Facing The (Horrible) Future

Our fate directly depends on our courage to change it
Saturday, June 9, 2018, 12:45 AM

I’d like to tell you a short story based on a movie that has had a profound impact on me.

I'll get to the story in a moment, but first, a little background on the movie... 

It's called Griefwalker (by Tim Wilson) and it focuses on the life and wisdom of Stephen Jenkinson, a theologian and philosopher who worked as an end-of-life specialist for many years.  Because we all must face death in our lives, inevitably our own someday, I highly recommend this movie and Stephen’s work to everyone. 

After sitting at the death beds of a thousand individuals, Stephen has accumulated a wisdom regarding the process of dying that is perhaps unmatched in our modern times. His views and insights are extraordinarily powerful and extremely well-delivered in the movie. 

Stephen is a blunt yet thoughtful man, and my own interview with him (Living with Meaning) remains one of my all-time favorites.

At one point in Griefwalker, Stephen was lobbed what I’m sure the interviewer thought was a soft-ball question.  From memory, and I last watched the movie a few years ago so I’m certain to have this inexactly recalled, it was along the lines of “So, Stephen, you’ve learned how to ease people through the process of dying. How is that done?”  I guess the idea was that after being so steeped and skilled at shepherding people through the process of dying, Stephen had arrived at some tidy formula for making it as gentle as possible.

Without blinking Stephen said, “Oh no. Dying for most people these days is horrible.”  After a few shocked fumbly moments by the interviewer, and I confess to having been shocked too, Stephen continued, explaining that the physical process of dying can certainly be managed easily and well with palliative care, but the emotional journey can be quite terrifying (at first). 

The reason why is because most people spend their entire lives pretending as if death is somehow avoidable. So when they find themselves dying, they suddenly have to confront the fact that they may have forgotten to fully 'live' during their one and only shot at life. 

To suddenly realize the most precious thing you had was barely treasured along the way, never to be recovered, can indeed be a horrible moment.

As far as we know, we’ve only got one life to live -- and facing our end puts that into sharp focus. As Stephen says in his book Money and the Soul’s Desires, “Not success. Not growth. Not happiness. The cradle of your love of life … is death.”

To look back on one’s time on Earth and realize how much of it was spent not really being alive, not loving, not noticing, not being present with what is, is to realize that your one glorious ride was largely spent without reflection, depth or meaning. It was squandered. And there’s no undoing that fact. Again, that moment of realization is a bad moment.

I'm not writing this to push you to ponder your own demise, though that may be a healthy pursuit for many of us. Rather, I want to direct your attention towards a moment of horror that I think is coming – for all of us.

Where We're Headed

Travel with me to the future. Imagine that the year is now 2040. 

If we suddenly woke in that year, what would we see in the world?  More importantly, what would we not see? Which species would be missing? Which ecosystems will have utterly collapsed?

By extrapolating trends already in place (many of which are accelerating) we can easily predict a future world where there are no large animals left. Perhaps the last giraffe was killed and eaten by a hungry mob back in 2033, joining the White Rhino which was lost back in 2018. 

Lions and tigers can no longer be found in the wild; their genetic stock hopelessly compressed into a few zoos and frozen test-tubes, should humans ever rally to justify the expense of trying to resurrect those species. 

There are no coral reefs anywhere in the oceans, and essentially no diversity of life left in the seas at all. Acidification has upset and mostly ruined the ocean ecology from the bottom up.

First, we noticed that the oysters no longer successfully made it out of the larval stage. But by the time the scientists delivered a loud enough warning for all of the missing copepods and other vital zooplankton, it was already too late. The jellyfish had taken over. Nobody has a clue how to get the ecology to return to one that can support tuna, rockfish, dolphins, whales, seals and seabirds. Those are all gone -- starved, fished or hunted to extinction.

Worse, the ubiquitous jellyfish are entirely too efficient. In addition to decimating the zooplankton, the jellyfish are eating the phytoplankton responsible for generating most of the world’s oxygen -- their levels too low to continue being a positive force for oxygen release into the atmosphere. “Don’t worry!” scream the Tweets, "Scientists have found a new and better way in the lab to harness the sun to split water. We can make our own oxygen!"  However, after the past 1,000+ lab 'miracle breakthroughs' that proved to be duds when attempted at scale, few have hope that this time will prove any different.

The vast systems offered by Nature -- more accurately, that were offered by Nature -- once taken for granted, are now fully appreciated by the people left on Earth. But it’s too late. 

The insects are mostly gone, at least in terms of diversity. The terrestrial ecosystem balance that people knew and loved back in “the twenty teens” is gone and has been replaced by something far simpler and painfully less interesting. The failure to block neonicotinoid pesticides in time, as well as their more morally repugnant (yet legal!) derivations that outpaced activist’s ability to fight them, meant that entire classes of pollinators were lost. 

With those, entire species of plants disappeared because they were utterly dependent on highly-specific pollinator services. Mankind's few lame attempts at creating “drone pollinators” were so utterly unfit for the task that the term became a profoundly disparaging insult, most frequently applied to ineffective politicians.  “Looks like another useless bill being put up by the drone pollinator from New York.”

A few hardy bugs and roaches, lots and lots of ants (where are they all coming from?), and very few flying insects remain. No more large moths in the temperate climates, with such splendid examples as the Luna and Hawk moths now only existing as dead specimens in a few museums, right next to the dodo and African elephant displays. 

And it’s been over 15 years since "the dawn chorus of birds" was a phrase that had any meaning. Nearly all of the migratory birds are gone, along with all of the insect eating species.  It’s eerily silent outside in the morning. The sight of a single bumblebee, or a flash of colorful plumage, is cause for a quickening of your pulse -- the same physical reaction people once had when as noticing a movie star at a café.

Life, where it now exists in pockets, is revered.  In nearly every place it remains, human guardians quickly dispatch any poachers or defilers, burying the bodies without remorse.  Non-human life has become more valuable than human life.

Fossil fuels began peaking in 2030 in terms of total BTUs from all sources: oil, gas and coal. And while not crashing, they've unable to provide more, which exposed the 'continuous growth' model as being a cruelly-attractive mirage. Its handmaiden, debt-based money, was also revealed to be an artifact of the surplus energy from fossil fuels. Both models have failed. 

As has retirement, a several-generation luxury never to be repeated again in human history. Everyone left alive has to work, if they want to eat.

With the loss of those fantasies, everything is now a difficult trade-off. Not surprising, many people are unable to cope with the consequences.  Suicides are a leading cause of death, especially among those born during earlier and more abundant times. 

Worst of all, food is now increasingly scarce due to a horrid combination of ruined soils and ever more frequent and destructive climate disruptions. Rains fall where they shouldn't and fail increasingly to fall where they should.  Or they fall too hard, and too fast.   Summers with temperatures of over 50C baked crops compounding water shortages, with several years' harvests lost entirely because the overnight temperatures did not cool sufficiently to allow for the open-air pollination of corn. Who knew?

How did we ever get to 9 billion people on Earth without considering that this moment might have arrived?

How did we allow ourselves to pretend that it wouldn't?

Why did we let the fantasy of relocating to Mars capture such a broad swath of our imagination and focus?  Sure, we put an outpost there for a few years in the 2020’s, but – guess what? – it turns out that Mars is a hostile planet to life. It's utterly lacking in resources, it's much farther from the sun than the Earth, and managing a high-tech existence there was a colossal struggle.  Of course we should have realized that going in and not placed so much of our species' odds on that hope. We spent hundreds of billions getting to Mars at the same time we were spending trillions to destroy Earth.  What a horrible idea that was.  In retrospect, it’s all so terribly obvious.

Another forlorn diversion was vertical farming, which posited that we’d just grow salad greens in container boxes.  Of course, with some simple math and logic, we should have been able to realize that plants are calorie conversion machines, turning light energy into food energy.  The idea that we were going to meaningfully replace the sun’s free and intense full-spectrum light with our own manufactured lighting, at scale and in sufficient quantities to meaningfully address the caloric needs of 9 billion people was…not very well thought through.  Actually, in retrospect, that’s being too kind.  We were deluding ourselves.

And so, out here in 2040, looking back, we humans have suddenly come to our collective moment of horrible realization. Because we could not face the idea that our specie's pursuit of collective growth had a predictable end, we forgot to properly care for the one planet we have.

