in bankruptcy, go back to this End Game memo, the genesis of the blood and tears.

    The Treasury official playing the bankers’ secret End Game was Larry Summers. Today, Summers is Barack Obama’s leading choice for Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, the world’s central bank. If the confidential memo is authentic, then Summers shouldn’t be serving on the Fed, he should be serving hard time in some dungeon reserved for the criminally insane of the finance world.

    The memo is authentic.

  • Guy McPherson says: Also please note that this is a secular zone. Let’s avoid the distraction of religion (cf. spirituality).

    @ Guy: Wow! That’s great! Thank you very much for that!

    NBL is a secular zone:
    Reality’s what we condone;
    We put our reliance
    On natural science,
    Where verified proof has been shown.

  • @virgin
    impermanence (or change) is the nature of life and reality.
    And it is this reality that gives it meaning.

    Or perhaps a quote from Carl makes it a bit clearer:
    The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.

    Most people never really get this…they can’t escape from their own anthropocentrism long enough to see the truth.

  • Exactly how long is all this going to take to play out?

    Well, the Arctic Ocean should be free of sea ice by 2100. Or so we heard a decade of so ago. And hundred-year floods, hundred-year storms, droughts and heat waves are to be expected – once in a hundred years. Enjoy the ride!

    There is no problem without a solution in the pipeline.
    Quite possibly a solution inspired by Amory Lovins. If not, then Nature’s solution, The Final Solution. NTE.

    A return to tribalism would need both a restoration of habitat and a culling of the herd.

    Godofredo Aravena:
    No need to apologise for English. If anyone is to blame, it would be King Philip III of Spain. He appointed Antonio Medina, a ground-pounder to head the Navy after the Admiral who has that position died. General Medina had led successful campaigns against the Dutch, but his ideas about the sea were framed by how to move his troops across them. So he built large unwieldy slow ships to carry large numbers of troops, and outfitted them with cannon and gunwales almost as an afterthought.

    The English Royal Navy, with its fast, agile gunships under Sir Francis Drake and others made short work of the Spanish Armada. Hence Britain’s world dominance, North American colonies, a couple of centuries of British Raj in the Indian subcontinent – and consequent to the latter, my parents’ common (and hence my first) language being English.

    A different sequence of events, and I too might be speaking Spanish.

    And as I realised right off the bat upon arriving in New York, these folks not only don’t speak English, they also won’t speak English. (Nevertheless, some
    want to make what here is called “English” the official language.)

    i suspect that behind our illusions lies something eternal,

    Anything eternal is still in the domain of time within space-time-causation: same as the body-mind meat-robot.

    the search for knowledge/meaning within it is ever elusive.

    Both knowledge and meaning are also limited to the realm of space-time-causation. This stuff should be taught in churches, etc. Instead it is Greek to almost all.

    how ice is considered a mineral

    Wikipedia: “A mineral is a naturally occurring substance that is solid and stable at room temperature, representable by a chemical formula, usually abiogenic, and has an ordered atomic structure. It is different from a rock, which can be an aggregate of minerals or non-minerals, and does not have a specific chemical composition. The exact definition of a mineral is under debate, especially with respect to the requirement a valid species be abiogenic, and to a lesser extent with regards to it having an ordered atomic structure. The study of minerals is called mineralogy.”

    A lot may depend on where the room with the temperature happens to be. Iron is a vapour in the atmosphere of stars. Solid methane and ethane are believed to be present in the liquid methane and ethane seas of Titan, a moon of Saturn.

    A secular NBL would indeed be great.

    A recognition is needed that the presumption of an awareness in any and all others (than oneself) is a surmise. Anything short of that offers an opening to religion: an opportunity to guide those awarenesses, and “save those souls” :-Q.

    From those who refuse to be so saved, fillet of soul (actually of the body of the lost soul).

  • I am truly humbled. I learned more from reading the comments than I did from writing the essay! Great references to other authors and material.

    Yes I do struggle with the fact that there is no “I”. It’s too easy to forget isn’t it?

    I did not intend to demonize technology. It is neither good nor evil. I meant to communicate my frustration with it’s application.

    It was not my intent to demonize people, I know we are capable of so much more. We just keep getting it so terribly wrong. It’s not that we can’t change that bugs me, it’s that we refuse to change and now it’s too late.

    Yes we are running a fascinating experiment right at this moment. Exponential growth of technological innovation in parallel with Exponential growth of Economic and Climate Collapse. If it weren’t for good old fashioned capitalism and politics I would almost believe we might have a chance.

    With those in place though, the only thing we can do with exponentially advancing technology is accelerate the problems. For example: electric vehicles that are really powered mainly with Nuclear or Coal power plants. Hybrid vehicles that cost more resources and energy to produce than the amount of energy saved during their lifetimes. Ethanol from corn as an attempt to use less oil. Solar panels that produce less energy over their lifetimes than the energy that went into producing them, etc. etc. etc.

    On the spiritual side, I am an atheist, so belief in an eternal soul is not an option for me. Yes I feel a spiritual connection with nature, since we are a part of it but I am not of a “Mother Earth” frame of mind. Nature does not exist for our pleasure, it has it’s own mind about things and it plays by it’s rules and not ours. That is the point of NBT isn’t it?

