Loving, Living, And Preparing With A Reluctant Partner

by Carolyn Baker

Loving, Living, And Preparing With A Reluctant Partner
If you don’t know the kind of person I am
and I don’t know the kind of person you are
a pattern that others made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

~Excerpt from the poem, “A Ritual To Be Read To Each Other,” by William Stafford~

During the past five years I have provided life coaching for a host of men and women around the world who have been deeply troubled by disparate perspectives between themselves and their spouses or partners regarding the future. Earlier in my life as a psychotherapist in private practice for seventeen years, I had come to believe that in the majority of cases, women were more motivated toward introspection and personal growth than men. After all, that was my experience in working with hundreds of female clients and a wide range of couples. In those days I had no understanding of the collapse of industrial civilization and probably would have considered it a bizarre notion conjured in the mind of some plucky Hollywood science fiction writer. It felt as far from my reality as anything could be.

Today, after more than a decade of researching collapse and talking with countless individuals about it, I have come to believe that one of its most wrenching aspects may be a situation in which one partner in a relationship is well aware of collapse and actively preparing for it while the other partner is resistant to the notion of any future that is not brimming with optimism and infinite opportunities for a rich, fulfilling life. The disparity does not appear to adhere to gender stereotypes. In other words, sometimes women are collapse-aware and actively preparing while their male partner is resistant to their efforts. In other cases, male partners have been researching collapse thoroughly and are at their wits end in their attempts to convince a female partner to join them in preparing. In either case, the divergence of perspectives is agonizing for both individuals.

The resistant or reluctant partner may accuse the other of “going through a phase,” or “over-reacting,” or even being crazy. Both partners may dig in more stubbornly, or they may begin doubting their own perspective or they may become laden with sorrow and begin feeling victimized.

A plethora of responses are possible in such a divergent perspective between partners, but one thing is constant: It hurts.

First, I want to emphasize that all relationships have issues. Bring together two people who grew up in industrial civilization, and you will have a relationship with a variety of issues, some more challenging than others. We should not naively believe that our relationship issues began with differing views about collapse, and we should also understand that whatever issues were already present in the relationship will be triggered and exacerbated by that conflict. In many cases, if couples weren’t in conflict about collapse, they would be in conflict about other issues—and often are. In other situations, the topic of collapse is such a hot button that it resurrects what were deemed to be long-deceased ghosts in the relationship and teases them up to the surface.

In current time, the issue is collapse and Near-Term Human Extinction (NTHE), but these are laden with residue from previous or ongoing issues. The so-called “terrifying talk” of a collapse-aware partner may trigger in the reluctant partner a constellation of feelings and memories regarding other painful issues in the relationship that are unresolved or only partially resolved. Just when one partner believes he has forgiven the other for an old wound, the issue of collapse may ignite not only a chasm between the two related to that issue, but also stir the troubled waters of any prior hurt.

For this reason, I have created a specific workshop for partners and families on “Relationships In The Long Emergency.” When working with partners in workshops or by phone, I like to have a sense of what some of the underlying issues in the relationship are, entirely separate from collapse, so I invite people to share those with me. Without exception, I find that those issues are at play on some level in the conflict about collapse. I often ask people to go back in time to the first mention of collapse and notice what happened between them and if possible, recall the feelings each experienced. Probably, the same emotions have continued and intensified since the first mention, and those may have triggered still other emotions. I then like to explore how the conflict has affected the relationship and whether or not other family members are involved such as children, in-laws, and siblings. Very importantly, I want to know what other situations in the relationship might have triggered similar feelings, and I might ask each partner to remember another situation when they felt something like this with their partner.

The next curiosity I have is the degree of fear that exists within both partners. I want to know from the prepping partner what they are afraid will happen if the non-prepping partner does not get on board. Likewise, I want to ask the non-prepping partner they fear will happen if the prepping partner continues on their current path. Exploring these fears is enormously important and invariably will lead to other fault lines in the relationship.

A common response from the concerned, reluctant partner is that they feel jealous of the time and attention that are being given to collapse by the prepping partner. It is not uncommon to hear the non-prepping partner say that they feel as if their partner is having an affair and that they is being excluded. The prepping partner may already sense this and feel somewhat guilty as if they are “sneaking around” and reading books, watching documentaries, or having conversations with other preppers “behind the back” of their partner—a kind of indulging in “collapse porn” if you will.

Another common response is that one feels as if one’s partner is mentally ill or has “lost it” in relation to collapse or NTHE. For the reluctant partner, this can be terrifying, and for the prepping partner, the sense that one’s significant other believes they are going crazy is exceedingly painful. For both individuals, a profound loneliness ensues. Both partners feel that they cannot discuss and share the things that are most important to them with the other. In this situation, it is extremely important for the prepping partner to have other people to talk with about preparation so that the immediate family is not the only place for doing so. In most cases, it is more likely that the prepping partner will have venues for doing this than the non-prepping partner who usually feels embarrassed about telling anyone about the preparations that their partner is making. One woman told me that she was exceedingly concerned about friends and neighbors discovering the passion with which her husband was storing food and water and acquiring medical supplies in preparation for collapse. She knew that her husband wasn’t crazy, but she was certain that people outside the family would believe he was.

Navigating this delicate walk on eggshells is inherently challenging, but more so if one or the other partner or both are actively hurling hostile barbs to the other. Responses like, “Are you fucking crazy?” or “I’m seriously worried about your mental health,” or “If you’re so worried about the future of your kids, why are you discussing this with them?” are absolutely not helpful. Nor are facial expressions and body language that communicate hostility or scorn.

When I work with couples in this situation, from the non-prepping partner, I want to learn what is most challenging about entertaining the notion of collapse. I notice if this person’s wellbeing or livelihood is highly invested in the status quo. What would they lose by awakening to collapse? What changes in their life would they have to make in order to sleep well at night and keep their conscience clean, and what would that cost them on a variety of levels? How have they been personally wounded by this topic? How has the topic brought to the surface other painful experiences from their past? What personal collapse within themselves might they be warding off? In summary, how does the whole notion of the end of life as they have known it strike terror into their hearts and threaten their relationship with their partner and their entire family?

From the prepping partner, I might want to know if there’s anything familiar about their situation—being the loner who sees what’s really going on and maybe trying to tell someone, only to be ignored, shamed, or scorned. Have they experienced other situations where they saw beneath the surface presentation of things to a deeper reality? If there is a replication, that does not suggest any pathology on the part of the prepping partner, but being able to notice the repetition of a pattern may prove useful at some point.

In no way would I pathologize the non-prepping partner. They are a vulnerable, wounded human being as we all are, who for whatever reasons, is profoundly threatened by the topic of collapse/NTHE and what it could mean for their wellbeing and the for wellbeing of relationships held most dear. Everyone is clueless about collapse at some point. Everyone’s journey is unique and should be respected, even if we don’t happen to agree with it.

Many partners of non-preppers erroneously believe that if they can just amass enough “proof” of collapse, then their partner will be compelled to see the wisdom of their preparation. “If he just watches this documentary, he’ll get it,” or “If she reads this superbly-researched article, I’m sure she’ll finally understand.” What both need to grasp is that the conflict is almost never an intellectual one. Rather, it is an emotional can of worms evoked by one person adopting a different world view from the other.

In a 2010 article “Dealing With A Reluctant Partner,” Becca Martenson, partner of financial advisor and blogger, Chris Martenson, shares their experience as a couple coming to terms with collapse from 2002 going forward:

The movie “The Matrix” had just come out, providing perfect metaphors that made him [Chris] sound pretty darn crazy to me: He talked about having taken the red pill, and that he didn’t want to be a battery for the machine anymore. I figured this was some kind of mid-life crisis in the works. It was an emotional squall; I just had to wait it out, and Chris would be back to his usual self in a few months. But the squall didn’t pass – instead, it picked up energy and became a real storm. The harder the storm raged, the more I shut down to what Chris was trying to tell me. He was growing increasingly distrustful of the system and fearful about the impact on his family, but I couldn’t open up and listen to what he was saying at all. No one else I knew was talking about this stuff. What was the matter with my husband?

After a while, Chris changed tactics, and rather than attempting to force me to his position or expressing his fear, he altered the tone of his voice. He cooled down, came to me one evening (I remember it well) and said, “I need to talk to you about something really important. Everything I have been reading and researching is changing my impression of what the future looks like. I’m looking at the future through a new lens, and what I see has huge implications for our family; I need you to learn what I have learned; to look through the same lens and see if you come to the same conclusions.”

This change in approach helped me shift my own stance. My earlier perception that Chris was coming at me strongly from a place of fear and anger led me to put up walls to protect myself from the intensity of his emotions. When he shifted and came to me calmly, I was able to put down those walls and listen to what he was saying. I began my own journey of learning about the economy (we were only looking at one “E” at that point), and quickly drew the same conclusions as Chris. It was clear that our energy-dependent lifestyle and super-sized home were not in alignment with our new perspective on the future.

And while fear of “what might go wrong” provided the initial energy I needed to sell our house and move, it was the calling of a better way of life for my family that sustained me throughout the process. I did not want to live in fear, but rather joy. I could tell that the life we were visioning together was a better life – more connected to the land and natural cycles, more connected to our community and our children. While Chris was primarily motivated by a desire to provide for and protect his family, I was primarily motivated by a vision of a healthier life for my children.

This excerpt from Becca’s article is not intended as a stellar example of how to converse with a reluctant partner about collapse, but one particular phrase leapt out at me when I first read it. Chris states, “I need to talk to you about something that is really important,” then says, “I need you to learn what I have learned.” Both statements are not primarily rational, logical sentences. They are essentially emotional utterances based on the need of one partner.

Whenever we state what we need from a person with whom we have an intimate relationship, we put ourselves in a vulnerable position. As long as we are trying to convince a partner about what they should know or believe or do, we are attempting to be in control. The moment we say, “I need,” we let go of control and take an emotional risk. (The Appendix section of Love In The Age of Ecological Apocalypse contains guidelines on “Deep Listening and Deep Truth-Telling.)

The turbulent aspect of the conflict is that it is painful, unsettling, disruptive, and terrifying. The transformative aspect of it is that if either or both partners are willing to engage in the emotional and spiritual work on themselves that the conflict is urgently clamoring for them to attend to, they will be forever altered by it. As a result, they may become more whole, empowered, resilient, and compassionate human beings, whether or not they do so in a relationship with each other. Will people get hurt? Yes, indeed. But they are already getting hurt. Might the family fracture and fall apart? Perhaps. But it might have fallen apart anyway over some other issue(s). On the other hand, the relationship might not end, and in fact, it may become more robust than ever as a result of having weathered the storm.