Now that life on Earth is dying, the regret comes pouring out.  Oh, how much we’d give to once again be able to hear a cacophony of birds in the morning! Or to swim over a thriving coral reef!  Or to boat over an ocean teeming with fishes, whales and sea birds.  Instead, the waters are now blank, sterile and depressing. 

Remorse and regret.  How could we have been so utterly stupid?  How could we not have rallied in response to the warning signs, the endless string of increasingly desperate red flashing warning lights any one of which could have -- and should have -- been sufficient to motivate us?

Oh, what we would give to get one more chance!  To go back in time and do things differently, protecting and preserving the Earth’s treasures as if…as if we were deeply in love with all of them.

Our Last Chance

In Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is given the chance to return to his present and get another shot at life. If the 2040 vision I’ve painted terrifies you on a fundamental level as it does me, just know that there's still the chance to wake up and positively alter the course of events.

Yes, the trends are very bad, but they can be changed. As I am fond of saying, we already have all the knowledge and technology we need to be agents of regeneration and abundance instead of extraction and degeneration. We simply lack the right narrative to mobilize our society productively.

Go outside and rejoice in what nature has still to offer.  Really see the next bird or mammal or insect you encounter.  Each one is pure magic.  Take a good hard look at the individual before you, not a robin, but that robin. Not a squirrel, but that squirrel. That bumblebee.  Each is an individual, same as you.  Each has a role, a life, and is busy making decisions and contributing to the story exactly how it is supposed to.

This world we have is the only one we’ll ever have. It’s the one we evolved on and to which our DNA blueprints are exquisitely crafted. And it’s not dying, it’s being killed. We might as well be honest about that and use the active verb.

Killed actively and on purpose, but also by negligence.  We’re neglecting to notice what’s true: that humans are a part of, not apart from nature.  We are one with the larger world.  It’s time to wake up and live into that story. It’s not a new one, but something we forgot in our hasty failing efforts to escape its limits -- limits that disappointed our fragile egos which wanted, needed, to be special and different. 

Life ends, and life begins. There’s an evolutionary impulse underway that has given this brief moment of geological history both humans and elephants.  We cannot know where evolution is going or why, but we can feel the potential of it all.

Elephants, as well as all of life, should be revered and cared for not because children’s books need real-life examples, or zoos need fresh breeding stock, or even because Kenya needs tourist dollars. But simply because they are here. With us. In this time.

A certain humility needs to be adopted along the lines of We simply don’t know what role the special and peculiar sentience of elephants is playing, so we’d better protect it. Because we don’t know. If we remove that species from the web of life, what cascade may we create?

A Call To Action

I could dredge up all the perilous ecological data I publish often on this site, noting the decline in virtually every species -- with many being lost every day and many more on the brink. But I won’t.

There’s no need. You already know in your gut that something is very badly wrong in this story. Something even worse than killing the life on the planet, including our own.

No, what’s worse is that we can do better but we’re not.  We can have immense empathy, and bond with both humans and non-humans alike.  We are capable of dimly grasping our own role on this planet and yet we’re collectively continuing to act as if….we’ll live forever.  If there are problems with that approach, we're assuming we'll figure them out as they arise.

But as Stephen Jenkinson pointed out, when the stakes are too high that leads to a horrible moment. To get serious about saving other species after they are already gone is a wildly immature idea. 

But it is still in our power to avoid that horrible moment. That’s where the idea of a 'movement' comes in.  Look, I have little clue about how to actually start a self-sustaining global movement, but I do suspect that it has to involve (1) the right idea at (2) the right time and (3) involve the right people.

We have to do this. I know the time is right because so many people are already deeply unhappy with suicide rates up 30%, opioid addictions and death skyrocketing, and levels of depression (more accurately termed demoralization in most cases) at never before seen levels. 

Those are all expressions of people who have lost their will to engage with life, or even to continue living.  That means a loss of meaning and purpose, a devastating loss. Adam's recent report gives a hard-hitting breakdown of the mental health epidemic our disconnected and unfulfilling modern way of life has created. Be sure to read it if you haven't already.

To truly “save the planet” is to actually undertake the harder proposition of “saving ourselves.”  The planet will be fine … but humans?  Maybe not so much.

Changing any of this will begin with each of us as individuals.  We have to become the change we wish to see.  We have to shift the narrative away from the old bankrupt idea of infinite growth on a finite planet, or that humans are apart from (rather than a part of) Nature, and towards a better narrative that aligns better with the world as it actually is.

This is a tough sell, for sure. Ultimately, it requires us to find a way past our instinctual drive for comfort and more 'stuff'.  Waking up to the realities involved is not easy nor pain-free. It’s emotionally devastating at first. And who wants to go through that?

“Inattention to the world's ecological state is well advised. Because attention to it mitigates against your happiness, contentment, and your sense of well-being.”

“Having a conscience now is a grief-soaked proposition”

― Stephen Jenkinson

I do, for one. Why? Because to do so is to pass through the tunnel that brings me back to living fully into the one life that I have.  I’m here to live, to make a difference, and to help usher new ideas into the world. The alternative is to face a bitter end-of-life moment that was unavoidable in the first place.

What needs to happen is to somehow awaken the people of the world to the actual nature of the predicaments we face, recognize their inevitability, and go through the wrenching adjustments necessary to realign our collective narrative with the objective truths of our times. 

But how?

In some ways I'm encouraged, because so many people seem to be waking up.  I know this terrifies The Powers That Be, who so desperately want to cling to their authority at any and all costs, because I track their efforts towards shaping the narrative.  There’s nothing subtle about the ways that Wikipedia constantly degrades and disparages the pages devoted to anti-war activists while grotesquely supporting the neocon and war party efforts and related sympathetic journalists.

Twitter and Facebook are constantly stifling various views while elevating those that fall under the umbrella of promoting business as usual and protecting the ideas of those already in power.  In other words: more war, more unfairness, and maybe some barely-passable lip-service to the idea that maybe we should devote a percent or two of our resources towards rear-guard actions to protect the environment.  None of which are actually effective, of course, or else they would be immediately marginalized as the work of terrorists or malcontents.

All of which is to say that any revolution of thought won’t be televised, as they once said., Perhaps in today's age we should amend this to: The revolution won’t be posted to FB and then successfully re-Tweeted.

In other words, please don’t wait for this to appear on your radar before you take it seriously.  It will only ever appear long after it’s far too late.

The revolution underway is already being conducted in places like our own site Peak Prosperity, as well as Charles Eisenstein’s, Charles Hugh Smith’s, Zerohedge, Jim Kunstler, and Craig Murray’s as well as countless others not named here.  Each of these sites is committed to telling narratives that run counter to what the guardians in the MSM would like you to hear. 

Each of these alternative websites is saying, in its own way, Hey the old way doesn’t even make sense anymore, is shot through with logical inconsistencies, and in many cases lacks even basic morality. Collectively, they're offering an invitation to see things differently, and to begin acting differently.

Our challenge is to remain focused, to promote the new ideas, and to be the leaders that are needed in these changing and difficult times.  Our adversaries are those peddling fantasies that serve only to pacify our growing inner discomfort as the world dies around us, as well as those who seek to diffuse, distort and decay the new messages either for corporate or political ends.

Our various social media platforms are a slithering mess of ever-changing algorithms (making it hard to know who you are or aren't reaching with any given post), paid trolls, and bots programmed to deceive, slide, and/or derail any given conversation.

Which means we’ll need to be alert to those tactics and find other ways of remaining in touch.  You’ll need to trust your own instincts, and avoid the numerous and sophisticated ways that we are being made to feel powerless, isolated, and even a bit crazy for thinking the things we do.

My personal strategy is to (severely) limit my time on Facebook, use Twitter only for data and never opinions, and then comment at sites like Peak Prosperity where the moderation is heavy and bots and trolls are quickly booted.

This movement will consist of good people taking right action.  People who are willing to lead because they know it falls to them and they are not afraid to stand out and be different for a while.  People who can read the data and know that it is correct because they can feel it in their bones.

The time for infinite growth is over. It’s increasingly obvious that the benefits of pursuing growth have nosed over, and that the human rocket is now pointed towards the Earth.

We still have time to right this ship, but it’s going to take heroic efforts by a lot of people.  We need to be willing to give much and possibly lose even more.  However, it won’t be futile sacrifice, because this is just how things are sometimes.  You were born here and now, into these times, and your gifts are desperately needed.