    Since I am gay and an only child, I do not have the continuity of connection to the human family to give me comfort. Even if I was capable of having kids I would be so guilt-ridden with adding another “Consumer” to an already overburdened planet I would not be able to live with it. Yes it is normal and natural to have kids and I don’t fault people that follow their natural instincts to procreate, but that instinct is part of what is ending us.

    I made my peace with my mortality a long time ago, although it would sound like I am struggling with it. My way of dealing with no God and no Soul was to understand that I am a link in the chain that is the evolution of the human race. As long as an humanity in some form continues to exist, then so do I. That comfort was stolen from me with the extinction of the entire species in 30 years.

    For those of you who believe in the possibility of transhumanism which is an analog to pouring the human perception / value / ethical system into machines, please keep in mind that it is unlikely that within 30 years we can develop a technology that can survive without both us and cheap plentiful energy.

    In many ways I do resent the fact that I went for the shiny bauble of technology instead of embracing nature. Growing up in rural Kettle Falls Washington, population 1500 showed me that most of man’s connection with nature was in eating it, sawing it down and burning it or poisoning it. In my foolishness I believed that technology would eliminate man’s fight with nature. We would not have to toil in it day after back breaking day, we would be able to nourish it and enjoy it instead. As I may have eluded to before, I am not as smart as I thought I was.

    I do concur. the entire set of human social institutions and hierarchal arrangement needs to be totally scrapped and replaced. This is why I am involved with The Zeitgeist Movement and their concept of the “Reality Based Economy”. This is the only organization that I can find that seems to have nailed down the problems and has proposed a viable course of action.

    Unfortunately since it is a non-hierarchal non-centralized organization that appeals mainly to academics and well-educated, upper middle class, mostly white, mostly male, mostly 20-30 somethings, this group has almost no chance of even getting the mass of people to know they exist, let alone have a chance of executing their grand plans before the time is up.

    Yet I still try.

    Sigh- Hopium Springs Eternal

  • I just want to say to Thanatos Sunbum – I am having problems getting comments to display but when the webiste cooperates, I’m enjoying your refreshing and delightfully unsentimental observations tremendously! There are a zillion places on the web and in real life to find delusional hope and unwarranted anthropocentrism. Thank you for reminding us that NBL is, as Guy said in Mt. Shasta, a “safe place” for the NTE aware to commiserate. There are precious few other venues, public or private, where many of us can express our fears and pain without ridicule – or attacks for being “contemptuous” when merely expressing our deepest dark prognostications.

  • Apparently a few individuals were not able to see things from the perspective I attempted to elucidate. If they were not intentionally obstinate, then I failed to communicate adequately. Please allow me to try again.

    When I used the colloquial term “go back to” I was referring to a return to the notion, a renewal of the comprehension, that we cannot survive on a dead Earth. I was suggesting that such comprehension would be an appropriate course of action at this time. In various human groups in the past, this most basic of all concepts -that humans can’t live outside the vitality of nature- was simply an ordinary, unquestioned, fact of Life. Living outside of nature? Impossible. Foolish. Absurd. But, this is apparently an obscure, advanced, difficult observation in modern times — once an unquestioned assumption, simple common sense. Based on that somewhat shocking assessment, I guess I’ll continue to exert the unexpected effort to try to explain it more fully to those civilized minds that just don’t seem to be able to get it.

    Even ‘spaceships’ must carry a bit of Earth’s ecosphere for humans to temporarily survive inside them. I may need to remind some people that no self contained indefinitely sustainable, intergalactic eco-spaceship has ever been built, despite all the science fiction we have been ray-gunned with, repeatedly. The Living Earth, and the Sun and the Moon and all the rest of this solar system and Galaxy and cloud of galaxies that we just happen to be of, is the closest thing to that miracle ship that we have. That has generated and sustained Life. It does not exist in an isolated independent instance. It only functions as an integrated system. A living system.

    I was not referring to any particular romantic point in the history of human inventions. I was not, for example, suggesting that humans “go back” to the technology of horses and iron wheels and buggy whips. Or the technology and philosophy of hunting and gathering. Or Star Trek. I was not suggesting any particular level of technology, real or fantasy, at all. I was pointing out that we needed to “go back” to the “myth” that without a living Earth, we’re dead.

    I was discussing the character of technological civilization — that it intentionally ignores the necessary relationship with nature. Just like the financial system, which is another human invention. I was discussing the amazing ever changing complexity of nature from the micro sub atomic to the macro cosmic as far beyond any static catalog humans have tallied. I was pointing out that technological cheer leaders are only spewing pure hubris when they claim to be masters of the universe, or even just the Earth, or even an amoeba.

    I was suggesting that we “go back” to respecting Life. I realize that is antithetical to those who cling to faith in human invention as the ultimate genesis and provider. Inconvenient to those who still don’t get it that technology will not continue on a dead Earth. Technology depends on living human beings, not the other way around. Duh! Life is primary. Life comes first. Without Life all else, including technology, is moot. Everything we do, including all our inventions, starts from Life, depends on Life, and can only continue with Life as the fundamental basis.