What is most needed is not “case-building” but deep, honest, verbalizations of tender emotions. In “Relationships In The Long Emergency” workshops, I find that having each partner retire by themselves into solitude and write a letter to the other is a crucial exercise.

For the partner who is preparing for collapse, the letter should contain the following:

• Feelings must be named. For example, “When you refuse to talk about the future, I feel ____(sad, abandoned, frustrated, scared) because_______.”
• Very clear statements must be made about what they want from their partner. These requests may never be fulfilled, but that is not the point of the exercise. In stating exactly what the prepping partner wants from the non-prepping partner, they stop being a “professor” who is determined to “teach” the other about collapse, and become a vulnerable ally who speaks from the heart about what they most long for from the other.
For the non-prepping partner, the letter should contain:
• Feelings they experience when the other speaks about collapse or when they see their partner investing time, energy, and money into preparation. For example, “When I see you spending so much time on this, I feel _____because_______.”
• They must make very clear statements about what they want from their partner. In stating what they want, they stop being a “rebellious student” who won’t listen to the “professor” and accept their world view. The reluctant, non-prepping partner must speak from the heart and state what they want from the other, allowing for feelings of vulnerability, frustration, irritation, resentment, and loss.

At a later time, I invite the partners to exchange their letters and read them silently in a private space, after which they journal about what they experienced in reading the letter. Then the partners come back together and share what it was like for each to write their letter and what it was like to receive the letter from the other.

I coach them in how to do this authentically and from their bodies. Body language is extremely important as they communicate with each other. Open body posture, direct eye contact, and attention to sensations within one’s body are crucial factors. The goal is not the communication of thoughts and rebuttals, but rather, deep, heartfelt emotion.

The end result of this process is impossible to predict. It may lead to much deeper intimacy, or it may reveal that the situation is untenable for one or both partners. Suffice it to say that partners in conflict over collapse are sitting on the cutting edge of both tragedy and transformation—or something in between that they might find a way to live with.

As Becca Martin advises, it is fine to agree to disagree. It is also fine to ask for the other partner’s blessing to continue on the path of preparation, even though they are not on board. The pivotal issue is not so much whether the reluctant partner joins the other in preparation, but that they not attempt to impede the other.

While a conflict over the reality of collapse and the need to prepare for it or not may be similar to other issues between relationship partners, and while it may evoke issues that other relationship conflicts frequently evoke, I believe that this particular conflict runs deeper in the human psyche than many others. Why?

Because to understand and prepare for collapse is to grasp the magnitude of the changes that our future holds and to literally stare death in the face. First, if we understand the severity of the collapse of industrial civilization/NTHE, we implicitly understand that we may not survive physically. In sharing our knowledge of collapse with another person, especially a life partner, we are literally asking them to come along with us on a journey which may end our lives and theirs. Furthermore, if we sense, as I do, that all of humanity knows in its collective psyche that we are well into collapse/NTHE, then by naming it as such, we agree to stand up in a sea of humans in denial and beg them to also name what they already know and are determined to ignore or minimize. This is the path of so many philosophical and ethical giants in history such as Socrates, Jesus, the Gnostics, countless heretics burned at the stake in the Middle Ages, Galileo, Sophie Scholl of Nazi Germany’s White Rose Society, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

No one should be judged because they cannot go there, nor should anyone be declared a saint because they can. Perhaps Theodore Roethke said it best in “The Waking”:

I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I feel my fate in what I cannot fear.
I learn by going where I have to go.
This shaking keeps me steady. I should know.
What falls away is always. And is near.
I wake to sleep, and take my waking slow.
I learn by going where I have to go.

In a perfect world, the exercises suggested above could lead to dramatic healing and harmony between partners. In a not-so perfect world, they could facilitate two people with wildly different perspectives on collapse finding ways to co-exist, cooperate, and on really good days, commit to loving each other anyway.

I do not wish to imply that there is always a way to resolve this dilemma. I have worked with many couples who simply cannot abide with the disparity of perspective between themselves and their partner, and they find it absolutely necessary to exit the relationship. I have also worked with many who are willing to make compromises and return repeatedly to the love they still share with each other as their ultimate navigation system. However, it should be emphasized that contrary to the delusion perpetuated by this culture, love does not conquer all. Many people love each other deeply but simply cannot reconcile their differences. A very painful reality indeed, but such is the human condition.

As I have written in detail elsewhere, the ending of a marriage or a committed relationship is one of a plethora of initiations or rites of passage that we mortals repeatedly encounter as we inhabit a physical body. Divorce, terminal illness, loss of a career, a bankruptcy, a severe injury—all are crises naturally encountered in the course of the human experience, but on a deeper level, invitations from the soul to explore our own depths. Thus, an initiation is more than an ordeal; it is a spiritual journey to the deeper self in each one of us. Every initiation requires that we have:

• A willingness to find meaning in it and that we are open to the lessons therein
• A support system of trusted others who may not grasp that we are enduring a rite of passage, but will be present to support us in our ordeal
• A welcoming “home” or celebration of our ordeal at pivotal moments in the journey
• A desire during and beyond the ordeal to become spiritual elders. That is to say that if we are willing to find meaning in the journey, we will invariably acquire wisdom that could not be gained elsewhere. Part of the completion of the journey then, is a commitment to utilizing our wisdom to nurture our fellow earthlings of all ages and pay forward the fruits of our experience.

I have noticed in working with many couples that the most effective means of communicating one’s perspective with one’s partner is by doing so emotionally, not intellectually. We respect our partners, and we wouldn’t be with them if they weren’t intelligent human beings. Thus, it is very tempting to assume that if they could just comprehend all of the facts of collapse, they would finally awaken to its validity and enthusiastically join us in preparation. In reality, the absolute opposite is true.

As we can infer from Becca Martenson’s article above on the impact of collapse in her relationship with Chris, people do not reject the reality of collapse because they do not have enough information. They reject it because some part of them already knows that it is happening, and they are absolutely terrified when anyone, especially their partner, begins discussing it. Therefore, asking a partner to read one more book or watch one more documentary on collapse is probably going to be a waste of energy. Attending together a workshop or speaking event presented by a famous collapse personality may be a bit more productive, but again, this is still an intellectual exercise in which the emphasis is on gaining more information.
Instead, I encourage the partner who is preparing for collapse to schedule a time with his/her reluctant partner and make sure that they will not be interrupted. This time should be viewed as very precious, and indeed it is because it may be the riskiest, most frightening thing the prepping partner has ever done in their life or at least, in the relationship. They must be completely willing to be emotionally vulnerable.

It is good to sit across from each other with no table or other furniture in between. Face each other sitting perhaps four or five feet away. The prepping partner states that they have asked for this time with the other person because letting the other person know exactly what they feel about the “collapse conflict” in the relationship (adjust the words according to what feels most appropriate) is extremely important to them.

For example, the conversation could begin this way:

We’ve been in conflict recently about our differing views of the future. From my perspective what I see happening is___________, and it seems like from your perspective you see_________. Am I hearing you correctly? Do you not see the same things I’m seeing? I know that I may have sometimes been pushy about convincing you that my perspective is correct, and I apologize for that, but I no longer want to be. You have every right to believe what you want to believe about the future, but what I want you to hear today is____________.

The intention here is to communicate one’s deepest feelings to the other person. So the next statement may be something like: “I want you to hear how deeply sad I am that we don’t share this perspective. I’m also terribly scared because I want us to be as prepared as possible for the future, and I’m very frightened that we won’t be.” The most important piece of this communication is not whether or not the correct words are used, but whether or not you, the prepping partner, allow yourself to express your authentic feelings. If you are sad, do not try to “make” yourself cry, but if tears come, let them. Absolutely essential in this communication is that you speak from your heart, not your head. It is also important to let your partner know that you feel very lonely knowing what you know but not being able to share it with him/her.

At this point, you also invite your partner, with words, body language, and eye contact, to tell you how they feel about the conflict. Without judgment, you simply listen as they tell you how it is for them and as they tell you perhaps many things you’d rather not hear. The purpose of this sacred appointment time with each other is not simply to share your feelings, but it also allows your partner to share theirs.

Fully expect that this kind of honest communication is going to open the door to other issues in the relationship. When you make yourself vulnerable, you are letting the other person know that they too have permission to speak honestly, so other issues may come up that seem to have nothing to do with collapse. (I’ve been asking you for months to fix the garage door. OR…You really don’t need to be a stay-at-home mom anymore. It would really help all of us if you would go out and get a job.)

These “incidental” issues are not at all irrelevant because they are tendrils in a root system that leads back to the trunk of the relationship tree. The other person simply needs to be heard. In fact, if possible, reflect back to them some, but not all, of what they reveal. You can say things like, “I want to make sure I’m hearing you correctly, you’re saying that you feel_________?”

Making and keeping this kind of appointment with your partner is not a magic bullet. There are no guarantees of results. In fact, it may open even more cans of worms. Nevertheless, it allows both partners to come down out of their heads and enter the vulnerable, risky domain of the heart and become extremely authentic with each other. Moreover, it makes a safe place for the love that brought both partners together and that has solidified the relationship for some time, perhaps many years, to resurface and even be rekindled.
The letter-writing and journaling exercises explained above are exceedingly powerful. By the time they are completed, the couple begins to have a sense of whether their differences can be negotiated or whether they are entirely untenable and cannot be resolved. If the latter situation appears to be the case, then it would be very good for each person to spend another 20 minutes on these 3 questions:

• What if you are not able to get what you want from this person?
• Complete this sentence: I’m afraid that if this disagreement continues__________.
• What is worth staying in the game for?

After this journaling piece, the couple should come together and share their answers to these questions. But please note: This should not and cannot be an intellectual exercise in which one or both partners are trying to provide “right” answers. It is guaranteed to be a highly emotional conversation in which authentic feelings of sadness, fear, anger, and frustration must be allowed. Naturally, yelling, screaming, fist-pounding, and intimidation are not OK, but feelings must be communicated clearly and without intent to harm the other person physically or emotionally.

This can also be a time of exploring options and negotiating possibilities for staying together even as the couple holds their disparate views of the future. If one or both partners insist that separation is necessary, then they need to move into that conversation at this point or at a later time.

Those who are familiar with my work know that I am not likely to leave the reader with logistical suggestions only. My years of experience in depth and archetypal psychology compel me to move to the mythic level and stir that pot next. To do so, I would like to share a story from the Far East that, like a poem, may bring more to consciousness on the topic of relationships and draw the reader into deeper waters.