We need each other. And you know what?  Along they way we may just discover unity, purpose, meaning and our true individual gifts to bring forth.

My personal invitation is to support the mission of Peak Prosperity (“Creating a World Worth Inheriting”) by becoming an active premium subscriber so that Adam and I can continue to bring these messages to the world, along with promising models for a sustainable future.  If not that, then please use your time and money to support others working in these areas, not least of which would be the important works of the individuals writing the blogs listed above.

It's only by facing the true nature of our predicaments that we can avoid a truly horrible future moment of deep and profound regret. 

Time still remains, but it is running short. 

We are open to any and all ideas about how to build, join or support a movement of like-minded people who are ready and able to shuck the old conventions and start anew which begins by facing the data as we know it today.

None of the former splitting/sorting functions of old apply here.  So please don’t offer up one political party over the other, or any one country or system as being better, or ways we might vote new and better scoundrels into office, or tweaks to the existing exponential debt-based fiat money system that might extend things a bit longer.  None of those hold any merit.

We need a new narrative and even if it cannot lay claim to “the truth” it cannot be based on obvious falsehoods.  How do we create that new narrative in a way that it can be shared broadly?  What needs to be done?  Who should be involved? 

Perhaps nothing needs doing, and this will all unfold of its own accord when its ready, but for those with an active “do” gene, like us, there are things to be done and efforts to be made.

So let’s get going.  Either we do this on our own terms now, or we all face the horror of profound regret later. 

The really good news? If we do this right, we reclaim our lives, our sense of meaning, our connection to each other and the sacred, and we fulfill our potential as creative stewards of planet Earth.

~ Chris Martenson

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Palloy2's picture
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> "Look, I have little clue

> "Look, I have little clue about how to actually start a self-sustaining global movement, but I do suspect that it has to involve (1) the right idea at (2) the right time and (3) involve the right people."

You say all the right things, you know it should be enough to motivate people, but you know it isn't doing so.  It is going to have to get worse before there is any chance of something happening.  All I can add is that it is a waste of time trying to reform the insane BAU system, or to protest in the streets in the face of tear gas and percussive grenades and real bullets fired by well-trained and well-equipped police, backed up by the Courts and prison system.

I live in the tropical rainforest on an island in the South Pacific that you may have heard of but won't know where it actually is.  The rainforest changes into untrafficable jungle after cyclones tear the canopy open, so I spend an hour each day snipping the vines and thinning the seedlings, so I can move through it.  There isn't a patch anywhere where I can plant anything.  It is actually full to bursting with life. 

I rent a house with a septic system and water collected off the roof.  I don't receive broadcast TV or cell phone coverage, but have 2 dishes on the roof that bring satellite internet and TV.  Electricity is unreliable as it is all aboveground through forest, but is more on than off.

The US-NK summit cannot produce a satisfactory outcome, because the US doesn't agree that "denuclearising the Korean peninsula" means withdrawing US troops, the THAAD missiles, or stopping its nuclear bombers flying over, or its aircraft carrier groups from sailing off off the coast.  This will make Trump very angry, and he will order an attack on NK, because not to do so would look weak.  The Chinese have said they will not let this happen, and along with all the US's other problems with China, this will mean WW3.  After that, Peak Fossils will ensure that there will not be a massive rebuilding exercise. And there cannot be enough spare fossil energy to build renewables out to scale.  So BAU will stop dead in its tracks, and BAU Governments will collapse and disappear.

THEN your change will happen.  The forests, the coral reefs and the insects will bounce back, because they have evolved to do precisely that.  The tigers and elephants will take longer to repopulate, but when did you last see one of those in the wild anyway?

thatchmo's picture
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OK then....

Thanks for a most excellent article Chris.  I'm taking it that you've thrown down the gauntlet.  I'm taking this seriously.  It's time for all of us to put our knowledge and commitment out there to nourish the Movement.  It starts with each one of us.  Time for action.....Aloha, Steve.

jmh030611's picture
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Thanks Chris!

A poignant article and compelling call to action. I feel frustrated as I am now late 30s and have been involved on and off with climate change, energy generation and ecology since I was 17. During that time, like you, I have been increasingly concerned and saddened by what I see us doing to our planet and the deeper spiritual crisis such a dysfunctional relationship implies. 

Thanks for writing this, as I have most certainly been in a state of isolation on these issues and partial demoralization. I now know I can’t live with a legacy of partial action on my part or just the routine conversations. I must do more and do so thoughtfully. Your point about end of life hit me hard — I am living to the extent I can and doing what I can day to day, but how will I look back on this time and how I’m spending it when my time is up? I can do more, that’s for sure...and I am also not afraid to change.

Agent700's picture
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Retreat, or Fight?

Palloy, we all hear you and know why you choose to isolate and survive. Personally, I have a "bolt-hole" also, a place where NATURAL LIFE still thrives - for now..But Chris and others have the "DO" gene, and I think what he is saying is that we must fight and find a way to right this deeply listing ship before it goes under. Isn't that what you would do if miles out to sea with no other alternative? Most readers here and definitely the other billions on this ball of dust MUST FIGHT it we are to survive and protect our loved ones.

But TPTB and the Banks control the message in order to control our "gut-feelings", because if the masses get wise leaders - like Peak Prosperity types - who educate and organize, then they know they are doomed.Same as it always was, history teaches that. So the secret, INMHO, is to stop their blood supply - which is the current debt-based, central bank controlled, "money"..Always follow the money.

Take away that funding to the corrupt, short term moneychangers - who see bees and elephants ONLY in financial terms, and maybe they might have to compete with we the people. Especially those of us lucky enough to still have the time to appreciate God's gifts and our place within it. Come roll in all the riches all around you, and - for once -never wonder what they're worth..(Colors Of The Wind)

This is why I rabidly support decentralized blockchain "money". One of these will be THE PEOPLES MONEY, and I suspect the PEOPLE  might want to save this beautiful planet, it's species, it's clean food and water, and the natural order of things. Including death, but naturally, with the satisfaction of having stripped the rapists of their tools, and given it back to humans.

Could that be our mission?

AllenMarshall's picture
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I've never started a movement, though I do know of some good resources out there. ("The Diffusion of Innovations" is a good start, as is "Fostering Sustainable Behavior.") But if I had a chance to seed an idea in the public consciousness, it would be one word: "Less".

It's the endless run for "more" that makes so many unhappy, piling on debt and forcing us into meaningless jobs; it's also a mentality that keeps us in line, forcing us to submit to the state (if you have to travel in order to earn money, you'll put up with those pat-downs by the TSA, and if you want to earn money you better not have a criminal record). And those things don't lead to happiness.

"Less" is freedom; less is empowering. And it's the single best way to reduce our impact on this world. Not to mention the single best way to undermine a corrupt federal government.

Just a thought -

Jrgtenn's picture
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The basic problem seems to be an planet overpopulated with one species...a much lower population would seem to be a requirement for balance...I believe the earth will heal itself by lowering the population on its own...if we don’t.


LesPhelps's picture
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Thanks Chris

Yesterday, I watched a video clip of an Orangutan fighting a giant diesel digger, trying to save his forest/home.  It broke my heart.

Don't forget to include global famine by 2035 in your 20 year plan.

I don't have your skill to influence people through discourse and rhetoric.  I wish I did.

Ok, so The China Study:

As I menitioned on another post, eating meat adds over 1,900 gallons per person/day of virtual water use.  That's not as much of a big deal in Central Wisconsin, where my home is, but it is a very big deal in Arizona, where I spend the winter.

Add to that, the incremental energy involved in raising cows, pigs, chicken and fish, and going vegan may be as profound a change, from an ecological perspective, as not owning a car.  Actually, it might be an even bigger contribution than owning a fuel efficient car.

I'm just over a week into eating a WFPB diet (whole foods, plant based), as recommended in The China Study.  In just over a week, my blood pressure has dropped enough (129 over 58) that it seems obvious I will be able to get off the blood pressure medicine I've been taking for 15 years.  I have allergies to dust and grass pollen.  My nose is dry for the first time in my adult memory and my eyes don't itch.  I may be able to eliminate Claritin D from my morning pill routine.  I'm not terribly overweight, but I've lost several pounds and I feel better when I get up in the morning.  All in just over a week.