    If we ever manage to reincorporate that into our general comprehension, then, perhaps, we can begin to consider which, if any, human inventions we can hold onto, while still sustaining Life. Life First! Then we can think about inventions… and extinction by invention.

    Again: Technology necessarily depends on living human beings, living human beings do not necessarily depend on technology. We depend on a living Earth.

  • I found it remarkable that in the very long list of things he had learned from so many difference individuals, not one was female.

  • Why technology is not sustainable:

    Geoffrey West on COMPLEXITY

  • Bob S. Says – The Memo confirmed every conspiracy freak’s fantasy: that in the late 1990s, the top US Treasury officials secretly conspired with a small cabal of banker big-shots to rip apart financial regulation across the planet.

    Ripping appart financial regulation allows an acceleration of the process of continual and endless accumulation of capital. Regulation is interference, restricting the flow, it is the job of a capitalist to get rid of it, all of it, any of it. This is this system we all live under, and it can’t stop itself. It’s hardly a conspiracy, it has always been right out in the open, just read the business press or the speeches of Ronald Reagan or Margaret Thatcher.

    We are in a capitalist system only when the system gives priority to the endless accumulation of capital. Using such a definition, only the modern world-system has been a capitalist system. Endless accumulation is a quite simple concept: it means that people and firms are accumulating capital in order to accumulate still more capital, a process that is continual and endless. If we say that a system ‘gives priority’ to such endless accumulation, it means that there exist structural mechanisms by which those who act with other motivations are penalized in some way, and are eventually eliminated from the social scene, whereas those who act with the appropriate motivations are rewarded and, if successful, enriched. – Immanuel Wallerstein.

    I like to contemplate the phrase ‘gives priority’, that means everything else comes second…and the phrase ‘eventually eliminated’ and how it can easily be extended beyond just people or other ways of life, but also to ecosystems and to the entire living planet. Does anyone else realize the implications of this? It means that this capitalist software is programed to end in self-destruction, it is the condemnation of our existence, and if climate science is correct, this program is about 99% completed.

  • @ Ravendcr

    impermanence (or change) is the nature of life and reality.
    And it is this reality that gives it meaning.

    Erm, I suggest there are many other aspects that give existence meaning, meaning is an extremely complex notion. I’m not excluding what you say, just that it’s an absurd over-simplification.

    Or perhaps a quote from Carl makes it a bit clearer:
    The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent.

    Just because Carl said so ? We have absolutely no idea what the Universe is, nor why it is. Very oddly, it produced us.
    For no reason at all ?

    All the scientists, philosophers, and mystics have as yet, not been able to come up with an answer which satisfies everyone. Many are convinced of their own personal answer, of course, and promote it, our own Robin Datta, being a convenient illustration.

    Most people never really get this…they can’t escape from their own anthropocentrism long enough to see the truth.

    But you are merely making a claim, an assertion. It can, and will be, disputed, by others. So then what ? Unless someone can come up with an overwhelming convincing case, we are no better off, are we.

    Everybody has to arrive at their own personal, subjective conclusion, as to what life means, what the Universe means, what it’s fundamental nature is, etc.

    Some, accept aliens and UFOs, some a personified anthropomorphic loving God who intervenes directly, some an entropy gradient, etc, etc, etc. It’s a mish mash of scientific data, speculation, belief systems and confusion.

    I don’t think anyone can dispute what I said can they ? We don’t know what the Universe is, but we know it produced us ? 🙂

    I think the wisest approach is to contemplate that, in the manner of a zen monk contemplating the stones and moss and gravel of a zen garden…

    Is there an answer to be found ? Who knows ? But the question is the questioner…

    @ Doug Fasching

    I did not intend to demonize technology. It is neither good nor evil. I meant to communicate my frustration with it’s application.

    Couple of examples come to mind of people who have wrestled with the problem of trying to select the ‘good’ technology from the ‘bad’ are the Kogi and the Amish.

    Also interesting was the Shaker’s take on their chair, which is as elegant and functional and eco-friendly and pleasurable to construct as any item ever conceived. So, if as it were, perfection can be achieved, why can’t we stop ?

    Fashion and planned obsolescence, and the Red Queen, everybody running faster to stay in the same place. Until everybody dies of exhaustion.

    Godofredo’s point re computers and software. I had Photoshop 4 set up on a Mac. It was better than all previous versions for my needs, and everything was perfection. The upgrades made everything obsolete and much worse. So that Apple and Adobe could extract more money. This struck me as a sort of insanity. I had another wonderful application, the best in it’s class, that was bought and closed down by a big corporation, just to stop a rival competitor getting it. More insanity. The so called capitalist free market doesn’t supply ‘the best’, it screws everybody and eats itself, so that a few people can take the money and run.

  • ‘This is why I am involved with The Zeitgeist Movement and their concept of the “Reality Based Economy”.’

    Unfortunately, from what I have seen, that sector of the Zeitgeist movement is the least connected with reality, and the proposed solutions are not viable.


    Low Level Radiation: Deadly … Or Harmless?

    Posted on August 23, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog

    Cutting through the Misinformation

    In response to the news that mass quantities of highly-radioactive water are flowing from Fukushima into the Pacific Ocean – and that the radioactivity is spreading to North America – the usual suspects are saying that that low-level radiation won’t hurt anyone.