I invite you to read the story, not with your head, but with your heart.

The Wife and The Tiger’s Whisker

Once upon a time, a young wife named Yun Ok was at her wit’s end. Her husband had always been a tender and loving soulmate before he had left for the wars, but ever since he returned home he was cross, angry, and unpredictable. She was almost afraid to live with her own husband. Only in glancing moments did she catch a shadow of the husband she used to know and love.

When one ailment or another bothered people in her village, they would often rush for a cure to a hermit who lived deep in the mountains. Not Yun Ok. She always prided herself that she could heal her own troubles. But this time was different. She was desperate.

As Yun Ok approached the hermit’s hut, she saw the door was open. The old man said without turning around, “I hear you. What’s your problem?”

She explained the situation. His back still to her, he said, “Ah yes, it’s often that way when soldiers return from the war. What do you expect me to do about it?”

“Make me a potion!” cried the young wife. “Or an amulet, a drink, whatever it takes to get my husband back the way he used to be.”

The old man turned around. “Young woman, your request doesn’t exactly fall into the same category as a broken bone or ear infection.”

“I know,” said she.

“It will take three days before I can even look into it. Come back then.”

Three days later, Yun Ok returned to the hermit’s hut. “Yun Ok,” he greeted her with a smile, “I have good news. There is a potion that will restore your husband to the way he used to be, but you should know that it requires an unusual ingredient. You must bring me a whisker from a live tiger.”

“What?” she gasped. “Such a thing is impossible!”

“I cannot make the potion without it!” he shouted, startling her. He turned his back. “There is nothing more to say. As you can see, I’m very busy.”

That night Yun Ok tossed and turned. How could she get a whisker from a live tiger?

The next day before dawn, she crept out of the house with a bowl of rice covered with meat sauce. She went to a cave on the mountainside where a tiger was known to live. She clicked her tongue very softly as she crept up, her heart pounding, and carefully set the bowl on the grass. Then, trying to make as little noise as she could, she backed away.

The next day before dawn, she took another bowl of rice covered with meat sauce to the cave. She approached the same spot, clicking softly with her tongue. She saw that the bowl was empty, replaced the empty one with a fresh one, and again left, clicking softly and trying not to break twigs or rustle leaves, or do anything else to startle and unsettle the wild beast.

So it went, day after day, for several months. She never saw the tiger (thank goodness for that! she thought) though she knew from footprints on the ground that the tiger—and not a smaller mountain creature—had been eating her food. Then one day as she approached, she noticed the tiger’s head poking out of its cave. Glancing downward, she stepped very carefully to the same spot and with as little noise as she could, set down the fresh bowl and, her heart pounding, picked up the one that was empty.

After a few weeks, she noticed the tiger would come out of its cave as it heard her footsteps, though it stayed a distance away (again, thank goodness! she thought, though she knew that someday, in order to get the whisker, she’d have to come closer to it).

Another month went by. Then the tiger would wait by the empty food bowl as it heard her approaching. As she picked up the old bowl and replaced it with a fresh one, she could smell its scent, as it could surely smell hers.

“Actually,” she thought, remembering its almost kittenish look as she set down a fresh bowl, “it is a rather friendly creature, when you get to know it.” The next time she visited, she glanced up at the tiger briefly and noticed what a lovely downturn of reddish fur it had from over one of its eyebrows to the next. Not a week later, the tiger allowed her to gently rub its head, and it purred and stretched like a house cat.

Then she knew the time had come. The next morning, very early, she brought with her a small knife. After she set down the fresh bowl and the tiger allowed her to pet its head she said in a low voice, “Oh, my tiger, may I please have just one of your whiskers?” While petting the tiger with one hand, she held one whisker at its base, and with the other hand, in one quick stroke, she carved the whisker off. She stood up, speaking softly her thanks, and left, for the last time.

The next morning seemed endless. At last her husband left for the rice fields. She ran to the hermit’s hut, clutching the precious whisker in her fist. Bursting in, she cried to the hermit, “I have it! I have the tiger’s whisker!”

“You don’t say?” he said, turning around. “From a live tiger?”

“Yes!” she said.

“Tell me,” said the hermit, interested. “How did you do it?”

Yun Ok told the hermit how, for the last six months, she had earned the trust of the creature and it had finally permitted her to cut off one of its whiskers. With pride she handed him the whisker. The hermit examined it, satisfied himself that it was indeed a whisker from a live tiger, then flicked it into the fire where it sizzled and burned in an instant.

“What have you done?” Yun Ok cried, horrified.

“Yun Ok,” the hermit said softly, “you no longer need the whisker. Tell me, is a man more vicious than a tiger? If a dangerous wild beast will respond to your gradual and patient care, do you think a man will respond any less willingly?”

Yun Ok stood speechless. Then she turned and stepped down the trail, turning over in her mind images of the tiger and of her husband, back and forth. She knew what she could do.

All relationship conflicts invite us to turn and face the tiger within and develop a relationship with the shadow. The shadow, of course, is comprised of all those characteristics that we say are “not me.” Carl Jung noted that eighty percent of it is pure gold because of the treasures within it that wait to be mined by us. It contains not only so-called “negative” qualities, but positive as well, and when we are willing to confront our terror of it, we may discover capacities of which we had been totally ignorant.

This story must be understood from a mythological, symbolic perspective. To literalize it is to miss its deeper meaning. Our “civilized,” linear mindset can sidetrack us into things like, “Didn’t the woman understand that her husband had PTSD?” Or “Wasn’t she just manipulating the tiger and actually exploiting him for her own purposes?” I suggest reading the story again silently and noticing what it evokes emotionally and in the body. Those are clues about the deeper meaning of the story for you.

Nor is this a story of “love conquering all” but of a woman transformed by going to any lengths to heal her beloved, including facing death, and as a result, being profoundly empowered. We have no idea what happened with her and her partner as a result of her interactions with the tiger or the hermit. What we do know is that she was no longer the same woman who paid a visit to the hermit on the first occasion of doing so.

In other words, what matters in the story of our human relationships is not whether they lead to “happily ever after” but who and what they make of us. All relationships are our teachers, and this is especially so in a time of planetary unraveling.

One final note regarding living, loving, and learning with a reluctant partner—or any loved one. When a reader asks me to sign Love In The Age Of Ecological Apocalypse with a personal inscription, I usually write, “Only love remains.” My hope is that the reader will, after reading the book, have a deeper understanding of what that actually means for him/herself. It is easy to write or speak “Only love remains,” but quite another to fully grasp what that means? This quandary is precisely why I wrote the book. Spouting platitudes is easy; becoming a student and practitioner of love is anything but because love only remains if we are willing to do the heartbreaking, nail-biting, gut-wrenching, mind-boggling inner work that authentic love requires.

A full description of “Love In The Age of Ecological Apocalypse: Cultivating The Relationships We Need To Thrive” may be seen here where the book may also be ordered:



If you’re interested in funding an assistant to travel with me in Europe, a crowd-funding campaign is under way. Check it out here.

I was one of four panelists in this panel at the Earth at Risk conference in November 2014. Click the link to see a trailer and also to view the 90-minute result on the following dates and times (Mountain time zone in the United States):

Upcoming Airdates

Thursday, April 16th 7:00 am
Saturday, April 18th 7:30 pm
Saturday, April 18th 10:30 pm
Wednesday, April 22nd 10:00 am


Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Mike Sliwa and Guy McPherson. Tune in every Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, or catch up in the archives here. If you prefer the iTunes version, including the option to subscribe, you can click here.


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8-29 April 2015, western Europe (please follow the tour at guymcpherson.net and also on Facebook)


McPherson’s latest book is co-authored by Carolyn Baker. Extinction Dialogs: How to Live with Death in Mind is available. Electronic copy is available here from Amazon.

Tech note, courtesy of mo flow: Random issues have been appearing with posting comments. Sometimes a “Submit Comment” click will return a 404 Page Not Found, or another error, for no apparent reason. To ensure you don’t lose a longer comment, you can right-click select all, and right-click copy, in the comment box before clicking “Submit.” If that hasn’t been done, the comment text will likely still be in the comment box when clicking the back button, or the forward button — depending on the error — on your browser.

Comments 69

  • @Carolyn Baker: Spouting platitudes is easy; becoming a student and practitioner of love is anything but because love only remains if we are willing to do the heartbreaking, nail-biting, gut-wrenching, mind-boggling inner work that authentic love requires.


    What you want to do is tell your stubborn, ig’nant, hopium smokin’, lyin’ and denyin’ ball and chain that “Nature’s gonna get you muthafucka”.

    You’re welcome!

  • Guy, I am saddened that you are vulnerable to this superficial egoistic woman.

    I find her “depth & archetypal psychology” filled narcissistic “feelings” & more “feelings” absolutely repulsive.

    Endorsing her, her so-called therapeutic work, & her book is shameful.

    She is a narcissistic child/entrepreneur on the make.

    She says nothing because she knows nothing.

    She makes fool of herself.

    “My years of experience in depth and archetypal psychology compel me to move to the mythic level and stir that pot next.”

    “I invite you to read the story, not with your head, but with your heart.”

  • [Deep breath…]

    Thank you Carolyn.

    I lost two partners in the last decade to this situation. My ecological Dark Night of the Soul enclosed me so completely that I was largely unreachable, even if they had possessed the necessary skills, desire and temperament to try.

    I’m supremely fortunate that my soul-mate today knows the ways of rice and meat sauce, and that I had stepped out of my cave just far enough to be able to hear her approaching.

    This article is desperately important. Thank you again.

  • Well said Caroline.

    i love reading zen awakening stories and wonder about it all.

    The miracle is that anything is happening at all.

  • Jack Rosenbaum, aka Werner Erhard, made millions with his Erhard Seminar Training or EST.

    Werner, to his adoring flock, was a calculating used car salesman from New Jersey who knew just how insecure & vulnerable the bewildered Goyim are.

    Slick Werner was full of it alright – chock full of “transformations” “spiritualities,” & endless “possibilities.”

    Tens of thousands paid big bucks to Werner his coaching & teachings.

    Werner’s pitch went right to the heart of the narcissistic ME GENERATION.

    Werner’s really deep psychological message; “What about me?”

    Carolyn is more of the same disgusting & exploiting schuck & jive.

    Carolyn’s time-of-the-end buzzwording flapdoodle ain’t cheap, but it costs less than her predecessor/teacher, Werner Baby.

    Shop today – it’s all in her new age piece above, including her book of Jungian buzzwords.