I am not going to lie to you.  I miss cheese burgers and other unhealthy food a bit, but, knock on wood, if the obvious health benefits persist, I have sufficient motivation to continue a WFPB diet and that translates to a much lighter footprint on the planet.

I for one, appreiate what you and Adam are doing.'s picture
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Collapse now and avoid the rush...

I'm with you, Chris. Wholeheartedly. And have been on this journey since late 2010 when I viewed Michael Ruppert's Collapse and read The Crash Course and Richard Heinberg's The End of Growth.

I think one of the biggest challenges is the power and intrusion of our various governments into our lives. They will, it would seem, do any and everything to keep their party going--perhaps even to the extent that is displayed in some of our worst case scenarios painted in dystopian fiction.

Our only hope may be the collapse of the various sociopolitical systems as pre/history has shown is a recurrent phenonmenon once diminishing returns opens the door to significant stressors that can't be overcome by the system.

Perhaps our best bet is as John Michael Greer suggests in his book by the same name: Collapse now and avoid the rush...collapse being, as Joseph Tainter suggests, a rejection (as much as is possible) of the sociopolitical system and all its trappings.

Certainly can't say we don't live in interesting times.

Rodster's picture
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This Article Needs To Be Placed In A Time Capsule !!!

Chris, I can usually count on both you and Adam to write some sage stuff, but this has got to be one of your finer moments. It's not because it might be considered doom porn but because it's the truth and a HUGE MEGA dose of reality that people need to assess their lives and give consideration to the fact that we share a once in a lifetime beautiful planet with two and four legged creatures. Few besides you talk about our dying oceans. A little tidbit regarding Fukushima, it appears that one last resort regarding the still NOT under control nuclear reactors is to dump the waste in the pacific ocean, yay can we all applaude that decision, ok /sarcasm.

Trends forecaster Gerald Celente on numerous occasions has also spoken out regarding our dying oceans or as some call it, "dead zones". During the rescue efforts of the Malaysian airliner 370 that was lost, the rescue teams thought they found the wreckage, except they realized once they sent reconnaisscance planes to the area it was discovered that it was floating GARBAGE and not wreckage from the plane, oops. And that was an ocean dead zone where nothing lives or at least not anymore because we humans killed it all.

Then we have something even more nefarious going on with geoengineering, solar radiation mgmt, stratospheric aerosol injection which John Brennan admits exists, except Dane Wigington from has stated and he has govt documents that these programs have been deployed for decades.

So we are at a crossroad that as Chris mentioned we either have to stop what we are doing and do it differently and consider other beings also share this planet or it could all turn to a dystopian planet where you could possibly envy the dead.

We need to change but our wonderful leaders and banksters, ok sarcasm again, think that because of our money system, we need to keep consuming more and more to keep business as usual from collapsing. So what could possibly happen? Well, according to Hank Paulson he told G.W. Bush in 2008 that if the TBTF Banks were not rescued that according to him in his book that the "world's economy would come to a complete HALT/STOP and the US would have to implement Martial Law to maintain Law and Order". That's the reality of how we have boxed ourselves in with fossil fuels and our money system.

It's another reason why as the saying goes they don't make them like they used to. Everything today is pretty much disposable where it's cheaper to buy a new fridge than to replace the compressor, so there's another item in the landfills along with computers, TV's and all kinds of toxic garbage in our landfills.

And all this s*** is beginning to catchup to us, why? Because we are beginning to take about life on another planet. In other words we are admitting we have badly screwed up our perfect home and have the need to find another planet to screw up. It's like the vagrant family that trashed their apartment and now want to find a not as messy place so they can do the same thing to it.

Chris another way to spread the word would be PP hats, T-shirts and coffee mugs. I love me hats. :)

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First steps

1) Try to get your BMI (Body Mass Index) down to 21.5 to 23

2) Walk when the opportunity presents itself

3) plant trees and green stuff

4) Recycle what you can

5) Think twice before you buy anything

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How a movement could unfold
Great article Chris, really hard-hitting for me personally, so thank you.  Here's my suggestion for how a movement could take hold this side of a collapse.  It starts from the premise that the biggest problem (other than certain aspects of human psychology) is the debt-based money system which requires exponential growth.  What if there was a local baker in your town who made absolutely the best bread, everyone knew it and loved it, and the baker decided that from now on, they would only accept bitcoin as payment? The baker would be branded as whacky or even ridiculous, but people would get the message and start using bitcoin (I'm assuming that a relatively easy way to spend bitcoin is just around the corner).  The first service providers to do this would get a lot of publicity, then others would join in. Slowly people would get the message that to get what they want, they would have to opt out of fiat currency in this small way.
So let's all look for ways we can start chipping away at the fiat money system.  Here's a suggestion for you at Peak Prosperity: Move your weekly updates and podcasts from YouTube to the crypto-driven D.Tube.  It's a way of saying "we've had enough of the whole big corporation / surveillance / advertising economy".  Yes, there are fewer people there to stumble on your content, but I feel sure the people who are there are more ready to hear your message.  As Seth Godin says, "Find the people who are waiting for you. Don't go after the masses, they're not waiting for anything".
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A few more steps

6) Learn to fix things

7) Learn more recipes; eat more plants

8) Plant some trees. Then plant some more.

9) Less banking, more "credit unioning"


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Gonna have to watch WALL-E again...


Some thoughts from the Midwest. I am a cardiologist in my 25th year of practice. Every day I see the effects of consumerism on the flyover states. All you need to do is take a stroll through the local Walmart (they're everywhere) or pick-your-brand grocery store. For an overdose, go to Sam's Club or Costco. Take a look at what people put in their shopping carts. Take a look at their physique (the medical term in body habitus). I'm generalizing but sometimes I feel like they even need shopping carts to motor around with their shopping carts. I'm not saying everyone is like this but enough are and its ubiquitous. 'Nuf said.

A sustainable lifestyle is not "easy" in this society. Try finding vegetarian options at your local restaurants (I have). Try cooking without using pre-processed, frozen, who knows where it actually comes from, and "we call that food?" stuff. Why are the frozen aisles as big or bigger than the vegetable and fruit sections? We are sold on convenience (or easy, no work, make life simple, etc). It's all over the TV. It's all over the internet. Amazon anyone? Now you can order groceries online and they'll magically show up on your doorstep. Or you can let the delivery bot put it in you kitchen for you. Heck, the fridge can call the grocery to get itself restocked. I'm sure we'll soon be able to lie on our sofa (delivered for free by Wayfair, "drop the mike") and have Alexa instruct the drone to drop the "food" items down our gullet without lifting a finger. We're rapidly progressing to the world of WALL-E. I'm waiting for Amazon, Walmart, Alibaba, Google, and Apple to merge into the universe's largest corporation, Buy-N-Large. But I digress.

I have no idea how to alter the course of this dystopian future. I do have some practical suggestions. Walk more, drive less (sometimes impossible in my world). Stop smoking. Hug your family as often as you can. Laugh with friends. Make peace with your enemies.

With respect to getting the word out, why not feature sustainable products and vendors on your website? I don't want you to devolve into an advertiser-driven site (way too many of those) but what about an area where we can search for resources close to home? You have an amazing population of subscribers. Why not tap into that database? We could each research and propose additions to the site. For examle, where can I get a decent vegetarian, non-GMO meal in St. Louis? Where and when are local farmer's markets held? Where are the good bike trails? Who can provide solar installations in my area? The possibilities are endless.

Just some thoughts as I sip my morning coffee at the local coffee shop in Hannibal, MO.

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Have you missed the message?

Don’t get me wrong, I respect the desire for change and your willingness to fight. But, I took Steven’s message to be “die when you’re dying”. Do we really have agency here? Or, are we the child with the fake steering wheel? No, for me, my mission is to die with joy in my heart and my eyes open. That’s hard enough.....

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Stages of dying

Pypiman make an exceedingly incisive point here:  when you are dying you are dying.

Though nobody know the future, it looks like our world is being killed by a severely overpopulated human species.  The momentum into disaster is huge, unlikely to be altered on the whole.

As everyone knows, there are stages we go through as we let our most likely future sink in.  Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Demoralization, Acceptance.  The stages are not linear.

In the acceptance mode--we admit that we are heading into a massive sh*t storm and there is nothing that will truly stop it -- the shitstorm is happening.

"How do we find peace, love and beauty through this stage?"