    Indeed, some are advocating intentionally dumping all of Fukushima’s radiation into the sea as a “safe” solution.

    (And some folks are pretending that a little radiation is good for you.)

    The truth is quite different.

    Even Miniscule Amounts of Radiation Can Be Dangerous

    A major 2012 scientific study proves that low-level radiation can cause huge health problems. Science Daily reports:

    Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded in the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews. Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.

    The review is a meta-analysis of studies of locations around the globe …. “Pooling across multiple studies, in multiple areas, and in a rigorous statistical manner provides a tool to really get at these questions about low-level radiation.”

    Mousseau and co-author Anders Møller of the University of Paris-Sud combed the scientific literature, examining more than 5,000 papers involving natural background radiation that were narrowed to 46 for quantitative comparison. The selected studies all examined both a control group and a more highly irradiated population and quantified the size of the radiation levels for each. Each paper also reported test statistics that allowed direct comparison between the studies.

    The organisms studied included plants and animals, but had a large preponderance of human subjects. Each study examined one or more possible effects of radiation, such as DNA damage measured in the lab, prevalence of a disease such as Down’s Syndrome, or the sex ratio produced in offspring. For each effect, a statistical algorithm was used to generate a single value, the effect size, which could be compared across all the studies.

    The scientists reported significant negative effects in a range of categories, including immunology, physiology, mutation and disease occurrence. The frequency of negative effects was beyond that of random chance.


    “When you do the meta-analysis, you do see significant negative effects.”

    “It also provides evidence that there is no threshold below which there are no effects of radiation,” he added. “A theory that has been batted around a lot over the last couple of decades is the idea that is there a threshold of exposure below which there are no negative consequences. These data provide fairly strong evidence that there is no threshold — radiation effects are measurable as far down as you can go, given the statistical power you have at hand.”

    Mousseau hopes their results, which are consistent with the “linear-no-threshold” model for radiation effects, will better inform the debate about exposure risks. “With the levels of contamination that we have seen as a result of nuclear power plants, especially in the past, and even as a result of Chernobyl and Fukushima and related accidents, there’s an attempt in the industry to downplay the doses that the populations are getting, because maybe it’s only one or two times beyond what is thought to be the natural background level,” he said. “But they’re assuming the natural background levels are fine.”

    “And the truth is, if we see effects at these low levels, then we have to be thinking differently about how we develop regulations for exposures, and especially intentional exposures to populations, like the emissions from nuclear power plants, medical procedures, and even some x-ray machines at airports.”

    Physicians for Social Responsibility notes:

    According to the National Academy of Sciences, there are no safe doses of radiation. Decades of research show clearly that any dose of radiation increases an individual’s risk for the development of cancer.

    “There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources. Period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of Physicians for Social Responsibility. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine-131 and cesium-137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

    “Consuming food containing radionuclides is particularly dangerous. If an individual ingests or inhales a radioactive particle, it continues to irradiate the body as long as it remains radioactive and stays in the body,”said Alan H. Lockwood, MD, a member of the Board of Physicians for Social Responsibility.


    Radiation can be concentrated many times in the food chain and any consumption adds to the cumulative risk of cancer and other diseases.

    (there’s a lot more)

  • Benjamin, I missed Guy’s comment that this is a secular zone. A ditto on the thanks for that to Guy and as usual great limerick.

    My question to Guy, is why then the last essay which in the most patronizing manner dissed all atheists and agnostics and assumed he knew how awful facing NTE would be for them without apparently asking any?

    It is hard to not challenge such a smug statement so it elicited more than the usual comments on religion.

    I am glad to leave religion out as it is surely a distraction in the discussion here, but in collapse there will be the usual tendency to blame the non-religious and try to appease an angry god by killing them. Ah well if some of us find ourselves with flames licking at our feet we can rest easy that the burners will also be burned by the heat of AGW.

    Meanwhile, back in the world of facts, I don’t remember this in your list of feedbacks – if not there already zingo you have another one.

    Another significant global warming positive feedback that will add even more to future temperature rises has been identified by researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, Germany. End result: Perhaps another half a degree of warming this century.

    New research just published in Nature Climate by Katharine Six and her colleagues shows that as oceans become more acidic (by absorbing increasing volumes of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to form carbonic acid), the amount of a compound called dimethylsulphide (DMS) in the ocean decreases.

    So what? The researchers say that marine DMS emissions are the largest natural source of atmospheric sulphur, and changes in their strength have the potential to alter the Earth’s radiation budget. They establish:
    … observational-based relationships between pH (acidity) changes and DMS concentrations to estimate changes in future DMS emissions …
    Global DMS emissions decrease by about 18(±3)% in 2100 compared with pre-industrial times as a result of the combined effects of ocean acidification and climate change. The reduced DMS emissions induce a significant additional radiative forcing, of which 83% is attributed to the impact of ocean acidification, tantamount to an equilibrium temperature response between 0.23 and 0.48 K. Our results indicate that ocean acidification has the potential to exacerbate anthropogenic warming through a mechanism that is not considered at present in projections of future climate change.

    rest at

  • AgentR says, “Why do I need to buy into the magical fantasy of ET and the Jetson’s in order to live and die well? Isn’t it enough that I wake knowing my child has some food in the fridge and packmates to run around with (OUTSIDE!!!) during the day?……It’s even OK that our existence causes the next extinction event.”