  • Hi Caroline. I am reading your book, and just finished the chapter you excerpted this from. I think it is natural for those of us who are awakening to the massive and totally unpleasant truth of NTHE to want to tell everyone about it, especially those closest to us. As you know so well, this can be a disaster. We tend to forget the long and difficult process we went through to finally accept that the sky is indeed falling, and is due to fall splat on top of us and everyone else very soon indeed. As desperately as we might want to tell the others of our discovery right away, there is no way they can process this information in a short time – if at all.

    Like Paul, and I am sure many others on this beach of doom, I have alienated people close to me in my impatience to “get the word out”. I have had to learn the hard way to zip my lip with most folks I know about this ultimate concern. One of the hardest things about all of this is to continue loving and being connected to people while keeping silent about something you wish you could share with them. To be angry with them, or feel sorry for yourself about this situation really does not help. What we are faced with is one more lesson in how we all got to this sorry pass, and why it is not going to be possible to resolve this in a good way. One of the factors that seals our collective doom is the psychological denial that most of us are wrapped up in as a defense against knowledge we just refuse to hear.

    Thanks for the excerpt and book Caroline. You share a lot of really good ideas about handling our awkward situation.

  • Caroline. Thank you for your thought provoking piece. It struck a chord with me because I have gone down the collapse rabbit hole and my partner is not that interested. I have gone though fazes of awareness and fazes of trying to find common ground with her, (my wife). It has not been easy. Throw in stage 4 melanoma and it can be a volatile mix. I do seem to be making headway with a more hear and now strategy, not so worried about the future. Wildcrafting mentors and herbalists have been great sources of knowledge, both practical and spiritual, and thus enable me to approach my wife and family from a less threatening perspective. I recommend Stephen Buhner at http://gaianstudies.org/ His most recent book “Plant Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm is truly a reality shifter. Old Ulvfugl and monsangaloram is also well… hard to put into words. His work speaks for itself.

    Keep up the good work Caroline.

  • Too long and too irrelevant for me to read (I have no partner and all women I meet are, to varying extents, locked into dysfunction and unwilling/unable to change).

    I managed to read the first couple of paragraphs…. which told me nothing I didn’t already know. The item may be of help to some, but experience has taught me that the vast majority of people would rather lose everything and die prematurely in a rather nasty manner than become informed about anything of significance.

    A recent example occurred at The Environment Centre, where a young woman had no idea that the CO2 level is well above 400ppm. When I informed her that the current level is about 404ppm she said: “What does that mean?” I replied: “You’re fucked!”

    I pointed out to her that around 4 months ago I had indicated to her which books to read, urgently. She hadn’t, of course, and still has the notion she can trip around the world and ick up casual work any time she pleases, anywhere she pleases.

    I pointed out that California is in terminal decline and it may be ‘all over’ for California this year, that Australia is in terminal decline (NZ dollar 98.5 cents Aussie, up from 72 cents not so long ago, as Australia sinks), and that even NZ, which is purportedly doing well, has a collapsing diary sector, a shrinking oil and gas sector, as shrinking engineering sector; only the bubble housing sector -as economic and environmental refugees flee to NZ- and boondoggles keep maintain the semblance of normality

    Incidentally, Mt Taranaki was covered in snow a few days ago, as an icy blast from Antarctica brought freezing conditions to NZ: In early April! (Last year snow covered very late and did not occur until mid-August.) The snow has pretty much gone now. Climate instability: what’s that?

    Meanwhile the idiots at NPODC are thinking of new ways to bring forward catastrophe to the district, in keeping with the agenda of the loot-and-pollute fascistic Key government.

    As Ron Resnick was so fond of saying, there is hope. but not for us.

  • ‘I have had to learn the hard way to zip my lip with most folks I know about this ultimate concern. One of the hardest things about all of this is to continue loving and being connected to people while keeping silent about something you wish you could share with them.’

    One of my closer friends, a fine gentleman who is always keen to discuss the latest economic/political/environmental information, has told me he no longer goes to family events because he cannot stand being in the presence of greedy, selfish, ‘know-it-all’ daughters-in-law and the spoilt brats that run around demanding this and that they have spawned, and cannot stand the facile conversations at family events which are predominantly centred on rugby.

  • I always have a lot of hesitations before posting a comment, always feeling irrelevant, inarticulate, fraudulent. I write many comment that I do not send. They stay on my work talbe for hours and I use them to put my thoughts in order. Then I delete them and go on. Will I publish this one? If you read it, the answer was yes.

    The post is too long and too irrelevant for me to read (I have no partner and I am celibate by choice (and for ever) since at least 15 years (am 66).

    So good luck with your partners. Both situations have advantadges and disadvantages, these 2 arrangments and a few other less common.

    As for loved ones, I still take care of my 2 adult sons (one who is quite dependant at 30) and I wish they would go away. Love notwithstanding. I would rather be alone in the end. Nobody to take care of me and nobody to care for. Just a dead meat robot rotting in the street among the others. Of course, I can change my mind, but it is how I feel today and have been feeling for quite a while. (I am sorry I had children, but at least I don’t have grandchildren! for now.)

    do not want to loose your precious time, but if you ever feel like burning fossil fuel to get to know my eldest son, here is what he was doing last sunday in vancouver, on the coast of the very rapidly dying pacific ocean http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErUQiXu-0J8&feature=youtu.be
    It seems like a miracle to me that any individual with as little as a cheap camera can do a video in a few hours and post it immediately or the next day for the world to see. And that all this business is feeding on real energy (something nasty burning somewhere) coming from an invisible (for the moment) source. It is like hot baths: take good cold water from outside, heat the water in a tank and keep it real hot for days, fill a bath and add chemicals, release hot stained water back outside, and think that this is ok because you have been raised to think that everybody can/should! take a hot bath or shower every day (or many times a day) without consequences. And even be shunned if you do not do it. We are sooooo doomed. So in terminal decline.

  • “the most effective means of communicating one’s perspective… is by doing so emotionally, not intellectually”

    But of course. One has to convince the non-rational, non-verbal, emotional and valuational reptilian brain boss in the back seat, who will then direct the rational, verbal, mammalian & primate brain chauffeur in the driver’s seat where to go.

    Much depends on the degree of domestication of the human being. There are some retaining a wild streak who will try to escape the State Farm at the slightest excuse. Others are so domesticated that they are led to the abattoir peacefully.

    “The shadow, of course, is comprised of all those characteristics that we say are “not me.””

    The end of the delusion of reality of the “I” and its corollary, the “not-I” is the sine qua non of realisation, the reason why the realised have no (karmic) shadow.

    Paul Chefurka in comments to the preciding post: “there are no universal answers, only personal ones”

    Indeed. the concept of qualification or preparedness in the Eastern traditions runs counter to the cookie-cutter message of “one size fits all” in other traditions. For one with enough preparedness, the simple statement “You are the Buddha” or “You are that” may be enough, while others, as the traditions have it, may need to be reborn thousands of times.

    In Buddhism, four stages or gradations to realisation are described (eight in Hinduism).

    At the highest levels of qualification, the teachings are communicated non-verbally, as in The Flower Sermon, or even in complete silence.

  • I’m posting the below comment from Wren. (looks like another “problem word” appears to be “prozak” – when spelled correctly.)

    Wren Says:

    At this point I’m beyond passing judgement on someone whose intentions are good, doing relatively little harm in the way they’re choosing to get by in these final days of the matrix, re Carolyn’s work.

    My experience is that those who don’t ‘get it’ don’t really want to and never will. Maybe they are happier in their denial than those of us who are living with the weight of this NTE knowledge.

    But, there’s a great essay by td0s that pretty much sums up where my head is ‘at’ these days:
    The Twilight of Our Tale: Part Three | Pray for Calamity

    “…… We know that the system is insane, that it doesn’t care for us, that it is killing the planet, and that it grinds our spirits into meal along the way. So why retreat further into the isolation and alienation that is laid out for us like a deathbed? Why spend so much time logging on to forums and chat boards and reading the assessments of strangers? Are you are seeking a friend, or maybe a sage? Are you looking for someone to finally tell you that we all in unison are going to stop playing the game on the count of three?

    Here is the best I can do for you: Log off. Sign out. Shut down the tablet, the phone, the laptop. Sell your television, or hell, just destroy it so it doesn’t poison the next person. I know that existing within this paradigm is painful. I know the weight and misery that dealing with all of the requirements forced upon you by other people, faceless and nameless and uncaring, can generate. But retreating into the wrinkles of the Leviathan’s pale smile is not the cure. We cannot rescue and resuscitate our spirits when our blood courses with alcohol, Prozak, and corn syrup. We cannot slay the loneliness in doors, tribeless, illuminated by the dim glow of a screen.

    Further, you need to stop looking for a plan. Stop trying to figure out how to make the workable work or the unsustainable sustain. Society is the demon. Civilization is the leviathan. The wise of Middle Earth knew that no good purpose could be achieved with the dark lord’s ring, it had to be destroyed in the fires where it came into being. Society is not redeemable. It cannot be made good……”

  • In areas where the ideas of Buddhism, Hinduism and other Eastern faiths have long taken root, it is not uncommon to have individuals let it be known in various ways that they are “enlightened” or enjoy some sort of transcendent inner condition that puts them far above the run of ordinary people. They will then proceed to attract a gaggle of followers, which sometimes can swell into a large number. Of course they offer no substantial proofs whatever of their supposed status, but rely largely on the credulity of their followers to impute all sorts of special powers to them. As for teachings, they rely mostly on well known scriptures, and ideas expressed by various previous teachers.

    The tenacity with which the followers of these gurus hold onto their fanciful tales of reincarnation and ultimate release from the aggravations of Earthly life is fundamental and unshakable. To question their absolutist beliefs is to gain their scorn and condescension. Their lack of any real experience of all the second hand tales they have bought into dismays them not in the least. Nor should it be thought that the followers are all people lacking in intelligence or learning, as intellectuals are just as open to being uncritical devotees as the uneducated.

    Although real legitimate knowledge of great value exists, the seeker of such truth needs to be very careful what or who they buy into. Keeping a critical faculty alive is the sovereign defense against one’s tendency to accept teachings too readily which should be thoroughly vetted before provisionally accepting them. None of us at this stage of development on Earth is in a position to have absolute knowledge about anything whatever; to think otherwise is to indulge in a dangerous hubris which is the source of many of our problems.

  • Let me get this straight. We’re all doomed, any contrary opinion is hopium. All that can be done is to “passionately pursue a life of excellence.”

    In that vein, “we’re all gathered here to smugly yet humbly celebrate and broadcast our superiority over all the hopium-addled masses and the overlord scum who’ve caused this. No message, conceivable or otherwise, can delay our inevitable doom, never mind save us.