For me:  Loving my family and friends, preserving the natural beauty that I can--a humming bird feeder, a planted flower, a cup of tea with a friend.  Time to pray.

What is here after "I" am gone?


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I am being deliberately provocative here.

Could somebody please tell me why it matters that we treat the planet, or rather its biosphere, in a cetain manner?

My cosmological reading is a few years out of date, but the last lot told me that the fate of the universe is infiinite expansion of its volume, all matter having decayed back into the energy from which its made, and containing no sources of energy, not even dark (heat death).

By the time we get anywhere close to this situation, we will all be long dead and decayed, our very atoms broken down into zero-grade energy. Ditto the entire planet itself and everything on it.

So, why do we care and where is our care taking us?

Oh, believe me, it DOES matter to me that we should live in harmony and peace with our biosphere. I grieve and mourn continually over what our feckless, reckless, idiot species is doing. It HURTS to witness the destruction of yet more of our collective patrimony and to have so very little ability to stop it. I have been at odds with this world system and its rat race for over half a century and continue to oppose it!

But I still want to know why we are bothering to care. Do we seek a more pleasant death? Is that all? Surely not.

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maximum profit

Since nothing happens in this insane system of ours unless it maximizes profits, the first problem to solve is how to make human population reduction very profitable while starving the war machine (aka the military, industrial, financial, banking, propaganda, religion, pollution, etc. system).  If I can figure that one out I will demand a Nobel Prize, Nobel Peace Prize, knighthood, supreme commander of the world, etc.  Hmmm, maybe I should aim higher: god :-)


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Thank you

Holy ***** Chris, you have outdone yourself this time....

I took me three hours to read it. I was so emotionally and intellectual stimulated that I had to take some breaks. 


thank you, thank you.


I am looking at that gaunlet you've thrown down and I'm in.


Time to up my game. 




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A power we do have

I recently re-read Lester Brown's World on the Edge book and it was a hard-hitting reminder like this article was about the magnitude of the environmental crises that we must solve. It also reminded me that common folks like you and me are already winning some battles, like the grass-roots movement that has almost placed a de-facto moratorium on coal-fired power plants in the US.

We all know that the elites are going to do everything in their power to keep business as usual going, but we are not powerless. Everyone eats, and yet not everyone knows or fully appreciates how profoundly consequential our food choices are for the environment (as well as for our health and for the lives of the unlucky animals that feed us). Animal agriculture is a big contributor to deforestation, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions and climate change, unsustainable and wasteful water use, land degradation, you name it.

You don't need permission from the powers that be to change your diet. You don't need to convince the elites' army of lobbyists of anything in order to dramatically reduce the impact on the environment that your food choices have. If you stop or reduce your purchases of animal products, changes in their production probably work their way up the supply chain in months.

I posted material I strongly recommend regarding this topic in this recent forum post. If you think we need animal products, you probably haven't read enough yet of the right sources.

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Giving Up Beef Will Reduce Carbon Footprint More Than Cars

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,”

  Professor Tim Benton
  University of Leeds


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LesPhelps wrote:

“The biggest intervention people could make towards reducing their carbon footprints would not be to abandon cars, but to eat significantly less red meat,”

  Professor Tim Benton
  University of Leeds



It's kind of true, but it's more accurate to say that the biggest intervention people can make to reduce their environmental footprint is to significantly reduce or eliminate their consumption of all meats (including fish), eggs and dairy.

While technically true that beef is more carbon-intensive than other meats, all meats are more carbon-intensive, wasteful and polluting than plant foods, and they don't solve the animal's problem: when was the last time you saw a slaughterhouse video of an animal happy to be killed? (Although we've been raised to believe that's not a problem because it's normal, natural and necessary to eat animal products. If you the reader think so, I would highly recommend Dr. Melanie Joy's talk .)




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With GMO, it might be possible to find such cows

... that want to be eaten and can tell you so, but you really don't want to go there.

Douglas Adams was already there.

(and no, this isn't D.Adams' work... but it's close)

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Good find on the CAFO’s, eat more chicken!  


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Great Article

However, Chris I think for you and Adma to walk the walk you should swear off the use of air travel and cruises; consider broadcasting your conferences in Rowe so others can do the same.

"How many want change?" How many will change?"

I find it funny that anyone would suggest anything "crypto" after articles here and elsewhere that divulge what huge enery drain they are.

And you don't need to stop eating beef, you need to stop eating big Ag beef. A grazing animal is a benefit to ecology, not a detriment.

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The point I was trying to

The point I was trying to make is that the system obviously doesn't work, and will soon implode, leaving the chainsaws and bulldozers silent.  So you don't have to waste any energy on how to defeat them. 

Then without telecommunications, local people will meet up in small groups, and try and nut out what to do next.  This is where it could all go right or wrong, so we need to spend some time thinking about what kind of plan of action would gain acceptance in the new circumstances.  Should you recommend trying to reinvent BAU all over again?  Or something new, fairer and kinder to all living things. 

The article was very moving, but was trying to solve the wrong problem, and he doesn't have an answer for how to start a mass movement anyway, (and nor do I).  Post-WW3, if you are still alive, the problem will change entirely and be ripe for a completely different solution.

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What is the movement going to do?

I agree with everything Chris is saying but I don't really get what I will do as a part of the movement.  I understand that we need to change from a growth economy but what does that mean?  How does it actually work?

My understanding is that we need to make more money next year to pay off the interest from last year.  That mean we need to make more stuff, spent more money, CONSUME MORE.

It looks to me like money is the problem.  That is a very difficult concept for anyone to grasp.  There are so many people who are trying to save the world by spending more money. 

It's really hard to get that spending money is consumption and consumption is the problem, whether it's for buying oil or wind turbines or electric cars or gasoline cars.  If you can get that money is the problem then you have to say having and making less money is good.

The poorer (and poor I mean without money) a person is the less they consume and the less inpact they have on the ecosystems of the world.

No one is willing to go there.  More money is always better even if you are trying to save the world.  We need more money to save the world even if too much money is what is killing the world. 

Show me one person who is willing to decide they need less money.  I certainly don't want to be the first person to give up all my money to save the world.  I struggle with the idea that I don't need to make anymore money even though I have everything I could possibly need. 

And that is why humans are not going to stop growth willingly. 


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Great points.... but wait there's more...

Some great points raised.  Wrapped up in the "horror of death" is indeed the realisation that a certain amount of life has been wasted or left incomplete.  It's common to see people "wake up" in the face of terminal disease with a renewed desire to "live".  This reinforces the idea that people have a natural inhibition to fully appreciate the negative aspects of reality.  In other words they automatically refuse to see misery and instead latch onto hope.  It seems that taking life for granted is pretty normal. Put simply it's the "happiness instinct" and like all instincts, it is difficult for cognitive cerebral processes to mitigate. 

Our cultture labels the few people who can face reality (like CM , the crew and some readers of PP) pessimists or alarmists.  Society summarily rejects them while chanting "don't worry, be happy" as if aspiring to blissful ignorance or religious euphoria is the path to success. 

So it's not surprising the majority of poeple, endlessly hoping for their fairytale happy ending, suddenly realise upon their death beds that there is no such bliss.  The horror of that realisation must be terrible.


As for the future 20+ years hence; don't forget the effects of the population story... Fortunately (for the planet) human life expectancy is decreasing.  So while population will reach some ridiculously suffocating size, how long we each live will increasingly decline in the face of environmental contamination, plastic pollution or the effects of globla warming. 

A corporatist plastic-wrapped sugar-gluten-and-starch food industry will continue to make the human race obese, rheumatic and/or diabetic.  The medical industry will collpase under the pressue to treat it and expectancy will decline by another decade thanks to a statistical rise in cancer and autoimmune diseases. 

The lack of money in that future also means fewer people achieve their dreams and die horribly, without the relief of paliative care that their grandparents took for granted, wondering why the Hollywood fairytale they were indoctrinated with from birth never came true.


On a positive note however, if an elightened human race survives that, the future might look something like the world in the book "The Synth"




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It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory. ~W. E

An outstanding and very moving call to action.

I have never started a movement but have spent quite a bit of time listening to activists and people who have started movements.  Some thoughts:

I wouldn't underestimate the power of charismatic leaders.  It can be a very good thing and Chris and Adam are very appealing and respectable. 

I think getting the word out means telling people the truth. In a way that they can hear it. There is no point arguing with a delusion one needs to get across another way.  