    A continuing focus on me and mine will ensure a continuation of the present 6th mass extinction crises, and while AgentR rests easy knowing that mankind is responsible for the greatest mass extinction event in 67 million years, this horrible reality is deeply unsettling for me. And, no, the Jetsons nor ET defines how I live or die. Instead I maintain a healthy curiosity of the unknown. The purpose of science is to investigate the unexplained, not to explain the uninvestigated.

    December 1952 classified memorandum from Director CIA Scientific Intelligence (CSI) to CIA Director Walter Bedell Smith obtained via Freedom of Information Act filing request:

    “At this time the reports of (UFO) incidents convince us that there is something going on that must have immediate attention. Sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling at high speeds in the vicinity of major US defense installations are of such a nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or known types of aerial vehicles.”

  • There is hope and a solution. We must emotionally detach from our limited, flawed human selves and realign with our infinite, perfect universal selves. When this world implodes, we will not be destroyed, only transformed. It is a law of physics that nothing in the universe can be completely destroyed, only transformed into something else. We exist in the universe, thus we can not be destroyed, only transformed into something else. We will always exist in a universal form. This is the deepest truth we have and it gives me peace and hope of infinite possibilities.

  • I see there is another rob posting, so I’ll be Rob at the public library…

    @ Marsha
    I totally disagree. We will all become nothing more than widely scattered subatomic particles in the cold, dark, expanse of space.
    Nobobdy will be remembered…

    @ Mr. Fashing: You said:
    “The real surprise for me was not nature or technical issues. The largest problem is people. This day and age I don’t believe you can get more than two people to commit to a course of action. Too many agendas. Too much misunderstanding. Too much ego to protect. With everyone trying to be right all the time and optimize their options you can pretty much forget mutual-benefit survival. We don’t play Win / Win anymore. The only game we know how to play is Zero Sum and the only option you have to exercise is to be winner or loser.”

    Totally my experience. I generally do not like being around people. And all the “love is the answer” crowd are going to get a very rude awakening when the marauding hoards of cannibals include their next door neighbors, their co-workers, even their next of kin.


    And, now, melted down nuclear plants are No DAnger to our health! that’s good. let me have another helping of that Alaskan King Crab. You know, those of us that have accepted NTE (that’s NEAR Term Extinction), probably shouldn’t care all that much – if I could, I might even travel to Japan and enjoy a week on the beach near the plant, I bet the hotel rates are fantastic…


    The children suffer, there is no redemption.

  • .
    2nd and last post for today

    China is planning to build the equivalent of two new coal-fired power stations every week for the foreseeable future.

    Without significant technological development of existing low-carbon technologies and new ones, climate change is unlikely to be limited to anything like 2°C. (too bad even WITH significant technological development…)

  • Thanatos S’s comments regarding the irreversible nature of our situation were wonderfully lucid and I would like to add one more observation.

    One of the reasons NTE is now inevitable is because a die-down from a human population of 7.2 billion will inexorably lead to apocalyptic warfare among the most dominant nation states. No one is going to quietly allow their population to starve and all of the military resources available to each state will be implemented against others in the coming world of pan-scarcity.

    From Constant Battles, by Harvard archeologist Steven Leblanc:

    Before starving, humans perceive themselves to be falling below what they consider their minimal standard of living. As I learned in Samoa, it may take several months for a food crisis to develop after a natural disaster, and such an impending crisis can be anticipated. People recognize what is happening long before it seriously affects them, and they react if they can. For most animals, natural disasters, disease, and starvation are the population limiters. Though human numbers are subject to disease and natural disasters (and there was little we would have been able to do about them in the past), starvation is a very different matter. Starvation is different because humans, with their brains and social structures, can do something about the fact that they are running out of food. Humans starve only when there are no other choices. One of those choices is to attempt to take either food, or food-producing land, from someone else. People do perceive resource stress before they are starving. If no state or central authority is there to stop them, they will fight before the situation gets hopeless. Resource stress in the form of hunger, and not starvation, is what precipitates warfare. If resource stress is the normal human condition, then warfare must have been an integral part of life most of the time in most places.

  • Doug, thanks for the essay. Our journeys have been different, but we’ve arrived at the same place. And, just because, let me say that your spending 30K and a year of your life on a sea gypsy fantasy is trumped by us spending a lot more than that on property that ultimately is useless because we can’t find water. Three years have been devoted to that.

    Still, hope to get the hell out of civilization before the crashes start.

    Because of this website and the people here that share so freely, the fantasy has morphed from self sufficiency to lovely surroundings where we can watch the show for as long as possible.

    General (and ignorant) question for the group: I’ve heard it said that the interior of this country will be uninhabitable. I certainly can see why the west and south will fry, and the Atlantic coast will be underwater, but why is Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, NY, etc. included? Don’t misunderstand…..I get that everything goes eventually. But for the old vantage point of watching it happen, wouldn’t the northern states with lots of water be better off than those who aren’t?