    Please help me and my assistant travel to Europe on the big silver bird to spread this message. Certainly I can more effectively tell them that they’re all doomed and nothing they do can possibly make a difference if I do so in person.” Do I have that right?

    Maybe Guy and his assistant can go with Creflo Dollar on the Gulfstream G650 he’s trying to buy with tithes from his flock.


  • @kevin moore “…experience has taught me that the vast majority of people would rather lose everything and die prematurely in a rather nasty manner than become informed about anything of significance.”

    So true. I was just pondering how much animosity Guy creates. How certain ‘learned’ types are trying to discredit his message in a desperate attempt to ‘kill the messenger’.

    That said, the situation in California just may be the event that wakes up a sizable percentage of Americans to precisely how dire our lot is. Some may even be receptive to McPherson’s message. Let’s brand it for the masses as Guyloxone – the *only* proven antidote to Hopium.

  • @Rob Ryan: Let me get this straight. We’re all doomed, any contrary opinion is hopium. All that can be done is to “passionately pursue a life of excellence.”

    In that vein, “we’re all gathered here to smugly yet humbly celebrate and broadcast our superiority over all the hopium-addled masses and the overlord scum who’ve caused this. No message, conceivable or otherwise, can delay our inevitable doom, never mind save us.

    Please help me and my assistant travel to Europe on the big silver bird to spread this message. Certainly I can more effectively tell them that they’re all doomed and nothing they do can possibly make a difference if I do so in person.” Do I have that right?


    If you insist on telling the truth, we’re going to have to ask you to leave.

  • Dear Rob Ryan,

    Not feeling very superior. Can you help?

    inferior, but smug

  • @cuntagious

    That said, the situation in California just may be the event that wakes up a sizable percentage of Americans to precisely how dire our lot is. Some may even be receptive to McPherson’s message. Let’s brand it for the masses as Guyloxone – the *only* proven antidote to Hopium.

    The irony is that, if what McPherson says is accurate, receptivity to his message is completely irrelevant and if it’s inaccurate, receptivity to it is destructive. It’s amazing to me that this blog gives the message that there’s no hope, it makes no difference what anyone does or does not do, doom cannot be forestalled, and thinking otherwise makes you a fool or a knave. And then: “oh, by the way, think before you kill yourself.”

  • @R R

    “Live life now.”
    “Do what you love.”
    “Be kind.”
    These are bad?
    Never heard Guy say or write, “Go kill yourself.”
    Maybe you know of a super-secret book, OR, maybe you’re a FUCKING IDIOT.

  • No, I never heard McPherson say “go kill yourself.” Nor did I state that he said or published that. Please read my actual statement: “oh, by the way, think before you kill yourself.” On this page, in a little box next to the main body of the post, is the following: “If you are contemplating suicide, please re-consider. And then click here for awareness, prevention, and support on the topic of suicide. I’m not advocating for or against suicide. […].” The link takes you to McPherson’s (presumably) full thoughts on the topic.

    “Live life now.”
    “Do what you love.”
    “Be kind.”

    No, those aren’t bad. In fact, they’re good regardless of one’s conclusion regarding the fate of humanity. They are also only a subset of the overarching theme of this blog, which is as I stated. Do you disagree?

    By the way, while the <a href tag works here, <blockquote does not.

  • Milendia,
    I love your vulnerability. Your feelings are so well expressed.
    Rob Ryan,
    I felt exactly the same as you do. mostly still do.

  • “It’s amazing to me that this blog gives the message that there’s no hope”

    The perspective offered by the theistic religions to those raised in them may place the non-theistic religions outside their ken.

    Hopelessness and despair

  • milendia,

    Please never think for a moment that your comments might be “irrelevant, inarticulate and fraudulent”. They’re not, so please comment more.

    I really liked the bath metaphor in you last comment.

    ed and Rob Ryan,

    Many of your comments sound very glib. It seems to me that you don’t want to understand. If not, why are you here? There are plenty of other blogs out there where you might be really appreciated, where you can make a “difference” and state the “truth”.
    Maybe you should contemplate the concept of paradox a bit more.

  • I don’t care if Baker’s psycho-babble is nearly meaningless.
    I don’t care if our egomaniacal death-cult overlord is hypocritical.
    I don’t care about Buddha’s mumbo-jumbo about wanting to want nothing.
    I don’t care about noble savages and all the long winded “You said – I saids”.
    I do care about how wonderfully crazy it all is.
    I do care about the gleanings of personal picadillos.
    You know the colored ball room behind walls of glass at IKEA.
    It’s watching people in straight jackets bounce around in there.
    All this craziness makes me feel less alone.

  • Sunday, 19 April 2015
    The Pacific

    A 1,000 Mile Stretch Of The Pacific Ocean Has Heated Up Several Degrees And Scientists Don’t Know Why


    According to two University of Washington scientific research papers that were recently released, a 1,000 mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean has warmed up by several degrees, and nobody seems to know why this is happening.

    This giant “blob” of warm water was first observed in late 2013, and it is playing havoc with our climate. And since this giant “blob” first showed up, fish and other sea creatures have been dying in absolutely massive numbers. So could there be a connection? And what is going to happen if the Pacific Ocean continues to warm up? Could we potentially be facing the greatest holocaust of sea life in the Pacific that anyone has ever observed? If so, what would that mean for the food chain and for our food supply?

    For a large portion of the Pacific Ocean to suddenly start significantly heating up without any known explanation is a really big deal. The following information about this new research comes from the University of Washington…

    “In the fall of 2013 and early 2014 we started to notice a big, almost circular mass of water that just didn’t cool off as much as it usually did, so by spring of 2014 it was warmer than we had ever seen it for that time of year,” said Nick Bond, a climate scientist at the UW-based Joint Institute for the Study of the Atmosphere and Ocean, a joint research center of the UW and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

    Bond coined the term “the blob” last June in his monthly newsletter as Washington’s state climatologist. He said the huge patch of water – 1,000 miles in each direction and 300 feet deep – had contributed to Washington’s mild 2014 winter and might signal a warmer summer.

    It would be one thing if scientists knew why this was happening and had an explanation for it.

    But they don’t.


    For our entire lives, we have been able to take for granted that our oceans would always be stable and healthy.

    But now it appears that things may be changing.

  • hi Robin

    about hopelessness and despair: unfortunately (IMO), this important (IMO) distinction does not exist in every langage. In French for example, they will both be translated by despair. So for French speaking meat robots, there is only despair.

  • @r r

    one thing to say to you
    kill yourself
    don’t think about it

    To paraphrase Twain: On arguing with ignorance
    “They bring you down to their level and beat you with experience”

  • @Rob Ryan – Thanks for sharing your views Rob. We need contrarian thinking and dissensus to deepen our discussions and keep the spirit of authentic sharing alive. The questions you ask need to be seriously considered. And thanks Guy for allowing a critic of your stance to freely express himself.

    Your well placed jabs have shaken me up a bit, Rob, and given rise to some thinking I have needed to do about the kind of points you raise. I wonder if somehow Guy got the maximum positive acceptance of his ideas, how he would expect that to affect the lives of those listeners for the better during their conscious march to extinction? Isn’t it like telling someone who has an incurable terminal cancer that they are unaware of due to having no symptoms, to wake up to their situation so they can start worrying about it? I need to think about this more deeply….

  • mike k

    let me know when you figure out this false conundrum. People that don’t want to know will never know. They will just make up shit.
    Go ahead, talk among yourselves—YOU’LL BE DEAD SOON
    you don’t have to believe

  • @ Sabine

    You ask a good question, to wit, why would I come here and comment? I certainly share the viewpoint that mankind’s activities are spectacularly destructive to the systems that support us. But I think that the conclusion that no possible course of action (regardless of how unlikely such a course might be) can effect our near-term total doom as a species is utter nonsense. So I find the constant deprecation of people who point out factual errors in McPherson’s analysis (and there are MANY such errors) to be destructive.

    And I believe that the effort to convince people that there’s no hope of any other outcome besides doom, regardless of what one, many, or all of us do to be incredibly harmful. I don’t claim to understand the motivation for such efforts, but they are uniformly wrong-headed as I see it. I will say that, at least among some here, there’s a hint of self-congratulatory smugness in the nature of “the poor fools, if only they knew what I, with my superior wisdom know” and I find that particularly repulsive. I will point out that I don’t paint that particular scene with a broad brush.

    Thus, when I see what I consider to be destructive foolishness combined with what I see as hypocrisy (“I’m living in the least impactful way that I can, having left so-called ‘civilized society’ behind, please send money to help me and my assistant fly to Europe” and “I really got to speak with people who understand death on a daily basis in the ER because of an embolism caused by my travel schedule”) I feel compelled to speak out. I don’t want the message that “our days are numbered…” to go unchallenged.

  • Koyaanisqatsi is now free at IMDB courtesy of Hulu


    From what I recall of seeing it decades ago, I would now classify it under the “all the things that are killing us soon” label, as seen long ago, and unheeded. The Hopi had it right. So did Chief Sealth.

    Last night AMC had “The Day After Tomorrow”, with Dennis Quaid playing the Guy McPherson role. Talk about abrupt climate change. (Doesn’t matter whether it’s hot or cold — the movie captures the oncoming emergency.)

    “I thought you said this would happen in 100 years,” whines the Vice President. “I was wrong; it’s coming in six to eight weeks,” says Quaid.

    Those math problems down below are getting harder and harder ;)

  • Hi Tom,
    Related to the warm “blob”:

    Strong Winds Push Billions of Velella Velella Jellyfish onto the West Coast

    “Strong winds and above average sea surface temperatures are killing off this unusual animal in large numbers.

    Known as “purple sailors,” billions of velella velella jellyfish have been carried onto multiple shorelines across the West Coast by powerful surface winds.”

    Read the Weather Channel link for the rest (and some horrifying pictures):



    On another note, the air in the PNW has been thick with smoke from the Siberian wildfires.

    “The scenes have almost felt like they’re out of Hollywood imagination — brilliant red sunrises and sunsets the last couple of days around Western Washington.

    Why so red? It’s a byproduct of the massive wildfires that recently burned a large area in Siberia.

    The atmospheric winds are aligned this week to carry the smoke across the Pacific Ocean and into the Pacific Northwest.”

    Link (with images):


  • RD’s link re hopelessness was confirmational. Hopelessness that is energetic and inspiring, always turning the page from what is useless, hopelessness with no expectation/conclusion other than joyfully constructive endeavor.