As Chris points out there is a growing awareness. The strategy needs to be thought out well and then people need a (sorry to say) SIMPLE plan of action. Planting trees is an outstanding example. There is a lot on the web and on this site about forming a movement which I won't repeat here but it seems that people need the action plan now that awareness is growing.



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themccarthyfarm wrote: It's
themccarthyfarm wrote:

It's really hard to get that spending money is consumption and consumption is the problem, whether it's for buying oil or wind turbines or electric cars or gasoline cars.  If you can get that money is the problem then you have to say having and making less money is good.

The poorer (and poor I mean without money) a person is the less they consume and the less inpact they have on the ecosystems of the world.

No one is willing to go there.  More money is always better even if you are trying to save the world.  We need more money to save the world even if too much money is what is killing the world. 

Show me one person who is willing to decide they need less money.  I certainly don't want to be the first person to give up all my money to save the world.  I struggle with the idea that I don't need to make anymore money even though I have everything I could possibly need.

I struggle with this too, but I think you are right on the "money" ;) And I am one such person, and I know there are more of me out there. I took a 100% pay cut, then took a job that was a 40% pay cut from my last one, and now I am looking for work that will enable me to at least survive while doing something that will be benificial (perhaps gardening, or working as a crossing guard, or working in a park). I am not wealthy by any means, but we have tried to live as simply as possible, and working in the tech industry is for me the equivalent of soul death.

I just realized one day that the reason I was so depressed and demoralized, even though I was making way more money than I ever dreamed I would or could, was that every day I was making the world a worse place rather than better. And by making more money, producing more, paying more taxes, and consuming more (the commuting, the clothes, the lunches, the conferences, etc, etc) I was moving farther and farther away from who I wanted to be and what I wanted to create in the world.

IMO this is the message that needs to get out there. I know it's an old, silly bumper sticker...but live simply, so that others may simply live.

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The Age

It is the Kali Yuga. 

The mistake is in believing we are amterial beings having a spiritual experience when in reality we are spiritual beings having a material experience

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Homesteading vs working on global problems

I've been a reader of PeakProsperity from before it was even called so (the old but it took me a long time to see the point of prepping. A year ago the prepping bug bit me and I realized that I had no backup should the economy cease to function for a while. I covered many of the basics of emergency preparedness (water, food, some USB solar power generation, etc.), some still ongoing.

I recently realized that there's a problem if you're not careful with prepping: There is no natural stopping point. It's almost impossible to get to a point where you say, "there's nothing more that I could buy or do now that would not be useful under some hypothetical scenario that I can think of." Or to be precise, there is only one natural stopping point: death -- when you're dead, you don't need any more resilience, for sure. While you're still alive and able, you can always use some more resilience. The hard part is defining what's cost-effective and when to stop.


This has been something that I've struggled with, dealing with the anxiety of knowing that I depend on a functioning economy, at least in the medium term.

One example: I'm stocking up on water filters, but it takes months because I don't live in the US, so I need to arrange for people who travel to the US to get me the filters that I want. I've had some anxiety about this for a while, until it struck me that the anxiety is of my own creation. I'm never going to extinguish risk from my life. What's going to happen is that at some point I'll say "my preparations are enough. I'll deal with whatever comes with what I have, and I don't care about scenarios for which these preps are insufficient." And then I'll be at ease, not because risk had vanished, but because my emotions won't care about the remaining risks. We do this all the time with the myriad risks involved in daily life, but I don't tend to be conscious of the process.

We are utterly dependent on a functioning economy not just for the basics of life but also for the comforts we've become accustomed to. So the idea that the economy may collapse, and particularly the idea that the collapse may be sudden and permanent, it's very scary.


Why is this relevant at all? This site has a focus on building resilience, but building resilience is mostly about how to insulate yourself, your family, and maybe your community from collapse. As I said, there's no natural end to the need for more resilience. Of course, depending on how likely, imminent, severe and long-lasting you think such collapse may be, the more resilience makes sense that you build. But if you're not careful, you can spend too much of your time and your money building this insulation and neglect opportunities to contribute to efforts to change the unsustainable the course of humanity.

Homesteading might have many advantages for those so inclined, but one thing it probably won't do is solve the world's problems. It's a respectable life choice, one that may be fine for others, but I want to contribute my surplus time and money to working on global problems, not on figuring out in advance how to have a good standard of living if permanent economic collapse happens fast and severely enough. And for this, I need to continue being dependent in part on fossil fuels, agriculture, a functioning economy, etc.

I'm not saying resilience is pointless. I'm building resilience myself, and I'm not done yet. I get it that some stored food is better than nothing, some physical cash is better than nothing, etc.


Norman Borlaug is often called "the father of the Green Revolution", and is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. I can't help think what the world may look like today if Borlaug instead of working on crop yields starting in the 1940s, had given up his career as a scientist and moved to a rural location to start his homestead and learn all the skills of a self-reliant lifestyle, maybe because he was anticipating a mass starvation and economic collapse. I'm not saying that any one of us will be the next Norman Borlaug, but it does give me food for thought.


As I mentioned earlier, I recently re-read Lester Brown's World on the Edge, and it reminded me that it is possible to avert ecological collapse and progress is being made on some fronts. What we need to do is move faster changing key policies of governments around the world. No easy task.

Tude's picture
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nedyne wrote: Norman Borlaug
nedyne wrote:

Norman Borlaug is often called "the father of the Green Revolution", and is credited with saving over a billion people worldwide from starvation. I can't help think what the world may look like today if Borlaug instead of working on crop yields starting in the 1940s, had given up his career as a scientist and moved to a rural location to start his homestead and learn all the skills of a self-reliant lifestyle, maybe because he was anticipating a mass starvation and economic collapse. I'm not saying that any one of us will be the next Norman Borlaug, but it does give me food for thought.

Perhaps the world would look a little less populated and polluted?

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"We have to do this"

But sadly, we won't.  Cite one reason to believe humanity will address, in a timely and successful manner:  1)  overpopulation     2) increasing greenhouse gasses  (also known as Climate Change).  Even if it is actually possible to solve these and other messes we've caused, why would anyone think people around the globe will come together w the co-operation and sacrifice necessary?

We're so far behind the curve on the big problems, i.e. the issues threatening our survival, that running out of time is pretty much assured.  Essays like "Facing the Future" were needed 30-40 yrs ago, but would we have taken them seriously?

Optimism, no matter how unfounded, is valued and admired while pessimism, no matter how reality based, is derided and to be avoided.  So this is one of the few audiences I would bother to say any of this to, as you are well informed and realistic.  Unlike most, who just can't handle the truth.

Chris, this is in no way a criticizm of you or your essay.  All the info you've put out over the years has played a major role in my thinking.  Maybe if I were in a position of influence like you, I'd feel a responsiblity to temper such doomsday pessimism.  If the masses become convinced the fat lady has sung, things could get ugly.  Our descent into a horrible future would only accelerate if everyone gave up. 

I think it's delusional to believe we can and will avoid ecological collapse.  But while a horrible future is unavoidable, we can still slow down the pace of destruction and buy a little time.  That is plenty of motivation to live as low impact a life as possible, and get others to do the same.  

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Stick with Homesteading

Unfortunately there is no way change is going to happen in time & with enough momentum to make a difference. The World had a big wake up call when Oil prices soared past $100/bbl. We had a taste of times to come: Lots of very angry people that lead to huge riots worldwide, and some gov'ts were even overthrow (ie North Africa nations). We also saw the beginnings of pandemics (SARs, bird flu, etc)  Yet, nothing was done. All of the articles warning about declining resoureces practically disappeared once Oil prices fell. $100/bbl returnng is not in the distant future (excluding some long term global recession\depression).

WWSD (What Would Spock do?) Since its illogical to believe the world can change and swtich to a less resource dependent global economy before the next crisis hits, the only pratical thing is to distance yourself and switch to a self-reliance lifestyle. If you ever board an aircraft, the flight attendant during the safety briefing will instruct passengers to put on their own oxygen mask before putting the masks on their children, so they won't go unconscious and be unable to assist there children. Before you can help others you must first save yourself. 

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An inspiring story

Whoa, heavy.  Especially that video LesPhelps postd of the orangutan. 

Please, do not use products that contain palm oil: this consumer demand is what drives the destruction of the rain forest habitat in SE Asia. Read labels. 