  • What can I write?

    Seems only allowed to write…Science, Science Science…Twice per day!

    What happened to saying what is on your mind?

    I could even define Science as Sooooo Spiritual Man, but that can’t be, right?
    Did I miss something? Has the ‘can’ now been defined and kicked down the road here at NBL too?
    I mean whack me with a wet fish but…
    With all due respect, has this got to do with the greater viewer numbers, and not wanting to ’emerge into the mainstream’ and be ‘positioned’ as a Science versus Religion site, as opposed to a credible Scientific discussion forum about NTE and Catastrophic Climate Change?
    If so, fine, I’m still feeling the loyalty to the past mixing of minds etc, but now missing some sump oil to keep my confuser writing.

    I suppose ‘letting go’, can be of NBL now too.

    Supposing I’ve made some blind error, but in case I haven’t…

    I’m out. Obviously all I got is ‘Double Duces’.
    By now(not ‘Buy Now’)…
    It’s been an honour, and I know, probably all mine.

    See y’all on the road…
    Cathy C, you and Guy r the best! Keep clucking ol’ gel.

  • @Doug Fasching
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It has been an interesting couple of days, reading this and some of the comments, just letting it stew and simmer on the back-burner. I have to say, there is some excellent writing going on here, some of the best on the internet, in my opinion, even with the butting of heads. Doug, you said, I do not have the continuity of connection to the human family to give me comfort. Well, this group will gladly adopt you!

    On technology, it seems the more complex it is, the more vulnerable it is to problems and obsolescence. Some technologies never go out of style, though. Like duct tape and WD40. Just yesterday, I was out hiking and I had never seen the fruit of the prickly pear cactus, so me in my never-ending quest to embrace nature, of course had to pick one and cut it open with a sharp rock. Hello! PRICKLY PEAR! Duh. When I got home, duct tape was the only practical tool to remove the almost microscopic, hair-like prickles.

    Sometimes I feel like we humans are the problem, too, but other times I tend towards leniency. I figure everything was already present before we got here, and we just sort of rearranged things. Now we can’t remember where things were before we moved them, so can’t put them back.
    I want to see the good, but it is so easy to become disenchanted with my brethren. I was out walking the other evening, thinking how one usually looks at the ground while walking, but now I must remember to look up to dodge any branches that might fall from the decaying trees. Up ahead on the trail, I spotted a young deer, maybe a yearling, as there was no mama deer, and he was grazing not five feet from where some idiots backed their truck up to the trail and dumped a mountain of garbage. So, then I remember all of the bad, all of the abuse and exploitation we have been responsible for. It does’t matter who’s to blame any more, we are all going to suffer the consequences now.

    @Bob S. I held my 3yo grandson in my arms when he fell asleep at last nites small dinner party. I put him in bed, and as I stumbled down the unlit stairs towards my truck, I looked upwards and the big dipper sucker punched me like Iron Mike Tyson. I stumbled to my truck, regained my composure, and drove home.

    So bittersweet, the weight of a small child in the arms. I cried hot tears after reading this. You know, after I get the kids to bed at night, and weather permitting, I always go outside and seek out the Big Dipper. I do so to remember, to put myself back into place, to feel how small and inconsequential I and all of my worries are. Then I breath it in and join the stars. We are all one and the same. Thank you for sharing your tender moment with your grand-baby, and may you enjoy some more of those precious moments.

  • First, an interesting take on the disastrous spread of technology:

    ”Cultural evolution is dangerous child for any species to let loose on its planet … We humans are Earth’s Pandoran species. … We are the one’s who let the second replicator out of it’s box and we can’t put it back in.”
    So says Susan Blackmore in her TED presentation.

    ”Susan Blackmore studies memes: ideas that replicate themselves from brain to brain like a virus. She makes a bold new argument: Humanity has spawned a new kind of meme, the teme, which spreads itself via technology — and invents ways to keep itself alive. … We’re now headed, she believes, toward a new form of meme, spread by the technology we’ve created. TED blurb

    Blackmore suggests technology is now a meme (or always has been) which uses us to replicate itself just as social and psychological memes have. This could explain our obsession with technology over the last hundreds (thousands, millions?) of years or so and how it seems to have taken over and encouraged us to use it to the point of destroying the planetary biosphere. She also seems to address Fermi’s Paradox in this talk, although not by name. Just like Arthur C. Clarke said – intelligent species destroy themselves, as we are doing, before they get into space.

    I know the meme hypothesis is controversial but in the context of this week’s discussion of technology I strongly recommend you all take 19 minutes and 31 seconds out of your day to absorb this interesting and compelling idea.

    re: ”I’ve heard it said that the interior of this country will be uninhabitable. I certainly can see why the west and south will fry, and the Atlantic coast will be underwater, but why is Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, NY, etc. included? … But for the old vantage point of watching it happen, wouldn’t the northern states with lots of water be better off than those who aren’t?”