  • Rob – I think it is only fair to ask you what you would have us do. What activities would you recommend as hopeful alternatives to the approaching danger of NTHE? What constructive activities are you engaged in?

  • The current math equations remind me of long hours in my youth memorizing the multiplication tables. I’m hoping they won’t begin throwing long division at us!

  • @Rob Ryan: “I don’t want the message that “our days are numbered…” to go unchallenged.”

    Uhhh.. News flash, Rob: Pretty much everywhere we go *outside* of this space, we can find endless challenges to the “days are numbered” message… It’s not like we don’t know that we could go back to adopting a mainstream attitude because of lack of information from folks like yourself. (Will be waiting for your list of errors, btw).

    As for Guy.. this is how I see it: he went off-grid but then realized that the situation was too dire and that nothing we do will change what is to come. Having had that realization, he says “live a life of excellence”. Now, I don’t pretend to know what that means, and the answer is different for each person… but for him, it’s obvious that his life is unbearable without Teaching, so he’ll continue to Teach, because that’s what he likes to do. He continues to do it even at a physical cost, so it must be worth it to him.

    Now, another person might like surfing so, faced with the end of the world, they may well keep on surfing, because designing wind turbines or doing something else “constructive” instead of surfing is not going to change things.

    But you know.. there are fundamental things that really haven’t changed with this news. If you are wasting your life at a shitty job, you’re wasting your life at a shitty job whether humans go extinct in fifteen years or whether they don’t. I think the NTE/NTHE challenge forces us to ask ourselves questions that we should have been asking ourselves anyway, even without that spectre.

  • OK. I need to admit something to myself and those I am sharing with. I haven’t always been Mr. Nice Guy. I have entertained some really nasty thoughts and feelings. And those parts of me have not just faded away. Yes, I am not under their domination as was once the case – but they still live in my neural circuits. And it just really gripes me that the people who are responsible for this nightmare we are all trapped in could go into this horrible destiny ahead of all of us still blithely denying any responsibility for it, while often blaming those least responsible for whatever goes wrong. I want all you bastards to feel the pain in spades that you are so casually dumping on others, including all the precious life forms you are callously destroying. I would like all of you to feel the full suffering and horror that should come with realizing what you are responsible for.

    And I do not exempt myself or any of us for our part in the whole sorry failure of our evil culture. We all deserve whatever we get. We humans are a lying, treacherous, gutless, evil bunch of unevolved simian defectives. We need to have our noses rubbed in the awful mess we have made of this beautiful world….

    OK. I needed to confess those feelings to myself and those I talk fine philosophy with. Now I need to put those parts of me back in their cages, lest they get on a roll and begin once more to dominate the better parts of myself it took so long to nourish and protect from them….

  • The irony is that, if what McPherson says is accurate, receptivity to his message is completely irrelevant and if it’s inaccurate, receptivity to it is destructive.

    Sorry…scale mismatch detected.

    If what McPherson says is accurate, then sure, receptivity to it is irrelevant on the scale of a nation or of the planet…but on the scale of the individuals on this blog or those at his presentations, receptivity maybe the most relevant thing in the(ir) world.

    Similarly, if what he says is inaccurate, do you really believe that the fraction of people who are misled here would have been the critical missing mass that prevented successful implementation of whatever solution/fix you might think will preserve enough habitat for humanity to survive ?

    Welcome to Ironicstan…Follow in your book and repeat after me, as we learn three new words in Ironic…verbal…situational…dramatic.

    Thunder? Lightning? I guess Hicks was right…Hendrix is on HAARP tonight.

  • I’ve posted this piece here about 1&1/1/2 years ago.

    It appears to be even more appropriate now.

    Top Regrets People Have At the End of Their Lives

    A palliative nurse has recorded the top five regrets of the dying.
    February 15, 2013 |

    There was no mention of more sex or bungee jumps.

    A palliative nurse who has counselled the dying in their last days has revealed the most common regrets we have at the end of our lives. And among the top, from men in particular, is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard’.

    Bronnie Ware is an Australian nurse who spent several years working in palliative care, caring for patients in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded their dying epiphanies in a blog called Inspiration and Chai, which gathered so much attention that she put her observations into a book called The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.
    Ware writes of the phenomenal clarity of vision that people gain at the end of their lives, and how we might learn from their wisdom.
    “When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently,” she says, “common themes surfaced again and again.”

    Here are the top five regrets of the dying, as witnessed by Ware:

    1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
    “This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honoured even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realise, until they no longer have it.”

    2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
    “This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

    3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
    “Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

    4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
    “Often they would not truly realise the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

    5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
    “This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realise until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”

  • If we want people to save the world, we don’t need to be hanging around the same people that have doomed it and don’t want to do anything about it. That’s my opinion. I won’t be posting in here anymore, it’s too depressing and yes, has made ME suicidal. I am even paranoid enough to start thinking that was the intent all along. Why advocate FOR suicide if we really are going to die in the first place?

    Or maybe we are killing the people who can save the world? Maybe THAT was the plan all along?

    the native americans say when it’s a good day to die you know it. And Guy has said to live with death in mind.

    And that is not suicide? To think of death? Some people want to see the world burn. And others want to make sure those who want to put out the fire never have the inspiration, courage, or help to do so. If we are dying, I want to know, but I also want to be able to appreciate what is left, and frankly, I am not getting that here and with a few notable exceptions, never did.

    If the world ends like is written about here in ‘cartesia’ it will not be because we are all evil. It will becasue a few were, and the rest didn’t bother to do anything about it.

  • do we need more words before collapse? here is one more https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solastalgia

  • So how come Rob Ryan gets to post more than twice a day? Because he is contrarian?

    Regarding the essay: way too long, i did read the first few paras. Over 20 years ago, my wife and i separated, primarily because she could no longer handle my being politically active, never mind prepping (this was years before prepping was being widely pursued). She was not an activist when we me in ’78, gradually became one of her own volition because of the nuke issue (Three Mile Island, and she lived across the street from then UC’s min nuke reaction, operated by the School of Engineering for nuke engineering majors to practice on), and later the growing exposure of toxic waste dumps, realizing that things could not go on the way they were without a mega-disaster, indeed human exintilns in the foreseeable future. By ’86, she was done, beaten down by the system’s resiliency, and had become inactive politically. I was OK with that, can’t force someone to do something their heart is not in. But she wanted me to stop as well, could not handle being inactive when i was still very engaged. When she realized that i wasn’t gonna stop, she started wanting to leave. Took her four years to actually do so, during which she became increasingly emotionally abusive, later physically abusive, that’s how she externalized her frustration. I hung in there, i tool “commitment” seriously. When she (with my help) located her high school boyfriend (from the mid ’60s( in SoCal in Summer ’91, she decided it was time to make her move, and did so. I’ve basically not recovered, not so much from the separation itself (i could not handle the way things were going at the end) but the manner in which it happened, destroyed my ability to trust potential partners

    A relationship between two people whose views on something as fundamental on attitudes towards events in society are not only divergent, but in fact are such that one of the people cannot handle the other’s perspective because deep inside they realize the other is on the mark, is a relationship that’s not gonna be around for long, better to just let it go.

  • Jeff –

    Rob Ryan had 3 posts April 18 and so far only 1 April 19. hardly going bonkers. Gerald on the other hand was something like 4 one day, 6 the next, then 8 or so the day after that… and then after I warned him directly, was going over again with multiple posts. and digi was going a bit too crazy as well, also after some warning.

    if someone’s name happens to be referenced a lot, as is happening with RR in this thread, and Lidia earlier, it may look like they are getting tons of exposure, but they are not over posting.

    I keep an eye on counts, and it’s also a judgement call. like mike k went over a bit just now, but he’s hardly getting out of hand, and doesn’t have any history of going over repeatedly.

    simple judgement calls. the only way to be reasonable, IMO.

    thanks for your concern, as I do actually think this one rule is a fairly important one for the anarchic collective called NBL.

    I greatly appreciate that the rule is respected as much as it is, and the posters that do respect the rule deserve my efforts to keep the (very few) others in line.


  • @ Amy Pike Says:
    April 19th, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    If the world ends like is written about here in ‘cartesia’ it will not be because we are all evil. It will because a few were, and the rest didn’t bother to do anything about it.

    Nicely stated and spot-on. Too many lack integrity, they’re aware that their employer is destroying nature and/or poisoning or cheating their “fellow humans” and/or being denigrated at every turn. Nonetheless, they still show up for their jobs, day after day, aiding and abetting the criminal behavior for which they receive another day’s pittance, all so they can acquire the next shiny bauble some other criminal organization foists upon them. Moreover, there are many, too, who lack such awareness and/or aspire to become one of the criminally insane “top dogs.”

    @ mo Says:
    April 19th, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    I greatly appreciate that the rule is respected as much as it is, and the posters that do respect the rule deserve my efforts to keep the (very few) others in line.

    Kudos to you for that level of “fair mindedness.” :) BTW, as a counterpoint to some earlier comments, I find the “math test” captchas far too simple and would be completely in favor of some “long division” or, better yet, having to provide a solution for a system of 3 or more polynomial expressions! ;)

    Of course, I am certain that those suggestions would be deemed something other than “fair-minded” by the masses.

  • Gerald – thanks for posting that 5 part “Top Regrets” post again. I think it is so totally spot on, and I loved it the previous times you posted it as well. it almost cannot be said enough (and yes, that is sort of a joke given recent events here ‘-)

    Amy – I’m very sorry to see you go, but yeah of course I totally understand your reasons. I loved your voice here! so full of feeling and the love of life. please feel free to stop by again if you are inspired to! it is (was) always great to see you here.

    Colin – thank you. :) I think your idea of a captcha that requires a solution for a system of polynomial equations is right on, but then I remember that a few weeks ago I thought 3 x 9 = 18.

    it was late… and the coffee was starting to wear off. ‘-)

  • rob ryan is 2’9”…he is also a very special pygmy. that’s why he gets 3 posts. if you look really, really, really hard at EVERYTHING. it’s clear why we are completely fucked….granted, a little love can go a long way. sorry. I know that was rasciss and offensive.

  • This morning I had yet another session with one of the NPDC officers and pointed out that the correspondence I had received contained a lie and was in breach of the [NZ] local government acts of 2002 and 2012 ( a more or less daily occurrence).