I needed something uplifting after that, and checked out my favorite podcast series. 99percentinvisible. org.  The newest podcast was about the seed vault in Norway and the fascinating history of seed saving as told through the story of Nicholay Vavilov.


I wish every business/marketing major in college now, was studying botany and permaculture instead.  

And no disrespect to Adam and Chris, who have done a fantastic job keeping this website full of interesting content, but two middle aged white men is a demographic well represented in the sustainability world, as well as the BAU world. It feels like we need some different voices than the usual suspects. 

Maybe more ties to younger, female, ethnically diverse communities? I know climate change/sustainability activism is alive and well in those tribes. 

Just my two cents, 



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Time Traveler

I'm from the future.

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Several problems with the premise

Chris, good article but I have several problems with the premise. The first being the definitive conclusion that the earth is dying and the end is nigh. The reality is NOBODY KNOWS what will happen or how the future will unfold. The nature of nature is constant, ceaseless change and flux. To even propose that the change we are headed for is "good" or "bad" is incredibly arrogant. We have no idea what is happening and no ability to determine that whatever IS happening is either good or bad.

When did man grow independent of nature, gain the ability observe it from a high place, and judge the universe to be headed in the "wrong" direction? You observing the universe is like a chimp observing a ferrari. You dont even know what you are looking at. Man is nothing more than a manifestation of the universe and nature itself. We have appeared, we will act out our natures, and we will disappear. The universe will take apart our particals and reshape them into something else. The time of our total existence as human beings will be like a fraction of a second in a man's lifeime. What are you? You are a collection of tiny particals of matter shaped as a man. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed.What animates that matter? Some form of energy, which also cannot be created or destroyed. So, everything you are, matter and energy, has always been here and always will be. The universe has shaped you in this form for now, and it will break you apart and reshape you again and again. Being as thats what you are, just another manifestation of the "stuff" of an endless universe, what you do will be what the universe does. You are it. So you and I and all of us [ the trees, the rocks, the ants, the birds ] are going to do as we do. If our nature is to reform, go green, and make the planet one way then we will. If our nature is to destroy ourselves then we will, and the earth will adapt, heal, and go on. Our entire purpose might be to make plastic that some fungus will consume in a million years. And that fungus will be you.

Now, using the analogy of death is very apt here. People fear death and regret not living life fully. But what does that mean? Certainly it must mean accepting death as being inevitable as soon as possible, not living your life trying to prevent it? But isnt that what you are doing here? You lament the changing world and seek to halt it instead of accepting and living with the reality that things will change, nature will take it's [ our ] course. Fear of death and fear of change, sorrow for what was, unappreciation for what is, and angst over what will be. This is a recipe for not living.

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I once heard Rush Limbaugh

I once heard Rush Limbaugh make similar claims with regards to Climate Change. He said how arrogant of man to actually think they can have an effect on the weather or planet, that they have the ability to play god and change this if they so wish. Well, for one, Geoengineering has proven that you can alter the weather.

We also appear to have the ability to alter the balance of nature by decimating our wildlife. In parts of Africa, poachers are now targeting Lions for their teeth and claws because Tigers are now rare. And as Chris showed other species are in the crosshairs as well. I believe the White Rhino can now be classified as extinct as supposedly there are 3 left in the world.

If you look at the oceans and the amount of garbage being dumped into them you can't with a straight face say to any of us that it's a good thing when we have ocean dead zones around the world and the Great Barrier Reef is being threatened once again. Fish population is being stressed as well from ocean pollution and over fishing. We have close to 8 billion humans on the planet and many are dying from starvation and malnurishment. Now some of that is do to geopolitics but a lot of that is do to droughts and or flooding. For those parts of the world, Climate Change is real.

To me it appears the arroganced is flip flopped where we as a species think we can do whatever we want and the planet will not feel any effects or will just bounce back in time. I think science has the data to backup their theory that the planet is being stressed by arrogant humans who think business as usual has no effect on the planet so let's party like it's 1999.

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TechGuy wrote: the only
TechGuy wrote:

the only pratical thing is to distance yourself and switch to a self-reliance lifestyle

The only thing I'd add is that you should join with other like-minded folk to do so.

I think good collaboration skills may be as useful as good self-reliance skills.

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This is not my real life

This is not my real life. This life is a test. If this were my real life I would’ve been given better instructions.

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reality vs premise

When did man become independent of nature?  It's called fossil fuels baby.  Man is a manifestation of the universe?  Tell that to your starving and dying children, it's too New Age for me.  I prefer direct scientific measurements of what is really happening.  A recent update of the Limits to Growth study from the 70s showed that we are following their original "business as usual" model quite accurately.  What does this updated model predict for the near future no matter what we do:  A 6th mass extinction that is happening much faster than the previous 5.

A while back I listened to an interview of Col. Lawrence Wilkerson.  He talked about how the ultra-conservative Pentagon is preparing for climate change.  New elevated shipyards are now being built.  It can't get any more blatant than that.

Given a few million years, life will recover.  However, after we run out of fossil fuels and there are +400 Fukashima style nuclear reactor meltdowns (it takes a lot of energy and time to decommission them) the master species might be a ten headed cockroach with brains as large as ours.  That would be one hell of a “manifestation.”  I wonder if they will also be ten times as arrogant.

There will always be conflicting views of what’s happening.  Modern propaganda is extremely good at fogging things up for profit.  In order to filter through them out you just have to ask “who benefits.”  Scientist A says that global warming is real.  He then loses his job, which actually happened several times recently.  What does he gain if he isn’t fired?  If he’s really lucky a few million in grant money.  Scientist B says that global warming is unproven and a conspiracy theory.  What does his employer gain?  Over the years, a few trillion.



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Weekly update video.

Mr. Martenson, after seven years of following  your site and watching your videos, I don't think I have ever seen you look so heartsick and careworn. Your ideas for a movement are so inspiring but is humanity willing to change? Take care of yourself. Thank you for all you do. Respectfully, Deborah Davis Summerville, SC    (The tadpoles are still dying.)

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Grief and the Love and Care of Life

Having not heard of or seen the movie "Griefwalker", I checked out the trailer.  In the last minute Jenkinson says this:

Grief is not a feeling. Grief is a skill.  And the twin of grief, as a skill of life, is the skill of being able to praise or love life.  Which means wherever you find one, authentically done, the other is very close at hand. Grief, and the praise of life, side by side.

We humans of this age act as if we are unable to register life, much less praise it.  We also seem kinda crazy phobic of grief.  Jenkinson's words above exactly speak my exprience.  When I spend the energy and time to tell the truth about what I love, there is always grieving. So much of the precious is defiled, lost, or not noticed, the joy of it not registered. And when I grieve, the appreciation and praise for what we are and where we are flood out of my center like a tsunami. Then I can walk through the world and glimpse what we are given.  I can behold, and love, and sing praise and try to open my small everyday mind to something wider and wilder and so much deeper. This is the gift of the labor of grief, every time: in the midst of unbearable loss, deeper love, and celebration of what is and has been.

I never, never want to leave this Earth.  I love her so, and all her parts and ways: the plant lives that mediate sun and soil to create our habitat, the water weaving itself like a fantastic multi-form intelligence through every transaction, the senses she has given us so that we can have this only, (only) planet soak into our souls while we are here, the necessary union with the lives of so many other creatures.

I am still terrified to die - not that advanced! - but the connection between grieving and loving is clear. So until I know better, I'll keep living with one foot in the world as we know it, and the other in my tiny homestead,and time spent telling the truth about both love and grief. This skill - to know what we value as instructed by our grief - seems absolutely core to me.  I don't think we will learn new ways because we get pounded by fear or regret.  That usually seems to begat violence and depression.  But what if our love and care for life were bright eyed, awake and unshakable? What if that quality comes from within us, only just a little buried under our grief and fear of death, and can be offered to the world, no matter what shape she is in?  What if every morsel of praise, intelligent cooperation with biosphere and love is a contribution, no matter how confused we or the situation are, yes, even if we are ending?  What if the world is teaching us to know our love?

I can't see a way clear with movements.  Maybe I've lost faith in people en masse.  Sobering. I can decide to take better care of my own, often neglected tribe, at least.

Thanks for the deep thinking Chris, and all posters.


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I give up my habit of driving

I give up my habit of driving and so use less oil. That depresses world oil prices and that means someone in India thinks it's worth buying a car. Are you sure you have thought this through?