    The presence of those large bodies of water could actually make the situation worse. I’ve never been to those places but I have been to Ontario which is on the Lakes. One problem is the level of the lakes is dropping – this indicates a disruption of the hydrological cycle. The lakes could become anoxic just as the oceans are and release deadly amounts of H2S and CH4 in the same way. Any forests will burn as they are all around the world (probably the worst global fire season in history and the situation with San Francisco is an interesting portent)
    I’m guessing the big thing, though, will be killing humidity. Remember the wet-bulb temperature thing – Ontario and Quebec always have the highest humidex ratings (basically a wet-bulb chart) in the summer and lately it has been rising to dangerous levels. Heat deaths have risen 2000% through the first decade of this century. So if this humidity thing is typical of the states on the southern side of the lakes then it could be those locales are actually the most dangerous places to be when the heat really starts to rise because of the humidity.

    re: ”There might not be any going back, or any getting away from civilization, but there’s a lot of “back” sitting in attics, in abandoned factories, etc., that still have useful, workable machinery and application. … While we have destroyed maybe 99% of the “obsolete” technology out there, there might still be one percent that we can maintain.”

    I say …
    What Erin said:
    ”… hunter/gatherers (not horse and buggy civilization), will not even be able continue their long and successful lifestyle because climate change will ruin their habitat as surely as it is ruining that of their prey and forage. … There was a perfectly functioning culture alive and well in this valley where I live before Europeans got here. … But even they could not go back. We’ve ruined that possibility by 200 years of habitat destruction.” emphasis added by me

    There may be some small communities or groups who have a few artifacts laying around they may be able to renovate and utilize. If I scoured around here I might be able to find some equipment, an old buggy, some tools, a forge (no coal, though); there might even be an old guy to show me how to run some of it. Almost everyone still has a wood stove tucked away somewhere but few of us use them much– cord wood is more expensive than natural gas per thermal unit. Which is worse – burn more fossil fuel or cut more trees. I don’t know. The carbon footprint and the time and personal energy required for that search for antique technology would be substantial. I might be able to steal one of the hobby farmers’ horses to pull my buggy … if they haven’t been eaten by that point. In any case, this would be a short term stop-gap before extinction is complete. And I have Fukishima on my mind.

    I’m not sure I would want to make that kind of effort anyway. I find, at my age, life has gotten a bit “thin.” That is the best word I can find. When we were younger there was texture, depth, vivid colours, exciting things to discover and explore, people to meet (and have sex with), places to go and things to do. I don’t even have much of a bucket list … even if I had the money. I could go to Argentina to learn Spanish and dance Tango but that is a pretty big transition for someone my age and gringos, as the outsider there, could be in plenty big trouble when starving, angry Argentinians want to lash out in their fear and rage.

    I have discussed this with my social worker friend down the road and she says she is going to “stay at her post” (my words, not hers) – she finds her meaning in connection with and in service to others. I’ve taken quite a shining to her so I think I’ll stick around here and watch her back. I guess I’ll find my last bit of meaning in connection with and in service to her and by extension to those she serves, who, of course, are the people around here. The circle closes.

    The kicker is the environment: water shortages, desertification, whiplash weather – the list is long and has been typed out many times. And Fukishima. I’ve been reading about that a lot lately and I cannot see any way it will not fuck up. All there needs to be is another seismic event, subsidence, fucking up the fuel rod removal and the fat lady dies.

    By the way, sea level doesn’t have to rise to some dramatic pre-historic levels to cause major disruption. Just look at the effect of Hurricane Sandy. More powerful storms and even just a slightly higher sea level can cause major devastation and more frequent and more powerful storms are not coming in the future, they are here. Also most current sea level rise so far has been from thermal expansion. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

    @ michell/montreal
    thank you for the link to The Cloud Begins With Coal. I knew the InterWeb consumed a lot of electricity but I had no idea at all, not the faintest notion, it was consumes as much as it does. Very interesting take on the energy consumption of the very communication medium we use to go in endless circles lamenting our fates whilst one of the barriers to the faintest possibility we could do something about this catastrophe is energy depletion. I think that qualifies as ironic (in the real definition of ironic, not the Alanis Morisette, Emo usage).

    Don’t get me wrong – I think we are mightily privileged to have this opportunity to process the death of an entire planetary biosphere. At least we will not be taken by surprise when the specific manner of our own death via the mechanisms of NTE finally overtakes us.

    I’m pretty resolved to death and have been for a long time – a person experiences so much death in an agricultural setting it is pretty hard to deny it is going to happen to you. It is sad about the biosphere – it could be the only one in the Universe – but if Blackmore is correct in her speculations, then extinguishing itself is just what intelligent meme carrying species do.

    So it goes.

    Several posts back there was a bit of discussion regarding the specific meaning of the First Noble Truth of the Buddha. I just keep it simple – I’ve interpreted that entire Twelve Step as non-attachment and do the best you can.

