I’ve pasted below, verbatim, an essay I posted in this space on 11 November 2011. The current essay bears the same title as the one from way back when. First, though, consistent with my recent strategy, I’ve added a few introductory words and an embedded song. And, in this case, I’ve added a few links before everything else.
As always, the schedule of topics for forthcoming episodes of the radio show is posted beneath the tab at the top of the page titled, “Radio Archive and Recent Video.” Please help us out, especially with episodes that focus on criticism of so-called climate scientists.
I’m scheduled to deliver a webinar at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, 27 January 2016: The Twin Sides of the Fossil-Fuel Coin: How Net Energy Decline Interacts with Abrupt Climate Change
Please note that I’ve deleted the long, often-updated climate-change summary and update from the regular posts and put it within a tab at the top of the page. It can be read in three parts, and comments are no longer allowed. Big thanks to Niels van der Wolk for his work on this revision.
A beloved friend recently mentioned the horrors of collapse for people living in rural areas. A city dweller with excellent skills in both thought and argumentation, she has great faith in her neighbors within a city harboring more than a million people.
On the other hand, I am aware of no evidence to support the notion of the city as a refuge from complete collapse of civilization. As omnicidal examples of the predicament, cities and their occupants will not be spared the ravages of their own demise any more than they are being spared the ravages of their persistence.
I trust few people with my life. Although people accustomed to delivery of water, food, fuel, and other conveniences can be found throughout the over-developed world, those who feel entitled to such deliveries are most likely to be found at the apex of imperialism, the overcrowded cities where human life depends upon conquest for the sake of convenience.
Who is more self-reliant, the urbanite or the country dweller? Who is nearer potable water and food? Who is better suited to face the rigors of outdoor life, and up-close death?
Cities are horrible enough already with their disparities in monetary wealth and justice. These disparities increase every year. It’s difficult for me to imagine rapid dissipation of these disparities when money no longer matters and justice no longer involves a police state focused on maintaining injustices.
I’m well aware that takers can be found nearly everywhere in the civilized world. In my experience, leavers are largely restricted to rural areas. Within a living arrangement that encourages sociopathy, such as industrial civilization, the dysfunction is naturally greatest where the herds are maximally concentrated.
I’m not suggesting clean country living will insulate rural dwellers from completion of the ongoing decline in industrial civilization. Nor will rural folks persist long after habitat for humans vanishes from Earth. But some deaths are more palatable than others, at least in advance. In theory. In my mind.
If I’m to die at the point of a gun — and thanks for the frequent recommendation, but I have no such aspirations or inclinations — I’d prefer my own gun to that of a neighbor. On this point I agree with Antonin Artaud in his 1925 book On Suicide:
If I commit suicide, it will not be to destroy myself, but to put myself back together again. Suicide will be for me only one means of violently reconquering myself, of brutally invading my being, of anticipating the unpredictable approaches of God (sic). By suicide, I reintroduce my design in nature, I shall for the first time give things the shape of my will.
I did not argue with my friend. With friends, I try and often fail to opt for kindness over correctness. And I could be wrong, as has happened many times before. If I’m right, may her delusion serve her well. While it can. Until it can’t.
There are various ways to ready oneself for the trip down the peak-oil curve, as well as for climate chaos. Most importantly, as I’ve indicated many times, is psychological readiness. If you are mentally prepared for a future radically different from the past you’ve known, you’re well on your way to thriving in the years ahead.
Also, as I’ve indicated many times, there are a couple general approaches one can pursue along the path of climate change and simultaneous collapses of the industrial economy and the living planet. You can hit the road, or you can mitigate in place. Either way, you’ll need to secure clean water and healthy food, maintain body temperature, and create and maintain a decent human community.
I recommend a life of travel for most people, although I’ve taken a different route for personal reasons. Either way, an adventure-filled life awaits. On the road, you’ll need quick wits, good interpersonal skills, and astonishing amounts of creativity, compassion, and courage. Ditto for mitigating in place. In this post, I’ll address the primary concerns associated with mitigating in place, with a particular focus on me and the mud hut (my favorite subject and my favorite location, respectively).
If you’re staying put, I suggest you pay attention to the 3 Rs of the future. No, not the educational ones from years gone by. And it’s far too late for the three Rs targeting reduced consumption in a nation build on consumption, two of which we have ignored because there is no financial profit in reducing and reusing. Recycling — the only one of these three relevant actions fascist Amerika promotes — is like an apology after a punch in the face (credit Mike Sliwa). We punch the planet in the face with every cultural act, and then we apologize by sorting plastic and aluminum into separate bins.
The three Rs of interest in this post are relocalization, resilience, and redundancy. We’re headed for a severely constrained future with respect to transport of materials and humans. The days of the 12,000-mile supply chain are nearly behind us. Forget about cheap plastic crap from China, expensive watches from Switzerland, and decent hand tools from the Sears Roebuck catalog: We’re going to have to make do with what we’ve got in the very local area. Before the supply chain breaks, we should work toward building a resilient set of living arrangements steeped in redundancy. After the supply chain breaks, it’ll be a little late to start digging a well and learning how to grow food.
Here at the mud hut, we pay serious attention to multiple sources of water (two solar pumps, hand pump, rainwater harvesting from two rooftops, and the nearby river), food (wildcrafting, orchard, gardens, goats for milk and cheese, eggs from ducks and chickens, and in the future, hunting relatively large-bodied animals), body temperature (well-insulated, passive-solar house, multiple awnings, proper clothing, and abundant water and firewood), and human community (abundance in this category exceeds my patience to explain again, but search the archives for a few hints). I’ve no doubt we’re missing some things that will ease our lives in our post-carbon future. Some of these items will remain unknown, even to us, until it’s too late. I’m already missing a few things, even before the impending big crash leads to “lights out.” (As Dmitry Orlov uncharacteristically suggests, the day draws near. As “Tyler Durden” characteristically suggests, the day is near enough to be seen by a blind man.) And as I’ve mentioned a few hundred times, skyrocketing greenhouse gas emissions, along with wholesale destruction of the living planet, will seal our fate as a species unless we crash this luxury ship, and soon.
I know you’ve read this one before, but I’d love to have a solar ice-maker to cool our drinks and our bodies. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, I won’t. And I suspect we’ll muddle through, until we don’t. I’d love to have more time to convince my human community to climb aboard the collapse train. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, I won’t. And I suspect we’ll muddle through, until we don’t. I’d love to make a few more trips to discuss the dire nature of our predicaments with people who are aware and interested. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, I won’t. And I suspect I’ll muddle through, although I’ll miss trips tentatively scheduled to Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, New England, and various places nearer the mud hut.
Closer to home, and closer to my heart, I’d love to have time for my parents — and the thousands of other winter immigrants descending on this area — to make the return trip to their northern homes. But if the industrial economy reaches its overdue end within a few weeks, or even within a few months, they won’t. And I have no idea how we’ll muddle through.
All things being equal, I’d rather have the solar ice-maker in a community fully on-board with collapse. All things being equal, I’d rather make a multitude of excursions to exotic places. All things being equal, I’d rather my parents experience collapse in their own home. But all things are not equal and, more than all these things, I’d rather have a planet marked by much more abundance and far fewer extinctions than we’re currently witnessing.
Catch Nature Bats Last on the radio with Mike Sliwa and Guy McPherson. To catch us live, tune in every Tuesday at 3:00 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. We’re on Stitcher, too.
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