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greendoc wrote: And no
greendoc wrote:

And no disrespect to Adam and Chris, who have done a fantastic job keeping this website full of interesting content, but two middle aged white men is a demographic well represented in the sustainability world, as well as the BAU world. It feels like we need some different voices than the usual suspects. 

Maybe more ties to younger, female, ethnically diverse communities? I know climate change/sustainability activism is alive and well in those tribes. 

And this after 20+ year of the "Diversity and Inclusion" initiative.

I'd say the inclusion part isn't workkng so well, but then we all know that.

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How do you manage?
Paul Downey wrote:

I give up my habit of driving and so use less oil.

Admirable, but how do you do it?

If you are in a city, pretty much the rest of your life beyond the car is unsustainable.

If you are in the country, you have to be a hermit and spend most of your time producing your own food.

I could see this working in the country, if you could car-share for occasional trips to town. But having grown up in a rural area, I realize I'm biased.

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... two middle aged white men is a demographic well represented in the sustainability world, as well as the BAU world. It feels like we need some different voices than the usual suspects. 

Maybe more ties to younger, female, ethnically diverse communities? I know climate change/sustainability activism is alive and well in those tribes. 

As we consider the end of human civilisation as homo sapiens (sic) destroy the ecosphere I'm not sure bleating about "diversity" is helpful. Some things are more important than identity polictics.

Nor are calsl for Chris and Adam to start a "movement" helpful. PP's work is important and effective as it is being undertaken now. Organising an ill-defined movement would only be a quixotic distraction.

Those who feel the need to be part of movement should consider something like Transition Town or 350Org. 

I can't see a way clear with movements.  Maybe I've lost faith in people en masse.

Agree, Susan, entirely.


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Movement maybe not the answer

I have to agree with several of you about the unlikeliness of a movement having any traction or noticeable positive impact.  I think this whole process that governs the trajectory of human civilization is so much bigger than we are.  So much that is built into us and was functional in simpler societies is disfunctional today because of our huge numbers, powerful technologies and rapid information processing and decision making tools.  Every attempt to create something better, gives creative people still stuck in the old paradigm new opportunities to continue their destructive path.  Paul Downey points to one of many negative feedback loops that limit positive change - as we reduce our consumption, prices decrease so that others increase theirs.

Perhaps the best we can do is to save what we can of ecosystems, practical knowledge, cultural capital, etc.  Maybe, just maybe we can even rebuild some of what has been lost particularly in the area of cultural capital.  If we must do this in small, isolated enclaves, so be it.  There will be a time, perhaps many generations from now when people and ecosystems will be hungry for this knowledge, relationships and species as they can finally begin picking up the pieces and rebuilding.  Maybe, just maybe they'll thank those unknown ancestors who preseved them.

Meanwhile, it's our job, as Susan said so eloquently to attend to grief and praise and to face as courageously and lovingly as we can all of the inner demons, regrets, and locked away emotional pain that come to the surface as we dive into those waters.  As we do this, we must remember that our goal is to integrate the wounded parts of ourselves whose cry for attention has dieven rise to those demons so that we may get on more effectively with the business of saving what we can.

Just as our civilation's trajectory is much bigger than us, this earth is even bigger.  While individual species and even whole ecosystems may disappear, giving us even more grief to sit with, we're extremely unlikely to bring this whole experiment with life on earth to an end.  Mother Earth will shrug this one off in a few thousand or a few million years, depending on how extreme it is.  What's really at stake is us and our civilization. Our accumulated relationships with the species and ecosystems that are here today and the cultural capital that allows us to live in a good way with and from those species and ecosystems will not serve us anymore.  The way things are going there will be a lot of grieving to do. Even as we grieve, we're going to need to learn how to live, perhaps even thrive in whatever comes next.  Humans are resilient and adaptive.  At least some of us will get through the grief and create something new that works in whatever rich and beautiful era of life comes next.

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debu wrote: ... two middle
debu wrote:

... two middle aged white men is a demographic well represented in the sustainability world, as well as the BAU world. It feels like we need some different voices than the usual suspects. 

Maybe more ties to younger, female, ethnically diverse communities? I know climate change/sustainability activism is alive and well in those tribes. 

As we consider the end of human civilisation as homo sapiens (sic) destroy the ecosphere I'm not sure bleating about "diversity" is helpful. Some things are more important than identity polictics.

Nor are calsl for Chris and Adam to start a "movement" helpful. PP's work is important and effective as it is being undertaken now. Organising an ill-defined movement would only be a quixotic distraction.

Those who feel the need to be part of movement should consider something like Transition Town or 350Org. 

I can't see a way clear with movements.  Maybe I've lost faith in people en masse.

Agree, Susan, entirely.


Given the strong environmental bent to Chris's post, debu's suggestion of joining Transition Town or makes a lot of sense.  You don't need to start a movement, the environmental movement has been active and, in many respects, successful since the 1960s.  I could come up with a long list of environmentalists and environmental organizations that have been fighting that fight for a long time.  Your energies may be better spent aiding those individuals and causes.  And, you may want to look to those sources for information and authority instead of, oh say, ZH for godssake.  When I saw ZH on Chris's list of authorities I thought I may have missed something in my years ignoring that site.  So, I went back and looked.  Nope, same old posts by and about alt-right and conspiracy theory people and groups.  They have no record of being concerned about the environment, except to deny the overwhelming environmental disaster we are confronting with the changing climate.

Perhaps the more important point is, pay attention to what science is telling us.  The climate is warming, species are disappearing, invasives are moving in everywhere, habitat is being sacrificed for transitory exploitation of non renewable resources and we're dumping pollutants on our agricultural lands that wind up in eutrophication and dead zones in our lakes and oceans.  This is far from an exhaustive list of our assaults on the environment.  Solutions to many of these problems are known in the sciences.  The avenue to solve them is in the political realm.  Therefore, the notion that we should ignore politics is self defeating.  The oft repeated notion that one side is as bad as the other sets up a false equivalency that gives us an excuse to ignore real problems because, oh well, we can't do anything about them anyway.

If you think that Trump and company are no worse than, say, Bernie and company, then you are deluded, particularly in environmental matters.  Trump is doing everything in his power to destroy environmental values.  Who needs an environment when you can live in a Trump tower.  Scott Pruitt, the man who has come to define the very worst of the "swamp", is in charge of the EPA.  Ryan Zinke, who apparently thinks land is useless if it isn't being drilled, mined or overgrazed, is in charge of all Federal lands.  Grants for research into environmental issues are being slashed.  Professionals in scientific disciplines are being demeaned and forced out of their careers.  There is simply no end to the carnage being inflicted on the values Chris is espousing in his post.

If you really want to solve things environmentally and politically, you must become active in those realms.  Get involved in local and Congressional races.  I have met all five Democratic candidates running to replace our current do-nothing-except-endorse-Trump Republican Congressman.  Among those five are one who had a distinguished military career flying KC130s and commanding a NG airlift wing and a subsequent legal career, a physician who has personally witnessed the devastation of our medical system on the poor, a cyber security expert who understands Putin's assault on our elections and advocates net neutrality, a small businessman who has started several successful businesses in one of poorest rural regions of the state and an attorney who had a career in education before becoming a lawyer who works on educational issues and with local businesses.  At least two of those five are also avid environmental advocates.

What is our current Congressman's background?  He still owns a debt collection business specializing in collecting student debt.  IOW, he too profits from the swamp and super pacs.

At any rate, that's my rant for the day.  If you care about environmental issues, no time in my life is more important than the present to fight the fight.  And there is no place that is more effective in doing so than the environmental movement and political realm.  This is supposed to be a "blue wave" year.  Find someone you can support and do so.  And, oh yeh, get out and enjoy our natural places while you can.




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Jim H
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hear, hear, Debu!

As we consider the end of human civilisation as homo sapiens (sic) destroy the ecosphere I'm not sure bleating about "diversity" is helpful. Some things are more important than identity polictics.

Wouldn't it be nice if our universities were on the leading edge of the sustainability movement, rather than focused on dividing us along lines of DNA demarcation that are imagined to be important?

The University of Michigan currently employs a diversity staff of nearly 100 (93) full-time diversity administrators, officers, directors, vice-provosts, deans, consultants, specialists, investigators, managers, executive assistants, administrative assistants, analysts, and coordinators.


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