    Works for me

  • Still waiting for Guy to explain what secular means as a reference for discussions that are championed here, in the mean time…,.,

    It seems to me that if we frame the catastrophe in the artic regions as a disentigration of massive mineral deposits that means something entirely different than ice melting. Frozen mineral ice is very different than other kinds and losing those land accumulations is beyond tragic. Again there is a way that I think science is so isolated from feeling or intuition, that it is failing us misereably. Within their factual framework, denuded of all spirit, still the best factual truth goes missing. Even the scientific truth. The emergence of the concious facility to believe one thing leaves no room for others and it was this psychic development that reached it’s limit in God concepts that are still with us. If you can be aware of how your mind works with old systems of thought and perception, we can make room for new ones. That insight potential that then becomes available, is, IMO a real way for us to naturally live back in alignment with the truth of nature. Natural human emotions like love become something entirely different. Everything becomes entirely different if how we see the world changes how we relate to it. Cultural industrial civilization is Currently a relationship to nature that is fearful, hostile and ignorant.

  • Cowgirl Apocalypse Haiku #30

    Iridescent blue
    feathers turned dull black – a husk
    covered in dewdrops.

  • wildwoman says: property that ultimately is useless

    @ wildwoman, that’s terrible, sorry to hear it. I think doom will go fast once it gets local, and all the crap I bought to prep—booze for barter, pre-Fuku tuna, hand crank radio—won’t help. (Well, I’m trying to drink down the booze, you know, just so it doesn’t go to waste.) Maybe the lesson is not to bother with physical preps too much at all? (Fuku could finish us any day.) Easy, of course, for an old person to say.

    @ 18000 days: And you’re a fast learner too! 🙂

    Kathy Cassandra says: Benjamin, I missed Guy’s comment that this is a secular zone. A ditto on the thanks for that to Guy….

    Kathy, thanks, I read it and didn’t register, but after about the tenth reply commenting on it, I went back and finally realized what a stunning master stroke it was, and why Guy is the professor.

    Secular Zone

    Is it real, or ex nihilo?
    Experiment: stub your big toe;
    If you swear like a pro:
    “Goddamn fucking D’OH!”
    That’s how you’re going to know.

    Erin Says: Get over yourself. We’re out of here.

    It doesn’t require a future seer
    To see that we’re going to disappear;
    Species all hit the wall,
    We’re not special at all:
    Get over yourself—we’re out of here.

  • To paraphrase a famous Zen koan, “Before enlightenment, milk goats, pick cucumbers. After enlightenment, milk goats, pick cucumbers.”

    I’ve had a similar path, although I was a tech rep to the Air Force, rather than actually being in the system. My realization that technology had fatal flaws came in the ’90s, when I started doing large format photography, in defiance of the coming digital revolution.

    But it eventually comes to a bottom line, no? Those who eschew technology must produce food. I chose to work on quality fat and protein first — without “eating my workers” — and so launched into goats. We now have 82 dairy shareholders, although only a dozen or so are active at any given time.

    I very highly recommend producing your own food as the antidote for NTE angst. The study and practice of producing your own food features “graceful degradation” as a side benefit.

    Sure, the world as we know it is coming to an end, but I will feed myself today. Yes, there may not be electricity for the freezer, but the canner will work just fine on the wood stove. Yes, there are no canning lids available any more, but the dried fruit and vegetables taste just fine.

    The part about the lack of collaboration is, in my opinion, the biggest issue. We’ve been seeking collaborators for seven years, and self-interest always rears its ugly head. We’ve had conventional “scorched earth” farmers come and go — people who loved tearing up the ground with machinery, people who loved sprinklers and who became livid with rage when we put in drip-line.

    I don’t think this lack of collaboration is necessarily long-term; it’s just that things haven’t gotten bad enough yet so that people have to collaborate. It’s coming. Hope I can hang on long enough.

    In the mean time, if you want to collaborate — and you think that perhaps our highest calling will be to produce our own food and energy — give us a shout, or see our write-up on Guy’s CLASSIFIEDS link, under “EcoReality.”

    Perhaps NTE is inevitable, but keep in mind that the difference between “hope” and “hopium” is action. Even if you feel despondent, do something about it! The end result might not be different, but you’ll feel better.

    I could write more (Guy has invited me to), but I’ve got cucumbers to pick and goat cheese curing that has to be turned, and I’ve just used up my self-imposed daily Internet ration.

  • And another feedback
    The Methane Monster Grows New Teeth: Sea Level Rise Found to Cause Slope Collapse, Tsunamis, Methane Release

    Ben you wrote “Kathy, thanks, I read it and didn’t register, but after about the tenth reply commenting on it,”

    Funny I didn’t see the ten before you who commented on it. Mainly because I skip many commentators posts but I never skip your limericks. 🙂

  • The Classified ads on this site are exactly what is wrong.
    Civilization killed us.
    Milking goats and picking cucumbers killed us.
    British Columbia?
    U cant smell the Fukushima radiation as it wafts over the Pacfic?

  • @ everyone_
    The Classified ads on this site are exactly what is wrong.
    Civilization killed us.
    Milking goats and picking cucumbers killed us.
    British Columbia?
    U cant smell the Fukushima radiation as it wafts over the Pacfic?

  • @ piddles

    Apparently you are still alive.
    What did you eat yesterday ?
    What did you eat today ?
    What will you eat tomorrow ?

  • Leaked Documents: U.S. Framed Syria in Chemical Weapons Attack

    There are many ways to die
    More if you really try
    You can sit and cry
    Or just get high
    No matter we all will fry

    Guess TPTB figure if we are about to go extinct they might as well do it.