    A snip from something I am working on at the moment may be of interest:

    ‘Since any plan is an allocation of energy and resources which will impact on the local and global environments, and since the money and the economy are both by-products of the available energy supply, a few simple questions quickly determines who is fit to make decisions on behalf of the community and who is not.

    a) What force is required to support a mass of 10kg?

    b) How much energy is required to lift a mass of 10kg through a distance of 1 metre?

    c) If a mass of 10kg is raised 1 metre in 2 seconds, what is the power consumption?

    d) If a mass of 10kg is placed on a surface with a coefficient of friction of 0.1, how much work is done pushing it 1 metre across that surface?

    e) How much carbon dioxide is generated when 16g of methane is burned?

    f) What is the current approximate concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere?

    g) How far displaced from normal is the current atmospheric carbon dioxide level?

    h) Why is an elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration a serious problem?

    i) What is the relative forcing factor for methane compared to carbon dioxide, and why is that important.

    j) In the manufacture and distribution of cement, what are the three major sources of carbon dioxide emissions.

    k) When did the peak of extraction of conventional oil occur?

    l) What is the approximate EROEI of tar-sands-derived oil?

    m) Where do interest payments come from in an interest-bearing Fractional Reserve Banking system?

    n) Why have numerous central banks found it necessary to lower interest rates to zero or negative?

    o) What is the meaning of Ponzi, and why is it applied to the current global financial system?

    Anyone unable to answer at least 10 of those 15 questions immediately and without reference to books or computer search engines is, by definition, not fit to govern or make any decisions on behalf of the community in an industrialised society such as New Zealand. ‘

  • …I find the “math test” captchas far too simple and would be completely in favor of some “long division” or, better yet, having to provide a solution for a system of 3 or more polynomial expressions!


    Forwarded your idea to someone who knows someone in Captcha’s R&D department.
    They came back with a reply referring to a problem with formatting the answer space to accommodate complex numbers…whaddyagonnado?
    Wanna try for something involving transfinites ?

    If human habitat vanishes, will numbers survive the loss of theirs?

    OK, so it’s a 6/4 tune based on a 5/4 tune…give Georg Cantor a waltz as a 3rd data point and let the dancing diagonals beguine.

  • **it’s also a judgement call.**

    IOW, it’s no longer the 2 post rule, but a moderators **judgement**???

    The 2 post rule is elegant in it’s simplicity.

    Rewriting the rules to give a pass (hardly a problem) for certain posters, and grief for others (has been warned) seems to negate this elegantly simple rule.

    Kinda like the Patriot Act is about freedom (wink, wink), NBL has a 2 post rule (wink, wink).

  • one can not high-jack a thread….if he is completely ignored….I know this from personal experience. cheers

  • Bob S. –

    it has always been like this. sometimes someone will go over. sometimes they will note it in the post, and apologize. sometimes not, but it’s obviously an exception. sometimes people start breaking the rule consistently.

    it has always been handled as a judgement call, by me or anyone else who has ever mentioned it or enforced it. I just spelled it out clearly.

    should I instantly ban anyone who goes over, even once? immediately delete any overpost? warn someone every single time there is an overpost? if not any of those, then yes, it is a judgement call how it is handled. none of those things have ever been the way it is handled here.

    I am not giving anyone “a pass.” just trying to be reasonable.

  • @Gerald Spezio

    Regarding Werner Erhard, not that he needs defending but I will endeavour anyway, as far as I can tell, all that you said is about you and how you view and speak about others and how you would be in the role you imagine Erhard in. None of what you said represents in any way my experience of est or Werner Erhard.

    I was a customer as were dozens of my friends and family and none of us were in any “adoring flock”, and if we were “insecure & vulnerable” and “bewildered” maybe we are those things now. They might be qualities that go with being human. Perhaps you are never “insecure & vulnerable” and “bewildered”. And that might be why you speak about those states tha way that you have here. And how would you know what another person is doing internally, let alone “calculating”? “Slick Werner was full of it alright – chock full of “transformations” “spiritualities,” & endless “possibilities.” <—-And what makes your opinion about this person valuable or useful? Who is this "narcissistic ME GENERATION."? You talking about me? That is way to vague and sweeping to be taken seriously. Most if not all of my friends are involved in making life better for others in some way or another. As for "Werner’s really deep psychological message; “What about me?” THAT is about you and your world view my friend, not anything Werner Erhard. You are the one who said it. It came from you.

  • Mike K:

    Yes, you’re quite right, it is only fair to ask that. What would I have you do? First, stop broadcasting the message that there’s zero hope for the survival of the species. While such a cataclysmic outcome is not impossible, it’s not going to happen in a decade or two or three. There is time to take steps to mitigate. Some are likely to be radical. And all of them together are, as I see it, incapable of enabling the extension of the current paradigm or preventing a lot of suffering and even death.

    Second, do whatever is in your power to communicate the message that, the longer we wait to throw out those who make what’s currently happening possible, the more hardship will inevitably follow. Adoption of a “meme” (the word is inadequate but I’m sure you understand) follows a logistic curve that looks exponential in the early phases and there’s no necessity of reaching the inflection point to make change happen, it will come far sooner.

    Third, demand truth from news sources. Call out every lie. There are a lot of them.

    Fourth, lead by example. The “meme” above will be accelerated by walkers of the talk. “I told two friends, and they told two friends and they…”

    Fifth, learn useful skills beyond investing, administering, etc. This will be valuable regardless of outcomes. Even if BAU transpires and, shockingly, all goes well, you’ll still be glad you did.

    Sixth, don’t believe anyone categorically. Use your coherence network to determine if what you’re hearing makes sense.

    There are probably others.

    Am I walking the talk? I’m not. Those who’ve read my blog know of the hypocrisy I embody and internalize. I’m taking some of the easy steps, few if any of the hard ones. I don’t defend it or rationalize it.

    I harbor a notion that, with sufficient energy of a clean nature (Thorium? Rocky Mountain Institute model? Yes, I know, the worst hopium per McPherson) not only could further damage be prevented but past damage repaired (albeit slowly). I could be and likely am F.O.S. as concerns this, but raw numbers demonstrate that Earth could provide energy of this magnitude sufficient for a sizeable population (though not 10 or 15 billion). Self-poisoning is the dagger in the heart of that, of course.

    Anyway, even if no changes are made around the world, calamity is not going to cause extinction of mankind in a matter of a few decades and we need to use those decades to slow down, stop, and turn back the clock.

    Am I working 24/7 to accomplish that? I’m not. So point at me and call me a hypocrite, I won’t argue. But I still find what transpires on this site the opposite of constructive. Being kind, loving, and generous is good no matter what happens of course. I do try to do that but I can’t be the judge of my success there.

    I’m probably more glib, sarcastic, and confrontational than is appropriate on this site but, I have to say, I stand by my characterizations.

  • @rob, the “infinite energy” idea is a crock. Even if some vast new source could be accessed.. Ya know what? Using it creates waste heat. Just you sitting there with the lights out generates waste heat. Know what we don’t need more of? Heat. There is no “mitigation”. There is no way to unring the bell. There is no way to cause the re-freezing of ice caps and glaciers that are melting, and will continue to melt, at an exponential rate.

    But thanks for playing!

  • Hmm.. my second post of the day, I don’t want to violate policy now that I know it (sincerely).


    Yes, infinite energy is a crock, conversion of energy down the entropy gradient, no matter the technology, results in dispersion of thermal energy. No question about it. (As an aside, I can answer all 15 of km’s questions above without a reference.)

    The waste heat, though, of our energy conversion at rates we could conceivably generate is insignificant in comparison to the heat retained by the the Earth/ocean/atmosphere system as it finds new equilibria in the face of GHG emissions.

    We’re unlikely to ever reach a point where our waste heat from energy conversion is the issue. We’ll have to have reached dynamic equilibrium long before that. We will not continue quasi-exponential growth in population, conversion, or consumption long enough to allow that, regardless of our trajectory. Calculations available upon request (I’m not kidding but please allow time if you do so request, I have a more than full-time job, am enrolled in graduate school, and have a family – also, I’d likely refer you elsewhere to a Tex-friendly site).

    In any case, the caps and glaciers could and may well melt, sea level is rising and will rise more and faster. Ecological bands and niches will move poleward. Conflict will ensue. People will suffer and perish. But our species will not die out in decades (though, with huge sadness I must say that many will). These decades must be used to mitigate and minimize.

    Finally, upthread, someone was “waiting to see” McPherson’s errors pointed out. It’s been done by smarter and more knowledgeable people than I. As I recall, McPherson expressly chose not to address such critics, saying something along the lines of (paraphrasing) he wouldn’t waste time trying to convince people who believed in hopium.

    Finally, if the participants and publishers of this site want to attract people to their point of view and to contribute (and I honestly don’t know if that’s what is desired, maybe everyone is happy just the way it is), I’d suggest dropping “hopium.” It’s insulting, it’s demeaning, it’s just so precious, and, in one word, captures the smugness to which I referred earlier.

  • Rob – “my second post of the day, I don’t want to violate policy now that I know it”

    well, the policy *is* two posts max on the NBL site per day, so you are fine. the NBL Forum exists for posting as much as one wishes.


  • **should I instantly ban anyone who goes over, even once?**

    That’s the elegance of the 2 post rule – we don’t need to take a philosophy class to understand how to count to two :)

    Enforcing the rule is another matter – however I do believe if the policy is to delete posts for violating the rule, than again — one and one is two – not two for some and *hardly a problem** for others.

    If you delete after 2 – be consistent — eliminate this **judgement call** of yours.

    Two means two.

  • @Rob, “Ecological bands and niches will move poleward” is stunningly incorrect. Plants rely heavily on day-length cues for flowering and fruiting. Trees cannot and will not just up and move.

    • You massively underestimate the rapidity of these changes. Plants and other essential organisms can’t cope NOW, much less in any even-more-degraded future.

    • You only seem to be taking heat into consideration, and not the extreme air pollution of excessive ozone, CO2 and methane. You don’t talk about ocean acidification and the death of O2-producing phytoplankton.

    • You obviously don’t ever go outside and SEE with your own eyes the bark flaking off the trees, the dearth of birds and even flies! Where are the moths around the streetlights? Where are the bird and animal tracks that used to be in the snow?

    The web of life is unraveling. We are not going to be miraculously suspended in mid-air without it. All you seem to be doing here is proving McPherson right: that it is a waste of time dealing with people who refuse to see what’s right in front of their noses.

    P.S. that was also me asking about the errors. Why have you deflected that question? I haven’t seen a valid refutation of the claims made on this site which, by the way, are not claims made up by McPherson but are the official work of other scientists which he happens to be publicizing. Where are the people challenging the works to which he refers? Please provide links. You must have them since you are convinced of them…

  • Bob –

    at first I thought your suggestion that I actually take that route was a bit off the wall. but it has merit, as it takes away the human judgement factor. that’s always a good thing, right?

    are you aware of the backstory in Frank Herbert’s Dune universe?

    The Butlerian Jihad

    this is kind of relevant – both with taking the time to make human judgements about other humans, and their various needs, as well as how we have already surrendered so much to The Machine – well, basically everything:


    In Terminology of the Imperium, the glossary of 1965’s Dune, Frank Herbert provides the following definition:

    Jihad, Butlerian: (see also Great Revolt) — the crusade against computers, thinking machines, and conscious robots begun in 201 B.G. and concluded in 108 B.G. Its chief commandment remains in the O.C. Bible as “Thou shalt not make a machine in the likeness of a human mind.”

    Herbert refers to the Jihad many times in the entire Dune series, but did not give much detail on how he imagined the actual conflict.[4] In God Emperor of Dune (1981), Leto Atreides II indicates that the Jihad had been a semi-religious social upheaval initiated by humans who felt repulsed by how guided and controlled they had become by machines:

    “The target of the Jihad was a machine-attitude as much as the machines,” Leto said. “Humans had set those machines to usurp our sense of beauty, our necessary selfdom out of which we make living judgments. Naturally, the machines were destroyed.”[5]

    In this version, the Jihad is named for Jehanne Butler. Trained as both a priestess and a Bene Gesserit on the planet Komos, Jehanne marries Thet’r Butler late in life. Due to her Bene Gesserit training, a pregnant Jehanne is in contact with her developing fetus and knows the state of its health and development. After waking from the anesthesia given during delivery, she is shocked to be told that the fetus had been malformed and the infant therapeutically aborted. She later discovers through investigation that her child had in fact been healthy, but that the hospital director, the first self-programming computer on the planet, had been secretly carrying out a policy of unjustified abortions.[12]

    This discovery triggers further investigation into the extent to which such machines had been controlling society and altering the emotional and intellectual characteristics of planetary populations over a course of centuries. During the course of these investigations, the chief priestess of Komos, Urania, interrogates one of the chief computer engineers, Doctor G. Demlen. She observes that he is an arrogant and unrepentant man, and she is shocked to witness his pride in his machines. Urania tells him that his work violates the fundamental principles of respect for human life and is an offense to the worship of the Goddess.[13]

    At the mention of the Goddess, Demlen exploded in a fit of acid and honest outrage, and in his fury, after suggesting that there was more worth reverence in one of his machines than in the worship of ‘a supposed “goddess” invented by a clutch of bucolic bumpkins on a pigsty of a planet,’ Demlen turned to the icon of Kubebe as if to spit on it. Before he could commit the act, Urania had killed him with her ceremonial knife.” That moment of sacrilege was the beginning of the Jihad. The priestesses of the planet met that night, and the next day, the Jihad began to be preached to the faithful of Komos, against “the thinking machines and all who find their gods within them.

    (a different version of the backstory)

    The Legends of Dune prequel trilogy (2002–2004) by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, set over 10,000 years before the events of Dune, chronicles the struggle between humans and thinking machines that would eventually become known as the Butlerian Jihad.[4] The series explains that mankind had become entirely complacent and dependent upon thinking machines; recognizing this weakness, a group of ambitious, militant humans calling themselves the Titans use this widespread reliance on machine intelligence to seize control of the entire universe. The Titans soon make the transition into cyborgs called cymeks; through the use of specialized interfaces, their brains are installed inside giant, mobile, mechanized “bodies.” These fearsome, weaponized bodies make the Titans virtually immortal – and unstoppable.[4] They later convert a number of subservient humans into an army of “neo-cymeks” to enforce their rule over the universe, and this so-called “Time of Titans” lasts for a century.[16]

    Eventually the Titan Xerxes lazily grants too much access and power to the AI program Omnius, which usurps control from the Titans themselves.[4] Seeing no value in human life, the thinking machines – now including armies of robot soldiers and other aggressive machines, with the Titans as their commanders – dominate and enslave nearly all of humanity in the universe for 900 years, until a jihad is ignited by the independent robot Erasmus’s murder of Manion Butler, the young son of Serena Butler.[4] This crusade against the machines lasts for nearly a century, with much loss of human life, ending in human victory at the Battle of Corrin. The Jihad also gives rise to the Bene Gesserit, the Spacing Guild, the Sardaukar army, the Landsraad, and even House Corrino, whose Padishah Emperors rule the universe for the next 10,000 years, until the events of Dune and the accession of Paul Atreides.[16]


    anyways, human judgement, with human heart, rocks, I think.

    surrendering our will, our discernment, and our feelings, in order to mindlessly enforce the letter of the law is kind of strange, IMO.

    long term bad consequences can be the only result in a situation like that, and of course the wise, like Herbert, knew this decades ago.

    revolutions against “The Machine” have been foretold for ages, now. I wonder if it will ever happen?


  • Lidia:

    I made a thorough response and hit “Submit Comment” but it disappeared. I’d saved it and attempted to re-post it but got the “Duplicate Message” error screen. I’m not sure what aspect of the comment filter I violated, but perhaps the moderator can so inform me. I did have two links but links have worked previously so I don’t know if that’s the problem. This will constitute my second comment of the day so hopefully the first one can see the light.

  • Rob Ryan –

    can you try submitting your comment again? there is nothing in the spam/duplicate queue that I can liberate for you. if you still have any issue, please email me your comment text at: moflow at outlook dot com


    the system just gets touchy with things sometimes (rarely, hopefully). not only did you not violate anything that I am aware of, please consider your above comment a free “Tech Note” to inform me that you had a posting issue. you still have two comments for today on the NBL site.

    (and Bob S, yes, this is a perfect example of using reasonable judgement. it is almost always necessary in any human system, IMO).

    up to two links will go through in a comment without moderation. three or more links require post approval.

  • Here’s the comment I submitted:


    I’m far from ignoring the items you enumerate. I’m not convinced that you read my response in the context of your reply to me. With respect to heat, I specifically stated that it’s the addition of GHGs that is the primary contributor to warming. That was, in fact, my point.

    I’m not going to address each of your subsequent points (acidification, etc.) because I won’t argue that these things aren’t destructive. I don’t say and haven’t said that major disruptions, including starvation events, epidemics, resource wars, etc. are not in store. I have said and will say that claiming and promoting the message that “extinction of the human race is assured and that therefore striving to minimize damage and mitigate effects is wasted effort” is wrong headed and destructive.

    As to McPherson’s errors, they’re fairly thoroughly elaborated here. And, with respect to “official work of other scientists,” McPherson misquotes and misinterprets extensively as is shown at the linked site. I suggest you read it, I can’t do better. McPherson’s response is here (since it’s pretty brief, I’ll copy it in this comment):

    “1. Johnson believes the solution to our myriad predicaments can be found in civilization. But each of the predicaments is rooted in civilization. The average reader can detect the insanity, but Johnson cannot. With respect to climate change, Johnson ignores Tim Garrett’s excellent published research indicating civilization is a heat engine. Like others who care about the living planet, including future generations of humans, I’m working to dismantle civilization. Johnson is working to sustain the omnicide.
    2. Johnson believes atmospheric methane will be an issue for the grandchildren to deal with. He ignores abundant science indicating otherwise. He clings to his preconceptions, and ignores the work of actual climate scientists.
    3. Johnson is motivated by money. He is paid to produce information that supports the status quo. In contrast, I’m motivated by evidence.’

    ‘I have neither time nor interest in addressing each point Johnson mentions. Furthermore, unlike Johnson, I’m not paid to promote the Sixth Great Extinction induced by civilization. I welcome the efforts of others to write a point-by-point assessment of Johnson’s essay, which is strong on shooting the messenger and weak on attacking the science. But don’t expect to be rewarded for pointing out the facts. As with Johnson, you’ll be rewarded only if you dismiss the message and disparage the messenger.
    Class dismissed. Johnson fails.”

    Any reasonable reading of McPherson’s response must characterize it as terribly weak, even to the extent of wondering about his actual motivation if this is the best that he is either able or willing to do. Johnson quotes extensively from primary literature produced by working climate scientists.

    And, by the way, if we’ll be extinct in a matter of a few tens of years, what “future generations of humans” is he trying to save? And later, in the comments during a claim of having been slandered by Johnson, McPherson states that he “won’t honor [him] with a link.” In other words, he’d rather have you look at his weak response and take his word for it than to read Johnson’s thorough counterarguments (I won’t say debunking). There’s lots of talk of Johnson’s “ad hominem” arguments, but that’s a total misunderstanding of ad hominem. The distinction is exemplified as follows: saying “Rob Ryan is completely wrong and F.O.S. and an ___hole because of fact 1, fact 2, fact 3” is NOT ad hominem. Saying “don’t believe anything Rob Ryan says because he’s a complete ___hole” or “because he graduated from a California State University and not a UC School” or “because he works for Company X” is an ad hominem argument. Johnson does the former, not the latter.

  • I just tried re-submitting, no luck. I read it over again to see if I could see anything that should be causing an issue, but I didn’t see what it could be. I don’t think there’s a length issue – while it wasn’t short, there are others that are longer. I don’t know what is causing the issue. I have a copy so if it can be figured out or I can email it to someone, it can appear but, for whatever reason, the site doesn’t like it.

  • hey Rob – I saw the problem. your comment’s second link (the one for Guy’s comment) was broken – just a partial “a” tag in the opening part with the actual href= URL part left out completely. (btw, it could be possible that this second link was getting mangled in the submit process. not necessarily your error)

    you still have one more real comment allowable for today, FYI.

  • @rob, do you really think we all haven’t read Fractal Planet? Johnson has implausible claims of his own, hugely arrogant blind spots which I’m pretty sure I mentioned here back at the time that link was posted. Both you and he spend most of your time attacking Guy rather than explaining what is is exactly -exactly! -that he has so wrong… not where does he mis-speak.. or where has he been rude or dismissive… Where is he *wrong*?

    How is taking the data we have and (correctly, IMO) extrapolating an extinction event “damaging”? Damaging to whom? What influence do you think Guy has, except with this tiny number of misfits who, for whatever reason, have been insufficiently indoctrinated to accept conventional salvation myths?

    What do you have to gain here?

    You seem to think this is something that can be debated, when it is not, unless you want to take it up with NASA and the UN along with the host of scientists cited on McPherson’s Climate Update page.. You can make Guy out to be “wrong-headed” (I’m sure he wishes he was wrong.. *I* sure wish he was wrong, but I know in my gut as well as in my head that he is not), but the truth will prove itself: that there is no mitigating the forces that have been set in motion.

    I really would look to your own life and not worry about what we talk about here… which changes nothing.